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Mark Divine: Leadership in the Conceptual Age

By December 1, 2021 December 2nd, 2021 No Comments

Today, Mark Divine speaks about the challenges we face going into a new age of exponential growth from our rapidly evolving technologically-based society. This era, known as The Conceptual Age, calls for a new type of leadership. Divine asserts that veterans have the skills and mindset we need in the leaders of this Conceptual Age.

Key Takeaways:

  • The conceptual age is an age of global interdependence and exponential growth. It demands leaders who not only do things right, but also do the right thing for the planet and its inhabitants. Leaders in the conceptual age must develop a radical team focus, where the team itself becomes the leader.
  • Leadership Theory had its origins in the military. Over time, as our society evolved, leadership styles shifted from a hierarchical production focused style to a servant-leader style that focused more on the well-being of employees.
  • While the servant-leader was crucial in the information age, today our technology continues to grow exponentially and our society has shifted to a global economy, thus we find ourselves in the conceptual age.
  • Veterans have the opportunity to play an important role as leaders in our communities. Military training, especially special ops training, instills key skills, such as flexibility, creativity, problem-solving, the ability to see multiple perspectives, and the ability to form teams with a shared vision.
  • Our veterans face many challenges upon re-entering civilian life. Trauma is only one small part of the equation. Veterans struggle with the loss of their teams, uniformity, structured lives, and having a mission to focus on. Veterans are a national treasure and should be given a new role, and new missions that utilize their unique skill-set to create teams of individuals that work together seamlessly and efficiently.

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Mark Divine 0:02
Hey folks, welcome back. This is your host Mark divine with the unbeatable podcast. Thank you for joining me today. Who Yeah, today I want to talk about the changing face of leadership, the evolution of leadership, and how it intersects with the military and our veteran population. So hang in there with this gonna be very interesting and, and valuable.

So many people may be aware of this, but they haven’t thought about this directly. But much of leadership theory came out of the military in the 50s. So the military had a lot of experience, especially coming out of World War Two, in organizing the efforts of large groups of people to accomplish a mission. It makes sense, right. And so when business was organizing to ramp up productivity at a grand scale, actually, this started before World War Two started back around World War One and afterward, with Frederick Taylor, and Henry Ford, ramping up production for their automobile companies. And then it continued throughout the 50s, and 60s, as what you know, what we call the Industrial Age flourish. And so in the industrial age, leadership, and management were were largely considered the same thing. Leadership became effective management. And Management Science became how you organize for effective production of labor, or organized labor for production, effective production of goods. And so it was largely about doing the right things in the right manner and doing efficiently and effectively. And there was this belief that even though it was complicated to do, so that leadership and management were largely a cause and effect, linear function, if you did these certain things, and you did the more and more efficiently, then you would get better and better results. And so we got things like total quality of leadership management by walking around. And this differentiation between leadership as a position and management as a process. Well, that worked for a while, but just like everything in life, the external world changes. And then it precipitates changes in our thinking and the way we organize our mental models. And you know, what was working stops working, and we have to figure out something new. So the internet came along, the internet connected the world, and allowed for disintermediation. And some decentralization even though that’s one full pendulum back the other direction. But in the early days, it was true. And so we went from the age of the industry, industrial age into the age of information being the dominant feature. And so we needed to organize the world’s information. That’s what Google took on. And we need to learn how to mobilize labor, not for just production, but for innovation, and to harness the data of this information. And so this idea of leaders who do things right, shifted to this idea that leaders are the ones that do the right thing while they’re doing things, right. So they needed to have both sides of the equation. And we saw what happened in the information age, when leaders didn’t do the right thing. We saw notorious disasters. You know, like, for instance, British Petroleum, the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, CEO of British Petroleum Hazleton didn’t even come to the scene. And when he did, he was cavalier about it. And it took several weeks for British Petroleum to finally fire him. Don’t fact check me on this, by the way, because I don’t have the dates or anything, right. But I remember this very clearly and thinking, wow, that is a leader that probably did a lot of things, right. But he didn’t do the right thing, in this case. And then we had Enron and we had all the, you know, the Wall Street fallout that you know, with Drexel, and then with Lehman Brothers, it’s unbelievable. So the age of information, which required that leaders do the right thing, cause people say, Okay, we need to add a moral equivalent to our leadership, we need to learn how to really empower and bring employees and staff and stakeholders into the conversation. And so out of this came ideas such as transformational leadership, George McGregor, burns, servant leadership, emotionally intelligent leadership from Greenleaf and others. And so then these became kind of the norm, right. And so you have great examples like Southwest Airlines and Herb Kelleher, deploying servant leadership, where everybody who was leading the organization was in it to serve the customers and serve the employees and whatnot. And it worked really well. Now, no, in this age and early age, and up until recently, probably up until 2010 2011, when this model really was still working was the main model for leadership. Things were still relatively sanguine when it comes to compared to I should say how things are today with the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity that existed kind of largely under the covers. We saw a real kind of canary in the coal mine incident with the 2008 crash. I said, Okay, this rendering a new normal, but pretty much everyone just thought well We’ll just get through this and things will go back, which is usually what happens in a crisis like that will go back to the old way, and it never did. And so we entered the information age, without people even realizing it into what’s now being called the conceptual age. So the conceptual age is the age where things are too, moving too fast. We have exponential technologies, causing exponential change in the business world business cycles that used to take 20 or 30 years to play out of being played out in two to three years now. It’s insane. And it’s accelerating Moore’s law, the time of doubling the speed is having. I don’t know exactly how to say that law. But it’s incredible. And all these confluence of the technologies are starting to converge come together. Artificial Intelligence, 3d printing, the Internet of Things. Five G. Wireless, virtual reality. Augmented reality, metaverse. Just think about that. It’s insane in robotics, of course. So it’s impossible for leaders to keep up themselves with the pace of this change. And what worked in the information age is stopped working now. And everyone’s stuck. We see this in our unbeatable program. When we train corporations and leaders, they’re like, Okay, well, we really spent a lot of time developing the skills for the Information Age. We’re servant leaders, we’re transmission leaders, we got all this down, but it’s not working. So what is it about this new conceptual age, about leadership, that’s going to be the next thing. So what I say about that is, the main skills that are going to be absolutely necessary in the age of conception is creativity, a radical team focus, radical team focus where the team becomes the leader, instead of the individual leaders, the individual leader can, can be in charge, they’ll take the hit if things go bad, and they are in the big bucks for that. But their job is to unlock the mindset of the exponential mindset of the team, not to think they’ve got all the ideas, then teams need to develop a team focus where they become a team of teams, which is a term coined by a military peer, General Stanley McChrystal. And he had early examples of how this would work. When he organized the efforts of special ops forces in Afghanistan, when he realized that the Information Age passed them by and the networks of empowered teams of the enemy were stomping his special ops troops, which were operating from information age, stovepipe, bureaucratic mental models, instructional models. So he had to break all those down and create what he called Team of Teams, where teams of empowered individuals who really were very clear about the vision and mission and the boundaries for success, were able to work autonomously, and to speed up their decision making radically, to outpace the decision making of the enemy. And so that’s going to be important for all businesses in the future. Because the battlefield of business looks a lot like that battlefield that McChrystal dealt with in Afghanistan. Another thing that’s going to be extraordinarily valuable, is what’s not been called a global mindset. The global mindset is the ability of an individual to work seamlessly across borders, to be comfortable in different cultures and working with different languages even and to take multiple perspectives, and to be inclusive. So the positive aspects of DNI initiatives, diversity, equity inclusion are going to need to be second nature for global leaders, and organizations will embed that and research has shown definitively that diverse and inclusive environments outperform and diverse and non inclusive environments. So global mindset. And this becomes, again, a mental model, it becomes second nature, it’s not strategy, there are strategies. And there are structural things we do for Dei, I’m talking more about what happens on the inside of an individual who is working in a global organization in any organization now is global, even if you’re a small 12 to 15 person organization like unbeatable. We have coaches and clients in over 30 countries, you don’t have to have an office and over, you know, 30 or 40 countries anymore, because we’re all virtual. So you have to have a global mindset. So more on this, this is going to be a fascinating subject. I’m I went back to get my doctorate simply to study this and to really go deep on this. And I’m going to be working on trying to ferret out how do you develop what I call an exponential mindset, which is inclusive of a creative mindset, innovation mindset, an adaptive mindset, an emotionally mature and aware mindset, global mindset. And it takes all of those aspects of a leader of leadership skill, transformational growth, all that. And it 20x Is it much like a Zen master who’s attained Satori, we want to develop leaders who attained that kind of exponential mindset which is akin to the old world view of enlightenment of a spiritual master. So we’re going to democratize leadership enlightenment, let’s just say that and it’s going to be amazing. It’s also going to be absolutely necessary for us to deal with what’s coming with AI and robotics in particular. And the chaos and confusion created by the forces of negativity, which strive to confuse, and to create fear and to separate us, and to keep us from tapping our full potential as individuals and as global population. Okay, so how does this all now relate to veterans? Well, let me talk a little bit about vets. And also a little bit about what we’re doing for vets here at ours, nonprofit called the courage foundation. So veterans are, I think, the golden nugget that everyone is ignoring when it comes to leadership and organizational effectiveness. According to department labor, 200,000, military vets transition off active duty and reserve force back into civilian life every year, get that 200,000. And guess what everyone treats these individuals as broken? Well, they are not damaged goods. As our former Secretary of Defense and four star General Mattis says we are not damaged goods. In fact, we hold the key to leading in the conceptual age. Why is that? Well, when you lead in the most intense and chaotic environments in the world, where a team focus, a mission, focus, situational awareness, global mindset is absolutely critical, then you tend to develop those skills, you bake them into your psyche, you don’t even know they’re being developed. And these are skills that we all need to develop and learn. And these military veterans can lead us military veterans have incredible situational awareness when you’re in combat. And you know that any moment someone could be taking a beat on you a sniper or our mortar round, or roadside bomb, you tend to become extremely intuitive and extremely aware, your right brain comes online, that contextual awareness, and you begin to sense and feel things that the average person doesn’t feel. Now, those skills will diminish when you’re outside of their environment. But once they go online, you can keep them online with just a little bit of training. And vets can teach us how to do that. And we do that same training through our sister company SEAL Fit, we call leading under fire. If you want to learn some of these skills, then check out our website at unbeatable mind calm or SEAL Fit TOCOM. And, you know, come to one of our events next year, we’ll teach you situational awareness. The next skill that’s incredibly valuable in the age of concepts or conceptual age is rapid planning and iterative operations, rapid planning and iterative operations. So rapid planning is I’ve talked a lot a lot about this in the context of my work with the way the seal is, it’s the ability to plan very, very fast with an 80% solution, knowing what’s important and what’s not important, knowing what can become SOP or standard operating procedure and what needs to be customized for every operation and also training for failure. So that you know that 80% is good enough because no plan survives contact with reality anyhow. So let’s get out the door and activate the OODA loop. So we can observe, orient, make a decision and enact. And in that way, you take all these small micro actions on your way to success and you learn on the fly. That’s iterative execution. So planning, rapid planning and iterative execution go hand in glove. and military leaders know how to do this military veterans know how to do this specially special operators can tell you what workout shorts have come a long way since I wore those old UDT shorts at SEAL training. So I’m proud to have 10,000 as a sponsor of this podcast, their training shorts, and other apparel, our fan tastic I’ve been wearing their seven inch tactical short, which is a combination of durability, mobility, and versatility all built in a super comfortable workout short that was designed and tested with the help of over 50 Special Operators who put it to the test, rocking, swimming, lifting all around beating it up, and so they produce this fantastic training short. I’ve also got their universe short, which is great for more of a CrossFit style interval training, which is super versatile, super comfortable. At any rate, what I love about 10,000 also is their ethos. They’ve got a stoic dedication to continuous improvement every day faster everyday, stronger everyday better than yesterday. They don’t believe in overnight success. Cure alls. quick fixes are shortcuts, but works in progress and the value of failing, dusting off and getting back up when they fall down. 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Who Yeah. So we’re conditioned and accustomed to thrive in VUCA, to expect volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity, and not have to have it be like a big showstopper. Part and parcel with that is, military veterans are extremely adaptable, they’re able to recover very quickly from a setback. For instance, if a mortar round comes in, or you’re ambushed, you know, you’re going to get off the axe, get out of the danger zone, you’re going to return fire, you’re going to clean up the mess, you’re going to deal with compassionately with any wounded. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen. And then guess what you carry on with a mission, or you move on to the next objective, you’re adaptable. So think about that, in terms of how valuable that is for your business, and how to learn that resilience and adaptability almost are hand in glove. I mentioned this earlier, but veterans are extraordinarily mission focused. In fact, that’s one of the challenges they face when they leave service is that you don’t have a mission anymore. It’s almost like without a mission, why am I here? They need a mission. So you give them a mission. And boy, will they be loyal to the end to complete that mission. They’re all in all the time offensive mindset, that energy is infectious. And what else about mission that they know is that a mission a it can change and evolve, the end state can look different than you think it might in the beginning. So they’re comfortable with that. They understand that a mission needs to be communicated relentlessly and it needs to be clear in the minds of all teammates. So we talk about the mission all the time, we brief it, we brief changes, we dirt dive it, which means mentally rehearse it, leaders talk about the mission and the vision all the time, so that there’s no confusion in your team’s mind your staffs mind, what is our mission? Everyone knows, would it be nice to have some military veterans in your organization who are that way? Another really important skill for the conceptual age is that they’re all leaders and followers. There’s no big egos in the civilian world. You know, you almost get your ego reinforced through success as an entrepreneur or business leader, your resume building up the ladder, right, you’re building your capital, so to speak, not financial capital, but though you’re building that as well, which often promotes the ego. But military vets, they don’t care about the money because it’s a meritocracy. What they care about is the team and the mission. So mission first team second. So they’re radically focused on the team, which means they are both leaders and followers. At any moment, they could be the leader. And the next moment, they’re a follower. So they’re not hung up on positional authority, or expert authority, their expertise is going to be used. And if they’re not the most expert, then they can support the most expert person. And oftentimes, it’s the best idea comes from the new guy, or the least expert, one, I just created a new word, because they’re looking at it from a different perspective. And their voice is heard credibly valuable skills. Here’s another one, persistence, military vets don’t quit. They never, ever quit. That’s in the seal code. They’re persistent. They keep going, overcome one obstacle, and then another, and another is knock them down until there’s nothing to stand in your way. What a valuable skill, something we don’t see much in our world. Another is their patient, and Compassionate. Think about that, when you watch Friends of yours, get injured or die. I mean, the compassion that is trained into or crews, I should say, into the military veteran is incredible. I have friends who’ve been to 3040 funerals. Compassion is one of the core skills in my opinion that leaders need to develop in the conceptual age. And how do you be a good teammate? And how do you become a team of teams? And how do you serve your teammates? And how do you be authentic? If you can’t develop compassion by opening your heart and getting out of your head? Feed the courage Wolf, which is in your heart? Starve the fear Wolf, which is in your head? And patients? I can’t tell you, you know, military life is like 23 hours and 30 minutes of waiting around, and then 30 minutes of sheer terror. So yeah, we know patients. And so not only can we move fast and be agile and adapt on the fly, at the same time, we’re not belly aching when we have to sit around and wait for something to develop to our patient. We’d like to see things come to fruition over time, and we’re okay with that. Another incredibly important skill is creative problem solving. You know that TV show MacGyver was based upon the Navy SEAL ILS is just kind of a metaphorical character. And that’s because we were taught to solve problems with whatever it was that we had a little rigorous tape 550 cord, a buckle here and there, whatever. We created a couple industries out of this. My friend Mike Noll from Blackhawk created the tactical backpack industry, as a parachute rigger. He had to sew a lot and he’d started sewing his own gear and he made his own backpacks. And he made his own web belts and he made everything and guys said, Hey, can you make that for me and, and then he had a little cottage industry going then he got off seal, team three left the service and he started Blackhawk, and, man, I think he sold that for a billion dollars incredible, and spawned countless spin offs. Were creative problem solvers. Look at my friend Randy Hetrick who created TRX. Now, when we used to go out on ships, Randy would, again going to his riggers would have them sew up some straps, kind of like the old yoga hanging straps, they used to do hanging yoga. And he used these to do push ups and pull ups and dips while they’re out on a boat. Because you know, there’s only so many push ups and sit ups you can do on the deck, which is got that really nasty kind of thick, sharp, no skid paint, I guess it’s called, at any rate, so he created that innovative, he saw a need for and he created another will be if it’s not already a billion dollar industry, military vets are very, very creative. They’re used to solving problems with limited resources, using whatever is available. That’s an important skill for us in the age of concepts. And lastly, I’m going to come back to this idea of a global mindset. You know, I was in 56 different countries. And I learned that everyone on the inside has the same fears and aspirations and desires, regardless of what the skin color, or the shape of the eyes, or the language coming out of someone’s mouth was, yes, there’s different cultures, and we can learn from every culture and embrace them. And we can disdain the nasty effects of certain cultures, including our and we can honor the beautiful aspects of each culture. But the important point is to learn that if you’re in that culture, and that’s normal to you, that doesn’t make you a bad person, you know, so let’s learn from each other. Let’s recognize the sameness, appreciate the differences, and come together to solve global commons issues and challenges. That’s probably a whole nother discussion what those are, and how we do that. I’m not going to go into that now. But the point is, military veterans, military people have a global mindset. So already, they’ve got one of the most important attributes for leadership in the 2020s and beyond. So, you know, my thoughts on leading in the conceptual age, what skills would be important, and why 200,000 veterans a year, our prime to help us all move into that into that leadership model. Now, let me tell you about the challenges vets have. And one of the reasons why they’re not seen as the leaders that they are. And it’s a mistake, one of the hardest parts of military service, as you know, is transitioning, coming home, getting out of that intense culture, that uniformed culture, where you’re developing those skills and qualities that I just described. And then you come back, you take the uniform off, you give up your paycheck, you give up your team, you give up your mission, and you don’t get much in the terms of any transition skills training, although that’s changing. And suddenly you’re sitting at home going, Okay, what next? And someone says, go get a job. Okay, well, great, you know, what am I going to do? So, the military, special operators tend to do really well as a general rule, because, you know, we’re trained a different way, in a sense, we’re more entrepreneurial, we have a lot more autonomy, but a lot of military vets who still have all those other skills that I talked about, they don’t have those, that leg up, and there’s nobody there to help them. Well, there is no I don’t mean to tell you about. Furthermore, there’s some reconditioning that needs to happen because of the stress and the the mental and physical challenges that a lot of vets face, especially if you’ve been in combat, post traumatic stress symptoms, TBI or traumatic brain injury, sometimes permanent disabilities. Also I mentioned already loss of their team must have their structure ie the uniform this the paychecks, you know, the rules, the regs that gets comfortable becomes part of what I call the background of obviousness. They don’t know it’s there until it’s missing, they lose their purpose and mission. Furthermore, on the flip side of that, when they get into the civilian world, you know, they haven’t been in it, at least for a long time. And so they’re unfamiliar with the written rule or the unwritten rules. And they don’t necessarily even know how to build a resume. They don’t have the interview skills. They may not have the perceived right education, even though their education and their skills are much more valuable. Like I said, in my opinion, as leaders, and oftentimes their family is broken. I can’t tell you how many times you know ahead, my teammates come home to a family that had left them, drain their bank account or Whatever. And it was devastating. So you see that quite a bit. Because the toll that all that time away takes on the family is devastating.

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And generally when I’m on the go because I can move with them and they don’t fall on my ears which is kind of nice. These are perfect for listening to your favorite shows podcasts, audiobooks, just like I do, and they’re engineered to provide a full warm sound and what they call a tight punchy low end. Anyways, they’re great, the great sound great fit, and you don’t have always charged about. Also I like if you try them that try the FITS and you don’t love them as much as I do. They have a 30 day money back guarantee, plus the free shipping free returns and a one year warranty worth checking out for a limited time you can get 15% off your pair of ultimate years fits true wireless earbuds at u That’s easy to remember u e comm forward slash fits fit s and use the promo code unbeatable when you checkout to get 15% off. Again you eat comm forward slash Fitz use the code unbeatable Huya. Thanks ultimate ears. So veterans struggled to make that transition home. Mark my words. They’re not damaged goods. They’re a national treasure. And one of the challenges they face is they get home and people pity them and marginalize them. And this is a huge disservice. huge disservice. If you see a vet, thank them for the service and ask them what their mission is do not pity them do not marginalize them do not think they’re broken. They are a national treasure. There’s only so much that the VA and the DOD can do fortunately, many VSOs or veteran service organizations have stood up founded by veterans like myself to fill the gap. And to help these vets transition and become leaders in the conceptual age. Because we know how valuable these individuals are. And we know they’re not broken, we know that just need some fundamental skills. And then they’ll accelerate as leaders, our organizations called the courage Foundation. And we have partnered with 10 other veteran service organizations that are focused on post service empowerment and reintegration. We’re going to provide assistance to the vets before any situation caused by the mental and physical health issues that they dealt with or the loss of team structure, purpose and mission worsens, and leads to what we see in the stereotypical veterans situation. Alcoholism, addiction, homelessness, depression, suicide, these are big problems, we want to solve them. Some of you remember or may have heard that we created an initiative called burpees for vets where I challenged anyone who was paying attention to what I was doing in may have been you. So thank you, I challenge people to do 22 million burpees with me and raise money and awareness for vets and it took us a year and a half to do this. Many of you did 100 And more than 100,000 burpees with me in a year. So I did 100 120,000 burpees. A little bit more than that. And I think I raised like over $30,000 myself, the organization burpees for vets courage Foundation, we raised over $300,000 We broke two world records. One individual broke the world record for most number of burpees in 12 hours as an individual and then myself two other guys in three women. Ironically, all of us yoga instructors as well as pretty fit individuals. We destroyed I should say the world record for most number of burpees done in 24 hours by a mixed gender team, the old records 14,000 And something we did 36,393 burpees in 24 hours. By the way, Guinness is still digging out from COVID in the heavens certified that but I’m claiming a world record here and now and Guinness Get your act together please. Alright, so this year though, we decided to resurrect the burpees for Best Buy into a viral social media campaign. I’m recording this on November 10 2021. And on November 11 Tomorrow, which is Veterans Day, we’re running a SEAL Fit event for For veterans, for burpees for vets, we’ve got 20 Plus individuals coming from SpecOps candidates to firefighters, law enforcement and some influencers. And it’s going to be filmed by NBC LX live, live coverage begins at 9am. The event begins at 7am and runs for six hours. So it’s essentially a short version of our Kokoro Camp. And all the participants are in it for free, they don’t pay anything. And in the middle, we’re going to do the burpees for vets initiative. Now, this is an initiative that you can do on your own and it’s running all month long, and it might even extend beyond November. Information can be found at burpees for burpees. For In here’s all it entails is, you go to burpees. For You make a donation for $11. That’s it $11. And then what you’ll do is just do a Levin seconds of burpees and film yourself. So film yourself doing 11 seconds of burpees is probably like six, that’s all I got with a full burpee you can also modify with plank burpees. Or you can do if you can’t do a burpee, you can do squats, you can do anything. The point is to engage everybody, you can do jumping jacks, or pushups, etc. Then the main point is you take that video and at the end of it, you challenge three people that you know, and choose some folks who’ve got some followers, right? Challenge three people you know, post a video to your Instagram or Facebook or Tik Tok or whatever twitter whatever account you prefer, LinkedIn, YouTube are all of them. And hashtag those three individual challenging them to do the challenge. Now, you know, let’s talk about compounding. So those three do it and do past a three now you know, we have the three plus threes, whatever that is 910 1112 plus me 13. people donating $11 and doing the burpees. And then on from there, right. And you’ve heard, you know, if you double A penny every day, how much money do you have? At the end of 30 days? It’s $1.6 million. So can you imagine us having 1.6 million people doing burpees and donating $11? Can you imagine what we can do for vets? If we raise 1011 12 $15 million? Just $11 at a time? Why do we want to do this? Is it worth 11 seconds? Or let’s just say let’s call it a minute, because it will take you a little bit of time to post it? Is it worth a minute of your time and $11 to transform a broken system for transitioning our heroes treasures for leadership of our country in the age of concepts and VUCA is it worth one minute of your time. And you can imagine what would happen if we can raise 10 million or more dollars and how we can help an entire generation of vets become the leaders that they deserve to be. So hope to see you there. Burpees for feed Courage foundation. You can check out the live stream if you learn about it in time. And as always, we really appreciate your support. I appreciate you for listening to the unbeatable podcast and stay focused and be unbeatable. See you next time. Bye


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