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Shawn Kanungo’s New Television Special Empowers Individuals to Be Bold

Shawn Kanungo’s New Television Special Empowers Individuals to Be Bold

“What will people say?” For too long these words have stalled people from pursuing their passions, from standing out from the crowd, from being bold. These words have followed Shawn Kanungo throughout his life, so he created the playbook to help individuals break free from the status quo and excel in a culture overflowing with disruption, technology, and uncertainty.

It has never been more crucial to adapt and evolve with the times, Shawn says. Yet, when faced with radical change, people tend to double down on what made them successful in the past instead of evolving alongside it.

In his bestselling debut book The Bold Ones — named one of McKinsey’s top decision-making books for leaders — Shawn shows individuals how to disrupt themselves and unlock the inner innovator within.  Now, Shawn has turned his bestselling book into a provocative new television special of the same name that builds on the concepts explored in his book.

Premiering on August 15 and available for streaming on Apple TV and Amazon Prime, we sat down with Shawn to discuss his new television special, what it means to be “bold” in today’s world, and how we can all take that first step to becoming more “dangerous”.

Speakers Spotlight: First, walk us through what being “bold” means?

Shawn Kanungo: The idea of being bold is pushing against the status quo. It’s about doing something different — that’s outside of your core — that creates value for the world.

The interesting piece to this is that many people think that being bold is about confidence or being unafraid. But what I discovered while researching for my book is that the bold ones are the individuals that are still afraid, but that choose to walk into the darkness and into the uncertainty anyways.

SpSp: And who do you commend for being “bold” today?

SK: In the book, I outline a whole bunch of people from hip hop stars to world leaders. One of my favourite chapters explores this idea of going from 100-0 — the ability to ultimately disrupt yourself.

One of the folks that inspired me to write this chapter was Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold went from 0-100 to become a body builder and he conquered that mountain. Then he wanted to get into acting, so he literally went down the mountain again, tried to learn the craft of acting, and went back to 100 and conquered a new mountain. Once he was on top of that mountain, he decided to try his hand at politics. Everyone thought he was a joke, thought he was crazy, but he went down the mountain, started at 0 and then went to 100 again and became the governor of California. Whether you like him or not, he is an elegant example of someone being able to continuously disrupt themselves, to be bold.

SpSp: So, you have your book, your keynote, and now a television special exploring your philosophy of being bold, of becoming a “dangerous one”. What inspired you to pursue this?

SK: Through spending a decade helping large organizations and executives to innovate, to change — largely while at Deloitte — I learned what stops people from innovating. It isn’t because they aren’t smart or brilliant or understand what’s in front of them; it’s because they’re afraid of losing that upward mobility, that status, that title position. They don’t want to look dumb in front of others, so they hold onto incremental or mediocre ideas because no one has been fired or reprimanded for picking ideas that are mediocre. But they could be if they choose something that’s bold, that’s different, that’s truly innovative, and that’s why people don’t choose that path.

I saw this time and time again, so it has always been my mission to help individuals, not just organizations, choose a path of boldness. I want to help them through the darkness and to navigate this path of uncertainty.

SpSp: What’s the starting point on the path to becoming a dangerous one? What can people do today to set them up for future success?

SK: Be more vulnerable. The boldest, most innovative people are those who are most vulnerable. They are always saying “I don’t know” or asking for help. This automatically puts you in the zone of learning and of exploring, and when you have that you are open to new ideas. So, I encourage everyone to be as vulnerable as possible in order to accept new ideas, and to explore and experiment.

The other thing, if there was a “b” point to this question, I think many people think of innovation as new technology or a new product. But really innovation is remixing existing ideas, processes, and technologies. It’s not about creating something completely original; it’s about being 3% better. By just making something 3% better, you can be truly disruptive. So, take ideas, take concepts, mash them together, and that’s how you can become more innovative.

SpSp: Let’s talk about your documentary. How does it explore and/or expand your “bold ones” philosophy?

SK: It takes concepts from my book and breaks it down into a social commentary. I’m really exploring what it means to be bold, what it means to be a dangerous person, and how we can all become one. And by dangerous, I mean a disrupter and an innovator. I’m flipping something often viewed as negative into something more positive.

The Power Shift

One of the key components of the special and my book is this idea of the power shifting to individuals, we’re currently experiencing a power shift from institutions to individuals across all domains — sports, media, politics, etc. The individual is rising partially due to technology becoming more accessible and democratized. We have the greatest opportunity right now to share our ideas and I believe this is entering us into a new renaissance period.

Embracing Wasteful Journeys

Another concept I explore is waste — how we can embrace more wasteful journeys because these are our most innovative periods of exploration and experimentation. This feeds into being able to disrupt ourselves and go from 100-0. Everyone wants to scale and grow, and in the special I show how we can disrupt ourselves to create growth and opportunity.

Combating “What Will People Say?”

I also talk about the phrase, “what will people say”. This has prevented many people of my generation or my background from going outside of the status quo. It pushes us to this more traditional path of certainty and mediocrity. I argue, both in the special and in my book, that we should embrace the idea that people are talking about us because that means we’re doing something worth talking about.

That’s just a few concepts I explore in depth in this special.

You can stream Shawn’s special on Apple TV and Amazon Prime today. Watch the trailer here.

Shawn Kanungo is a globally recognized innovation strategist who has worked with hundreds of organizations to help them better plan for the opportunities associated with disruptive innovation.

He draws on his extensive experience to provide audiences with an optimistic roadmap for the future; one that embraces unexpected approaches to innovation to remain competitive and relevant.

Contact us to learn more about Shawn and how he can help your audiences find strategy in a world of disruption.