Mike House: Living, Thriving & Surviving


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Guest: Mike House

Presenter: Wayne Bucklar

Segment Overview: In business and personal relationships, there are survival situations that we need to face head on. Mike House, a leading survival instructor joins the program where he emphasizes the importance of awareness and adaptability in these types of situations.

Guest Bio: Mike House is one of Australia’s leading survival instructors, author, speaker and a highly experienced facilitator. He has spent 20 years as a leading survival specialist. He now works with leaders and teams who want to “Thrive and Adapt” in uncertain times. His tools are described as tactical with real world applicability. Mike’s insights explain human behaviour and blind spots, while giving useful hacks to pressure and shift ineffective thinking.

He has survived several life threatening survival situations on the ocean, in tropical jungles, raging white water, and extended sea kayak journeys. Mike has also managed teams of up to 40 staff, and has been the principal driver of a number of organizational change projects. He is currently applying his time and resources to clients of his consulting practice, assisting them to thrive and adapt.


Wayne Bucklar:  You’re listening to Business Radio Talkers.FM. My name is Wayne Bucklar and as always, I found someone interesting to talk to for you. Today my guest is Mike House. Mike is the Founder and Director of Mike House Proprietary Limited. Now sometimes as you know listeners, when I talk to people, you can tell by the company name just exactly what it is they do. But Mike uses a tagline, “Thrive and Adapt” and I don’t know what it does, so let’s ask. Mike, welcome to the show.

Mike House:  Thanks Wayne, thanks for the invite.

Wayne:  Now Mike, fill us in what is it you do and who do you do it for?

Mike:  So what I do Wayne, the “Thrive and Adapt” tagline is a pretty good one. I spend most of my time these days helping individual, leaders and their teams thrive and adapt under pressure. So everybody that I spoke to these days, there’s an increasing level of pressure, so much going on and people making transitions from one thing to another, or often different roles, different energy required. And we can pick up a whole heap of stress along the way during the day and sometimes, find ourselves in states of mind and filtering in ways that are not particularly effective. So “Thrive and Adapt” is really all about three things – how do we see the world, what’s our perception made up of, how readily can we shift it if it’s ineffective and what are the kinds of things that we do that consistently set us up for success?

Wayne:  Now when you said, “Thrive and Adapt” of course, I’ve been in business and run businesses for a number of years and I immediately thought about my red wine bottle but that’s not the advice you give me.

Mike:  Not necessarily. Although, red wine is not a bad way to wind down at the end of the day right? So a big part of thriving and adapting.

Wayne:  That’s where I’ve been getting it wrong, I’ve been starting at about 9:00 a.m. See, you’ve helped me already.

Mike:  Right until lunchtime Wayne.

Wayne:  Thank you for that, that’ll make me twice as productive. So Mike do you work with people in individuals, or in workshops, or conferences or online, how do you deliver your service?

Mike:  It’s a little bit of a mix. The primary modes are conference keynotes and workshops and I also do a little bit of individual coaching with leaders and some group coaching with teams. But the bulk of the work I guess is workshop and conference.

Wayne:  Right. Now I know this is not going to come as a shock to you but you’ve just had your book published and the title is wait for it “Thrive and Adapt No Matter What.” Tell us what you’ve been writing about.

Mike:  So I spent 20 years working as a survival instructor Wayne. So we literally take people out into that arid parts of Australia and teach them what to do if they were lost or stranded. And in parallel to that, I was operating some fairly significant change projects back here in the city. And I noticed that a lot of parallels, the kinds of things that help people do well in those situations of deep duress and the kinds of things that help people do well in deep change environments were very, very similar. The differences between those environments were in the survival setting, there’s very little complexity, it’s quite straightforward and the feedback loops are very rapid and very aggressive. So you get to see the results of things like how people build rapport, make decisions, handle uncertainty, etc., lead, follow very quickly. If you do something, the results of that will show up within hours and certainly no more than days. You come back into the modern work context, there’s a lot of ambiguity, a lot of uncertainty, many, many factors and bits of complexity and so it’s harder to draw those lines between what an individual leader or a team do and the results that they create. And so the book, “Thrive and Adapt” is really about my observations in that survival world and bringing them into a modern work context and I guess giving people a bit of a user manual for us as humans under pressure and some things that we can do to get around some of the hardwired ancient mechanisms that we have that are very survival-oriented but they necessarily serve us well in the modern business context.

Wayne:  There’s got to be a story here somewhere Mike, how did you end up being an expert in survival? What’s the backstory?

Mike:  So it was little bit of a journey Wayne. My childhood was in agricultural Western Australia, so I grew up on a farm and there’s always been elements of outdoors in what I’ve done. So I’ve been fascinated with that as an environment and the older I’ve got, more of I’ve appreciated the links between natural spaces and well-being and there’s lots of lessons that can be learned from nature. So I’ve been incorporated all the way through my life elements of working in the outdoors with people to frame different ways of thinking and around at about 22 years ago now, I’ve got an opportunity to work with one of the world’s leading arid area survival schools and I just found it fascinating and so I dove right into that experience. And for me, I think the biggest piece that was most interesting is what researchers call the “survival personality.” So you know, what are the consistent traits of people that survive against the odds? And that stuff spills out beyond just whether you’re lost or stranded in the outback or the jungle somewhere into medical situations where your life is at threat and also into relationships and business. There’s lessons there right across life. And I guess that’s the links between that world and what I do now is that I became fascinated by what’s the mindset, what’s the perspective of people that enables them to do well pretty much regardless of the circumstances they faced.

Wayne:  It’s an intriguing journey to tie those together I’m sure. Mike, there’ll people listening to you today who are saying, “That Mike House is a pretty clever guy.” What does your client look like? Like if you could look down through all this computer technology and see the audience listening to you, how would you recognize the people who are going to be good clients of yours who really ought to reach out to you?

Mike:  Thanks for the question Wayne. I guess I’d kind of categorized that in a few ways. I get to work with a huge diversity of people and it’s one of the things I love about the work that I do. So I’ve literally worked with individuals, individuals in business, small family businesses, all the way up to quite massive publicly listed companies and I enjoy that full range. I’ve worked with government and nongovernment, not-for-profits as well. So any of that is on the agenda. For me, the keys are people that want to get better at handling pressure so there’s plenty of that around. So usually, I work with people who are quite effective already, they’ve got quite effective teams and they’re looking for those incremental, how can we be even better, how can we be more flexible, more adaptable. And I think we’re all recognizing that the days of reasonable certainty are long pastures and things get more and more ambiguous and more and more unpredictable in many ways. So many variables and so much stuff going on in a global kind of way now. But generally people who are interested in how do we get that each when circumstances potentially could knock us for six? In terms of personal passion, I love working with small to medium enterprise where I can work with leaders and an entire team. The businesses who are around sort of 50 to 100 employees where you can kind of speak to the entire organisation. That’s just a world of fun because you get to weave some real learning that’s got depth across the whole organisation. And and so the times that I get to play in that space is some of the most enjoyable bits of work that I do. But really anybody, the team leadership, any team that’s looking for an edge in uncertain times.

Wayne:  Now there’ll be some of those people listening, how can they reach out to you Mike?

Mike:  Wayne the best way would be just to hit the website initially which is and there’s all sorts of info there about me and what I do but also contact forms and contact details so that’s an easy first form of call.

Wayne:  So easy to do Mike. Thanks for being with us today, I appreciate your time. I understand time is always valuable and I appreciate you giving yours to talk to us today.

Mike:  My pleasure Wayne, thanks very much for the invite and I hope it’s been useful to your audience.

Wayne:  It has indeed been interesting to me. If you’ve just joined us on Business Radio Talkers.FM, I’ve been talking with Mike House, the Founder and Director of Mike House Proprietary Limited. And if you’re wondering who that is if that doesn’t give you a lot to go on, the tagline is “Thrive and Adapt” and in that is the secret of what Mike talks about. But the good news is you haven’t missed everything because we’ve got a transcript on our website where you can read the whole interview. But if you prefer to listen and not read, we also have an audio archive and you can access it on SoundCloud, YouTube and iTunes and you can find links to all of that on the station website at Talkers.FM. This is Business Radio Talkers.FM, my name is Wayne Bucklar.

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