Episode 89 – Renee Giarrusso | The Gift Mindset

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Renee Giarrusso is a communication, leadership and mindset expert. She is a speaker, author, facilitator, educator and coach who works with leaders, teams and organisations to energise mindset and accelerate communication, collaboration and leadership to lift performance and culture.

Her first book Limitless Leadership in 2016 was soon followed by the Leaders of Influence anthology. This episode with Renee is jam-packed with practical tips as we unpack her new book, The Gift Mindset – Unwrap the 12 gifts to lead and live a life of purpose, connection and contribution.
We explore how to apply the Gift Mindset to both challenging and positive circumstances. Also some of the barriers to living a gift mindset.
Renee’s stories throughout this episode are really peppered with some immediately implementable actions so make sure to have a paper and pen handy!
Key episode highlights include:
  • What bookend habits can you develop? What is something that you can do that anchor the beginning and end of your working day?
  • Don’t just confine yourself to one workspace. Change it up according to your mood and tasks being completed.
  • Ask yourself, what habits are working for me and which ones do I need to rewrite?
  • Don’t use success as a secret weapon, share it with others to elevate the whole organisation.
  • Try this: when you need a breather from work, open every window in your house, and then shut them again. Not only will it increase oxygen by 200% but it’s a great brain break and gets your body moving!
To connect further with Renee, head to her website or find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And of course, check out The Gift Mindset here.

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Murray Guest  00:01

Renee, I’ve been looking forward to us catching up for some time. We’re just chatting before I hit record, and you’ve got all that energy I notice. 


Renee Giarrusso  00:09

Yes, yes. Always been energetic. My nickname out of work is popcorn. Say no more.


Murray Guest  00:17

So how are you maintaining your energy in early 2021? After everything that’s been going on, particularly in Melbourne?


Renee Giarrusso  00:25

Yeah, yeah. God’s country? Yeah, it’s an interesting, it’s an interesting question. And I think I keep my cup full by being in service to others. I’m a big contributor. And I’ve always found that working with others, growing others, growing through others, really keeps me energized. And I think just looking forward, I’m a future thinker. So I’m always looking at what’s next. So that keeps me energized and being around a good support network, obviously.


Murray Guest  00:59

Yeah of course. And there’s so much research around that positive anticipation for our mental health and looking forward. So what are you looking forward to at the moment?


Renee Giarrusso  01:08

Yeah, well I have just released a book. And I think it’s really starting to get some traction, and I guess, sharing that with the world. I feel we’re coming out of you know, without talking about the pandemic, we’re coming out the other side. And I’m really looking at the things that I’ve, you know, let go of, the things that I’ve let in to move forward and sort of seeing them take place now. So I think that’s a big one, I’m feeling a lot more optimism out in the marketplace as far as clients, people’s attitudes, you know, I’m a realist. I know, we’re not totally out of the pandemic. But I think without painting a golden paintbrush on the whole thing, I think there’s a lot of good that’s come out of it.


Murray Guest  01:55

Well, I think is a great link there to your book around the gift mindset, and the gifts that we’ve received. And I’ve been thinking about this conversation quite a bit and how some gifts maybe aren’t wrapped in the paper you want them to be wrapped in. But when you unwrap them, there’s something else and I was even thinking about, and I haven’t read all your books, and I’m looking forward to, but the analogy of pass the parcel, and sometimes you unwrap layers of paper, and you’re like, Oh, is that what it is? I didn’t want that, you know, as a child, and then you unwrap this and are like, Oh, wow, it’s this. So I want to explore the gift mindset in this amazing book, because I’ve loved what I’ve read so far. But just for listeners, tell me how we got to this point in your your life, like the last 20 years, you’ve been doing some amazing work with different companies.


Renee Giarrusso  02:42

Yeah, yeah, I look, I had a great fmcg career, you know, and I know we we worked together many years ago, not directly together, for an amazing company. And, you know, I just realized I wanted to grow people, not because I was a manager, but because they wanted to self develop. So for 14 years, I’ve you know, as we talked about earlier, things have evolved. And the business and the leaders that we work with is just so diverse, Murray, I have so many people say narrow your market, but people are people and what the work we do is all around human behavior. And I feel that anyone can benefit from it. So yeah, we’ve gone through an evolution where we started off, I went into job search for a while, which was really built me as a facilitator and a coach, because I had 35 people in a 10 square meter room with no air conditioning, three generations from one family. And so really tough, you know, addiction challenges, etc. I did that for 18 months all over Australia, which was amazing. And then I went into sales capability. My background was sales, management and marketing. And loved that. But my passion was really around coaching. I’m a big fan, because it’s all around, you know, I don’t need your story. Where are you now? Where do you want to go? Let’s make it happen. It’s proactive. Yes, I went into the coaching and leadership space, which, you know, we all know leadership’s an overused word, it’s communication at the end of the day. And I’ve just been been loving it. The last eight years, were really sort of bolted down, you know, our IP, we’re always writing new IP, you know, run lots of transformational workshops and get to work with people, you know, from cosmetics to engineers, to builders to I.T., mid-tier mainly, but I do attract a lot of startups, bigger startups, which I find awesome.


Murray Guest  04:54

Yeah, yeah. And there’s a lot of energy in those startups which I’m sure that you connect with with the energy you bring as well. Over the years with the leaders you’ve worked with, is there some common challenges or themes that you’ve noticed over that time?


Renee Giarrusso  05:09

Yeah, look, they they differ slightly year on year, but the main three, and we do a lot of diagnostics around it to really check in so we’re not assuming, is leaders become time poor, skill stretched. And they’re closely related. And another one that we see a lot is I think they get caught up in what I call a management mindset, drowning in the overwhelm of every day. And they’re not leading with a clearer what I call a leadership mindset where they’re creating future leaders, which which I believe is every leaders job.


Murray Guest  05:45

Yeah, so busy-ness, stretched, that management mindset. And what what do you reckon has happened to leaders in the last 12 months, because obviously, you’ve mentioned the pandemic word, and we are still in different stages in the in the world where we are right now with that. But I’ve definitely noticed with my clients, some of the renewed perspective, which I think has helped some of those challenges, and in the last 12 months, what have you noticed?


Renee Giarrusso  06:16

Yeah, it’s been interesting. I’ve seen a lot of leaders really shine through these time, I’ve also seen a few bury their head and people in their team step up, which I think’s been amazing. Perspective is spot on, I think people have taken the opportunity, I think, to step back and go, is this for me, in a good way? And do I need to step up? And what do I need to do? I think teams are better connected. You know, we do, we’ve got a whole program on supercharge working remotely. It’s an online program, I’ve worked remotely for, you know, 16 years. And I think working longer, more intense hours, did lead to connection and communication being a bit stifled. And I think technology went from being a conduit to connection, to connection, which wasn’t right. But I’ve noticed in the last four or five months, people are picking up the phone, they’re doing walk and talks, I know, the last month we’re back doing face to faces, which is so exciting, I have to contain myself. Still doing a lot of virtual stuff as well. But I think the word I would say is they’ve really become more flexible. And my belief for the future of leadership is you know, adaptability, innovation and collaboration. I think you can do those three things. You can’t do one without the other. But I think if you can do those three things and keep filling your cup, you know, you’re never there. I think that’s a good thing.


Murray Guest  07:54

Yeah. So definitely, with some of my clients, I’ve noticed some of those needs around connection and how that’s been happening better. And I would even say more authentically, versus I think, in the office working long hours or on a job site, and it’s like, hey, going, hi, Renee. Yep, yep. Now let’s, let’s get on with it. Whereas I think there’s a more genuineness to the check ins and that connection now, which I really appreciate. I’ve got a question. And this is not prepped at all. So I’m gonna throw it out there. Let’s see if we can kick it around. Because I’m loving what you’re talking about at the moment. And this has popped into my head. How do you think leaders going forward balance the needs of the individual? And because I think there’s a better understanding of people as humans, and they’ve got a whole life, you know, we’re people, we’ve got our stuff. So how do leaders balance that and the needs of the business? Because that seems to be becoming more and more a bit of a challenge?


Renee Giarrusso  08:48

Yeah, it is. And I think it was always there. But it was sort of swept under the rug. And I think people – leaders – who’ve I’ve got to know and you’d hope got to know their teams at a deeper level now. So my suggestion there would be don’t go back to autopilot default, what I call topical conversations, go to deeper essence conversations. And I think the opportunity there is around, you know, it could be coaching, but making that one on one time not losing that. I’ve already seen, last week, one client back into what they were doing before and I’m like, I’ve always had a saying, what are you going to let go, let in and let be, and I do that as a 90 day plan with a lot of clients. And I think it’s looking at that. But balancing both. I think it’s understanding yourself first. And understanding your team and your peers, your business, and really tapping in to the real person and creating this human centric culture that I think became performance based and transactional before COVID.


Murray Guest  09:59

Yeah, I totally agree. And what I’ve noticed, which is I think is helping that is the let’s have those conversations at the deeper level, like you’re saying, because I’m not doing it because a process says I have to do it. But I’m actually doing because I care about you as a person.


Renee Giarrusso  10:21

Yeah. And it’s bringing in, you know, head heart gut into leadership, I do a lot of work around there don’t just be all logical, because we get that that’s where we can default to when we get caught up being a human doing, not a human being. And I think taking a step back, and almost slowing down a bit. And being present. I think that’s a bi big key and you know, what conversation are we going to have, and be open and free, you don’t have to be too intentional and planned.


Murray Guest  10:59

And, obviously, last year, face to face workshops took a bit of a pause, let’s just say, a pause, a dip, well mine did. And you’re saying earlier yours did. Now back to face to face the other thing I’ve noticed is, I reckon people now have a greater appreciation for those face to face interactions after what it’s been like.


Renee Giarrusso  11:20

Yeah, definitely. And I think it’s, I think we both know, virtual is here to stay. And it’s not a bad thing. But it shouldn’t be the you know, shouldn’t be the all. I think it should be the end. Yeah, I think the connection people are craving, you know, those water cooler chats, the interaction in a room, I know, Murray, your high energy as well. My workshops, people rarely sit down 60% – probably more – hands on. And I think, yeah, it’s interesting, isn’t it, you have to have something sometimes taken away to be able to really appreciate it.


Murray Guest  12:00

Yeah. And what I’ve been doing to kick off 2021 is some, I would say, hybrid type programs. So there’s a mix of the face to face and the online. And I’d even say that the the lesson out of the crisis for me last year has been a bit of that, how I can create that to have more that transformation that you talk about and that you’re passionate about. So, you know, I’ve always been very passionate about it not being a tick in the box. But I think now there’s more appetite of how we can do that even better.


Renee Giarrusso  12:31

I think people are looking for that. You know, with the markets being virtually, you know, you’ve got L&D people that may or may not be trainers or facilitators running things. And I think Yeah, I call them sugar hits. You know, you run them, the events, people walk out all pumped, but there’s nothing embedded back on the job. And I think the opportunity for anyone out there who’s either a facilitator or running your own things with your team is to have sort of the milestones face to face, and then have the transformational piece. So it continues, you know, virtual so an example with what we do, we’re doing a lot of face to face for a day or two a quarter. And then the next month, we’ll do a group, we do a lot of group coaching, we run a lot of masterminds virtually. And then there might be a one on one maybe, you know, included, but it’s mixing up the delivery. It’s finding out how people like to learn. And I always say, please a few people and change a few people.


Murray Guest  13:39

Yeah, so say that again.


Renee Giarrusso  13:40

Please a few people and change the people. So bring in some visual, bring in some auditory, and you’ll keep everyone engaged.


Murray Guest  13:49

Yeah, great. Love that. Love that a lot. And can I ask, why a gift mindset?


Renee Giarrusso  13:58

Yeah, the gift mindset is something I’ve embraced for a long time and shared with a few clients over the last few years and loved ones. And I knew that it was a message I wanted to get out. And over a few months of weekends last year, I wrote the book and you know, it’s all around, I guess stepping back and embracing the challenging and positive experiences we encounter and unwrapping the gifts, seeing the gift in there., and really understanding it and accepting it to help us not hinder us and then using that to progress us forward, and others. And in a workplace culture that is so important. I think even right up with C suite. We’re doing we’re doing we’re transactional. Some teams have amazing successes. They’re not shared for whatever reason I call it you know, using success as a secret weapon even if it’s not intentional, mistakes aren’t shared. And I really believe in and out of the workplace, you know, the crap we go through and the things we learn could be a survival guide for someone else. So the books all about how to adopt it, the gift mindset, what gets in the way, which I’d love to talk about. And then I really believe your gifts sort of fall into different areas, and I came up with 40. Filtered it down to, I have a thing with the number 12, always have. So you know, what, then what did I learn? And what did I get was that the gift of resilience, was it the gift of growth? I know for me last year, it was the gift of growth, resilience and change. They were probably the three biggest gifts. And then in each chapter, Murray, we deep dive into the six keys to deepen and develop that gift. So in a workplace setting, you can do this, share it with your team in and out of work, you can use it.


Murray Guest  15:59

Yeah, love it. I’ve got to ask first, how did you get from 40 down to 12?


Renee Giarrusso  16:03

Oh, it was hard. You know, I was probably at 60. It was hard. And then at the 11th hour, one of the gifts I had in there, I was like, it’s just not sitting with me. And I found it hard to write about, which to me means you’re not in flow. Yeah, I put in the gift of forgiveness, because that’s something that is not talked about in the workplace.


Murray Guest  16:26

Can I just say I love that. Because I’ve done a lot of work with teams over the years about how are we moving forward? How are we building as a team, become more of a high performance team, you know, through different stages of that team development. And quite often it’s about Okay, moving forward in our behaviors and ways of working. But there’s still stuff from the interactions in the past that people are hanging on to that we need to forgive.


Renee Giarrusso  16:52

That’s right. And forgiveness to me in and out of work or in a team, for me, it’s going from pain to peace. That’s the whole model I’ve built around it, and really thinking about what is the conversation I need to have. And I think what people don’t get, and we’re probably both guilty of this, at some point is when you forgive, you’re not condoning or accepting, using whatever it is to move forward. And what happens in the workplace a lot. And you know, I had an experience years ago, where I went through a similar thing was, you start to blame yourself if something goes wrong, if you don’t settle that forgiveness and come to peace with it.


Murray Guest  17:33

I guess yeah, I’m thinking about how you resolve that with yourself.


Renee Giarrusso  17:37

Yeah you start awfulising it, one of my made up words, but you think about it to the point you think it’s your fault. And to me, that’s a compelling enough reason to get out of your head, attention out and and work through it. And you may not, you may not end up best friends or best colleagues. But you can look at it from a professional front. If this was my business, would I make this relationship work? Which we both know, you would.


Murray Guest  18:03

Yeah, well, I’m thinking also too about the help and hinder that you mentioned before, and without going through that process of forgiveness, and resolving that with yourself how and you’ve still got to work with a person or a department or even as frames is developed about a certain level in organization doesn’t matter. You know, how much is that still hindering you for having a productive and and rewarding time at work?


Renee Giarrusso  18:29

And being happy, you know, we spend about 90,000 hours at work on an average, I reckon it’s a lot more. And I always just think you’ve got to, you mentioned it earlier, you got to bring your whole self to work, you got to bring your whole self home, or else you just, I say, you’re leaving your energy in the lost property box, right? If one or both. So you’ve really, really got to tap into it. And I think, you know, yeah, so we came up with that, but it was it was quite hard to distill them down. Maybe there’ll be another book. But for now, we’ve got you the gift of empathy, connection, gratitude, which is really important in workplace culture, growth, change, and reenergizing, which is one of my favorite gifts. Gift of reenergizing.


Murray Guest  19:20

I like that a lot, too. So, one, explore a couple of those. And definitely the barriers. What is also popped into my head is and for those people that are listening that haven’t written a book, and you’re wondering about writing your own book, did you sit there on a Friday night watching a movie and it’s like, bang! Pops in your head lightning bolt or you’re driving along and it pops into your head? Like, how did the inspiration for the book come about?


Renee Giarrusso  19:48

Well, good question. I started blogging about a few of the concepts that I came up with and I’m a bit of an owl. So sort of up writing ideas at 2 in the morning and I collated those together. And then I did a bit of a framework. And look, I can write, I can get in flow quite quickly. But there were a few weekends, you know, apart from trying to save my business and get this book done. There was some Sundays, I must say, it was like midday, and I was just, you just go blank. And it was it was tiredness. So the gift of re-energizing to me is cooking. I’m a massive cook, hate recipes, hate process in cooking. But I would stop, go for a walk, go down to the local market, grab some food, come back and cook. And I even put two recipes in my book that lights me up. So I think when you’re writing and anyone out there that thinking of writing a book, you’ve got to get some structure and there is so many resources you can tap into. But the big thing for me is what is the intention of the book. For me, this isn’t a book, this is a message and a movement, is so much bigger for me. Like I feel it, I actually feel it when I talk about it. But what’s the intention, you don’t want to just do it as a chicken flick. What’s the intention? And then the biggest tip I can give is buildable writing habits. So my first book I wrote two nights a week and half a Saturday over four to six months. This book I got done, you know, was a lot of hours on weekends in COVID. We were in lockdown. But in saying that I’d done probably 15 interviews at night, six months prior that I transcribed into the book. So know the intention. Lock it in your diary, jealously protect that time. And take it lightly. You know, you want to enjoy the process.


Murray Guest  21:49



Renee Giarrusso  21:50

The book is actually quite the easy bit. The next bit is getting it out there and all the what goes with it.


Murray Guest  21:56

I guess the bit that I’m taking out of that, too, is find a process that works for you. Yeah, everyone’s going to have slightly different processes. Don’t try and do it the way that you did or someone else. But what works for you to get you in that flow in a creative space that you can stick to.


Renee Giarrusso  22:11

That’s right. It’s got to work for you. I found I’m big picture. So I actually was looking at the cover design before I’d even written the book. And I did it on Canva and whacked it on my back of my office door. And that that’s the way I work. And a lot of people don’t they work the other way. Get your chapter headings out, but also guess and test a bit. So I did a few blogs that I got really good feedback. I ran a few two hour little webinars last year on some different concepts, just to test it. And I think the big one is follow your heart and your intuition.


Murray Guest  22:51

So I need to go back and ask a really important question. You mentioned cooking, what’s something you’ve made recently that you have just absolutely loved?


Renee Giarrusso  23:03

I love my go-to Sri Lankan. So I’m Italian, French, American. My stepdads from Adelaide though but I’m a bit of a mix. I cook a lot of Italian and Thai, but I cook a lot of Sri Lankan. As I grew up I’ve always been attracted to people from different cultures. And some of my best friends are Sri Lankan. And one mum had a restaurant when I was a teenager. So I learnt just by taste and feel what to cook so my go to, which is actually in the book – it was hard to decide – but it’s my Sri Lankan fish curry.


Murray Guest  23:38

Oh, I’ve got it. So is that more of a, like a yellow type base, like the yellow? 


Renee Giarrusso  23:45

Yellow, it’s got tamarind. I don’t have a pantry, my friends, I have a spice cupboard. I just love mixing cooking from taste. I don’t cook sweets. I’ve never been a sweet tooth. Which is quite funny because I used to work at Mars. But I’m an olive and cheese girl. So I worked out though, you know, I’m motivated when I’m zoning out to just go with the flow. Whereas recipes and desserts needed, they do, it’s science, right? Yeah. Bores me. It’s gonna turn out right.


Murray Guest  24:19



Renee Giarrusso  24:21

So yeah, Sri Lankan fish curry Murray.


Murray Guest  24:24

All right. Well I will close this loop and come back to you when I make that. Okay.


Renee Giarrusso  24:29



Murray Guest  24:31

Sounds exciting. You actually also highlight, I was working with a team recently and the leader and I were, I guess, in a way creating a space for some conversations about working from home and how they’re still doing that at the moment. And this mindset shift that is, I think, so important where the challenge for some people on the team was, I’m working at home so just sit at my desk for eight hours, never get up and then it’s creating this mental health challenge with, I’m just sitting here by myself looking at a screen… And what was great as we start explore well what can you do to break up your day? You know, do you get up and pull some weeds out the garden and chat to a peer or colleague? Do you cook something in the middle of the day? Because tapping into those little things that help you re-energize…


Renee Giarrusso  25:21

Yeah, that light you up. Yeah, it’s a good point. My first two things around working from home, these first two steps is to adjust and adapt, and all around mindset and all about remote working habits, we do do a lot on that. I’m a big believer to have what I call thing I came up with bookend habits. So imagine a bookend. So something I do that helps because I can get very, super focused, and I have been there not got up for six hours, like just focus. In the morning, I’m always dressed for work, your physiology, and your psychology is linked, always dressed for work, I go out the front door at 630, I go for a 10 minute walk, I come back in through the front door and I grab a coffee, love my coffee, then I come into wherever I’m working. And I do the same at the end of the day, but without the coffee. And what it does, even if I’ve got a bit of work at night, it anchors the start and the close. Another good suggestion is to have different workplaces. If Murray, if you could see my house, the lounge is a full studio where we run all our workshops in real time. Where I’m sitting now is my office where I do webinars and coaching. And I’ve got a stand up desk on the other side. But all my writing of my book on weekends I did at the kitchen table.


Murray Guest  26:46

Yeah, I think that we are very similar like that. And I was talking recently to someone about how you can tap into the energy of your spaces. So I’ve got the ‘get stuff done’ room where I am right now, I’ve got the back deck where I’ll sit and I can look out and get a few more ideas. And some days I might sit at the dining table. So I’ve got more interaction with the rest of family. But don’t just lock yourself into this one space. And everyone’s home is very different. But how do you use those different spaces? 


Renee Giarrusso  27:14

Yeah I love that. And look, some people out there listening will be going, Wow, you guys are weird. I’ve had people go, I just don’t get how you move around, that’s not me. Everyone’s different. I think we’re both motivated by alternative thinking, infinite possibilities. So that works for us. And I understand there’s people out there, I’ve got clients who have got two newborn babies and nowhere to work. But I think it’s just moving around, creating the space that works for you. A big suggestion I’ve got is if you don’t need to share a screen, don’t have a Zoom. So I will tend to do my callbacks to clients at about 5:30 – 6p.m. and go for a walk. Mix it up and create some really cool remote working habits, you know, because the way you worked in an office, and we’re in a hybrid environment now, you really need to be consciously reviewing and renewing your working habits to work for you as things change.


Murray Guest  28:16

Yeah, and everyone’s situation is different. And everyone’s preferences are different and their needs. And I think it links back to that point we made earlier as leaders leaders play a role in understanding that and supporting their teams to work that out. So that, yeah, they’re delivering what they need, and considering them as a whole human at the same time.


Renee Giarrusso  28:35

That’s right. And I think like we said, a lot of people are getting closer. We’ve long story, we’ve ended up with a stray cat during COVID, never had a cat. Turns out he’s our neighbour’s cat. They don’t want him. And he jumped up on some Zooms when I’m doing a keynote, and people just laughed. I mean, imagine that back two years ago.


Murray Guest  28:54

Yeah. There’s a realness isn’t it? I love that authenticity and that realness that has happened.


Renee Giarrusso  29:02

That’s right. But I think the the main thing is just be open to, to constantly reviewing. Another really quick one Murray, which a lot of clients have loved and adopted is I mean, my hubby’s a builder so we’ve moved a bit but we’re in a townhouse. So not massive, but what I do when I know I need to clear my head is I go and open every window in the house, and then come back and close every window. So that takes 15 minutes. And it’s supposed to increase the oxygen in your house by 200%. You’re getting exercise, and you’re bending and you’re moving. So it’s just whatever little thing you know works for you.


Murray Guest  29:44

I love that. I haven’t heard that one. I’ve had lots of little tips, but thank you for that one. I really there’s so many little things like that one. Some people might think oh, that’s a bit strange, but I like that one. I like that a lot.


Renee Giarrusso  29:58

I had some people say the same thing. They’re like, Oh what if I’m in a one bedroom apartment, I’m like, well just do it 20 times, just give it a go. But it does make you It’s interesting. It gets you to move. And it’s just mentally getting you out of being in the same space, the same four walls.


Murray Guest  30:18

It’s funny, it’s these little things. So I’m a big fan of Mind Valley. And I’ve listened to and been to a number of their events over the years. And something I heard from them and which I was doing for a while, but you just reminded me, it’s just I don’t know how but I’ve just got formed this link up. And that is have a kettlebell in the house, or they had a kettlebell in the office. As you go between meetings, you pick it up and carry it. And it’s like, here’s this little bit of exercise you’re getting as you’re moving around. And it’s just, getting the blood flowing and moving around. Be mindful. We’re not saying that 30 kilogram kettlebell, it might be five or six, it doesn’t matter.


Renee Giarrusso  30:56

But it’s the fact that it’s the whole mind/body. Something I did, and I remember my assistant last year was at my house for the day, and I had six sessions back to back. And I think she thought I was crazy. But I only had 10, you know, you’ve always got to where you can make the time to be present, get back in the zone. But I’d actually go out the front door, go up the street, come back and do 10 star jumps and come back in. It’s whatever works for you. I know some people that may be a bit more introverted, they might go and read for five minutes. Everyone’s different. But I think whatever works for you, but make the time to step back and go, what habits are working for me? What ones do I need to rewrite? What’s the trigger for that? What’s my response to that? And what’s the reward I’m gonna get?


Murray Guest  31:52

Yeah, and I like the message here about, it’s not about doing more, doing more doing more. It’s about bringing something in, let something go. Give it a try. Don’t just try it once, and see what works for you.


Renee Giarrusso  32:10

Yeah it’s important, we’re all lit up by different things. And I use that terminology a lot. I do a lot around what I call motivational intelligence. So we use a tool that actually can measure it, but you sort of knowing yourself subconsciously. So if you and I think, Murray, you’re a bit like me, I love being in the client interface. I love you know, collaborating with people like yourself. So I make sure as much as I can, which is a big part of our job, that I’m doing that and something that’s really helped a lot of clients now and moving forward, is to make sure you’re doing the thing that puts that pep in your step on a Monday morning. So I had a an engineering client, she was a very senior leader, and she was quite flat. This is towards the end of last year. And I said, I believe when we feel flat, and we don’t know why, it’s because we’re not getting the things that light us up. So too many people do what they’re good at, but not what they’re good at that they enjoy. Very different. And she said, now you’ve said that, you know how I love my team meetings, it’s been moved to Thursday afternoon. I said, for how long? She said, Oh, eight weeks. I said Why? I don’t know it was just moved. You know, I say question things. I said, Why can’t you move it to Monday morning? She made that subtle change and was a different person. Because Monday morning sets your time for the week. And it gets rid of the thing I call the Sunday night dread.


Murray Guest  33:42

Yes, yep.


Renee Giarrusso  33:44

We’ve all had it. I used to get it in school. When I see Disneyland come on, on Sunday night at 7:30. My stomach would go ugh. Do what really lights you up first thing, where can, you can control and you can influence.


Murray Guest  33:59

And can I add as a strengths based coach and getting people to focus on their strengths, such a great link here, where you’re getting to use your strengths, where you’re getting to do those things that light you up. And it just makes a different energy, as you said for the rest of the day, rest of the week.


Renee Giarrusso  34:16

And go and hang out with people that are good at the things that don’t light you up. I’m all about leveraging strengths to build a strength based team so if I’m not right, I’m very good at problem solving and nitty gritty. But my genius or my passion is big picture ideas, creativity, make it happen. So someone that’s recently come in, I only have five people in my business back end. I’ve gone for someone who is the opposite of me, because I kept attracting people that were like me, doesn’t work. So we leverage so she’ll be ‘slow down’ and I’ll be ‘hurry up’ and we complement each other. I’m goal, she’s problem solving. And we work really well together.


Murray Guest  35:03

That’s fantastic. Yeah. And what I talk to people about is you want to have those partnerships and really invite that perspective and embrace that perspective, because they’re bringing something that is just a potential blind spot for you. It’s just not your natural way of showing up.


Renee Giarrusso  35:17

And know it, I say, know it and grow it. If you’re a leader listening to this, I believe you should know what are the hot spots of each person in your team? And don’t overcomplicate it. Obviously we both use different tools that can look at it. Are they goal oriented? Or are they a problem solver? Everyone’s good at both. But they’ll have a preference, you know, what’s the problem? What’s the jellyfish? Right? And get people in project teams to really, really mix up the way they work. So, you know, some people are concept thinkers, some are organized, some want to just get things done. So a project team, ideally, you’d have people in each of those areas. But what I see are people in their project teams that are three concept people together. So nothing actually ever gets done. Three structural people together, they’ve never looked at why they’re doing what they’re doing. Or we get three doers, chopping the flour, high implementation, but no direction. So I think you got to focus on what you what you could be better at, I get that. But I always lead teams. And I always work with teams around, don’t get all demotivated and do the stuff you don’t like, do what lights you up. And know who’s lit up by something that maybe you’re not.


Murray Guest  36:44

Great, spot on spot on. I want to go back to your book. I’m loving what I’m seeing on social media, the conversations you’re having the the way it’s being embraced. What feedback you’re getting already, what some of the impact, you know, the books making?


Renee Giarrusso  37:00

Yeah, so it’s only been out, as we talk it’s only been in bookshops for three days. But, you know, we’ve sort of had it out and about the last three weeks, I think the biggest bit of, or the most common bit of feedback has been around the vulnerability in the book. And the fact that people from all walks of life and including myself, have really shared some deep and raw stuff that, you know, we know vulnerabilities is the new black we know, we have to be open and honest, to be vulnerable and courageous and all that sort of stuff. But that’s been the main thing. And I think the fact that anybody can tap into the gift mindset. So I’ve had some clients’ teenagers read the book and reach out and say, this is awesome, this is what I needed. CEOs to mums and dads. So in that way, I feel really blessed to be able to have a message that can be can benefit so broadly.


Murray Guest  38:05

So it’s great that it’s having such an impact. And as you’ve said a number of times, it’s not just for work environment, it’s for anyone at any age in any part of their life, which I absolutely love. When you are writing it, did you picture someone that you’re writing it for?


Renee Giarrusso  38:22

That’s a great question. I pictured a few people. And it wasn’t until I got into sort of the third chapter I was like, This isn’t just about work. It is bigger. And the other thing that I noticed too, was when I initially came up with the concept, it was all around embracing challenges and adversity. And I’m happy to share this client I worked with many years ago, did some great work with him and his team. And when we sort of finished up so to speak, I said to him, are you happy to let me go into the other teams? And he said, No, you’re my secret weapon. And I remember walking out going, you know, if I’d been in my 20s, I probably would have been flattered. But I was shocked. I went back and I said, You’re one team, why don’t you want to share the success of your team and replicate success across the business. And that’s when I went gifts can come not just from the challenges, but we need to unwrap our successes and share them because I think sometimes we don’t on purpose, but a lot of the time it’s just a lack of time lack of awareness, or even not being able to articulate the success you had. And that’s when I went the gift mindset really is about challenging people and situations and positive people and situations, hence, pass the parcel.


Murray Guest  39:47

Yeah, yeah. Great. Can I ask, where did that one end up?


Renee Giarrusso  39:51

I ended up doing some work in some of the other teams down the track. And but I do remember, back to your question earlier, I wrote don’t use success as a secret weapon. And I went and wrote a blog about it. Obviously, all confidentially. And then it’s funny how things come up and as we get more mature, as I’d like to say, nearly hitting 50. I think we get more war stories, and we get more experience and everyone listening, I think it’s important to know, you know, everything you’ve been through has helped you to become who you are, but you are continually becoming who you are.


Murray Guest  40:32

Yeah, and taking that time out to reflect on some of those tough gifts. And those gifts that at the time, how could this possibly be a gift in my life? I don’t even see that. It’s a lump of coal in the, in the stockpile, perhaps, that’s how we’re seeing it, but actually, there’s something out of that, that on reflection, how it helps you get to where you are right now.


Renee Giarrusso  40:58

Yeah, I think it’s spot on gifts, gifts can be hidden, we might look back now and this is the work I’m doing with a few teams at the moment is what not just last year, but what gifts, what things have happened even as children that we can bring in to move forward. Gifts can be unwrapping in front of us now which as we all know, it can be hard to see what the gift is. But the three step approach is really around, you know, you said it awareness, making self reflective time, you know, really ramping up your emotional intelligence, taking a step back, and then accepting to help not hinder you. And really having some, you know, self compassion and understanding that accepting something good or bad, doesn’t mean you have to love it. But accepting it helps you to use it. And action is making sure you bring those lessons into your life. And in the workplace, you should be creating a culture where people are sharing, and we’ve written a whole program around the book called The Gift Mindset Culture, which explores the 12 gifts and how to adopt and every single workshop, we use the gift model GIFT, which is really just Grow, has it helped you grow and some questions. How you’re going to integrate it into your life? And then the F is how are you going to facilitate this to help others and T is how will this transform the business? So two steps are about you. So you’ve got to understand you and the gift first. And the last two steps is about leaving your legacy by sharing. 


Murray Guest  42:41

I love that. Now, this might be tapping into some of the barriers, but something I’m thinking about is how someone talks about this to other people. And what I can think about is in the past where someone goes and does a program or they go to a seminar or conference and sometimes people think oh, that person’s been brainwashed, they’ve come back and they’re all revved up about whatever it is. And like you said, the sugar drops, then it drops away and they’re back to normal. So I think how someone talks about this gift mindset, in a way that others can embrace, is that something that you’re you’re conscious of, or you’re you’ve noticed is really important.


Renee Giarrusso  43:24

Yeah, it is. I think like anything Murray, people talk about it in the frame that they see it. But for me, it’s I’ve had a few people actually say, well, I’ve always had that mindset, but now it’s got a name, I can visualize it. And that was something I found exciting about bringing in the little, you know, pass the parcel, the bonbonniere, so bonbonniere – the French and the Italian fight over who came up with it – but at a wedding, a French or Italian wedding, you get five sugared almonds. Really yucky actually.


Murray Guest  44:02

I’m learning more about your cooking here. Thank you.


Renee Giarrusso  44:06

So now at those weddings, they do gifts, right? They do perfume bottles, or whatever. But traditionally, you get five almonds and health, wealth, fertility, success and growth or something. So what I’ve done at the end of each chapter is put in your bonbonniere, so your five key takeaways. But I think, you know, I’ve asked people to explain the gift mindset back to me and I’ve had from a 16 year old to a CEO say, well, it’s a mindset I think we all have, but now we’re consciously aware of it. And I think once we can visualize something and see it and feel it. I think it makes it easier to tap into and not overcomplicate it.


Murray Guest  44:49

Yeah. What are some other barriers that people need to watch out for that could get in their way of adopting the gift mindset? 


Renee Giarrusso  44:58

Yeah, there’s a few. The key ones, the first one is don’t suppress it, express it. I think we go from a place of suppression, where we just put things on the back burner because we don’t want to deal with them or we don’t see them as important. So the first one I think is comes back to you know, self reflection, being aware, journaling, whatever works for you. But just slow down, we all need to, me included. I’m guilty as charged, but I think it can help you really go deeper with things. So suppression is a big one. So do this in a way that you in the workplace, especially if you’re a leader, this is something you can really bring in. So I’ve got companies doing Win Wednesdays, Value Fridays, Motivation Mondays, and I’ve done that for seven years. So bringing in wins, value Fridays is bringing in what didn’t work, but what did I learn. And it’s a great way for those people in your team that just shrivel up when they have to, you know, publicly get feedback, to say it’s not about you it’s about sharing best practice and being in service to your team. And that’s a great way to get people to open up.


Murray Guest  46:17

Can I just say the thing that sticks out here for lots of the conversations I’ve had over the years, it’s all about those little things you can do that don’t cost a lot of money, but make a big impact.


Renee Giarrusso  46:27

Totally. I agree. And that’s right. I think people sometimes even celebrating success, Murray, I’ve had people go, we’ve had the highest engagement score in six months at the conference, we’ll do this. And I’m like, wouldn’t you just do something where you all share what helped towards that success? The other I suppose if there’s seven barriers that the other two that I probably give you, the biggest one I think is judgment from others. And a few people that read the book, pre manuscript pre publication, this really stood out for them. So judgment from others is what will people think of me sharing that I failed? Why would I share that success, they might copy me? You know, there’s ego in there. There’s a lot of different reasons. But oh what if what if I share that my team did it this way, and it didn’t work out other teams might make mistakes, but I think we need to embrace and foster a risk culture. Because to me, the only way you learn is from mistakes. But if you’re sharing it, I believe there’ll be less. And there’s a statistic that’s come out that analysts are showing that companies in the fortune 500 combined, are losing $51 billion from employees not sharing ideas and lessons.


Murray Guest  47:56

Yeah. Wow. Wow.


Renee Giarrusso  47:59

It’s a pretty mind blowing step. And I think, the more we do it, and you know, Toyota, you know, they came up with a whole Kaizen program, sharing ideas, getting ideas from each other in the business, sharing lessons, why wouldn’t you?


Murray Guest  48:17

Yeah, 100% 100%. And I think that the letting go or being able to create a culture where we don’t fear the judgment, where people feel safe, to be real, and, and even resetting cultures where in the past, people maybe didn’t feel safe to do that. And now recreating that culture where they can, and share those lessons. I think there’s, there’s lots of terrible things that can happen in cultures. But I think one of those is when we didn’t learn from those lessons. And something happens, where it was just such a great opportunity to learn from something that happened and we haven’t implemented that.


Renee Giarrusso  48:56

Yeah, that’s right. And our whole model, master model, for business cultures really going from having something wrapped tightly under the Christmas tree to being untied opened and shared. And really going from inertia to being what I call limitless which means by evolving learning unlearning, relearning and and never resting on your laurels as as a leader as a culture as a business to always be progressing forward.


Murray Guest  49:25

So this has been such an awesome, wonderful conversation. If someone wants to pick up a copy of The Gift Mindset, I’m sure many people do. where’s the best place to get it?


Renee Giarrusso  49:36

Yeah, so if you go to giftmindset.com you can jump on there and you can get it off Amazon, Booktopia or Amazon, US, UK, it’s available in good bookstores nationally in Australia at the moment. And also we’re doing signed copies that you can order directly and they come beautifully wrapped for conferences, etc. But I just want to say on that website, it’s got its own website, the gift mindset, I’ve put together a downloadable infographic poster on each chapter’s insights. And it’s all free, you can download. And I’ve got 20 x 10 minute video interviews of people around the gifts called the gift space. So there’s there’s lots of different things, you can jump on there and download for free. 


Murray Guest  50:29

Oh that’s fantastic. I’ll definitely make sure they’re linked up in the show notes. Because I’ll be downloading that poster this afternoon. That’s for sure as well. I love that. Where’s the best place online to connect with you? If not, at thegiftmindset.com? Where’s your best channel to jump on and follow the awesome work you’re doing.


Renee Giarrusso  50:47

Probably just reneegiarrusso.com. And you can jump in there and have a look at all our podcasts and media. Otherwise, lots of lots and lots of resources on there. And obviously links to all our programs. And then we’ve got a Vimeo channel on there as well.


Murray Guest  51:05

Yeah, fantastic. Thank you. So Renee, I’ve loved the conversation. I appreciate your generosity and your openness to share what it means have a gift mindset. And I really have felt more energized out of this conversation. Because I think you’re tapped in something, which I think was one of the CEOs or the 16 year old, you mentioned describing it’s like we sort of know it deep down, but we sort of keep repressing it. Bring that out and embrace it, and embrace those gifts in all areas of our life. So I’m feeling I’m doing that right now just for this conversation. Thank you so much.


Renee Giarrusso  51:41

No, thank you. I really appreciated being being on here and having this conversation. I think I think we could talk all day, and I really appreciate it.


Murray Guest  51:51

I’m sure we’ll talk again. And before you go, I need to know your definition of inspired energy.


Renee Giarrusso  51:57

Yeah, well, it goes back to what we were saying I think inspired energy is real energy. It’s raw energy. And I think it comes from being aligned with your values and your purpose. And I’m gonna say it again, doing what lights you up. If you’re on track with that, how can you help but not be energetic?


Murray Guest  52:18

Such a beautiful link back to our conversation. I totally agree with you. I’m wishing you all the absolute success with the book. I’m loving all the great interviews you’re getting to do and get the message out about the power of a gift mindset. Thanks again for your time, your energy and inspiration today, and look forward to chatting again.


Renee Giarrusso  52:37

Thanks. Thanks, Murray.


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