April 5, 2022

Dudley Tal Stokes and the Jamaican Bobsled Team — 1/4

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Episode Highlights

B2B marketers have dreams of reaching decision-makers with the right message. How can these dreams be realized? In this episode, we uncover the origin of 4-time Olympian Dudley Tal Stokes as he describes his discovery of visualization and the founding of the first Jamaican bobsled team. We hear from Dr Frank Niles and other thought leaders from the field of visualization to discover what the practice is, and how it can be employed to motivate and train in athletics, business, and life.

Topics Discussed

  • Cool Runnings [02:08]
  • Dudley Tal Stokes’ Origin [04:48]
  • Learning to confront failure [08:46]
  • Early visualizations [09:44]
  • “How to Fascinate” by Sally Hogshead [13:11]
  • Entering the Military [16:16]
  • Visualization with the flight simulator [18:54]
  • Imagination is like a muscle [22:07]
  • Dr. Frank Niles - Process of Visualization [23:11]
  • “Draw Your Future” by Patti Dobrowolski [25:28]
  • Neuroscientist Dr. Tara Swart on the Andy Rowe Show [27:36]
  • Intro to Bobsleigh [29:08]
  • Invitation to join the Jamaican bobsleigh team [31:57]
  • The need for confidence [35:33]
  • Next episode preview [36:12]

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[00:00:00] Hiromi: We all have dreams. Some of them even keep us awake at night, wondering if they'll ever be within reach. In this episode, we want to introduce you to an Olympian who knows all too well both the triumph of success and the crushing weight of failure. He explains to us how he reached the unreachable with a specific trained state of mind, and shows us how we can benefit from his experience. This is a podcast about summoning B2B marketing and the account-based mindset. This is Reach.

[00:00:52] We're so glad to have you with us again today, And as usual, my name is Hiromi; and with me, I have CEO and agency founder, Jaycen Thorgeirson.

[00:00:59] Jaycen: Hi, welcome.

[00:01:00] Hiromi: And chief creative officer, Garret Krynski.

[00:01:02] Garret: Hey.

[00:01:03] Hiromi: So, our guest in this series is really a well-known celebrity. I'm sure you've heard of his story, but you may or may not recognize his real name. He's Dudley 'Tal' Stokes.

[00:01:17] Dudley Tal Stokes: Dudley Tal Stokes, former member of the Jamaica bobsled team, four-time Olympian, and presently performance coach.

[00:01:24] Hiromi: And so, let me ask you guys: before Tal met with us, what did you know about his story?

[00:01:30] Garret: Being a 90s kid, the only point of reference is Cool Runnings.

[00:01:36] Speaker 5: We're looking for a sponsor for the first Jamaican bobsled team. [laughs]

[00:01:41] Speaker 6: Their dream was to compete in the Olympics, but they chose a sport [laughter] they knew nothing about.

[00:01:49] Speaker 5: Oh!

[00:01:49] Speaker 7: Great. Very good.

[00:02:04] Garret: In my (clip?) mind, this was truth. [laughing] This was-

[00:02:07] Hiromi: Yeah.

[00:02:08] Garret: ... based on a true story, so that's what I was running with, right? I'm like, "Oh, they're all track athletes. You know, the coach is John Candy, and he's a cheater." I mean, it's... They- they cheat. You know, and it's like, I- I knew the story: you know, you know, the antagonism between all the other teams, and in my mind that was gospel. Like, it's- it's all I had to go on.

[00:02:28] Hiromi: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

[00:02:29] Jaycen: Yeah.

[00:02:29] It, it's interesting when you think about what you recall, as a young person, liking about the movie. It's really all about the good feeling that you got from watching that movie.

[00:02:39] Hiromi: I agree. I don't think, as a young person, I really digested the point of that movie at all. Honestly, in- in hindsight, it's all about the underdog and the resilience of character and all these things, but as a child, the only thing I remember taking away from that movie is, Jamaica is awesome.

[00:02:57] Jaycen: [Laughing]

[00:02:57] Hiromi: Like, I remember that year when- when it came out. I don't think Jamaica was on my radar at all. I don't know if I'd ever given it a first thought, but after that movie, kids wearing the colors, and the ponchos, and trying to be cool talking with a Jamaican accent.

[00:03:17] Jaycen: Yeah, now that... Now you're saying it, the emotional element of the story is the thing that I think I connected with. It was a feel-good story.

[00:03:25] Hiromi: Yeah.

[00:03:25] Jaycen: And like you said, yeah, it was raising Jamaica in your consciousness to being cool. It really kind of-

[00:03:30] Hiromi: Yeah.

[00:03:30] Jaycen: ... had that effect.

[00:03:31] Garret: Yeah.

[00:03:32] So, what I found was interesting is discovering how much of it was real, and how much of it was a Hollywood production. That was mind altering for me.

[00:03:42] Hiromi: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

[00:03:42] Garret: Just to- just to go through that.

[00:03:44] Hiromi: No, it's true. His story, to me, was actually far more interesting than the distilled version that they made into a movie. There was a lot more depth and struggle, heartache, personal development, character development.

[00:04:00] Jaycen: Yeah, in Cool Runnings, I don't think there was a lot, personally, on the driver's story. I mean, there was a bit, but again, as Garrett expressed, it's like, how much of that is really true? And his journey to get there wasn't really developed in the movie. So by hearing Tal and his story, I agree. It was may more fascinating to know how he got to where he is. How he came into that circumstance, and then what it was like to be in his headspace, going through the experience, and even now looking back at it, really fascinating.

[00:04:31] Garret: Understanding more of his story and what made his tick as a human made it more interesting and more compelling, I think.

[00:04:39] Hiromi: Yeah, take a listen to Tal's story for yourself and see if you agree. As is often the case, truth is stranger than fiction.

[00:04:48] Dudley Tal Stokes:

[00:04:48] I was born on the island of Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos, a British colony. My parents were there as missionaries, and they lived there until I was five. Then we moved back to the North Coast of Jamaica, the parish of St. Mary, in the village of Galina, very rural. And I grew up walking for hours and hours through mountains, climbing hills, exploring caves, fishing, hunting, mostly birds and crabs. Uh, fantastic, rural upbringing.

[00:05:32] Then we moved to the big city of Kingston, and I went to the world famous Calabar High School where Herb McKinley, Jamaica's first Olympic medalist was educated and in fact, was a coach for the track team for the time I was there. As a nine year old, I raced my brother to the beach. When he was eight, we raced on a beach, best of three, and he won two. My conclusion was that I was not fast, so I turned away from track and started to focus on playing football.

[00:06:08] Hiromi:

[00:06:08] I had not realized how central to Jamaican culture track and field is.

[00:06:14] Jaycen: Yeah.

[00:06:15] Hiromi: I mean, I don't know that I still have a full grasp of that, but it seemed like track and field is it. Soccer, football, baseball, all those sports can take a hike to track and field in Jamaica. Is that the sense that you guys got?

[00:06:29] Jaycen: well, I think that, like, for him to realize this at, what was he? Nine years old. That he's making a conclusion, like, "I'm not that fast." He's already in his head space of, like, "Am I gonna make it as a runner?" So to me, like-

[00:06:41] Hiromi: Yeah.

[00:06:41] Jaycen: ... that in itself demonstrates what a cultural thing it is to be a runner.

[00:06:46] Hiromi: Maybe this is a skewed perspective, but in the states I feel like track and field is more of an activity, not a goal. You know? I don't know. Is that fair to say?

[00:06:55] Jaycen: That's interesting. Like, in Canada, I'm- I'm thinking, like, as a young person going through school, like, track and field was part of your physical and, you know, structure.

[00:07:03] Hiromi: Right, sure.

[00:07:04] Garret: I remember doing-

[00:07:04] I think it boils down to funding. Every movie about teenagers in the states has me believe that the football team gets all the funding, and the library gets no funding, and neither does- do the arts.

[00:07:16] Hiromi: [laughs] Right.

[00:07:17] Garret: And then if you go to either countries, that's where the people go, right? Like, the people follow the money. Kids recognize the family dream, maybe, that the son plays as a quarterback. And so, in Canada, there's parts of physical education, but every kid in your class, [laughs] in grade four, five, six, seven, is in hockey.

[00:07:35] Hiromi: Right.

[00:07:36] Garret: You know, at least where we were on the prairies. It was like, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey.

[00:07:39] Hiromi: Because you have someone to aspire to be there. Right? Who is a Wayne Gretzky.

[00:07:45] Jaycen: Gretzky, oh, yeah.

[00:07:46] Garret: Or if you had, like, a really, a really prairie existence, you know, it would have been Dale Hawerchuk, or even my dad, you know, he would talk about Bobby Hall and these kind of guys. There are some very niche role models. And so I imagined how in Jamaica, they probably have this exact style of humans, but in track and field, where they're like, "I'm this guy," as they're running down the street and beating all their friends in a foot race, you know, kind of thing. On the beach, as he talked about.

[00:08:15] Hiromi: Right, well, and for them to be going to this school where the guy was the coach. Right? Herb McKinley, who's a track and field sprinter. According to Wikipedia, in 1948 and 1952, he did six events in the Olympics, and won one gold and three silvers. So this guy was the Gretzky of Jamaica.

[00:08:37] Jaycen: Yeah, if you don't [inaudible 00:08:39] man, you're out, you're out.

[00:08:40] Hiromi: [laughs]

[00:08:40] Jaycen: Sorry! Not gonna make the track team.

[00:08:42] Garret: Pivot. [laughs (***Insert story clips***) ]

[00:08:46] Dudley Tal Stokes: Years later, I remember coming home one day from training for the junior team, in tears. My mother met me in the kitchen and asked me, why was I crying? And I told her that I did not make the team. I was cut from the football team. And she said, "Why were you cut?" And I said, "I don't know. The coach called out 18, and I was not in it." She grabbed a notebook, grabbed a pen, and marched off. We lived on this school [inaudible 00:09:16]. My father was chaplain, so we had staff housing, very close to the school buildings, and to the fields.

[00:09:21] And she marched down to the football field, and she came back, uh, half an hour later, and she had a comprehensive list, running to, like, 16 things that I needed to improve. And she threw that list down and said, "Well, there it is. That's why you didn't make the team. Fix those things." And so that was an important life lesson, uh, as to how you (discovering visualization) confront failure.

[00:09:44] The things were not, you know, easily fixed, not all of them. One of the things I happened upon was heading the football. Not popular in Jamaica, in- in the Caribbean at the time. But I figured that by heading the football, if I could become good at that time, then that would be a competitive advantage to- to making teams in the future. And so I spent the whole summer heading the football and just daydreaming, I thought it was. Now I know it was visualization, but seeing situations and working through things in my head, which eventually transferred into my entire play, and in the next season, I was in the play.

[00:10:21] Hiromi: You know what, though-

[00:10:24] Garret: [inaudible 00:10:23] there. I used to work with a CEO, and he had a famous line. He would say, "Self awareness is a super power." You know, so it's not just knowing what you're good at, it's knowing what you're bad at. And this is just as powerful, because now he has a list of, he said 16 things he needed to improve. Very clear structure, right?

[00:10:45] Hiromi: It really helps me to have a checklist when I need to work on a set of things. Something about seeing it on a list that really helps. But interesting that even Tal, when he was talking about working on those things, he said that it was important for him to visualize the problems that he needed to solve.

[00:11:01] Jaycen: Yeah, you hear about in athletic endeavors, performance endeavors, uh, this idea of visualizing a certain process or situation or outcome. Perhaps that's what he means here. His mom had made him aware of things he needed to improve, and it sounds like here as he's improving on some of the things, he also mentally visualized how he was going to use those in the actual game itself.

[00:11:28] Garret: I feel like, too, he's talking about something different than, "Oh, I see myself as Tiger Woods making the final putt at the Masters." 'Cause every kid does that, right? There's a role model, kind of, like, role playing.

[00:11:41] But what he's talking about here is seeing situations, working through things in his head that translate into his play, that actually helped him get better. You know, like, in my mind, he sounds a little bit like Bobby Fischer, like, a- a chess player where he's seeing moves. Maybe back to the list that his mom gave him. That's what he's thinking through, and- and it's almost strategic, what it's talking about here. Like, it's strategy.

[00:12:09] Hiromi: Yeah, and many chess shows or chess movies, you see them doing exactly that. That's a great analogy, Garrett. They're placing the pieces around the board in advance. Before they put their finger on a piece, they're visualizing what needs to happen next to make it a successful move.

[00:12:24] Garret: I think too this idea he brought up about heading the football. It's interesting. I can imagine him seeing situations, working through things in his head so that he could head the football. That's what he's working out in his head. How can I put this into practice. And I- I can only imagine that there's probably 15 other things on that list he was working through. "Okay, how do I get to that point? How do I solve that problem?" And then works through it in his head. That's what he sounds like he's doing.

[00:12:51] Jaycen: Yeah.

[00:12:51] Yeah, I was saying, like, some of those things are not easily fixed. You know, this idea of the- the heading the football. What- what is the competitive advantage that would make him to unique to get on the team? How often do we do that? As you were saying, Garrett, maybe even his awareness of what is my skillset? What are my excelling qualities? How can I use these to my advantage? That reminds me, actually, what's her name? Sally Hogshead.

[00:13:14] Hiromi: Hogshead.

[00:13:14] She has a book. Yeah. [laughs] It's an interesting last name.

[00:13:17] Garret: You are just making this stuff up. Hogshead.

[00:13:20] Jaycen: No joke. Look it up, okay?

[00:13:22] Garret: Sally Hogshead, How to Fascinate.

[00:13:25] Jaycen: That's it. How to fascinate.

[00:13:26] Garret: Based on- based on who you are, fascinate with what you already have. #Sallyhogshead #booksales.

[00:13:33] Jaycen: Hashtag. But it- it's basically like, identifying your personality profile, and doing more of- of you. Understanding who you are, and then leaning into it. That's what makes you unique and different, and et cetera. And many people might say, "Oh, I like what I see in this person. I want to be that person."

[00:13:53] Hiromi: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

[00:13:53] Jaycen: "Man, they're just such an eloquent speaker. Garrett, the way he leans into the mic, it just-" [laughs]

[00:13:59] Hiromi: Yes.

[00:14:00] Garret: Unparalleled. Unparalleled.

[00:14:03] Jaycen: [laughs]

[00:14:04] But, yeah. You know, it's kinda beautiful. It- it's just lean in to more of who you are, and, like-

[00:14:09] Garret: Yeah.

[00:14:10] Jaycen: I think in his case, like, that's what he recognized. "Hey, I have something unique. How do I visualize it to get better at it?"

[00:14:15] Garret: Yeah.

[00:14:15] Jaycen: To level up and go even further.

[00:14:17] Hiromi: I really like that. I wanna read that book now because I feel like we do have a tendency to idolize people that have qualities we don't have. We spend our lives failing at imitating other people when we would excel at being ourselves.

[00:14:33] Garret: So, to be honest, I found my perception of visualization coming into prepping for this podcast way different from where I now think about visualization. Like, I did come in with a preconception that this is, like, a new age, unvetted, like, people doing healing-

[00:14:50] Hiromi: Right.

[00:14:50] Garret: ... with crystals kinds of things.

[00:14:52] Hiromi: [laughs]

[00:14:53] Garret: It reminds me of the example of Jim Carey, when he was on Oprah. Famously, he said, he wrote himself a $10 million dollar check for acting services rendered.

[00:15:32] And so visualizing an outcome. You know, that wasn't necessarily the steps, like Tal's talking about here. Different circumstances and situations. But gives you an example of, what is this visualization thing even mean? The ability to see what the outcome want be and work towards that.

[00:15:48] Hiromi: Well, you think back to being that age, pre-teens, maybe early teens. Spending a summer just daydreaming about the potential of life. It almost feels like a waste of time. But for Jim Carey, it's almost as though that helped him in some way. And I think that's what we're looking for is, how does it help? What aspect of this childhood summer is actually preparing you for success in the future?

[00:16:16] Dudley Tal Stokes:

[00:16:16] (simulator) Later on, I went to play for another high school. I made the team. I played in a- a practice game away, and was pretty satisfied with my performance. But my father, who was by this time, the principal, had come to the game, and on the way back home, he- he was driving. He was visibly upset. So after an hour of silence in the car, I asked him what was the problem? And he said, uh, "You're playing like a coward." That came as a big surprise to me.

[00:16:52] But after the initial hurt and thinking about it, I- I took what he was saying. I understood it, and I started working on those aspects of the game. To become more full-blooded. Lay everything on the line. And eventually that became sort of a philosophy of how I play sport and ultimately played life.

[00:17:19] (entering the military) I was a child of privilege in Jamaica. My parents weren't wealthy, but they were well educated. They believed in education. By the time I came into my teenage years, I had a- a broad range of knowledge. And my parents had a lot of connections. That's not true for most Jamaicans, and opportunities are constricted. So Jamaicans end up traveling. There are more Jamaicans living outside of Jamaica than inside. UK, USA, Canada. Very large communities.

[00:17:51] As a person of privilege, connected person, I had possibilities at home. My mom wanted me to be a lawyer. But I had a conversation with a family doctor. A guy named Barry Hastings, who also was a- a reserve soldier. And he knew our family situation. And we had two boys coming to university age, and there wasn't all that much money to go around. And he suggested that I join the army. Said, "They pay for everything. You'll get to travel the world and a great education."

[00:18:25] Thought about that over the summer, and when I announced that I was joining the army, that was like a- a bomb went off in the house. My mother was visibly distressed, and my father was quietly pleased. He was a servant officer. I applied and by September had been selected, and I was in the Jamaica Defense Force.

[00:18:54] Part of my father's influence as well, I was selected for officer training at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, which is the- the UK equivalent of West Point. So it was sort of the elite of the elite. I was selected for flight training. And went off to Canada. It was while in Canada that I further refined that whole visualization approach. So the head boss called a static simulator, which just sits there. It doesn't actually move, and it's really meant for you to master your procedural moves, of which switch to pull now and where to turn. But as I'd sit it in for hours and take it through all the flight maneuvers. Loops and rules, landings, take offs. Engine failures. All through the power of the mind. And then having then the tactile touch, the feel for the yoke and the throttle. I turned it into a full-blown simulator, just through the use of my imagination. In a year, I came back to Jamaica as a fixing and helicopter pilot.

[00:20:07] Jaycen: You know what's cool? Like, it's- it's kind of like thinking through the lens of a child.

[00:20:16] Hiromi: Yeah.

[00:20:16] Jaycen: And carrying that perspective forward. Like, even in this flight stimulator training that's a static simulator, it sounds like to me, it's just like this chair on the floor. [laughs] "Okay, we need to role play."

[00:20:29] Garret: Chair in a box.

[00:20:30] Jaycen: Yeah, take off, landing. You know, like every kid. Yeah, maybe a cardboard box there. Decorate it however you want. I'm sure it's more sophisticated than that, but that ability to be childlike in a way and bring it forward into practices and different activities that we do now as adults. How often is that stuff highlighted?

[00:20:51] Hiromi: Right, you- you-

[00:20:52] Jaycen: Oh in school, right? The idea of visualizing yourself going through a process, or the idea of visualizing yourself getting to an outcome. Is that taught? You know-

[00:21:03] Hiromi: No.

[00:21:03] Jaycen: ... is that something that's reported? You know, it's, like, all these things are, like, stripped back from us. Then you get in the work world. Again, is this brought forward? Or is this, like, stripped back? No, it's like, "We need you to do this job, this task, this whatever."

[00:21:16] Garret: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

[00:21:17] Jaycen: It's just so fascinating that from a young age to now, he's in the military. He's using this process of visualization. He's actually enhancing this skillset that he developed at a young age-

[00:21:28] Hiromi: Yeah.

[00:21:28] Jaycen: ... to get him to where he wants to go.

[00:21:30] Garret: It's so true. Here, he is, like, fully harnessing imagination and using it to his advantage, and for most of us, we lose that. We lose that childness that Jaycen's talking about, because we want to be so professional. We want to be so whatever it is, that we just kind of [laughs] forget how to do that, and yet, it's such an amazing skill.

[00:21:52] Hiromi: Yeah. It sounds like, though, that it's not that you let that imagination run wild. It- it sounds like there is some effort that goes in, that you need to exercise it or hone it in some way.

[00:22:07] Garret: Yeah, you know what? It's interesting. There's, uh, this idea of imagination being, like, muscle. You work it. You exercise it. You use it in a specific way so that it produces a certain kind of strength. I think especially as athletes, that's a relatable thing. It's taking that power and focusing it and harnessing it towards something.

[00:22:31] Jaycen: Yeah, and his specific case, right? I mean, being a pilot. That was a constraint was, how do I use this in flying this aircraft? How do I simulate the feeling that I'm going to experience? It's interesting. There's research around this not only being more efficient, but what does it do for us in terms of managing the level of stress that we experience?

[00:22:50] Garret: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

[00:22:50] Jaycen: You know, things like that. In trying to understand visualization at it relates specifically to executives, to businesses. I was googling and found an article by Dr. Frank Niles, who is a contributor at the Huffington Post. So I passed his name to Jaycen. Jaycen reached out, asked him a bunch of questions, and here's what we found out.

[00:23:11] Dr. Frank Niles: Visualization is really a process or technique, if you will, of creating a vivid mental image of some future event, some goal you want to achieve. And it really involves all of our senses. There's actually substantial body of research that shows the efficacy of visualization to increase performance. And I'll give you just one example. Uh, a Dr. Blaslotto at, uh, University of Chicago, did a study in 1996 on visualization. And it was with basketball players. He broke 'em into three groups. The first group, he told them not to touch a basketball for 30 days, no practicing or anything. The second group is told to practice free throws for a half hour each day for 30 days. And then the third group was told to come to the gym every day for 30 days and spend a half hour with their eyes closed simply visualizing hitting every free throw.

[00:24:11] Well, what do the results show? After 30 days, the first group of students, who did not practice, showed zero improvement. That's not surprising. The second group, who had practiced every day, showed a 24% improvement. And then the third group, who hadn't done any physical free throwing, showed a 23% improvement in their free throw completions. Basically the same as the group that practiced every day. And that's just one study. There's countless others. There's studies that look at the- the impact of visualization on students taking exams. And lo and behold, when students envision themselves completing each question successfully, it actually increases their test performance and reduces stress for them.

[00:24:59] Garret: And so that's not a spiritual, hokey new-age kind of thing. He is literally practicing. He is understanding, what is the cause and effect of my actions.

[00:25:10] Jaycen: That's a good point, though. It's like mental practice, right? I mean, however we want to slice it. Mental preparation, mental practice, mental rehearsal.

[00:25:18] Garret: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

[00:25:18] Jaycen: It's our brain that's actually doing all this. And our brain is what receives and processes everything we do anyways, so it's just trying to do it in our- in our head before we actually do it.

[00:25:28] Hiromi: It's interesting. There's this TED Talk by, uh, Patty Dobrowolski. And she talks about her mind makes these kind of assumptions about stuff that we're not physically looking at all the time.

[00:26:17] Yeah, so when you- you reach for a cup of coffee, you're not always looking at that cup, and amazingly, you can put your fingers exactly where they need to go based solely on images that are stored in your mind. So maybe there is potential to hone that or expand that ability. I think that's what she's saying, right?

[00:26:37] Garret: I appreciate that her TED Talk, too, she said, "How can you get yourself to do the boldest thing?" She says, "By drawing the most compelling picture." 'Cause even if you're not a visual thinker, you can exercise that muscle using other senses to visualize what that outcome is, and then what the steps are to where you want to be and draw it.

[00:26:56] Jaycen: And there's a different. You know, Tal spoke a little bit early in this experience about his daydreaming as a child. And maybe that's the difference, is that there's something specific in mind.

[00:27:05] Garret: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

[00:27:06] Jaycen: It's not just, like, empty headedness. This is about really visualizing something. It's not like a- a gimmicky thing either. And it doesn't mean just wishful thinking. If we think it, we become it. It's just bringing in all the senses to really think through what we're trying to achieve. And what are the steps to get there? To what extent do we do that? Not very much. Maybe a lot of that's the time factor. But has this been something that's really emphasized. I think there's- there's opportunity for improvement in terms of how we do it.

[00:27:36] Garret: (Octegenarians ) So I was listening to the Andy Roh Show on YouTube. He was interviewing Dr. Tara Schwartz. She's a neuroscientist. And she was talking all about the effect of visualization on people. So they took this group of octogenarians, 80 something year olds. And here's what she said.

[00:28:45] And so it's, like, the power of the brain to go through a practice, or a rehearsal, actually changes the physical part of it for you as a human. Some very interesting stuff.

[00:28:58] Hiromi: Super interesting. Super interesting stuff. So we're starting to get a picture of how visualization may have helped Tal up unti this point, but we haven't gotten to the main part of the story yet.

[00:29:08] Dudley Tal Stokes:

[00:29:08] (Intro to Jamaican bobsleigh) So the idea of a Jamaica bobsled occurred to two Americans living in Jamaica. One worked for the United States Embassy, George Fitch, the other one was married into a prominent Jamaican family, William Maloney. George Fitch always wanted to do a movie. He was a big fan of Downhill Racer, the 1967 movie with Gene Hackman and Robert Redford.

[00:29:37] George wanted to do a sport project, to try and make it into a movie. And William was a bucket list kind of guy. Just wanted to march in the opening ceremonies of an Olympic Games. And so in a bar right now, they saw the push car [inaudible 00:29:45] on the TV. It occurred to this that this was a lot like the sport of bobsled itself.

[00:30:11] So they So they investigated it. They discovered both needed speed and power to start. So they thought they were home and dry. But as you can imagine, they had real trouble getting athletes.

[00:30:20] Hiromi: So in the movie, John Candy plays this American character that takes the initiative in training these Jamaicans. That character, even though there's a lot of liberties taken, most closely aligns with George Fitch.

[00:30:36] Jaycen: Yeah, it says, like, in '85 to '86, he was set up down in Jamaica to be instrumental in some commercial trade investment programs as part of Reagan's taskforce in the Caribbean based initiatives. So obviously, he was- he was in politics, you know. He was challenged to get Jamaica to the winter Olympics in six months. So it sounded like he wasn't someone to back down from a challenge, but prepping for the Olympics in six months is just a remarkable feat for any country.

[00:31:03] Hiromi: I think that's part of why this story is so popular, is that it's so absurd. There's no snow or ice. Why would they choose bobsledding to be the sport to train these athletes in? But what Tal alludes to is that in bobsled, all of the momentum, and the speed that's needed to win the race comes from pushing that thing. There's no motor on that sled. So you need speed and power at the start. Where are you gonna get people that can push something super fast and hard at the beginning? It's gonna be these track runners and these sprinters. They saw that they were already doing something very similar in Jamaica with these push carts, pushing those down the hall.

[00:31:42] Jaycen: This is the one accurate part of the movie, though. Is that, there was, like, a push cart derby.

[00:31:46] Garret: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

[00:31:47] Jaycen: Right? So it sounds like-

[00:31:47] Hiromi: Yeah.

[00:31:48] Jaycen: They thought, "Oh, this translates to ice, snow, track. Four men [inaudible 00:31:45]."

[00:31:53] Hiromi: "Yeah, we actually have a shot at this."

[00:31:57] Dudley Tal Stokes: So I went to the army. George Fitch and Ken Barnes, my commanding officer, were friends. So he went to ask and to give him some athletes. So Ken said, "Yes, what do you need? Speed, Paul, yes, yes. We've got these guys." Then they said, "We need an athlete with proven hand-eye coordination to try to teach the driver's thing." And Ken Barnes said, "Yeah. I have the man for you."

[00:32:21] (invitation to join) I was on leave from the military with my full rank and selected was my commanding officer, how told me to get a newspaper, find the ad for the Jamaican bobsled trials, and to make sure that I was there. And I don't know how much you guys know about the military, but when colonels start talking to captains, it's a one-way conversation.

[00:32:42] And I- I remembered at seeing about 15 seconds our clip, while I was at Sandhurst, of this machine going down this ice chute. I thought the people were absolutely crazy. This was a pre-internet time. No Google. So I set about finding out what bobsled was. Called some friends, who called some other friends overseas. So I pieced together little bits and pieces of information I had coming back. And what intrigued me was learning that this thing could be driven. And so, I decided that if it could be driven, I would like to try to drive it.

[00:33:34] In time, I learned a bit more about the sport. The need for speed and power, the start, the equipment. The machinery and how it worked. And in retrospect, I've learnt obviously a great deal about driving a bobsled now, and the similarities with flying a helicopter end quite soon. The forces acting on a bobsled are far more diverse. It operates in many different dimensions. It's held on a wall of a curve by gravity and momentum. And there are only specific points at which it's actually possible to steer.

[00:34:09] And mastering these things and then acting on them in the timeframe alone is actually a very complex issue. But here we were. It's just something. It needed to be done, and I just thought that I was the person to do it. I was the guy who would give this a try.

[00:34:33] Garret: So he sees the 15-second clip. Well, it's a vehicle going down the ice that needs to be driven. I'm wondering if he has the confidence to say, "It's just a thing with forces acting on it. I'm going to visualize my way through what all these pieces are that I needed to put together." The information he was downloading, and having the confidence to say, "Yep, that translates. Yep, that translates." And just going for it.

[00:35:02] Hiromi: Yeah, that's a really good point, that he was preparing for it because he's even physically seen a bobsled.

[00:35:09] Jaycen: How close do you think that visualization was to the real thing? You know, this is in an era before YouTube. They... [laughs]

[00:35:15] Garret: Yeah. I find, too, he recognized there was an opportunity there, and realized some person was going to be in this spot. And why shouldn't it be me? And I felt like that was very, uh, telling about his personality, to say, "That's gonna be me." Yeah.

[00:35:31] Jaycen: A fake it till you make it, yeah. Yeah.

[00:35:33] Garret: So we often talk professionally about having imposter syndrome. It's a sure sign that you're out of your comfort zone. You don't feel that you have the skills to actually pull this off. But then he gives this example of, someone's got to be there. So he's gonna be the person in that spot. And he just has the confidence to give it a go.

[00:35:52] Jaycen: Yeah.

[00:35:52] Garret: Now, having that confidence to get in and try and start sledding and moving and steering and- and seeing, and visualizing what that might be like is maybe just where we need to get to, as people and as professionals.

[00:36:04] Hiromi: Well said. We've learned a lot today about how visualization can help athletes achieve their goals, but are there any parallels to marketing? In our next episode, Tal explains how his visualized dreams became a reality, and then how reality took him by surprise.

[00:36:22] Dudley Tal Stokes: This was my first experience of failure, or a real- real setback in life. And I was determined that this moment would not define me.

[00:36:32] Hiromi: When do visualizations help us, and how do they let us down? All this and more next time on Reach.

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