The Four A’s of Leadership

I had two conversations with John Mattone; over skype in March 2016 and a face-to-face meeting in March 2017 at the Radisson in Zürich, Switzerland.

Marcel Kuhn: Who are you and what do you do?

John Mattone: I see a growing gap in leadership all over the world. Despite all the books that are written on leadership, we still struggle in all walks of life, all over the world, raising the bar for individual accountability. I think that every one of us, from a young age, needs to learn to raise their hand and accept responsibility and accountability for being the best that we can be. I don’t think parents, educators, or companies are teaching the message of abundance. To make a long story short, my vocation is about abundance and helping leaders and future leaders to achieve more. In my speeches, my coaching and my programs I’m talking about the 4 A’s; Achievement, Altruism, Affiliation, and Abundance.


What can I do to make it more effective and achieve more in your life? It’s not about houses and cars or anything like that. Is it just are you more effective in the business? Are you more effective at home? It’s about achievement.


What I mean by altruism, it is not about you. Ultimately, It’s always about what you are doing for other people as a leader in your private and in your professional life. Altruism is a value that brings centeredness to others and is ultimately bringing centeredness to ourselves. In my perspective, happiness is fueled by creating centeredness and happiness in others. The extent that you’re courteous, you’re compassionate, altruistic to others, they do the same to you.


There is a difference between having a relationship with somebody and having a real tight one. We don’t have enough tight bonds with people. If you look at social media, those are all relationships. We have to hold ourselves accountable and responsible for creating strong bonds with people who are better than us. We have to surround ourselves with people who can guide us.

Most of the leaders I coach, hear this concept for the first time. They look at me and they say, that it sounds interesting, but they have never heard it that way. Ultimately, it’s all about our legacy. How do you want your life to be remembered? Who are you? What is your core purpose in life? Most executives, never ask these questions. By living the 4A’s, that’s how we are going to create a legacy. When it’s time to die, you have done your work, but your legacy and all that it represents lives on.

A year ago, I was doing more speeches and programs and my work shifted to more intimate one on one coaching. It is a good shift. It’s life-changing work. I think that is where you have breakthroughs with people. I still love doing speeches, it’s like sports, where you got to perform. You hope you hit the hearts, minds, and souls of your audience. You might instigate changes in people, but I don’t think that you can do the big work. I think my whole perspective has become deeper because I’m doing more one-on-one coaching, smaller group seminars, and workshops.


I want people to have a more fulfilled existence at work and at home. I’m not perfect. Nobody is perfect – We’re humans. When I deliver a speech, it’s all about moving people to a higher level of existence. If I make them better as a leader, in their business or at home, then I have achieved something.

Marcel Kuhn: How do you define success and fulfillment?

John Mattone: Success for me is the journey to becoming the best that you can be. It is about living the essence of the person that you must become, not what you want to become. I think there is a huge difference, and it separates successful people from those who are not. A lot of people walk around and say what do I want to be? I always say let’s change the question to a bigger question. The more important question is not what you want to become because, in many respects, it’s somewhat selfish. What’s the essence of the person that you must become? They look at me and they say, “What are you talking about?” The question must create pressure. It’s about recognizing that you’re not alone in this world and that you have a responsibility and accountability to create abundance in others.

Fulfillment is when I put my head on the pillow at night and I can look back and can say that I have positively impacted my wife and my four adult kids first. I don’t talk to each one every day, but I just want to make sure that I have impacted them positively every day.

First comes the family and then it’s obviously the impact I have on my work.

Marcel Kuhh: What is your vision or your dream for the next five to ten years?

John Mattone: I envision that I maintain my health and that I will continue doing what I’m doing now.

Since travel is stressful on my health and my family, I’m doing a lot of my work online. We are building the John Mattone University that offers online programs such as the nine-month coaching program with nine executives, the eight-month intelligent leadership immersion program and the John Mattone certification program.

The world is moving towards distance learning online. It was a combination of wanting to travel less and following market demand. My philosophy and approach to coaching, it’s all online. I see that I can still touch people and help them without actually being on site. I think that is going to continue growing significantly.

My CEO coaching has exploded in the last year and a half. I only take on five to six CEO coaching assignments a year, because it’s intense work on a different level. I will continue to help coaches become better to help ignite the lack of leadership we see in the world.

In the next few years, I will also publish another book. I don’t see myself retiring unless I have to

physically because I love what I do. Why would I stop?

Marcel Kuhn: What are your core beliefs and your core values?

John Mattone_ We need more courage in our hearts and souls. I’m not talking about crazy courage, but more about courage in your professional and private life. We need to have the courage to step out of our comfort zone because that’s the ignites to growth. If you’re not willing to disrupt your comfort zone, you’re not going to grow. Courage is about raising your hand and taking accountability, but also about being open for feedback from the people around you and working on it. You have to be able to take all that information in and make course corrections.

So many companies want agility. You’re not going to have an agile workforce where people are hungry to learn and grow unless there is a culture of courage that starts at the top. If you’ve got a lot of people who are not encouraging people to disrupt their comfort zones, you can’t build a culture of courage.

These are my character elements: diligence, loyalty, modesty, showing gratitude to others. Honesty. To me, if every one of us actually lived those character elements, imagine how the world would be.

Marcel Kuhn: Do you have any beliefs that you want to talk about?

John Mattone: The only thing that I’ll say is this, that a lot of people don’t understand the difference between thoughts and beliefs. I have seen it in my coaching work, that if you think that you can do something, that’s just not good enough. The question is, do you really believe it? A belief is a stronger thought. You’ve got to be able to look into your reference reservoir. Our reservoir is made up of pluses and minuses. You look in your reservoir every day and say, wow, every day that I do this, I add positive references. The momentum is so strong that you are able to convert your thought into belief an instigate positive action. I work with a lot of executives to get them to look for evidence that their beliefs are worthy and that they are valid.

Marcel Kuhn: What are your key challenges and key decisions in your life?

John Mattone: I gave up my corporate career at 55. I literally had a calling to move people and create abundance in the world. I wasn’t sure about what the next steps are I just move forward. Now I’m almost 60 years old. I think that currently, my biggest challenge is that the leadership development space is a very crowded space. In five years I have been able to breakthrough and reached a point where my name is recognized. I still wake up every day and I say this is a challenge to keep making sure that I’m relevant in my field. How do I make sure that my messages continue to resonate? How do I make sure that I can continue to bring abundance to the world? How do I make sure that I continue to grow the value of the John Mattone Global Brand? Each year has been better than the previous year. To me, that’s the biggest challenge. It’s not easy.

I strongly believe in myself. I know that when I’m speaking to people or coaching my clients, I’m going to move them. I’m going to make a difference. After I have performed I shut it off, because I know, every time is a whole new game. I take nothing for granted. I think that’s what helps me keep pumping.

I think my age actually is working for me because a lot of the guys who are ahead of me are getting older. In the world of leadership and coaching the age 60 is perfect. My sons who are Millenials are helping me create a leadership development app that I hope everybody in the world has on their phones. I’m trying to bring my messages to the world that way. I do think that’s the biggest challenge for me is making sure that I differentiate myself constantly.

Marcel Kuhn: Who were your sources of inspiration on your journey?

John Mattone: My parents were definitively the biggest source of inspiration, both my mother and father. My mom is just great, I learned a lot of great values from her. They both died at 67, relatively young. He was born Italian. He was a tremendous athlete in New York City. During those days, either you went into athletics or you went to college. Most of the immigrant kids went to the military. At the age of 18 or 19 he signed up for the United States Air force. He was what’s called enlisted and went to the highest rank he could go and became Chief Master Sergeant. He was well respected by the generals in the United States Air Force. I remember watching him speak. He was a passionate speaker. I got a lot of passion, drive, motivation, and the zeal to win and succeed from him.

When I entered the corporate world, Tony Robbins and Zig Ziglar had a tremendous influence on me. Last but not least, my wife whom I have dated in High School. This reinforces that we should never take anyone for granted because they can all leave us. I was thinking about that on the airplane last night that. I have a fear when I travel, that something could happen to my family. What am I going to do? First of all, I’m not going to find out. I feel a little bit out of control. I’m always unnerved by that, and when I land I’m always making sure that I get connected with my family and make sure everybody is ok. We are humans, arguments happen for certain. The complexities of the dynamics of a relationship make it impossible for us to be operating on all cylinders every single day. A little bit of distance and getting away from the stimuli goes a long way. You take the time to think, and the other person thinks and when the energy is there, you’re back.

Marcel Kuhn: What is your superpower and what super power would you like to have?

John Mattone: I believe that I inspire my family, my clients and the audiences I speak to. I don’t think people would say I’m of high intellect. I think my gift is my heart and my passion. Sometimes I’m not sure what words are going to come out, I just feel it. I think that’s my superpower.

If I could have a magic wand to touch people and ignite a deeper sense of humility and vulnerability, that would be wonderful. To me, it’s one of the big problems we’ve got is that we don’t have people willing to be humble and vulnerable. I think that would be an immense power to have because people would recognize that that was the key to achieve abundance.

Marcel Kuhn: What are the questions you ask yourself on a daily basis?

John Mattone: Did I bring my gifts to the world today?
Did I work on my weaknesses today?
Did I help others leverage their gifts and strengths today?
Did I help others close the gaps that they have?
Was I an incredible husband?
What did I do well today?
What didn’t I do well?
What am I going to commit to tomorrow differently?

Marcel Kuhn: What’s your emotional state most of the time?

John Mattone: I think that I remain cool when I’m conflicted. I take pride in handling tough situations with a calmness, although I can be disrupted. Business is tough, we’re not always dealing with honesty. There have been partnerships that I’ve had in the last couple of years where I went in with great intent and realize a year later that the deal was not as it seemed. There are just so many things that you can’t control. Basically, you have to roll with the punches. I never really lose my temper, it takes a heck of a lot to lose my temper. I’m generally satisfied with my life.

I got a late start financially in my life. I don’t think about making money. All I care about is that I’m making progress. Am I financially where I want to be? No, I’m not but I don’t worry about it because I figure if I keep doing what I’m doing, by the time I’m 70, I’m going to be in a sound situation. That’s how I look at it. I’m generally satisfied, but there is a real positive hunger.

Marcel Kuhn: Who are the top three achievers for you, and who do you think should be included in the book?

John Mattone: Marshall Goldsmith, Robin Sharma, John Maxwell

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