1755 – The Four-Step Afterburner Methodology with Christian Boucousis

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the CEO of Afterburner Inc., Christian Boucousis.

Boucousis wide

Boo, a former fighter pilot, shed light on the Afterburner mindset, a concept deeply rooted in his experiences in the cockpit.

He explained that this mindset is not just about grit and determination, but also about analytical thinking and the ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment.

As a fighter pilot, Boo explained, everything happens quickly. There is a constant need to balance the unknown (the airplane's trajectory) with the known (the pilot's control). This mindset, he believes, is a blend of the art of strategy and the science of getting things done.

Boo emphasized the importance of storytelling and creating a compelling narrative in business. He drew parallels between the captivating narratives of “Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars” and the often lackluster stories in the business world.

Afterburner, he explained, helps organizations create a high-definition destination, a clear and purposeful story that aligns everyone's actions.

Boo stressed the importance of debriefing in a supportive peer group, as they can help identify blind spots and provide valuable insights. He compared this process to cognitive behavioral therapy, where emotions are unpacked through action.

He also highlighted the significance of having a clear purpose and the need to achieve tangible results, as positive thoughts alone may not be enough.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Afterburner mindset and its connection to being a fighter pilot
  • Importance of analytical thinking and working in a fast-paced environment
  • The art of strategy and the science of getting things done
  • Importance of storytelling and creating a compelling narrative in business
  • Afterburner methodology: plan, brief, execute, and debrief
  • ORCA process: Objective, Result, Cause, and Action
  • Importance of debriefing in a supportive peer group
  • Working with large enterprises and small/medium-sized businesses
  • Afterburner offerings: keynotes, experiential programs, learning and development modules

About Christian Boucousis:

Christian Boucousis, widely known as “Boo,” serves as the CEO of Afterburner, a global human and organizational performance company. Renowned as a world-class keynote speaker, Boo employs a results-oriented approach that has left a lasting impact on individuals and organizations worldwide.


Boo's revolutionary “Evolutionary Way of Thinking” has transformed the approach to achieving immediate and sustained performance leaps, discarding outdated models.

His innovative concept of “Thought Loops” imparts fast-thinking, fast-acting skills to leaders and teams, fostering a growth mindset and enabling consistent surpassing of expectations.

With a proven track record, Boo has received countless positive reviews from satisfied clients, showcasing the tangible impact of his insights. His life story, marked by adaptability and reinvention, reflects his ability to succeed in adversity.

From fighter pilot to building a humanitarian business with a $200 million turnover and leading transformative projects, Boo's diverse experiences enrich his motivational speeches.

Boo's unique blend of expertise, energy, and passion positions him as an ideal keynote speaker for those seeking inspiration and empowerment.

Beyond providing tools for goal achievement, Boo inspires individuals to unlock their full potential, fostering positive impacts in both personal and professional spheres.

About Afterburner Inc:

Established in 1996, Afterburner Inc. pioneered integrating battlefield mission planning and strategic tactics into the corporate realm.

Comprising consultants with backgrounds in elite military teams and extensive business leadership experience, Afterburner has dedicated two decades to aligning strategy with daily activities and ensuring disciplined execution of mission-critical systems.

The company's renowned methodology and flawless Execution is a powerful force multiplier for organizations, facilitating alignment, focus, and effective execution of key leverage points.

As practitioners of a hands-on and embedded approach, Afterburner is committed to developing leaders, enhancing communication and collaboration, fostering agility, and instilling team and individual accountability through a shared mental model.

Beyond immediate engagements, Afterburner's goal is to contribute to the sustained success of organizations. With a mission to make client success its own, Afterburner remains a trusted partner in driving organizational excellence.

Tweetable Moments:

5:17 – “So if you start with known and unknown and you want to turn that into success, so the unknown is more the art of strategy. If we take those two states and we say yes, despite that being unknown, I still have to get things done and I still have to be successful.”

11:11 – “Self awareness is one of the hardest things to have. We want to be self aware, but at the same time we don't know how to do it.”

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Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Afterburner Inc. website at

Check out Afterburner Inc on LinkedIn at

Check out Afterburner Inc on Twitter at

Check out Afterburner Inc on Facebook at

Check out Afterburner Inc on Instagram at

Check out Christian Boucousis on LinkedIn at

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Check out Christian Boucousis on Instagram at

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach, or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now it's Christian Boo Boo Crucis, aka we're just going to refer to you as boo. From now on. You're because your website is call Me Bukom. Also boo your other website After burner. And I should point out that you are also a podcaster and your podcast is called The Few with boo.

Josh (00:01:21) - And again, to our friend that's listening to us right now. Just do a quick search on that and you can find that podcast, but it's great to have you. Thanks, Josh. It's a pleasure to be here.

Christian (00:01:29) - My son's name is Josh and you can probably hear him screaming in the background.

Josh (00:01:34) - Well, I may scream from time to time as well, but. And not today. We'll hold off on that during this and we'll leave that to the other Josh. All right. So we'll give us a quick overview of the work, the impact that you have today, what you do.

Christian (00:01:47) - I think for me it's about connecting purpose and passion with doing something every day. And often when you hear those words, they're a little bit flowery, a little bit fluffy. So where I come from, it is really from the structure of being a fighter pilot and what worked to take the dream of being a fighter pilot for me and for many fighter pilots, what starts as a dream and turning it into reality.

Christian (00:02:11) - And when you look at startup businesses, when you look at product launches, when you look at anything, that is a concept that needs to become reality. There's just not a lot of structure around that. And I think the methodology that was actually founded by a gentleman called Jim Murphy, former US fighter pilot, almost 25 years ago. What he calls flawless execution is a really great platform. So for me, being introduced to that as a concept, ten years ago, when I was an entrepreneur in my own right, I had founded a humanitarian projects business in the Middle East to help rebuild Afghanistan, sold that, moved in property development, built a 17 story hotel, sold that business, and during that I became acquainted with with afterburner. So I guess afterburner is about fighter pilot mindset in business. As a theory, I was fighter pilot mindset in business for real, so became quite enamored with the brand. I got involved quite a license for as my accent can probably attest to. I'm not from the US, I'm an Australian, I live in the US now and you know, over time got friendly with Murph and earlier this year I acquired the business from him and became the CEO because I feel it's just such a powerful message.

Christian (00:03:16) - It's not it's not even a methodology. It the belief system that happens to have steps to it. So for me, my call me boo was hand in glove with afterburner. Whereas afterburner is very specific around fighter pilot ways of working for me, I really wanted to unpack the psychology. My journey is a little bit more around neuroscience. The five brains. You know why it is that fighter pilots came up with this system and way of working. The simple answer was because a lot of fighter pilots were getting killed in accidents and in combat. So that's the very high level. And and it's very hard to find university studies where you come up with systems and thought models and cognitive programs where people were killed to figure out the best way of working. So so that's kind of rare. So, so my job or I feel my mission now is a human until when I kick the bucket, is to use other resources and other research to prove up the fighter pilot mindset and way of working. That is because lots of people died.

Christian (00:04:16) - Plus, plus. Here's research that also shows that it's a really smart way to approach life.

Josh (00:04:21) - Yeah. So tell us a bit more about kind of this afterburner mindset or this, you know, having the mindset of a jet fighter pilot as a leader. And I'm not so concerned about the Watts grit and its determination. But what is behind that that drives that. So it's not like, well, I just need to have more fortitude. Right? It's deeper than that. Yeah.

Christian (00:04:46) - And that's where we diverge a little bit from, I guess, the models for working that have their basis in Special forces. You know, you've got Jocko willing and it's all great work. Don't get me wrong. Ours is just different because whilst you need grit and determination, it's a very different type. It's a, you know, we're a very analytical, science based type of environment where everything happens very, very fast. Everything happens fast on the ground or in the air, but we are literally going very fast, like thousands of miles per hour.

Christian (00:05:17) - So that's what's very different. The other is the third dimension. And again on the ground you've got the third dimension which is up. But in aviation we have the third dimension which is going down. And if you go down badly you hit the ground and you get killed. It's not a zero sum game being a fighter pilot. So fundamentally, if you look at the fighter pilot model that connects two states, that being the unknown, which is where the airplane is going and the known what I can control the cockpit, the aeroplane and the pilot that sits inside. So if you start with known and unknown and you want to turn that into success, so the unknown is more the art of strategy. If we take those two states and we say yes, despite that being unknown, I still have to get things done and I still have to be successful. We've got to come down a level and go, well, let's articulate the unknown in terms of the art of strategy. So that's storytelling. It's creativity because we're working with a future that hasn't happened yet.

Christian (00:06:12) - And let's call the known science. So the science of getting things done, we can work there. And being a fighter pilot is an exercise in bouncing between the two very quickly. So when we talk about the art of strategy, we talk about what's our story that's compelling enough to invest in the science, because whilst the science is very tangible, it's still resource intensive. And that is you as an individual getting something done in a day. You only have so many resources available to you. You've only got so much brainpower, so much food, so much time. So we have to make sure that we point the science in the right direction. So we help organizations create a great story. And we like to call that a high definition destination, because the story has to be clear, it has to have chapters. It has to have characters. Everyone has to know what their role is. If you looked at Lord of the rings as a story, could you imagine all of that activity going on without the story? Just a bunch of hobbits floating around and jumping in trees and throwing, and then some elves just come in? Oh, there's some dwarves too.

Christian (00:07:08) - It's chaos. Right? You've got to have a story. But equally in that story, you know what the Lord of the rings is. Before you open a book, you know what Star Wars is before you open the book. It's a story of good versus evil, right? So it's very simple. And there's a purpose to the rebels, and there's a purpose to the empire. There's a purpose to the orcs, and there's a purpose to the hobbits. So everyone has a role. Yeah. In business, we're led by science, financial projections. And so therefore, our stories aren't very compelling. We've got 263 hobbits that eat this much food. It's important, but it's not going to engage people. Right? So what we do as fighter pilots is we create a great story. Even the fighter pilot themselves. And afterburner tells the story. It's a belief system. It's green suits, patches, our ethos, pathos, Lagos. Everything is very well articulated and passed down to generation to generation and it's all consuming.

Christian (00:07:58) - Every fighter pilot is the same everywhere. It doesn't matter what country you come from. We all have this weird fighter pilot code during World War two, during Vietnam, Korea. What's going on now around the world? Russia, Ukraine put a bunch of fighter pilots in the room and we'll speak the same language. So that is what's incredibly unique about our world. So flawless execution is, hey, let's create a compelling story, something that has a sense of purpose to it. And then let's do some purposeful action. And it's really created around four key steps, which is aligned with time. So our plan is all about the future. It's called plan brief execute debrief. Our plan is about the future. Our brief is connecting the future to today. Execution is today. And our debrief is yesterday actually just happened. And it's very elegant in that most organizations are unable to connect the three states of time in four steps. And if you think about an enterprise of 200,000 people, if those 200,000 people can have the same conversation and talk about tomorrow, today and yesterday in a way that is aligned throughout the organization, imagine we don't have to imagine.

Christian (00:09:06) - We know it just cuts through the noise, creates very simple alignment. It reduces ambiguity, and it just means that we help the human brain out, which doesn't do tomorrow and yesterday and today very well. Will we just mumble it all up? Right? We get anxious about a future that doesn't exist. We get upset about a mistake that we made in the past without really understanding why. So it's a very elegant system because through the four steps, not only do we if we look at the art and science of execution, but we also start to manage is the feel, think, do loop inside a human, our emotions, our thoughts and actions. Again, just through four steps. That's that's the power of it, right? So what we do, particularly in managing the emotional energy and engagement and the well-being side or psychological safety of a team or an individual is we break out that debrief step. So plan brief execute, debrief. That's tomorrow today and yesterday all linked together very nicely. But the debrief is all about let's unpack what just happened.

Christian (00:10:06) - So let's have another four step conversation. So four steps to execution four steps to debriefing. And we call the debriefing process the orca. The orca is a big black and white dolphin. Some might call it a killer whale, but an orca is is known as one of the most intelligent animals in the animal kingdom. It has an accelerated learning curve. So we use orca it for our debrief. And what Orca stands for is objective result, cause and action. And again, that's really when it comes to being successful. That's the four steps to being successful. Having a clear objective.

Speaker 3 (00:10:39) - Um.

Christian (00:10:40) - Being very honest about where you are today, your result, and this is the bit that gets a bit tricky. It's the cause, why am I here? And this is a very personal conversation, and this is where we start busting the the 200 odd belief systems that live in each and every one of us, our cognitive biases. And we do a debrief in a peer group in an environment we call nameless and reckless.

Christian (00:11:00) - And the beauty about a peer group is a supportive peer group can see your blind spots. All right? Because as we all know, self awareness is one of the hardest things to have. We want to be self aware, but at the same time we don't know how to do it. So we do this in a peer group because we're very analytical. Objectives are clear, results are clear, their numbers. And really all we're trying to find is one cause as to why I might be where I am today compared to where I want to be, and when we find that cause, the most important part of debriefing is doing something about it. In clinical psychology, this methodology is akin to what they call CBT cognitive behavioral therapy, where we logically unpack our emotions through action and the brain and all of our habits. The way we learn, the way we feel better about ourselves is through action, not just thoughts. To another way of thinking about it is Simon Sinek says start with Y, which is very powerful.

Christian (00:11:54) - That's your purpose. Now I clearly understand why I'm doing this, but fighter pilots have another why and we say, well, why am I not there yet? Because that's just as important. And when it comes to positive psychology, when it comes to positive thoughts, we can't fool ourselves. Mindset and positive intention is great, but we also have to win. We have to actually achieve some stuff on that journey or we lose faith in this positivity. Which is why positive psychology can be a bit of an empty shell. And actually, it's starting to create a generation of kids where all of these positive thoughts aren't delivering results. And therefore I become more depressed and anxious because I've got all this great material, my schools telling me about positive thoughts, positive intentions. Yeah, but I'm not the first. I'm not in the first football team. I'm not on the first netball team. I'm not getting 98% on my exams. And now it's like, what's wrong with me? It must be me. That's the problem because I'm being positive.

Christian (00:12:55) - So what do I do next? Well, the thing you do next is actually have some wins. That's where we have to start scaling back our positivity and start to connect our weekly goals into something that's a bit more real. So what we've done in the last generation is take a goal, which is I want to be a welder and that's a great job to have to. I have to be a multi-billion dollar entrepreneur. And that's the expectation. And that gap is not a happy place now. So what we achieve with fighter pilots is we have an incremental system, because the day you come in is and I joined as a 19 year old idiot, and I had to start flying fighter jets as a 21 year old competent man. Yeah. And that two year process did that. And we can unpack a lot there around comfort zones and all sorts. But I'm aware of time. But but it's a very, very conditioned system that is designed to be successful. But to get a human being on the steepest learning curve possible, because we had a saying in the Air Force, anyone can be a fighter pilot, but we have to get this fighter pilot trained within 408 missions, and that's the benchmark.

Josh (00:14:02) - Yeah. So you've worked with McDonald's, Johnson Johnson, 7-Eleven, Microsoft, Pfizer, and I'm on your website right now. It's called me Bukom speaking, coaching, workshops, mentoring. Tell me a little bit about engaging with you and who should be engaging and what is the. Specifically like what do you do with these groups?

Christian (00:14:23) - Normally, because of the commercial reality of paying mortgages and scaling out your business model? We work a lot with large enterprise and one is a commercial reason, but the second one is also that's typically the biggest problem. They're so complex and they're so big and there's so many people. But for me also, I love working with enterprise because. Ultimately, that's where most of the workforce is. So if we can create great enterprises that have billions of dollars of resources at hand, and we can mobilize those resources into the greater good. That's where we want to influence as afterburner and where I want to influence personally. Having said that, we have a program and we love to work with small medium business, too.

Christian (00:15:05) - But you've got to be very clear around your purpose. And we're not I'm not for everyone. Afterburner is not for everyone, because we do need people to see that investing in the organization and the development and growth of the individuals in the organization is a great investment. And sometimes for some people, that can be a hard conversation for themselves. And people can be in denial, particularly in large enterprise. So we tend to work with those who, you know, kind of understand what the importance is of having a growth mindset.

Josh (00:15:37) - Yeah. So again, your website, kami Bukom and then also afterburner dot com, which is great domain name by the way.

Christian (00:15:46) - Yeah. It's an easy one to remember right.

Josh (00:15:48) - And so afterburner these would be more on the team building side of things.

Christian (00:15:53) - So after burner we we have keynotes where we deploy our intellectual property. We have experiential programs where where you get to experience what it's like to be a fighter pilot and which is in your office. Conference centers. We work with thousands of people at annual conferences or ten people at an executive team.

Christian (00:16:11) - And then we have a learning and development module. You're looking at our website, which is about six days from being updated to our new product suite. But afterburner is amazing. It's phenomenal because what we do is we put real fighter pilots into enterprise to work and develop people. In this fighter pilot model, it's the way we scale fighter pilot mindset and ways of working. And it's, you know, when you see it and you see these fighter pilots, they're just as excited as the enterprise we're working with. It's two worlds coming together. And when that collides, it's phenomenal. Magic happens.

Josh (00:16:46) - Well where do people go from here? I've enjoyed our conversation, have gotten to know you. Maybe they were researching you and they've stumbled upon this podcast. And what's next in their journey with you?

Christian (00:16:56) - Yeah. Reach out. I always say to somebody when they reach out to me first, if you had a magic wand and you waved it, and either me or the afterburner team were there, what would happen? Because I'm pretty confident we can make that magic happen.

Christian (00:17:10) - So reach out on Reach out. Call me boo. If you look at me up on LinkedIn, just type in boo koo sis. There's only two of us on LinkedIn, my dad and myself. So you'll find me there as well. And pop a DM, you know, just start a conversation.

Josh (00:17:25) - Love it. All right, Christian boo boo boo says aka boo. It's been great having you again. Your website afterburner and call me Boo Boo. Thank you so much for joining us.

Christian (00:17:37) - Thanks. Josh is a real pleasure loving to me.

Josh (00:17:45) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up my influence slash guest. If you're a listener, I'd love to shout out your business to our whole audience for free. You can do that by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts, or join our listener Facebook group. Just search for the Thoughtful Entrepreneur and Facebook. I'd love, even if you just stopped by to say hi, I'd love to meet you.

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