Chris Westfall Notes Page
Chris Westfall wrote down his desired salary on a napkin and the CEO accepted it. He started his new job but only a few weeks later, the CEO ended it. Chris moved his family to a new town for a job that no longer existed. Yet Chris thanks that CEO for the conversation.
Chris was born in Ohio and grew up in the Chicagoland area. The oldest of three children, his father was a field goal kicker and quarterback at a Big 10 University. His mother was a dancer and a performer who appeared on Broadway, and at the Seattle World’s Fair. While Chris didn’t inherit his father’s athletic ability, or his mother’s dancing skills, he did learn about the importance of performing. And performing under pressure.
He went to the performing arts high school in Chicago and went on to study Theatre at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He has appeared in numerous stage productions and television shows. (He met his wife in a production of “The Fantasticks”). Leaving behind a short-lived career as a professional stuntman, he went back to school to earn an MBA degree – Attending the number one school in the country for developing strong business communication skills. While there, he edited the business school newsletter, hosted a weekly radio show, and graduated with top honors, recognized as the MBA Communicator of the Year.
After graduation, Chris began his business career as a “corporate guy” – working for Fortune 100 telecommunications giants, Verizon and AT&T. He moved through a series of progressive responsibilities in marketing and product development, on his way to major account management, sales leadership and executive roles. As a global marketing executive with a division of Unilever, he helped unify a major brand in the company’s portfolio. As a result of his global success, he built sales teams around the world, transitioning into leadership roles in technology and manufacturing.
Chris launched his entrepreneurial career in 2008. Since then, he has helped launch over four dozen businesses, raising over $50 million in capital investment for entrepreneurs, and coaching his clients onto Shark Tank, Dragons’Den in Canada and Shark Tank Australia. Speaking between 60-100 times a year, he regularly works with thousands of leaders, from college campuses and military bases to the C-Suite, spreading the message of effective leadership communication. Recognized as the US National Elevator Pitch Champion, Chris is the author or publisher of seven books. His latest, Leadership Language, was released by Wylie in September 2018.
Chris and his wife live in Houston, Texas. Celebrating 25 years of marriage this past summer, they are the proud parents of two girls. Chris’s oldest daughter lives in New York City, and his youngest is a sophomore at Houston’s high school for the performing and visual arts (where Beyoncé Knowles Carter is an alum).
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“There’s always something missing in life, transformation is about bringing what’s missing into place.” – Click to Tweet
“It would be naive to deny that there are forces around us that go beyond you and me.” – Click to Tweet
“If it looks like everything in life is up to you, look again, there are forces at work.” – Click to Tweet
“There are forces that are helping to build your success, the key to that success is tap into those.” – Click to Tweet
“The strongest conversation always starts with what your listener is thinking.” – Click to Tweet
“Your client is anyone upon whom your success depends.” – Click to Tweet
“When respect goes away it’s very difficult to have a powerful conversation.” – Click to Tweet
“Leadership is not a self-serving role, but leadership is about service.” – Click to Tweet
“Where you put your attention is where you’ll find your results.” – Click to Tweet
“Make sure that you show up in a place that’s ready and prepared for uncertainty.” – Click to Tweet
“Leadership is not scripted, it’s not about copying someone else.” – Click to Tweet
“Imitation is not the same as innovation.” – Click to Tweet
“Leadership calls on all of us to innovate, to create new results, that’s the place where transformation really comes from.” – Click to Tweet
“There are no mistakes; there are circumstances and how you deal with them.” – Click to Tweet
“Just because a train of thought shows up, doesn’t mean I have to ride that train.” – Click to Tweet
“What matters is, what are the results you’re creating for the people around you.” – Click to Tweet
“Whatever results you see in your life, the ones that are most satisfying are going to come from the biggest risks that you take.” – Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Chris Westfall wrote down his desired salary on a napkin and the CEO accepted it. He started his new job but only a few weeks later, the CEO ended it. Chris moved his family to a new town for a job that no longer existed. Yet Chris thanks that CEO for the conversation.
Advice for others
Don’t play it safe. Take risks.
Holding him back from being an even better leader
The ability to focus on the people around me.
Best Leadership Advice
You practice like you play.
Secret to Success
Best tools in business or life
Contacting Chris Westfall
Resources and Show Mentions
Show Transcript:Click to access edited transcript
213: Chris Westfall: There are no mistakes
Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader podcast, where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.
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Okay, Fast Leader legion today I’m excited because we have somebody on the show today who is really going to give us some very different perspectives that for me I think it’s going to help me move onward and upward faster and I think it’s going to do the same for you as well. Chris Westfall was born in Ohio and grew up in the Chicagoland area. The oldest of three children his father was a field goal kicker and quarterback at a Big Ten University. His mother was a dancer and a performer who appeared on Broadway and at the Seattle’s World’s Fair. While Chris didn’t inherit his father’s athletic ability or his mother’s dancing skills he did learn about the importance of performing and performing under pressure. He went to the Performing Arts High School in Chicago and went on to study theater at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas Texas. He’s appeared in numerous stage productions and television shows. He met his wife in the production of The Fantasticks. Leaving behind a short-lived career as a professional stuntman he went back to school to earn an MBA degree attending the number one school in the country for developing strong business communication skills. While there he edited business school newsletter, hosted a weekly radio show, and graduated with top honors recognized as the MBA communicator of the year.
After graduation Chris began his career as a corporate guy working for Fortune 100 telecommunication Giant, Verizon and AT&T. He moved through a series of progressive responsibilities in marketing and product development on his way to major management, sales, leadership, and executive roles. As a global marketing executive with the division of Unilever he helped unify a major brand in the company’s portfolio. As a result of his global success he built sales teams around the world transitioning into leadership roles in technology and manufacturing. Chris launched his entrepreneurial career in 2008 since then he has helped launch over four dozen businesses raising over 50 million dollars in capital investment for entrepreneurs and coaching his clients on to Shark Tank, Dragon’s Den, which is in Canada, and Shark Tank, Australia. Speaking between 600 to 100 times a year, he regularly works with thousands of leaders from college campuses and military bases to the c-suite, spreading the message of effective leadership communication. Recognized as the U.S. national elevator pits champion Chris is the author or publisher of seven books. His latest, Leadership Language was released by Wiley in September 2018.
Chris’s wife live in Houston, Texas. Celebrating 25 years of marriage this past summer and they are proud parents of two girls, Chris’s oldest daughter lives in New York City and his youngest is a sophomore at Houston’s High School for the Performing and visual arts, that’s where Beyoncé knows Carter. Chris Westfall, are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Chris Westfall: I think so. Thanks for having me.
Jim Rembach: I’m glad you’re here. Now I’ve given my Legion a little bit about you, but tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better.
Chris Westfall: My current passion is helping people to tell their stories in ways that are more compelling, more engaging and more effective than ever before. But my work isn’t just about helping people to create fiction or write a pretty story or come up with a great lie and help people to believe in it my work really focuses on bringing your story to life. In other words, that authentic story that is made up of words and actions that brings your vision to life. Whether that’s an entrepreneurial vision or a vision for your team in a corporate environment whatever the case may be I’m in the business of helping people to succeed and helping people to turn their vision, their dreams, their ideas into reality.
Jim Rembach: Alright so as you’re talking and having the opportunity to go through your book I have to say that to me it’s a lot deeper than that. I mean it’s almost soulful, spiritual it is a much deeper thing that occurs and then I think you have a lot of different aspects of what can contribute to that. When you start talking about the depth, you and I talked off mic about the word transformation, what do you mean by that?
Chris Westfall: Transformation for me and for my clients is about creating the kind of change that’s missing. When I think about transformation, maybe this is true for you maybe it’s true for the folks who are listening, there’s always something missing in life something that we wish we could we could realize for ourselves for our relationships or business and transformation is about bringing that thing that’s missing into place. So is that a spiritual journey? Maybe. I don’t consider myself a spiritual leader or anything like that but at the same time I think that it would be naive to deny the fact that there are forces around us. No matter what your faith is again this is not a religious conversation but no matter what your faith is it’s easy to see that there are forces at work that go beyond you and me, and I think that denying that is simply naïve. For example, what is it that turns acorns into oak trees? What is it right now that’s allowing me to digest food, for example? Now you can say, Oh, Chris that’s science, that’s enzymes that’s photosynthesis. Alright, okay, I hear you.
But is there something more? And the reason I’m bringing this up is not to say again, it’s not a religious conversation but it’s a conversation about how, if it looks like everything in life is up to you look again there are forces at work. Forces of people in the past who built the roads that we travel on who worked in a factory to create the shirts and clothes that we wear there are forces at work just as you are a force at work to create change for yourself and for the people that you care about. What this means is that if it looks like—if it’s got to be it’s up to me. Look again there are people around you and there are forces around you. Call those forces what you will I’m not here to put labels on it for you. But there are forces that are helping to build your success. The key to that success is tapping into those sources and forces so that you can become the person that you need to be and create the transformation that’s missing.
Jim Rembach: Thanks for sharing that. As you were talking I started thinking about what you have—at the back of the book you have it in the appendix it is titled the 10 leadership factors. And the end leadership factors are the leadership conversation always starts with what your client is thinking and your perspective in your book client means a lot of different things. It could mean customer, it could mean significant other, it could be your employees, significant others, there’s a lot of things the client mean, and we’ll get into that in a second, and it says to get something new start with something known your clients clients sit’s in the empty chair, and we’re going to talk about that, leaders listen with their eyes as well as their ears leaders are deeply aligned with both sides of the conversation context conquers content, leadership language involves your clients in the story and thinking about the high concept, the common perspective is the first step toward uncommon results, the leadership accepts things as they are on the journey, acceptance is the first step to creating things that could be, and I think there’s a whole probably of a lot of resilience and adaptability in there as well, and the simplest message is the strongest. So when you start looking at these 10 leadership factors, when you start thinking about origin and origination and drivers and most importance, how did this come about?
Chris Westfall: The leadership factors came about from observation, taking a keen look at what works. And from number one to number ten there based on my personal observation, research, science the observation of what makes people most effective. Take number one example, the strongest conversation always starts with what your listener is thinking. Now if that’s not true we should talk about how you should kick the door down and come in with a powerful charisma and try to convince people the strength of your will so that you can get them into your mindset instead of their own. How does that work? You see if you want to have a powerful conversation you have to start with what your listener. It’s like the famous quote from Arthur Ashe the tennis star who famously said, start where you are, do what you can never give up. And that starting where you are is a note to look at not just where you are but where your listener is and start there if you want to create real change. So many times we focus on our own content, our own stories rather than the context of the person that we’re talking to. And it’s that context that creates the meaning that context is the key to leadership language because leadership language looks at creating change and transformation for the person that’s right in front of you. In the book I call the person who’s right in front of you your client.
To define that a little bit further your client is anyone upon whom your success depends. So that means that your client of course is in a traditional sense that means your customer, it might mean you know clients who come and visit you if you’re in a therapy role or whatever the case may be that sort of client. It could be an internal client, your client also though is your boss because your success depends upon your boss. Your client could be your board of directors your client could be your shareholders or stakeholders, you see what I mean? I said this once in a workshop when I was explaining the importance of what a client is. And somebody raised his hand he said, so does that mean my wife is my client? And I said, I sure hope so. So the client is the person upon whom your success depends. And the strongest conversation starts with what your listener’s thinking. Another way to say it is it starts with what your client is thinking.
Jim Rembach: It’s funny to say that because it reminds me of a commerce I just had last night with my fifteen-year-old daughter at 10 o’clock when we’re having a conversation with my wife as well. I asked my daughter and said, why would you talk to your mother and I that way when you wouldn’t do that to anyone else? And she says because you’re my parents. And I said that doesn’t matter.
Chris Westfall: I hear you, I’ve got a 15 year old as well. It’s so interesting this idea of because you love me respect is a given and so I don’t have to bring into the conversation and that is something that can be very dangerous for teenagers but also in the corporate conversation. When respect goes away it’s very difficult to have a powerful conversation. I run in the same challenges with my daughter as well she happens to be fifteen as well, but just because you love someone doesn’t mean that you don’t have to focus on the respect that you have for them. I tell my wife that I love her every day we’ve been married for 25 years but I tell her that I love her every day. You know why? Because she might get another offer. Now look, I didn’t say a better offer she might get another offer. That sort of respect and reinforcement is I think vital in terms of letting people know that they’re valued because from that place of value that place of acknowledgement that place of recognition you tap into something that I call in the book a high concept. A high concept, this is a universal theme or idea that we all know and share. And the high concept the universal theme that I’m pointing to is this idea of acknowledgement. We all want to be acknowledged we want to be seen, heard, and understood, recognized for our accomplishment. And respect is the first step in that recognition and it creates that connection that can be very powerful.
Jim Rembach: Well thinking from that perspective is that when you started talking about those people who are affected or impacted. In one of the chapters in the book you talk about influence in the empty chair and then you talk about in the leadership conversation that the chair is always an available seat at the table, it’s a metaphorical seat. You talked about this a second, but I think this definition that you have in the book is important for me to read so that’s why I’m doing it, and it said, it’s for that someone who is going to be dramatically and personally impacted by the change that you propose however that someone isn’t in the room when you propose your change, your ideas, and your vision. You talked about a particular story of a friend who was a CEO and I think he had maybe a few thousand employees and you asked him a question he said, well, I have to be aware that whatever I do or say is going to have an impact on 14,000 people and you’re like, what? How does that work? Explain how he came up with that?
Chris Westfall: My friend was explaining to me that he saw that his decisions impacted far more than just his employees. This guy, he’s a finance guy and he’s good at math and I was like, how can you be saying 14,000 when I know you have you only have about 5,000 employees? But what he was saying was the decisions that I make affect my employees but let’s take an average family size, imagine that the average family, there’s a spouse involved a couple of kids, so doing some quick math he came up with a number of about 14,000. Now his sphere of influence actually might be a little bigger might be a little smaller who knows but the important thing to note is that he as a leader was looking beyond just the people on his team, he was looking in the direction of impact. And the empty chair points in that direction. The empty chair is a seat at the table for someone as you said who’s not in the room but who will be directly and dramatically impacted by any change that you proposed. Leadership conversation is always about change. It’s about change in some form or fashion or challenge to the status quo and that that challenge is going to create an impact, leaders look at that impact. Just to go a little bit further on the empty chair, the empty chair is for example a seat at the table for the third grade student who’s going to read the textbook next year, the history textbook, that’s being introduced into the school district she’s not in the room when the teachers and school administrators are making that decision and yet directly, personally, and powerfully impacted. So the empty chair allows us to look in the direction of service and impact and it’s vital for leaders to see that. My friend the CEO was a great example of seeing the sphere of influence that really is created by any decision that he makes.
Jim Rembach: As you’re talking and I’m thinking about the book and I’m thinking about the conversation that I had just yesterday, there is a particular issue. You even talked about one of the statistics in the book saying like 68 or 69 percent of all leaders feel uncomfortable with having any conversation whatsoever with their employees. When I think about being in a leadership role there’s a duty that we have to actually fulfill. The duties is about us continuing to learn and get better it’s about having others to be successful and helping to develop that. And so when I think about you having to go through and become better at all the things that we’re talking about if you don’t do that you have not earned the position and you absolutely are not fulfilling you know the commitment that is necessary. If you’re only becoming a leader because you want the pay that is the wrong motivator.
Chris Westfall: I agree. If you want to know if your ideas and your focus is correct if you want to know do you have the right leadership focus? Don’t look at the slides in your Power Point, don’t look at your plans don’t look at your dashboard look at what your employees your team are doing. I mean, you ask yourself, how’s your client doing? Because that’s how you really know. It’s wonderful to talk about leadership strategies obviously I wouldn’t have written it in the book book if I didn’t feel it was valuable but at the end of the day the real yardstick is how’s your client doing? Are you creating the changes for the people you care about so that you can gain the results not only that you want for yourself but that your team deserves? And leadership as you’ve pointed out so well it’s not a self-serving roll but leadership is about service. So consider carefully the people and objectives that you serve because where you put your attention is where you will find your results. And when your attention is on yourself, how big is my office? What’s my title? Do I have the right thing on my business card? Looking in the wrong direction. How’s your client doing? How’s your team doing? Are your leadership strategies working? The way that you will know again it’s not on your PowerPoint it’s not on the one sheet it’s not on your dashboard it’s right in front of you with the people around you that are going to be lead to the stratosphere or into the ditch because of your approach.
Jim Rembach: And that’s a hard reality and harsh reality for many to face for sure. Okay, what we’re talking about here I mean it’s just riddled and loaded with emotion and even in the book in several instances you kept talking about infusing emotion being aware of the emotion and leveraging the emotion and—it’s everywhere within the book. One of the things that we use on the show to help influence us are quotes. Is there a quote or two that you like that you can share?
Chris Westfall: The one that I really like is one from Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela who famously said, it always seems impossible until it’s done, and that is a quote that I find to be very inspiring to me. There has been so many things in my life and I’ve looked at and thought, man this is impossible. Starting with when I was a baby learning to walk I don’t remember that but I think it looked impossible to me at one point in time because I was crawling around, I’m guessing I was told. But from learning to walk to learning to drive a car to learning the principles of accounting to even coming to the place where you have the thought that shows up that goes I’d like to write a book someday, all of those things look impossible initially until it’s done. And that’s the quote that really inspires me. Another one if I may, another quote that I really like is one from Mark Twain who said, it’s not what you don’t know that can hurt you it’s what you know for certain but just ain’t so.
And the reason I love that quote is because it really points to I think the spirit of this program, which is asking us to look at things in a new way not to reaffirm or confirm what we’ve already know but to realize that there are always discoveries to be made and life leadership it’s not scripted. We’d like it to be, believe me I’m a planner I’ve got my calendar all planned out but as the saying goes man plans God laughs. And despite our best efforts to organize and to control our schedule things happen, things happen uncertainty shows up. The key for the leader is to make sure that you show up in a place that’s ready and prepared for uncertainty. That is a place where you know that you do have resilience, resourcefulness inside of you. And if you think back in your life resilience, resourcefulness it shows up time and time again. We don’t always see it and we often deny it and in retrospect when we think about it we go, yeah, I was kind of resourceful. Gosh, I did yeah, I was sitting there wearing diapers and all of a sudden there was a table leg and I pulled myself up and all of a sudden I started walking, again I don’t remember that story it was told to me that way.
But the point is this, we have a resilience and a resourcefulness that’s inside of us and that resilience and resourcefulness as you mentioned is driven by emotions. Look, that may sound counterintuitive especially for folks who are who are listening and saying, oh, I’m an analytical person I am not driven by emotions my decisions are driven by analysis. Let me ask you something—here’s my experience, when it came time to buy a house I did not create a spreadsheet and give it to my wife with a detailed analysis of zip codes where we could find a place. No, we went and we looked at houses and when she walked in and she went looked around the kitchen and said, wow, that was when I knew it was time to get out the spreadsheets and do the analysis. The point is the heart drives the head the analysis serves those emotions that drive us all. That is not that’s not a touchy-feely statement that is not a gender bias statement that is a statement about the way things work it’s a principle it’s like the law of gravity. And whether you choose to believe it or not if I don’t believe in gravity but if I drop this pen, guess what’s going to happen? It’s the same thing with this principle, the heart drives the head and that heart also called your gut instinct that place is the place that leaders have to tap into, don’t leave the head out, don’t throw the analysis out, don’t take your pro forma and set it on fire and from the investors. No, you have to have some analysis to support and to drive and to guide but that’s not where the conversation starts it starts on the inside. And that’s a very important part of leadership language it is pointing you towards the place where leadership really lives. It’s not something that’s out there it’s not something where you can emulate a political leader or a military leader or a business leader that you admire and recreate their success. Models are useful but at the end of the day you have to put your hands on the wheel you have to drive you have to make the decision and leadership is not skipped it’s scripted it’s not about copying someone else because imitation is not the same as innovation. Leadership calls on all of us to innovate, to create new results that’s the place where transformation really comes from.
Jim Rembach: Gosh, when you’re talking I’m starting to think about all the things that have gone along the way for you to get to the points where you are today. We talked about those in the show as well, we talk about getting over the hump and I’ve learned so much from other people telling their stories about times when they’ve had to get over. I can actually foresee that many of the humps that are in my future have come down as a result. And so is there a story that you can share that when you’ve got over the hump that will help us?
Chris Westfall: Talk about this in the in the book. I was working with a company with a CEO as a consultant. The company was based in Houston, Texas. The CEO sat me down one day and he said, Chris I’d like to hire you full time, I’d like you to come to work for my firm. And I said, I think that’s a bad idea in fact I think that’s a mistake because I’m working as a consultant I’m working with companies like yours I’m writing, I’m speaking, I enjoy what I do and I don’t think that’s a good idea. I don’t think makes sense for you because I’m not familiar with in history I don’t have a long history my outside perspective is what you value when you take that perspective and put it on the inside. So for about fifty three reasons—wrong, bad idea. And it looked like a mistake look it looked like a poor decision.
After sharing that with the CEO he looked me in the eye and he said, well, how much would it take? So I pulled out that proverbial napkin that you’ve heard so many people talk about and I got my pen and I wrote down a number and I handed it to him and he said done, when can you start? And I thought man I should have put another zero on there. But it was a fair deal. And I said, sure okay. So I began working and at the time I did not live in Houston I was working remotely I’m working for this firm. Just a couple months later I moved my family to Houston, Texas. And then six weeks after we have moved the CEO called me into his office and he said, Chris, it’s just not working out. Nothing against you and nothing against this company but what I wanted to do and what you can do and how we can do it here it’s just not working out. I think rather than let this go on for six months or a year we both need to cut our losses and we need to move on. And I thought man this is a hump, deals in business I’ve done many of them and you do a deal and you think yeah I don’t know because I don’t know this is the right thing. You need to unpack it and that happens but this time I had unpacked all my stuff and moved to a new city just six weeks before so I had a very difficult conversation with my wife that I had to have. And I thought, man, what am I going to say to her? We just moved and now this this great opportunity this opportunity that I moved to a new town to take advantage of, it changed. There was a hump it wasn’t just a hump it was a mountain in front of me.
So I drove around Houston for about two hours, which in Houston traffic I went about six miles, I’m kidding I’m kidding, but I go around Houston for two hours trying to get courage up. I finally did and I came home and of course I walked in the door my wife said hi, what are you doing here in the middle of the afternoon? I said, well I have something that I need to tell you. I sat her down and it just came straight at it and explained the situation. And the first words out of her mouth, which you know I didn’t know what she was going to say, I wanted to force, we’ve got to move back, I can’t believe you did this to me, I mean so many things that were playing in my head. Here’s what she actually said, well just don’t ask me to move. It was the last thing I could have possibly imagined that she would say. But she said that and all of a sudden the hump got flattened the mistake, actually it wasn’t mistake at all the company was very fair to me the CEO paid me through the end of the year it turned out to be a very lucrative decision for me. In retrospect, what I saw as a mistake actually created that transformation for me in my life and in my relationships.
Today we live in Houston, Texas to this day and strange enough we’ve never been happier. My daughter is thriving in the High School for performing arts here in town, and as you know when the kids are doing well it makes a big difference. So what looked like a mistake what looks like a hump, I would just ask everyone who’s listening the sound of my voice, was it really a mistake? Is it a hump? Or is it just a circumstance for leaders or people who are effective? Sometimes things are going to look like a mistake and I could point to multiple stories maybe you could too. Things in my life I thought, oh man, this is never going to work. Sometimes things came off the rails sometimes things didn’t go the way that I wanted. Certainly this conversation with the CEO was not a conversation that I wanted to have and yet I say now thank goodness I did. Thank you for that conversation. Thank you because I realized that I’m just going to say it there are no mistakes. I’m just going to lay it out there. There are no mistakes there are circumstances and then how you deal with them. If you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, what about my divorce? What about the situation where I my partner and I split where he tried to steal the business from me? Blah, blah, blah. I hear you I got those stories too. No mistakes my friends, no mistakes, opportunities for you to react opportunities for you to get over the hump opportunities for you to create transformation.
Jim Rembach: I appreciate you sharing that. For me as you’re talking I started thinking about— I was actually interviewed for a podcast yesterday and I talked about our having to be have become a pivot artist. Just because of all the things that you were talking about, hey you know what? You just have to go a different direction.
Chris Westfall: That’s how life unfolds we’re always pivoting. A career path is a series of pivots.
Jim Rembach: Most definitely and I think the better we get at our lateral movement the better we can actually get to where we want to get, it’s what it comes down to. When you start talking about what you’ve done where you’ve been where you’re going and you think about the kids and everything that’s on your plate you talk about your empty chairs there’s a lot of people who are in those chairs. But when you start think about one goal you have, what’s one of them that you can share?
Chris Westfall: The greatest goal that I have and it’s a constant and consistent one is to always remember that just because a train of thought shows up doesn’t mean I have to ride that train. And what I mean by that is that it’s so easy to get lost in an attempt to reach for a mindset or for a state of flow for some of the things. We were talking about this off mic before the interview started, this idea that there’s some perfect Nirvana that creates peak performance that we’re always chasing—peak performance, I’ll tell you where it lives it lives in the moment. When you’re thinking settles down that’s when you’re at your best. If you think about the athletes that you admire, we were talking a little bit about baseball I’m a big baseball fan being here in Houston where the Astros play it’s easy to be a big baseball fan and I played a lot of baseball when I was a kid, when that line drives coming right at you, you can’t be thinking about attack pattern Delta nine you can’t be thinking about what the coach told you on Thursday you can’t be thinking about anything other than keeping your eye on the ball. And so many times in my life, I get lost in my biggie, I get lost in thought and in a mindset that doesn’t serve me. But the key takeaway and the thing that I want to share is that beyond mindset is performance, beyond mindset is the ball, the game that you’re playing. Whatever it might be in in business by focusing on what really matters not the train of thought that’s showing up. And you know what’s on that train? Our labels like, you’re not smart enough, you don’t have the background for this, your experience is wrong, nobody’s listening to you, all those kinds of things, they show up all the time. It reminds me of that scene in the Avengers movie, you’ve probably seen The Avengers movie, it’s the final scene where these like gigantic 900-foot metal caterpillars are coming out the sky and Iron Man and Captain America they’re going crazy and the Avengers are getting their butts kicked. Iron Man is flying into the scene and he says, we got to get the Hulk where’s the Hulk? They’ve got to bring the Hulk on. Captain America goes, wait I think he’s right here comes banner puttering up on a little motorcycle. And Captain America goes, we got to get you to suit up you got to turn into the Hulk. But how are you going to do it? You got to get angry.
And Banner, he turns back to the camera he turns over his shoulder and he says, I’ll tell you a little secret I’m always angry. And then he turned into a Hulk. And I saw that scene I thought, man that is so true for me. When I go on stage and I do keynotes and I give presentations and stuff like that, people say are you nervous? And the answer is yes, every time, of course I am. But where am I putting my attention? Like the Hulk I’m always angry, I’m always insecure I’m always in love I’m always in hate I’m always angry I’m always feeling things because I’m human being. I’m a human being and I’m not afraid of admitting that because it’s not a sign of weakness it’s a sign of acknowledgement it’s a sign of being aware of what’s going on. But I’m also aware that where I put my attention is where I find my results. If I or it’s Bruce Banner, just like Dr. Banner when he puts his attention on the fact that he’s angry he hulks out. My question for everyone listening is, where are you putting your attention? And how can you pay attention to the thoughts that serve you and recognize that the thoughts that don’t? That’s not your train let that train go by and put your attention on what really matters. For me if leadership is your focus, focus on the people around you. Focus on your clients the people upon whom your success depends and phrase your goals and objectives in terms of impact not only for yourself for them and for the people they care about the people who sit in the empty chair. By adopting this focus it doesn’t matter if you’re always angry it doesn’t matter if you’re always insecure it doesn’t matter if you don’t feel enough what matters is, what are the results you’re creating for the people around you? Keep your eye on the ball.
Jim Rembach: And the Fast Leader legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.
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Alright, here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time for the Hump day Hoedown. Okay, Chris the Hump day Hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Chris Westfall, are you ready to hoedown?
Chris Westfall: I’m ready to hoedown, let’s go.
Jim Rembach: Being from Houston you should be a pro at this. Okay, what do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?
Chris Westfall: The ability to focus on the people around me is always the thing that keeps me from being a better leader. Creating results for the people that I care about is the number one objective to connect and engage with those folks. I can always be better at it.
Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Chris Westfall: My dad told me that you practice like you play. Coming from someone who played Big
Ten football this always stood out for me. It points to the importance of fundamentals and the importance of rehearsal so that you can be free to think in the moment and be at your best when that line drives coming at you at 100 miles an hour.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best secrets that helps you lead in business or life?
Chris Westfall: The secret to leading in business and life is a simple one, it is connection. There’s a connection that we all share but we often lose sight of it behind differences of opinion and that sort of thing but when we look in the direction of connection we look and we see the people who want to be a part of our solutions and looking at connection is the key to leadership.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?
Chris Westfall: Tool that I use? You can find it actually on my website, is an online tool called VCITA. This is an app and if you click on the contact us button on my website you can go in and you can set up a 30-minunite appointment with me. If you want to talk further about anything that might be on your mind VCITA helps me to collect information from potential clients that have a question on their
Mind. So VCITA, is something that really helps me to be effective in my business.
Jim Rembach: And what would be one book that you’d recommend to our Legion, it could be from any genre, of course we’re going to put a link to your book on your show notes page as well.
Chris Westfall: Great book that I really love, I’m going to give you two, I’m going to give you two the first one I just finished reading and it’s by going to give you two the first one I just finished reading it it’s by a Harari, he’s an Israeli social scientist it’s called Homo Sapiens terrific book. The second is Impossible to Ignore by Carmen Simon. She talks about the science behind being memorable. It’s a really interesting read full of a lot of great information. Impossible to Ignore by Carmen Simon.
Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/Chris Westfall. Okay, Chris, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you’ve been given the knowledge and skills that you have now and you but you can take them back you but can’t take it all back you can only take one. What skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?
Chris Westfall: I would put my arms around my younger self and I would say, Adam Smith the father of modern economic theory said very famously, profit is a function of risk, don’t be afraid to take chances don’t play it safe and whatever results you see in your life the ones that are the most satisfying are going to come from the biggest risks that you take. And that will be what I would share with my former self.
Jim Rembach: Chris, it was an honor to spend time with you today, can you please share with the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you?
Chris Westfall: You can find me online in my website it’s, westfallonline.com. Also on my YouTube channel I have over two million video views, that’s youtube.com/westfallonline. And if you’re doing the Instagram thing I’m also there @westfallonline, that’s my Twitter handle. You can also find me on Linkedin, same thing, westfallonline.
Jim Rembach: Chris Westfall, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader
Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot!
Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.
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