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Janine Bolon: Welcome back to the Thriving Solopreneur Show. I’m Janine Bolon. Today’s guest is Christopher Salem. Now, this guy is an executive coach, a corporate trainer, a professional speaker. He works with companies. He helps them create independent work environments. Isn’t that a nice change of pace? Along with a thriving culture that helps with a growth mindset. He really does assist people at being effective in their communication, having transparent leadership, and higher engagement, not only with the people who are working around you but also with your customer base. He helps mentor C-suite business leaders, entrepreneurs, sales professionals. He builds and helps them protect their brands by raising the level of influence from trusted advisors so that they get a maximum amount of results. That’s just the first starters. Let me move into the next thing that Chris does.
He actually wrote a book called Master Your Inner Critic, Resolve the Root Cause, and Create Your Prosperity. That became an international bestseller back in 2016. He also co-authored a recent edition, Mastering the Art of Success, with Jack Canfield. I think you’ve heard of that Chicken Soup for the Soul kind of dude. His weekly radio show Sustainable Success is part of The Voice of America Influencers Channel. Chris is also an accomplished business influence strategist, an award-winning author, certified mindset expert, radio show host, and media personality.
Now, just a few of the little companies he’s worked with here. You may have heard of JPMorgan Chase, Ralph Lauren, Pratt & Whitney, Microchip Technologies, Anthem, the US Census Bureau. I know you’ve heard of the US Senate. United Healthcare, Hubbell Corporation, Foxwoods Casino, NYPD Forensics Department, and the University of Hartford Westchester County Community College. Sorry, I always hesitate because I have a British background and therefore, it’s not Westchester, it’s is Weschter. I have to stop. You just keep it correcting me, Chris, as I move through this.
My favorite thing though is he also helps folks with peak performance at Harvard University’s Faculty Club. So, he has chatted with a huge number of people. The thing that really bonded me to Chris was that he is the CEO and co-founder of Empowered Fathers in Action and you guys know how much I love 501c3s. Well, Chris is the founder of this. He dedicated to strengthening father and son bonding processes through a sustainable solution process to build future leaders in home, communities, business, and place a higher self-confidence and esteem in that process. He helps resolve the root cause of limiting beliefs for both parents and their children so that we don’t repeat the cycles that we had thrust upon us. So yeah, thank you so much Chris for being with us today. It’s wonderful to have you.
Christopher Salem: Janine, thank you so much for having me on this show. I’ve been looking forward to being here.
Janine: Yes, it’s always fine. Chris has been on my shows multiple times. I keep dragging the guy back whenever he has a free moment just because I love his book. He was kind enough to send me his book, Mastering Your Inner Critic. Yeah, I feel like I’ve mastered my inner critic. I’ve been working in the business for over 30 years, but guess what? There are still gold nuggets. I think I’ve read this thing 3 or 4 times. They’re still gold nuggets every time I read it. So, thank you so much for taking the time to write it. I’d love to chat a little bit about what you talked about in Step 3, which is “Step into your fear.” Most business owners are very acquainted with fear. They’re acquainted with the dark night of the soul at 2:00 a.m. Oh my God, how am I going to make the mortgage payment? Or how am I going to pay my people, right? So, talk to us a little bit about how you resolved some of the fear that you had because you’re running around the country as an internationally known speaker now. I know there were a few dark nights of the soul regarding that.
Christopher: Oh, yeah. Well, here’s the reality of why people operate from fear. Fear simply means that we’re operating from a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset operates in the past, in the future. Now, you may not realize that because you’re right now in a current situation but something triggers fear, and then what it does is it goes into the past. It attaches itself to a limiting belief or beliefs from your childhood. It gets projected into the future. Then, it’s telling yourself that perhaps you’re overwhelmed, you’re not capable of doing something. Why would they think of you to take care of this? Whatever the case may be. Then, you might have this doubt. You might feel like you’re overwhelmed, you feel frustrated, you’re overthinking things, whatever the case may be, this is what fear does. Fear, a lot of times, means in that mindset is that we’re trying to control what we can control. This is where we escalate the anxiety even further, the overwhelmedness, and the angst. If we can’t pay the bills at the end of the month, how are we going to make payroll? We may be telling ourselves that these things are going to happen when they actually haven’t happened. Even though you feel that way, that’s your mind going into the past, in the future simultaneously that’s magnifying that fear that that’s happening right now. These are the things that are going on behind the scenes. I wanted to paint a picture of what happens.
Again, it’s our minds trying to control something that is beyond our control. We can’t control pandemics like COVID. We can’t control the economy. We can’t control what’s going on in our industry. We can’t control what other people’s communication, what they perceive, what they heard from us. We can’t control their behavior. We can’t control their attitude, emotions, or the action that they take. We can only control our own communication, our own behavior, attitude, emotions, and the action that we take. So, it’s learning how can I trust the process? At that moment, when you’re going through some major adversity, you’re going through a situation that Janine just talked about and saying to yourself, “Okay, I’m here for a reason. This is happening for me, not to me.” I’ll say that again, “This is happening for me, not to me.” There are lessons to be learned here. You’re having patience, trusting the process, and asking yourself, “Okay, this is a tough situation. What can I do within my control right now?” Well, we just said your communication, your behavior. We can control all that, but it’s just maximizing anything that you can control that’s going to help you from where you are and where you have to go to make meet payroll or to overcome and paying, bringing in a certain amount of money to pay those bills in your business.
Whatever that case may be, it’s trusting that process. It’s not taking our minds from the past and the future and then tying it to an outcome, the expectation, the outcome. What’s going to happen with expectation and your outcome, it’s going to go unfulfilled and you’re going to be disappointed. It’s going to magnify the anxiety, the anger, and the overwhelmedness even more. It’s trusting that process right every day, every week, every month, every quarter. When we do the things that are beyond our control, usually end up working its way out somewhere. I’m not saying that that you may not be paid off, but maybe there’s a good reason why? Maybe perhaps, there’s a lesson to be learned. Maybe this isn’t the business for you. Maybe that you’re going to learn from this and that failure is not really a failure. It’s a stepping stone to something else that’s even to be even better for you by trusting that process.
So, it’s learning how to let go of the control you can’t. Controlling what you can and maximizing it. Shifting our mind from a fixed mindset into the present moment. Now, it’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s learning how to be present. It’s in the present moment where fear is reduced. But yet enough fear that’s going to internally motivate you to maximize what you can control to see you through this process.
Janine: That’s tough to remember sometimes like when you’re deep in it. When you’re deep into that thought process and you’re thinking of the past or the future. One of the things I’ve learned about entrepreneurs and solopreneurs is we’re very creative. We can create a hell on earth in our minds. As when you’re in that state, it is really hard to pull yourself out, but there is help. One of the things I like to share with people is, I’ve run 17 businesses in my life. I’ve had 3 epic failures, crash, and burn. Awful. Horrific. I learned so much that I know I will never have that happen again because I know the behaviors that I’m supposed to have. So, let’s talk a little bit about that when you were talking about your fear. You had a statement in here on your Step 3. It’s a great little meaning and you say, “Fear dissipates when you strive for excellence rather than perfection.” Now, we’ve heard this over and over. That’s why I came up with this thing called the 70%-rule. Get it to 70% and drop it, and shove it out the door, right? But you have other tips. I love your little gold nugget. So, talk to us a little bit about, I have a 70 percent rule, but you have your own way of how do you reach excellence, but you avoid perfection because that’ll kill you.
Christopher: It can. Perfectionism is just another form of codependency. Try to be perfect. If I just look a certain way, then this will be the time to start. If I wait for the perfect moment in the perfect situation, the perfect client, then I’ll start to really move everything forward. The thing is, there’s never going to be a perfect time, a perfect situation, a perfect person, perfect business. It does not exist. What happens is when we try to be perfect, we put these expectations onto ourselves that will either go unfulfilled by yourself and other people or situations, only the lead to more disappointment to take you out of the game.
Striving for excellence is not about being the best. It’s not about being the best. You don’t have to be the best. Some of the greatest businesspeople in the world are not the best at what they do. They simply show up to be their best. They know how to leverage their strengths, offset their weaknesses, and surround themselves with smarter people than themselves to do bigger and better things. It’s all about the process in progress, in motion. There’s no destination. It’s ongoing for the rest of your life. It’s the same thing in your business. Yeah, you may reach a certain milestone in your business, have great success. You may exit out of the business and sell it successfully to someone else. You might say, “Well, that’s a destination.” If you want to look at it that way, great. But it’s still a process because perhaps you’re going to move on to something else. Even if you retire, nonetheless, your life is going to continue. It’s how you think to be different. To be different, to become different. To become different, to do different and to do different to have and achieve better results.
So, it’s how we think. Looking at it as a process, ongoing, striving for that excellence that you are always making improvements. What can you do today to be your best within your control or letting go of everything else? When we’re able to really get into that way of thinking, I’m not saying this happens overnight. It requires daily discipline. It requires setting yourself up with the successful foundation of daily habits that will help to change your way of thinking. It’d be waking up earlier. It could be making your bed to allow your mind to say that you’ve accomplished a small task. Meditation and journaling together help you to learn how to be present and more mindful of trusting the process. Reading. Working out. Whatever that means. What you do daily will either make you or break you. Nonetheless, will help you to change your way of thinking that’s going to help you during these times of these challenges. Those are the things, Janine, I would recommend. When it comes to striving for excellence over perfection, that’s what’s going to allow you to help reach and exceed goals. Even better yet, sustain it over time no matter what adversity or challenges you go through. Because even when you take 10 steps backwards, it’s helping you to now take 20 steps forward trusting that process.
Janine: One of the things I’d like you to talk about that you do discuss a little bit, but I love your personal story on this. Every business owner that is successful in their best business that I’ve chatted with it, it is the behaviors that they do that have absolutely zero to do with their bottom line. It’s those, you brought up the word discipline and that’s my favorite word because it’s the discipline of business that has allowed me to be as successful as I am and I know for you as well. So, what for you were your 5 things or 3 things, when you really dialed into those 3 things, that’s when your success took off.
I know what my 5 are, but I was curious, what are your 3?
Christopher: Well, I’m just going to tell you the part about my daily routine. It’s the first thing when my feet hit the floor in the morning at 4:15 in the morning. The first thing I do, other than I go to the bathroom of course, but that’s not part of the success pattern here, but I make my bed. The reason why I make my bed, it’s not because I’m going to make my bed look neat. I could really care less about that. My wife is still sleeping. It’s that I make my side of the bed because it sets my mind to be focused on accomplishing a small task. Every small task, when your lay your focus will lead to another, another, and then again, bigger task. We begin to see the possibilities in times of adversity. What we can become through adversity? It’s just that consistency every day will rewire your thinking to be, to become, to do, and to have better results.
Next, I meditate in journals. Those are the 3 things. Those 3 things, now, there are others, don’t get me wrong. But those 3 things are the 3 cornerstones of my success foundation. That for the last 22 years have allowed me to be a cleft clarity focus, the ability to be decisive, to make mistakes and learn from them, to have failures and learn from them, to take calculated risks and learn from them if they didn’t work out, and to take massive action. I don’t over-guess. I don’t overanalyze. I don’t overthink. I don’t second-guess myself because that’s everything I used to do prior to that. I was a worrywart. I was a perfectionist. I was a codependent. Passive-aggressive terms of my behavior and communication. I had to make all those major shifts to being interdependent versus codependent. To be passive and aggressive or, excuse me, passive and aggressive to assertive and so on. These changes had to take over time. My thinking had to change over time through making my bed, getting up early, making my bed, meditation, and journaling to rewire my thinking. As I became different as being different, I was able to do different and to have different and better results. It’s to sustain that over time no matter what the challenges and setbacks were. I didn’t look at setbacks as a failure, I looked at them as part of the process of what’s happening for me to shape me of what I’m becoming as a result of it, trusting that process.
Janine: I have a question for you regarding- In your book, you talk about finding your “why”. You hear that all the time with marketing and promotion, “What is your why?” and you have to find that in order to be able to relay marketing or direct fashion. One of the things that I found out in my own life was when I really tried to focus on my “why” I realized, “Oh my God, I’m a Renaissance woman.” People are going to have to accept me as being a multi-faceted individual. Otherwise, I can’t market. I literally had to come to that. In your own path, have you noticed too that your “why” shifted the longer that you were in business to a point where you are now, who you are? I’d love for you to talk a little bit about that because, as you say in your book, you’ve got to work through that change. That’s how you’re getting better and changing that mindset. In that change, your “why” is going to shift, maybe not the core but definitely the focus. If you were to talk about that a little bit.
Christopher: Absolutely. Change is inevitable. Again, most change is going to be beyond your control. Changes in the economy. Changes in the world as a whole. Changes in your industry. Changes whatever that may be, with other people, coming and going out of your life. We either going to resist it or we’re going to embrace it and learn how to grow and adapt as we move forward. The outcome stays the same. It’s just that we may have to take a different road to get there. If you had your eyes set on one road, you stay there, you keep hitting this wall, and you keep trying to drive through it and it’s not happening, maybe it’s time to take another road. It’s not changing to something else in itself, but that you’re just changing the road you’re on to go down another road that’s going to allow you to get there.
The thing about a “why” is that it’s very important is in business, when you’re growing your business, it’s not necessarily what you do that people care about. Let me say that again, it’s not necessarily what you do that people care about. Unless you’re in the business of selling a necessity like Q-tips, paper towels, and toilet paper. Okay, people need that, right? They’re going to buy from anyone regardless of who you are. Nonetheless, it comes down to your “why”. Why you do what you do? It’s about values. Those values represent you. I don’t know about you, but for the first 30 years of my life, I led my life for my father’s values. I didn’t even realize it. The reason why I did it because I was operating from limiting beliefs. I figured by subconsciously if I were operating from his values, I would be successful. He would acknowledge me because I had this strong need for validation that I didn’t get from him. I was only miserable. I was angry. I was frustrated. The business was not working out my way no matter what I did. It was because I wasn’t operating from my core values, my own, I was wrapping for someone else’s. There are millions of people doing the same subconsciously, not even realizing it. Trying to become someone else than themselves. It’s okay to model yourself from people, but still stay true to who you are.
Those core values that define you are what’s going to help you subconsciously to connect with other people. It doesn’t mean they’re going to have the same values verbatim, but they’re going to be shared values. People buy into people based upon why you do what you do versus what you do. When something is compelling to them from your “why” that really resonates with their “why”. Now, when they get that connection, now they’re more likely to not know what you do now that could help them. They’re in a better position now to seek out what you can do to help them or refer somebody that they trust you that you could help them. I’ve seen many people, I’ve worked with many clients where they built their businesses not on what they do, but why they do it. It had nothing to do with their business. It had to do something completely different. People bought into the “why” and did business with them from that. It’s amazing. Amazing. I can always share a story if you like it.
Janine: We have time, so go ahead.
Christopher: All right. This one will relate to most people. This is just a real estate agent. I remember working with the real estate agent. This was a woman that worked for, I can’t remember if it was William Raveis, one of those agencies that’s a well-known international agency. She was at the bottom 25% in terms of production. Very nice lady. Even mattered not that she was actually completely extroverted really out there, but she was very pleasant. People liked her. For some reason, just was not producing. She was doing everything that she’d been told to do, build your sphere of influence, go up and make so many calls, do these things and she was doing that. Not having success. How many realtors would be in a 60-mile radius of where she was? Probably, it could’ve been 10,000. What you do really doesn’t matter. When people can go, I could pick one out of 10,000 realtors to help me find a home. Why am I going to pick you if I don’t know you? I ended up finding out this woman also was a rep who worked for a nonprofit that catered to family-related matters. She was a great writer. She wrote a lot of content around family-related matters. A lot of people in the community would embrace her content. People from the outside the area that might be looking at this particular area to move to, try to see if they had a good school system, was this town really you know favorable to family-related stuff, they would engage your contact. I remember asking her, “Do they know that you’re a realtor?” “No, I don’t say anything.” You don’t want to pitch yourself. That’s not what I’m saying, but every time you sign your name to some content that you’re contributing. Just put down that you’re a realtor. Don’t even say the agency. Don’t give any website, nothing, other than your name and a realtor.
All of a sudden in a short period of time, because they embraced her content, they connected on family values, people began to reach out to her saying, “I saw that you’re a realtor.” Thinking about moving or I know somebody that’s moving into the area, I would like to connect them to you. It wasn’t what she did, it was why. They connected on something that had nothing to do with her real estate, based upon why she did what she did, those core values. So, she learned how to develop and influence her strategy. To build on that around family-related values. She started to post content on social media around family-related stuff. Had nothing to do with real estate, but yet, when people wanted to find out more about her, it would direct them right to her real estate business page. She began to build her business from there. Did she ever become the top producer in the organization? No, because her personality was not wired that way. But she became, she definitely was now in the top well better where she was. She was doing very, very, very well and very, very pleased. Again, she trusted the process which wasn’t the best, but she was doing her best and she was having success. That’s what it’s all about.
Janine: To me, that’s the point for any solopreneur or entrepreneur is that you are achieving the level of success you’ve set for yourself, not some external. I sometimes think that a lot of the stories that we hear are that, “And then they went on to become the number one whatever” as if that proves that this system works. When in reality, a system you may need for your own personal success may have nothing to do with where you stand in somebody else’s market. I love it that you share that because that’s such a refreshing change. A story that somebody didn’t end up becoming number one, but boy, they were in such a better place. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. How do people get a hold of you if they want to reach back around and learn more from you?
Christopher: Thank you, Janine. It’s been a pleasure sharing this information with you. Best place to reach me, I have 2 websites you can check us out at. My business website is that Christopher Salem, that’s my full name, christophersalem.com. Also, the nonprofit that Janine had mentioned before is Empowered Fathers in Action or EFA Movement for short. You can check us out at efamovement.org. That’s efamovement.org. Feel free to reach out to me by email at christophersalem.com. I love to connect with new people and get to know you and your business. If I could be a help through my resources, with great people like Janine, I’d be happy to share that with you.
Janine: Thanks again so much for your time. I appreciate you making space for us.
Christopher: Thank you so much for having me.
Janine: And this is the Thriving Solopreneur Show. We broadcast every Friday. Definitely come to us for any quick tips that you need from people that have been in business for a very long time and I assure you that they know what they’re talking about. We won’t ask you to reach for the stars. We ask you to definitely do steps every day that will eventually reach you to the stars. Have a great day. This is Janine Bolon. We’ll chat with you next week.