As part of my series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Christopher Salem. His book Master Your Inner Critic / Resolve the Root Cause — Create Prosperity went international best seller in 2016. He also co-authored the recent edition to “Mastering the Art of Success” with Jack Canfield. His weekly radio show Sustainable Success is part of the Voice America Influencers Channel. Chris is also an accomplished business & emotional intelligence strategist, award-winning author®, certified mindset expert, radio show host & media personality, and wellness advocate. He works with organizations such as such as JP Morgan — Chase, Ralph Lauren, GE Research, UTC — Pratt & Whitney, Raytheon, Microchip Technologies, Anthem, US Census Bureau, United Healthcare, Laticrete Corporation, Hubbell Corporation, Conning & Company, Foxwoods Casino, and NYPD Forensics Department including universities such as University of Hartford, Westchester Community College, Bay Path University, Worcester State University, and spoke on overcoming limited beliefs for peak performance at Harvard University’s Faculty Club.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I grew up with a very strong work ethic and with the strength to follow through on tasks or goals. It started with my first job at 12 years old picking up balls at a batting cage. It was always engrained me to be the best. However, this led to perfectionism either to please others to acknowledge me or the direct opposite of placing high expectations on myself and others that often went unfulfilled. This was a very difficult period of my life and career as a teenager through the age of 31. Each day was a struggle and being angry always to stay on top being perfect and expecting too much from others. The result was severed relationships and where business would start strong only to coming crashing down and repeating the pattern over and over. This experience led me a full transformation at the age of 31 years old to shift from codependent to interdependent behavior trusting the process in the moment and letting go of what I could not control. The result was to be your best versus be the best and with a healthier relationship with self and others free from the need for validation. This created the pattern of becoming a transparent leader which is one that leads by example.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Like with most businesses starting out it’s just you. During that time I was doing just about everything to launch and then scale the business. It took me a few years through personal development toward self-mastery to learn that multi-tasking is unproductive. There was an email template that I was using to send out to prospects. At the time, I was doing three things at once including a personal email that I was sending to my girlfriend at the time. I had been forwarding the same email from the template to each prospect to save time. On one of them, I accidently sent the content from personal email to my girlfriend to a prospect without checking before sending it. This was quite embarrassing at first especially being a few years in as a recovering perfectionist. The prospect and I would later laugh about as they eventually become a customer. Besides learning that multi-tasking is unproductive, I learned to assess my strengths and weaknesses better and then focus on my strengths while offsetting my weaknesses to others or resources. This lesson taught me the power of delegation and later the process to create an interdependent work environment leveraging people/s strengths while offsetting weaknesses.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Warren Buffet was always a role model for me as someone who was ultra-successful and not with just because of money. He was authentic and one that operated from core values. However, the one particular person who has impacted my life more ways than one is my wife, Maria-Gutierrez-Salem. She is smart, loving, and always operates from her core values which obviously relate to my own. She tells me what I need and not what I want to hear which keeps me accountable. She is so insightful and intuitive. She always knows what to steer me toward in terms of resources to help myself grow as a person. I am forever grateful for her.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
The purpose of my company is to serve others through empathy by being the example and empowering companies and individuals to be their best daily helping themselves grow. This purpose was built from a foundation of core values — transparency, integrity, and honesty.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?
Stress and uncertainty can only affect us negatively if we allow it. We have to embrace pressure through mental toughness as something we grow from rather than tearing us down by avoiding or going around it. I can remember during the 2008 financial crash that sales dipped substantially due to uncertainty in the economy. Salespeople were stressed and caught up in things that they could not control which was the economy at the time. I could relate to them as once being a perfectionist and always caught up in the things beyond my control. It was during this time I was calm just being the example for others by using this time to do other things for clients from kindness and empathy that nurtured the relationships. The salespeople began to pick up on my calmness and the ability to control what I could and then let go of the rest. They were inspired to be grateful for what they could control and do during this difficult period They began to see this time as an opportunity to add value indirect to the clients that eventually led to more business and referrals when the economy bounced back,
Did you ever consider giving up? We all have those moments from time to time. Yes, it crossed my mind once in a while but also dissipated soon after reminding myself of my “Why” and purpose.
Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? Discipline from my daily success routine of waking up at 4:15 AM, making my bed, mediation, journaling, exercise, healthy breakfast, shower, reading, and reviewing daily commitments of the priorities that matter. Discipline establishes your success routine and over time becomes your internal motivation at the subconscious level.
What sustains your drive? From discipline and my daily routine as well.. This also plays out with a successful work pattern that others model for their own by being the example for them.
What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?
I would say the ability to relate and listen with understanding coming from your core values. Consistently being the example for others with effective communication and interdependent behavior for others to the same for themselves. Provide resources that allow your people to help themselves and focus on the priorities within their control while letting go of what you cannot control.
When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?
Again, being the example always with others from transparency. People will do more and embrace the process during difficult periods when you can relate to where they are and they feel understood.
What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?
Be specific, clear, and concise coming core values that addresses the situation and potential solutions that can both parties can work together to resolve the challenge. Leave no room for speculation and assumption. Paraphrase and reframe with questions to ensure they understand.
How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?
Trust the process in the moment. Be specific with your planning to every fine detail with what you know while letting go of the rest. Being present and inspiring others to the same over time produces more clarity which leads to swift decisions and taking action.
Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?
Be present focusing on what you know and can control while letting go of what do not know or cannot control. Allow what you cannot control to come into play when the time is right by trusting the process, Think of it like a puzzle piece not know at the time but coming later to complete the puzzle., Focus on the pieces now that you have or can control.
Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?
- Assume and speculate with everyday communication
- Operate from expectation tied to outcomes instead of embracing the process in the moment and letting the results you seek be a byproduct of it,
- Telling people what and how to do things during difficult times rather than being the example to do for them.
Be present coming from a daily routine through discipline that allows you to trust the process in the present moment. Be the example for others through your behavior and communication, Be specific, concise, and clear with communication always listening to relate and understand others.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy? See other page
People respond better with others that are calm and optimistic during turbulent times. Transparency is something all people can relate too and more likely to change over time to do things better for themselves. This includes being clear to make better informed decisions, follow through, and take action with what you can control during difficult times.
I find that being the example from being present and the ability to relate and understand others works over time to move people forward in a positive way out of their comfort zones. Great leaders know how to communicate to others how they best perceive the information. It is not one size fits all. How you communicate to a baby boomer is different from a millennial. The goal is to be specific, clear, and concise so that everyone understands their own role and duty including each other. This leads to creating a interdependent versus a codependent work environment necessary not just to grow your business but also to come ahead of a challenging time.
Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.
5 “I” of Transparent Leadership
Knowledge and intelligence is important. What is even more so is how we can apply it. Transparent leaders trust the process and the ability to do what they can control while letting go of anything beyond their control This type of leaders are consistent examples of applying the insight that inspires others to do the same, When communicating this to your staff, be the example of what has to be done and position people to leverage their strengths and offset their weaknesses.
Transparent leaders are proactive versus reactive. They recognize that challenging times are inevitable and do what they know and can control with intelligence available to be more proactive to offset challenges before they escalate. Organizations led by leaders with initiative may use difficult period to better relate and understand their clients. They may look for new ways to add value within their control. Clients may not cut back or stop doing business during difficult times if they can see the bigger picture to their growth during this challenging time through your example.
Energy is either positive or negative. Being positive during challenging times is not easy but imperative to sustain and grow your business. Connecting with others on shared values and delivering value with impact are instrumental to growth. Businesses that are consistent with showing up focused on the solution rather than the problem bring people together and thus increase trust with clients to keep moving forward.
Transparent leaders know that influencing others is not what they say yet how they are the example for others to do the same for them. It’s not convincing others to see your point of view but empowering them to draw their own conclusion of what is compelling to them. Being the example is more sustainable than just words to empower others. Companies that empower others to be compelling to others through their example help to come out ahead during difficult times.
All the four “I”s do not come full circle without the core value of integrity. This means doing the right thing when no one is looking. For example, your company may be able to address a client’s requirements. However, your company knows there is someone else better suited for this client’s particular situation. Transparent leaders know that referring this client to another source better suited for their situation is the right thing to do. They know that everyone wins when you do the right thing over time. New business will come even during a challenging time when you trust the process and do the right thing. You trust that more business will result after a challenging time when coming from integrity.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It’s my quote “Give without expectation and receive without resistance”. I always give from core values of integrity, transparency, and honest without expectation coming from empathy and not pleasing or enabling others. It’s trusting the process knowing it will come back from somewhere else open to receive without resistance or hesitation.
How can our readers further follow your work?