084: How Deep Listening Can Change Your Life

084: How Deep Listening Can Change Your Life


Grow Strong Leaders Podcast


Think you’re already a skilled listener? Think again. My guest Theresa Campbell shares insights that will help you listen more closely to yourself as well as to others. Theresa is the founder and CEO of Her Life, Her Legacy, a leadership development organization dedicated to the power of deep listening. As a leadership coach, author, and life-long learner, she helps you find and listen to what matters most. You’ll want to take notes to get the most value from this episode…and then apply these ideas to all aspects of your life. The question she poses to her clients towards the end can help you gain clarity about your desired future.

You’ll discover:

  • How deep listening differs from “regular” listening
  • The three voices you can listen to…and the potential impact when you do
  • Why slowing down and listening is an act of self-love
  • The difference between a GOAL line and a SOUL line
  • A key question Theresa asks her clients that you can use, too

Watch the episode:


Connect with Theresa

Also listen on…

Connect with Your Team

Mastering the Top 10 Communication Skills

Strong for Performance

Create a Coaching Culture with Learning & Development Programs That Stick

035: How to Enjoy Others…and Be Enjoyed By Them

035: How to Enjoy Others…and Be Enjoyed By Them


Grow Strong Leaders Podcast


035: How to Enjoy Others…and Be Enjoyed By Them

by Mark Goulston

Whenever Meredith Bell and Dr. Mark Goulston have a conversation, rich observations and insights inevitably emerge. In this episode, they explore topics that are relevant no matter what role(s) you have in life. They talk about Mark’s latest projects and then delve into topics like kindness, generosity, and what it means to enjoy a fellow human being. That’s followed by a discussion of the impact we have as listeners on the person speaking to us, and as parents on our children. As always, Mark gives practical, actionable tips that you can use with the very next person you interact with!

You’ll discover:

  • The What Made You Smile Today movement that Mark started to help combat disconnection and loneliness
  • What’s behind the Count Me In Global Community
  • 3 questions you can ask yourself after every conversation to rate your listening…from the other person’s perspective
  • The secret to developing mentally healthy children
  • 2 questions parents can ask themselves about their relationship…from their kids’ perspective

Watch the episode:


Connect with Mark

011: The Tale of Two Cultures

011: The Tale of Two Cultures


Grow Strong Leaders Podcast


What can go wrong if the leadership of a company changes and the new executives focus exclusively on the bottom line? My guest Mark Hinderliter, Ph.D., lived through this experience with two different companies. He came to understand the factors that can plummet a once-thriving company into one that struggles or goes out of business. As an external coach and consultant today, he describes the approach he takes to identify whether or not a prospective client is focused on these elements.

You’ll discover:

  • The two superpowers in any business that become their greatest liability if misused
  • Clues you can look for in determining if a client will be a good fit for you…or not
  • One skill that helps you create credibility in the first conversation and uncover ways you can be of service to a client
  • Questions to ask in your initial conversation with a prospective client
  • The weekly habit you can adopt on LinkedIn to build connections and followers

Watch the episode:


Connect with Mark

Mark’s website


Read the Transcription

Hi, welcome to another episode of the Strong for Performance podcast. I’m your host Meredith Bell and I am delighted to have with me today Mark Hinderliter. Mark, welcome.

Thank you, Meredith. I’m delighted to have another great conversation with you. You and I have had many.

We have. I have known Mark now for 20 years. We go back a long ways. He is the founder of Third Way Inc. He’s also an executive coach and he is a unique position to talk with us today because he’s one of the few people I know that has been in the corporate world on two different occasions and interspersed with that was an external coach and consultant. So, Mark, as we jump into our conversation today, tell us about your journey. It’s a fascinating one.

Yeah. We all have our own journey. So, mine has really been two stops in the corporate world for significant periods of time and then two stops as an entrepreneur, as a coach, as a consultant. So, along that timeline, Meredith, the first 20 years of my career was in the corporate world as an HR director, vice president, and vice president of training and development. Then I left that corporate world to become an entrepreneur, a coach, a consultant, leadership workshop development pro. Then one of my clients hired me to come back into the corporate world where I was a senior vice president of human resources for a billion dollar global service provider in the oil and gas space. Then 10 years of that and I decided, “Okay, I think I’ve learned my lessons. I’ve done my time. This has been a great finishing school to go do what I really want to do and that is executive coaching, leadership and culture development.” So, that’s what I’m doing now.

There’s more to the story in terms of what happened. You’ve referred to it as the tale of two cultures. It’s fascinating to me that there were parallels in your first corporate experience and the second one. I think it would be very informative for our audience to hear the details of what happened in both of those situations.

Yeah. It was kind of this a movie and then that movie two, right? The sequel.

The sequel.

The sequel. So, here’s what happened both times, Meredith. So, in the first role I was telling you about 20 years, for 18 or so of those years, Meredith, it was a really outstanding company. Profitable, growth year over year and a great culture. Really, we were proud to work there. We were proud to work with each other. It was just … it’s kind of a cliché but it was really a family culture. It really was that where people spent most of their careers in this company. We were successful and proud and it was just the kind of career that you want to build when you’re young and so I did, but here’s what happened. That CEO, really high integrity CEO with a senior leadership team that was aligned with that, retired and new leadership came in and really destroyed the culture. Came in with a singular focus of profitability and running up stock price because this was a private equity group that really … I think their intention was to buy and sell.

I mean, their singular focus was ramp up the profits as much as possible, cut cost, and run that stock price up. So, what they did was ruin the culture and run this very good company out of business. I mean, out of business over a several year period. So, after a couple of years of watching what was happening, I just didn’t want to be a part of that, because I took so much pride in doing my part to build the company that I was really proud to work for. So, great company, growth, profitability, wonderful culture destroyed literally. First the culture and then the profitability and growth. Literally ran out of business. So, I did leave. That was my first entry into consulting and coaching and leadership development and then I did that for four years. Then I developed a great relationship with one of my clients.

They said, “We really want you to come to work for us.” So, I saw it as people I liked working with and I really had a pretty good insight to the culture because I was doing a lot of work with them. So, I did. I joined and was there 10 years. For seven of those years, it was like the first experience that I had … a great CEO and senior leadership team, people of integrity that had business savvy, outstanding leadership. They were great stewards of the business but they really respected culture and they really respected people and their contributions at every level. So, it’s a great experience for 7 of those 10 years and then, Meredith, the same thing happened. New leadership came in and tanked the culture by overly focusing on growing too fast with acquisitions that strategically weren’t sound and not integrated well. Then trying to implement an ERP system and employee resource platform all at the same time and it was just a train wreck.

The first thing that went was the culture and right alongside that was profitability and growth retracted. Today, it’s the same thing. The company is still in business but a company that had profitable quarters for 15 years, many of those before I got there, has a change in leadership and then not profitable quarters for three years. So, the pivot point was the change in leadership. The punchline of those experiences Meredith – and you’re right I call it the tale of two cultures – would have been part of a healthy culture where people were engaged and proud and really contributing. The profitability and the growth just went alongside that, twice, but the other side of the coin was just as true when the culture tanked and became first unhealthy and then toxic, the business performance and growth and profitability just slid down that hill along with the culture. So, that’s why I call it the tale of two cultures. So, my takeaway really from those experiences is there are two superpowers in any business. It is leadership and culture based on my experience. However, those superpowers can be kryptonite if leadership and culture aren’t tended to.

What do you mean by that for non-Superman fans?

Strong leadership with a healthy respect for a great culture is a great prescription for success in business in any industry. Actually, there’s a lot of research to support that. So, for the non-Superman that is kryptonite, it becomes your greatest weakness if it’s not strong leadership and smart leadership and savvy leadership with a healthy respect for culture. What could be your greatest strength can become your greatest liability.

Right. That’s such a powerful story and I think for the listeners here who are coaches and consultants themselves, some of them may have had the same experience of leaving a really untenable situation.

I hear it all the time, Meredith. When I tell people just almost offhandedly like I told you several months ago my tale of two culture story, I can’t tell you how many people have told me, “I’ve been through that. I’ve been through exactly that.”

So, it’s a powerful thing to recognize and it causes me to think of another question I’d like to delve into with you, because now that you’re on the outside again so to speak, I think you have your radar set to look for the characteristics or traits of a potential client that would attract you to work with them, that would be your ideal version versus someone that I won’t say repels you but you see yellow flags or red flags waving in the breeze and go, “Ooh, I’m not so sure about that.” Let’s talk a little bit about first, what are the positive things that would cause you to say yes to working with a particular client? I’m of the opinion that we who are in business need to evaluate our perspective clients from our own, not just financial potential success, but our own emotional wellbeing. Is this a client that’s going to energize me and I’m going to enjoy working with? So, from that perspective, what do you look for?

It’s almost a description of a client that I have now, Meredith. The CEO said to me, and I’ve seen him say to his leadership team, “We’re a really good company and we should be proud of what we’ve accomplished. We’ve grown. We’ve had a lot of success, but here’s the thing. If we’re going to keep growing and be successful, we have to be willing to be humble. We have to be willing to look with very clear eyes about what we’re not good at. We’re good at a lot of things, but we’re not good at everything. So, we have to look at things with very clear eyes and just accept we’re not great at it and be willing to roll our sleeves up and get better.” It’s that mindset that I really love working with, that successful companies know that success is not permanent and are really willing to roll their sleeves up and get better at the things that really matter and drive the business to include leadership development and culture development. So, that one client that I have, I have other clients too, but that’s the one that describes what really attracted me to work with that client.

That’s great. It sounds like they’re willing to invest in developing their people.

They are and in many ways, Meredith, invest in developing their people through executive coaching, what I’m doing, willing to invest in leadership development for their managers that are frontline managing their business or middle levels managing their business. This client does a unique thing where I am coaching some of their regional leaders to run projects that are outside their day job so that they can scale some things inside the business. I found that kind of project coaching is a great way to invest in your leaders and actually create value inside the company.

So, that you’re tying in additional skills they’re learning by the company investing in other opportunities for them beyond the basic skillset they use on a day to day basis.

That’s exactly right. That happened to me in my corporate career. My first corporate career that was the best development I ever got was to lead a cross functional team in a project that was important to the board. So, I did and six, eight months later after we reported back to the board, I realized I developed some very higher level skills in collaborating, in leading a team of people that I wasn’t their boss and framing strategy and evaluating opportunities and threats. I developed a higher skillset, a different skillset as a result of that project and then the coaching I received to help run the project.

That’s great because I think again the listeners of this program, one of the takeaways is, what are some other opportunities that you can see when you’re working with a client that will help them develop the healthy culture, the healthy leadership that’s needed? Because sometimes we go in with a focus on what we got hired to do and we stick to our knitting on that one thing and yet there are many other ways that we could be of service and benefit to that same client that sometimes get overlooked.

Yeah. That’s really up to me, Meredith. So, another client I’ve just got to tell you about. I started out doing executive coaching for the CEO. Then, the CEO asked me to do executive coaching for the VP of finance. As I was having a lot of conversations with the CEO and just uncovering issues that were challenges for him as the CEO, I just saw more opportunities where I can help. Developing that relationship with my client and really listening to what they’re saying, not just to respond to it but to really listen to their needs that might be beyond the initial engagement and then coming back and offering solutions based on just some good old fashion listening to what they’re challenged with.

I think that’s really critical when we think of growing our businesses. Where are the additional opportunities to make an impact with the same organization? So, let me just flip the switch a little bit and get you to talk about the things that would be a waving yellow flag or red flag for you when you’re talking with a prospective client that would cause you to say, “I’m not the right person or they’re not the right organization for me to work with.”

Yeah. I think it’s an organization that is just only bottom-line oriented. I have a healthy respect for in business we have to be profitable. In businesses we have to grow and we have to grow in healthy profitable productive ways, a healthy growth. Some businesses are just solely short-term oriented to squeeze the last nickel out of the revenues. Not for me because I don’t see building happening there. So, I think I would discover that pretty quickly in a conversation.

The other thing that would be the biggest red flag of all that may take a while is they have core values and it’s on the website and it’s on their coaster and they talk about it, but the reality of it is their core values are a joke from the perspective of their employees. I’ve had employees tell me that where I was doing leadership development inside that organization. So, those would be the two big red flags for me, singularly focused on the bottom line without really wanting to invest in growing the company and growing their talent. Then lacking integrity when it comes to things that matter, core values particularly.

What are some signals that you get recognizing that when you’re first having these initial conversations with a potential client, they’re not going to offer to you that they’re bottom-line oriented only or they don’t live their values? What are some of the clues that you watch or listen for since you wouldn’t have had access at that point to employees to hear their perspective?

It’s really two things. Well, it could be three things. One would be – we’re in this network of leaders in the work that you and I do – is just talking with people who might know this company. As you and I grow our network, we’re more connected. That’s one opportunity without even talking to the company. So, that’s an early hurdle that I always jump over. The second one is just having a conversation, an in depth conversation with that executive or executives and really finding out their priorities and their pain points and those kinds of things in just a pretty informal conversation. I may get to that and I may not in the first conversation. It may take a couple. Then the third is really just have an organizational assessment that would ask senior leaders to fill out. It’s a standard thing about what their priorities are and what their values are and compare those. If it’s a senior leadership of five or six people, there are a lot of clues in that.

Yes, you can see the difference. Those are really helpful tips because one of the things that we all have a limit of is time. So, we want to spend our time in front of the people that are going to be the best match for us, that really are interested in having us help them. So, I’m curious, what is different about your approach when you go to work with clients? How do you set yourself apart?

When I get in front of a client, Meredith, I find it’s relatively easy. I have the advantage of having a six at the beginning of my age. So, that’s one thing. They see my credentials really before I even meet with them. I’ll send them my credentials. I have a PhD in organization and management. I have 30 plus years of experience and I call that the fusion of … the school of hard knocks and some pretty extensive academic work, real world and academic. I usually go into conversations with quite a bit of credibility. They know that I’ve been there and done that corporately and as a coach and a consultant. So, that earns me a lot of credibility. Then my first conversation, I’m not selling anything. I am having a conversation and I am really listening to what results they’re looking for, what challenges they’re experiencing. I never make a proposal until I’m very clear about what their needs are. So, I think it’s my approach helps me a lot in closing deals.

There’s the whole business development side – getting in front of enough of the right people – and then there’s once you’re in front of them. It sounds like you’re saying that, once you’re in front of someone, your combination of experience and credentials gets them listening to you as well.

Yes, ma’am. Yeah.

I’m curious, what have you found to be some of the best questions that you ask that help you get to the root of the problem they’re dealing with? Sometimes I think people are reluctant to ask really penetrating or deep questions too quickly for fear of putting somebody off. I’m curious what your approach is to question-asking.

Yeah. So, question asking usually starts with positive. What is it that you do here that people in the organization are really proud of? What’s your track record look like for the last five years or so? What’s the best thing going on here at your company that you love to tell people about, investors about? We all like to talk about our businesses and our kids and our grandkids and the things that we’re proud of. That’s really where I start. Then I switch gears and I’m pretty upfront about that. Like, “Meredith, I’m switching gears now. Help me understand maybe the key couple of barriers to getting to where you want to be to grow, to be profitable, to sustain success that you really want to have? What are the few things that are getting in the way or slowing you down?” So, that’s my general question after the positive stuff that all companies are proud to talk about. I tell them I’m switching gears and I go right at it, “What’s slowing you down? What’s standing in the way?”

That’s great. Well, let me back up then. What is it that you’ve done in advance of having that initial conversation? How have they learned about you? What are some things that you’ve been doing?

Yeah. So, you talked about business development. Going from corporate to doing what I’m doing, there’s a learning curve. When you leave corporate world that you’ve been in for a long time and go out to be an entrepreneur, the biggest learning curve is business development. It has been for me. It has for people that I talk to. So, when I talk about business development, there’s two pieces of that. There’s the back end making a proposal and closing the deal. I find that pretty easy for me to do just because of my experience. The front end of that is marketing, putting potential clients in the funnel. I’ve taken some courses. I’ve gotten really busy on LinkedIn.

So what are the things I do on LinkedIn? I post a leadership tip of the week and I built a following from nothing a few years ago to over 4,000 people following me. One of the things I’m doing is branding and giving value. Leadership tip of the week is a two minute read every Sunday. People get it that, “I think this guy knows what he’s talking about and now I’m aware of him.” So, that’s absolutely one thing. Then I will reach out directly to folks on LinkedIn after they’ve followed me for a while and have seen some of my leadership tips. I don’t like to just go out there too early without any kind of relationship.

I’m pretty heavily on LinkedIn. Because I’ve been in business for a long time, I do a lot of networking with people that I know and people that I’ve worked with. So working in the network that you already have. I’ve done that with some success. I have a major client as a result of that. So, I’ve gotten business, Meredith, two clients from LinkedIn that reached out to me. One major client from just networking… two clients from people that know what I do. I’ve worked with them and they respect what I do. So, it’s the combination of LinkedIn and just networking and making connections.

I think that both of those are really powerful because you can use a platform like LinkedIn to establish your credibility and get people to trust you because they see that you are a credible? Is that what you’re doing, writing weekly articles?

Yeah. I write a post. Every once in a while, I’ll do a short video, Meredith, but it’s mostly a couple of paragraph tip that is just very practical. It’s not academic. It’s not consultant speak. It’s…here’s a tip I’ve learned from the school of hard knocks. That’s what I do every week. That’s really grown my followership. I get people connecting with me from all over the world. I have no idea who they are, but it’s grown my network.

That’s great to hear, because one of the key things you’re mentioning is you’re saying weekly which equates to consistency and I think that’s one of the things that’s often missing. We hear the latest new idea and say, “Oh, I’m going to try that.” So, we do it for a short period of time and then we’re off to something else because that doesn’t give us immediate results. The fact is, you’ve been writing these tips you said for almost three years now?

Probably about a year.


I’ve been on LinkedIn for about three years but I’ve consciously written tips for about a year now.

Okay. There’s a discipline there.

Yes, ma’am.

I think that it’s like anything else that we commit to do, whether it’s getting better shape physically and work out or eat right or with our business development, what are the things that I’m doing on a daily or weekly basis that are going to over time get me known to the audience that I want to be known by? I think a key element there is being clear who your ideal target market is. So, for you, who is that? What does that look like?

Anybody who’s a leader, it’s my hope that I give value to in my tip of the week. My ideal client is a senior executive likely with a medium-sized business. That’s what I’m comfortable with. That’s where I’ve grown up. I found that companies that are too small often don’t have the budget to do what you and I do and companies that are these mega corporations often have the resources in house. So, it’s really a CEO, a COO, a senior executive of a mid-sized company that is really trying to grow a great business that they’re really proud of.

That’s great. As we get to the end of our time together, are there any other thoughts, tips, ideas that you’d like to share with your colleagues out there who are consultants and coaches like you?

You said it, so I’m going to echo what you said. Business development is about consistency, but so is leadership development. I really learned that from you and Denny Coates all those years ago. So, I’m quoting your focus-action-reflection model. So, leadership development is done every week. You focus on something to develop a skill or a strategy. The action is you put it on your calendar and you do it, right? Then at the end of the week, you just take a few minutes and reflect on how did that go? Did that go really well and I feel like I’ve got that skill right and I can go on to another one? Or did that not go quite as well as I wanted it to, and that may mean a coaching session or some leadership practice and reflect on it, so that I can do it just a little better next time. So, that’s how I do coaching and leadership development, where we set some goals, we’re clear about what we want to get better at and then there’s this consistent drum beat application – focus to action to reflection. Over time, we get results. We always get results with that focus, that action, that reflection and then the consistent application of that practice.

That’s great.

That’s what I found gets results.

I forgot to mention this right in the beginning. Mark has worked with us on both products that we have. Our 360 survey software along with our Strong for Performance development tool for leaders. I appreciate you bringing that up because it IS that consistency in a leader doing the work that’s needed to be done not just the consistency of a coach or consultant doing business development. For any behavior we want to make a habit, it does require the commitment to be consistent.

Yeah. Here’s what I’ve learned that doesn’t work, Meredith. We learn that way too, right? I have delivered so many really terrific, not bragging, but really terrific dynamic and formative two day workshops all over the world that didn’t have much effect, because that’s not how we learn. We don’t learn by having a bunch of good stuff dumped in our head and then we leave and go back to our day job. We learn by consistent, disciplined application of the skill that we’re building whether that’s business development or leadership or communications. So, I learned how not to do it before I learned how to do it.

Yes. It’s so helpful to have a coach along the way who is giving you the guidance as you try things and the support because when we’re trying something new, it is not easy and we fall back on our old way of doing it. Having somebody who is there to support and coach us along the way is really critical.

Yes. Leadership is a team sport. Leadership development is a team sport. The more we are surrounded by people that will encourage us, coach us, guide us and then somebody that hold us accountable for staying the course, just practicing until we get it right. That’s a really important part of leadership development..surrounding ourselves with people that will help us along that journey.

That’s great. Mark, you shared so many great insights and tips from your number of years. We won’t say the number. Yell people how they can connect with you and find you, so they can follow up if they’d like to have a conversation with you and learn more.

Yeah, I appreciate that opportunity. I have a website but I think what I’d really like people to do is connect with me on LinkedIn. Just go to Mark Hinderliter, and then you’ll see my smiling face. Just connect with me and I’ll accept the connection. Then once you do that, follow me. Read my weekly leadership tip. Go back and read several weeks max so you get a flavor for what I’m talking about. If my style appeals to you and you feel like we can do some business together, then just direct message me. That’d be great. If you just feel like you just want to read my tip and get value from that, I’m delighted to do that, too.

Great. Thank you so much Mark for being with me today. You’ve provided some I think a lot of good data and information to stimulate the thinking of our listeners. I appreciate you very much.

Thank you, Meredith.


008: Unleash Your Creativity by Challenging Beliefs and Thoughts

008: Unleash Your Creativity by Challenging Beliefs and Thoughts


Grow Strong Leaders Podcast


008: Unleash Your Creativity by Challenging Beliefs and Thoughts

by Steve Chandler

In this special one-hour episode, Coach Extraordinaire Steve Chandler shares brilliant tips that can help you on two levels – with your own personal growth and in your work with clients. Steve is the author of more than 30 books, and Meredith has read 12 of them, each one outstanding in its own right. In this interview, Steve takes a deeper dive into the golden nuggets contained in his latest books, CREATOR and Right Now. You’ll want to listen more than once to capture all the valuable insights Steve shares here about future vs present, being playful vs serious, and other contrasting concepts.

You’ll discover:

  • Questions you can ask current and prospective clients to go deeper in your conversations
  • How to help clients remove the labels that limit their identify and actions
  • Why the concept of an “inner critic” is just plain wrong
  • How to help someone pull a future event that feels scary into the present moment so it becomes positive and exciting
  • The best script to bring with you into a sales conversation
  • How to slow down and see opportunities that are right in front of you rather than striving for the next big thing

Watch the episode:


Connect with Steve

Read the Transcription

Hi, and welcome to another episode of the Strong for Performance Podcast. I’m your host Meredith Bell. And today I consider it both an honor and a privilege to have with me, Steve Chandler. Hi Steve. Welcome.

Hi Meredith, thank you for having me.

Well, I’m delighted to have you and I want to explain why, to me, I use the word honor and privilege, and it’s because you have been coaching me virtually and informally through your books over the last five years. I’ve read 12 of them now, I’ve been counting.


Steve’s published over 30, and I can’t keep up with all his books, but I can tell you that every single one of them has wisdom in it that has helped me be more effective as a human being and as a business owner. So I want to thank you, Steve, for what you have contributed.

Well, you’re very welcome.

… to my life. And so what I’ve done for today is I’ve prepared some questions. Steve doesn’t even know what they are, but one of the things he has such a gift for is writing in very clear, beautiful language that compares different ways that we can be and how we can show up. And many times he presents this in terms of contrasts. So that’s where I want to focus today. But let me back up a moment and just say, Steve has been the coach of many of today’s top coaches. He’s been at this quite a few years, and he’s always willing to be vulnerable and open about his own struggles. In fact, one of the things I think I enjoy most about his books is he often says he’s writing them for his own personal growth and his own journey. And so we all benefit from the things that he writes as he discovers them.

He also is the founder of what used to be called the Coaching Prosperity School, and it now has a new name, right? Advanced Client Systems, which is for people who already know how to coach. They simply want to grow their businesses more, and they want to be more financially successful. And I think the kinds of transformations he’s brought about there have been pretty remarkable, and we’ll talk about how you can learn more about Steve at the end of our program today. But right now, Steve, are you ready for me to jump into my questions?

Yeah. I’m ready.

Oh, good. So the first one is, because we have people who are coaches and consultants who are interacting with their clients and they need to ask good questions, what are some of your favorite questions to ask either prospective clients or people that you’re working to help them go beyond the superficial and really look deeper?

Well, I like to allow curiosity to lead me to the next question. So no matter what someone says about how things are going in their business, I like to have them talk more and feel safe to tell me why they think that’s going that way. And so if somebody says anything like, “I’m not very good at communicating with my business partners,” or, “I have some issues with communication or time management,” I want them to simply talk more. So I’ll say, “Tell me a little bit more about that.” Or, “Why do you think that is?” Or, “What have you done so far to correct that? What have you tried? What has not worked?” So if somebody’s talking to me as a coach, I want to know what’s the depth of their frustration on whatever they’re revealing that they would like help with. So I don’t want to just simply say, “Oh, communication, well, that’s something I specialize in.” I want to keep the questioning going, and no matter what they answer, I want to be curious about that answer.

“We tried this, we brought in these people, we did Meridian tapping, we tried that.” “Well, why do you think that didn’t work?” And so this allows people to share their belief system, and share what might be limitations and how they see the world and potential that’ll help me as a coach.

I want to bring up one of my favorites from one of your books. It said, why do you believe this hasn’t happened for you yet?

Yes, I love that question.

It’s great, and I’d love to hear why that is such a powerful question when you’re having a conversation.

Well, it’s powerful because it reveals the client or potential client’s worldview. It reveals how much causation they are seeing in circumstance and other people. It also reveals how permanent they believe their characteristics are. So most of the work I do is moving people off of characteristics they think they have into patterns of energy, and various actions that can be taken in a different direction that will set up a new pattern and a new habit force in another direction. So it’s no longer part of their identity, they’re not locked into, I’m this way, I’m that way, and they’re overly labeling themselves that traps them in a sense of restriction. I want to open that up to pure possibilities. So any questions that go in that direction, like the one you mentioned is going to reveal a lot.

Well, since you brought up the idea of labels and identity, that was one of the things I really wanted to go into with you today because it’s a common theme from the very first book of yours that I read, Reinventing Yourself, up to your most recent one, Creator, and also, Right Now. I loved in Right Now how you talked about peeling off the labels that we put on ourselves. And I think that with the emphasis on taking these personality tests and other kinds of assessments that tend to describe characteristics even if they’re strengths, you point out that those often don’t serve us well. And so I’d love to have you talk a little bit about that particular topic.

Sometimes those tests, and the Enneagram, and various tests can be useful as a starting point. They can illustrate a pattern, but I think it’s really important that people aren’t locked into that and seeing that I’m that way and that’s just the way I am. And so I’m trapped with that characteristic or that label about myself. The reason I didn’t talk to that client or customer who had difficulty and upset with the company is because I’m an introvert. And so people take these labels and restrict the possibility of action, creativity, and it gets to be absurd after a while, and it gets to be counter-productive. And so I like to open that up for people. I was with a group, a business group of high tech engineers and we were working on ways of communicating with other people in the company that were more open, more compassionate, more based on understanding other people.

And they were trying to tell me that they were engineers, they were techies and geeks. And so they didn’t have that capacity. They weren’t people-people. And so that came very hard for them. And so I would ask the question, “If your little daughter runs up to you crying, do you say, sorry sweetheart, I’m a techie. There’s nothing I can do. I can’t hug you. I can’t relate to you.” And they would say, “Oh, of course not. I wouldn’t do that.” And so then I would help people see, well, what if you took who you were being in the moment your daughter came to you and opened that up a little bit. Because if you can be that way there, you can be that way with someone in another department who has a complaint about your department. It’s not something you’re locked into. So that’s one of the reasons why I’m really interested in helping people—in a funny way—lose their identity and open up to unlimited creativity that’s really what they have.

Yes. And the contrast you make with the whole identity and labeling is being more creative and being able to create yourself. I would love for you to relay the story, and I don’t remember now which book it was, of the fellow that said, “I never finish anything.” So he was labeling himself from that perspective.

Yeah. So he had that story about himself, “I never finish anything,” and I said, “Okay, so are you wearing shoes right now?” And I knew he was a hiker, and he said, “Yes.” And I said, “Are your shoes tied?” “Yes.” “So when you first put your shoes on, were they tied?” “No.” “And you started to tie them and then you finished tying them?” “Well, yeah, I finished.” “So, okay, so that’s something you finished. So did you finish high school?” And I knew he had because he played baseball at a college, and he said, “Yeah, I finished high school.” And after a number of questions we discovered together that he finishes almost everything. So my question to him was, “If in reality you finish almost everything, how does it serve you to walk around the world with a belief that you never finish anything? How is that in service to you having as happy and productive a life as you would like to have? Because it’s obviously not true. It’s a mythology you carry about yourself.”

And he ended up saying, “Well, I’m talking about a certain project I guess, or I’m talking about this.” So it’s really helpful for people to see how many stories they carry about themselves and other people in their company or their family especially. I ask someone, “Tell me about your wife, tell me about your relationship, your husband,” and they have this list of characteristics. “He’s this way. He never does that. He’s not appreciative.” And the next thing we know, that other person doesn’t have a chance, that person doesn’t have a chance to be appreciated because they won’t even be interpreted that way.

That’s so powerful when we start really examining the stories that we tell ourselves and that we believe, and one of the, I think it was in Right Now when you talked about inner critic, because I’ve used that phrase myself, I’ve even written an article about it, how we pay attention to this inner critic. But the way you wrote about it and described it was like a slap in the face of like, “Oh my gosh, I’ve been doing this, attributing this to like it’s a real character.” So it would be helpful, I think to me and our listeners, to have you speak to the way that you perceive and like to talk about that whole concept.

Well, people love having this permanent, negative thing called my inner critic. And my question is, what are you talking about? Are you confusing a fleeting thought that says, “Oh, I didn’t do that right?” Or, “I should have done that differently,” which is a fleeting thought with something more pervasive and permanent about you. Something even more negative and creepy. This being living in you that is an inner critic. It’s like a monster or a zombie or something, and you give it life every time you talk about it. And the way I hear you talk, you carry it with you everywhere you go, your inner critic, as if it’s a real being, a real thing. And all you’re talking about is fleeting ephemeral thoughts with no substance at all until I grab on to them, I give them significance and meaning. And I attribute them to this aspect of me that I’m now calling my inner critic. So my question with people who talk that way is, is that serving you? Is it even true?

And these are questions that a lot of times we don’t ask ourselves, is it true? We simply hear the voice or hear the thought and accept it. And one of the points that you were making there is that you have one thought which leads to another, which often leads to another. And then you’ve got this running set of thoughts, each one more critical than the last because they’re evaluating the thought you had before.

That’s right. Yeah. And they become, they crystallize into a belief, these little fleeting thoughts, I gather them together and I crystallize them into a negative belief about myself. And then that belief next time it shows up is bigger than a fleeting thought because I’ve made it that way. It’s a mind-made phenomenon. But when I wake up to how creative that is, that I just made that up, it’s like reinventing yourself. It’s waking up to the fact that whatever this self is that I present to the world that has been invented to begin with, it’s been made up, and it’s not a permanent thing. You see people change all the time. And so that’s what I like helping people with is finding the freedom they have to create whoever they need to be, whatever way they need to be in any situation so they’re not locked in, they don’t have this heavy sense of personality that they’ve heard from other people.

We hear it from our family members. If we ask family members what we’re like, they have a story and they’ll list characteristics. He’s this way, he’s that way. He never finishes anything. So we hear that growing up and we believe it, we start adding that to the self-concept that totally denies the energy of creation that’s there, that’s really there for us.

Yeah. That is so true. There’re so many stories we’ve adopted about ourselves that we carry with us sometimes for years. One of my other very favorites of your books is Fearless. In fact, it’s the first one I bought. And your whole premise there is this idea of, we hold ourselves back a lot of times because of jumping into the future and worrying about what might happen. And one of my favorite sentences, in fact, I’m not sure it was from Fearless, I think it was from Right Now, but it ties in with it is, what does it mean when you talk about pulling something out of the future into right now? How can people use that idea to get past or work through some of the fears or worries they tend to entertain?

Well, I want to know what I can do right now. So let’s say I have to talk to my team, I have to give a talk at our retreat, and I’m a leader. And I’m thinking, “Oh no, I’m not a good public speaker. I have stage fright.” I’m worried about my talk, and I’m stressing myself out. No. If I’m coaching that person, let’s take your talk in the future. Let’s bring it in to the present moment and let’s work it right now. “What is your talk? What do you want to say?” “Well I want to say this, and I want to talk about that.” “Oh, that’s a good idea. Write that down. What else?” And now we’re working with this future fearful event. We’re working with it in the present moment, and it’s not so fearful anymore. It feels exciting and good. So that’s one of the things I like to help people with is taking something they’re afraid of in the future and pulling it into the present moment and taking a closer look at it. And if you need to rehearse it or if you need to understand it better, let’s do that right now.

Can you give me a couple of examples of how you coach some of the coaches that you work with to do that for themselves? What are some of the things they tend to be concerned about, either fearful of or worry about as it relates to in the future?

Well quite often a coach will have an upcoming conversation scheduled. So I’m going to be talking to a CEO about his company and the potential of coaching his company. And I’m really worried about, I don’t know what to say or what agenda to bring to the conversation. And so they bring so much agenda and they worry so much about what they’re going to say when they meet this person that they can no longer hear what the person is saying. And so what I like to help coaches with is a willingness to show up empty to a conversation, a willingness to show up absolutely empty. Now coaches think, “Oh my God, if I show up empty, I’ll look like there’s something wrong with me, or I have brain damage or something.” But really if they are willing to experiment with that, all the good ideas, all the things they already know from experience coaching leaders or whatever it is, that’s there, that will come up when it’s appropriate, when it fits, or when someone asks about it.

I don’t have to bring that in and make sure I talk about it. That’s already there. But what happens in most coaching conversations with a prospective client is the coach is listening to his own thoughts about the other person. So the other person is talking about his company or what his needs are in the world of coaching, and then the coach is listening to his own thoughts about that, not really listening to the other person. So quite often a coach will miss what the other person really wants. And that happens often when a coach gets an email from a leader and the coach says, “So I got this email, and he’s agreed to talk to me. And so I’m going to talk to him about these, about what I offer and how I teach this.” And I’ll say, “Wait a minute, show me that email again. His email says that this is where he needs the most help. He’s revealing the one thing that if you could help him with that, he’d hire you in a heartbeat, and you just passed over it because you’re so focused on yourself and what you’re thinking about what to say to him and how you’re coming across that you can’t hear where the real need is.”

And so even though you’ll be impressive, and he will say, “Wow, you’re impressive. I see why people hire you. You’re an amazing coach, and you’ve told me about these accomplishments and capabilities you have, then I’ll get back to you on whether we’ll hire you.” And then the coach says, “He never got back to me.” Well, you didn’t listen to him. You didn’t really connect with him about something that would have helped him because you were listening to your own thinking. And so that’s primary in working with coaches and, for years, I did not work with coaches at all. I worked with corporations and I went in, did group coaching, leadership coaching, and sales training for corporations. And so over time, I began to see that when people came in to try and sell them training and coaching, it was all talk. It was all trying to make an impression. And then the potential client had nothing to base hiring the coach on because there was no connection.

There was no sense in the client this coach understands what we’re up against, this coach gets it. This coach knows what we need. Because that coach had no way of knowing what they needed because they were so focused on how they were coming across.

It’s so interesting that you mentioned that because my very favorite chapter in your new CREATOR book is the one about co-creation in conversations. And you had learned from someone that you have been working with about trying to make yourself invisible in the conversation so that the focus becomes that other person. And I think that’s what you’re really talking about. I think it’s our own insecurities and need to make the impression when we get our ego involved thinking, “I’ve got to do this right, and I’ve got to say the right things.” As I was listening to you talk, what seemed to be missing is that emotional connection with the person so that they sense you really get them as human beings. So will you talk a little bit about that whole co-creation and becoming invisible?

Yeah. And it takes practice, and it takes a realization through a willingness to experiment with it that when I show up empty and I enter my client’s world, that all decisions made about whether to hire me or how to use me to help the company or help that person, all those occur in the client’s world. They don’t occur in my world and in what I’m saying. It always happens over there. So that’s where I want my consciousness to be. And so what occurs when I drop out of the picture, when there’s no Steve Chandler in this exchange anymore, there’s no me trying to maintain a me for that other person to be impressed by. That what occurs now is a complete connection, a co-mingling of our attention, our consciousness, and agreements get co-created that way. And the same happens in personal relations where people try, so somebody in the family has a problem. And rather than really hearing how the problem feels to them and really understanding how they see what’s going on, I’m trying to solve the problem for them quickly.

I’m trying to make this problem go away. And the other person, even if I’ve given them a good solution, they walk away feeling like not only do I not understand them and what their life looks like and feels like, I don’t even want to, I don’t have any interest in understanding them. So people say, “What’s the best script to use when you’re trying to get someone to hire you as a coach?” And the best script to use is words like, I hear you, I’ve been there, I understand that, and that’s the best script. Instead of, “Well, I can help you do this, and I’m good at that.” And so it’s the connection that has people want to work with the coach. It’s the sense of, I’m feeling understood by this person. This person understands what, exactly what I’m up against. And there’s also a sense of non-judgment. One of the problems people have with coaches is they get a sense because the coach is trying so hard to demonstrate superior wisdom to the other person. Like you should hire me because I know better how to run a company or how you should be in life. I’m bringing superior wisdom to your world.

That sense is a loss of connection and they become afraid, they feel judged. So someone is talking about how they’re trying to get along with somebody and the coach is pointing out a better way to do it and they’re feeling judged. They’re feeling like, oh, I’m doing it wrong and you’re going to show me how to do it right. And then their emotional response to feeling judged is either to clam up and say, “Well, it’s not that big a problem really.” Or to defend what they’ve done and get defensive. Their ego gets defensive. And so that sense of judgment is something that coaches don’t realize they’re putting on another person.

That is really profound from the perspective of looking at how is a coach best able to interact with someone else. And when we step back and look at… And I had to just grin when you were talking about the other person feels judged like a family member. Steve, I remember when our daughter was in high school, so this is like 20 years ago. She had been babysitting a neighborhood kid and got home and she was all upset, and I did exactly what you just described. I listened to her describe the situation, then I jumped in with my solution hat, right? Saying, “Oh, well, here’s what you need to do.” And she said, and bless her heart, we had a good enough relationship. She could be honest with me and say, “Mom, I already figured it out. I just needed you to listen to me.”


And 20 years later, I still remember that because it taught me then, and I was doing training, teaching people communication skills. And I thought, “Man, I really blew it with this very important person in my life.” But the fact is we can slip into that so easily when it’s part of what we do. The people we care about, we don’t want to see them suffer. And so we want to help them get to the solution as quickly as possible. But you are so right about the listening piece. And that ties in to the next thing I want to ask you about because for me, this was the most profound sentence that I took away from this wonderful book, The Prosperous Coach, which I’ve probably sold at least 50 copies of that for you over the years because it’s such a wonderful book.

Thank you.

But here’s the sentence, the question to ask, and I do this with any phone call, I’m getting ready to have with a new connection or somebody that I’m talking to about our software. How can I serve this person so powerfully that they never forget our conversation for the rest of their life? And when you think about it, that question ties in very nicely with what you’ve been talking about. Because if you’re really serving that person, they’re not going to remember a conversation the rest of their life where you’ve done most of the talking.

No. And they might not even remember any kind of good advice. They might remember for the first time feeling okay that the situation stresses them out. Because most coaches say, “Well, that shouldn’t stress you out. That’s only your thinking. And so I can show you how not to be stressed.” And so the person is now feeling judged by that even though the coach is innocent trying to help a person see the true origin of stress, but what the coach is missing in that premature attempt to deliver wisdom without really hearing how it feels to be that stressed and really connecting with it. “Yeah, I get that. I can see that. I can see where that would be extremely stressful for you, but that would be stressful for anyone. You’re not alone in that. There’s nothing wrong with you.” When you mentioned your daughter, that’s a great example of trying to make someone’s feeling go away.

Like in families, it also happens in businesses. People show up and somebody’s upset. “I’m upset because I didn’t make the cheerleader squad or the football team or something.” And the parent says, “Well, you shouldn’t be upset. A lot of people try it out. I don’t know why you’re upset, or I don’t know why you’re angry about that.” And what’s missed in that kind of communication is no one ever got a feeling wrong. And yet we try to make how someone is feeling wrong. There’s no, someone says, “I’m really scared about this job interview.” “Oh, you have no reason to be scared about that.” And what happens then is the person who is feeling, “Not only am I scared, but it’s wrong to be scared, and I must have some kind of weakness that has me be scared when this superior coach is telling me, I’ve got no reason to be scared.” And nobody ever got a feeling wrong. Once a feeling is there, it’s there. It’s not wrong.

And that’s why we call it a feeling. It’s already there, and we’re feeling it. And so it’s really important in coaching to meet somebody where they are and join them where they are and then go from there instead of attempting always to come from a superior place of wisdom to the client.

Well, let’s get a real example of how you might approach somebody if they came to you and said, “Oh, I’m really upset over,” let’s say it was a coworker or a direct report that responded inappropriately or made a terrible mistake, and the person you’re coaching is really upset over it. Instead of saying, “You shouldn’t feel that way,” what would be your approach?

“Well, I get it. I get how upset you are. That must really feel dismissive and like you don’t count. I get how you feel that. And so let’s slow everything down. Let’s look at what’s possible here. Let’s look at what they must be feeling to have sent that email. And let’s look at given that you received such a hurtful email, what would you like your response to be? And I get that your first impulse is defensive. You want to hit back, well, you never did this, and you were late with your report, but given the relationship you’d like to create with this person over time, given your willingness to see that for them to send something like that, they have to be in a lot of pain and insecurity and agitation. What would you like to create to heal the situation?” No, I would take more time than that. That’s a quick version of it, but that’s where I want to go so that we have mutual understanding and not just combative two egos going at each other.

That’s a wonderful example. I love that. It’s so funny. Every time you’re bringing up something and you use a certain word, it reminds me of another question I wanted to ask you about because another one of my favorites that has really helped so much, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve used this, is this idea of slowing down and not moving quickly from one thing to another, to another. And it happens with so many situations. And the one that I’m thinking of that’s especially relevant for coaches was a story, I think it was in Wealth Warrior, where you were coaching this fellow that was, I think he was a speaker and a coach and a consultant, maybe all in one. But he had gotten this speaking gig for like $3,000, and he was all excited about it and he came to you, but he wasn’t happy and settled with that. It was like, “I got to hurry up and get the next client.” And I want you to talk about what your approach with him was because it was very much of a slowing down.

Right. Yeah. So people are always trying to get into their own future rather than seeing what’s really present for them right here. So he was saying, “I need to get the next speech, and I need to get the next client. I need to go talk to people who don’t know me and who don’t know what coaching and speaking is and try to get them to be impressed and intrigued enough by me to open up to a conversation to having me come in.” And I said, “Wait a second. What about the people who are having you come speak at their annual retreat? Those are people who have already accepted you, already granted you enough status to talk to the whole company. They would be all open to talking to you prior to your talk about other ways you could help them. You now are part of that event. You have a captive audience right there, and you’re moving on trying to get new people.”

And one of the things coaches miss is that their current relationships have more potential to get them new clients and expand their reach within a current company than all this racing around trying to become known, trying to get my name out there, trying to find new people as if this were just one big race trying to get into my own future. So the key thing with someone like that is, let’s just slow down and look at what you have already and let’s see what else is there. And he slowed down and talked to the people who were bringing him in, and he said, “I’d like to come in a day early and talk to some of your managers about what’s going on in their departments so that when I give my talk, I’d get a better idea.” And they said, “Sure, that’s wonderful.” So he was able to create relationships inside that company that he didn’t even realize was sitting right there for him because he was not slowing down. He was straining against the present moment always, there must be a better now than now.

That’s a great way to say it. And he ended up with a sizable contract if I remember correctly.

Yes, he did.

When you look at the time he would’ve invested trying to go after other business when this was right in his own backyard based on the work he had done. I think that’s so critical. This whole idea of recognizing, right now where are my best opportunities based on people I already know? The other thing I loved was that exercise you and Michael O’Neill did in one of your workshops where in an hour you gave people a break and they were ready to write down what it was you wanted to do. And you said, “We want you to go out and make money, make as much money as you can in the next hour.” And what happened? What happened to the energy of the room right there?

Well, they were scared. They were like, “Oh my God, you mean NOW? I mean we’re here to learn how to do that in the future.” They were at a financial freedom seminar that Michael and I were giving, and they were hoping to learn things that they could use in the future because the future is not, it’s like, and we said, “No, go make money right now and then come back in the room and tell us how much you made.” “Well, what do you mean? What are you talking about making money now?” And they panicked, but they did it and they were amazed at what occurred when they started communicating with people, offering services. They didn’t want to come into the room with nothing. And one woman, we were at a resort, she went around the resort and sang songs for people, and they gave her money. She said, “I’m doing this exercise and if you like my song, you can give me something. If you don’t, that’s fine.” And she came back with more money from that hour than she made in all her complicated coaching schemes.

So what we wanted to wake people up to was their own resourcefulness in the world for making money, for growing a coaching practice, for whatever it is they want to create. Their resource of resourcefulness is present right now. They don’t have to do all these crazy convoluted ways of trying to get people to recognize them, and people say, “I got to get my name out there. I’ve got to get better known.” It’s the celebrity coach syndrome. I’ve got a blog now, I’m posting on social media and I got this, and I’m doing that, and I’m on… And so I ask, “How is that working for you?” “Well, I know it’s going to pay off sooner or later. It’s a numbers game.” And I say, “But there’s an individual you could be talking to right now who if the conversation were really helpful, they would write a check and start working with you. And that’s what you’re not doing.”

Yes, it’s looking at what are they not doing. And the last thing, because I know we’re getting close to the end of our time, but I just have to get to this one, which is being playful versus serious. Because I tend to be a more serious person. I take my work very seriously, but there was a line in Wealth Warrior that just popped out at me which was, a serious person is a wealth repellent. And I was like, “Whoa.” So I would like you to just take a couple of minutes to talk about why that is and why having a more playful attitude about your work or about anything that you’re doing is better.

Well, when we are playful and we’re playing the game of making a company better, we’re brainstorming playfully about how to create a service or a product for a client. The parts of the brain that light up are greater when people are playing, energy is greater when you’re playful. Imagination opens up when you’re playful because you’re not locked down in some grim serious mission. And so things go better with a more playful spirit. And I’m not talking about trivializing somebody’s important mission, but I am talking about how when we play with an idea, and we brainstorm and throw ideas up on the whiteboard on how this might be accomplished, the ideas are going to be better and more creative than if we see it as such a serious problem, and we are so low in our mood that imagination is no longer being accessed.

Talk about that one instance with a client where the CEO, they had this problem, and I don’t remember what it was, it might’ve been sales were low. And he was just so worried about that, and he wanted to do the more traditional problem solving structure. And you divided the people into two groups.

Yeah. They had a problem with the company, and I said, “Your people are going to solve this faster if they do it from a place of optimism, enjoyment, and playful brainstorming than if you keep telling them how serious the problem is.” And he said, “Maybe in your world, in your California coaching world, that works, but this is a serious business.” So I said, “Well, I want to demonstrate.” So we randomly divided up his people to the two conference rooms across the hall from each other, and we took the problem the company was having. In one group, we said this, “As you know, this is a serious problem, and for the next hour we would like you people to work on this problem and see what you can come up with for us.”

With the other group, the CEO and I went in and I said, “We’re going to do a brainstorm like advertising agencies do, and we’re going to go around the room, and we’re going to take this situation and you’re going to come up with potential solutions, and they can be out of the box, off the wall, they can be funny, we’re just going to keep putting them up there and see what you guys come up with. And we’re going to go around and around the room. There’s no wrong answer, there’s no bad, and at the end we’re going to take a look and we’re going to see if anything’s workable, but we’re going to have fun with it.” And then the CEO and I went away from both groups, and in one room we heard all this laughter and energy and people, you could tell people were really interacting. And the other group it was just silence and murmuring, and it was like people were at a funeral trying to solve this unsolvable problem.

And the group that played at like a brain storm came up with a really fantastic solution that the company used and is still using today. So that was my way of saying to the CEO, it’s not just theory that people in a more playful mindset are going to create things that are more imaginative, more innovative, and even more doable than people who are locked down in the seriousness of their work.

Yeah, I love that, and I think the takeaway for our listeners is if they’re feeling weighted down by an issue in their lives or in their business that’s really been a challenge for them, to step back and take a different perspective with it. And I think that’s the theme that’s run across our conversation today is just being able to examine your thoughts, examine your beliefs and attitudes in order to create and be more open to solutions that you might not have considered when you’re hunkered down trying to figure out how to get out of whatever the problem is. And of course, I love your reference to it earlier, but I know you have mentioned this with your coach Steve Hardison. When you’re faced with a situation, “Given this situation, what would you like to create?” And just that word create brings out a more playful, hopeful approach.

Right. It takes the power out of the problem itself, and it returns it to your own creative capacity. And most people, when they see a problem, they give all power to the problem. How do we solve this problem? This is a terrible, serious, awful problem. And so they don’t access their creativity, they access their fear, their seriousness, and they think they’re accessing their commitment and determination, but creativity is left behind.

That is so true. Just one word makes such a difference. Not calling it a problem. In fact, you use the word project in one place as an alternative, but something different, so the emotional association with it, it neutralizes it.

That’s right.

Steve, I could keep talking to you for hours because you’ve just, look at all the books I’ve referenced in just the short period of time. There’s so much wisdom packed into them and I want to encourage our listeners to grab your latest books. Creator and Right Now are both excellent, but all of them going back, each are worth studying and reading and rereading because I know I’ve gone back to them multiple times. And I do want to put in a plug for your coaching school because you are looking to help people really grow their businesses. And your website, I believe has the information about that and your books and really everything else that you offer. And that is stevechandler.com, is that right?

That’s right. Yep. That’s where it is.

Is there any other place that you would recommend people look for you online?

No, I can’t think of anything. I know your people have better things to do than looking for me online.

Well, I have to say being connected with you on Facebook, you do post some wonderful music because I know music is another one of your passions that we didn’t even touch on today, but music, poems, other writings, even your own writing is very rich-

Thank you.

… and often starts my day off on a really good note.

Thank you.

So thank you again for being with me. Is there any other final insight or comment you’d like to make?

No, thank you. I just want to thank you for making this conversation possible.

Well, I think it was a very rich one, and I appreciate all the things that you shared. Thank you, Steve.

You’re welcome.

Episode: 004: Be Compelling and Stand Out with Clients

Episode: 004: Be Compelling and Stand Out with Clients

Strong for Performance Podcast

Episode 004: Be Compelling and Stand Out with Clients

by Mark Goulston

You’ll want to grab a pen and thick pad of paper for this information-packed interview with Dr. Mark Goulston. He reveals several intriguing ways to differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd. Mark is a prolific content producer. He’s the author of the best-selling books Just Listen and Talking to Crazy; the host of two podcasts, “My Wakeup Call” and “Stay Alive”; and a syndicated columnist.

You’ll discover:

  • How to be compelling instead of convincing with prospective clients
  • The 4-part formula Steve Jobs used in presentations to grab and keep the audience’s attention
  • What to say and ask to quickly establish trust when you’re with a potential client
  • How to use “1116” to eliminate any possible regrets after they buy from you

Watch the episode:


Connect with Mark

Read the Transcription

Hi, and welcome to another episode of Strong for Performance. I’m your host, Meredith Bell, and with me today is one of my favorite people, Dr. Mark Goulston. Welcome, Mark.

Always glad to be with you, Meredith. You know, you’re one of my favorite people too.

Oh, good. Well, so we have our own little fan club here and we’re letting everybody else in on it today. One of the things that I love about Mark is that he is such a prolific creator of content of ideas. He’s written two of my very favorite books. One is Just Listen and the other is Talking to Crazy. Mark is so effective because his training was as a psychiatrist. He worked with a lot of folks who had very serious problems, some of them suicidal thoughts, and he was extremely effective in learning how to be empathic, connect with them, and really make a difference.

He’s taken those skills to the corporate world and has helped teach leaders and other people inside organizations how to really connect and be more effective. Today, I’m very excited about our topic, because he’s going to be discussing something that I think many coaches and consultants struggle with when it comes to sales and marketing, and that’s this whole idea of how can you be compelling and also convincing without trying to be too pushy? Mark, I know you have a lot of expertise in that area, and so I’m looking forward to having you share that. In addition, Mark’s going to be telling us about Apple and Steve Jobs and how they’ve created their products to be compelling, and he’s going to share a very special formula with us on how to have that same impact with your own business. So, Mark, welcome. Let’s get started.

Let’s get started, yeah. Now, what I find with a lot of people is that they tend to be more convincing than compelling and when you try to convince people, you come off as pushy. You’re pressuring them. Compelling, you draw them towards you. So, the more that you can attract people towards you so that they want more of you, the more influential you’ll be, and in the long run the more persuasive you’ll be. What happens too often though is people will try to be convincing about not only what they do it, but this is how I do it and this is how it happens. And a lot of people sort of smile like this, but they often end up like deer in the headlights of a sales pitch that they’d like to get out of. Being compelling is the way you open people’s minds so that they want more of you. As you mentioned, for actually a year I toured playing Steve Jobs coming back from the dead. I had a turtleneck on, I had the glasses on, and I probably gave it about 15, 18 times, but then what happened is he became more historic. We have a reigning visionary, Elon Musk, and by the way he follows the same unconscious formula to make his products, his presentations more compelling than other people, and that’s why we want to hear more. We want to know what he’s doing and what he’s doing next.

The formula that I’ve observed that Steve Jobs and Elon Musk does when they introduce a product actually is the same reaction that Steve Jobs had when he first noticed the graphical user interface at Xerox PARC. Now, that’s the mouse. That was the first time he realized that you could interact with a computer in this playful way, using a mouse and a graphical user interface. We’re going to play a video of him doing that, but I’m going to give you the formula because I want you to notice how, as he’s retelling the story, that he follows the formula. The formula is simply this. It’s four steps. The first step is whoa, W-H-O-A. The second step is wow, W-O-W. The third step is hmmm, H-M-M-M. And the fourth step is yes. What those each mean is whoa is what you need to do to break into people’s minds, because people are overwhelmed. They’re preoccupied. You know you’ve created whoa when the person you’re speaking to or the audience says can you repeat that again? Or, if you’re speaking to an audience, someone will elbow the person next to them. What did he say? What did she say? So, you interrupt it. Really what whoa means is I can’t believe what I just saw or heard, or read if you’re putting out marketing materials.

Wow is you take a second check on what you first saw, heard, or read. Wow, that’s astonishing. That’s amazing. That’s unbelievable. Is that what your product does? Is that what your service does? Is that what you do? That’s what wow creates. And then, once you’ve created that in your customer, client, investor, or talent you’re trying to attract, the next step is hmmm. Hmmm means this is too good not to use. This is too good to ignore. I don’t know how we’re going to use it, but we’re going to use it. And then, once your customer, client, talent, or investor has a picture of how they’re going to use it, they go yes. Sold. To demonstrate this, we’re now going to show a brief video of Steve Jobs recalling his visiting Xerox PARC and his first laying eyes on the graphical user interface.

Yeah, I’m going to cue that up.

“They showed me, really three things. But, I was so blinded by the first one that I didn’t even really see the other two. One of the things they showed me was object oriented programming. They showed me that, but I didn’t even see that. The other one they showed me was really a networked computer system. They had over 100 Alto computers all networked, using email, et cetera, et cetera. I didn’t even see that. I was so blinded by the first thing they showed me, which was the graphical user interface. I thought it was the best thing I had ever seen in my life. Now, remember, it was very flawed. What we saw was incomplete. They’d done a bunch of things wrong, but we didn’t know that at the time. Still though, the germ of the idea was there and they’d done it very well. Within 10 minutes, it was obvious to me that all computers would work like this.”

If you watched that or heard that, I think you can see how Steve Jobs recalled how when he first laid eyes on the graphical user interface. What did he say? It was the best thing I’d ever seen in my life. And then he thought about it. It was flawed, but boy, it basically worked. And then at the end he realizes, within 10 minutes I knew that all computers would work this way. The question for you if you’re listening in is, when you do a presentation, when you write materials, when you speak to anyone, are you triggering whoa, wow, hmmm, yes? Because in this low attention spanned world, if you’re not triggering whoa, wow, hmmm, yes, what you’re triggering is nah, never mind, no thanks, bye. So, what we’d like you to do is that whenever you’re making a presentation … Even, I’m hoping that our little video today triggers whoa, wow, hmmm, yes in you, and I’ll share a story about that.

I shared the formula with the CEO of Harvard Business Publishing, David Wan. Great guy. He oversees all their publications. As soon as I mentioned whoa, wow, hmmm, yes, he spontaneously took out a piece of paper and he wrote down the formula. A little while later, I was speaking with Art Kleiner, and he was the editor-in-chief of strategy and business. That’s kind of a competitor of HBR. And he did the same thing, took out a piece of paper. So, just the whoa, wow, hmmm, yes is a whoa, wow, hmmm, yes. So, that’s something you’d want to do. By the way, if you have a business and a marketing department, go to them and say does everything that our potential customer or client see here or read about us trigger whoa, wow, hmmm, yes? Because if it doesn’t, we need to change it.

It would be great if you could give a couple of examples where people have actually used this. In the case, say of Apple, how did Steve Jobs accomplish that? With Elon Musk, how do you see him accomplishing it? Since you said they both utilize this formula without really consciously being aware of those four steps that you just described.

Well, I think part of it is one of the things that Steve Jobs and Elon Musk have in common, as do a lot of visionaries, is they’re all a little bit ADD and they’re all easily distracted. It takes a lot for them to really focus into something. So, what they need is, when they see something, it needs to trigger adrenaline in them, an adrenaline rush, because adrenaline is a natural Adderall and it helps them to focus. So, when they see something, one of the things that Elon Musk and Steve Jobs had in common is that they were first class noticers. That’s another takeaway that you want to learn if you want to be impactful in the world and be compelling. Be a first class noticer. What Steve Jobs noticed is it was too difficult to use personal computers. You had to type in too much stuff. But when there was something that was visual, like a game, he noticed this now makes it fun. What Elon Musk has noticed in multiple industries is gasoline is too pricey. Why don’t we come up with an electric engine? And geez, while we’re at it, why don’t we fly to the moon? In fact, why don’t we take one of our cars and put it on one of our spaceships and let it fly off into the universe? So, they were first class noticers.

What you want to be if you want to be successful is you want to notice some unmet need out in the world. Also what you want to notice is coming up with a solution that is different. People do not remember better than, they remember different than. If you’re better than, you’re merely a commodity because everybody says they’re better than. But if you’re a different than, then you grab people’s attention. One of the ways that I grab from my own experience in life when I’m talking about communication and being compelling is I always put in the introduction … When people introduce me, they say oh, he’s a former FBI and police hostage negotiator. That’s a differentiator. Often, it’s not a very whoa, wow, hmmm, yes topic to talk about listening or communication. But when people say he’s trained hostage negotiators, that suddenly makes me different. So, I use that as a differentiator, and I think what that triggers in people is whoa. He must know something if he knows how to get through the people in life and death situations. Those would be a couple examples.

One other one which I often bring up when I’m giving a presentation is, and I do it in this cutesy way, I say what do you think is the likelihood of a multi-billionaire quoting a psychological type in a article that other billionaires will read, and this billionaire doesn’t particularly believe in psychology and he’s really not that known for quoting other people. What do you think the chances of him doing that would be? Now, most people know it’s a setup. And then, I say do a search for Eli Broad, B-R-O-A-D and Mark Goulston, G-O-U-L-S-T-O-N. The very first search that comes up is a Forbes magazine article and it says Eli Broad picks the world’s seven most powerful philanthropists. And even there when you do the search, you’re going to go in and click on the article. There’s a quote there, and the quote is wealth is what you take from the world, worth is what you give back, Mark Goulston. And there’s a whoa, wow, hmmm, yes story behind that quote. I had met Eli at various functions, so he sort of knew who I was and I had given him some suggestions about some management issues. So, he was willing to take my call because he sort of remembered me, and he was kind of polite.

But, Eli is a force of nature. I mean, he is in a rush. I get him on the phone and I say hi, Eli. This is Mark Goulston. He says yeah, Mark, I remember you. I’m in a rush, I got to do things. What’s this about? I said are you ever going to write a book on philanthropy? He says Mark, I don’t know. I really got to go. I said seven seconds, Eli. Wealth is what you take from the world, worth is what you give back. And then, here’s the whoa. Say that again, Mark. And I told him wealth is what you take from the world, worth is what you give back. It’s a great title for a book. You know, I’m never going to be a philanthropist. I donate. But, use it. Keep it. It’s yours. You do a lot for the world. Don’t attribute it to me. He said well, Mark, I got to rush. Six months later, Forbes magazine calls me and says you know, we got a quote here from Eli Broad attributed to you and we just wanted to check it out.

So, clearly what happened is he went whoa. That was something worth writing down. And then the wow is when he said that’s pretty good, Mark. And he wrote it down somewhere. And then when he wrote this article, they probably said do you have any good quotes to start the article and he went hmmm, I think I got a quote here from someone. And then he gave it to them, and that was the yes. So, that’s an example of, again, of using whoa, wow, hmmm, yes. I hope these are helpful examples of what you want to do when you’re going out and you’re wanting to be compelling. Whoa, wow, hmmm, yes is a way to be more compelling.

I love all of those examples, and thinking about our audience and how they could apply those, the one where you pulled out that you had trained the FBI on negotiating with hostages and that really set you up as different from others, when I think about today, it’s pretty competitive with people who are executive coaches. I know larger companies are doing a lot to vet potential candidates. So, I think your idea applies really well to them. Similarly with consultants who work with business owners or do other things within organizations. What is it about them that really makes them different? And I love your distinction between better and different. If they go back and look at what’s my story, what are some of the elements of things that I’ve done that maybe I’ve taken for granted or haven’t given myself adequate credit for but would be compelling for someone to hear about?

Well, sure. Something-

Those are the questions.

… Here’s something that I’ve developed into a training presentation. Just Listen is done very well. It became a top book on listening in the world and is in 23 languages. But, I’m continually learning and in the last six months I learned something that has really changed my life as both a coach, a consultant, husband, dad and I’m practicing because I don’t do it naturally. When I’m with people, and I’m actually going to do it with you, Meredith, is I notice when I’m with people that they’re always looking for and listening for something. So, I focus on what they might be looking for and listening for. And when I’m with people and I’m looking into their eyes, because I’m just curious about what they’re looking for and listening for, it’s really a fascinating way that we connect, eye to eye. If I were to apply that to you, and if you’re a coach or a consultant you could actually use this, and I’m going to give away the formula, you could say you know, Meredith, we’re talking here and you’re listening and I’m checking on what you might be listening for and I wanted to run it by you. So, let me see if I’ve got it right. Getting where someone’s coming from without them telling you where they’re coming from is very compelling because they feel gee, you can read my mind. I wonder what else you know about me.

What I would say is Meredith, I think what you’re looking for and listening for is that I give material that is relevant to your listeners and viewers. Not just relevant, but immediately usable. Something they can do right after they hear the interview, the podcast, that makes their lives better. I think you’re also looking and listening for something that they don’t have to be an expert psychologist type. You’re looking for something that’s free of jargon, that’s not complicated. That’s just incredibly simple, like whoa, wow, hmmm, yes. And you’re also looking and listening for whether you have confidence in what I’m saying and confidence in me. Now, what your listeners may or may not know, because we’ve had many interviews like this, is you have a lot of confidence in me that on each of our conversations that I seem to bring a value that is immediately usable. Is any of that accurate that I just said?

100% all of it.

See, you could actually say this. If you’re a consultant or a coach, instead of pulling back and thinking what you’re going to sell them, and if someone is asking you well, tell me what it is that you do, what you can say to them is well, let me see if I can earn the right to your attention. You say that to a potential client. As we’re talking, I’m imagining that you’re looking for and listening for something, and I’m imagining that what you’re looking for and listening for is something that relevant to you now. Maybe something to help you deal with a situation that you’re facing right now or maybe something that you can use beyond now, in the long run. Also, you’re looking for something that’s doable by you, where you don’t have to become some sort of expert or have my expertise, because you’d really like to get whatever this issue is resolved.

Am I accurate? Am I tracking with you? Is that part of what you’re looking for and listening for? They’re going to say yes, and then you can say can you fill me in on what some of those issues might be that you would really like a solution or help with that you haven’t found. And then they’re opening up to you. You can even say thank you for sharing that with me. Now, I’m imagining that what you’re looking and listening for is not just that I have a relevant solution, but that you can have confidence in me. That you have a feeling that what I’m sharing with you will actually solve the situation you’re trying to solve and that it will work out. Is that also true? Am I being relevant? Am I being someone that you can have confidence in? Are those true? By having this engaging conversation, can you see how they’re compelling them to actually want to find out more and how that is much different than a sales pitch?

Well, absolutely. I love what you just said, and I’m sure people are taking notes and are adapting that as a script to use in the future because the focus is really on them. The beauty of that for someone who’s a coach and consultant and is often uncomfortable in the sales role is they’re really just continuing the role they’ve already been comfortable in, the service they’re typically providing. Asking questions, checking to see if it’s accurate. But in this case, it’s related to this potential client and what’s important to them. I was just imagining a scenario in which that conversation would take place and thinking how it goes such a long way in building trust with that perspective client as they are seeing, again, how different this type of conversation is compared to what they usually are subjected to, with people trying to convince them why you ought to go with me, because my services are this, this, and this and instead just being present with them. Because, you know, Mark, what you’re describing here as an approach to take really requires somebody being fully present. You can’t just halfway be listening. You’ve got to really be tuned in to that person and what you’re sensing from them beyond the words they’re saying in order to really come out with the comments and checking out of things that you just described.

Absolutely. In fact, I’m going to give you another takeaway. I do masterminds with coaches and sales people and executives on how to be more impactful, so here’s another lost leader, as we say. Lost leaders are supposed to be compelling. And there’s no bait and switch. You don’t have to buy anything from me. Also in the conversation, once they’re engaging, there’s something that I sometimes use. I say I think one of the things that you’re also listening for is what I call 1116. They’re going to say what? Yeah, 1116. This is especially helpful if you’re doing B2B selling and you’re talking to a buyer who’s wanting to buy, not coaching services or product. They’re going to say what is 1116? Oh, it’s simple. What you’re listening for is if you do say yes to our working together that you won’t regret it one day, one week, or one month from now. Because you’ve said yes to things that you’ve regretted one day, one week, one month and you’re listening and hoping that this won’t turn into it.

What you’re also listening for, and you’re not even aware of it, is something that six months from now you say that was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time. That was a whole month, hiring you, bringing you in to train. Buying your product, buying your services. That was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time. If you add that, what’s going to happen, and another way that you know that you’ve triggered the whoa, wow, and the hmmm, is if you’re with them face to face, when you go about the 1116 and you explain it to them, they’re going to break eye contact with you. They’re going to look up like this and they’re going to think about that. Let’s see, 1116. Wow. I wasn’t even aware of that. When they look up to consider yeah, I’m really listening for whether I’ll regret it one day, one week, one month from now and whether six months from now I’ll say that’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time, when they look up to consider it and then they look at you, it’s a different conversation.

That’s magic.

It’s semi-magic. And that’s part of what we cover in the mastermind groups, and also in coaching and training and whatnot.

The other thing about it is it’s very genuine and nonmanipulative. You’re simply laying out … Because anyone that I can think of in that role of trying to sell their services, and is of course an ethical person, wouldn’t bring that up without being convinced that they can deliver on that promise that six months from now that person would be thrilled to have made that decision. So, that is a fabulous formula. Thank you.

What it also means is don’t sell or have a service that you don’t think is top notch.


See, if you get people to trust you, and when you do the 1116, people not only feel you’re relevant and they’re not only confident in you, they have trust in you. The point is if you’re selling something or you’re offering a service that’s mediocre, they’re going to come after you because you got them to lower their guard and trust you and you didn’t deliver. So, I wouldn’t use that last thing unless you have a service or a product that delivers on it. And if you don’t, find another service or product.

And the other thing is, depending on the length of the service or product you’re going to be providing, is following up to check with them between day one and the six month period to make sure. Get feedback along the way to get a sense of their level of delight with their decision so you’re not just kind of hoping six months from now they’ll say yeah, that was a great decision.

Absolutely. In fact, what you want to say is by the way, if we decide to work together, I’m going to check in with you. And you figure out at the very longest every month. Maybe if you’re coaching, once a month is probably enough. We’re going to have a coaching call and it’s going to be no charge to you because you’re going to be helping me get better. What I want to ask you is are we on track? Are we on track to what you’re wanting to accomplish? Am I keeping that promise? Because if you don’t accomplish and get the result you want and I didn’t keep my promise to you, it’s going to affect my credibility and my reputation, and I can’t allow that to happen.

Excellent. That’s great, Mark. I love all these tips that you’ve shared with us. The compelling versus convincing, the four steps that people like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk use unconsciously, and then what you just shared with the 1116. Now, in kind of pulling it all together, are there any other insights or tips related to any of that that you feel would be valuable to our listeners? You’ve provided so much value already.

Well, I think the key is really know what your service or product is the best solution to. Also, try to drill down and see what makes your product or service different. Because as I said, if you merely say you’re better than, because everyone says they’re better than, you’re just going to be a commodity and they’re going to squeeze you on price. But, if you come up with something that does make a different, it’s going to be real. You can’t just sort of say it. I mean, I didn’t make it up that I trained FBI and police hostage negotiators. Something else, which I use as a differentiator, but … Well, you can just hear it. Meredith, as you know, one of my personal missions is to prevent suicide and I’m part of a documentary called Staying Alive, which people can see if they go to youtube.com/stayalivevideo. It’s won a couple of awards. I interview Kevin Hines, who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. But, part of what makes different is I was a boots on the ground suicide prevention expert and in 25 years none of my patients killed themselves. That’s kind of a differentiator also. So, find out what makes you different, and then you won’t be treated like a commodity.

Excellent. Yes. And I think that ties back to people positioning themselves, whether it’s on social media, in their marketing materials. Be up front about what it is that causes somebody to stop and go whoa. Because that’s the first step. And I think that what you just describe is excellent. By the way, I want to put a plug in for your other podcast that you’ve got now called My Wakeup Call, where you interview a variety of people, from Larry King to other celebrities, and each one of those interviews in and of itself is quite compelling. I haven’t been able to listen to all of them because you’re so prolific, but every single one that I have has been an excellent investment of my time because of your skills in drawing out people’s experiences and getting them to talk about their own, not weaknesses so much as vulnerable moments, when they’ve been faced with tough situations and they have been able to prevail and what impact that’s had on the rest of their lives. So, I want to encourage people to look up My Wakeup Call podcast with Dr. Mark Goulston. And I’m always looking forward to your next project, because there are always plenty of them coming. You also have a new podcast now for suicide prevention, right? By the same name?

Yeah. It’s called Stay Alive. You can find it if you go to the Mental Health News Radio Network. Mental Health News Radio Network. There are over 50 podcasts and they’re all related to mental health and wellness. In Stay Alive, I speak with people who have been touched by suicide. Either someone in their family has died by suicide or they’ve made attempts, and how they’ve gotten through it and how they’ve lived with it. Because, you know, at the end of Schindler’s List there was a famous quote in a favorite famous scene in which Schindler says I could’ve saved so many more and the character played by Ben Kingsley says to Schindler, he gives a quote, I think from the Bible, whoever saves one life saves the world. That’s part of my central journey, and for you listeners, if you can make connections where we can show the movie Stay Alive and do Q&As in high schools, colleges, town hall meetings, that’s probably what I find most compelling in my life.

How can people reach you and connect with you, Mark, so that they can actually do that?

I have a website called markgoulston.com. I basically talk, if you go there, I talk about that I’m an elephant hunter because what I focus on is the elephant in the room, which is so that as soon as you reveal it, it’s obvious. But nobody sees it. The elephant in the room about being compelling, first is convincing, is compelling is going to open people’s minds and convincing, if you do it too early, is going to cause them to close up their minds. So, you can reach me at markgoulston.com. Something else you can do for me, I have a pretty big Twitter following, 560,000, and I have a permanently pinned tweet for people who’ve been touched by suicide. It has 2.4 million impressions and over 1,500 comments. People just list all the people they know who’ve died by suicide, and I think it’s saving lives because people feel less alone. They just go visit that. It’s pretty tough and it’s heart wrenching, but I think it’s life saving because, you know, suicide rates are sky high. It’s an epidemic. And I’m going to do whatever I can to make it better.

Wow. I appreciate your commitment to that very important work. And your Twitter handle, is it DrMarkGoulston?

It’s just @MarkGoulston.


M-A-R-K G-O-U-L-S-T-O-N.


Thank you for listening in. Meredith and I always hope that you find things that you can use today that are doable by you. And who knows? Maybe we created whoa, wow, hmmm, yes. You never know.

That is an excellent point. Thank you so much, Mark. I appreciate your being with me today, and I look forward to talking with you again soon.

Always, Meredith. Always. Thank you.