In this episode, we discuss “The Complete CEO” model for elite CEOs that truly want to create companies of remarkable achievement and live extraordinary lives. Learn how you truly can have both.
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Hey listeners, CEO Coach Liam Chrismer here. Welcome. This is the masterclass edition of the CEO Matters podcast. This is where we take a deeper, a more curated dive into a topic or an issue. You need to know more about sometimes an interview, sometimes a conversation. Other times, I simply go deep into the weeds on a CEO matter, but I think is important. So let's get into this episode of CEO matters, the masterclass Edition.Liam Chrismer:
Welcome listeners. This is CEO Coach Liam Chrismer back with another masterclass. This one is called the complete CEO model for extraordinary achievement. And it is not an advertisement for my coaching and consulting practice. Rather, it is a framework for us to think about. In our jobs as a CEO, it occurred to me that if you want to be a lawyer, or an accountant or a doctor, there is a body of work that you study, there's a certification process, you have to take the bar, you have to take the boards, and then you are deemed to be a lawyer or a doctor or a CPA. But there is no such certification process, or training to become a CEO. One could argue that you go to that's what you go to business school for, that's what you get an MBA for. And I don't think that's true. That gives you a background in business. It gives you an understanding of the various elements of business, but it sure does not teach you what do you need to know to be a CEO. The only way you really learn how to become a CEO is sort of like the only way you learn how to drive, you get behind the wheel, and you do it. And, and you have a few crashes and flat tires and, and wrong turns along the way. But it's important work. And when I was a CEO, both for others and for my own companies, lord knows I made a lot of wrong turns. So this is a model of framework, if you will, that I've been working on for the past two years. And I suspect it is one that I'll be working on for the next 20 years. And what it's about quite simply is having it all, being able to build a company of remarkable achievement, and living an extraordinary life at the same time. It takes work, it takes discipline, to live the life of your dreams, you got to wake up, I'll come back to that later about why I'm telling you that you got to wake up. But before that, you know, there are a lot of misconceptions that I want to clear up for some listeners about life as a CEO. You know, it's nice, I don't have to report to anyone, there's the money, there's the perks, I get the parking space, right outside the front door, there's the power. But the reality is you probably don't have the parking space, you shouldn't have the parking space right outside the door. And there may be money and there may be perks. And you report to everybody you report to your employees, you report to your customers, your suppliers, the bank. And, and there's more truth to the game. And you know this, it is really lonely at the top. Everybody is your boss. As I said a minute ago, everybody needs something. It never stops. It's incessant. And sometimes, quite frankly, we don't have all the answers. And there is that ever present fear that that thing that gets your God at three o'clock in the morning, you know the fear of losing at all. Sometimes, at various times as a CEO, the stress can be unbearable. You wonder how you're going to get through it. And as I said, sometimes it's just too much. But there's a way to put all this together. There is a way to suffer those stressful times. And be a great CEO and be a great husband be a great dad be a great churchgoer, volleyball player, whatever it is. Now, in the first episode of this podcast, I admitted that I was a lousy CEO. Well, that's not completely tourist. It's not all the way through. I did build an amazing company for which I'm very grateful. I cared for our employees and our clients like nobody else. And truth be told we had a great brand. But unfortunately, that wasn't enough. Like Icarus. I flew too close to the Sun crashed and burned. The problem is that I didn't stay with Wake up and in my slumber I failed. It takes more than a good idea more than passion more than dedication and hard work, you gotta stay awake. And I was so focused on building the business on building the brand that I didn't pay attention to myself. I didn't take care of myself. I didn't check my ego at the door. And whereas I thought I was being a great CEO, what I was really doing was feeding my oversized ego. And in my arrogance, I was living a lie. I don't want that for you. Because when I lost my company, I lost everything. My pride and joy, 15 years of hard work, my life savings, my home, my family, my identity, most importantly, who I lost my self respect. It was all gone. I still remember that last day, and vividly seeing how my dream crashed and burned. And what was once my thriving, beautiful business was nothing more than a debris field. And so I was essentially lost, the dream was over. And it was a sober awakening. And for the ensuing months to come, by emotions did their thing and you know, those those four stages that you go through? I think I've got more than four written down here, but we know what they are anger, embarrassment, remorse, depression, loneliness, fear, confusion, you know, what am I going to do next? Why did this happen? Pretty awful stuff. I wanted someone to blame. And I didn't have to look very far. I knew it all along. I knew we were failing. I knew that I was failing. But there was always tomorrow. And then the day came when I ran out of tomorrow's. So after that, I got to work. I really thought about how this happened to me, where and why did I get off track? How did I get off track? Where there's some lessons that I could pull out of this wreckage that I could share with other CEOs and business owners? Was there some framework some Gestalt and understanding a pattern a model? That when it would that would, can't talk that would enable them not only to avoid the mistakes I made, but to thrive personally and professionally? And the answer is yes. And and it's an unlikely, yes, there's a couple of precepts that I think about, just about every day, it comes through in my writing and in the talks that I give. And the first one is that the problems that you are experiencing in your business, the challenges that are in your business, are a direct reflection of the pain and the challenges that you're experiencing in your personal life. So we got to fix ourselves before we can fix the company, you know, we cannot pour from an empty cup. That's why we got to take care of ourselves. And secondly, to do what's best for our business, we have to first do what's best for ourselves. It's that whole put your oxygen mask on first concept. Because it's really true. It really works. Through a lot of research through decades of my own experience, my own painful recovery and resurrection. I've created what I call the seat, the complete CEO model for extraordinary achievement, both in business and in your personal life. And it's built on three pillars of CEO well being, personal growth, and life fulfillment. That's how you get it all. You take care of yourself. You grow, you learn, and you have an extraordinary company, and extraordinary life. I'm reminded of Abraham Maslow, I studied him a lot when I was in college, I was a psych major first. And he had built his hierarchy of needs on the theory that our basic needs such as food and security must be satisfied. Before we can do anything else. Before we can move up the curve and attend to higher needs like love, belonging, self esteem, and ultimately at the top of this model self actualization. Now, the complete CEO model has a similar construct and that you essentially have to know who you are. What do you stand for? Where are your values, relative to your life purpose, before you can become the person before you can become the CEO that you want to be?Liam Chrismer:
The complete CEO model for extraordinary achievement starts with an assessment of where you are. You got to meet people where you live, where they live, rather, you got to meet yourself where you live. And we use some selective assessment tools to provide you with the information about yourself. You know, we're adjusting To Getting metrics on the health and direction of our business, we get financial statements. We have apps on our phone and our smartwatches that give us statistics and metrics on just about anything we want. Even as I wrote the notes for this episode, I was on a flight. And on the seat back in front of me, was the screen that was showing the altitude and the airspeed, the pitch, I didn't know what pitch was, but apparently, it lets you know, you know, if your right side up, you know, flying upside down as a bad thing. It told me the miles traveled and the miles to the destination, all good things to know. But you know, we don't have these things about ourselves. And that first layer, that first floor, if you will, of the CEO model, the complete CEO model is that we got to find out who we are. And so that might be some personality tests like the INIA Graham, we might do a leadership 360 To get an insight as to how others view you. Very oftentimes, and I know in my own case, how we view ourselves and how others view us, not always the not always the same thing, we can look at some strength finder test and some values test. Very often, as CEOs, we don't really know who we are, or what we stand for, or, frankly, even what our purpose in life is. So this is where we start. Now, once we have some data about who we are not who we think we are, not who we want to be, but who we actually are, how we're showing up in the world, how we show up for our, for our spouse, for our children, or family, or customers or employees. This is who we are, actually, then we can advance to the next layer in this model, which is the discovery stage where we find out more about our self awareness, we dig into the person that we really are, what excites us, what excites us, but pisses us off. And when we look in the mirror, are we really seeing the person that we think we are? Or the person we want to be? I know I didn't. And the main reason is I didn't look, I didn't really want to know that my emotional intelligence didn't even register on the scale. Well, my arrogance, on the other hand, my ego was off the charts. The narrative that I was living in my mind was vastly different from the way that I behaved. And everybody knew it, except me. You know, there's something in business called CEO disease. And that is where you surround yourself with people that tell you what you want to hear, I had a bad case of that. I would even say had a terminal case of that. So in this model, you got to find out who you are, whether you like it or not. And now we know who we are. Who other people think we are, we find out how we're showing up. And we begin to put the Lego blocks together as to who we want to be. This is the layer of core foundations. This is where the fun is. we chart the course of our lives. And this is where the beacon illuminates the direction of your future. What is our life purpose? What are our values? What are our goals for the neck for the for these various dimensions of our life? In many ways you can think of this like a roadmap for your life. You know, we plan our businesses, we have a business plan, we set goals we have, we have plans for how those goals are going to be accomplished measurements along the way. If we go on vacation, we plan the destination, the flights we're taking where we're staying, what we're going to do, but in our own life, we don't do this in the in the core foundation stage of the CEO model. That's exactly what we do. And we do it for your life. This is very self oriented. It's not selfish, but it is about the self it is about you. And I think it was I think it was I can't think of it now but it was the the in Alice in Wonderland, Alice in Wonderland where the bunny said if you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.Liam Chrismer:
The foundational stage is critical because many CEOs and business owners, myself included among them find themselves successful on the outside and yet they're dying on the inside. I have this vivid memory of getting a massage from a structural massage therapist. So this wasn't one of those feel good spa massages. It was kind of like a body alignment session and This therapist told me that my body was so jacked up that I was living in constant pain. Now, I had a lot of arrogance back then. And I pushed back and I said, Well, you know, the fact of the matter is, I feel pretty good most of the time, just about all the time, I feel great. And without hesitating, she shot back. You know what, you've been living with pain and negative energy for so long, that you don't even know it feeling good, feels like another one of those another one of those truth moments. Now, we've taken some assessments, we've looked in the mirror, we figured out what our values are, what our purposes and where we want to go who we want to be. Now we can step up another level in this model, and we can begin to think about the great untapped unexplored cavern of CEO well being and self care. And yep, this is where I go all soft and squishy on you, and start talking about how you've got to take care of yourself, you've got to make yourself a priority. And the attention that you need to place and the priority that you need to put on your own self care. Now, I'm not entirely suggesting that you spend your mornings or evenings, sitting cross legged meditating, with incense burning and staring into candles and things like that, although you might. What I am suggesting is that we really take our self care, extremely serious. People are depending on you, your employees, your customers, suppliers, your family, there's so many responsibilities for you to shoulder and you're expected, as I've said earlier to be on your A game 24/7 365. And yet, there's no dashboard. There's no scheduled maintenance sticker on your windshield, no warning lights protecting our own well being, it's time to get selfish, and put on your own oxygen masks. Because again, we cannot pour from an empty cup. We got to recharge those batteries just like our phone, we're using our phone all day long, guess what happens? You know, we become wall huggers, you know, we're looking for a plug somewhere to plug in that phone. And yet we run ourselves down all day long, and we don't take care of ourselves. I'm reminded of one of Marshall Goldsmith most successful books, he was called, What Got You Here Won't Get You There. Now the title was really self explanatory in it leads us to the next level in this model. Now that you're taking care of yourself, you're getting your sleep, you're watching what you eat, you're watching what you're drinking, you're exercising a little bit you're moving, your body is nourished, your mind is nourished, you have your stress under control, you have your wits about you, you're self aware. Now, as emerald, a lot Goss said in his cooking classes, we kick it up a notch. And we start working on some essential skills. And we know that tired old quote, I think that was I don't think he said it. But it was attributed to Einstein where he said the definition of one definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. And my version of that, when I was a CEO was that tomorrow, you know, tomorrow for me, was going to solve everything. I would tell myself that tomorrow I'll wake up, and I'll be nicer, I'll be less stressed, I'll take care of myself, I'll start going to the gym, I'll start setting better goals. And I said that over and over again until I ran out of tomorrow's in my business flatlined. My business life identity came crashing down around me. We need to develop new skills, new skill sets, new routines, new habits, new boundaries.Liam Chrismer:
There's a guy here in Denver that I have a lot of respect for. And he schedules his days from something like four in the morning, until eight o'clock at night. He goes to bed at eight o'clock at night. And his day is scheduled out perhaps not to the minute but I'm pretty certain in 15 minute blocks. And a lot of people think that might be a straitjacket or who wants to live their life in some kind of time color coded spreadsheet. But for him, he says that that structure gives him freedom. Because he knows what his priorities are. And he knows where his boundaries are. These are the things that are important. And these are the things that get done. This is when he's working. And this is when he's not working. I have a lot of respect for him. And he's been very, very successful. Now let me put this in perspective. We all know that. You know, there are times when we overeat and a particular evening or a particular holiday or we drink too much or you know there's a number of things that we take to access only to ask ourselves the next day you know why did I do that? What was I thinking? And that's okay, we're going to have the occasional laughs we're going to have the time when when when you know Thanksgiving or Christmas or something like that and you intentionally too much. I did a LinkedIn post just about a month ago I was invited over to some lovely friend's home for the evening and I took the best ingredients for Manhattan. I love Manhattan's and I had every intention of having several Manhattan's this evening I didn't intend to get drunk, but I wasn't driving home. And I thought what a great time to to have a few drinks with my dear friends and watch this football game. And over the course of about an hour and a half I'd had to Manhattan's enjoyed them, food was great. And I went into their kitchen to to fix a third and suddenly decided they really didn't want it. And the next thing I knew, my friend was kneeling down beside me kind of saying, hey, Liam, Liam. And what happened is I passed out, I wasn't drunk. And wasn't I was far from drunk. But what my body said was, you know what, that's enough man. You have now become a one and done drinker. Because I lost so much weight during the pandemic, somewhere around 70 pounds and was eating better and not drinking very much. When I had two drinks, my body said that's enough. Those things are going to happen on occasion. And that doesn't mean that you're not prioritizing yourself care. Maybe on that particular evening, you're not but the real, the real issue here is where these these excesses happen over a longer period of time. Or we tacked on a few pounds, where we've allowed relationships to deteriorate or just go on attended to. Or we've ignored stress to the point where we start asking ourselves how in the hell did I get here? Are we overreact to a situation when we didn't really mean to, it's just that's what happened. And this is the this is the compound effect of not taking care of ourselves. For in this model, as we advance up the curve up, it's not really a pyramid, it's just a series of layers. Now that we develop some essential skills, we know who we are, we're self aware, we know what we want, we develop some skills to improve ourselves. Now we can set our life goals with an intentionality and a commitment that we have never seen before. This is the point at which we're ready to take on the challenge, and to accept the responsibility for our lives, to commit the energy and the focus. And to become the person, the leader, the CEO, that our business needs. The human being that our friends need. The Father, our children needs, the spouse that our spouse needs. Because we're aware, we're working on ourselves doesn't mean we're selfish. It means that we are okay I'll say it we're self centered, or self centered to the point that we're protecting the asset. The most important asset that your company has is you the CEO, you take care of your equipment, you take care of your inventory, you watch your books, take care of the financials, you take care of your employees, take care of your customers, pay your bills on time, take care of the of the suppliers, but we don't take care of ourselves. Now. That's where this model changes that. And at the very highest level, just like Abraham Maslow's was self actualization, the highest level of the complete CEO is your legacy. And its transcendence. Legacy isn't a plaque that you're given at an award ceremony. It's, it's not, it's not something you put on the wall or put on your credenza. It's not even the eulogy at your funeral. It's the eulogy that you write for yourself. And the legacy you create, through the actions that you take every single day, it's the process of becoming the complete CEO. The time to get healthy is not when you're on your deathbed. Or when you're in the ICU. The time to turn things around is now you've heard that story that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today. Well, I think that goes for being an extraordinary CEO and being a complete CEO. It starts today. So that's it. That's the model. You know, we we really come to grips with who we really are We find out what we stand for we see if who we think we are and who we really are, are in alignment. And we set ourselves about to do the hard work of becoming the leader and the person that we want to be. We develop the skills that we need along the way. And then we create the legacy for our business and the legacy for our life that we truly want. This is how you live your life with your eyes wide open, with intentionality and direction. This is how you do it all you build a company of remarkable achievement, and you live an extraordinary life. It's how do you show up not only for those that depend on you to lead them to serve as a role model, but how you show up for yourself. That's all I've got for you today. I very much appreciate you listening. Your your commitment to tune into this into this podcast means a lot to me. And every listener counts. So thank you very much. And I'll see you on the next podcast.