In this raw and real entrepreneurship episode, Susan interviews Christopher Salem – executive coach, keynote speaker, and corporate trainer. Today, Christopher is an award-winning author and has worked on projects with NY Times best-selling author, Jack Canfield however all of his success comes on the heels of a 12-year battle with drug and alcohol addiction.
In this episode, Susan and Christopher discuss why entrepreneurs self-sabotage and what they can do to shift their behaviors.
— Chris Salem
Topics covered in the interview
Getting caught up in what you can’t control
Self sabotage themes
Transitioning from employee to entrepreneur
Chris Salem’s Bio
Christopher Salem is an Executive Coach, Corporate Trainer, and Professional Speaker mentors C-Suite, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and sales professionals to build and protect their brands by raising their level of influence as trusted advisors to maximize their results. He also works with companies to create an interdependent work environment and thriving culture through a growth mindset foundation, effective communication, transparent leadership, and higher engagement.
His book Master Your Inner Critic / Resolve the Root Cause – Create Prosperity went international best seller in 2016. He also co-authored the recent edition to “Mastering the Art of Success” with Jack Canfield. His weekly radio show Sustainable Success is part of the Voice America Influencers Channel.
Chris is also an accomplished business & emotional intelligence strategist, award-winning author®, certified mindset expert, radio show host & media personality, and wellness advocate.
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Susan Sly 00:00
All right. Hey, everyone, what is up? I hope you're having an amazing day, wherever you are in the world. And I have a question for you. Are you in the middle of some kind of challenge? And you're like, I just want to be done. I wish I could expedite this. And yet there's a part of you that knows by sitting with the challenge, that's where the miracle is gonna happen. Yeah, I know. It's hard, right? Well, anyway, my guest today is going to help you navigate that and, and I am just, I've been so excited all day to interview him. He is absolutely amazing. He's an executive coach, corporate trainer, professional speaker and he mentors C suite business leaders, entrepreneurs and sales professionals to build and protect their brands by raising their level of influence as trusted advisors to maximize their results. I mean, that's all I really need to say. But wait, there's more. He also is a best selling author. He wrote the book, Master Your Inner Inner Critic: Resolve The Root Cause Create Prosperity. And that book went international bestseller. He also co authored the recent addition to Mastering the Art of Success with Jack Canfield. So we have that in common. We've done books with Jack. And he has a weekly radio show called Sustainable Success. And don't we all want sustainable success? Oh my gosh. And as part of the voice America influencers channel, he's a mindset expert. He's a radio host. He's a best selling author. I think if he, you know, if you're on YouTube, I think if he unbuttoned his shirt, he'd have a big S for Superman. So anyway, Christopher Salem, I'm so happy to have you here. Susan, thank you so much for having me here. Well, Chris, I want to, I want to jump right in. People listening, watching, and you say the solution evolves out of the problem, right? What do you want to say to that person who is in the throes of it right now? A negotiation, transitioning from a job to a business. They're, they're in the middle of it right now. They're exhausted. They're like, how do I keep going? And you're telling me, Christopher, I'm supposed to sit here and wait for a solution in the middle of this problem? What do you want to say to that person?
Chris Salem 02:18
Well, here's what I would say. I mean, it's easier said than done. But nonetheless, when you get into the rhythm, it gets a lot easier. The reason why people a lot of times when they're going through a difficult situation, is that they're getting caught up in what they cannot control. So they're in a situation that might trigger some fear. And there could be limited beliefs at place here, meaning that, when something triggers fear, fixed mindset will go back to the future, tie it to a limiting belief or beliefs, projected into the future, and then that creates a level of anxiety, stress in the body. And then we begin to believe whatever's being said at that point. Now, a lot of times why people feel fear is because they're trying to control again, what they can't control. We can't control COVID, we can't control the economy, we can't control what's going on in your industry, you can't control what someone else is going to perceive what you said, or their communication. You can't control their behavior, their follow through, their action, their attitude, all of the above. We can only control what we know and what we have. And that is our own communication, our behavior, attitude and the ability to take action. Now while that sounds logically to people, hey, I get that. To do it is another thing because we end up defaulting right back to the things we can't control. But when we can really learn through a daily routine of learning to be present, and when I see a routine, not something you do once in a while, but something you do each and every day, which I'm happy to share. This is when we can learn to be present and really, truly trust the process. You know, controlling what we can, in the moment, letting go of everything else. And letting the results that you seek be a byproduct of that process. So as long as you do your part, letting the process whatever that means to you. It can be your faith, higher power, whatever that may be, your universe. It will eventually work out. Now sometimes, it may not work out the way you thought. But what's happening here is it's something even better is going to happen. So it's not happening to you. It's happening for you. So it's trusting that process. So that's just a summary of hopefully that addresses that question.
Susan Sly 04:35
I love that that's so powerful. In the hundreds of interviews I've done, in really exploring this concept of mindset, I love how it was just like that mic drop. It was like it's, you're so focused on everything you can't control. Right? And it's easy when we're tired when we're you know, exhausted. I just, I did it a show with a good friend of mine, Blake York. And he was working full time as a nurse, doing grad school, went through a divorce and became a single dad while opening a business. Right? And he wasn't sleeping. And he just kept saying, like, all I kept focusing on is, what can I control? What can I control? What can I control? And you mentioned about a process. So when someone's in it, and let's say they're vulnerable. I mean, this is about raw and real entrepreneurship. I mean, I get tired, too, right? So let's say they're vulnerable, because things are going on in their lives, and they just feel that there are things they can't control. What should they do? What are some steps they can take?
Chris Salem 05:44
Yeah, so one of the things that I find a lot of times is learning to come back into the moment, you know. Your breath is so powerful, we can learn to just take a deep breath, and just kind of reset. So I have a daily routine that I've been doing now for over 20 years. And that, you know, I mean, I wake up early, I wake up at 4:15. I'm not advocating people have to wake up at 4:15 in the morning. But I wake up in the morning, and I do an organizational task. I make my bed, I then meditate, I journal, I go work out. Now I don't work out seven days a week, but I'll you know, maybe I'll work out four days a week at the gym, I'll do planks, I'll eat a healthy breakfast, I will read a chapter two out of a book that's relevant to something I'm working on for myself or a client. And then I review my daily goals. Now I do that every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Now, they always say if you've put 10,000 hours into something, you're going to get really good at it. Okay, I put in way more than 10,000 hours into that. But with that it's become a new automatic pattern subconsciously. So when we can learn how to really learn how to be present, because those habits I just described you, allow us to get into the present moment so that when we face difficult challenges, which are going to happen in life, business in both, we can really learn to shift our mind into the present moment. Now, we are human. So sometimes, hey, you know, it's going to get the best of us a little bit, we can always come back into the moment, taking a deep breath. And just like your friend did, what can I control? What can I do in this situation to the best of my ability and maximize it, and let everything else go? And just over time that when you do this, and it becomes an automatic pattern, it just gets a little, well, I wouldn't say that, but it gets easier. I'm not saying it's completely, but it just gets a little bit easier than in the beginning when you're just like God, I want this to happen. And then I can't seem to steer it where I want it to go. So...
Susan Sly 07:42
Yeah, I love that. It's grounding yourself and that foundation, right? And all of the listeners, the thousands of people who listen every single week of the show, they know I'm an early riser, too. So I am, I you know, you said I'm not going to tell you to get up at 4:15. They know yes, you need to get up at 4:15, right? Because you, Jim Rohn, who I had the privilege of sharing the stage with on three occasions many years ago, I'm dating myself, including the last time he spoke live in Dallas, Jim used to say, either you run your day, or your day runs you. And every successful person I have on the show talks about their morning routine and how important it is. Let's talk about the power of this word NO, you coach c suites. You're, we were talking just before we started doing the show. You're helping a client navigate an M&A, a merger and acquisition. Let's talk about the word No, because Christopher, a lot of people are afraid to say no, because it's that place of desperation. Can you talk about that?
Chris Salem 08:47
Yeah, the reason why is again there, when people say yes to everything, a lot of times again, this there's nothing wrong with you. It's just that, it just, it's something that you can make adjustments. There might be some certain limiting beliefs that are there taking place that are affecting your level of confidence and self esteem, in whatever that may be. Something in your personal life, your business. When we say yes to everything., now what we're doing is we're diverting that attention from something that was the original priority now to something else. And you can't be doing, well, you can't be in all places at the same time. So oftentimes, when we do say yes to everything, what we're doing in essence, we're looking to please and enable people to seek something in return. That could be validation, some type of acknowledgement, whatever that case may be. Now, I can say this because I was that person 20 years ago, because I was a pleaser, and enabler. I was codependent, a perfectionist. And I said yes to everything, only to be overwhelmed, frustrated, disappointed and exhausted. And I struggled with 12 years of addiction as a result of it because I didn't know how to deal with it other than drugs, alcohol, sexual addiction, you name it. Whatever was available, that's what I had to do to escape. So when you, it's okay to say no, it's okay to say that, hey, if I'm going to say yes to something I'm going to commit, and I'm going to do my best in it, whoever else is involved that you're going to do everything you can that they can benefit too. So it's okay to say no and focus on the things that you committed to, and give it your all and everything you got. Again, what we talked about before. Controlling what you can, letting go what you can't. And say, and learning to say no, for me was a hard thing to do. But I learned the hard way. And I can tell you, I'm glad I did. Because now I can sit here and talk about it. And anybody going through it, I could say you can do it, too. If I can do it, you can do it.
Susan Sly 10:43
You and I both done work with Jack Canfield. One of his favorite expressions is saying no to the good so you can say yes, the great. So let me ask you, a business and a personal. So in business, what's something you said no to that other people were like, you said no to that? What's something in business you said no to?
Chris Salem 11:02
Well, yeah, I mean, I had an opportunity back about 10 years ago to lead a sales team for a major corporation that would have been paid very, very, very well. I mean, very well. Because I spent a long time in sales prior to what I, what I'm doing now. So when I decided to make this transition into executive coaching, it was more of kind of a lifestyle decision because I had a young son at the time. Now he's, you know, now he's a teenager or getting to become a teenager now. Because I wanted to be spending more time with them. So when I was offered this position, that would have paid far more than I was making, even when I started off as an executive coach, it was very tempting. And I said, No. I said, No. And I decided that you know, to state as an entrepreneur, I wanted to build a business around my lifestyle, not the other way around. If I had taken that job, which I had not been a job in quite some time, I would have sold my soul because I wouldn't have been there, I would have lost my life, I would have lost time with my son, and I would have really been acting not from what my true core values were, at that time. Nothing against the company, nothing against the job itself. I just realized that it wasn't about the money, it was about honoring what was most important to me. And now that I look back in hindsight, I've done very well in this role. So I, you know, I could look back and say, Yes, I made the right decision. And I didn't second guess myself, for the sake of taking that short term, all instance, you know, guaranteed salary and all that and that I stayed true to my values, stay true to my purpose, and the lifestyle that I embarked on that I wanted to create so I could be a father to my son and be involved in his activities.
Susan Sly 12:50
I love that you mentioned that, Christopher, that those aligning with our core values, right? Because when we're out of alignment, it affects our health, it affects our mental health, our well being. I, ABC called me many years ago and asked me to do undercover millionaire. And I sat with it and there was part of me, you know, it was definitely feeding the ego. And Wayne Dyer was a friend of mine, and he you know, as you know, used to say, ego stands for edging God out. And, and there was this part of me that was very tempted like, oh, I've got to be on Undercover Millionaire. And then there was a big part of it that didn't align with my values. Because when I asked the production team, I said, what happens after you give this money to these people? Do they learn how to be financially responsible? Is there, are there coaches, are there are therapists that you know, ingrain these new behaviors for them, so they they can be good with money? And they said, No, and I went, I can't do it. And I love Glenn Stearns, as a good friend of mine, he was the first undercover billionaire. And that was such a different concept for a show where, I don't know if you saw it, but literally, he's dropped off with a pickup truck, a tank of gas, a cell phone with no contacts and 100 bucks. And he has 90 days to build a million dollar business. And just knowing Glenn and what he went through, and that's so aligns with his message and his values about being gritty. So if people look at people like yourself, or people like myself, and they say, Well, right now, I have to say yes to everything. And I guess the answer is no, no, you don't. Yeah, let's let's talk about a personal note. Because 12 years of addiction is no joke. And when my mom was an addict, she was a drug and alcohol addict, she passed two years ago. When that addiction owns you, a lot of people can't stop. How did you stop?
Chris Salem 14:51
I can tell you this is what was the defining moment for me. I, you know, I had two near death experiences in my 20s from alcohol poisoning. I didn't consider myself, it wasn't that I drank every day. I was a binge drinker, I used drugs. Sexual addiction was really out of hand. That was my main issue. And it's something I gravitated towards, just to escape the pain, the anger that I was dealing with, as a codependent and a perfectionist. I was also passive aggressive. So not only was I passive, I was aggressive too, as well in my behavior, my communication. That is a very, very confusing to people, especially in relationships. And what the defining moment for me was when my father was 56 years old, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. And my dad was not, he was the, he was the root cause of my limiting beliefs. Because when I was growing up, he was never around. And when he was, he was emotionally checked out. I had been always seeking this validation from him that I couldn't get. So as growing up, I sought it out in other people. Now, I didn't know this at the time, I just knew I was angry. I had expectations that went unfulfilled. And this was what led to this path that I was on. But when my dad was diagnosed with cancer, I can remember the day before he passed. He, I was at his deathbed. And I remember him looking over at me. He could not speak. But he was like looking at me. And it was like I was, he was talking to me, but no words. It was just weird. But I knew what he what he was saying. He says if I could have done it different I would have. It's not that I didn't care. It was, it was only thing that I knew, I could only give what I had. See the same thing happened to him. My grandfather was not there for him, he was simply repeating the same thing that happened to him, to me, not intentionally. See, I thought it was intentional, but it wasn't. And as a result of that, it was like I had an aha moment at that point. And I didn't know what I was going to do. But I said this is going to be the day that I take responsibility and accountability for my life and my career. And that no matter what has happened to me, or in this case, anyone, you know that trauma, whatever has happened in the past, you didn't ask for it. It's still your responsibility to do something about it. And when my father passed, it was almost like, like, like a, like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. It was like his gift to me that, that, that I've been seeking from him all throughout my childhood. he did it in that moment. And that was the defining moment and pivot where I ended up finding out, you know, a 12 step program and then adopting, you know, Eastern philosophy and meditation, and then finding a process that worked for me to get out of the problem, the limiting beliefs, to then from that clear, clear split slate to develop better habits and disciplines that helped to elevate my confidence and self esteem that changed how I, how I think from a growth mindset to do it, then be different to them, become different, to do different and then have different, better results. I looked at things, challenges and setbacks of things happening for me, not to me. And I began to shift my behavior and communication from a codependent to be an interdependent. Trust in the process. And that's how I've lived for the last 20 something years. And it's had a dramatic impact on my confidence, my self esteem, my communication with myself, my, the people I love, my wife, my son, colleagues, people I do business with, and the ability to take calculated risk and make decisions and follow through and learn from those mistakes and learn from failures and keep moving forward trusting that process. That was that defining moment for me.
Susan Sly 18:40
Thank you for sharing, and with such hard and vulnerability, because this discussion around codependence, right? There, I, one of my favorite things to say is everyone's addicted to something. Yeah. And when we think about addictions, we think about you know, drugs, alcohol, sex, but there are other addictions that we see in the entrepreneurial world. And let's talk about self sabotage. You worked, you work with some of the best and achievers and the people who have the you know, the brand new BMW in the driveway and the perfect wife and their lives look Instagram perfect, and they live in the you know, 6000 square foot plus house. But secretly they're in self sabotage. I would love for you to share what are some of the self sabotage themes you see, especially amongst high achievers.
Chris Salem 19:38
With high achievers, you could see is there you know, there it can be their their behavior and how they treat other people. Sometimes they can you know, talk down to people, not to say that's the case. It could be some of the areas where they neglect their well being, their emotional well being, in their physical well being. They may over indulge in certain things like drinking too much, eating too much, and so on. They may become also workaholics where they're working around the clock, and not taking time to really enjoy. So they look like they have, they have the lifestyle. They got the house, the car, they got the, you know, the things that look like they have this work-life harmony going on, but it's not happening. And what's happening is that while they still have this success monetarily, you know, in this way, but they're self sabotaging their personal lives. Their relationships are deteriorating. And you know, their health is deteriorating, and I've had to do it. I've worked with clients, where they have great success from the outside. But everything else personally has been falling apart. And it all goes back to these limiting beliefs that cause these self sabotaging behaviors.
Susan Sly 20:50
Yeah, and I love that you said that because there's this whole concept in modern life of idolatry. Like we see it in influencer culture, and it's like, oh, yeah, the, you know. On Instagram the other day, it's like, you know, this person is like, Oh, this and this, and this, and their lighting is perfect, and their makeup is perfect. And I have friends who are very successful influencers, and they're just beautiful people. But the makeup crew arrives and the lighting crew arrives and then you know, and it's, it's, it's all meant to look so juicy and so good. And, and to what your point, Christopher, it's like these, these false priorities. Yeah. And that's, I'm so you know, often we talk about what it takes to be successful. One of the things that I love to talk about with people, like yourself, who are so accomplished, what it takes to really sabotage something great, right? Yeah. And I want to ask you, you know, you mentioned your day, and there are people who listen to the show, and they want to become full time executive coaches, or they want to get into the speaking world. How did you make that transition? That's the first quiet part of the question. The second part of the question is, after your morning, where you're grounding yourself, walk us through your day, because if, you know, I can think of one of, I, my digital agency Agency8 is designed for solopreneurs. Right? And I can think of one of my clients who's transitioning from an engineer to this business, that she's starting and consulting. Right? And, and I, there's so many people out there who want to get there, they just don't know the steps. So how did you do it? And then what does your day look like now?
Chris Salem 22:42
Well, that's a great question. So as I said, you know that that daily, that daily routine is something I've been doing for many years. And as a result of it, think of it like a house, right? You have this beautiful home, but that home sits on a foundation, and it's either sitting on a solid foundation or a faulty foundation. So when we were looking for something sustainable, doesn't mean that everything's gonna go great, and you're gonna get no problems or challenges. No, you are, that's how we grow. We can't grow without challenges or failures or mistakes. So it's how we think differently. So for me, that's how I approach things. I say to myself, again, I can control what I can, let go or what I can't. So when I start my day, I work in intervals of time with either clients or projects, or, you know, maybe I'm working on something like a online course or whatever, where I'm delivering a presentation to a company, I just focus in those intervals of time where I'm just focused on that. And always the priorities that matter first. Because a lot of people out there are busy, but they're not productive. That's just another form of procrastination operating in the past and the future, from fear based thinking. But when we can be in the moment, we notice, okay, this is going to be difficult, but I know I'm going to do it. I'm going to focus on what I can, I'm gonna let go of everything else. So that's what I do. I focus on the most important priorities first. I do designate certain times to check email, which you know, to me is not as important task unless I'm, you know, anticipating an email. And then social media, same thing. You can you can get caught up on social media all day. Clubhouse, people are on it all day long, and, and they're going, Wow, this is great. But when are you getting anything else done if you're on this thing all day long? So with that being said, it's funny in that harmony, and always making sure to take time for yourself. I give myself an hour and a half. If two hours early in the mornings, I get up early. That's my time. And then I spend time with my wife, I spend time with my son. And it's not about quantity, it's about quality. So it's also scheduling time and setting goals for your personal time, even downtime, even if you're going to do nothing. Because I know that I can't give to others if I don't recharge or fill my own cup. All I'm giving is nothing. I'm giving them just my time and so I'm not really giving them no value. So it's just not, it's having a daily goals each and every day. And if anything deviates from those goals, because life could throw a curveball at any time, which it does, it's just saying to myself is this, you know, really important? If it is, then Okay, I
Susan Sly 25:16
I love the intentionality, right? And that that's such a common theme amongst achievers. There's every time is owned. There is a purpose for that time, it's not random. And going through this this M&A, I got off clubhouse, I was posting a weekly club, I'm like, I this is not a priority for me.
Chris Salem 25:16
got to put that to the side to do this, and then just reset that we know where I'm at with that, and put it into another time slot. And that's it, you know, so it, you know, it's not easy. But nonetheless, when you're consistent like that, it just seems to be like, like anything, it tends to be a well run machine. It continues to keep moving forward. And as long as you keep maintaining it, which I do, then you know, that car's running still and it keeps going and that's, that's kind of like how I approached my day to day with clients, , you know, the companies I work with, and then also all of the projects that I'm involved in
Chris Salem 26:17
And I'm on, but I've been on Clubhouse. I do about at least seven hours, eight hours a week. But because it does serve a purpose. It's just if you're on it all day long, like some people it's like, I don't know how you do that.
Susan Sly 26:29
On the other side of the M&A, I'll be back. So a super quick question. Because we're out of time, give your three best tips for someone who wants to transition from the corporate world to to doing something like what you do. To either consulting or to coaching, what are your three best tips?
Chris Salem 26:45
I would just say again, look at what your strengths are. What are your strengths, and what is the experience you have? A lot of times that experience and those strengths can be transferred to in this case to coaching. Everyone has something that they're really good at. And there's somebody out there that requires what you're really good at, that you can help them with. It's not about doing for them. It's about being the example and being a resource and a guide to have them do it for themselves. So it's not looking to say Well, I'm not cut out to be a coach, I'm not experienced, I'm not this, It's again, really getting finding what that purpose is those strengths, that those skills that you have in that experience and finding a way where it fills a void or a demand for something and really believe in it. And don't be afraid to go out there and ask for help. I have, my weaknesses are I'm not technical. So if you're going to have me build a website and build funnels and all that, I'm the wrong guy to talk to. I'm going to go out and talk to someone else that's going to do that for me. Because that way I can spend time on what I'm really good at, that's building relationships, connecting with people, coaching, speaking, training, and so on, engaging people, that's what I'm good at. I'm not good at that other stuff. So finding help, using resources, and really trusting that process of you know, just going out there to give without expectation, again, from empathy and kindness, that's an interdependent. Be example, be resourceful, not pleasing and enabling, which is codependent. Give without expectation. Receive without resistance. Many times we, people are really good givers, but they don't receive well. Trust that it's going to come back to you. Not from who you gave it to, but knowing that it does come back from somewhere else and you don't question, you receive. If it's a penny, it's a million dollars. It's a thank you. It's a you know, a another form of acknowledgment, whatever it is, you receive it with gratitude. And that, to me is the difference maker. And if you just trust that process, yes, you're not going to be making you know millions of dollars in the beginning. But just keep moving along and that money will start to grow as your business grows and you build that value and you get referrals from there. So.
Susan Sly 29:01
Christopher that is beautiful, and I'm receiving our time with gratitude. I really value our discussion on codependency. And for people who are listening, please by all means give Christopher and I a shout out for what you're taking away. So on Instagram, it's @chrisrsalem, and Chris, R, Salem. chrisrsalem. And then on Twitter its wealth team. And then on Clubhouse, what are you, are you in Clubhouse? Chris Salem,
Chris Salem 29:33
Yeah, I'm on there, Chris. Just like my C-H-R-I-S-S-A-L-E-M. Just with the two S's. Chris Salem. Yeah.
Susan Sly 29:40
And most importantly, christophersalem.com. And if you're watching this on YouTube, drop a comment below. Don't forget to hit subscribe. I do respond to all of your comments. It's me, it's not one of the EAs. I make time because it goes back to what Christopher was discussing This concept of being present is a concept of adding value to people. And if this show has helped you, or if you know someone who's struggling with an addiction, and they're juggling entrepreneurship, and they're in self sabotage, share our show. Share it, share it, share it. So with that, thank you so much, Christopher, for being here. And - thank you so much for having me. I have wonderful time being with you. Alright, everyone. Well, this has been another episode of the Susan Sly Project. God bless. Go rock your day, and we'll see you next time.