361: Communicating In the Language of Leadership with Chris Westfall

By October 24, 2018Podcasts

 

 

Communications expert and pitch champion Chris Westfall illustrates how leadership is a language of the heart and how to achieve it through a perspective change.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The three ways that people listen to each other
  2. Two ‘you’ phrases that will help you get what you want
  3. The thought that makes the impossible possible

About Chris

Chris is national pitch champion and an award-winning MBA instructor at a top-20 program, He’s the official ‘pitch coach’ at the fifth-largest university in the USA – where his strategies have helped raise over $30 million for student start ups. Originally from Chicago, Chris resides in Houston, TX with his wife and two daughters, and is an avid supporter of the performing and visual arts.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Chris Westfall Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Chris, welcome back to the How to Be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Chris Westfall
Pete, I am super excited to be here. Thanks for having me again.

Pete Mockaitis
I’m so excited to have you again. We’ve come a long way since episode five here at your first appearance. You’ve also come a long way in your career when you used to be a professional stuntman. I don’t think we covered that last time. Let’s hear the story.

Chris Westfall
Well, it’s absolutely true. I was a professional stuntman. In fact, Pete, that was what I had to stand up in front of my entire MBA class and tell them – much to everyone’s chagrin and surprise – because they ask us in a prompt, they said “Tell us what was your last fulltime job before you came back to graduate school.”

Everybody is standing up and they’re saying, “I was a professional engineer,” or “I worked at a big four consulting firm,” and that kind of thing. Then it’s my turn and I get to stand up and say “Well, I was a professional stuntman.” “Everybody is like how did he get in this room?”

Pete, quite frankly I was asking myself the same thing. Now, look, I studied for the GMAT. I had good grades and all that kind of stuff, but my background was wildly different than what I wanted to do.

Maybe folks listening to this podcast are thinking about a transformation for themselves in their career, I tell you, for me, going from the green room, being a stuntman and trading fake punches to going into the boardroom and really wrestling with some real business issues was the career transition that I had to make.

But I was part of a stunt show at a local amusement park. I was part of the Batman stunt show, Pete. I wasn’t Batman, but I was the host of the show and then I played one of the villains in the stunt show. Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
So as a stuntman it was in sort of live shows as opposed to film and TV?

Chris Westfall
Right.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, interesting.

Chris Westfall
Which means it’s much more dangerous, much more risky because you’re doing it live and the pyrotechnics are live. If you miss a punch and hit somebody in the mouth or something, it’s happening live right there.

I learned a lot about risk and about calculated risk and about safety and also about capabilities because when you have to – again, this was in a southern state. I was performing in – it was 110 degree-heat and doing stuff outside in front of 3,000 people every day. You learn a few things in that kind of environment as you can imagine.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s so cool. Well, you’ve got a fun history. You’re doing fun work. Recently engaging with the Navy SEALS. That’s awesome. It seems like they always get the best people, so kudos on that get. That’s awesome. Then you’ve got a recent book, Leadership Language. What’s this all about?

Chris Westfall
Well, Leadership Language is a look at how people can change the conversation and change their results.

For folks who are looking to be awesome at their job, being awesome means leading others, whether that means that you are a leader in title and you actually have direct reports or you are someone who is aspiring to lead or maybe just to influence your boss to give you a raise or to buy into your ideas, all of those objectives, they all start with your story and the way that you communicate.

That’s what Leadership Language is all about. It’s about communication, it’s about connection, and it’s about leading across the generation so that your best ideas can come to life.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. Can you unpack some of that for us in terms of what’s often the holdup when it comes to doing that connecting and inspiring?

Chris Westfall
Well, a big part of communication and connection is listening. This may sound counterintuitive, because I mean I’m like you, Pete, I talk for a living, but I also listen. I help my clients to learn how to listen and to be receptive. When you understand how to leverage listening, it’s the first step in leadership.

And I’ll tell you why, because none of us is as smart as all of us. The person who thinks they have all the answers and doesn’t need to listen, that’s the first mistake.

I talk about in the book that there are three ways to listen. The first is to listen to affirm, in other words to listen to confirm something you already know, like, “Oh, I think what he’s saying – I think Stephen Covey said that and probably said it better.” To confirm something that you already know, that’s one way to listen.

But when you listen that way, you’re really just listening to make yourself feel better about your education or your experience. You’re not really moving the conversation forward.

The second way to listen is the way lawyers listen. That’s to listen to defend, in other words you’re taking a position. You’re taking a position. No matter what comes out of your mouth, I’m going to take – it’s the discussion across the aisle in politics. It’s the “If you don’t see things the way I do, I’m going to take a defensive posture.” When you take a defensive posture, by nature you close yourself off to new ideas.

If the leadership conversation is about innovation, is about changing the status quo and challenging the status quo and making things better, you have to identify with the third way to listen and that is to listen to discover, which hopefully is the way that people are listening to this podcast.

It’s to discover something new, is not to affirm something you already know, but to find that new thing, that next thing, that discovery that’s going to propel your career forward, that’s going to make you have a greater impact and that’s going to make you more awesome at your job.

Pete Mockaitis
I like that little framework there. It reminds me of some of my coaching training about different kinds of listening. I guess this starts I guess in a way – these three forms of listening are first of all presuming that you’re paying attention to the words coming out of the other person’s mouth. That’s a decent start, actually, and not something you can just assume in the age of everyone’s got their smartphone or even just they’re hungry for lunch.

Their attention might not even by on the words, but once they are, I think that’s a nice reality check in terms of if you’re sort of thinking about yourself and your situation relative in a conversation, say “Wait a minute, what am I really doing here?”

I suppose there may be times when you need to listen to defend like you are a litigant, you’re in a criminal or civil suit situation, but certainly listen to discover sounds a lot more fun and useful in the majority of contexts.

Chris Westfall
Well, I think that’s what you’ve been sharing with folks on this podcast. If I can just pay you a compliment, the discoveries that you’ve shared with others and the guests that you bring on, that’s where the value comes from.

And for the folks that are listening to this, think about where your value comes from. It can really start with being a good listener and taking in information and then sharing that information in a way that’s compelling.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely. It starts with the listening and then what would you say is the next step?

Chris Westfall
Well, the next step and this is counterintuitive, but if you want to be awesome at your job and create a greater impact for yourself, you’ve got to take your attention off of yourself because if you’re talking to someone, you’re talking to your boss, someone you wish to influence, you wish to have an impact in some way and you’re thinking “How am I doing?”

It’s like playing a game looking at the scoreboard or running a race when you’re looking at the clock. The real game is how is the person right in front of you doing, how is your boss doing, how is your team doing, how are you making them the hero of your story.

So many times when we have objectives for ourselves, we begin by focusing on “Well, I need this raise. I need this to happen. I need this idea to come forward,” but what happens when you flip the script and you think about what your ideas, your raise, your emotion, whatever the case may be, means to the person right in front of you?

When you phrase your goals and desires in terms of the impact that it means for others, you exhibit the four words that represent in my mind one of the key leadership skills. Here are the four words: “I’ve thought this through.” When you think through – you see what I’m saying?

Pete Mockaitis
I remember last time I was like, oh yeah. I was like wait a minute, are those the four words. There’s a contraction in there, is that five, four and a half.

Chris Westfall
There it is.

Pete Mockaitis
I’ve thought this through.

Chris Westfall
This time – in the book Leadership Language I talk about not only saying ‘I thought this through,’ but ‘I thought this through for you’ because leaders look in the direction of impact. They talk in terms of outcomes and they think about impact and impact not just for themselves, but for the people that they serve.

Pete Mockaitis
Can you give us maybe some examples of sort of non-I-thought-this-through communication, what that sounds like versus “Oh, having taken it to the next level, I have thought this through,” communication and what that might sound like?

Chris Westfall
The communication that thinks it through, you’re actually looking – there’s one word you can look for and it’s a pronoun. It’s the pronoun ‘you.’ If people use ‘you’ language, what that means is they’re not just talking about how “I’m very customer focused” or, “I really pay attention to service,” no, they’re starting with the most important person, which when you use the word ‘you,’ you make the second person first.

When people are only talking about themselves, that’s your clue. When you’re using words like I, me, my, we, our, you’re only focused on your own objectives. What about the objectives of the people who are right in front of you? What are the … for your boss, your board of directors, your investors, your team and how can you express that using ‘you’ language?

I talk about it at length in the book and show several different examples because it’s one thing to say, “Let me tell you what you don’t know about engineering.” Well, that’s a nonstarter. “Let me present myself as the expert,” also a nonstarter, also instantly exhausting.

But when you say something like, “You know how.” If I say to you, “You know how, when you’re in Evanston in the winter, it’s going to be cold.” Instantly, you’re like, “Of course, it’s cold in Evanston in the winter. I know that. Of course.”

But what I’m doing—and this is a very simple example, I apologize it’s so simple—what I’m doing is I’m acknowledging your expertise. I’m creating common ground. I’m not trying to show off what I know; I’m trying to demonstrate what we know together. That’s the power in ‘you’ language.

Pete Mockaitis
I like that. What’s so funny is it’s almost like a Jedi mind trick as you say it. It’s like I am poised to hear the next thing you say. It’s like, “Well, yeah. Totally, I’m right with you. Where are we going now?”

Chris Westfall
That’s the whole idea. If it comes from a place of sincerity without an agenda on it, it’s a place of connection. If you put a spin on it, then it’s called manipulation. But what you’re looking for is a reason for people to say yes because here’s the thing, common ground is what creates uncommon results. You want people to see that commonality instead of your expertise.

Pete Mockaitis
Right. I’m with you when it comes to the agenda. You’re right. People can sense if you’re trying to tie them down to a position or sort of box them into something using a series of Socratic questions.

We had Chris Voss, the FBI agent negotiator and his book, which is awesome, Never Split the Difference, talking about how yes makes people kind of nervous, like, “What am I committing to? What’s going on here?” But when it’s kind of innocuous, and as you mentioned, without an agenda, it’s sort of like, “Well, yeah, okay. Sure. Understood. Acknowledged. We’re on the same page, where are we going now?”

Chris Westfall
Exactly. That connection is really key to any leadership initiative that you wish to undertake and also to creating greater collaboration within your team, within your organization. Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Could you maybe give us another example of applying the ‘you know how’ in sort of a workplace scenario and how that will come across way better than an alternative, which may be a common mistake?

Chris Westfall
In order to do that I need to have an objective for the workplace, but I think I can do it, Pete. I think I can. Think about how you can create something that everyone in the workplace is going to say yes to. You can use a ‘you know how.’ The other one you can use to introduce it is ‘doesn’t it seem like.’ “Doesn’t it seem like we need to make a change in … here.” I’m going to struggle with the speak because I don’t have necessarily a workplace agenda, but I …

Pete Mockaitis
Oh sure thing. We’re looking to convince the boss to let us work from home one day a week or one day a month or something.

Chris Westfall
“Doesn’t it seem like office space is kind of at a premium here in the office?” “Doesn’t it seem like the investment we just made in the video conferencing software, we should really take advantage of it?”

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I love it.

Chris Westfall
I don’t know.

Pete Mockaitis
You’re like a pitch champion or something, Chris.

Chris Westfall
Pete, I am a professional. Don’t try this at home. But that’s the idea is turning it into something that people see because here’s the thing people think sometimes that a conversation needs to be adversarial or if I have a point of view that it’s going to be opposed to someone else. That can make you hesitate. That can make you stop.

In fact, the Harvard Business Review, there was an article that I read that says that 69% of managers are uncomfortable talking to employees for any reason.

Pete Mockaitis
Say that again. 69% of managers-

Chris Westfall
69%. I’ll send you the link

Pete Mockaitis
-are uncomfortable talking.

Chris Westfall
I’ll send you the link. Yes, sir. Can you imagine-

Pete Mockaitis
That’s your whole life is talking to employees. Do you mean their own direct reports or any employees? Please explain.

Chris Westfall
For any reason.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Chris Westfall
This is the thing that was so startling about this. I’ve got to send you the link.

Pete Mockaitis
This is nuts. Okay, we’ll definitely link to this in the show notes.

Chris Westfall
But yeah, everyone, sure, everyone wants – they have to talk to their employees, but the survey says they don’t like it.

Pete Mockaitis
Do we know why?

Chris Westfall
Do we know why?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Chris Westfall
That’s a great question. I’d have to pull up the article to tell you what they say, but as I recall, Pete, it’s very broad. It’s very general. Again, for any reason, so it’s not just performance reviews or corrective action. I think that maybe the survey was purposefully left very broad. Maybe that’s why they go that number, that’s nearly 70%. It’s over two-thirds of managers are uncomfortable talking to employees.

What this points to is that there’s never been a greater need for us to take a look at the way that we communicate and if our focus is on a conversation that we believe is going to be confrontational, it’s going to be something that we should fear, well, look at the common ground. What is it that you have in common with your boss, with your employees, with your team? What is that shared objective? Because that shared objective is called success.

Does it have to be a fight? Sometimes. Sometimes there is going to be something that you need to defend. There is going to be a time to have that hard conversation. But does it have to start there? If you say, “Well, yes, it does,” my second question would be why.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, okay. That’s great. Okay, so we talked about the listening and we talked about the positioning things effectively in terms of how or ‘doesn’t it seem like,’ so what are some of your other top best practices in terms of this leadership language stuff?

Chris Westfall
Well, I think that one of the things that is key for people to understand the leadership language is where leadership really lives. One of the things that I went through Pete as I was writing this book is I was doing my research and reading what others had said and all the gurus, what they had to say about leadership, and it left me feeling – it left me feeling less than.

It left me feeling like I don’t have the same skills as that guy that landed that plane on the Hudson River. I don’t have the same skills as these various leaders in businesses and stuff like that.

But I look at that and I said wait a minute, how is it that I don’t have enough when I’ve been able to create lead teams all over the world? How is it that I don’t have enough when I’ve been able to lead my clients to help them to find over 50 million dollars in investment capital and coach my clients under Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank Australia. How am I able to do this if I’m so much – there’s so much lacking in who I am?

Here’s what I discovered Pete is that leadership is not something that’s out there. It’s not something that’s reserved for those guys or those gals or those folks that went to that Ivy League school or that went to some other college. It’s not about that. Leadership lives inside of all of us.

For everyone who’s listening to the sound of my voice, if it looks at leadership as something that is outside of you, look again because leadership language is the language of the heart. It is a language that is sincere and authentic and it requires you to get clear on the things that you want, not only for yourself, but for the people that you serve.

One of the key takeaways that I can share with you is – and I talk about this in the book – is to think about the people around you as your clients. I don’t mean clients that you’re trying to sell something to or that you’re consulting with your clients or something like that. I mean clients as the people on whom your success depends. They’re the people on your team. They’re the people on your board of directors. They are the investors in front of you who can fuel your idea or pull the plug on it.

That is a very useful focus because when you have intelligent people – I’m assuming the folks listening to this podcast are intelligent people – you don’t…when they understand how things work, then they understand how to make things work for them.

Looking inside of yourself at that internal place where leadership lives and taking a moment to really question your thinking because if you’re thinking, “Ah, leadership, I don’t know. I don’t know if I have those capabilities,” let me tell you, you do.

Because remember – when you were in third grade, did you think, “Do I have the capabilities necessary to lead these people in a game of tag?” No, no. You just play the game. But we grow up, we have responsibilities, we lose that sense of playing the game, but leaders play the game. Leaders play to win.

That’s not to say that they’re trying to game people or manipulate them. That’s not what I’m pointing at. But I’m talking about having fun. I’m talking about enjoying life and playing the game of life so that you can create the impact that you want without a lot of the other stuff on it. Does that make any sense at all?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, I hear you. Talk about the leadership being internal. It’s sort of the language of the heart and you want to be coming from a place that’s sincere, authentic and clear.

I’m with you that, one, you can just sort of chuck aside the notion that “Oh, I don’t have leadership. I don’t have those capabilities.” It’s sort of you’ve got it inside if you’re accessing it. Maybe we can dig in a bit in terms of what are some of the road blocks and how does one go about accessing sort of potent levels of sincerity, authenticity, and clarity?

Chris Westfall
Well, let me point to a couple of things. First of all, a quote from Tim Ferriss, who said, “What might this look like if it were easy?” I think – that’s from Tribe of Mentors. I think that that’s a very powerful quote because so many times we look at situations in our jobs and in our careers and we get lost in our thinking. Everything looks – it looks impossible, it looks tough. Sarah in accounting won’t listen to me. It looks impossible.

But Tim Ferriss says, “What would it look like if it were easy?” I wanted to explore this idea of an effective approach to very, very difficult conversations, so I found someone who was in an incredibly difficult conversation – excuse me, I said conversation – I found someone who in an incredibly-

Pete Mockaitis
Who’s a real pain.

Chris Westfall
Yes, that’s right.

Pete Mockaitis
They’re always in your-

Chris Westfall
It hurts. I’m trying to listen, but it hurts. No, he was in an incredibly difficult situation. I was speaking to someone in an incredibly difficult situation. His name is Murray Wilcox and he is an extreme surfer. This guy, he lives in Cape Town, South Africa. He goes off the coast of Africa searching for waves that are 15 to 25 feet high.

Now, I know – I’m not a surfer myself, but I know from what I’ve read that even a 10 foot wave can weigh much as 400 tons. A 10 foot wave can kill you. Murray, my friend Murray, he’s on top of a 15 – 20 – 25 foot wave.

I ask him, “Murray, when you’re at the top of that wave, it literally is a matter of life and death—what is going through your mind?” Because I want to know, what is the mindset that allows you to survive in this extreme, incredibly difficult situation. “What is your mindset, Murray?”

Here’s what he said. “My mindset is nothing. Do you want to know what’s on my mind? There’s nothing on my mind. I’m not plugging in some attack pattern. I’m not trying to maneuver. I’m simply in the moment.”

I thought about that for a second. I went “Well, of course you are because you don’t know whether that wave’s going to break left or break right. You don’t know what is going to show up. The only way that you can survive – in fact, the only way that you can be at your best is when you have as little on your mind as possible.”

Pete Mockaitis
All right. That’s cool. Certainly. So that is powerful with regard to being able to respond and react appropriately, not getting sort of caught up in your own stuff and mental chatter, having some clarity and presence and awareness in that moment. That’s cool. Can you tell me more about this notion of how this question, “What might this look like if it were easy?” creates transformations?

Chris Westfall
It really does Pete. The question that also shows up that kind of points in this direction is this one, ‘How big is a problem when you’re not thinking about it?’ Think about that. Are you with me?

Pete Mockaitis
It’s intriguing because it’s sort of – the immediate answer is well, it’s like it doesn’t even exist, but then the implication is not, I imagine, oh, so then just ignore them and you’ll be fine.

Chris Westfall
But here’s the thing that it points to. It’s not ignore your problems and you’ll be fine. I’m not trying to say ignorance is bliss. Although, it may be.

But the point is this, what – consider the impact that our thinking has and when Murray, my friend, is at the top of a wave, what he’s trying to think about is as little as possible. He’s not plugging in an attack pattern. When we’re not thinking about our problems, they seem to cease to exist, which points toward this idea that our thinking is what is creating our experience.

That is what – by the way, if that’s not true, then how can you be super busy and not feel stressed or not really have a lot on your plate and yet feel extremely stressed. If it comes from our external circumstances, then we should all go out and try to self-medicate or buy toys until those feelings go away.

But you know as well as I do that when you’ve got the toys and you’ve created the life that you’ve dreamed of, happiness may or may not follow. Why is that? This is one of the aspects that I point to is the role that thought plays in people being able to access their authentic leadership skills and to really be at their best.

What I learned from Murray and from others that I feature in the book is that this idea of creating a mindset for success, so many people are chasing and here it comes Pete, call me a liar if you want, but that idea of chasing a mindset is actually the exact last thing that we need to be doing especially when the stakes are high. To be at our best, we need to be in the moment. We need to be able to access who we are.

If you think about it, you think about your favorite sports teams, the players that you admire, and any game, whatever that game might be, the people who are at their best, they aren’t following the playbook per se, they’re reacting in the moment to what’s in front of them.

That is something that is a capability that’s not reserved for great athletes or extreme surfers off the coast of South Africa. That’s something that’s inside you and me and when our thinking quiets down, we have the opportunity to see it.

There’s not a six-step process to make your thinking quiet down. It’s actually one step. It’s simply seeing that your thinking is just there, that your thinking is just thinking. Here it comes, just because a train of thought shows up, doesn’t mean you have to ride that train.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s cool. There’s a lot here. There’s a lot here. What I’m gathering here is that that question, ‘What might this look like if it were easy,’ isn’t so much a prompt to spark a clever process innovation or new approach to doing something, so much as a reminder that “no, no, it’s just your brain and the way you’re thinking that’s making it hard” and you can choose to let go of that at any moment.

Chris Westfall
I can tell you story after story of things that looked impossible, things that – if you had caught me at a moment in time and said this never could have happened. This book at one time looked impossible. I thought there’s no way. There’s no way that I can do this. There’s no way that I can write this. Well then what changed?

What’s funny is that when my thinking settled down and I said, “What might this look like if it were easy? What would happen if I looked at this in a different way? What would this look like if it weren’t impossible? Is there another way of looking at this?”

If that sounds like a process, I’m saying it wrong because really all I’m doing is identifying that I have some thinking about a subject. It’s that thinking that colors it. I think it was Shakespeare that said “There’s nothing neither good nor bad in this world, but our thinking makes it so.”

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, I hear you. You mentioned that it’s not a six-step process. It’s a one-step process. You’re just noticing that you’ve got some thoughts and that you don’t have to ride the train. If folks have a little bit of difficulty with train of thought, they always can’t seem to resist hopping aboard and taking every train where it cares to go, what do you recommend for these folks?

Chris Westfall
First of all, I would recommend that they hear me say this, me too, I’m the same way. I’m a planner. That’s the way that we are. As human beings we are wired to plan and to think things through and to roil around and to create scenarios in our minds so that we can do the mental equivalent of working through pi, trying to solve for pi. You know that it just keeps going, and it keeps going, and it keeps going.

If it’s true that our thinking is defining our experience, the key is to simply identify that the thing that’s making that look impossible – whatever that situation might be, it’s just a thought. A thought can’t hurt you. A thought is fleeting. In a few minutes or a few seconds even, another thought is going to come along. Have you ever had something where you’re so frustrated and just going crazy and then five minutes later you’re like “what was that all about?”

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Chris Westfall
Where did it go? Where did it go? The situation is still the same. That guy still – he did cut you off in traffic.

Pete Mockaitis
But now there’s a great song on, Chris.

Chris Westfall
Exactly. And now we’re experiencing something different. I think that that is also a message for how to be awesome at your job is to remember that as intense as things might be, you can step back at any time.

You can – you don’t have to go a beautiful part of the world. You don’t have to jump on an airplane. You don’t have to go for a hike or go skiing or whatever your flavor is of getaway. What you’re looking for is never more than one thought away.

I talk about that in Leadership Language. It’s understanding the nature of thought. There’s no process. It’s an understanding. When you have that understanding, you see that that reset, that place where you need to be is never more than one thought away. Often taking a look in the direction of what this might look like if it were easy, can point you towards a new perspective and ultimately new result.

Pete Mockaitis
It reminded me of another question I picked up. I think it was from Tony Robbins, which was ‘What’s great about this?’  When you’re freaking out about something that just seems like the worst and you say, “Oh, I guess it’s pretty great that I’m working with an opportunity so big that this is my worry. I can only imagine having opportunities so big and worries this big five years ago in my career,” or in whatever context.

Chris Westfall
Sure, absolutely. It’s like the old saying, “How would you feel about having to pay 100,000 dollars a year in taxes?” Pete, I would say I’ll take that all day long because you know how much money I would be making?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh yes, more than 300,000 dollars.

Chris Westfall
You see what I mean? You would think, yeah. More than six shekels, which is what I have now. No, you see what I’m saying.

Sometimes success or fear of success is what stops us. Again, the question, ‘what would this look like if it were easy?’ Would it be okay if the thing that was so scary was actually just a thought? If it’s just a thought then a thought could change. When thoughts change and new thoughts show up, guess what? New perspective, new results, new opportunities.

The blockage, the thing that’s stopping you, the thing that’s holding you back goes away. Because here’s the thing, Pete, if something’s holding you back from something that you want, you have to ask yourself what you’re doing to enable that situation to exist.

Pete Mockaitis
What’s intriguing about this is that you’re a communications expert. You’ve done all this research and dug into it. It seems like what you’re saying is the heart of having these connecting, inspiring conversations isn’t so much about following a certain framework or process or protocol so much as just getting your brain in a place where you’re cool going there.

Chris Westfall
Yeah, because, again, leadership is not an external journey. It’s not a place that you visit or that other people know better than you. Leadership is something that – again, the world according to Chris, this is the way that I see it – leadership is something that exists inside of all of us.

When we understand the nature of the human condition and the way that our minds work, what we can do is create a natural enthusiasm, that contagious engagement that you’re talking about. What would happen if this were really great? How would I approach this situation?

That’s what comes through when our thinking dies down. That’s a big part of the work that I do in my consulting and my coaching is to take a look at the obligations and labels and the way that things look, which is really – it’s our thinking. It’s the way that we approach the world.

Those thoughts can appear so real and so restrictive. I know because I have them too. I’m wired the same way. I’m talking about myself. But actually I’m talking about all of us because this is – at its core, Leadership Language is a book about human nature and how to tap into that potential that’s inside of all of us.

When we understand the way that we work, the way that things that work, the idea is that you can make the things work for you and for the people that you care about, the people that you wish to influence. That’s really the nature of the connection and authenticity that’s at the heart of Leadership Language.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s awesome. Well, Chris, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Chris Westfall
Well, I just want to make sure that people are aware that – of the resource that’s available on my YouTube channel. I don’t know if that’s – this is the time to talk about that or if we want to hit that in the end, but it’s YouTube.com/WestfallOnline. I’ve got over 200 videos on there. It’s a great resource that people can check out if they’re curious to learn more.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Thank you. Now could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Chris Westfall
Something that I find inspiring. I’m going to go with Nelson Mandela, “It always looks impossible until it’s done.”

Pete Mockaitis
Awesome. How about a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Chris Westfall
Favorite study and bit of research is the Harvard Business Review’s study that you’ll find in the link down here on the page where this podcast will be located.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely. That just makes me chuckle a little in terms of I’m uncomfortable about talking to employees about anything.

Chris Westfall
The thing that I love is mind-boggling research that points toward something and you’re like, “No way can that be the numbers.”

Ellen Langer is another one. She’s a Harvard researcher that did – she did research into the nature of mindset as well as the nature of agreement and stuff like that. Ellen Langer has done some interesting stuff as well with some numbers that are startling, but you’ll have to check that out to find out.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh sure. Well, you don’t have to drop us the specific number, but if you could just tell us for example, crazy number blank. Is there something that strikes you?

Chris Westfall
I’ll give it to you real quick. Ellen Langer and her team of researchers, they want to know what makes people say yes. They were looking at agreement and compliance. Here’s what they did.

They go into libraries. This was a few years back, Pete. This was a few years ago. They go into libraries where people are lined up to use the copy machine. They walk in and they say, “Excuse me, do you mind if I cut in line? I have to make five copies.” What percentage of the time do you think people said “Yeah, sure. Go ahead. You can make copies.” What do you think?

Pete Mockaitis
I think this is ringing a bell. That one was small because they were missing a key ingredient, Chris.

Chris Westfall
Which was?

Pete Mockaitis
The word because.

Chris Westfall
You’re exactly right. You’re on it. You’re on it. Actually the number – it wasn’t small. It was actually kind of surprising. It was 60% of the people said, “Yeah, sure, you can make copies.” But you’re exactly right, Pete. They went back in and they offered a reason and it changed the statistic from 60% to 94% of the time people said, “Yeah, sure. You can make copies.”

They introduced a number of other variables as well around this idea of saying the word because and offering a reason. But the key takeaway is that people want to know, not just your why, but your because.

It’s like that great book, Start With Why by Simon Sinek. Love that book. But I read that book and I’m like, well what’s step two. Step two according to Ellen Langer and her researchers, because. Offering a reason can be the key to being more persuasive. Anyway, that’s another little piece of research that I find very interesting.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. Thank you. How about a favorite book?

Chris Westfall
Favorite book, I love To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink. I also really like Impossible to Ignore by Carmen Simon.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh yeah, we had her on the show. She’s wonderful.

Chris Westfall
Did you?

Pete Mockaitis
Mm-hm.

Chris Westfall
Oh, she’s terrific. I quote her in Leadership Language quite a bit. She is terrific. Really like her perspective.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. How about a favorite tool?

Chris Westfall
If I say iPhone, that’s just too broad, isn’t it, Pete?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, we’ve heard it a time or two before, Chris, so I might challenge you to up the game a little bit. Maybe there’s a particular app or innovative way you use your iPhone.

Chris Westfall
Sure. Well, let me say this. The app that I like the most is probably vCita, which is like Calendly. It’s a scheduling tool. It allows people to connect with me and see my calendar online and set up times for us to have a conversation. As a guy who is all about helping people to change the conversation, anything that can help me to create that conversation for others is a very useful tool.

Pete Mockaitis
What I find awesome about you – if I can just brag for a moment is that that’s just wide open on your website. It’s just like anyone can go up and schedule some time with Chris, which I think is massively generous of you. Maybe it’s the cynic or the business strategist in me is like, a decent percentage of those must convert into paid gigs or else how could you invest that time in that way?

Chris Westfall
Sure. It’s true, Pete. But I’ll tell you what, like I say, I’m all about the conversation. Isn’t that what we – maybe not for every business, but certainly for mine, I’m very interested in a time to talk, so I take the time. If people want to – you can pepper me with whatever you want for 30 minutes. You can ask me anything and I’ll do my best to tell you what I can. Try to help.

Pete Mockaitis
What a guy.

Chris Westfall
Look, leadership is about service. Life is about service. What we’re doing here is to try to serve others and help them be more awesome at their job. That’s my way of serving. I can’t heal the sick, but I can help with communication.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s awesome. Well, it’s appreciated. Thank you. I encourage folks to check that out. It’s pretty cool. That’s the tool. How about a habit?

Chris Westfall
A habit that I have is to make sure that every day is different, that I don’t fall into a pattern. I’ll tell you why Pete and I’ll tell you why this is so important. I’m not just trying to be kicky here.

Imitation is not innovation. Every day I’m looking to discover something new and to create something new and to be better than I was yesterday. That means that today can’t look like yesterday. That also points towards resourcefulness for me of being able to not get locked into a pattern, to make sure that my thinking is expansive. My habit is not to get trapped into a habit.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s so meta.

Chris Westfall
I know it. I know it. Sorry to be so meta.

Pete Mockaitis
Tell me, is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks? They retweet it and they quote it back to you.

Chris Westfall
Well, this idea that where you are is not who you are is something that seems to resonate with folks. That means that where you are in your life, your relationships, your career, that doesn’t define you. It may look like it does, it may look like that is the box that you are in.

But if you think about it, Drew Brees is the top passer of all time in the NFL. His first play as a professional quarterback, he was sacked and he fumbled. From those humble beginnings, he’s become the greatest passer in the history of the NFL.

Whether you are someone who just got sacked and fumbled or you’re a stuntman, where you are is not who you are. It does not define you. Pointing people towards that internal resourcefulness and that internal journey is part of the work of Leadership Language and one of the things that I think people always need to remember, where you are is not who you are.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Chris, you mentioned the YouTube Channel. Any other key places that folks might go if they want to reach out or get in touch?

Chris Westfall
Well, you can find me on the Gram, Instagram. You can also find me on Twitter. Everything is WestfallOnline. My last name is like the direction and the season Westfall. That’s also where you can find me on LinkedIn, so WestfallOnline. My website is WestfallOnline.com. Those are some of the resources that are out there.

Pete Mockaitis
Perfect. Do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Chris Westfall
Say the most honest thing that you can. I’m not suggesting you walk into your boss’s office and go, “You know what? You need to lose weight.” I’m not suggesting that. But think about the most honest thing that you can say.

I want to challenge people to have the conversations that need to take place to face whatever fears might be holding you back from the thing that you need to say and do. Take that action because the only way that you change your results is by taking the action that brings your story to life.

If you’ve got great ideas, take the first step. That first step 99 times out of 100 is a conversation, a conversation with someone that can help you bring your ideas to life. Say the most honest thing that you can and see what happens.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Well, Chris, this has been a lot of fun. I hope you have a smashing success with Leadership Language book and many engaging, and empowering, and lucrative conversation flowing through vCita on your website. Yeah, just good luck with all you’re up to here.

Chris Westfall
Well, thank you Pete. It’s always a pleasure to talk with you. You’re a great interviewer and great questions. Again, thanks for having me back on the show. I really appreciate it.

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