Nov. 21, 2022

How to be an Excellent Human Swiss Army Knife with Christian Wiggins

How to be an Excellent Human Swiss Army Knife with Christian Wiggins

In this episode, I am joined by Christian Wiggins, the Chief Executive Officer of Farmhouse International Fraternity. He is a consultant and speaks on nonprofit governance. He’s been working in the fraternity leadership space for over 20 years now, helping men develop lifelong connections and friendships. 

In this episode, you will learn the following:

  • The benefits of fraternity and sorority life
  • The importance of measuring and improving customer satisfaction
  • The value of turnover at the executive level in a small nonprofit

"So often in life, I think people see the network as who's directly in front of them and they forget that if someone else genuinely enjoys the connection with you, that they're going to be willing to be an advocate for you to people you don't know." - Christian Wiggins

Episode Timestamps:

[01:25] How do you make better decisions in life? How do you take those incremental steps to do more?
[01:48] What does some of the research show in terms of the value of being Greek?
[03:57] Fraternity alumni feel deeper connections to their alma maters than their non-Greek peers
[06:04] Fraternity and Association Management
[07:31] Christian’s work background
[08:53] The winning strategy
[11:47] Casino business on the hotel side
[12:49] Content communication, access to network and peers, access to a job board, or access to resources to help them get their career ahead
[14:27] Business Realignment
[17:03] Why would I take this without transitioning jobs?
[19:15] Long-lasting industries
[20:40] Having a work-life balance
[21:57] Grind, grind, grind
[24:50] ASAE American Society of association of Executives
[26:48] People see through folks who want to use a network
[33:52] Starting early in life
[34:46] Parents have a role in our early growth too
[38:20] Christian attended a conference in Nashville
[43:09] Don't discount kind of the personal wellness part of your life and how that impacts your ability to make good decisions, have good relationships, be more productive


[00:00:00] Christian: So often in life, I think people see the network as who's directly in front of them and they forget that if someone else genuinely enjoys the connection with you, that they're going to be willing to be an advocate for you to people you don't know, that you've never met and that they can open doors for you.

[00:00:22] Joe: Hi, I'm Joe Templin, author of the Amazon Kindle number One new release, everyday Excellence and Human Swiss Army Knife. This is the Human Kaizen podcast conversation with interesting individuals that embody excellence and can help you be better. The human Kaizen podcast is brought to you by Gateway Financial advisers. I have known the leadership of Gateway for years and we can't guarantee results, but we can always guarantee that these individuals will go out of their way to take care of you and your planning with their full service financial planning firm. My guest today is somebody who I've known for a while. He is the Chief executive officer of Farmhouse International Fraternity. He is a consultant and speaks on nonprofit governance. My good friend Christian Wiggins. Christian. Welcome to the human kazan podcast.

[00:01:18] Christian: Thanks Joe. I'm happy to be here.

[00:01:18] Joe: Awesome, man. So what are you learning or reading right now, man?

[00:01:25] Christian: Wow. Always learning, right? I would tell you reading I'm in between reads right now, but most of the reading that I do tends to focus on as you do. How do you make better decisions in life? How do you take those incremental steps to do more? The research that I'm spending time on right now is actually done through the North American Interfering Conference and it talks about the benefit of fraternity and sorority life not only in college but beyond. And so I'm on the research committee. It's a new assignment for me. So most of my reading homework is right there. So pausing between books and digging into.

[00:01:48] Joe: A lot of studies, let's have some insight there because as my listeners know, and you obviously know, I'm heavily involved in the fraternity and sorority world. What does some of the research show in terms of the value of being Greek?

[00:02:05] Christian: Tremendous value in fact, Joe, I'll stick to three buckets to start with. One is that fraternity men, and I'll stick to fraternity men in particular because I'm on the North American In, a fraternity council governing body and it deals specifically with men. But mental health, which is a huge topic on college campuses right now, fraternity men compared to their non Greek peers, are significantly better. In fact, 80% of fraternity men report good to excellent mental health on a college campus. And when you look at where they're going to get their help, Joe, they're asking their brothers, they're asking their peers. And we know that men in particular make it hard on themselves to ask for help. They're twice as likely to turn to a brother than anyone else. So that's mental health. There's a couple other areas that I think are pretty exciting. One of them is that fraternities are an accelerator for success, for college and beyond. One of those interesting stats, not quite stat, but trend. Fraternity alumni are finding jobs more quickly after graduation and they're more engaged in the workplace, which I think is a really phenomenal concept to look at when you're hiring college graduates. And then the last bucket that I'll hit on is that they're creating lifelong connections and friendships on campus in their community and beyond. In fact, 78% of them feel a strong connection to their campus and are more satisfied with their experience. And nearly half of them have a volunteer role on campus outside of their fraternity. So we're really finding some phenomenal stats and trends related to men in Greek life, and it's bucking what you read in the paper, that's for sure.

[00:03:28] Joe: Yeah. So I actually have my reunion from Pikappa Phi Alpha Tower this weekend, and I think we're expecting over 100 individuals back for the weekend. So I'm looking forward to that one.

[00:03:57] Christian: Well, that's not surprising, especially when you look at the trend where it says fraternity alumni feel deeper connections to their alma maters than their non Greek peers. And universities have something to be excited about there as well, because fraternity men are two times more likely to have a job waiting for them when they graduate than their non Greek peers. So a lot of positive things for universities to point to when they're thinking about it outside of this study. I think Gallup did a research not long ago, Joe, that said 41% of college students now are men compared to their women counterpart. Of that, only 60% persist to graduation. And so when you're a college or university, you're thinking about, how do I retain more and attract more students? I think the fraternity experience has to be one of the answers to how we get more men in the door, because we know that they should be attracted about finding better jobs, finding better connections, having better mental health. And then when you think about getting them graduated, fraternity men are graduating much faster paced than their non Greek peers as well.

[00:04:36] Joe: I anecdotally have seen this over and over again, but I'm glad to see that there's research supporting this at this point. So thank you for sharing that. That's tremendous. So beyond that, is there anything else interesting that you've come across recently in terms of the leadership development within the fraternity or world?

[00:05:08] Christian: The research is where I spent a tremendous amount of my time, and it's kind of all encompassing. There's more than 20 studies that we've dug into and so I'm always on the look for a book for a good read. If you have a recommendation, I would love one. I had a feeling you're going to say that.

[00:05:40] Joe: Well, actually there is so much good information out there right now in terms of development, and I'm always a big fan of looking towards what individuals have done when stuff is really on the line. So, like, jocko willing stuff. Discipline. The Academy of Leadership. Excellent. Excellent one to be able to check out, especially if there's a large quantity of military individuals or too much testosterone floating around around within your organizations. This is a good way to harness it and be able to utilize it for a positive benefit.

[00:06:04] Christian: Yeah. Right now, the interesting thing is there's so much external stimulus going on in the world that I live in, which is fraternity and association management. We're leaving COVID, which saw tremendous impacts on college campuses around the country. We're seeing a staggering cost of college continuing to rise without a lot of control. We're seeing inflation, which is certainly having its impact on everything from food prices and how you operate a facility. We're seeing the coming trend, which is a major dip in college enrollment, and we're seeing the brutal battle from media on the fraternity experience. So when you think about it, right now, all of us are figuring out how do you offer something that's a competitive advantage to your peers that maybe allows you to not only weather that storm, but do better? And a lot of our board's time, a lot of my time right now, has been thinking about what is our differentiator and how do you plan for that? And so I don't know that there's a lot of places you can go and do reading that gives you an answer on that. You do a lot more thinking and having deep dive conversations than anything. It's an exciting time to be a leader of a nonprofit, but certainly thrown a lot of challenges our way.

[00:07:14] Joe: Yes. And as the Chinese say, may you live in interesting times. You certainly got them right now. So how did you get involved with fraternity leadership in the first place, Christian?

[00:07:31] Christian: You know, it was a little bit of an accident. I went from college to working for Harris Caesars Entertainment. Really loved that career path. But I was 22, 23, 24 years old, and I saw a lot of my friends taking holiday trips and taking weekends off. And anyone who's ever been involved in the casino business knows that's not where you're going to be taking your time off around holidays and weekends, particularly someone new to management. And ended up having a conversation with Mark Timmy's, who just retired as a longterm CEO of Pikupify. And there was a position open there as a director of alumni engagement. They had about 1000 alums at the time. And Mark said, you know, if you can sell a customer experience, I think you could probably help craft and share an alumnus experience. And it was a really interesting concept to be able to float the two. And even now, 20 something years later in my career, I look back at all the threads that hold my career together and all of them have been about shaping an impactful, fun, engaging membership or customer experience. And so I made the transition from working for a casino business, which is all the lights, all the sounds, all the energy that goes on within gaming, to moving over to a fraternity experience to say, how do you? Take the energy and passion people find within three to five years of college through an affinitybased organization, draw that out of them and hope that they have a lifetime of enjoyment. And I did that for about two years, and I've been in the business sense.

[00:08:53] Joe: So what are some of the lessons in terms of that engagement, in terms of continuing that experience beyond the point where people graduate that you've been able to tap into and utilize?

[00:08:53] Christian: There's a thread between the two. Gary Loveman wrote a book called Jackpot. It's the winning strategy. He talks about creating a great customer experience with Harris. It's a little bit of an old read. It's probably 1718 years old at this point. He was a professor. He had some really great ideas. But one of the things that I think the gaming industry does well, that associations and fraternities don't always do, is how do you begin to quantify someone's affinity for the organization so that you have a benchmark to start using to decide what you do right? We could always say, do more events, put out more newsletters, put out more content, engage your website, change your marketing strategy, provide trinkets and gimmicks, provide electronic and engaging media. But none of that has any base to it if you can't measure it. And so one of the things that I think we've been proud of, at least at pikapp and somewhat at farmhouse, is how do we begin figuring out how you create a baseline for what engagement looks like? And how do you begin converting those people from let's say you can score engagement on a score of zero to 100. Is the cold people to quit. They're not engaged in the organization at all. Ten are the people that are doing everything you would want them to. How do you create where's everyone what are the commonalities that those folks are getting, whether it be the magazine or whether it's the click through rates you're looking at, then think about how do you and this is Gary Harris strategy. And Gary, how do we get those people up one level at a time about converting your BS to a S and your CS to BS. And you're really focused on the very top right? You're focused on how do you get people from a B to an A and how do you keep them there? And so that's been one of the exciting things, I think this industry still has room to grow in, that we can learn from other places, particularly the for profit culture of how are you measuring the satisfaction of your customers or your members? What are the things they have in common with that satisfaction. And then for the folks who have the really high affinity and engagement, what's the traits that you're seeing with them? And how do you get that same replication in the group below?

[00:11:07] Joe: So if I'm pulling out a pearl of wisdom from that for somebody who runs a small company or a big size company or a franchise, even. Because a franchise is almost like a chapter within a fraternity system if you can look at and understand what makes your client satisfied, rank them, and then take some of the best practices and raise people by one level, just a little bit more incremental increase. That's how you're going to get more engagement and have greater profitability, essentially.

[00:11:47] Christian: Absolutely. And I think over time, you can dial into specific behaviors. Right. So think about the casino business on the hotel side. There's really only three things that matter what was my check in wait time? What was my checkout wait time? And what's the helpful, friendly look like? Did I feel like someone was nice to me? And every business has those types of metrics right now. That's for the front desk. When you look at housekeeping, there's going to be a different set of metrics, et cetera. But if you're a small business owner or if you're a nonprofit exec, I think you can probably boil down three to five key systems that you want measurements or feedback on. No one wants to click through a survey or an assessment that says, this is going to take you 20 minutes, you're going to lose a lot of folks. There a lot of folks in the middle. But if you can find something that someone can give you 20 seconds worth of feedback on and you can standardize it so that the data is the same from one customer to another, I think you can begin to hone in on what are the behaviors you want to change.

[00:12:13] Joe: So you do a lot of consulting within the notforprofit world, beyond the fraternity system. Translate some of what you just said within the Greek community and the for profit community into the not for profofit community.

[00:12:49] Christian: Yeah, it's around member experience. Right. So if you think about an organization who may have individual members, whether they be nurses or whether they be, you know, you pick the profession, they're going to pay dues to you and expect some value in return. Right. Very seldomly am I paying my dues just so I can be a part of the governance structure, vote run for office, et cetera. I want something back in return that helps me be better professionally. And so I think that's when you're starting to look and ask people questions about whether you're in the front and asking them about what their needs are or whether you're on the backside and asking them about what their experience is, I think it's all driven around education. It's all driven around content communication, access to network and peers, access to a job board, or access to resources to help them get their career ahead. In some industries, it may be they're looking for advocacy efforts, some organizations and some professions in general. A lot of how they move ahead or what they're able to do is breaking through government red tape. And so a significant part of what you may do as the association leader may be removing barriers so that they can do better locally or in their particular markets. So I think it's finding what is that niche for your members? Do they care about the education? Do they care about the advocacy? Do they care about the career advancement? What are the things that your membership are really looking for? And then how do you build a tool around that that helps them give you some reliable feedback to say, how good is this, and is it better than it used to be?

[00:14:05] Joe: Awesome. So that explains how you got to where you are today in the journey. Where do you see yourself going in the future? What's on the horizon for Christian Wiggins?

[00:14:27] Christian: Absolutely. You know, I've had a terrific opportunity to be here at Farmhouse. I'm just past the fiveyear mark in May. I have a terrific board of directors. I have a great membership base, and we've done a lot of good work together. We've tackled a brand Realignment, which honors the organization's history, but also pushes us to continue to be relevant to the college experience and the students needs today, tackle some governance issues, some finance issues. It's really been a fun challenge, but I'm also a big believer that there should be some turnover at the executive rank, especially in a smaller nonprofit. I think you come in, you can either be a change agent or you can be a stabilizer. And in this case, I kind of look at myself as the change agent who has helped the organization actually like some of the things they want. Well, at some point, you've got to then move on for yourself and that organization so that a new vision can come on and continue to build where you've helped the organization be. That time is coming. The board and I have had some really good, honest, open dialogue, and sometime in the winter, I will move on. I will start my job search in October. But I love this space, Joe. The association space is rewarding and to be able to help adult members for the most part, or young adult members in this case, chart where they want to be in their careers or in their life. And you can be a conduit to helping them achieve happiness at work or effectiveness at work and career advancement. It's just a lot of fun. And so I see myself staying in this space, see myself staying in association management. Ideally, I would maybe move over to the trade space out of membership associations but haven't closed that option off. I'm right now really rethinking and making good networking connections, polishing up the resume as you know, cleaning up what you've done and where you want to be and giving myself some time. I think so often in life we run from one opportunity to the next, and we don't give ourselves either a cooling off period to think about, is this the right path for me or am I closing off maybe a chance to recharge as well? Because I see CEOs all the time jump from one business to the next, and the entire experience on the next group of people you lead is dependent on you being able to disconnect from one project, move to another, and hopefully had some time in the middle to recharge and to be a better leader.

[00:15:56] Joe: So let's talk about that disconnect and recharge, because you had mentioned that in our pre interview, and I was absolutely fascinated by what you're going to do, but also the approach and the mindset behind it because there's a lot of really deep psychology and commitment to whatever organization you step into. So can you talk about that a little bit, please?

[00:17:03] Christian: Yeah. I don't think there's a mentor of mine who he once said, christian, you really need to take a vacation for two weeks. And I was like, Why would I take this was without transitioning jobs? I said, Why would I take a vacation for two weeks? A week seems more than enough. His name is Joe Wall and he's a Pi cap as well. Joe. You probably know Joe. He's an attorney in Florida. He's been a chair of our board, and he said, you know, every year I take my family to Jackson Hole. And the first week is really about disconnecting from the world and untangling your mind from all the things you've left behind. The second week is really the week you start to get some true vacation and relaxation and recharge. And I've done some of that since then, and it's been helpful. Same thing is true, I think, in a job transition, but maybe even more so important at an executive level that you hurry to wrap up everything you've got your friendships, your connections, your projects, your board and your board governance, hopefully planning and transition for the person that follows you. And then you go from that to learning about a new organization, renewing. I just don't think your brain gets a break. And I'm a big proponent, at least at this level, that a month or so off between jobs and not. You don't need to spend that month packing up your house either. That's not the point. The point is that you're going to find some time to truly recharge, do some things you've wanted to do for a while. Maybe it's travel, maybe it's read a book. Maybe it's take a vacation with your family, especially if you've been with someone who you know you've prioritized work highly against your relationships. And so the older I get, the more I recognize that having that recharge time is going to be crucial to your success in the next role. And I'm hopeful either I will leave that time intentionally between this opportunity and the next, or it'll be something I hope to negotiate with my next board of directors.

[00:18:50] Joe: Now that's a little bit counterintuitive and counter to the advice that everybody's always hearing, grind, grind, grind. Go from the one thing, you just immediately move on. So is there some more counterintuitive concepts or things that you've seen over your time that people should hear so that they can go? Never thought about that.

[00:19:15] Christian: Yeah, it just depends on what industry in. Right. Someone I know well here locally has been with the company for forever. And I think he said on the 7th year that you're there, you actually get a sabbatical. The company makes you take a sabbatical of three months. And now you may do some research or some projects that are beneficial to the company, but you kind of step outside your role and you get a chance to really be an innovator for a change. Think about that. If we all looked at our workforce and said, the people who have been around the longest, they have the most institutional knowledge, know how the business works, knows the ins and outs of the industry. What if we gave them a little time to get away from the operations of their job and gave them a little time to say, you know what? We're not asking you to work all the time, but here's one project we'd like for you to focus on for x amount of time. And by the way, we want you taking some time away while you're doing it with that person, not come back recharged, refresh. And would they be adding a differentiator to our business when they come back? And so I think that the rest of the recharge can look different depending on age and stage.

[00:20:05] Joe: Yeah, they get to look at the business from a different point of view. They wouldn't have the same pressures. And it gives the organization the benefit of both that deep institutional knowledge, but also a fresh breath simultaneously and just thinking about what that could do in terms of productivity, in terms of innovation, not to mention the culture. Which. But by doing that encourages a longer term horizon with your tenure so that you stick around longer as opposed to the turn and burn that too many organizations are having.

[00:20:40] Christian: Yeah. What value does it bring it home. Right. That all of a sudden you're the person who's really plugged your life into your career and you'll then be able to have some intentional time to catch up on those friendships, catch up on those relationships, do things that you've wanted to do in your personal life for a while, that maybe you've been sacrificing for. So I don't think it's just all about the company. I think it's about the individual too. And how do we choose to either invest in ourselves or build a culture as a company or an organization that allows us to honor and celebrate the members and what they've accomplished. And I think that spirit of innovation can't be given enough credit that we all get in the grind and we end up being so focused on the map ahead that we forget to pull over and check the GPS and see if there's a better route to get there.

[00:21:34] Joe: Good analogy, too. Good analogy. So we've been talking a lot about executive level mid stage people. Let's wind it back even further to those relatively young individuals recently out of college, just getting started in their careers. Whether it's first career or switching gears, what sort of insight do you have to share with people in that space? Joe? Question.

[00:21:57] Christian: I do think you mentioned the grind, grind, grind. I think that when you're right out of college or you're just getting your career started, you do have a lot to prove. I was over at Missoul last night at the University of Missouri at Columbia and spent some time with a few hundred freshmen students, first year students who just joined fraternities. And that was one of the things I advised them. I said, the advantage you all have tonight over the seniors in your chapter is that you have the ability to have an intentional fouryear experience. And I'm encouraging you to do that tonight. That what are the things that you want out of your college experience? Write those down, be able to start thinking about what organizations do I want to be and do I want to be a leader in those organizations, what type of grades do I have? What types of internships do I want to have, what do I want to be when I graduate, what relationships are important to me. There's so many different spheres that you can look at and measure in, and I think new graduates, it's the same. You've got the college door behind you. What's next? And I think that one, planning is important, and I think bite size planning is very important. You can have a long term vision. What are the little bitty incremental wins that you have each day, each week, each month, each year, and then it's the grind. So aside from planning, it is the grind. There are going to be some sacrifices, I think, as a young leader, you have to make to get where you want to be in life. That doesn't mean that you can't benchmark and say, I'm going to spend two days a month on things that I want and I'm going to disconnect on those. That's great. That could be a part of your strategy. But I do think if you're under the age of 25, I say you've got to be all in and you've got to be willing to sacrifice some things to get where you want to be long term. Sure, there's always exceptions to that, but most of the people that I spent time with in my life who do it big when they're young understand that you got to come out of the gate strong and it's got to be in the direction you want to run. So that means there's some intentionality behind it.

[00:23:42] Joe: And one thing about those young leaders just getting out of school that doesn't even have to be a leader, that I encourage is stay in that learning and growth mode. Because I've seen too many statistics about people who graduate from college. And basically, they're done learning, they're done reading, they're done growing intellectually or in terms of their skill set and development as human beings. And it then caps them out way too quickly. So you're 23 years old, you're 25 years old, you've just gotten recently out of college. You're used to studying five, six, 7 hours a day. Not asking that you do that, but if you keep studying 15 minutes a day. 30 minutes a day and it doesn't have to necessarily be formalized, like working on an MBA or anything like that, but if you continue to develop yourself. That's going to help you in terms of having that diverse skill set so that if you switch jobs, the company shuts down. They want you to move into management or what have you. You are better positioned for that next move.

[00:24:50] Christian: Well, absolutely. I think the nice thing about today versus when I was coming out of college was the variety of content that you can get is extreme. You can go from a podcast to a newsletter, an e newsletter, to a website, to a video content, to a book, to Cliff Notes. There's just so much content in so many different formats. The excuse of I don't have time to learn just really doesn't hold for me. I look at John Spence, I don't know if you have John Spencer's daily newsletter. He has a terrific leadership newsletter that goes out that covers a wide variety of everything of here's. What I would be reading if I were you. Here is almost a little case study. His is fantastic. Every day I read the ASAE American Society of association of Executives. I read their daily churn of everything from a profile. It may be strategic thinking. One day it may be using technology to drive better solutions, another day it may be managing the great resignation. And these aren't long reads, but they are great resources for a leader. No matter what your age is, and I think depending on no matter what your industry, you're going to have a trade association. There are plenty of leaders that you can follow that have quick podcasts or quick digests that you can read. And some of these folks may be in positions to share their experience as well. I don't think we should discount that. There's a lot of young entrepreneurs out there who they are learning and experiencing things that the rest of us could learn from. And they shouldn't be afraid to capture that as they go a quick 15 minutes, twice, three times a week on here's what I'm experiencing. Here's what I'm learning to be invaluable to the people around them. And before they know it, they have a network of people who may believe in them and support them that they didn't have before.

[00:26:17] Joe: Let's talk about that network, because that is one of the reasons why a lot of people go Greek, but a lot of the reason why some people join trade associations and beyond that. So talk a little bit about building a network and maintaining it, especially through the past few years that we've been through that have not exactly been easy.

[00:26:48] Christian: Yeah, it hasn't been easy. Right. Well, a few things about a network. One, I think you've got to be genuine. People see through folks who want to use a network. I think the most genuine way you can build a network is to offer to be a network to other people. And I think that you've got to be sincere about that. I worked probably for a few hours to put together the presentation I gave last night. I probably could recycle that presentation and give it a few more times and make money instead. I told the students in the room, if you want that data, if you want the information I shared, let me know and I'll send it to you for free. I'm sincere about that. I don't expect that that person in the room is going to turn around and offer me a job. The people in the room are going to turn around and offer to come work for me. But if I have an opportunity to create a better world or a better resource set for someone else, why wouldn't I? I have a person who's probably about six years younger than me who emailed me yesterday and said, can you give me some time? I want to transition from professional fundraising for a university to being an association management. Absolutely. And I'll move mountains to get that person on my calendar. And I think when you think about a network, that's what's important. People often think, I need so many things from others, and they forget what they have to contribute if they enter the world into a space of, I'm going to give more of myself away, whether you want it or not, people are going to feel indebted to you. They're going to feel like you treat them in a special kind of way and that you show an investment in them. I think that's the first key to a network, Joe, is to offer yourself. And then the second is, I think that people don't put out themselves enough in a genuine, vulnerable way. I asked those young men last night again, I hate to bring it up because it's fresh in my mind though, but I said, listen, don't be afraid to extend a LinkedIn message or an email message to an alum of your chapter of your fraternity and it isn't. Joe, hey, I'm a finance major. I saw that you run an investment firm. I'm looking for a job. No one wants that. But it looks very different to reach out to Joe and say, Joe, I'm a finance major. I'd like to spend 15 minutes with you. I have some prewritten questions. They're here below in case you don't have the time and maybe you could just send me an email back. But what books are you reading right now that are helpful? What advice would you give to a student who's looking for internships in the next three years? And what trends do you see in the investment world that should shape my career now? I think you're going to get a very different approach from someone if you cold email them with that. I'm seeing this all the time on LinkedIn where people reach out to you and say, I have a product that your company is going to need. When? Give me 15 minutes. No one wants that. Instead, if you reached out for 15 minutes and said, here's questions that I have that might help me have a better product. You're probably going to get your foot in the door somewhere else a lot more. So those would be the two big pieces of advice that I give is don't be afraid to take vulnerable leaps and put yourself out there to people you don't know. You've got to do it in a genuine way though. And then don't be afraid to be a resource for others because everyone has something they can offer to help the world be a better place.

[00:29:47] Joe: Yeah, and that goes directly back to the trade association in some ways. I was at a conference last month and there was a young individual there is first time attending this conference, probably been in profession three or five years and he had the guts to walk up to one of the trustees and start talking to them. That trustee happens to be a really close personal friend of mine who actually came on the podcast April and Chavez Geisler and she introduced me to this young man and we've been in contact since then and he's 20 years younger me. He's just getting started. But I've been able to give him recommendations on books guy and say, check this out. He's been able to pick my brain on little things. And that is one of the beautiful things about having a network because if you reach out to somebody with more gray hair like us, we might be the right person to help that younger individual out. But we have our own network that we can tap into and set them up with somebody else that might be an even better influence on them.

[00:30:33] Christian: Yeah, so you're spot on so often in life, I think people see the network is who's directly in front of them and they forget that if someone else genuinely enjoys the connection with you, that they're going to be willing to be an advocate for you to people you don't know, that you've never met and that they can open doors for you. So you're spot on. You're absolutely right that your network isn't always the people that are directly around you. It's the people around you and who access. Someone's really smart once told me I was young and I thought I knew it all. And I said, Gosh, it's always about who you know. And the person said, that's not true. It's about who knows you. And that's so kind of to the point of having a good network is you want to surround yourself with people who are always championing the other people in their life.

[00:31:36] Joe: And that goes back to the thing that Rotary has. I believe it is give or get. If you believe in economic altruism and you're willing to extend yourself to assist others, whether it's volunteer work with the not for profit or with the trade association working with the younger individual seeking guidance, or even younger individuals. Can metro younger ones. As you had mentioned with some of these younger entrepreneurs, giving of yourself like that one just feels good all the time. That's one of the things that my mom always taught us. If you're having a bad day, go help somebody else out. But two, a side effect of it is that it builds that reputation and almost capital out in the marketplace that even if you have no intention of ever cashing it in, somebody else will take notice of you and what you do.

[00:32:31] Christian: No, your mom, your mom is a wise woman that exactly helps pick people up. And you know, entrepreneurs, I think, sometimes get stuck in this rut of they just work, work, work. It's that grind that we were talking about earlier and they forget. Maybe when you get a roadblock, maybe it's a chance to put some things down and go get a fresh perspective. And when you come back, your mind is clear and maybe even have a fresh idea.

[00:33:05] Joe: My mom was a very wise woman, but she didn't refer to my fraternity as my street gang with a house. And she referred to it that way, lovingly, actually, until almost the time that she died. Every single year we had to turn your brothers over for Thanksgiving dinner. People would be at the house on a regular basis. She actually participated in some of the charity events to help on out. So her perspective on the fraternity changed dramatically because she saw what we did out in the community and the value that we added to each other, the way we supported each other. Like my freshman year, I ended up really messing up my knee, and it was one of my fraternity brothers who literally carried me to the infirmary to get it fixed.

[00:33:52] Christian: Yeah, it's odd that when you're 18 to 22, you see it as social and friendship, and then all of a sudden, once you get into real life, you recognize that friendship and social can be leveraged into a network and people who really will invest in you. And I wish that more of our students, I wish more of our organizations would lean into that value proposition to say, how do we start attracting and growing people in our organizations who see it as a network rather than just a social outlet? Right. And if you're able to adopt that idea earlier in life at 1819, how far ahead could you be with an intentional four years in college of using and utilizing and building that network?

[00:34:46] Joe: And part of that comes down to the advisors around those organizations, not just trying to check boxes for national or for the school or anything, but taking more time around that component and giving examples and being that mentor for the 18 to 20 year olds. Because even if you're two, three decades beyond them, we still have a significant opportunity to give back to that future generation. We can't even say next generation at this point, but future generations, absolutely.

[00:34:46] Christian: Well, and I think parents have a role in that as well, that sometimes parents send their kids off and sure, they talk with them and they hear what's going on, and they hear about their friendships they're building and all that, and they're pushing them to do things in the classroom. But are we pushing them to do enough outside the classroom and to build that network and to have those leadership laboratories where they can test the theory of what they're getting in the classroom? And I think there's a great role for parents there to have conversations with their young men and young women as they go to college about how are they building that network, how are they expanding that, and how are they have fun, absolutely have fun in college. But how do you build that intentional for your experience? And I think parents have that ability to open the door for us as for attorneys, but I think for the broader university as well, of how are you sending your young person off and how are they growing more than just socially, more than just intellectually in the four years they have on a college campus?

[00:35:45] Joe: And one of the things I think that is overlooked in a lot ways with the college campus these days is this is a smorgasbord for life. I mean, you can try 500 different types of tacos and ten different martial arts and all the juggling club and this different club and that different club, and in your late teens and 20s is figuring out who you want to become, who you are finding the things that really stoke you. And it is from that point forward where you can start building and accumulating the skill sets and the relationships to move into that direction. And you see this one martial arts trophy over here. I actually stopped training Taekwondo for a while, and then my for training brother, John Harper, who is now a professor of mathematics in Europe, started doing Taekwondo in this class on campus, got me to go on over, and 30 plus years later, it's an integral part of my life. And my oldest son is named after my Taekwondo master because John Harper, one of my fraternity brothers, got me to go to that class with him, and it has literally changed my life. And there are so many of these opportunities that are presented to our young men and women that they're not taking advantage of.

[00:37:39] Christian: Well, you're correct, but sometimes they just need a different stimuli in their mind. And that's why I suggested parents, I think, can play that role that so often I see parents not just in the fraternity experience, in the college experience as well, to give their son or their daughter a pass, because they want them to have a good time. They want them to settle in. They want them to enjoy their time. And they're forgetting to ask some of the key questions around how they're engaging and what they're getting out of it. And sometimes not being afraid to say, why don't we try that in a different way? Or why don't we stick with that a little longer? Because sometimes it takes a little while for us to find success in something. Just because you don't like the first time doesn't mean it can't be a good fit.

[00:38:20] Joe: Very good insight, because there is that balance of trying all sorts of new things, but also sticking with long enough to really understand. So the example that I sometimes use is you have to eat a lot of olives because you know pretty quickly whether you like them or not. And then if you like them, you can go much further into it, but you have to eat two or three before you like, no, don't like those things, right? And so it's that balancing of doing enough, but knowing when to pull the rip cord.

[00:38:20] Christian: You know, I was at a conference recently in Nashville, and one of the speakers talked about conducting a small experiment every day in your life on something, whether it be at work or at home, and not being afraid of that concept of failure. And sometimes you got to run a few experiments to recognize this isn't the right idea. And it all kind of started from him of saying, you know, as a leader, replace the that will never work when someone brings you an idea or when your kid brings you an idea and say, that will never work. Or we've done that before. And instead asking, what? Show me your data. What's your hypothesis? And what's your experiment? And it's okay to fail and being okay with creating that space because there have been some really, really great inventions in life and some good ideas and great businesses that have come out of a failure of one idea where you thought it was going to work and it actually worked better somewhere else. And so I like your idea of trying to olives three times, but I thought that was connected with me. About this lecture, the speaker who said, you ought to be doing that experiment every day and gosh. It was a little shocking for me because I didn't realize how infrequently I was actually conducting new experiments, either in my personal life or in my professional life. And it was a great wake up call to say failing more often is not a bad thing, especially if you put very little at risk to create that failure.

[00:39:57] Joe: And if you're trying something new every single day, if you're doing something that scares you every single day, that ends up building your confidence, your resilience. So not all of them are going to succeed. In fact, if 75% of them fail, that still means 25% succeed. And you discover, I like this, or this is working slightly better for my company. I mean, people who do websites and stuff like that do what's called AB testing all the time. They'll put out two slight variations of something and they'll test it. And then two days later they'll make another slight tweak and they'll test it again and very short cycle to get a lot of insight. And if we can apply this concept not just to our work but to ourselves, then we can be able to get on a growth curve again because we adopt that mindset of I'm going to try new things just like we did when we were three and four years old.

[00:41:14] Christian: Well, it's amazing, like I said, how quickly we all get into a routine and we ignore this idea that we've got to try something new. I don't think it has to be it doesn't even have to be, you know, I'm going to create something that's going to change our business model. So now that it can be finding new habits to help you work more efficiently, I've started blocking off an entire day every two weeks and basically I'm keeping looking at my to do list and does it look better at the end of that week than it did on the week's where I didn't? My email communication in my turn around and then my project list, those are my three indicators. Is that a successful use of my time every two weeks and it's proving to be a very successful use of my time. That's an experiment, right? I wasn't doing that before. I had to do something to shake up my work routine to try to figure out how do I move the ball ahead on my response time. My to do list and the projects that I'm responsible for at work and creating that kind of intentional space in my life has actually helped me do a lot better. For some other person who's an entrepreneur, that might not be the experiment they're going to run in their life that day or that week, but for me, I started doing this probably four weeks ago, five weeks ago made a big difference in my work product. And so I would encourage people to kind of embrace that spirit of testing, experimenting, because, I don't know, I'd gotten out of the habit. And it's definitely for the past few weeks, that one example. There are others, but that example of being able to experiment on a more regular basis has shaken up my life and made me more productive.

[00:42:25] Joe: And that is very much the sense of human kaizen right there. Try things out, and if it ends up making things better, you keep doing it. Christian, I think that's actually a great place for us to start closing this up because that was a great pearl of excellence right there. Do you have any last comments or words for our listeners?

[00:43:09] Christian: My last point would be I shared earlier in the podcast about having that big break in your transition moments in life, whether it be from job to job. The other piece that I've embraced, and you and I talked about this on kind of the pre interview, don't discount kind of the personal wellness part of your life and how that impacts your ability to make good decisions, have good relationships, be more productive. And for me, that started during COVID I decided to really I ended up with COVID end up in a really rough space, physically, began working out, eating better, sleeping better, taking better care of myself after that and lost basically £50. And the following month, years that followed that COVID infection. And that changed. That's not a choice that I made to get COVID, but certainly I had some choices to make on how I was going to follow up for that. And I've maintained that routine. And I would encourage your listeners and folks watching this to really think about where does wellness fit in my life? And there's multiple dimensions of wellness, right? But where does wellness fit in my life? And to the same concept I said earlier, what are the small changes? I didn't start doing everything at once. I decided that I was going to start. I got a dog and I began walking my dog every day. And I went to the gym and I walked on the treadmill or did the elliptical, and I did 2 miles. There was nothing crazy. And I built myself up to where I could be a lot happier. And so we're getting back in that post covet life where people, I think, are forgetting. We found relationships, we rekindle relationships, we became better communicators. In some cases, we found better work life balance. I'm seeing a trend where people are starting to trickle away at those things and I think maybe let's just not forget the reminder that wellness matters and it makes you have a better rounded life everywhere. And start with the small wins. You don't have to do everything at once.

[00:44:49] Joe: So as Vino SiteM says, well, being is no small thing, but it's made up of little steps. You didn't put on the £50 overnight, you didn't take it off overnight, but you realized that and you've created now habits that hopefully are going to continue to help you with that physical health, emotional health and in terms of how you perform your job functions, in terms of being a leader in many spaces. Christian, this has been absolutely awesome. Thank you for coming on, my friend. The Human podcast has been brought to you by Gateway Financial advisers. I'm Joe Templin. Be excellent and grow today.