Josh Hinds: Chris thanks for taking the time to be here with us. Could you give us an overview of your background, as well as what led you to your current ventures, which include motivational speaking and writing?
Chris Widener: It all comes from a desire to help other people and to help them in ways that I myself have found some success in. I had a rough life until I was 17, which is when things started changing for me. Prior to that I had lost my father at 4, started drugs and alcohol at 12 and was bitter and angry through high school.
When I finally got my act together I studied youth and family issues in college and went to work with high schoolers and their families. From there I started working with many business people specifically and began to study and speak on issues of whole life success.
Josh Hinds: What are you the most proud of in both your personal and professional life?
Chris Widener: In my personal life it would have to be my family. I have a wonderful wife and four terrific children. They are what make my life all that it is. Professionally I would say that I am most proud of the tremendous opportunities I have had: I have had the privilege of sharing the platform with many extremely talented people including U.S. Presidential candidates, nationally known television news anchors, best-selling authors, professional athletes and many others.
I have spoken for groups at some of America's finest organizations such as General Electric, the Harvard Business School and the Cisco Systems, as well as many others. It still gives me joy to hear from someone who tells me that something I have written or spoken on has helped them in some way.
Josh Hinds: What would you consider your single greatest accomplishment? On the flipside, what would you consider your biggest failure or disappointment?
Chris Widener: My greatest accomplishment would be developing a success community in 100 countries around the world through our Ezines. It amazes me that every time I press "send" on an email that I am helping people who can in turn help people in over half the countries of the world!
The biggest disappointments in my life have come in relationships. We all have relationships that break down, even when we are working hard at keeping them going on the right track. Those are always painful. I don't consider them failures though because I always try to learn from them and not let the same things take place a second time.
Josh Hinds: How has each influenced the person that you are today? Do you find that you learn more from a failure or an achievement?
Chris Widener: The amount of countries I reach is actually a humbling things rather than one of arrogance. Yes I am proud of it but it makes me take it very seriously because I have been given such a great responsibility. As far as what I learn most from, I would say you always learn the most from what goes wrong, rather than what goes right.
Josh Hinds: Chris, in your opinion, what constitutes success?
Chris Widener: I define success as "The balanced achievement in all areas, not the over-achievement in one area." It isn't success to make a million dollars and lose your family or to have a great intellect but an out of shape body. True success focuses on bring everything into balance.
Josh Hinds: You're an influence to many, who influenced or inspired you at a young age?
Chris Widener: People who have overcome obstacles inspire me the most. My mother also taught me that if I set my mind to it, I can achieve it. Also, early in my career, a gentleman who is now the CEO of one of the world's largest companies took an interest in me and believed in me. Knowing that someone of his stature believed in me helped me to believe in myself.
Josh Hinds: What goal setting techniques have you personally found to be most effective? And how might someone go about putting them into action for their own benefit?
Chris Widener: I just believe that more important than goal setting is vision setting. Know what it is that you want and then there are almost myriad ways of getting there. But if you don't know where you are going, goal setting is worthless. To put it into action: Decide where you want to go and then develop a plan, any plan, that is specific and strategic, for getting there. Then stick to the plan.
Josh Hinds: Chris, can you touch briefly on some of platforms that you speak and write about?
Chris Widener: I mainly talk about leadership these days. And in that realm I focus on leadership as the ability to influence others to change their beliefs, thoughts, and actions. And this is always about relationships. Leadership is a "soft science" in that it is about people and people aren't scientific. They are all different and it takes different ways of reaching them.
Josh Hinds: In the event that I am asking you to toot your horn a bit I'm going to ask this question. What's the best advice you feel you've ever given someone or some company.
Chris Widener: To have guts. It takes guts to make a life better. It takes guts to make a company better. Almost all positive change takes place because somebody makes a gutsy decision and then follows through. For example, I recently spoke to four companies who went in together to hire me to speak to their sales managers.
I basically told them they needed to get the guts to fire their bad sales people and hire new ones. They paid me $7500 to tell them that and if they follow through they'll make $10,000,000 more, minimum, next year because the new recruits will bring them new business the old salespeople weren't getting. But they need guts to let these folks who have been with them for so long go.
Josh Hinds: How, if any, has recent world events shaped the topics you speak on or write about?
Chris Widener: Leadership is even more important now. The old quote, "All it takes for evil to prevail is for the good man (or woman) to do nothing," is more pertinent now than ever before. I challenge people to take their opportunities and responsibilities seriously because our world needs them to.
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