Chris Gardener is co-founder of Strategic Mentors, that helps people become more successful and less busy in their business so they have lives that others want.
He’s also co-founder of Gift of a Future, a non-profit providing education to girls in Uganda, that breaks their cycle of poverty in a single generation.
His mission is to help at least 1000 business owners to have what he calls the 3 F's - financial security, freedom and fulfillment - so they are then invited to collaborate in creating £20 million of social impact around the world each year.
Chris is a musician, loves sports, and has a personal longevity target of living to be 120.
He's been coaching, mentoring, and working in personal development for over 20 years.
His message just wasn't connecting with people. He wasn't achieving the success in business that he wanted no matter which platform he tried.
Once Chris got a handle on how he was presenting himself to others things go easier. He got really clear on what he offered and who he worked with and things began to snowball.
Leaving a legacy. Working with his non-profit for girls in Uganda.
Chris has two revenue models and three delivery models.
New Client Attraction
He likes speaking best but a simple Facebook ad to a funnel works the best for his business.
Get clear on your messaging. Know exactly what problem you are going to solve for your clients.
Habit or Skill - Being really clear on your purpose your why, your reason why you do this because that defines everything you need to do to. Meet your why.
Quality - One quality every coach needs is certainty.
Internet Resource - Boring answer, for me it's Facebook. It is just an amazing platform. My business wouldn’t be where it is without Facebook.
Connect - The website is strategicmentors.co.uk They can find me on Facebook @strategismentors @chrisgardener as well and I’m on LinkedIn.
Gift for the Unstoppable Coach Community -strategicmentors.co.uk/unstoppable People can go there and they can find out more about the three F’s.
Millette Jones- Today we're joined by Chris Gardener. Chris is the cofounder of Strategic Mentors, that helps people become more successful and less busy in their business so they have the lives that others want. He's also the co-founder of Gift of a Future a nonprofit providing education to girls in Uganda that breaks their cycle of poverty in a single generation. His mission is to help at least one thousand business owners to have what he calls the three F's, financial security, freedom, and fulfillment. So they are then invited to collaborate in creating twenty million pounds of social impact around the world each year. Chris thanks so much for joining us today.
Chris Gardener- Thank you Millette it's good to be here.
Millette Jones-Your twenty million pounds almost stumbled me up a little bit I wanted to say dollar.
Chris Gardener- Dollars would be easy although there's not so much difference nowadays.
Millette Jones-Now before we jump into more about your business I would love it if you would tell us just a little bit about who you are maybe some of the things you like to do when you're not busy working.
Chris Gardener- Yeah absolutely, well I'm based in the U.K. and in terms of the professional side I’ve done the kind of classic professional, qualification, corporate, career ladder, and all of that. And I've been coaching and mentoring and personal development for about twenty five years. The short story is that there’s broad experience and a lot of international stuff. I was working it out actually a few months ago I reckon because I worked as a professional accountant and then in industry and around different countries. I think I've worked with over twelve hundred different businesses and I think it's over forty different industries or sectors across I think twenty five countries. So it's really just very, very broad but it all boils down to the same kind of issues there's so much similarity between all different industries and sectors and all different businesses because it all comes down to people. So in terms of what I like doing or what floats my boat outside of work I’m a musician, I do a lot of sports, I have a personal longevity target, which I've had for so many years now, which is to live fit and healthy to the age of one hundred twenty. And what inspired me to do that was I just borrowed it and someone else to be honest I went to a friend's birthday party many years ago and it was his sixtieth birthday party and he had banners all around the place that said “I’m halfway there”. And I thought I like that, I'm going to have some so that. So that was when my one hundred twenty goal was dialed in.
Millette Jones-Actually that's sounds like a really good goal but it also sounds like something you have to stay on top of. You just can't expect to smoke cigars and eat pizza every day if you want to make it to 120. So you must be pretty fit and you like sports, so do you like to eat healthy and do that sort of thing?
Chris Gardener- Yeah I'm really fascinated by it. But you're right in the sense that of course it doesn't just happen. And by the way I don't also think that I'm just going to do it because of natural genetics or blessed with longevity, although my grandfather he died about two or three years ago at the age of one hundred five. So you know I'm optimistic some of that passes down. But actually you know I think it's so much more than just... it is about mobility and strength physically but it's also about nutrition so that you're fueling yourself really well. But I think a massive part of that is actually psychological, it's in the mind it's about having a future that inspires you and a future that's worth living into. There's this massive social conditioning that says when you get to sixty or seventy or whatever well you're probably nearly there by now. So people's expectations change. They start to decline and wither and therefore it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. My mother is eighty two and she knows I've got this ridiculous goal as she calls it. And she said “oh I really don't know why you want to do that” because all she can see is decreptitude. What you think things that are being weak and feeble and in pain well it doesn't have to be like that. If you're inspired to go out and do stuff like you mentioned my mission. If you are driven to go and inspired to go and do something well then life's worth living. If you're not just saying “well I haven't got the energy now or think I'll sit on the couch and watch T.V. tonight” just go and do stuff then. Anyway that’s a bit of a soapbox.
Millette Jones-You know what, I think that's really interesting because I remember, and it has been a pretty good amount of time ago, so I should probably take note of that. I remember my mother saying “well me and your daddy probably only have about twenty more years to live”. I thought that was such an odd thing for her to say. Almost like she was accepting the fact that she only had about twenty more years to live and I thought at that time you know gee whiz that's about the last thing I ever want to hear come out of my mouth.
Chris Gardener- Right exactly, and earlier this year I turned fifty and I know that a lot of people who reach that kind of age they have a whole set of associations with it. And because I've had this goal of one hundred twenty in my mind for so many years, I just keep looking forward to it. And so I hit fifty and I think great seventy years to go you know I'm in no rush.
Millette Jones-Yeah, absolutely. Now I want to shift the conversation a little bit more towards business and we all love to be inspired by people's journey and you mentioned that you have been in the field of coaching and mentoring that sort of thing for almost twenty five years now so I would love to know what led you to really get into this in the first place.
Chris Gardener- Well I think it's a kind of a combination of things. One is that, depending on you kind of belief system, it was almost like destiny it's what I'm meant to do. But it's also via a kind of circuitous route. From the age of about eight I was really clear what I was going to do, what I wanted to be in life and my answer to that was to be a math teacher. And the reason for that is because I could give the figures, I enjoyed the subject, and my friends who were struggling I would naturally help them. And then I started to get you know friends and parents who said actually you’re really good at teaching so that’s what got me down that thought process. And then at the age of sixteen or eighteen here in the U.K. where you start making subject decisions that start you in a particular direction I was thinking the teaching profession but actually at that time there was massive political upheaval and lots of the unions and strikes and it was a very bad place to be. So through other routes I got pointed instead towards doing accountancy, because it will be a good qualification, you'll get a lot of good skills, and it's always something to fall back on. Although I never thought I would end up being an accountant, that’s not what my career would be but I did go through that and get the qualifications. Then with the firm that I was with it was one of the top five in the U.K. at the time. I got the opportunity to do a one year position in the firm's National Training Center and that meant I was teaching trainee accountants plus qualified accountants plus business clients that were coming in. And I'd be teaching them about technical accounting, finance matters. But then it kind of morphed into to include personal development type of content. And I was training and then facilitating and gradually I moved from that teaching style through facilitation and naturally into coaching. And then I kind of studied that and got some practice in coaching. And it was just evident to me that it was a really, really powerful practice and it's a great skill to have, I just loved it. And actually it was just played completely to my strengths that I felt at that time that I describe it as it was like coming home. I was then combining the teaching and the educating in the broadest sense the educating of people with business that by then I started to learn and get some experience in and was really fascinated by. So actually I was never destined to be a math teacher that I was destined to be in education in some way and it turned out it was in education in business through personal development of people and their skills. So that's how I got into it at the start and then beyond that I was lucky to get into corporate world which was a U.K. based company but we were growing businesses all around the world. So that's where a lot of the countries on my list got ticked off, if you like, how I came to work in those. And just traveling around and kind of helping people as they built the business, it wasn't their business it was part of the group, it's part of the big U.K. H.Q. if you like. But the commercial issues that a local company faces are the same wherever you are because it's just the way business works. There are some particular cultural differences in certain areas but by and large the commercial issues the same. And it's just hard to get people to understand the financial reality and teach them some stuff they weren’t born knowing. And it's important they do know that stuff and then develop their capabilities as individuals to be able to operate really smartly in that corporate commercial environment. So I did that but it was moving me too much away from personal development and developing the individual so I had a practice on the side where I would have personal clients. And then for the last thirteen years I've had my own mentoring and coaching practice here in the U.K. and merge those two things together. Because I don't think you can separate business from personal development. Well that’s not true, you can separate them but it's much less effective if you do. So I bring those two together now.
Millette Jones-So in your business that you co-founded, Strategic Mentors, when you were just getting started with that. Now I want to take you back thirteen years ago and what I want to talk a little bit about going from working for someone else to then making that shift to being an entrepreneur. I'm sure there have been a lot of ups and downs along the way not just at the beginning but can you maybe talk about a low point that you experienced when you were getting that business going.
Chris Gardener- Absolutely and possibly what comes to mind as you ask that question is that maybe a number of listeners will relate and think “actually this is so similar to me too”. Because what I learned from this is actually how I enable people to get financial security now and much more. And so the kind of mistakes that I made and the low point- I started out with, as I described to you, just really broad experience. Not just in coaching but in marketing and sales and finance and strategy and leadership and supply chain and all sorts of areas that I've had a chance to work in. And so I kind of thought of myself as a just kind of a Mr. Fix-It for hire. I've got all of this stuff I can offer and people are going to just be blown away if they hired me. And it turned out that people didn't want everything. And when you're trying to promote everything because “I’m awesome”, then people go “well good I'm glad you're awesome but I don't need awesome”. So the message doesn't connect and so I really struggled in the early days to find a message, a hook or angle that people would hook into and go “I get it, yeah that's me”. And the turning point for me was it was actually at a business event I go along to a business event and there is all this pre-event milling around in the room before we were called through to the presentation and there was this guy standing on his own and I thought “well he looks lonely on his own” I will go have a chat to him so I went up and said “Hi I'm Chris what's your name?” And his name was Peter and then you say “well, what do you do” and what he said to me was it utterly changed my direction and it changed everything and to this day he doesn't know it because we just had this conversation in the anteroom. And what he said to me was very straightforward is it was “I'm a freelance finance director and I work with companies who have got cash flow problems and I helped turn it around so they have cash surplus”. That doesn't sound too dramatic but what it set up for me, a lightbulb went on. Firstly he didn't say “I can fix everything” he said “I'm a freelance finance director”. Suddenly I got there because that's the skills I had as well. That's not somebody who goes in full time, it's a part time role but it's a senior role. A finance director, it's got some gravitas and some credibility behind it. But then it was the second line and I help companies who’ve got cash flow difficulties and problems” and “I basically turn it around, I fix them”. Right well that's not I can fix all your problems. And he lead with I’m a finance guy, right. So were talking about cash flow so for companies that got cash flow problems. And if you're a company who's got cash flow problem it's really clear you're now in the conversation with Peter. He might bring a whole lot of other stuff but that's not the story. And so it's really obvious, in hindsight it's really obvious. If someone doesn't have the cash flow problem they don't need Peter. And Peter telling them time and time and again how awesome he is is not going to make them need Peter any more than before right? However if they do have a cash flow problem well they're going to get into conversation. And it was just that sense of, you hear all the time you've got to find your niche. And I tried that in terms of these demographics and so on but for me I thought well I can just borrow that. I can do exactly what he's doing because there's a market for it. So “I’m Chris I’m a freelance finance director” this is how I started out “I work with companies that have got cash flow problems and I turn it around.” That opens the conversations and now you go in and when I was working with them, they happened to get all of this extra experience as part of the package. So I could still do this variety of work that I found really stimulating and interesting. But the point was not how broad my experience is, it was the opposite. It was how specific the problem statement was so the person listening goes “oh, that’s me” or “that's interesting but that's not me” Well cool, you don't waste any time with them. And then there's other people who have got that problem and go and find them. So before that it was this real struggle of being a generalist. So I’ve got all of this stuff and I can do this and this and what you end up talking about all the time is yourself. And people don't care about yourself. I say this to people I'm teaching now. I’m under no illusion when I'm helping people and we work together they're getting great results but I'm under no illusion that they really want to work with me. It’s not about me, they don't want to work with me, they’re happy to but they don't want to work with me. What they want is the result of working together. So suddenly everything changed. It is a complete change in the way of thinking and still even a lot in thinking about this for a long time still it's rare to see. But if you can think like that it changes everything. It makes selling easier. It makes the positioning easier, it makes engaging with prospects easier, it changes everything.
Millette Jones-Yeah, I think a lot of people have a fear around niching down because they don't really understand that it doesn't necessarily keep you from getting business, in fact, it brings the best business to you.
Chris Gardener- It completely does. And certainly the experience that I've learnt by taking that approach is the results they get is better because you become better and better at your thing. But also because they get results you now get a reputation for someone who helped them get those results. And when you get a reputation everything's easier- if it is a positive reputation.
Millette Jones-Well and I think if you really start to consider it I think a lot of it is really just fear based. Everybody's worried about being able to get clients; they're worried about being able to make an income as an entrepreneur. So they just have this thought process where it's like “well I'll just help all these people” or “I can do all these things” but really getting that focus, it can help on so many levels. You just mentioned a couple which was the messaging becomes easier; the content that you create is more focused and easier for you to do. And you start to develop these skills and the confidence in yourself because you're really putting your energy into one thing instead of a lot of different things.
Chris Gardener- And that's the rational reason to do it and it's the rational reasoning why people don't do it. As you say they come from fear but if you think about the emotional side what are they doing instead of narrowing down and standing for something? If they don't do that and become a generalist they're doing exactly what their prospects are doing as well. Which is focusing on themselves. So if I'm a generalist the only way I'm going to get you to work with me is essentially to convince you that I'm awesome at all of these things. And I might do that by asking you questions and listening and you're going to tell me a problem and I go great I can help with that problem but you didn't lead with that. You said I can do all of these things and I happen to be able to help you with THAT problem as well. So you are focusing on yourself and so is your prospect and your prospect doesn't care about you they only care about themselves. And if you don't market like that and position like that you're doing exactly the same thing. You are only caring about what you do you're doing it with good intention because you're trying to help people but nonetheless where that's coming from is self...out. I care about what I can do so that I can offer it to you. Well they don't care what you can do; they care about what they want.
Millette Jones-And then that's going to be almost like a subconscious thing. When you start to see the messaging if the messaging is focused inward and not really focused on the problems that you can solve or the solutions even though you may have a really great website it just might not resonate with people. In the whole age of people needing to develop the whole reputation management and the “know, like, and trust factor” you have to put something out there that people are going to want to like and trust. And if they feel like it's all about you and not about them that seems like a sure fire way to get people to move on to the next person.
Chris Gardener- Of course it is because they're not interested.
Millette Jones-Exactly so would you say the after you had this conversation and after you started to put this into practice was that the point when your business started to gain momentum? Or is there a particular point or a tipping point that happened in your business where you felt like it was really going to work, you had a good foundation and you were starting to get clients.
Chris Gardener- I would say there were two tipping points at different stages of growth. So the first was that point that I described where I had a conversation Peter because I could see how profound, it was very simple, but actually how deep the implications of a statement like that were. And so suddenly I went from, the trendy word is hustling, I've been from hustling and grinding and trying to get clients for a couple of years. I started to use that and within three months I had financial security. I had the clients that I wanted to work with and at that time my model was working one to one with people or me in a company with the owner or the board of the company. So that was the tipping point that suddenly made that easy and comfortable. The other tipping point actually happened earlier this year where I wanted to change the model that I was working and move from one to one with people to doing something on a much bigger scale and so what I'm now doing is delivering this through online programs. And what I've done is condensed down to the necessary parts that allow people to get what I call financial security. But the tipping point came for that to be massively successful, really, really thrilling was again the story. And I've been looking at online stuff some time and you know it just makes sense but I couldn't make it work for me. And I tried all the different platforms and social media and all that stuff. And then I realized it's not the platform. You can spend ages agonizing over which C.R.M. system should you use, and which auto-responder, and what should you build your website in and it doesn't matter. It does matter but it doesn't change whether you’re going to be successful or not. What matters is the message. And so my message became, and it's evolved it took a long time to develop but now it's really succinct. I do talks with rooms full of business owners, all sorts of businesses but mainly service businesses. That's where I can serve people best. So everyone in this room is already a business owner and that already makes you quite special because not everyone is built to back themselves and rely on their own ingenuity. So you're already a pretty smart and special type of people but when people find out you’ve got your own business you know what they're going to ask. They’re are going to say “oh how's it going” and you know how people normally respond to that “oh, it’s going really well we are really busy”. And at that point I just want to wake people up and say isn’t that a strange answer? Somehow we started to use busy to mean successful. And when was the last time you woke up in the morning and said “OK my purpose of today is to fill every hour I possibly can and be as busy as possible”. It’s not how we think and yet that seems to be the stock answer so it becomes part of the psyche. In order to be successful I’ve got to be busy. And so people can understand that when I'm doing that talk, “Oh, yeah that’s me, I recognize that.” So I say if it's not to be busy then why do you have a business? Why are you doing it? So in my personal coaching work with people we start there. In my business and personal coaching we always start there. Why are you doing it? Let's design the business to achieve what you really want. A lot of times they don't know what they really want, they haven’t thought about it. So I say, well actually we all do it for the same reason. And that's what you mentioned at the start. That's what I call the three F's which is financial security, freedom, and fulfillment. And they come in that sequence. Because actually what we all really want is to be happy but I go deeper now and it's actually to be fulfilled. You can't be fulfilled if you haven't got freedom because if you haven't got freedom then you're constrained in what you can do and therefore it affects the level of fulfilment you can have in your life. So you need freedom but you can't have freedom if you haven't got financial security because that's a constraint on your freedom. You haven't got freedom to go and choose where to go in the world or what to spend money on or whatever. So first in the three F’s you want to get financial security and then from people running service businesses they'll identify with that and say “you're right I haven't got financial security.” And by that I mean monthly financial security. So every month I know everything's covered, I'm good, and I've got more coming in than I need. I describe that as breathing space, financial breathing space. Now when I got that story and that message it doesn't matter which platform you put it on. It doesn't matter what tech you use. It almost doesn't matter how you deliver it, although it massively does, but now people are engaged. I was at an event only today and they were all of twelve or thirteen people in the room. I was asked what do you do? And four of the twelve came up to me afterwards said “you know I haven't got financial security and I want it”. And so when you've got that hook, whatever your hook is, whatever coaching style you do. I happen to do business and personal. But whatever your style is if you've got that hook there's no effort, there's no pushing, there's no persuading. It’s just that easy. And that was the tipping point for me to suddenly go, my message is really clear. And I happen to go beyond the personal bit because for me fulfillment means if you've got financial security you’re good, you covered. If you've also got freedom so now you've got the money covered, you've got time covered. There’s other types of freedom but I’ll stick to that for now. So money and time, you’re good, you’re covered. Great you’ve got everything you kind of need. Well Mr. Maslow had something to say about this, that you know that's not enough is it? You want to then mean something. And so now is a chance to give back, be a contribution in the world, in whatever the world means to you. And so that's where I hook into the big mission for me which is to make twenty million pounds of social impact per year. But you can’t do that you haven't got the freedom to choose to do it and you have got financial security you certainly can’t do it. So there’s a bigger picture here and this is a good way to live. But first let’s get financial security. That is maybe a very long answer for you but that was the tipping point.
Millette Jones-Well I think that makes a lot of sense because if you don't have that clear messaging throughout everything that you do whether it's your business cards or whether it's the talks that you give or your website. If everything doesn't have that same really clear message that solves a problem for someone it's just not going to work for you. I think that's amazing that story that you told, that you had twelve or thirteen people in a room and there are four of them that came up afterwards and said this is something I need. I mean that's a pretty big percentage of people that really resonated with your message.
Chris Gardener- Absolutely and I was only there as a guest it wasn't my show you know. But you just say something and that's what creates the tipping point whether it's a coaching business or any service business. So I'm working in a wide range of industries with people who are running businesses in all sorts of different sectors and it's the same principle every time. If you get your message right then... Yeah the platforms matter but people will focus on the platforms. They'll focus on the on the tatic. They wonder should I try emailing or should I use messenger. Should I be on Facebook or should I be on Twitter or should I be on both? Yeah, whatever, it doesn't matter. It does matter but that's not the thing to focus on yet if you haven't got a story, a message, and a way of converting people so that they want to work with you. If you’re not it doesn't matter what your platform is you're just shouting. There's a really good analogy I heard, imagine going back to I guess the 1850’s or something like that and someone's just invented the microphone and the P.A. system. What an amazing thing. And imagine you're a singer. So now I don't have to just sing in a room for people who can hear my voice live. Now I can project my voice with this microphone so now I can fill bigger rooms with people who wouldn’t normally come and listen. So I can become more successful, brilliant, but if you're a bad singer the microphone and the P.A. just makes you a louder bad singer. It's not the microphone or the P.A. that makes you successful; it's being good at what you do and having a way to communicate that first. And then everything else just flows.
Millette Jones-So you mentioned that you started your business off working one on one and that you have done some transitioning to some online stuff. You also mentioned speaking to groups. So can you tell us are these the main ways that you're generating revenue in your business or are there other things that you do as well?
Chris Gardener- Yes or the way I describe it to the people I’m teaching is that however you want to earn revenue there are two revenue models and three delivery models. You asked about revenue so do you do something on a transactional basis or are you providing something on a recurring basis. And obviously if you want financial security then it's easier if you can have something on a recurring basis because it's more predictable. You know every month you're going to get the same money in and then you just keep growing that. And you can absolutely have financial security through the transactional model where you're just delivering a project or something like that. You just need a method of reliably generating new clients every month or two or three or however long the projects are. So it's entirely possible to get financial security in both of those models, the transactional and the recurring. It's just easier typically if you can construct the packaging and the delivery of it into a recurring model. So what I do is I have online programs which I've got the three F’s programs so: financial security program, freedom program, and fulfillment program. And those are continuity types, kind of membership; they go for different periods of time, each one. But the financial security one’s a twelve month program for example. So you've got people who are in it every month and that creates an income every month. But I’ve also got retreats and VIP days and things like that which are the transactional type of approach. They are bigger ticket but you know it's the same principle so you can do it in both ways. And I hope for your audience the interesting part of any answer I could give is not what Chris does, it's the principles behind it. And so you know think about if you are offering coaching services are you going to offer on a recurring basis and or are you going to offer stuff on a transactional basis? You can do both as long as you're really clear about it.
Millette Jones-Right so with all of the things that you're doing obviously there has to be people coming in to your coaching into your mentoring all the time to fill this up. What would you say is maybe a favorite strategy to bring new people into your business?
Chris Gardener- A favorite strategy? OK well I'm going to bend and have two favorites. There's a favorite in terms of what I enjoy doing best. And there’s favorite in terms of what generates the biggest return. So what I like doing best in marketing strategy is speaking. It’s speaking to groups, it's sharing stories, ideas, because you know it's the teacher in you. And when you see someone's eyes light up and you see the penny dropped, “I love that, it makes so much sense” or whatever. And it's just a buzz and I'm sure many of your audience has the same experience probably. So it's just that when someone goes oh, oh I see” so that's what I love doing best in marketing terms. In terms of the favorite in terms of the biggest results, it's not new, it's not rocket science, it's simple stuff, it's Facebook ads to a straightforward funnel. But as I say it's not the mechanics that make it successful it's having a really clear message. People say “oh, how long should the e-mails be?” doesn't matter. They should be as long as they need for your message. How many should I follow up with? How many emails should I do? How often should I send them? It doesn't matter it. It does matter but there isn't one answer. There's what works for you. Don't get hung up on that. It's not about how long or how many or how frequently. It's what's the message, what are you saying because that's what the reader, that's what the receiver is going to connect with. So just be really clear on that. So for me it’s the most effective, it's just Facebook ads in a straightforward funnel. But it's what's said in that, what's the message in that, and do people get it and do they want it?
Millette Jones-You talked a lot about taking your business more online. So you've got your three F.'s those are three different courses. Is this sort of the direction that you feel your business is going? Is this what you want to create more of in the future?
Chris Gardener- It's so personally thrilling and I’m absolutely loving it because it's so dialed in. It did take me forever to get this message, to get this realization of- what do I really want. I spent years and years coaching and mentoring people with their own businesses. I’ve helped people become millionaires and I’ve help people transform their lives and it's great, it's lovely but you get to a stage where it's just another one. Oh, here’s another person who's gone through the million barrier where they’ve actually sold for seven figures and it's great and I don't mean to dismiss it because it's really significant, it's really important. But for me there's so much more that people can do and personally I want to leave a legacy. And that legacy is impacting the world. And for me a massive part of it is this work with the girls, for girls in Uganda. Because their lives have been so tough and yet when you go out there and meet them, these are such impressive young women, really resilient, really tough. They’ve got something so special that they could do in the world and the world would be a better place if they can achieve their dreams. The system, the resources, the mentality that they have right now in their situation you know pick somebody today, I don't mean generally. You know, pick an individual because you can do something with an individual. You can help someone on an individual level and you can give them different resources, different ways of thinking, different skills, different approaches and support and their lives change. And so every generation until her has been in desperate poverty and now she can make a difference for herself and then for her children in the future and she's a role model. So that's a whole thing that we're doing now and it's just...on the most basic level I just think it's cool. I just like it; this is what we can be doing. There is so much greed and unnecessary acquisition of stuff. People aren't free if they are still chasing money. If you've got so many millions and yet you still need more you haven’t got freedom you haven’t got fulfillment and it can be so much better, life can be so much better and it should be. So that's kind of the where I want to be. That's my legacy in the world and I can’t do that on my own and I don't need to do that on my own. So I can do that by empowering and enabling people starting at financial security level. Let's get that covered, get the basics covered and then let's get you free from the business if you choose to. Well I don't mean necessarily you're out of it, you're doing what you're choosing to do. Freedom is both, it's freedom from and also freedom to. So it might be freedom from needing to work every day and freedom to work when you want to and do other stuff that gives you more personal fulfillment. And these just work together. It's just a natural ascension, a natural progression. And when you get to the stage of saying OK I'm cool, I’ve got it, I’ve got what I need. I've got a beautiful life. I've been doing everything that I want in life. I’m having, achieving, being. I’m having the relationships that I want. It's all good. And now that's not enough. I want to give back. And so the three F’s and the programs that I've got that's how I earn the revenue but a lot of the revenue that we get can then channel through into the sister organization, this nonprofit and fund girls in Uganda. And then we can model that for others and say “hey how about you do your version. And so you go and create your legacy and hence we get to the twenty million.
Millette Jones-Yeah, I love that because it's one of those things where when you think about OK I'm a business owner and I want to be able to give back. So I might only have a few hours each week that I could volunteer. But when you look at it from the perspective of- if I can build up my financial security then if I want to keep growing my business then I can take that and I can impact in such a greater way. Because then it goes beyond these ten hours a week that I could put into volunteer work. I could turn around and take my money and pay twenty people to each put in ten hours a week so you sort of multiply the effect that you can have when you have that financial freedom to be able to make those sorts of choices.
Chris Gardener- So this is one of the things I love about working with people with an entrepreneurial way of thinking. Without a doubt, in my mind anyway, entrepreneurs, business owners, whatever you call yourself, they, we, are the best kind of people to make this kind of impact in the world. Why? Because we've got typically the way of thinking where we don't need to ask permission to go do something, we can make a decision to go do something, we've got either the resources and or the resourcefulness, and we’ve got the skills to make stuff happen. And then stuff happens. And nothing's going to get better just by thinking about it, just by wishing it, just by hoping something manifests. You’ve got to go and make it happen. And then if you get an entrepreneur who is thinking... yeah like you saying. It would be kind of level one thinking if you say “well now I've got some free time I’m going to go volunteer.” Brilliant go do that because it makes a difference. But of course doing that only makes ten hours a difference. But how do you then go and say well how can I turn these ten hours into one hundred hours through other people? And how do we get those people to make that a thousand? Because they can teach other people or they can inspire other people or they can be role models for other people or whatever it is and so you get this multiplying effect. A classic employee mindset is not going to do that. A classic government worker mindset is not going to do that because they're not thinking in the way that I use, the language I use. They're not thinking in the three F’s. Because they probably haven’t got financial security, they might have a steady income but “oh my God I might lose it” or they've learned to live a lifestyle that matches the level of income they've got or go slightly beyond that or it's very close to it. Well there's no security there it’s just a kind of ongoing lifestyle so there’s no big vision, big future. Entrepreneurs on the other hand they’re all about dreams, they're all about creating goals, they're all about making change and having an impact. This is what's so inspiring to me to work with these kinds of people because we can make a huge difference.
Millette Jones-So would you say this nonprofit is what you would consider to be your favorite achievement of the things that you've done in business?
Chris Gardener- No, not yet, because we can do a lot more. In business what I’m the most proud of is the results that people in my financial security program are getting. Because I’ve really refined the message and it's just working way, way more than I hoped. It makes me laugh, some of the results and feedback because this is not designed to be life changing money, right? This is designed to give you security. The life changing stuff happens in the freedom program, right? So this is just designed, it's simple, it's so easy to just do it and then there’s financial security. And there's some neuro science in there where people say “I now realize why I've always backed away from making that decision I always knew I should”. And so I've had someone in the program, they've uprooted their family and moved to the other end of the country because they've wanted to do it all the time and they've been scared. And now they realize why they're scared and they've done that. This is a huge change for the better and they continue the program to get financial security. And now they are saying “now I'm doing what I should be doing”. Somebody else it's saved their relationship. Well I'm all about that, that's why we live it's to have amazing relationships. And I said “well tell me what you mean, this is a financial security program, what do you mean it’s saved your relationship?” And she said that it was that she had been so low in her business, she'd been so underachieving, she couldn't find new clients, she didn't really know what she was doing, and she just had lost all direction. So she was in a massive stress and unsurprisingly that shows up in the home life too. And so it looked like it was heading towards the end of their relationship. Within 4 to 8 weeks something like that of coming into the program just gave her the clarity that she wanted. And it utterly saved the relationship. Now I know it's not the programs it’s just the way she's thinking that has such an impact but she's turned it around. That sort of stuff I couldn't predict that but it's thrilling. It's good to help people get wealthy but it's much more rewarding to help people learn or make the start of change in their lives.
Millette Jones-So knowing what you know now about starting up a really successful business what would be one piece of advice that you would give to people that are just starting out? What should they focus on first or maybe is there anything that you wish you had done first when you were just getting started?
Chris Gardener- I'm going to repeat exactly what I said earlier on the number one thing to sort out when you're just starting out or if you're struggling is work out your audience’s problem that you want to solve. And it's so unexciting to say that but with the clarity that I have and the experience that that I have I have gained through doing precisely that, it changes everything. People rush out and they get busy and they go through all of this tactical worry like what platform should I use, should I be blogging? Nope, none of that matters. I don't mean that literally, of course it matters but if that's what you're focusing on without a really clear problem you're solving that your audience really suffers from and have had enough of and really want fixed. If you have that and you’ve got that worked out, you're on a winner. Because they're sick of the problem and they want it fixed well you just going in and fix it. You offer to fix it, easy. And if you don't have that then you'll be chasing tactics and shiny objects. And also actually if I can stretch it a bit, do focus on one problem, one type of problem that you want to solve. And I hear people reacting to that, if they're listening they say “Chris I can do so many things I don't want to work on just one, I need to have all of these interests”. You can still do those but what I'm talking about is where you focus. When you've got a reputation for solving this thing you’re never short of business. People are going to come at you because you're known for that thing. When you've got that then you can start doing the other things you want to do. It's not either, or. It's first, then. It's just a sequence and if you try and I know loads of people will, if they try to do it all the same time the chances of success are massively reduced. So I heard again analogy recently that’s really simple, really clear. If you try to chase two rabbits you never going to catch either. That’s a very clear picture.
Millette Jones-I think that makes a lot of sense and what I think a lot of people have that resistance to is they feel like people are saying- you have to pick one avatar, you have to pick one problem, you have to offer one solution. That's it, ever, for the rest of your life. And that's not what anyone is saying. It's just you need to get super focused and super clear on one thing. Get good at that, get your clients for that and then you can start to spread out and then add those other things back in. But like you said if you're busy chasing this tactic, and chasing that new course, and looking at what this guru has to say you're never going to be able to focus in on that one thing that's going to make a difference for those potential clients and no one's really going to understand what you have to offer.
Chris Gardener- You're entirely right. You're entirely right. If you don't, you're never going to be able to focus. And the message you know I say I feel a little bit sorry to be disappointing because the message isn't sexy, it isn't new. It's saying also you get focused and specialize. But the reason why I think so many people find it difficult is firstly they resist it because they go “I’ll turn away loads of business” and you won't you'll have more business. But also they don't really appreciate the depth that this means. For example there are some coaches in the program there's one coach in particular who when we started, when she joined the program, I said “what do you do, what do you focus on, what's your specialty?” and she said “I help people to change that’s my specialty. I help people to change and transform”. Well, that's not a problem, it's a method, it's a process that someone's got to go through but that's not a problem that they are experiencing. They're not waking up in the morning going “I must change” probably the opposite “I don't want to change, I just wish things were better”. So if you if you think you've identified the problem you want to work on or help them overcome, are they waking up and saying to themselves “I have this, I don't want this anymore, I'm sick of it” or the opposite “I really want that and I'm sick of not having it”. Pain is much easier to sell because it's a greater motivator it’s a more instant motivator. People will make a decision to move away from pain more quickly than to move towards what they want. But if you're thinking ‘the problem I solve is change’, then it isn't and you're going to be not understood.
Millette Jones-Right, yeah. Sort of like saying “I help people create their dream life”.
Chris Gardener- And you know what? The three F’s they've gone through a number of iterations and I used to say it's freedom, fulfillment, and financial success. That's how I used to describe it- freedom, fulfillment, and financial success. But as I put that out into the marketplace it was clear that actually the reality is people aren't ambitious. Because they have a whole load of beliefs... obviously many people are I don’t mean nobody's ambitious, but the general market is not. They don't believe they can have financial success. The idea of having one hundred grand a year is “that's just not possible, that’s other people” which is such a shame because it's entirely possible. And so I actually heard them rephrasing, rewording what I'd said in they turned financial success into financial security. And I thought “oh, yeah of course that's where they're at, that's their thinking” and it also works for the story much better because you can build that first financial security does come before freedom. So I guess the message there is to listen, listen to the market. But the reality is most people are not like you say, “I help you create a dream life” yeah, well who knows what their dream I looks like? They're not clear what it is so they don't have a need for your services, yet.
Millette Jones-When it sounds kind of vague and you can't really understand what it is then most people aren’t going to pull out their wallets for something like that.
Chris Gardener- Completely.
Millette Jones-Well Chris this has been so good and I have absolutely loved these topics that we've been exploring today. I would love it if we could finish up with the final five rapid fire questions.
Chris Gardener- OK, yeah.
Millette Jones-All right what's one habit or skill that's helped you become unstoppable?
Chris Gardener- Being really clear on your purpose your why, your reason why you do this because that defines everything you need to do to. Meet your why.
Millette Jones-What's one quality that you think every successful coach needs to spend some time developing?
Chris Gardener- Certainty, it goes against the grain for many coaches you know it always be open, don't judge, but really what I'm talking about is certainty of you certainty of yourself. When you know who you are, what you stand for, what your message is as I've been saying what the problem is of your clients, it's a complete game changer. One quality every coach needs is certainty.
Millette Jones-Recommend a book to us that have had a big impact either on your business or on your life.
Chris Gardener- Oh, I keep bending this from one to two. A book I got years and years ago and it had just a superb life philosophy it's called The Art of Possibility. You've got ten principles of how to live a life that I find admirable. From a business point of view it's quite amazing to me anyway and it's The One Thing.
Millette Jones-Yeah that's a good one. Give us an online resource that you think coaches would love to use in their business and that you couldn't do business without.
Chris Gardener- Boring answer, for me it's Facebook. It is just an amazing platform. My business wouldn’t be where it is without Facebook.
Millette Jones-Finally how can the listener’s best connect with you if they want to learn more about the three F’s, if they want to learn more about you and what you do, where can they get in touch?
Chris Gardener- The website is strategic mentors dot co dot uk and I’ll set up a page within there so people can go to dot co dot uk slash unstoppable then people can go there and they can find out more about the three F’s. They can find me on Facebook @strategicmentors @chrisgardener as well and I’m on LinkedIn.
Millette Jones-Well, I'll be sure to get all the links and the recommendations onto the show notes page. Chris I want to thank you again so much for joining me today.
Chris Gardener- This is been great thank you I enjoyed it and hope it has been helpful for people.