Christopher Salem, Sustainable Success on The Writers Hour - Creative Conversations with Janine Bolon

Christopher Salem – Executive Coach & Author Of Sustainable Success25 min read

Janine Bolon: Welcome to The Writers Hour Creative Conversations. I’m Janine Bolon, and with me today is an author of not one, but two books. His name is Christopher Salem and he happens to be an executive coach corporate trainer, professional speaker. He works with companies, okay? Very much a B2B kind of guy to help them with their work environment and help with that thriving culture. So many of us left corporate America, or are in the process of walking out of corporate America because of the culture and wonderful people like Chris, are there trying to help c-suite mentors, business leaders, entrepreneurs, sales professionals to build and protect their brands. And also increase the influence that they have with trusted advisors and maximize the results that they’re getting. So this guy does it all B2B, B2C. He’s your guy. His book, Master Your Inner Critic: Resolve the Root Cause Create Prosperity, but that book became an international bestseller in 2016. He’s also co-authored in a recent addition, Mastering The Art of Success with Jack Canfield. Basically, this guy knows his way around how to go about writing as well as how about influencing others into a better life and marketing the work that he does. He has a weekly radio show, Sustainable Success. It’s part of the VoiceAmerica Influencer’s Channel and Chris is also accomplished in business as an influenced strategist, award-winning author, certified mindset expert, radio show host, media personality, and wellness advocate. He works with organizations such as JP Morgan Chase, Ralph Lauren, Pratt Whitney, Raytheon Microchip Technologies, the US Census Bureau, the US Senate, UnitedHealthcare, Hubble Corporation, Foxwoods Casino, and the NYPD Forensic Department, and that’s where I come in since I’m a geek. You guys know me, I’m a scientist. Anytime somebody starts talking about forensics, I get excited. He also is not only just in corporate and government, check this out. He’s also had worked with universities such as the University of Hartford, Westchester Community College, Bay Path University, Worcester State University, or is that Worcester State University in the United States? Sometimes–

Christopher Salem: Worcester.

Janine: Worcester. Thank you, dude. Because I’m like, “Oh, wait a minute. I’m doing that English thing again” as well as Harvard University’s Faculty Club. Chris is also a CEO and co-founder of the Empowered Fathers in Action, which is a 5501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to strengthening the father-son bonding process through a sustainable solution process to build future leaders in the home, communities, and business, with a place of higher self-confidence and esteem. This process resolves the root cause of limiting beliefs for both parents and their children so that we don’t repeat these cycles over and over again that lead us to dysfunction, miscommunications, problems within the family, yada yada, yada. We’ve been through all of that, haven’t we? Chris, you’ve just done it all my man. Thank you so much for being on the show today.

Christopher: Janine, it’s such a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me today.

Janine: What I really want to just kind of launched into is because you have so many different areas of expertise, as well as working in many different areas. How on earth did you find time, not only in 2016 to write your first book, but then to write your second book and oh, happen to buddy up with Jack Canfield? So, talk a little bit about how do you find time to write a book?

Christopher: Well, it comes down to a daily routine. Something I’ve been doing for over 22 years and prior to this, I didn’t have a routine and I really wasn’t structured. So, I learned the opposite. Everything I had lived up to till the age of 30 years old and it was that daily routine that I developed over time, learning how to be more focused in the moment, and be able to really maximize what I could do within my control in pockets of time, so focusing on those priors that matter. When it came to writing because writing, I wouldn’t consider it to be my strong suit, It’s not something– if you had to say, “Chris, what is your superhero power?” It would be speaking because I’m a speaker. I’m a radio show host. I’m very good in front of people. But no, when I wrote the books, I had to be laser-focused. I had to really be focused and knowing that during that time, what could I put from my head onto that paper.? So, it was having a routine and being really laser-focused in those pockets of time in order to get those books done.

Janine: Yes, I understand that. But kind of talk to us a little bit about how did you start that though? I mean, how did you know that you had to have any kind of a routine at all? I mean, where’d– No offense, where did you pick that up? I mean, if it’s not your strong suit if it’s not your superpower, where’d you pick that up?

Christopher: Well, I mean, it was due to the fact that at the time, this is going back. 22 years ago. I just was not in a great place. I was struggling with anxiety, I had ADHD, I really couldn’t keep my thoughts organized. And as a result of it, I just had reached a turning point in my life and it was just kind of that aha moment. Unfortunately came at the, you know, when my father was dying at the age of 56, it was like the light bulb went off. That I knew that I had to make changes in my life, that I had to take ownership in order to make these changes. Because I was struggling being in the past, in the future, in the way my thought process was, I wasn’t in the moment. I didn’t know what it was like to think at the moment. So, I had to embrace a process that was foreign to me at the time that over time, as I did it through discipline and consistency, became a routine and that changed my whole way of thinking, it changed me to be disorganized to be organized, and to be laser-focused at the moment. These habits and disciplines came over time through consistency and thus led me down the path where I am today, that I wrote these books that I’ve used as a way to help others do the same in their lives and their businesses.

Janine: I think discipline is a word that is my best friend but it gets a bad rap. I think we need a new PR Department for the word discipline because when people hear that word, they immediately are taken to not good places in their brain. So, if you don’t mind, share with me a little bit about how you got over the negative influences that we’ve all had regarding discipline and how did you make it your best friend?

Christopher: Well, at the time, I was– yeah, I was dealing with this strong need to have validation from other people. That was my limiting belief and that limiting belief was established during my child development years growing up. I didn’t get it from my father. And this led me down a path of codependency. I grew up in a codependent home and because of those codependent ways that led to me being a passive-aggressive, in terms of my behavior and communication, and as a result of that, this is what led me down on 12 years of addiction, as a result of it, to deal with it. My relationships were not going well. I wasn’t thinking clearly, I was frustrated, I was angry. The only way I knew how to escape it was through addiction. When I was able to really learn how to overcome my limiting beliefs, which was through that epiphany that I had with my father at the time, [inaudible] that I had to come up with something to address this for myself. That I when I was able to develop a routine through habit, to discipline, and consistency, this is what changed my life. So, if when people hear that word, discipline, it’s like, “Oh, you’re going to scold me, you’re going to hurt me.” It was just that something I knew that I had to do, something that I didn’t want to do at the time, that I knew that it was going to be hard to be consistent at, but somehow deep down, I knew I had to change. If I was going to be, be different, to become different, to do different, and then have different and better results, I had to be first something that I was not being. And the only way to do that was to incorporate discipline meaning that you do it even though you don’t want to do it and as long as you’re doing it and you’re consistent, it’s going to change things over time and it changed my whole thought pattern and how I process things, how I think, and how I was able to be more decisive, to take calculated risks, and to take action. It shifted my mindset from being in a fixed mindset, operating from fear in the past, in the future, where limiting beliefs thrive, to being in the present moment from a growth mindset. So, being in a growth mindset, it’s not easy. It takes practice but it’s something I’ve been doing every day for 22 plus years, seven days a week, 365 days a year. There’s no final destination. It’s progress in motion every day. And that’s what I– I live in the moment, I trust the process, I control what I can, and I maximize it and I’ll let go of everything else beyond my control.

Janine: I’m going to get real specific now because one of the things that– I had a very similar journey to you which is why I was attracted to your book. When I read your book and I was like, “Oh my gosh, parallel past [?] we’re fellow travelers. Different experiences, fellow travelers.” One of the things I had to do was in order for me to get up at 3 a.m. and start writing because my time to write was 3 a.m. till the first child woke up. In order for me to get up to 3. A.m., I built in a little bit of a cushion with that discipline and that was a hot cup of cocoa. I couldn’t have hot cocoa at any other time, but if I got up at 3 a.m. and started writing, and there were times, I’d be in front of my computer a good 30, 35 minutes sipping on that cocoa, having no idea how I was going to write the next word. Almost having a juvenile fit if you will, because I was up and I didn’t want to be in at the same time, I knew I had to write this book. So, did you have anything like that that you kind of walked into? I always love hearing this about [inaudible] [crosstalk] writers.

Christopher: Yeah.

Janine: Everybody has their gig.

Christopher: Well, you [inaudible] it. I have a writer’s block and one of the things that– yeah, it’s just me. But what I’ve learned that I have to do this each and every time I write, it’s always that when I’m going to write, I feel like, “Okay, this is the final copy. So, I got to write it just it’s got to be good.” I mean, not that I– I’ve got away from perfectionism. I’m a recovering codependent perfectionist. I know I’m not striving for perfection but I’m striving for progress and I’m striving for quality. But I have to remind myself to say, “Okay, this isn’t the final cut. This is not the final copy.” So, I just take a deep breath every time when I feel that coming on, I take a deep breath. And I say to myself, “Just write from here.” Write from the heart, whatever comes to mind, put it down. Even if it doesn’t make any sense, even if your grammar’s off, which, it definitely will be with me. You could always go back and restructure it later, or there are people that are really good at that. Let them do it. So, it was– it’s just write. Getting those thoughts on paper, worrying about the flow, don’t even worry, just let in the, you know, address the flow later and make sure that it comes together and make sure that it follows a sequence that people can understand. I have to remind myself that
even to this day. I have to go over and just– but I have to stop myself because that tendency is to go there to say, “Okay, I got to think. How am I going to write it? And this is the final cut, it’s got to flow right now.” but my brain doesn’t work that way in the beginning. For me, it’s just writing whatever comes to mind, just getting it on paper. And then later, going back and restructure in a way that it flows.

Janine: I’ve talked to many authors and some people are like, “Oh, I never have writer’s block” and other people are like, “No, it’s a battle.” I sit down and I look at that blank page and so, one of the things I like to recommend to people is, there are times where a song lyric will come into my head or something like that. And it’s not a part of the book in any way, shape, or form. But I’ll be Mary had a little lamb. Her fleece was white as snow and it’s just crap, you know? It’s just stuff you’re putting down on the page just to get anything flowing so that you hope, you know, the hope is that eventually the good stuff will follow. So, talk to us a little bit. Okay, you didn’t see yourself as an “author”. Does it help you when you’re being in the now [?] and when you’re really working to be the person you’re becoming, okay? Does it help you to label? I remember the day I really started calling myself an author and how it was so uncomfortable and I felt I was such a fraud. I had five books published. So, that was my story about how silly I was. Do you find it helpful to label yourself for your future self? I don’t know if that’s something that you have ever done.

Christopher: Yeah. I mean, that’s something Janine, I would have definitely done in my– had I not gone through this transformation. No doubt about it. I would have been like, “Hey, I’m an author but really deep down, I’m not an author.” They only knew that I can’t. I’m not a great writer. I think what it was is because I’ve been practicing transparency for 22 years while [inaudible] to that point, it had been what it has been now? Maybe 16 years now or whatever it is. 17 years at that point when I wrote my first book, that I was transparent right from the beginning and people knew. I just said, “Hey, I’m writing a book and I’m not a great writer. I’m a speaker. I do radio shows, podcasts, I’m really good at that. I can really articulate that compelling content in a great way but it didn’t matter because people said we want to hear this message. In some way, it’s going to come out and sure you’ll use resources that will help to make it understandable and relate to others and that’s what I did. I end up every day reminding myself, I got to share from the heart. I got to share from the heart. I got to share from the heart. And that’s what came out. It took a little bit longer than say the average author that’s a good writer. But nonetheless, it paid off because the book really resonated with a lot of people and people bought the book. It went international bestseller, not because of my grammar and that I’m a great– It was because of the content that connected where they are. Whether if it connected them where they used to be, or where they were at that point. That’s what it came down to. It was always that transparency of always putting out there that I wasn’t hiding anything from anyone at that point when I wrote that book. Even the book I did with Jack, same way. It was transparency but it would have been a lot different 22 years ago because I would have been– Yeah, it would have been an impostor syndrome to the max.

Janine: I know, right? Because I don’t know about you but I was always told that I was a horrific writer and that I didn’t do well in English and all this other stuff. I had a lot of stuff said to me and what was funny was the people that were actually reading my work, loved it. And so, I’d like to talk about that with writers about all this stuff that we’re fed that’s totally inaccurate to the message. Because people understand when you start writing from the heart, or in my case like I always wrote from the heart because I don’t know how. I wasn’t trained in any other way except to be like you said authentic. But one of the things that I really liked about your story and everything, and forgive me for bringing up another author, but Billy Crystal in his book, 700 Sundays, I had a very similar experience with reading the inner critic because you both are speakers. He goes, “I’m not an author. I’m a speaker. I’m an actor”, right? And so, when he was retelling his story, the 700 Sundays represents what he used to talk about is first, his family and being raised, and his relationship with his father, and his father died early, the same thing as you. And he only had 700 Sundays with his dad because his dad worked six days a week.

Christopher: Yeah.

Janine: So, when I was reading your book and the stuff I’ve learned about you, I’m sorry, you know, Billy Crystal, it was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m having flashbacks to the 700 Sundays” so just wanted to let you know speakers can be authors. It’s just they’re very upfront. Hey, if you read this and you’re thinking it’s the next American novel, you will be disappointed. That’s why I’m a speaker and so I just love that about your book, the inner critic. Anyhow, talk to us a little bit about how you go about with partnerships? You were able to work with Jack Canfield and write a book with him. What was it like writing with such an established author? You’re established bringing these two huge networks together and writing a book. What was that all about?

Christopher: It was a great experience because I’ve always been a big fan of Jack since I was young. Even when I was going through some troubling times and I would occasionally be dabbling in the personal development area. I remember Chicken Soup for the Soul and then there was, well, Success Principles wasn’t out yet at the time, but there was another book that really– that was one of Jack’s books that really flew under the radar. No, it really didn’t get much attention but still to this day, it’s one of my top 5 books [inaudible] and that was The Power of Focus. I can even remember reading that book even before I went through this transformation. And how, now, when I look back after I went through it, how subconsciously, there were things that I did pick up in that book that I was starting to do and not even realizing it. Then all of a sudden back in 2017, the next thing I know, I’m being cooped up with Jack Canfield through a mutual contact that they really loved what they saw in Master Your Inner Critic and the whole thing about mindset around business and lifestyle. How we think differently can create better leaders, how can create a peak performance mindset. And they said, we’d love to have you contribute to our next edition of Mastering The Art of Success, and that just– it just came all full circle. Everything like you know, it started with The Power of Focus. Really, Chicken Soup for the Soul but then Power of Focus, and it just came full circle that now, someone’s recognizing that how powerful the mindset is, and how we think differently, can play a part in our success. And that here I am getting a chance to play a part in that in Jack’s book that featured insights from different experts. So, it was just a wonderful experience.

Janine: I always enjoy being able to have a co-creative moment with other authors and sometimes it’s just a chapter, sometimes it’s a full book. But it’s always a lot more fun because like I said, writing oftentimes is a very solitary activity. It’s you and that blank page. So, we’re going to go back to that consistency thing. People talk about okay, discipline, and consistency, and yada, yada, yada. How do you personally keep from getting bored, right? I’ve had people talk about that.

Christopher: Yeah.

Janine: They’re like, “When I hear the word consistency, I hear boring.” and this is true for artistic types.

Christopher: Yeah.

Janine: So, dude, help us out.

Christopher: Well, I mean, there are some aspects of my daily routine that would be considered boring. But I look at it as just that this is– what is most important here? So, it’s like if you’re desiring to be healthy and you know you have to eat differently. You may not like kale. It’s not going to be your favorite vegetable but you just know that if you sauté it a different way or different seasonings, okay, you know it’s good for you so that you’re going to eat it and you just find a way to eat it because it’s serving a bigger objective or target that’s important to you. If your wellness is really important to you, then sometimes we’re going to do things that we just– are really not top of the list and it’s really the consistency. Now, I could change up those vegetables. Absolutely. And there are sometimes I change up my routine but the things that always stand true are meditation, and journaling, and making my bet. Those have been consistent for 22 years. I might do a different body part when I work out. I may not always walk outside. I may do the treadmill, the palatine [?] or whatever. I mix up different things so it’s not the same thing verbatim. But nonetheless, that routine served a bigger purpose and direction in my life. The other areas of my life are not as routine. I am spontaneous in some other areas so it is able to mix it up. So, doing certain things with my wife. Like we just happened to be like, “Oh, are do anything?” “No, I’m not doing anything.” “Well, hey, we got about an hour. Let’s go for a hike.” It wasn’t even planned. So, we go do it. That type of thing. But that routine for me was something that I said no matter, even though it can get boring, it’s to keep do it because I know it’s serving something even bigger, that I’m becoming more to be the example for others and being a resource for others. So, that’s really what drives me there.

Janine: Well, just to your point regarding kale just because you brought it up. I’m a plant biochemist by training. And so, one of the things that I found out for me, was the problem was, I needed to grow my own. Now, I don’t have a lot of space, you know? So, I was growing kale in pots. And let me tell you something, growing kale in pots worked out great and it’s a lot better when you grow your own versus buying it at the grocery store. It’s softer. It’s easier on your digestion. Blah, blah, blah. So, just wanted to let you know.

Christopher: Yeah.

Janine: Some people are like, “Oh no, I would never invest the time.” And I’m like, “If you want me to eat kale, I got to grow my own.” That’s the only way it’s going to happen and I had to go to that extreme, right? For me, for my walk, my journey, I had to go to that extreme. So anyhow, that’s the fun and games of it. But as we move forward in your own journey, what’s next? What is Christopher doing next, okay? Do you have another book in mind or what’s cooking for you dude?

Christopher: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I’m due to have another book come out. I have a lot of content, by the way. I mean, not only it. I do have some of my– I mean, a ton of content for my own. I’ve done numerous radio shows so I mean, I have plenty of content from there. At some point, I’m going to come out with a book but because of my schedule, again, it comes down to priorities. I’m either have [?] to decide, I’m going to carve out time to do the book and get it out there, or I may investigate a ghostwriter. Someone that I feel that really understands who I am, my purpose, my values, can relate to me and understand me, then be that kind of like my voice onto paper and be able to do that. I’m exploring some other ways, new technology, where I can speak and then it writes, use that voice technology that can write. So, looking at some different things. But at some point by the end of the year, I’m looking at having another book out or by the beginning of next year. This is going to be kind of like a– not the same thing I did with Master Your Inner Critic but it’s going to carry forward from there and really start talking about the importance of consistency using discipline, developing a success foundation, how to think differently. To me, not talking about the problems that you read a Master Your Inner Critic but just how this really really resonates in reshaping a company’s culture, how people can then do this to really become– own their roles and duties in life and in their careers better and really create more interdependency in the world. In their families, in the communities, and businesses. So, that’s what the book is going to be aimed at. I don’t have a title yet but I’m going to just, again, explore those different options and make a decision and then just go with it.

Janine: Well, and one of the things that I love chatting about with busy professionals like yourself. There’s always that thing where you have somebody interview you. Like, start booking time. I have one executive that I said, “Look. Dude, you always are on time for appointments. If it’s an appointment, you’re there but you need that other person so have them interview you.” So, that’s one option that you have and then the other fun option is, yeah. When you do that interview kind of style, then you have transcription services that you can then transcribe it and then you’re just doing the editing of it. And then always there are people that make a living being the ghostwriters, but for people like myself, one of the fun things that I do, is I find a hotel somewhere. I go somewhere very secluded like out in the middle of Montana, Wyoming because I’m based in Colorado. So, I go away secluded and I sit in a hotel room and I am not allowed to leave until that book and all of its raw horrible chapters are done. Usually, that’s about five or six days but I’m getting to a point where I can almost do it in a weekend. So, those are just suggestions for [inaudible] [crosstalk] listeners.

Christopher: Yeah, I will definitely [inaudible] that off.

Janine: These are all different ways you can go about writing and what I love about Christopher is he is insanely busy. He’s just as busy as I am. And what is amazing is, how people just know it’s time to write a book. It’s almost like, you just know it’s time to pull the cake out of the oven. It’s ready to go. The content is there. You just need to make it happen. So, tell us a little bit about how somebody can get a hold of you and how we can get on your newsletter so that we can find out when that book available.

Christopher: Absolutely. Janine, thank you for letting me share. So, the best place to find out and reach out, you can just check out my website, at, one word. Feel free to send us an email and either myself or my assistant will get back to you. And we’ll put you on a mailing list. We don’t spam anybody. We provide information about the radio show, and some updates, things that are compelling to you. That’s what it’s all about. And yeah, it’d be great to connect and share some information and get to know you as well.

Janine: And I can totally confirm that he does not spam you. I promise. Because I’ve been on his newsletter list now for almost a full year and it’s not one of those highly aggressive marketing strategies. Chris knows better. He doesn’t sell, he shares content and that’s what I love about the guy. So Chris, thank you so much for being on the show today.

Christopher: Janine, thank you so much for having me on your great show here. It serves such a high purpose to everyone.

Janine: And this is Janine Bolon with The Writers Hour Creative Conversations. Definitely, stay tuned and support our sponsors.