Hey, guys, welcome to another episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast. I’m Jeff Standridge.
And this is Jeff Amerine. I’m glad to be back.
Yeah, it’s great. Hey, listen, man, we’ve got a great guest with us today and I’m really excited to introduce you to and for our listeners to hear from Cory as well. Cory Carlson is an entrepreneur. He’s a former executive, husband, father of three, and lives in Cincinnati. He’s an engineer by training, also a with an MBA. And Cory, great to have you with us today.
Well, Jeff, thank you very much for the opportunity and and Jeff as well, having both. And I’m just very grateful to have the opportunity to share really part of my story, to in fact, to help listeners to kind of recognize and realize that they do not have to stay where they’re at if they’re feeling really stuck. And anyway, so I’m glad I got to share part of my story in a way to help others.
Hey, that’s super. Cory, thank you so much. So speaking of that story, why don’t you just kind of fill in the blanks? I had just a very high level of of your background, but bring us up to kind of where you are now with with with what you do.
Yeah. So I’m a civil engineer by degree and did that career for a little bit but then got into technical sales, selling civil engineering equipment or products, I should say, not equipment, bridges, storm sewer, sanitary, sewer pipe. And I did that in Kansas City, had success and got promoted and moved to Denver, Colorado, where I managed a bunch of people and states.
And then I got promoted, moved to Cincinnati, where I live now, and I got to Cincinnati. I was VP of 120 million Auto Division for this company. And to be honest, I was a little bit in over my head. I was managing people older than me. I leapfrogged my boss, I was now managing him. And so what was happening is I just take my dignity to work a little bit and have I had a great presentation.
The executive team, I thought I was the man. And if it’s not, then CEOs are afraid I’d get fired. And so it was causing me to skip the gym is causing me to skip quiet time. And when the kids are maybe playing on the floor, I’d have my laptop on my lap. And so I hired an executive coach like I needed help and I went to my boss.
I said, Hey, I need some help. And he’s like an executive coach. I’ve always had one. So I was like, All right, well, I’ll do that. And it changed my life. And I know it sounds extreme, but it did one I do that for a living now. So it did. It changed my life, but also it changed my life and my career in that current corporate role that I was in because I just looked at life differently.
I had better outside perspective. I was prioritizing things other than just working in the business. I was working on the business and just better father, better husband, better leader. So I took one more corporate move where I was president of sales for a national contractor. And what was happening is, as I would travel throughout the country to meet with these salespeople, I was busy coaching them.
I was talking about it personally. Are they dating their spouse, being in touch with their kids? Are they getting the gym but also helping them professionally? Are you blocking out time for business development? Are you you know, how are you thinking about your territory from, you know, vision, strategic standpoint? And I was kind of doing this both and and it was helping them as well.
So I was and our company improved. Our EBIDTA was getting better. So I was like, I want to do this for a living. If this helped me and it helped individuals and companies improved, I want to do this. So that’s what happened, is I left corporate, started building a coaching, you know, company and career and that’s now what I do is I get to do executive coaching and come in alongside leaders to help them.
I’ve got a team of coaches under me that work and then also do do speaking. So that’s that’s basically the last 20 years and a few careers.
So who are your ideal clients? How do you work with them On most often basis.
Yeah, most often. Who I’m working with and how I can describe it is, you know, my clients are folks that love Jesus, drink beer, married, have kids, lead a team. So my those are but that’s kind of my ideal avatar, if you will. And but most of the people I work with, they are leaders in leadership’s Lonely at the top and they need help.
They need that outside perspective. They need the accountability because they’re going for big goals. And when we go for big goals, right when we get going, the doubts creep in. That high school teacher that said something that you kind of you still can hear to this day impacts you and when I work with clients so often, I mean, if I was to break down a percentage and you figure out what this percentage is, but now I bet it’s 60%, we’re talking business and helping them think more strategically, but then it’s 20% mindset, helping them get out of their own head destroying, limiting beliefs.
And then that next 10% is family. Hey, are you are you dating or are you dating your spouse? Are you being intimate with kids? And then then the last 10% for you know, a lot of my clients is there’s there’s a faith component in there. But for those that I work with that don’t have a faith, well, we usually talk spiritual from the standpoint of purpose and go for something.
A follow up follow up question and that’s that’s really good perspective as you think about those those ideal customers, if if they hear this podcast or maybe they’ve looked at this stage or they’ve looked at some of the other ways you can get coaching, what should they be looking for? What makes a really good coaching engagement and what should they be in search of when they look for a guy like you or your firm or anybody else? What what are kind of the keys to do making that work? Well, as somebody that needs a coach.
Yeah, I know. It’s a great question. I will. Well, one thing and I’ll say not to look for because I see this a lot to have a great coach. They do not have to be from your industry. Yeah, I, I know a lot of great coaches, but I’ll just speak for myself in the standpoint of I could feel from all the all these industries and I don’t know anything about them because my job is not to speak to the industry.
My job as a coach is to get the best, best version of that individual out of them into action. So they tell me their challenges and we talk through how to go after them. They tell me their hopes and dreams and we think through how do you step forward to it? We discuss their their blindspots and areas that they’re showing a weakness.
And why did they lose their temper, temper with their kid last night? And why are they so annoyed of how someone responded in the boardroom? Like, we’re hitting all those things so it doesn’t matter if they’re a wealth manager or they are VP of operations for a manufacturer and company. And so I think that’s just one thing for anyone listening.
They don’t have to be in your space. And then I think a few things that are huge in a coach. One is chemistry. You got to get along with them. And if you’re if you’re Discovery, call with that potential coaching and go well because a chemistry don’t second guess it move on go go interview another coach because you’ve got to have chemistry because it’s a relationship.
I mean I, I, I’ve become friends with my clients and because we’re talking personal stuff and I don’t mean personal. And they tell me all your dirty, dark secrets, not that personal, but I’m stressed about the quarter. I’m nervous about, am I going to hit my numbers like that kind of personal stuff. And so, you know, just become a friend.
You’re texting in between calls most of the time, you know, and meeting people. So make sure there’s a chemistry, make sure that that person will challenge you, like when you’re talking with them. Do you feel like they’re going to push me? I love mentors. I have mentors, but a lot of time mentors, they don’t challenge. They don’t call you out, they don’t speak.
Maybe in a part of your life that, you know, their mentors know they meet you occasionally and have a good time, you know? And so chemistry will they will challenge you. Obviously, you want to make sure that they’re competent. Do they come with content? Are they learners? I mean, you want a coach who’s got a coach you want to coaches invest in themselves.
And so that’s a big piece. And so as you’re interviewing your coach, hey, do you have a coach? What books are you reading where you are investing your time? Those are just be some of the things I’ll be looking for chemistry and challenge and competency and also character, either a coach to help you win at home and win at work.
Let’s hope that they are, you know, have a good marriage and have good engage with their kids.
Yeah. So speaking of when it when at home, you’ve got it you’ve got a book out called Win at Home First, and then your most recent book is called Rise and Go. Tell us a little bit about the premise of that book and let’s dig into that a little bit. Yeah.
And so I guess I’ll hit on I know we’re in a dive in a rising go what I just say about the winning home first and you introduce it is that was the first book I wrote. And the reason I wrote the book is because we won personally. I lost at home first. I did the whole push for corporate and got to Some things fell along the wayside.
And what I also found in the coaching and why I chose to write the book is there’s many business leaders that think it’s an either or. I. If I’m going to be successful at work, then that means home has to suffer. And maybe when I make enough money or invest in home or there is individuals that think, hey, if I’m going to be a great father or great mother, husband or wife, then that means I have to say no to a whole bunch of promotions.
And maybe you be there may be some parts of that that may be true. But however, I disagree. I mean, it’s a both and I know many leaders who are crushing at home and they’re running the company. I wrote the book to put together some tools in Winning Home first that I wish I would have known and I learned along the way.
So it is it’s a resource that’s been very helpful to leaders that it’s four parts. First parts on you, second marriage thirds, parenting, fourths work. And it’s just and helping leaders in answers.
And pretty widely recognized among business circles, Forbes magazine named it to one of the seven books that everyone on your team should read. So congratulations for that recognition.
And well, thanks. And it just that yeah, that’s just a yeah it was a good great God thing is pretty darn cool. And then there’s endorsements and I think that’d be one thing I’d say to anybody is to any listener. Don’t let other people say no to you without ever asking them. Yeah, I asked John Gordon, you know, he’s, he’s a big name in the leadership space.
I just sent him a note asking if he’d endorse my book as opposed assuming he’d say no. I just think I’m was going to try to take a swing in the plate. He said, Yes, I like, Oh my goodness. So I put his name on the cover, but there’s those other people. I did the same thing. I went now.
So just an encouragement to the listener is don’t say no for people now and have them do it. So anyways, it’s been a fun journey. Pretty cool. Which led me to my second book, Rise and Go. The reason I wrote Rising Goes, I shared my story. I left corporate. I’m going to become this coach. It’s going to be amazing.
Life’s going to be awesome. I’m going to be a full time coach, full time speaker. Well, the time that my family, we decided to go all in, in the coaching and speak. It was March 1st, 2020.
Great time to start a new company.
That’s right. That’s right. It’s a good ten.
Yeah That made it exactly right. It it was it was an amazing ten days. It was so cool, so fun. Well, obviously, we know what happens next on March 13, which is a Friday. I’m not superstitious guy, but I think Friday the 13th is kind of weird that everything started shutting down from a you have to wear a mask and stay at home.
And on that day I got a couple of emails canceling speaking engagements. And on that day, 35% of our revenue went away and I had no idea what happened to the other 65% when I just started getting emails and emails, canceling speaking engagements and clients and and I kind of I didn’t Tailspin would be an exaggeration, but man, I didn’t go I wasn’t in a good spot.
I hit a funk because we went all in and Taco Gene and here it goes. It appears to be unraveling. So I just got I got in a funk, but over the course of those next few months, I just had different content, get it pointed to me. I’d hear a cool story of resilience on a podcast. I’d hear something else that kind of inspired me and basically just started kind of brewing up in me to take some of this content.
I was writing some different blogs at that time. I didn’t know I was writing a book, but I was I’d write a blog and then a client said that they were stressed about something. I’m like, Oh, I just actually wrote this blog this week. Take a look at this. Maybe this will help you get picked up. So over the course of a year, I had 65 different clients that I was sharing these little nuggets with that were helping me get up almost like ladder rungs to a ladder, helping me get from the valley to what would be this, that next peak.
And I was sharing with these clients. It got battle tested. I’m like, Well, there’s a book here. I didn’t know there’s going to be a book here, but here’s a book. So I put it together, a book and publish the book 20 chapters. First ten are to give you the courage to get back up and the next ten chapters that give you the confidence to move forward.
And that’s what this book has became. It’s just a resource for leaders to help with resilience. They I mean, you can read it from front to back, but it’s also individual chapters that it’s like, Man, I got to read this chapter on obedience, I got to read this chapter on rejection. I got to read on the strategy. So that’s that’s why I wrote the book is because basically any time I write a book, you know, Jeff or Jeff is probably mean that something bad happened. So if I write a third book, you may be like, Oh, crud, what happened in Cory’s life?
Now, I always say when I’m, you know, a lot of times when I’m writing or speaking or talking, I’m just I’m just sharing experiences and letting people listen in, right? Because it’s usually something that I’ve messed up or done badly or what have you.
So yeah, well, yeah, 100%. And that’s what I’ve enjoyed. So that’s, that’s why I wrote the book is because I got knocked down and put together some tools that helped me get up and, and really the through line of the book is all leaders get knocked down. It’s just a great leaders get back up quicker. Yeah. So what could it look like in your life the next time you got knocked down, you were able to get back up quicker. Yeah, that was good. Some tools allow that.
That resilience message is a good one and it was timely when you came upon it. I mean, we I reflect, I remember those days so clearly and we were we were a business overall that would have as many as 250 live events a year in person. And we had to figure out how to quickly go through a digital transformation and how to keep things going and ultimately ended up facing that challenge, ended up being a benefit to us as a group and individuals. And around that same time in late March, Jeff and I did this video series, essentially webinar series called Improvise, Adapt and Overcome and kind of stole the line from Clint Eastwood’s Heartbreak Ridge a little bit. But the whole message was similar to what what you talk about and rise and go. It’s like you were dealt these circumstances. Now what are you going to do about it? How are you going to move forward? So your messaging was and the book is timely and useful regardless of what sort of existential circumstance you might be facing. It’s really good stuff.
Yeah. You know, it’s interesting, we observed at that time that the average small business, you know, had had less than 27 days of cash on hand. And many of those small businesses were shut down for more than 27 days. And that just the sheer panic that was occurring in many of those small business owners calling and saying, am I a terrible person if I have to lay somebody off, you know, just tough, tough questions that we’re wrestling with. So so let’s talk about some of the tips, some of the some of the things that you recommend in Rising. Go for someone who’s been knocked down, number one, to get back up and then maybe we can look at some of the tips to give for actually moving forward after you get up.
Yeah, I think, you know, one thing, I have to do this to myself and I have to do this I do this with clients from time to time is I got this process like we all want life to go up and to the right. Like over time we want to grow and maybe move up the corporate ladder. Over time, we want to make more money. I mean, everything we want up until the right. And what happens is we think that’s a straight line and we know when we kind of draw it out, we even plot our own careers. There’s peaks and valleys. And what I will have to do in my own life and as well as with clients, is remind them when they’re in a funk, right?
When they’ve had a setback, they’re they’re in a valley. They’re just in a valley. And what what can happen is our head trash will fuel that. Things that have been said to us over our life will kind of creep back in. You know, my high school counselor said I was a smarter to be an engineer, and I can still hear that.
I mean, I did become an engineer and I’ve now, you know, done successful pivots throughout my career. I can still hear her saying that I’m not smart as an engineer, and I don’t think it was a malicious, mean thing she was saying. I think she probably was trying to protect me like, Hey, based on your scores, maybe you should try a different degree and you’ll have more success.
And so I’m sure is. It was a kind thing she was doing well, but I can still hear the negative side of it and all of us can. And so one piece of it is if we’re not careful, we’ve got to basically hold those thoughts captive of, hey, this is the head trash we’re hearing. And so stop. And so sometimes just acknowledge, hey, what’s the junk? It is the first thing when you’re in that valley and zoom out. And so that second piece is the zoom out and look out for you come like, I will actually have clients right through what are the things that they are grateful for, both at a micro and macro and micro. What I mean from the macro is they just write down a bunch of stuff.
Oh man, that was cool. We bought a new house a few years ago or I got this new job or we hired this amazing employee or I can’t believe the partnership we’ve had with the company X, Y, Z for the last three years. Just write down some of the cool stuff at a macro level to see, Hey man, there’s been some amazing peaks along the way from a micro standpoint.
If I got someone really got in a funk at that moment is I say start writing down the three things you’re grateful for every single day. And I’m not the first one to come up with this, right? There’s gratitude journals. I mean, people been doing this forever. Yeah. However, some people forget it’s an easy resource to go to in times of stress and frustration.
And so write down the three things you’re grateful for, because what we focus on expands. And if we are seeing more of the good in our life, we’re going to see more of it right now. So the big highlight you’ve had all these last few years, but then from the micro, if you’re in a funk, write down three things and then the next piece is, all right, So now we’ve got to look back on this rise and go graph to get to our present moment.
Look back now let’s look forward where the hopes and the dreams you’re going after because depression now, I’m not talk about clinical depression, but the kind of depression that all of us get from time to time just in a funk. It’s the absence of hope. Yep. And if we don’t have anything we’re looking for forward to, it can just be like, What is this all about?
So I encourage all my self, but also clients is what’s the hope? Where’s those beacons of light in your calendar you’re excited about? And that’s why I think it’s important to plan staycations as well. You know, vacations, guide trips, trips with your kids, just different things that are in your calendar that you can see and say, Yeah, I can’t wait till then.
That’s going to be awesome. So those are just some of the things to do is going to capture the current thoughts going through your head. Throw in some gratitude of what’s gotten you this far and then what is the hope for the future.
So I’d be curious to get your thoughts on just observing among your client base and or just the world in general. I have my own biases, but what do you think the state of mental toughness and mental resiliency is out there in the world right now?
I think people that are paying attention to it and looking to get better are getting better. And I think those that are poor me and life’s awful. I think it’s becoming more and more awful for them. But I think we there are things that we need to do as leaders to prepare our hearts, minds, bodies and souls for each of the days.
And so no matter what your faith position is to the listener, but some form of solitude, meditation, prayer, exercise, whatever that is, to armor up, to armor up each day and quite honestly, get ready for the fight, get ready for that prospect, saying, no, get ready for that client who’s going to cancel, you know, get ready for maybe some culture thing at the office to take place.
But you’ve got to armor up for to build that resilience. You know, we just don’t want to walk into a fight, into a battle without our weapons. And part of our weapons is going to be armoring up and preparing our hearts for it. So I think that’s one thing is what are you doing to start the day? I think another is what are you looking into your eyes, ears and minds?
So for me, I deleted Facebook and Instagram off my phone. Yeah, When I would go to those, I didn’t. It wasn’t a good mindset to comparison would kick in. They were wasting my time. Not only in the moment, let’s just say we spent 15 minutes on one of those social media is not only that, I wasted 50 minutes, but I also wasted all the other minutes after that.
Then I was still thinking about something. And so I think it’s thinking through. Not only are you arming up in the morning, but what inputs are you allowing throughout the day? Are they are they contributing to making you a better version of yourself or are they distractions and actually hurting you?
So it’s really about being intentional, being intentional, personally being intentional with the your your what? You’re focused on being tangible, how you go about your, your work every day, etc..
100%. Yeah. Be intentional with the choices you are making. Absolutely.
So how do you as a leadership coach or an executive coach, help someone develop those disciplines, those habits.
Through a variety of ways? One, the value of a coach where the value of a coach comes is outside perspective. Like you’re not alone. Yeah, I remember when I first started coaching, I was in the I would be intimidated. Get some clients on the other side of a zoom call like, Oh man, you know, they run a huge company.
I’m nervous. Like, not anymore. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s everyone’s broken, everyone is struggling, everyone has insecurities, everyone is wondering, you know, they got a little bit of imposter syndrome. And so it’s and so as a listener for you is if you’re feeling it, I mean, the good news is you’re not alone. Everyone’s been dealing with that.
So as a coach, I get to provide outside perspective that, hey, you’re not alone. You’re not the only one nervous about the next quarter. You’re not the only one thinking, you know, the culture could get better, whatever the thing is. And so that that part’s helpful. The also the other is a reminder of them, of the choices are making.
What are the disciplines? We all get off track when our biology and our mindsets get off track too many days of sugar and too many days of booze and too many days will get people off and say, Man, it’s time to recalibrate. Hmm. So coach can help from outside perspective and a coach can help from accountability. Hey, what are you doing?
What time are you going to bed? Let’s stop watching the late night shows. What time you waking up? Like all those types of pieces sound easy. But left to our own devices, we’re all going to have a tendency to drift. Yep. And so a coach can help people get back into their lane.
Very good. Very good. Well, Cory, tell our listeners where they can connect with you at.
Well, don’t go to Facebook or Instagram. No, I am there, actually. And I just I don’t look at it from my phone anymore. But yeah, the best place is my website. Cory M as in Michael Cory and Carlson dot com. And there is we’ve got a free resource for you to go check out ten ways to win a home and win at work.
You can go download that PDF, check it out front, and then inside the website it’s I’ll access to my books and I’ve got a podcast called When On Verge where we interview business leaders. And Jeff, your episode will be coming up. Who knows the timing of this? But Jeff Standridge is was on it, which is pretty fun. Cool to do.
So that will be happening. And then my books I’ve got they are on Audible and Amazon and Love do be a resource to you in any way for the listeners and if you want to learn about coaching reach out love to share what we’re doing.
That’s great. That’s great. Well, this episode is actually going to be our season finale, if you will. You’re curious into the new year. It’s going to come right before Christmas on December the 18th. So we hope all of our listeners out there will take this holiday season as an opportunity to think about your own leadership, think about your own resilience, think about your own habits and disciplines. Think about the content that you’ve heard on the Innovation Junkies podcast over the course of the year and start thinking about your leadership practices going into 2024.
Jeff Amerine, anything you would add?
I just want to thank Cory, appreciate the time that you spent with us today and the inspiration and guidance you’ve provided a lot of people who I know it’s true for entrepreneurs and executives alike who feel like they’re alone on this journey and the coaching, good coaching and good books like what you’ve written are immensely helpful. Thank you for what you do.
Well, thank you. Thank you both, and thanks for letting me speak to your audience. Great. Very grateful for so thank you.
I’m grateful to you as well. This has been another episode of the Innovation Junkies podcast. See you in 2024.
See you next season, and feedback from listeners like you helps us create outstanding content. So if you like this episode, be sure to rate us or leave a review. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to get the latest growth and innovation strategies. Thanks for tuning in to the Innovation Junkies Podcast.