74: How do you LIVE with respect? Discover with Chris Westfall, author of “Leadership Language.”

 

Chris Westfall dives into the vital need for respect in every business and/or corporate organization, how to live with it, how to respond to a lack of it, and much more as he shares with host Mike Domitrz.  

   

** You are invited to join our community and conversations about each episode on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/respectpodcastgroup and join us on Twitter @PodcastRespect or visit our website at www.RespectPodcast.com **

 

Chris’s BIO: How’s your elevator pitch?  

Chris Westfall has created multi-million dollar revenue streams for companies on four continents, with innovative new strategies on leadership communication. As the US National Elevator Pitch Champion, he’s helped clients to land on Shark Tank, Dragon’s Den, and Shark Tank – Australia. A consultant to financial leaders and Fortune 100 companies, he’s helped entrepreneurs to launch a broad array of businesses, and successfully re-branded products and services around the globe. Working with thousands of business leaders, he’s helped launch over 50 companies, while raising over $100 Million in investment capital – and counting. He’s coached teams to victory in the Intel Global Capital Conference, the Harvard Executive MBA Pitch Competition, and the Rice Business Plan Competition 2016 (the largest and most lucrative pitch competition in the world).   Chris’ clients include HP, Cisco, Unilever, DISCOVER Card, Great American Insurance, The Jewish Federations of North America, American General Insurance, Transwestern, EY and many more.  

Focused on the leaders of tomorrow, Chris has worked with a number of universities across North America, including SUNY, The University of Pennsylvania, SMU, The University of Chicago, and dozens of others.    An award-winning MBA instructor, his latest book is called Leadership Language (Wiley, 2018) the follow-up to the best seller, The NEW Elevator Pitch.   

He’s the publisher of six other books. Find out more on his website, http://westfallonline.comLinks to Chris available on:

 

Books by Chris Westfall:

 

YOUR HOST: Mike Domitrz is the founder of The Center for Respect where he helps educational institutions, the US Military and businesses of all sizes create a culture of respect throughout their organizations. From addressing consent to helping corporations build a workplace free from fear (reducing sexual harassment and helping employees thrive by treating them with respect every day), Domitrz engages audiences by sharing skill sets they can implement into their lives immediately. As an author, trainer, keynote speaker and coach, Mike Domitrz loves working with leaders at all levels. Learn more at http://www.CenterForRespect.com

 

READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPTION of the EPISODE HERE (or download the pdf):

 

Mike Domitrz:
Welcome to The RESPECT Podcast. I’m your host Mike Domitrz from mikespeaks.com where we help organizations of all sizes, educational institutions, and the U.S. military create a culture of respect, and respect is exactly what we discuss on this show, so let’s get started.

Mike Domitrz:
This week we have Chris Westfall. He’s helped his clients land on Shark Tank, Dragon’s Den in Canada, and even Shark Tank Australia. Working with entrepreneurs and high-performance teams around the world, Chris is a transformational business coach who helps entrepreneurs to find the respect that they deserve. Chris, thank you so much for joining us.

Chris Westfall:
Oh, Mike, it’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Mike Domitrz:
Absolutely. What do you think is a single misunderstanding that creates disrespect?

Chris Westfall:
I think that disrespect really comes from… and this is going to sound strange probably… but disrespect actually comes from inside of ourselves. And that may sound strange because you think, “No, disrespect comes from other people. Other people who don’t see me for what I have to offer, or they see me as a stereotype, or a gender, or a lifestyle choice.” You know what I mean? And people disrespect me because of that. But really if you think about it, the person that has to respect you first is yourself. And understanding that everyone is worthy of respect. That there is no requirement for respect. Just being a human being means you’re qualified, and respecting yourself is the first step in helping others to see that.

Chris Westfall:
I have a client that I’m working with right now, and she was explaining to me that sometimes when she talks to her prospective clients… And she’s a coach who works on culture for organizations, but oftentimes when she’s meeting with C-suite executives, that they see her as just her gender, and they talk to her in a way that is disrespectful. They aren’t saying, “little lady,” at the end of every sentence, but it’s kind of implied if you know what I’m saying.

Chris Westfall:
And the first step in understanding how to overcome that is, in my opinion, understanding that for her and for anyone listening to the sound of my voice, that you are worthy of respect. You do have something to offer and if other people don’t see it for whatever reason, that’s really about them. So start with respect by respecting yourself. Does that make sense?

Mike Domitrz:
Absolutely. And it’s something that we believe. That respect should be inherently given. You shouldn’t have to earn it. It’s something I talk about a lot on this show. The old phrase, “You have to earn my respect,” is one of the worst sentences ever for how to treat another human being. And what about the person who’s listening and saying, “Look, I do have a lot of self-respect and yet because of how I’m identified, I’m not treated with respect. So I’m coming in with self-respect, but yet the world I’m in is not giving that back.”

Chris Westfall:
Totally understand. Yeah. Well, you have to take a look at where you’re placing your attention. Because if you’re focused on how the world is not giving you respect… First of all, let me just say, “I totally get that.” I’ve been there. I know what that feels like. It’s incredibly frustrating. You know that feeling of, “I deserve more than this. The way that I’m being treated doesn’t feel fair. It doesn’t feel like people are seeing me.”

Chris Westfall:
But the crazy thing is, that when you focus on the solution that you can provide to others, the results that you can provide in spite of the way that you are being treated, in spite of the way that people don’t see you the way that you really are. You may never be able to change people’s thinking. You may never be able to correct and help people to see things about who you are or about how diversity matters.

Chris Westfall:
I mean there are so many things that we can’t conquer, but what you can do, and I think the best thing that you can do, is to focus on the results that you can provide, is to take action and to find a new way of driving the results that you want. Recognizing that you may not be able to change minds, and narrow-mindedness might be more than you can overcome, but that doesn’t mean that it should stop you. Because the world is full of stories of people who were not respected and yet in spite of that disrespect, they were able to overcome. And looking in the direction of the action that you wish to create and not getting lost in the small-mindedness of the people around you might be the best path to find your success.

Mike Domitrz:
Yeah, and for the people thinking, “Okay, where’s the border of when it’s abusive?” Because that’s a different ballgame, right? It’s one thing to say, “Hey, I’m not being treated with respect.” It’s another thing to recognize, I’m in an abusive situation, and therefore you deserve to be free of that, to be out of that situation. But that can be hard for people depending on financial circumstances, cultural circumstances.

Chris Westfall:
That’s that self-respect that you’ve talked about so many times on the show, Mike. And respecting yourself means looking in the direction of the action that you can take. Not the minds that you need to change, but looking at the abuse that you need to step away from whether it’s verbal, physical, whatever the case may be. As we said earlier on, you deserve more. And to find that place, that place of freedom, that place of liberation, that place of respect, it exists. You may not be there right now, but it is there. And the journey is about taking that journey, to find it, to step away from the things that don’t serve you and take action. Take action in the face of disrespect. Take action to move to a place where you can be who you are. Be recognized for what you have to offer and step away from the abuse that you don’t deserve.

Mike Domitrz:
So when it comes to that place where there’s a lack of respect, how do you identify when too much is really too much?

Chris Westfall:
The way that you identify when too much is too much is you trust your feelings. You search your heart. And if wisdom is saying to you that… And again, I’m talking about inner wisdom. I’m not talking about what all your friends are saying or that kind of thing. Because certainly what friends and people around you are saying is useful, but ultimately you have to answer to yourself, and your wisdom will tell you. At least that’s been my experience. When I’ve been in bad situations and when I’ve been in places where I haven’t been respected, my gut’s been telling me, “You’ve got to do something.”

Chris Westfall:
And when you have that feeling of it’s time to take action, even if you don’t know what that action is, I’d listen to that. I’d listen to that, and I’d explore that because that could be the first path to stepping away from disrespect, moving away from abusive people, and the people who don’t serve you. Because if you want to live a rich and fulfilling life, surround yourself with people that want that for you as well, and they are out there.

Mike Domitrz:
Absolutely. Now for you personally, you mentioned it. You said, “Hey, I’ve been there.” What’s an example you can share so people can relate to that? How you responded when you were face-to-face with the worst kind of disrespect.

Chris Westfall:
Mike, I was sitting at a dinner with a client, a company that I was working with, and the CEO was kind of holding court. And I was talking to a woman who was seated right across from me, and she had an unusual name. And I said, “Where is your name from? That’s so interesting.” And she says, “Well, my family is from Persia.” Rather stupidly, I said, “Oh, so is that modern-day Saudi Arabia?” And she said, “No, Persia is Iran.” And I thought, “Oh, that’s interesting.” And so we kept eating, and it wasn’t maybe a minute or two later, Mike, that the CEO popped off with some incredibly racist remark about people from the Middle East and specifically people from Iran.

Chris Westfall:
And the reason that I’m sharing this story with you, even though the disrespect wasn’t directed at me, is to say… Of course, my friend who was seated across from me, she couldn’t eat after he made that remark, and the CEO just moved on and was oblivious, and he was like just cocktail party conversation. Let’s just chat. And meanwhile she was just stunned, and I was shocked.

Chris Westfall:
But here’s the really shocking part of the story, Mike. I didn’t say anything to the CEO. I mean I had been hired as a leadership consultant. I had been hired to help them to communicate more effectively, and here was this outrageous remark. And for whatever reason, I didn’t feel it was my place to say something, to pull him aside and say, “You didn’t see what you did there, but I did, and we need to take a look at that.” Again, I don’t know how much of an effect that conversation might have had, but I never had it, and I carry that regret with me to this day.

Chris Westfall:
The next day in the meeting, the CEO opened with an apology directly to her, and he said, “You know I understand that I said some things that were inappropriate, and I really didn’t realize it, but some of the biases that I have are just completely inappropriate.” And so he walked it back and everything which I appreciated, and I knew that she did too.

Chris Westfall:
But the point of the story, and it kind of goes to your remark. When do you know when enough is enough? “And if you see something, say something,” as the saying goes. And if you are faced with disrespect, whether it’s a racial disrespect, a gender disrespect, or just simply not appreciating the contribution of people around you, I mean you’ve got to decide. Do you want to stay silent? In that particular circumstance, I did, and I regret it to this day.

Chris Westfall:
But I’ll tell you what, Mike, it’s part of the reason why I wanted to come on the show. Never again. I don’t want to ever remain silent in the face of that kind of disrespect. Because especially for a company, if you care about leadership, if you care about culture, if you care about inspiring the hearts and minds of your employees, how does bigotry help to accomplish that goal? How does that level of disrespect do anything for anyone?

Chris Westfall:
It’s an exclusionary approach that doesn’t help people to be better, and that’s the last thing that I’m about. I want to help people to see new possibilities and to create cultures of inclusion where everyone is able to perform, so that you harness the potential of everybody that’s around you. And I don’t think that is some Pollyanna pie in the sky idea. I think that that’s just how work needs to work, and it comes from a place of respect.

Mike Domitrz:
Absolutely. And I know a lot of times in those moments, people are afraid that what they say will be the wrong thing, so they say nothing. And one thing that we’ve learned over the years is it’s okay to say the wrong thing, to at least say something. So if you’re trying to speak out for others and you say the wrong thing, it’s better than saying nothing. And you learn then, “Oh, I didn’t handle that right either, but now I know how to handle it better going forward.” When you say nothing, you don’t learn how to handle it better going forward.

Chris Westfall:
That’s right. You just get to deal with, “Boy, I shoulda, woulda, coulda.”

Mike Domitrz:
Right.

Chris Westfall:
I’m sure you’ve experienced this. You also have to think about the right time and the right place. And the conversation that should have taken place between me and the CEO was certainly not at dinner where I stood up and was outraged or anything like that because that sort of self-expression might have been how I felt. I mean you’ve talked about this in your keynotes about wanting to strangle people and things like that.

Chris Westfall:
But really the action that I needed to take was behind a closed door saying, “Can we just talk for a minute about what you said, and how it impacted people?” Because sometimes people don’t see. They don’t see, and they have blind spots. We all do. And to share in a way that is also respectful, even for people who haven’t shown respect. Giving them more than what they deserve might be the first step towards helping them to see the respect that others need.

Mike Domitrz:
So Chris, what are ways, specific steps, you think people can take… listeners… to become advocates for respect? Talking about your work with high-performance cultures, what is needed to foster that environment of mutual respect?

Chris Westfall:
Ask yourself this question. If you had the respect you needed and deserved, what would you do? What would you say? How would you act if respect were a given? And people listening to the sound of my voice might go, “Man, you are crazy, Chris Westfall, because I don’t have respect.” But if you did, what would you do differently? How would you help people around you to see beyond the disrespect to the thing that needs to be accomplished in your relationships, in your work, in your career? What is that?

Chris Westfall:
And it may sound counterintuitive, but by looking past the disrespect, you might find what more there is. And by helping people to focus on what you can do: with, through, and for others. In other words, the service that you can provide. Perhaps, that’s a way to help people beyond their disrespect. Recognizing that people’s belief systems and things like that, it might be beyond your ability. In fact, it probably is, to change the way that people think. I’ve never been able to do it myself.

Chris Westfall:
But in spite of bigotry, in spite of limited beliefs, in spite of a lack of respect, I’ve seen others create amazing things when they concentrate on what really matters. Moving beyond that disrespect. So I don’t know if that helps or not. But that’s the question that I would ask is, if you had the respect you needed and deserved, what would you do?

Mike Domitrz:
So if somebody’s saying, “Okay, how do I get to that… What do I do in the moment where there’s disrespect?

Chris Westfall:
In the moment where there’s disrespect, just like with any negative information, you have to address what you have in the moment. And don’t follow my example. Don’t sweep it under the rug. Don’t look the other way. Don’t say, “You know what? I can’t speak up now.” Find the time and the place to address in the moment what is happening. Because if you don’t, consider what might be the risks or the implications? The answer I think looks to me like you’re… By not addressing what’s going on in the moment, you might be condoning it. You might be saying, “Oh, this is okay.”

Chris Westfall:
Because look, we all teach people how to treat us, and some people have learned things before they meet us that influence their behavior, but we teach people how to treat us. And sometimes just saying, “You know what? The way that you just spoke to me or the way that you asked me that question is just not appropriate, and I need to tell you why. Because the way that you are speaking to me, the way that you are acting towards me, is not allowing me to help this company do my job, be the employee that you need, or be the person in this relationship that I believe you need and certainly helping you to be the person that I need you to be.” So finding a place to, again, shut the door and have a private conversation about the behavior that is not serving you, is the first step towards the behavior that will serve you.

Mike Domitrz:
How does trust play in here? What’s the role that trust and respect play together?

Chris Westfall:
Well, I think that trust and respect are deeply linked. And when it comes to finding respect and finding trust, I think that you have to recognize what you said at the very beginning of the call is that there are no qualifications for respect. I’m talking about earning someone’s respect. That doesn’t even make sense to me. Just as you said, that phrase doesn’t make sense. So coming from a place of respecting yourself and trusting in that fundamental principle. This idea that if you are a human being and you are drawing breath, you are worthy of respect.

Chris Westfall:
Again, that’s not some Pollyanna pie in the sky story. That’s how I see things. And people have something to contribute, so trusting in that. And trusting that you have something to contribute. That you are worthy of respect will guide you towards having the conversations that you need to get that respect, will guide you towards taking the actions you need to get out of the abusive relationships that don’t give you that respect, will lead you to make the decisions for your life so that your career is one that can be more fulfilling and filled with the kind of respect that you deserve.

Chris Westfall:
It starts when you trust in your ability to contribute and understanding that you deserve more than being disrespected, than being in an abusive relationship, than putting up with the things that you’ve had to put up with. There is more out there. You just have to take action to find it.

Mike Domitrz:
And Chris, you have a book called Leadership Language, and the subtitle is Using Authentic Communication to Drive Results. What role does communication play in generating greater respect and/or giving more respect?

Chris Westfall:
Communication is the key to any sort of self-expression. I mean the language is the way that we derive meaning from the world around us. In other words, the way that we take in words and that sort of thing allows us to understand who people are and events, and news, and everything like that. But language is also the way that we express who we are, and it is a combination of our words and our actions that teach people how to treat us, and that show people the kind of service that we can provide. The kind of impact that you can make.

Chris Westfall:
And so Leadership Language is really a book about helping people to express themselves, to express themselves in a way that allows others to see the value, to see beyond the disrespect, to see beyond the limitations, to see beyond the lack of experience, or whatever the case may be. To really get down to that human element that is so important in our relationships.

Chris Westfall:
And I think, Mike, it’s a big part of your work is getting people to see their humanity and share their humanity. Well, how do you do that? Well, there’s two ways: through your words and your actions. And when your words are backed up by actions, that creates a trust. A trust among others who see that you are walking the talk, and that you are living your beliefs and your values and taking action. When people aren’t aligned with your particular vision or the way that you see yourself, you take action. Not to correct the world or to again change minds, but to change behaviors starting with your own. So that’s really what Leadership Language is about. It’s about creating those behaviors that can create the greatest impact from an authentic place, a place of humanity.

Mike Domitrz:
And Chris, you share a story about a college freshmen who gained the respect of an audience of over 500 people during a live television event. How did her achievement rocket her past MBA seniors, doctoral students at the fifth largest university in the United States? Can explain the story and what happened?

Chris Westfall:
Sure. So Mike, this is the story of Mac the goat girl, and her name is McCalley Cunningham; macthegoatgirl is her email handle. And she came to me as a freshman. She wanted to win this pitch competition, and she wasn’t exactly sure how or what to do. But as a pitch coach, and I’ve worked with thousands of entrepreneurs to help them to bring their business ideas to life. And I’ve worked at this university for a number of years with different entrepreneurs, and so she came to me, and she said, “I really want to bring this idea to life. I’m not exactly sure.” And Mike, she grew up on a farm. I mean there’s a reason her email handle is macthegoatgirl because she grew up raising goats and winning 4-H competitions and that sort of thing.

Chris Westfall:
And the reason I share this background is to say that it might not be the kind of background that you think of in terms of a sophisticated entrepreneur. And yet, what is the background of a sophisticated entrepreneur? I think the background is looking in the direction of new results. If we simply think that we are the product of our experience, and we can’t experience things beyond how we were raised and where we were raised, I think that’s… I’d challenge that all day long. And McCalley certainly did.

Chris Westfall:
When we met, she was incredibly interested in understanding how to tell her story, and so I coached her, and I worked with her. And then on the night of this pitch competition at this university with over 65,000 students… and by the way the competition was open to all of them… she skyrocketed past, as you mentioned, MBA students, PhDs, engineering majors. And on that night when I announced the winner of the pitch competition, and I gave that… I believe it was a $10,000 check to McCalley. I couldn’t have been prouder for what she accomplished.

Chris Westfall:
Because we are all of us more than where we were raised or how we were raised. If it looks like the only things you can accomplish are the things that others have shared with you or shown you, that’s a limiting belief that simply isn’t true, and that’s what I saw from McCalley, and that’s what she continues to see for herself to this day. With an understanding of the respect of where she came from and how she was raised, but understanding too that she had a vision for herself. There was something more that she wanted, and she wasn’t afraid to take action, and she earned the respect of an entire auditorium in front of a live television studio audience, because the event was televised as well, as she walked away with the top prize. And it was a thrill. It was a thrill for me to see it happen.

Chris Westfall:
And it just reinforced this understanding that where you are is not who you are, and how you’ve been raised or where you’ve been raised is interesting, but it’s not definitive. And if you have a vision for yourself, and you’re willing to take action, that might be the most respect that you can give to yourself is to take that step because you never know where that journey might lead.

Mike Domitrz:
Love it. I mean Chris that’s a great place for us to wrap-up. I want to make sure everyone can find you. The name is just like it sounds, Westfall, W-E-S-T-F-A-L-L, first name Chris. Book is Leadership Language. We’ll have all the links in our show notes. The website is westfallonline.com. Chris, thank you so much for joining us.

Chris Westfall:
Mike, it’s been a great pleasure. Thank you.

Mike Domitrz:
Oh, my pleasure. And for our listeners, you know what’s coming up next. That is Question of the Week. Before I answer this week’s Question of the Week, I’d love to ask you a question. Would you please subscribe to this podcast, The RESPECT Podcast with Mike Domitrz? By subscribing, you can make a huge impact. Now you might be wondering, “Mike, how does my subscribing to your podcast make a huge impact?” Well, here’s how. For every person that subscribes, it raises the rankings of the show in the search engines. So for people who care about respect like yourself, when they’re doing a search for podcast, they’re more likely to find this show, thus providing an awesome opportunity for us to spread more respect around this world. And all you do is hit subscribe under your podcast.

Mike Domitrz:
Plus the second benefit is, by subscribing, you automatically get every episode right into your phone or whatever device you’re listening to the podcast on. It happens automatically, so subscribing also makes your life easier. Now let’s get into this week’s Question of the Week. Oh, and by the way, you can always ask your Questions of the Week by joining us on Facebook in our discussion group. It’s called The RESPECT Podcast discussion group. Go there on Facebook and ask whatever questions you would like me to answer and/or address in this segment of the show, and then listen to each episode to find out when your question is included.

Mike Domitrz:
This week’s question is, “Mike, what are you most grateful for?” Oh my goodness, this is such a difficult question. I think the mistake of the question is the word most. What are you grateful for? I think as soon as we put most in front of it, there’s a danger there that we’re losing actually the ability to be grateful for all the gifts in our lives and instead we start focusing on certain gifts over others. We’re valuing certain people over others. I think that’s a danger.

Mike Domitrz:
For me, I know that when I’m in a good place, energywise, spiritualitywise, wellness, vibrancywise, I journal and I write about my gratitude, my moments of gratitude, in that day. So that there can be numerous areas of my life that I can show gratitude for writing in that journal, and I find it to be so powerful, especially at the end of a day. One, starting the day I’m grateful for because it puts me in a positive place. And then ending the day, what I’m grateful for from today.

Mike Domitrz:
And what’s powerful about that is, even if you had a difficult conversation during that day, you could be grateful that it took place. You could be grateful that the person that maybe you had some conflict with, that they are in your life, and at least you had that conflict because they’re here, and you get to have them in your life. And so what it allows you to do is, it allows you to see the positive in what can be difficult sometimes, difficult moments and/or struggles of relationships. You could say, “Well, I’m still grateful. I’m so grateful. Not just still, but so grateful that person’s in my life.” That we had that argument because they’re in my life. Without them, my life would be in a different place, and I’m so grateful they are part of my life. That’s the beauty of gratitude. It puts everything into perspective. So I’m a big believer in: you start your day with gratitude, end your day with gratitude, and try to live with gratitude.

Mike Domitrz:
Do you know what I would love? I would love to hear your answer to this week’s Question of the Week. So would you please answer what your answer would have been if you were asked that question today on the show? All you do is go to our Facebook page. We have a special group where we have these discussions called The RESPECT Podcast discussion group. So The RESPECT Podcast discussion group and share with us. What would your answer have been to this week’s Question of the Week? And take a moment, post us a new question for future episodes. What question would you like to hear me answer on an upcoming episode? That’s all done on Facebook in our special group which is The RESPECT Podcast discussion group. Can’t wait to see you there.

Mike Domitrz:
Thank you for joining us in this episode of The RESPECT Podcast, exploring work, love, and life. And this episode, like every episode, is brought to you by our organization, The Center for Respect, which you can find at centerforrespect.com, and of course you can find me, your host Mike Domitrz, at mikespeaks.com. Thank you so much for joining us.

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