Today we have a special Author interview. I worked with Chad back in 2019 and reconnected with him today in a new series of shows where I will be interviewing a few of the authors I’ve worked with over the years…what their book is about, how the book has helped them…what it has done for them, and where they are now.
So the thing I love about doing these interviews is really getting to know my clients and of course sharing them with the world…cuz I love them all! I’m my client’s biggest fan!
So let me introduce you to Chad Ellsworth…
CHAD ELLSWORTH is an author; professional keynote speaker; career, leadership, and life coach; and entrepreneur.
As a college student, Chad challenged his fraternity chapter’s culture of hazing, after which he was forced to move out in the middle of the night. Chad left the experience consumed by the idea that there is a better way to bring members into organizations and to provide those new members with the confidence, knowledge, and skills to bring their best selves to their organizations.
In 2007, Chad was named a national Anti-Hazing Hero, and in 2010, he received recognition as one of two Outstanding Greek Life Professionals by the Fraternity Information & Programming Group (FIPG).
In 2018, he published his book, “Building Up Without Tearing Down: How to Cultivate Heroic Leadership in You and Your Organization,” and was featured in an article in the Star Tribune titled, “Coaching Us to Purposeful Lives.”
Chad will show you how to create a courageous culture in your organization by tackling toxicity, empowering your people, and transforming your team.
Please welcome… Chad Ellsworth.
Hi Chad. Welcome to the show. Thank you. Thanks for having me. Absolutely. I'm excited. I'm excited to have you here. Uh, we worked together back in 2019 on your book project and I am excited to share you and your book and what's going on in your life. And, uh, so let's just get going and, yeah. So tell us why did you write your book?
Yeah, so my book is called building up without tearing down, um, how to cultivate heroic leadership in you and your organization. And in all honesty, I was told by my mentor who had written, I don't know, five or six books himself about 15 years ago that I should write a book. You know, he saw that I had a compelling story. Um, I, I'm a good writer and he had always been kind of pushing me towards doing that, but it wasn't something that was really written in my heart yet. I think I had an idea of the story I wanted to tell, but I wasn't at the point in my journey where I was ready to really fully tell that story in the way that I wanted to tell it. And then about a year before you and I started working together, um, I really decided I wanted to tell that story.
At that point, you know, I felt like I had kind of grown enough. I had had enough experience and for me it really comes back to, I was fortunate enough to be given an award is actually in the name of my mentor. It's the Hank newer anti hazing hero award. And when I received that award, it was really hard for me to get my head around that word hero. It was really an uncomfortable term and I didn't really feel like one. And it kind of sent me off on this journey of trying to understand and come to terms with that word. And you know, what I really found was this idea of the hero's journey, Joseph Campbell's idea of the motto myth and really looking at how it was this really powerful blueprint, um, in terms of how we can go through our lives and really live lives of purpose and meaning, but also lives that ultimately create change in the world around us.
Definitely needed today for sure.
Yeah. And that was, you know, something that really came to terms for me, it realizing that there are a lot of us that were living from a place of our fears playing small, so to speak. We were holding ourselves back. And that's one of the things that I really firmly believe is that in a lot of cases we are our own worst enemies. You know, our abilities and our passions and these great pieces inside of us are so much bigger and stronger than our fears, but we let our fears hold ourselves back.
Absolutely. I'm guilty too, so I admit. Um, okay. So what is it that you want people to take away from your book as a whole?
I mean, I think at the end of the day it's really the idea that we don't have to settle, you know, there are so many things I think that it's easy to be frustrated about or scared about and we kind of get into our own heads that we need to settle for. Um, you know, whatever that lesser thing is. And you know, in, in my story, I very much came to this through a really intense experience with hazing. Um, in my, in my organization in college, uh, I took a stand against hazing and long story short, I had to move out in the middle of the night as a result of that stand. And just knowing that when I was in college, I was never the kind of person that liked to stand out. I loved my favorite position to hold an office in, in a student organization was secretary. I got to do a lot of work, but I didn't have to be in front of a lot of people. And so being somebody that could stand up and take a stand and kind of take this public position was something that was far outside of my comfort zone. But once I realized that I had that ability and I had that power, it absolutely transformed my life.
I know I've, I've struggled with some of the same and even doing a podcast, you know, people are like, wow, you're, you're shy. So you put yourself out of your comfort zone and you know, it's, it's amazing what you can accomplish.
And I think that's the funny thing. So many of us, you know, have that side of us and we look at other people and we're like, ah, it comes so naturally for them. They're so gifted that what I realized is so many of us still struggle. We just kind of get better at working through that fear and that insecurity in the more often that we do it, the more comfortable we are kind of acknowledging, yeah, here's the feelings I'm having. It's not that they go away, it's that we know better how to recognize them and then how to work forward in spite of them.
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So when you were writing your book, um, what challenges did you have trying to write it or was it easy for you or, or what was the process like?
You know, it's funny I think because this has been something that had been kind of building within me for so long a period of time. I'm very much a collector when it comes to information. I, I didn't know I was going to write the book 15 years ago, but my, the way I live my life is I collect articles that are interesting to me and I collect, you know, books and stories and anecdotes and I just kind of tuck those away. Um, and I have a couple of different deal kind of electronic ways of doing that. I certainly have an enormous bookshelf at home. So when it came time to actually write it, it came surprisingly easy. And I think it was really because I had done 15 years of research. It was just a matter of packaging it at that point. Yeah. So kind of executing the process of writing.
Yeah. Yeah. I know. I tell people all the time, I had about a 450 page book for my first book and literally took me 10 years to write it, or 10 years to think about it and 10 days to write it. So yeah.
Yeah. I mean I think I spent, I think it was right around the eight or nine month period, um, in terms of actual writing, um, and maybe that it might even be a little bit long. Um, I think I clipped along at about a chapter a week once I really committed to it.
Wow. That's awesome. So do you have any advice for people that are looking to write a book?
You know, I think for me the hardest part, and this goes back to, I started my college career as a journalism major. I really have a hard time writing that first paragraph, like just getting started. And so for me, it became a mindset of I'm writing the second paragraph and the third paragraph from the fourth paragraph. And then maybe I'd go back, once I had the idea of fully fleshed out and kind of written what I wanted to write, I would go back and write that first paragraph for that introduction. Uh, cause that just getting started as such a mental hurdle. And so I had to trick myself in some ways just to, you know, work from where I wanted to go and then go back and write the introduction.
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So, um, how, how has your book done for you and has it opened any doors or what successes have you had since you've written your book?
Yeah, you know, it's kind of this interesting thing. Um, having this book that, you know, for me it's really personal. Probably 60% of the content is me and my life and the other 40% are those stories that, those anecdotes. Um, you know, that research that I collected over time and having this thing that's so personal out in the world is a very unique experience. You know, I feel genuinely giddy every time somebody picks up my book. I'm the, for example, I'm the assistant Cubmaster for my kid's Cub scout group. And the Cubmaster found out that I had written a book. And so he bought it immediately, like right in front of me. He's on Amazon ordering it. And then we had an event about a month later and the cup masters wife and I were in the kitchen, you know, preparing the meal and she goes, Jeff's really enjoying your book. And I'm like, what? She told me, yeah, Jeff picked it up and he hasn't put it down and he's been really enjoying it, you know, just reading it cover to cover. And I'm like, wow, that's really amazing.
Oh what an honor. Huh?
Yeah. But I mean it's, it's been really great. I've, I've gotten invitations to do talks for different organizations that I never would have envisioned myself, you know, speaking in front of, um, you know, just like I said, I feel absolutely giddy and just privileged every time somebody picks one up and lets me know that they're enjoying that read. So it's been really, really good.
Yeah. Yeah. So do you have another one in you with, with all this good stuff? Are you planning to write another one?
It's really interesting. My initial reaction when I was asked that was, well, it took me almost 40 years to get to the point where I wrote book number one. So check in with me when I'm, you know, 79 80 years old. But over the last about year and a half or so, I really started to pay attention to, um, especially how the concepts in my, in my book, and I'll say my first book really applied to a workplace setting, um, over this last year and a half or so, my eyes been really open to a lot of the things I experienced in that organization that had that really intense hazing culture. So many of those same principles and strategies and just elements of that that culture were also present in my workplace. And I'll never forget, pretty shortly after my book came out, a friend of a friend had commented on Facebook about my book and just said, you know, how does this apply to a workplace setting? And I didn't have a good answer at that point. I wasn't really sure, but now I am and I really want to take these same concepts and apply them to that workplace setting and I really kind of over specific way so that somebody can pick it up and see that opportunity to lead in their workplace.
Yeah. Yeah. So is the book going to be a similar topic then or are you even planning on using it for positioning yourself better into, into something different?
Yeah, I've been kind of gently rolling out the content, um, with some of the organizations I've been working with. I, I like speaking, but I really love workshops. I really love when I can sit in with a group of 20 or 30 people that are kind of this intact group. Yeah. You really work with them and are really kind of intimate way. Um, and I've been, I've had the opportunity to do a lot of kind of new manager trainings, um, in both the corporate and the, the public kind of government space. And I've been kind of road testing these concepts just to see how they have been resonating and they've, the reaction has been so incredibly positive that I really feel like there's something just magical here. So it's going to be, you know, kind of the core of my first book, there's a part in there called applying the heroic arts and it's really these kind of six core chapters about these six practices and it's taking those six practices and just putting them in a workplace setting.
Wow. That's going to be powerful.
Yeah. I, I guess I did this workshop for this one group here pretty recently and there was a point where I was talking through one of the six elements and I heard this audible just like, Oh yeah, from the group. And I'm like, Whoa, like this really landed, this is really exciting. So it's really kind of put that little, you know, energy behind me. And in some ways it's probably accelerating my approach towards the second book. And I'm really aiming, I'm writing comes pretty naturally to me and that I enjoy writing. Um, like I said, once I get started, I have a hard time stopping my golfer for building up without tearing down was really to hit about 50,000 words and I think I landed closer to 70. I think I'm in the like 66 67,000 range. Yeah. So far exceeded what I had, you know, kind of set out to do. I wanted about a 250 page book, ended up with a 300 page book, which isn't bad. So I'm really, really aiming for number two to have like that 10 or 12,000 bucks. So a really nice kind of smaller companion that's really easy for people to pick up and digest pretty quickly.
Yes, I know. Well my, my uh, my, let's get your book published book. I actually intentionally wrote that small because I didn't want it to look challenging to write a book. So yeah. So it's um, you know, and you want people to read it. So it, it, it shouldn't be intimidating and, um, but there's lots of great stuff you can position in a book. You know, you can write chapters for each module or each coaching or each speech or you know, and it's so leverageable and, uh, I've been meaning to do a podcast actually on pulling the content out of your book for all content across the board for your website, for your speech, for your workshops, for your podcasting. Cause it's, it's actually one of the greatest topics that comes up for me is, uh, how do I generate content, you know, for writing the book even.
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think your, your approach is spot on. It's when I look at, you know, my own book, I've divided into five parts and those are kind of collections of chapters, but every talk that I've given has centered around one of those parts. And so each of those kind of chunks has been one of my talks or one of my workshops. Um, and I'm taking the, the part of three, that middle chunk, those six characteristics. And those are going to be the heart of the next book, just kind of in a slightly different setting. So I think that's absolutely spot on. From my experience. I've built so many talks just from breaking out the chunks in my own book.
Yeah, well I, I find it actually, I kinda, I feel guilty maybe, but I kind of have to laugh sometimes when I see all this stuff about are you having a hard time generating content and here's a thing to develop content and you can take a workshop or you can, you know, do all these different things. And I'm like, my gosh, I have, I've written four books. I have so much content and I love it because I, you know, I'm doing a podcast about writing books. Well, I have four books. So at any point I can pull from one of the books and say that's the content for my podcast. And, um, and it's so reusable if you do it right.
Yeah. And I mean, I think really the finding the content, you know, in my, in my own life and speaking for myself, it's, it's what do I like to talk about? You know, especially the people that are really close to me when they picked up my book for the first time, one of the things I said to them over and over again, as you've probably heard most of these stories just hanging around me, you know, these are things that I like to talk about their ideas that get me excited. And so that's what I wanted to write about. And I think that's part of why the process came so easily for me is this is all stuff I'm excited about, but stuff that I already just geek out about.
Yeah. And passion is really what sells. I mean, you got to have passion about something and people are like, wow, I just want any of that passion, you know? But, um, so, uh, so your topic for your second book, it sounds like you're kind of positioning it a little bit differently, but sort of sticking to the same kind of core principles.
Yeah. So those kind of core six principles are really what I'm calling the, the characteristics of cultivating courageous cultures, which is a giant mouth full of sea words. But I kind of love that. But there the idea of number one that the team, and so you know, together we are greater than just any one person. The second idea is the idea of the sacrifice. You know, leaders have to be willing to put others first and really look to uplift other people. The third element is that of courage. So being able to connect with compassion. So looking at how do you really, and I love the word compassion because it's literally translated to suffer with somebody. So when you have somebody that's in a really difficult place, truly meeting them in that space,
yes, we need more of that.
And the fourth element is the idea of strength, which is the idea of kind of grounding yourself in your past. So your core values as an organization, it's those founding values. You know, what is your mission, the future, that vision where you're trying to go, what are you trying to accomplish? And the president is being mindful of the options that you have in the present. So it's the culmination of those three elements are what gives somebody the strength or the ability to lead with integrity.
Wow. I love that. I love that. Well, my first book was about truth, so I, I love when people that are on the integrity subject.
Yeah. Yeah. And I love the word integrity cause I, it means to be whole, you know, and I think, you know, so often it's easy to, you know, give somebody like 95% of the truth, but that's not integrity. Integrity is the whole truth.
Yes, absolutely. Now I know that you also have a coaching practice. I think you, it Cape to coaching is going to be part of the practice or,
yes. So if you notice with my six elements, they've almost got these kind of super hero-like characteristics. So strength and courage and speed and um, you know, question, which is all about the critical thinking. So it's all kind of those superhero terms. I'm a giant superhero nerd. Um, I have a lot of those little superhero bobble heads across my desk. I have a captain America watch and iron man, um, bracelet. So very much a superhero fan. And part of that is also this idea that I believe there's a hero in all of us. And you know, what I love about, you know, kind of the mythology around the superheroes is they all have their own unique powers. And especially looking at a movie like the Avengers, you know, where all these kind of disparate heroes come together to save the world. It takes every one of those different, you know, kind of various powers and special characteristics to it to be able to do that. You know, there's no one superhero that just kind of saves the whole world once and for all. And I really believe that when we bring our best selves and who we truly are as individuals, that's when we have that best power for ourselves.
So now are you starting a business with all of this or have you been doing this for a while or, or what led you to doing all this?
Yeah. I started capped coaching after I'd already been invited to speak and to do some workshops. Um, and really just thinking about how I wanted to position that and what I, you know, what I really believe in. And it comes down to that idea of, you know, I'm a giant fan of the Clifton Strengths Finder. I think it's a wonderful tool in terms of helping people identify their unique strengths. So using that as a tool. I've worked with a lot of different organizations, corporate, nonprofit, education, government, um, you name it. And I started doing those, but then I really thought that I wanted to do them more intentionally. And you know, for me is I wrote the book it, it gave me a lot more of that kind of content and kind of the ideas that were important to me to start to build out beyond, you know, just kind of the general workshops I had been doing, but really, truly building my own stuff and owning that space.
Yes. Yes. Well, you know, I watched, um, I can't even remember who it was today. I watched something on Facebook and they were talking about how there are all these little superheroes that are kind of hidden within our government, within the hospitals and, and you know, and they're all just kind of hiding. But now with things like, you know, this big caronavirus and everything, they're starting to kind of pop out. And so I think you've got really good timing with a lot of this stuff and obviously you're passionate about creating situations, empowering people so they can be the best, best versions of themselves. So, so what are your thoughts about the coronavirus and you know, maybe how some of this stuff will, we'll work into that or, um, you know, how can you help with some of that? It sounds like you're positioning yourself perfectly right now.
Yeah, I mean, one of the things I love about Joseph Campbell's work around the hero's journey is the struggle that's a part of it. And, you know, there's a couple of different places in that journey that the hero has to face, you know, these tests. Um, another point where the hero goes through kind of their, ultimate challenge. And sometimes, you know, they even lose that challenge and they kind of have to gather themselves and, you know, try again. And I think what I love about that in our current situation is that we're all being forced to deal with some really difficult traumatic realities in our world and the stories that we've kind of just accepted. And I really firmly believe that it's through these frustrations, through these difficult things in our lives that we gain the insights that we need to transform ourselves and then by that to transform our world into a better thing.
Okay. So given all this, what are some of the things that people can do to build their well-being during this time?
Yeah, I really believe that so much of what we're able to give to the world around us comes from being able to put really good stuff inside of us first. It's kind of that analogy with the airplane that you know, you put on your oxygen mask before you help anyone else put on their accident mask. And there's really good research that shows that it is not self funded, indulgent. It's not a kind of self-serving or self-centered to take care of yourself. And there's, I think a lot of people sometimes feel guilty about those. But when we really invest in ourself, we actually equip ourselves and make ourselves better able to help others and to transform the world around us. And I love, there's some really great research by Richard lighter who is at the university of Minnesota. He boils it down to the ideas of growing give and that human beings, we really look to do those two things. And if we do those two things, that really kind of gives us that power, um, to be able to move forward and just kind of self actualize and become everything that we want to be. So if we're looking for how do we grow ourselves, you know, how are we growing our abilities physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and then how are we looking to give what we have to other people? You know, how do we take that really good stuff that those talents that we have and how do we give those to others?
Mm, yes, I love it. I'm going through much the same myself. So I think, I think many of us are doing some very deep soul searching in this time. Love it. Love it. Yeah.
I found a, a really great roadmap and you know, like I said before, I love Gallup's work around a lot of different areas, but they have five dimensions of well-being. So purpose, well-being is doing what you enjoy and what you do well every day. So I always think of that in, in this time is really creating structure for yourself and routine, especially during quarantining. It's, it's really hard to keep that routine.
Yeah. Well you're in a whole new routine. Yeah.
Yeah. And you know, and maybe in that way it's, it's a good opportunity to build a whole new routine. Absolutely. Um, the second dimension is social well-being. So I like to think of, especially during this time, knowing that you can't have really close physical contact, how are you diversifying your friendship portfolio? So how are you reaching out to various different people who can kind of add different elements to your life? So you're also not relying on any one person to give you what you need from your social, you know, kind of relationships. Yes, yes. Certainly. The third is physical well-being and that's just about how you eat, how you move and how you sleep. So paying attention to those three dimensions. And I think the great blessing with quarantining is we all have more time to actually prepare meals for ourselves, so we don't have to settle for those really quick not-necessarily-great-for-you meals. So, but we can really leverage that lunchtime. Um, one of the other things that was really interesting to me as I was diving in that research was the idea around movement in that just how we're wired as humans, we really want to complete our stress cycles. And what that means is when stress builds in us, our body doesn't know the difference between, you know, say a bear chasing us, you know, life or death stress or just the stress we feel at work. It just knows stress and the body wants to complete that action. And so doing something really physically vigorous is actually really good for the stress cycle because it allows us to release that stress. Yeah. It just allows the body to process it in the way that we are equipped and you know, made to process that.
Yes, absolutely. I know I need my jaunts with nature and on my yoga mat and um, I've been doing a lot more of that lately myself, so, yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
I was going to say the last two dimensions are financial well-being and then community well-being and financial, I don't touch on a lot at this, you know, when we're going through something like this, but to the degree that you can make your finances secure, that's really what that's all about. It's never about how much money you make or how you compare to other people. It's do you have enough to pay your bills and to eat and you know, to kind of cover the basic necessities, but then after that, security is actually more important than the amount that you make. And then lastly, just that idea of community well-being, which is really the idea of giving back. It's how do you engage with the community around you and how do you, you know, kind of give your talents, your time, your treasure to be able to uplift some group of people outside of yourself.
Yes, yes. Awe, that's awesome. It sounds like you're, you're very whole-hearted, passionate about what you're doing, empowering people, but you're also looking at, you know, mind, body, spirit, and you know, everything as a whole. So it's, it's refreshing.
Yeah. I, you know, I feel like I've come to a lot of this through my own journey and I think just realizing where I struggled and I, I just feel like I couldn't have been the only one that had these struggles. Yeah. There's gotta be more people that have been in these same places and it's, it feels like a real privilege just to share things that I've learned that have been helpful for me.
Yes. Well, I've always heard the, uh, and I'm sure there's a quote that goes with this, but, um, you know, treat people as you are never treated yourself or be there for them in ways that no one was there for you. And, um, you know, so I try to pay attention where, where was it that someone wasn't supporting me in some way and how can I serve for someone else in need?
Yeah. Yeah. And I think, you know, for me it's, for me it's been about paying for the people who were there. You know, like I said, I've had a couple of pretty dramatic and traumatic experiences and it's the people that rescued me that were there for me that were by my side are always the people at the forefront of my mind whenever I'm in a position to help somebody else because I have such a gift and also such a debt and a good way to pay that forward. And so I very much motivates me.
Uh, so good. So, um, so with all of this, what's, what's next for Chad?
Yeah. Well book number two. Um, it's certainly on its on its way. Um, I've got a few commitments this week that I'm working through and then I really do want to be intentional with my writing because it just feels like everything in my, in my life and my periphery, the things going on are really pushing me towards doing it. Um, I, I just feel like, yep. It's, it's right on that, right on that cusp. So sit down and doing some serious writing again and getting that, um, through the processes, the next big thing. But yeah, I mean I've been finding myself just more and more working with these different corporate groups and government groups, especially those two. Um, and working with our managers and it's been so much fun to work with those groups. And you know, I'm looking forward to doing more of that and certainly probably virtually for the short term, but you know, hopefully can go and do some things in person again cause it's, it's just a different dynamic to see people in person and to be able to get them in a room together versus zoom. But
yeah. Yeah. Well it's going to be a whole new world on the other side of that open door here shortly. So it will be exciting to see, you know, what's out there for all of us.
Yeah. Yeah. And I'm really excited. I'm doing a couple of webinars, um, this week for one of my Alma maters, the university of Maryland. Um, I haven't done anything for them yet and so it's, it's going to be fun to work with them and just to give back to my Alma mater, um, this weekend, next week for those. And I'm really, I'm just talking about how do you maintain your well-being in this remote work setting and then how do you also supervise teams and get the best from your employees during this time too. And spoil alert. It all comes down to being a human being and attending to their, their human needs. And it's nothing about performance management.
Yeah. Yeah. Well I can tell you, whatever's next for you, you have a great podcasting voice so you might consider that.
Thank you. I appreciate that. I feel really self conscious about my voice. I hate recording the voice, outgoing message on my phone. So, Oh no, you have a great voice. You should really, you've got it. You've got a voice for radio as they say. Right?
Oh, okay. So tell us how, tell all the listeners how we can find you. Find your book. Um, and uh, do you have a website or are you on Amazon?
Yeah, so my main website is www.capedcoaching.com. So Cape like superhero with a D, so C a P E D coaching.com. And similar to that, my book title is also my website, which will take you there. So www.buildingupwithouttearingdown.com and my books on Amazon and other booksellers, wherever you might be interested in buying a book, you could probably find it.
Okay. Awesome. Well, it was really a pleasure having you on the show today. Thank you again. Yeah, I wish you great success in everything you're doing. Great. Thank you so much. This was fun. Okay, you guys, that wraps up the show today and we will catch you next time.
Chad can be found at: www.buildingupwithouttearingdown.com
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