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How to Handle Anxiety at Work with Chester Elton

Jan 17, 2022

Showing up to work with a broken arm is often easier than showing up with debilitating anxiety. For many employees, they find it incredibly difficult to talk to their supervisor or leader about their mental health challenges, out of fear and stigma. You’d think that the professional environment has changed substantially, but in actual fact the statistics prove that anxiety and stigma in the workplace are very much alive and well.

The pre-pandemic statistics showed that 18% of employees said they had anxiety disorder, in the middle of the pandemic that grew to 30% and here’s the big shock…workers in their 20s and 30s sit at 40%.  Only 10% of staff feel safe talking to their immediate supervisor about their mental health because of the stigma surrounding it.

 Recently, I had the great pleasure of chatting to Chester Elton, multiple New York Times best-selling author and leadership expert. During his career, he has mentored and coached some of the top CEOs and organisations on the planet and he revealed one thing that consistently appeared amongst the greatest leaders - the red thread of gratitude.  He said that every great leader has a deep sense of gratitude: one of leadership’s indispensable building blocks.

Check out Chesters latest best-seller: Anxiety At Work - 8 Strategies to Help Teams Build Resilience, Handle Uncertainty, and Get Stuff Done

For all of you leaders out there, here’s some simple yet profound advice from Chester:

“Be a student of leadership. Leadership has a ripple effect and as a leader it’s not about helping your staff become better workers, it’s about helping them become better people.”

All too often we get caught in the metrics, the KPIs and the outcomes. Right? But how often do we look at the staff turnover, the staff morale? Well, those two metrics are a key indicator of how well a business is functioning. With high churn and low morale, a company is destined for decline.

So how do you build great culture? Well, change happens at the top. The leader has the opportunity to impact and empower their people. How the leader talks, works, handles crises and shows vulnerability will set the tone for the rest of the team. When a leader gets drunk at the Christmas party it communicates to everybody that this is acceptable in the organisation. When a leader works sixty hour weeks and skips their child’s school play, it sends a message that this is the expectation for all staff.

However, when a leader can show empathy and self-control, they can impact their team in a profound way. 

If you are committed to being a high performing leader, please check out the interview with Chester.


Full Transcript

The following is the full transcript of this weeks episode of the Life On Purpose Podcast with James Laughlin.


Chester Elton, New York Times Best-Selling Author, USA

James Laughlin, High Performance Leadership Coach, Christchurch, New Zealand


James Laughlin 00:00 

Welcome to Life on Purpose. My name is James Laughlin, former seven-time world champion musician and now a success coach to leaders and high performers. Each week, I bring you an inspiring leader or expert to help you live your life on purpose. Thanks for taking the time to connect today and investing in yourself. Enjoy the show!  


James Laughlin 00:38 

Before we jump into today's episode, I want to tell you about the purpose club. I started the purpose club quite some time ago, so that I could coach people of all backgrounds. Not everybody has access to coaching. And certainly, it can be at all people's price range. So, I wanted to create a community where I coach my members each month and it's incredibly affordable. And I do a deep dive monthly live session and deliver my best techniques, strategies, and habits. And I impart great lessons on leadership, motivation, mindset, abundance, habit installation, and you're creating a lasting legacy. There's free replays in there from all the previous live casts, there's high impact worksheets for you to take home and actually work through throughout the month, you'll receive weekly planning emails with actual planners to fill out your week, you'll get a weekly self-evaluation email, where you can evaluate yourself on all different levels, relationship, life, business, wealth, career, everything that you want, you'll get weekly journal prompts to really get your mind tuned into that higher level thinking. And also on a monthly basis, you'll get planning worksheets and reflections for your month. So, if you would like to learn about it, please get in touch with me or someone in my team, you know, jump on Instagram jameslaughlinofficial, drop me a DM or you can email me [email protected] or just go to the website, jjlaughlin.com and check it out. Enjoy the show and I hope to see some of you guys over in the purpose club.  


James Laughlin 02:26 

I'm incredibly excited to welcome in this week's special guests New York Times bestselling author, Chester Elton. Chester consults with some of the biggest leaders on the planet, has done incredible work, has published 14 books. And in today's session, we're going to talk about anxiety in the workplace. And he shares some absolute gold around how leaders can really create an incredibly high-performing culture. So, sit back and enjoy. 


James Laughlin 03:09 

Chester a massive welcome to the life on purpose podcast. 


Chester Elton 03:14 

Listen, thank you for the invitation. In the few minutes we said spent together before the podcast it's already been delightful, so I can't wait. 


James Laughlin 03:22 

Yeah, we've got a few shared common interests in rugby, in Canada, and in Rory Vaden. 


Chester Elton 03:29 

Yeah, that's true. Played rugby in high school. And you lived in my part of the world for a while in Vancouver and became a massive hockey fan, which I'm delighted to hear about. And yes, who doesn't love Rory Vaden and nothing but great things to say about Rory. 


James Laughlin 03:44 

Yeah, absolutely. I'm glad he brought us together like this. Came across your work via Rory and his team. So really, really great to connect. And your work is quite inspirational. And for leaders out there, it's going to be transformational. So, for anybody that's listening up, and this is your first time listening to Chester, I want you to go and follow him and a couple of things at places you can do that as get on Apple Music or on Spotify, follow his podcast Anxiety at Work, which there's also an amazing book, which is his most recent release, and he's written published 14 books 13 books? 


Chester Elton 04:17 

  1. That was number 14 anxiety at work. Yep. 



James Laughlin 04:20 

Incredible. So please do go and check those out. But let's chat about a little bit if we rewind the clock just to get started. Where did your career begin with leadership and business and all that fun stuff? 


Chester Elton 04:32 

Yeah, yeah, it's a fun story. I'll try to make it short. I grew up in sales. You know, I grew up in Canada. I was born in Edmonton grew up in Vancouver. My dad was on the radio. He grew up as a radio guy. He was an announcer and then he went into management, and I have four older brothers, and of course for us that was magical because radio stations got free tickets to everything right the concerts and the CFL football games and the hockey games. And so, we were living the life, eh? Well, my dad always said, look, nothing ever happens in business until somebody sells somebody something. So, sell. And when you sell you learn the products, you learn the processes, you learn the business because you have to, you know, you learn customer service in the whole bit. So, we did, we went into sales, four of us actually went into media sales, at some point we sold, advertising or TV or radio or whatever, our oldest brother, we don't talk about him quite as much. He's a lawyer, you know, so the black sheep of the family. So, I started to work for a company in Detroit, and then New York, and we sold TV time. And it was great fun. You know, we had great expense accounts, I'm living in the most exciting city in the world, New York City, and newly married we had a little place in Brooklyn, you know, and it was just great fun. Well, I just never felt like I was making the world a better place. I mean, we were selling lots of airtime. But other than that, so I got a chance to work for a recognition company out of Salt Lake City, Utah. And it really intrigued me because it was all about recognizing employees for, you know, long service, you know, their loyalty to a company, sales performance, high-performance, which, you know, you're all about. And then we were at a tennis family, rugby family, if there was somebody was keeping score, we were playing, you know. So, I love that idea about celebrating excellence and celebrating loyalty. So, I took a job, and they gave me a territory, was living in Brooklyn at the time in northern New Jersey. And we a lot of pharmaceutical companies were our customers, you know, if you want to learn about pharma, you go to Switzerland or New Jersey, those are the two epicenters for pharma companies. So, I did this project with recognition programs with a consulting firm. And I said, hey, we should partner up on this more often you do the strategy, we would do the programs. How do I learn more about your company? Well, he sent me a book written by their senior VP of international. It's called the talent equation if I'm not mistaken. And I loved it. So, I called our CEO and I said, Kent- He's Kent Murdoch. I said, Kent, this is brilliant. I mean, they're the thought leaders in employee engagement, and thought leaders published, nobody has published the definitive book in employee recognition. If we were to publish that, then people would call us. So always from the sales standpoint, right? make my life easier, give me better referrals, you know. And he said, Why I love that idea. Well, write the book. And I think you misunderstood. The idea is that you should write the book. And then as the salesperson, I would benefit from this book, right? And this was the moment James, he said, you know what, Chester, you're a smart guy, figure it out. Isn't that a moment? 


James Laughlin 07:57 

That's so good! 


Chester Elton 07:59 

So, I said, well, you know, I'm not a writer. But I started to play with titles and chapters and so on. Well, about a year later, he calls me back and he says, you know, Chester, I've always liked that idea of a book. I've hired a writer; his name is Adrian Gostick. Introduce yourself, write the book. And so, in 2000, we got a little publisher, you know, that would take a chance on new authors. And we published a book called Managing with carrots. Hence the orange. You know, oranges are color carrots are our vegetable. And we dropped it on Kent's desk. And it was so cute. He said I love being CEO. You say stuff, and it happens. It's good to be king, right? And we didn't know, you know, James, jeez I think we sold like 30,000 copies or something. And in most business books, that's a massive hit. I mean, you know, normally say, well, if it's not seven habits if you're not selling a million of copies, then who cares? But the smaller publisher was thrilled. So, I said, What's your next book? And he said, you know, we really hadn't really thought that far ahead. And then and then, you know, as hard work meets opportunity, as you know, and high-performance, right? People would say, hey, we love the book, you speak on your books, we said, Sure, why not? Oh, we loved your speech. Of course, you have trained with this. Sure, why not? And so, we worked really hard at our presentation skills, we worked really hard in creating, you know, meaningful content for workshops and so on. And we did that we wrote seven books for that company. Wow. And then there was a change in leadership. And this is another lesson. Good people took over, right? It's just they didn't get us. Not for a minute. They didn't appreciate thought leadership. And we found we were kind of fish out of water. And so, we took a huge risk, we went out on our own. And Adrian, and I've been writing now for 21 years, and 14 books, I think we sold 1.61 point 7 million copies. That's phenomenal. 30 languages, we've presented in over 45 countries, not New Zealand, so you got to figure that out for us to change that, 


James Laughlin 10:29 

we got to change that fast.  


Chester Elton 10:31 

Yeah, we got it, we got to get on that project. So that was the journey. And then along the way, just meeting, you know, amazing people and writing, we went from, you know, employee recognition and engagement to culture, to teamwork, to leadership. And the red thread has always been that, you know, we never met a great leader, a great team, and a really healthy and high performing culture, that there wasn't that red thread of gratitude, you know, that they appreciated and valued each other that they never took each other for granted. And, and it's been a formula that's held true. You know, I'm a big believer that there are certain, you know, eternal truths. You know, there are certain but trust obviously, is a foundational principle in high-performance and in great teams. And I honestly believe that gratitude is another one of those indispensable building blocks, if I don't feel valued, if I don't feel appreciated, if I don't value and appreciate the people around me, I think our chances for doing well go with going way down. So long answer a short question. Hope that was helpful. 


James Laughlin 11:42 

Awesome, amazing. Absolutely amazing. And let's think about maybe a team or an organization, where you have really seen that trust and read throughout, as you say, of gratitude running through it has been one team that you've interacted with or served or spoke with or just met you like, wow, they've got it. They exemplify what I write about. 


Chester Elton 12:00 

No question. I actually there are several I've mentioned three or four, and then we'll take a deep dive, but there's a wonderful restaurant chain here in the United States called Texas Roadhouse. 600 restaurants, 70,000 plus employees, phenomenal team culture, a phenomenal culture of gratitude, and I'll get into that in a minute. WD 40 You probably have a can somewhere in your garage. Yeah, I never leave home without mine. I've got my travel size right here. I love Gary Ridge, who's the CEO there is created a tribal culture. He says tribal is different than teammate coworker in a tribe we defend each other we eat together, we celebrate together, it's a deeper connection. Took that company from 250 million to 4 billion. I mean, just in you know, in 12-13 years, a stock we all should have bought 10 years ago. And American Express, you know, financial companies' kind of take it on the chin when it comes to a culture quite a bit. Ken Chenault who we profiled in our book leading with gratitude. Phenomenal culture, my son actually works at American Express. And as it is a huge fan of the culture that they've built there. And, you know, just to mention a few 






James Laughlin 13:26 

How do you build it? So, let's say there's a CEO listening, or there's somebody that's in senior management going, I want to try and start a change here and lead with gratitude. How can someone actually start to implement that in a business? What does that look like? 


Chester Elton 13:38 

Well, you make a good point, James. And it's always easier when the change happens at the top., right? As you know, captain of a team leader of a team. How many times have we seen, you know, a football team, or baseball team or hockey team where it's basically the same players, they change the manager. And it changes the culture. A classic example of that, actually, we did a lot of fun work with the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team. And Scott O'Neill, the CEO at the time builds phenomenal teams. I mean, phenomenal. You should have him on your podcast. He's brilliant. Just write a book to be where your feet are. Life lessons not just to be an extraordinary leader, how to really be an extraordinary person, a better husband, a better father. It was Scott that first taught us the principle of assuming positive intent. You know, assume positive intent about your people. 99% of people come to work wanting to do a good job. And they're going to make a mistake and that's okay. Well, he takes over the Philadelphia 76 years when they were literally, they have the lowest winning percentage of any professional sports franchise. Ever. Ever. 


James Laughlin 15:00 

That's a good job to be taken over. 


Chester Elton 15:02 

Well, there's nowhere to go but up, right? So, literally, they play 82 games a year in basketball. It's a long season with 41 home games 41 away games. Oh, they had seasons where they were winning like 12 games. Can you imagine? Or even a team like that? I mean, it was just psychologically it would just, it would just batter you. They take over. And he puts together a sales team is a hey, I'm in sports sales. Great. Which team is selling? The Philadelphia 76. You go oh, ah. How about the Boston Celtics, you know? Anybody but the Philadelphia 76ers. Three years in a row they broke the NBA record for season ticket sales. Wow. And the way they did it was they got their fans to believe in the process. Now, I mean, the States knows its process. So, they say trust the process. And they said, look, we're going to be bad. And we're going to be bad for a little while. Now is the time you want to get in because we're going to build something really special here. And you can be a part of that. And so, they drafted players, they brought in players that just played with heart and gusto. And if you know anything about the city of Philadelphia, yeah, they want to win. Every city wants to win. Do you know what they want to see, though? They want to see you leave it all on the floor. If you go out and you're diving for basketballs, if you're giving it your all and you lose, not a problem, like seriously, not a problem. Because it's a tough city. It's a blue-collar, it's you know, Philadelphia, if you're from Philly, there's a there's an attitude, right? Yeah, I mean, you know, you just love it, right? It's like your grinders in the scrum, right? I mean, those guys just get after it, you know. And that's what they did. And all of a sudden, they started to win games. They went to the conference finals, they got beat on a Hail Mary shot from the corner, the guy fell into the stands, it bounced around the rim three times and went in and broke everybody's heart. The thing is, they left it all on the floor. Hmm. And now getting a ticket to a Sixers game. That's a tough ticket. That's amazing. What a turnaround. Well, and what he did was he brought us, teams, together, and he said, look, we're going to assume positive intent about each other. We're going to give world-class every day. We're not going to make any excuses. And we're going to cheer for each other. And it's a simple formula, right? 


James Laughlin 17:43 

Yeah, there's no excuse like that. Sometimes. That's exactly what a team needs. Right? 


Chester Elton 17:47 

Well, sure, a simple message. And back to your question, how do you change your culture? How do you build that culture backup? Simple messaging. I'll never forget this was years ago, we were working with a Silicon Valley, you know, company said, you know, we really want to emphasize culture and vision and values. We said, great, well, so, you know, what are your core values? The guy says, geez, you know, we just had a retreat. We really codified our core values. I said, well, what are they? He said, well, let me go get him. 


James Laughlin 18:22 

Oh, no. Oh, no. 


Chester Elton 18:24 

Which was the first indication that and he comes back, and he says, Yeah, we have 12 core values. And I said, 12 is too many. I said, you know, Moses only had 10. And by the way, most people can't name those either. I mean, yeah, I mean, everybody knows, maybe half of them. Right. So, we worked really hard, you know, the rule of three, which was another rule of Scott, I mean, world-class, no excuses, cheer. Rule of three, you know, ABC 123, you know, Michael Jackson, son, you know. 


James Laughlin 19:05 

It's how it works, right? remember things in small little chunks? 


Chester Elton 19:09 

Absolutely. You know, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, so and so you inculcate that you make it very simple to remember, the concepts are simple. Now, it's all in the execution. And that's where it's hard. And yet he would model it. You know, when we first met Scott, he was at the NBA. And it was really interesting. He was in charge of season ticket holders for the entire league. And what he found is, is that the team in San Antonio would come up with a great marketing strategy. And then they wouldn't share it with the guys in New York. Because they were in competition with New York. You're not in competition with New York. You're in competition with the other teams in San Antonio, with the restaurants with the movie theaters. If you've got a good idea, share it. And so, we did really simple things, you know, now you know you In. In hockey, you get an assist, right? So that two guys that touch the puck before you score the goal, basketballs the same thing. Do you know what they call an assist in basketball? They call it a dime. I don't know why. It's sports, right? He dropped a dime on them, right? He did all the work, pass it off, the guy hits the shot it's a dime. So, Scott would do really simple things. He'd say, you find a best practice. And you share it with the rest of the league. And I'll give you a dime, like 10 cents. The coins are this big. I love it. He said, I'm telling you, there were stacks of dimes in these cubicles. They would never spend them. Can't buy much with a dime anyway. The point is, the point is, is the symbols the celebration? Did you give it your all today? Were you world-class? We don't make excuses. Right? And we cheer for each other. You know, my dad had a great saying. You should write this down James, you're going to like it. I'm going to write it down. He says excuses. Even when valid is never impressive. Excuses, even when valid are never impressive. So, this idea of well, it was bad weather. Well, me. Yeah, and that can be true. It's not impressive. I tell you what's impressive. There was the weather was bad. We had a flat tire. The car broke down and we still got here. 15 minutes early. That's impressive, right?  


James Laughlin 21:33 

Hell yes. No. Excuses, even when valid are never impressive. I'm gonna remember that. 


Chester Elton 21:39 

And you know, you want to be high performance. You want to be impressive. And you've never met a great athlete that made excuses, you know? 


James Laughlin 21:50 

They only made decisions and got on with the work. 


Chester Elton 21:51 

Yeah. One of my favorite tennis players growing up was Rocket Rod Laver. Yeah. And I used to love the stories about the Australian tennis players because they love the game. And they would tell stories about the rocket at Wimbledon. And he would go out of the locker room, and he would have his wife tape up his wrist because he had an injury in a phone booth. And then he would cover it with a sweatband. Because he never wanted there to be an excuse as to why he lost and is so funny because his wife was an American. And she'd say, Rod, just tell them to tell him you're hurt because no, not going to make an excuse. If I'm well enough to play. No excuses and you got to love that. 


James Laughlin 22:41 

That's an amazing mindset. Yeah. When you come down to Australia, New Zealand, in Melbourne is the Rod Laver Arena, and it's just incredible. It's where they do, the Australian opens, you'll have to go and check it out. 


Chester Elton 22:54 

So, this is my dream, James. So we go to Australia, New Zealand. We go to the Australian Open, and we stay there for a couple of months right really absorbed the culture. Then we go to Paris for Roland Garros. Then we go to London and we go to the UK for Wimbledon. And then we wrap up at the US Open back in New York. We just get to be an amazing year.  


James Laughlin 23:18 

Perfect year. Oh, yeah. I love it. How knows, someday. You talked about this great thing a second ago about doing things for the love of doing it and the love of the game. So, in the leadership game and the thought game, what is that you love about it? What's your passion for? 



Chester Elton 23:33 

Well, you know, and this again, from Gary Ridge, WD 40. And, and Scott O'Neill at the at the76ers. Kent Chenault, I picked up early in studying them. They were students of leadership. And I love that, you know, Scott was always looking at other leaders. How did they do that? What were the principles? How can I do more of that they were students of leadership. The thing I love about leadership is the ripple effect. Now you think about some of the great teachers you had, which I think are some of the world's great leaders, right. Coaches that you had, maybe your dad, maybe an uncle, maybe your grandfather, grandma. And the ripple effect of great leadership is, is incalculable. You know, my high school basketball coach, some of the principles he taught me, my high school rugby coach, you know, we were there, Hillside highwayman from West Vancouver. And James, our motto was highwayman hustle. So, whether we won or lost, we always got after it. So did you know you'd never want to be at the end of the game say we could hustle more we could have gotten after just a little more say no? We're highwaymen, we hustle. That's so good. Yeah, and I love that, you know, I love that you just, if you're going to do it, go for it. And I think that in life, you know, whether they're teachers or coaches or family, they lead you. And they, and that ripple effect that we impress you about you, your character, your integrity, your, your work ethic. And so that's what I love about leadership, you know, like, I love Gary Ridge, WD 40, this the people that work there, it's so fascinating, you know, you'll go to a company, and you can tell pretty quickly if they've got a good culture or not, by the quality of the people. You know, and American Express, it was always amazing to me. I mean, I'd meet all these leaders, they were all world-class. And they're all good people, like, yeah, they were, they were good leaders. I'll never forget, I was doing a conference for a consulting firm. They had all their leaders there. And they were asking, you know, say, what do you want from your leader? And there was one answer, in particular, that has, I've never forgotten me said, you know, I don't want my leader to just make me a more efficient worker. I don't want my leader to make me a better worker, I want my leader to help me become a better person. And all of a sudden, everything changed for me. Because, you know, one of my favorite statistics in all our research, by the way, we've got a database of over a million engagement surveys that we look at, you know, 80,000, motivators, assessments, and so on. So, we like to look at the data. Wow. And, and it's, it's really interesting. You know, my favorite data point is, if you're happy and engaged and motivated at work, you're 150% more likely to be happy in your personal life. So, and we've all had that right, we've all had a job where the alarm clock went off with it. Ah, do I have to? You know, can I think of something so that I don't have to go to work today? Because it's just soul-crushing. And then we've had those jobs where the alarm we can't wait to get out of bed. My dad worked for the same Broadcasting Company for like, 40 years. 40 plus whatever. Amazing. As he was older, I'd say dad. So, what was it about radio that kept you? I mean, not just in radio, but the same company. He said you know, Chess, radio, was the latest technology. Think about that, right? It's just sounds, right? So, you know, it was the latest technology. We, we were interviewing world leaders. I mean, we could hear their voices, right? And he said, there were days when I would jump out of bed, throw my fist in the air, just say yes, I get to go to work today. So, tell me more. And he said, well, it was an exciting industry. It was cutting edge. We were this was the new medium. And he said, you know what, but more than that, it was the people I got to work with. That made all the difference. And if that's a noble cause, something you love, and people you love doing it with? Doesn't get any better than that. Yeah. 


James Laughlin 28:32 

And if a leader can take that on board and appreciate that, that could be transformational for their company while executing on that is quite clear. There are not 100 metrics and you know, it 10 or 20 core values there. It's three. 


Chester Elton 28:44 

Well, yeah, and, you know, and, and what's the ripple effect? I mean, you love your job, you do better your people that love their jobs make more. Because they're better. You know, and what that means is you can send your kids to university you can you know, you can buy a car, you can buy a house, you can go on a vacation, you can pass down you can give to your favorite charity, you can you know what I mean? I mean, you can be about doing good things. All because you had a leader that, yeah, helped you become a more efficient worker, but sent you home happy. I tell leaders, I said, Listen, I know you got a lot of things on your list. You got to hit quotas. You got to take care of customers, you got to you know, it's one of the most important jobs is send your people home happy. 


James Laughlin 29:31 

That's incredible. Yeah, reminds me of a conversation I had with a guy called Christopher Luxon. He was the former CEO of Air New Zealand. And he implemented this amazing thing where if someone in his workforce had experienced domestic violence on here in New Zealand, we've got I think, the third-highest domestic violence rate on the planet. Surprisingly, if you were affected by that he would they're the company Air Zealand would pay for counseling, will give you a number of weeks of leave to deal with it. If you were the perpetrator of the domestic violence and you worked at Air New Zealand, you were also given free counseling and time off to recover and fix your life and figure out where you need to take things. So, I just thought that he as a leader was thinking more than the bottom line. It wasn't about New Zealand making x amount of dollars for them for their investors. It was actually no this is about the quality of the experience for the staff members. And year after year after year, they won the best airline in the world. And people like what's with this Air New Zealand thing? Why are they so good? Why are there in safety instructional videos are so funny, it all came from great leadership and not just from the top but right across all levels. So, to me that really rings true with what you just said. 


Chester Elton 30:47 

Yeah, I think it's very true, James. Gratitude attracts gratitude. We like to be with people that appreciate us, that care about us, that love us. I'll tell you a story. Adrian and I were privileged to write a book for Kent Taylor. Not a name, you'd know, but he's the founder of Texas Roadhouse restaurants, I mentioned them earlier. 600 restaurants, 70,000 employees, well, COVID hits what was one of the first things that shut down? All the restaurants. Here in the States, 8 million, 8 million? 5 million? Millions of people in the restaurant industry, in a matter of days, lost their jobs. Not one of them worked for Texas Roadhouse. Kent stepped up and said, you know what? I'm going to give up my million-dollar salary. I'm going to kick in another 5 million of my own money. And we're going to pay everybody, everybody whether you can come to work or not, because you know, before the vaccine if I had elderly parents, if I was living at home, in a restaurant, you got young people right there, busting the tables and working in the kitchen and stuff. He said we will pay you even if you can't come to work. And their whole premise was a party every night at Texas Roadhouse, hand-cut steaks, everything made from scratch the rolls just to die for cinnamon butter, I mean, just ridiculous. Every kind of beer on tap, I mean, line dancing, and he hated takeout. Because you can't put a party in a bag. Take it was maybe 5% of their business. Well, now it's got to be 100%. So, he grabs everybody and says, look, we're not firing anybody. We're not closing down. So how are we going to make this work? Every morning and that we could listen in on the calls. He'd bring his leaders together and say what's working, what's working, what's working. All of a sudden, they were having parties in the parking lot. They were they figured it- the only thing in four weeks. They were profitable again. Wow. Four weeks. Their stock went from like $80 and something down to like 18? It went up over 100.  


James Laughlin 33:12 



Chester Elton 33:13 

And here's why. Because if you work for Texas Roadhouse, you're a roadie, right? You were going to Roadhouse you're a roadie. So good. And Kent did every job. He knew how to wash dishes. He knew how to cut a steak. He knew how to bus a table. He knew how to work the bar. And Kent loved hard work and info. And he said if you come and you work hard and restaurant business as hard, we will never let you down. So, while everybody else is unemployed, you've got a job. They've got a program at Texas Roadhouse called Andy's outreach. Their mascot is an armadillo. I don't know if you know what an armadillo is it's a desert rat, you know a thing and they put a cowboy hat on them and give them a six-shooter. And Andy's outreach is the employee assistance program. So, if all of a sudden, it gets really cold, and you've got a heating bill, you can't pay. You go to Andy's outreach. They'll pay your bill. You're a waitress and you get in a car wreck, and you need a car. They'll buy your car. It all started because there was a dishwasher who's deaf. And he was this hard-working guy washing the dishes. And he died all of a sudden from a heart attack unexpectedly. And you don't make a lot of money washing dishes. His family couldn't pay for the funeral. And so, the Texas Roadhouse executives got together and said, That's not right. They gathered the money they paid for the funeral. They took care of his family and he said, and we can do better than that. He said if you do if you take 50 cents out of your paycheck, we'll match it for Andy's outreach started the fund with a couple $100,000. Now they have a restaurant in Logan, Utah, that generates over a million dollars a year. And 100% of that profit goes to Andy's outreach. Incredible! You tell me, you're working hard, something goes wrong. And your boss at work steps up and says, we got your back on this. So, when the pandemic hits, what did every one of those roadies do? What do you need boss? What do you need? How are we going to do this? Let's figure it out. Brilliant. 


James Laughlin 35:40 

That's an amazing thing. Unbelievable. Great lesson for leaders out there. And also, for stuff, like when you give that respect, love, the commitment that it's returned, and getting it with no expectations. That's an amazing example. 


Chester Elton 35:55 

Yeah. And by the way, the audiobook that the book is called made from scratch. If you're listening download made from scratch. It's the improbable success of Texas Roadhouse is the Kent Taylor story. Adrian and I did the research and actually wrote the book for him. It was one of the great honors of our life to write that book. Because Kent didn't survive the pandemic. Very tragic.  



James Laughlin 36:21 

I'm sorry to hear that. That's an amazing, amazing contribution to society that he has made. And you guys have been a part of that journey. So yep, please, if you're listening, gone, download made from scratch. That's incredible. I'll make sure to put it in the footnotes as well. And let's talk a little bit about your more recent work. So, anxiety at work. To me, that's, like, a really important thing to chat about, because anxiety is on the increase. I think it was like 700,000 cases of anxiety last year, which leads to other issues, which leads, you know, depression and suicide and all these awful things. So, anxiety at work, what is it? And what do we need to be thinking about as leaders and how do we help move things forward? 


Chester Elton 36:59 

Yeah. Well, if you're watching the video portion, I just got a hold up the copy of the book. Love it. The legendary success story of Texas Roadhouse, Kent Taylor, as the brilliant anxiety at work. Yes, no question. So, Adrian and I have been studying culture for 20 years. What are the key elements of a great culture? Well, it became really apparent, the pandemic really shone a light on anxiety. And as well, it should have I mean, the whole world shut down. I mean, it just wasn't your neighborhood. It was every neighborhood. And you know, the number one cause of anxiety is uncertainty. You know, we did our homework on this one. Well, nothing was more uncertain than the pandemic. Am I going to get sick of money? Am I going to die? Do I have a job? You know, is there going to be food on the shelves at the grocery store? I mean, that's a lot of uncertainty. Are we ever going to go back to work? Is the company going to survive? Right? And it was really interesting. Our books have always been, you know, Gostick and Elton. If you look at the bottom, it's got- our goal James was Lennon and McCartney. That was, yeah. Not quite there yet. But anyway, this book is different. If you look, it's Gostick and Elton and Gostick. Anthony Gostick. Anthony is Adrian's son. And since he was a little kid suffered from anxiety and is 25 years old now. He's a super-smart kid. He's studying DNA and, you know, Genome stuff. And he's getting his master's at USC, you know, the University of Southern California, super-smart kid, by the way, found out that most super-smart kids, in particular, suffer from anxiety. It's kind of goes hand in hand. Yeah. And he said You guys need to write on anxiety. He says because you always you never talk about it. And he's right. You know, my generation, you would never talk about anxiety or depression. Because what did that mean James? If you had talked about say about you? You've got some stigma, right? You're weak? Yeah. You're weak. Oh, you can't handle it. Well, yeah, I told you, it's going to be a hard job. So, he said, you always never talked about. He says you got to understand our generation. It's all we talked about. And he was right. We did a really interesting generational study. The differences, baby boomers rarely talk about Gen X, a little more millennials? Gen Z, or Gen Zed as we say all the time. And why? Well, they grew up much differently, right? The digital world, all of a sudden, all this information all this incredible bad news. That's these washes over your everyday active shooter drills. You know, mass shootings. I mean, here in the States, it's ridiculous. You know, you have active shooter drills in elementary schools. Teachers lock the door. Because of active, you know, you go to a movie theater, the first thing that, you know, kids are thinking, what's the fastest way out of here? Because there were movie theater shootings crazy stuff like crazy that we would never have imagined. So yeah, they grew up a little more anxious, a lot more digital way too much information. The Facebook life, everything looks great. You know, no one can have a bad day. Yeah. Well, we came across this expression called the duck syndrome. And it started at Stanford University. And you know, you think about a duck, right? Coming across the pond, you know, so elegant, so graceful, so calm. And yet what's propelling that duck across the pond? It paddled like mad underneath there. And so, the students would start to call each other ducks. You're a duck. I know, you look like you've really got it all together. And then one of them said, I actually kind of think like, I'm the little duckling behind the mama duck. You know, the duck? You got the two or three, four or five. She said, I'm looking around and all the other ducklings look like they're doing great. And all I know is I'm paddling like mad to keep up with mom, you know. So, this, this idea of, it's there. And it's pervasive. I'll give you some, some numbers. So pre-pandemic, about 18% of employees said they had some kind of anxiety disorder, something that affected their work. So, one in five, call it 20%, One in five. Middle of the pandemic, that jumps up to 30%. Wow. So now you're at almost a third of your population. 


Chester Elton 42:02 

In millennials, it's 42%. Actually, for workers in their 20s and early 30s, it's 42%. You're approaching half your workforce. And yet, because of the stigma, nobody talks about it. Now. Somebody comes to work with a broken arm, you go, hey, buddy, James, hey, take, take some time off. You don't take care of that. Right away. You've got almost half your workforce coming to work with broken arms, but you won't talk about it. It's not right. And here's why. And this is what we teach leaders and for you leaders that are listening, if you don't remember anything else, remember this. Your job as a leader is to do three things. normalize the conversation. Hey, everybody's been anxious. Everybody, normalizes the conversation. Destigmatize it. If you had a broken arm, we address it. It said, hey, I was playing rugby, just you know, pick up stupid, got caught the scrum Brookmeyer. take a week off, take care of that. You go to your boss and say, you know what? I'm just completely overwhelmed. I need time off just for my mental health. Oh, geez. I don't know James. See what I mean? Take the stigma away. Broken arm. Overwhelmed, same. Now, the third one is fascinating. If you'd asked me three years ago, four years ago, what are the characteristics of truly great leaders? I would have said, well, Master communicator, Master motivator, right? Paints the vision of taking the assault, you know, take taking charge, you know, a brighter day. James, if you ask me now, there's only one characteristic that matters. And if you don't have this one, none of the rest matter. And it's empathy. If you can't lead with empathy, it's game over. It's literally game over. Now. There's a difference between empathy and sympathy. I'm going to put you on the spot. James, what's the difference between sympathy and empathy? 


James Laughlin 44:19 

So, for me right on the spot, if I was to think about that, so sympathy is me an inner feeling of me as the leader, feeling sorry, for this individual's situation like, oh, they're, they're disadvantaged or they're, they're injured or that they're suffering, I feel sorry for them. I want to fix it. Whereas for me, empathy is like, hey, let me jump into their shoes and walk a day in their life and try and figure out what is it that they're challenged with? Why is it challenging? And how can I partner or support them with that journey forward? 


Chester Elton 44:55 

See, this is why CEOs all over the world listen to you, James. You're exactly right, you're exactly right. You know, sympathy is I'm strong, you're weak, I'll fix it. Empathy is I'm going to crawl down into that space with you. And I'm going to say, hey, I don't know exactly the way you're feeling. I felt like this too. Let's figure it out. Now, for you leaders that are listening, I know what a lot of you are thinking. And it's this. Chess, I got a lot on my plate. I got customers, I got supplier supply chain issues, I got quotas. I got competitors breathing down my neck, I get that this isn't nice to have. I am not a certified counselor. I don't have a degree in psychology. I am not a father confessor. These are soft skills and nice to have. I can't add this to my leadership plate. And the answer that is, yeah, I get that. And so, to your people. They know you're not a certified counselor or psychologist. They want you to do one thing. And James, what's that one thing that they want you to do? Listen. Absolutely, you nailed it. See, I don't even know what you have me on your show. You know, all this stuff. I should? Yeah, brilliant, straight A's. Yeah, they want you to listen, because here's the dirty little secrets. What percent of employees do you think to feel safe talking to their immediate supervisor or their boss about mental health? What's the percentage like, 


James Laughlin 46:42 

I'm going to say 15%. 


Chester Elton 46:45 

The first time you first time you've got rough, it's the first time you've got it, you've missed the gym. 15% is high. It's 10%. It's 10%. So, so reverse that 90% of people won't talk about why, because of the stigma. You're not going to, you're not going to promote me, you're not going to give me the plum assignment, you're not going to give me a raise, you're going to see me as weak. I'm just going to suck it up. So, here's the downside of that. If you don't have a safe culture, and a lot has been written. And like Amy Edmondson, Harvard School of Business, psychological safety, brilliant concept. The pandemic I think, has asked us to up our game to emotional safety. Is my voice heard doesn't matter? Right. And when you've got 90%, that are afraid to talk about it. Here's the ripple effect, the negative ripple, right. 50% of millennials and 75% of Gen Zed say that they have recently left the job due to mental health issues. That's a huge turnover. And I'm convinced that if they worked at places where it was safe to talk about it, those numbers would come down dramatically. You get these super-smart people. They're suffering from anxiety; they can't talk about it. So, they work until they're burned out. And then they just blink out. I think what happened to James, that guy was amazing. Yeah, kind of weird. I yeah, you just kind of just packed it in. My guess is not in every case. It's never universal, that in a lot of those cases, it's because they got burnout. And they got to a place where they were just overwhelmed. And rather than admit that they were suffering from debilitating anxiety. They just said you know what, I'm just going to quit. I'll take my own time off. I'll rally I always do. And when I feel good, let's just go get another job. They're smart, they're capable. You can bet. Instead of finding these brilliant people, figuring out what's going on, listening, empathizing, and winning together.  


James Laughlin 49:07 

That's powerful. When you think about it, when a leader says, I've got all of this stuff on my plate that I have to deal with, I cannot develop that thing. Well, actually, that thing directly correlates to the revenue and churn and burnout and turnover of their staff. So, it really needs to be a key pillar in their leadership toolkit like developing empathy, developing compassion. 




Chester Elton 49:31 

Yeah. So as a leader, how do you make it safe for people to talk about mental health and anxiety? How do you do that? 


James Laughlin 49:40 

You'd have to say, well, for me anyway, I think you got to talk about your own show your vulnerabilities, and show them that you also are struggling, so share your weaknesses. 


Chester Elton 49:51 

Yeah, see, again, I still don't know why you've invited me to your show because that's exactly right. You know, it's as soon as you become vulnerable, and you talk about it, and you talk about your journey and your trials, and how you came out and, and, you know, confessed or whatever, whatever, you know language you want to use, you shared your vulnerability. Now it's safe. Look, if the boss can talk about it, everybody can talk about it. And that's the scary part about being a leader, right? Because if the leader can go out and get stupid drunk, then everybody can go out and get stupid drunk, right? If the leader cheats on his expenses, everybody cheats on their expenses, right? That's the negative ripple effect, right? The positive is, hey, if my leader comes out and says, you know what, I struggled with anxiety a lot. There's a brilliant leader at Walmart Canada. Her name Nabeela Ixtalaban. And she's one of these ridiculous high performers. Muslim. Worked at Starbucks. Worked at these incredible brands, right? Always the rising star. Chief People Officer for Walmart, Canada, 100,000 employees, she's responded for 100,000. Can you imagine? 100,000? 


James Laughlin 51:17 

That's seriously insane. Yeah. 


Chester Elton 51:21 

So, she comes out and says, Listen, I'm a recovering workaholic. She talks about I was working on three to four or five hours sleep max. Never said no. You would never think I ever had any issues. I was the happiest, most driven, ambitious. What did it cost her? Her health? Her marriage? Hor self-confidence? Now she's in this position. They've made mental health, the number one issue for Walmart, Canada. And she shares her story everywhere. Now, here's what's really interesting. People have come up to her and said now I've gotten to know Nabeela quite well like we have a call today. Got a wonderful online conference in January, about mental it's going to be called ripple. Anyway, and Nabeela is key to this. They say well, easy for you to say now. You're the chief people officer at Walmart, Canada. Would you have gotten there? Had you not made all those sacrifices? And I just love her answer. She says, oh, yeah, I'm confident I would have gotten here. It would have taken me longer. And knowing what I know now, I would make that trade. Well, that's powerful. 


James Laughlin 52:46 

That's incredibly powerful. What an answer. Yes. There's a lot to be said, you know, reading some studies on karoshi. So obviously, the Japanese have actually got a term that means death by overwork is a bit of a pandemic there in Japan. So, a young 31-year-old journalist, Miwa Sado, was found dead with her phone in her hand, mobile phone, and she logged 159 hours of overtime that month, so roughly 40 hours a week of overtime. She logged. And so, I was just understating why does this happens just in Japan. And I was like, no I remember a story about Arianna Huffington. Collapsing due to burnout and overwork. She broke her cheekbone; she woke up in a pool of blood. And that really was a wake-up call for her. And she started I think it's called Thrive Global. 


Chester Elton 53:39 

Yes! So, what a wonderful coincidence. Arianna Huffington, Nabeela Ixtalaban, and I, the three of us did an online workshop on exactly this. No way. Yeah, I mean, it's so funny that he would bring Ariana Huffington. That's incredible. So, you can see that what's normalizing the conversation? Now, you know, we talked about tennis, right? I grew up in a tennis family. What happened at the French Open? Naomi Osaka said, look, I love playing tennis. It's the press conferences I can't handle. So initially, the French Open said what said look, that's part of the game. If you can't do the press conferences. We're going to penalize you. In fact, you may have to forfeit a match. And everybody said, you know, we're going to bring the hammer down, right? She said, Okay, I withdraw. She was the number two tennis player in the world at the time. Well, you know, these big tournaments they want as many of the top players as they can get. And I'm telling you the backlash. And by the way, Wimbledon and the US Open said the same thing said Naomi if you can't do the press conferences that we're going to fine you. She said, Fine, I'll withdraw. All of the sudden, all the fans came out and said, you've got to be kidding me. You're not going to let this brilliant young woman play tennis, because she won't sit in a room and answer stupid questions from, you know, inane questions from crazy reporters. Like, that's, that's the tradeoff? Well, and then, of course, all the mental health stuff starts coming out. All of a sudden, all three tournaments pivoted on a dime. Of course, they did. Yeah, yeah. And it was like, Oh, that Oh, yeah. Listen, take all the time. Yeah, you know, it was just so disingenuous. What I loved about it, though, is it shone the light. Yeah. And then we saw it happen at the Olympics, you know, Biles, that the goat greatest of all time, you know, and then actors and musicians and, you know, I live in New Jersey and New Jersey is famous for pharmaceutical companies. Jon Bon Jovi, and The Boss Baby Bruce Springsteen. The legend himself. And, you know, Bruce, I call him Bruce because we both live in Jersey, you know, we're tight. He said, look, in his autobiography, Born to Run, he said, suffered from a lot of anxiety as a young performer. And so, when he says the only place, I don't feel anxious, is when I'm on stage. So, share a quick story with James. So, Broadway shuts down. Right. The guy that opened Broadway was Bruce Springsteen. So, if you could show your vaccination card and you were willing to wear a mask, the whole concert, you could go. Well, Bruce Springsteen is 73 years old now. And the reason they could open with his show is that it's a piano, it's a guitar, it's a mic. You don't need a lot of stuff, right? He comes out on stage, now the place is packed. He comes out on stage in black jeans, black boots, black T-shirt, walks out on stage, with his hands in his pockets, looks at the crowd. He goes and he gets a raucous standing ovation. Just kidding. They were so thrilled to be in a theater again, with the boss, right? And so yes, yourself. Why would you ever pass that up? Let me talk about animation. Talk about gratitude. Right. And he did. He did like three and a half hours straight. I mean, the guys are unbelievable. Have you ever been to a Springsteen concert? He plays forever. He loved his fans. 


James Laughlin 57:38 

His dad's a big, big fan. I love to see him. 


Chester Elton 57:43 

Yeah, yeah. So, you know, you start getting people of the magnitude of Bruce Springsteen saying, oh, yeah, mental health struggled with my whole life. You know, Naomi Osaka, one of the best tennis players in the world. Yeah. And it starts to normalize the conversation. It starts to destigmatize mental health. And what does it do? It creates a lot of empathy. Because all of a sudden, the fans are going, yeah. Yeah, I know that feeling. I'll tell you about a great experience. Adrian and I had we were doing these anxiety workshops, which can be somewhat anxiety-inducing. So, we're doing with these restaurants, you know, managers. And as we're going through it, yeah, my people need this, you know, I got to lay young people. Oh, you know, we're telling you, here's how you kind of spot it. Here's how you deal with it. They go yeah, yeah, you know, you take breaks. One of the last breaks we took other forget, store manager comes up and he is, you know, this is going to be really good for my people. No doubt is because of my people and by the way, me too. Yeah. So, yeah, and so it's, it's, it's everywhere, you know, I say, hey, how many of you in the audience have never had an anxious day in your life? Right? If anybody raises their hand, you know, one thing for sure. They're not telling you the truth. 


James Laughlin 59:20 

And it's such a human experience like anxiety is natural and normal. Know, we can work on managing, but it's, it's a normal thing. And I guess initially, it's obviously helped to stay alive. But it's when that gets out of control. And particularly in the workplace. It can be debilitating. So, when people read the book are their exercises and ideas, tangible things that they can do that can help them manage that anxiety in the workplace? 


Chester Elton 59:44 

Yeah, there are eight strategies and how to deal with uncertainty, build resilience and get things done. That's that subtitle. And if you download the audiobook, Adrian, and I actually read the book, so you'll hear more of this voice. So, if you have trouble sleeping, go to the Chester chapters. I'll put it out. Yeah. And at the end of every chapter, we do a quick summary. Here's what to look for. One of the chapters that I really like and one of the tips is how do you spot anxiety? Because remember, we talked about high performers and anxiety almost always goes hand in hand. Not always, in many cases. And the reason you don't notice it is because they're good at hiding it. You know, they're good at hiding it. Naomi Osaka? Until it really became crazy people. Happy kid, credible talent. Top of the world, one of the world's best tennis players got the world by the tail, right? And so, we say, look, look for subtle changes in behavior, people that show up late, somebody starts losing their temper that never loses their temper, quality work goes down. Now, the last thing in the world is that you go up to him and say, hey, James, I listened to this podcast. You're suffering from anxiety, aren't you? I knew it. You know that that drives people even further away, right? The language that you want to use is you know what, James, I've noticed, I've noticed lately that you're showing up late. I've noticed lately that the quality of work now the pandemics being hard on everybody. Let me know, is there anything I can do to help? So, you always start with the work. I've noticed. And it's really interesting. When I say I've noticed, it gets translated into I care. Hmm. And when you know, your boss cares about you, you're more likely to say, you know what, we're homeschooling for kids. And my mom has moved in with us. And we're just overwhelmed. And it's, after six months of this, it's really taking its toll. And then what is the leader saying, okay, so what can we do to help? Can we offload some of your stuff? Can we redistribute? Some of that? Do you need just a little time off to just? Yeah, you know, if I could, if I could work from home on Fridays, if I could take every other Friday off? off their top performer? Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, a good friend of mine, David Kasiarz, he's a senior VP at American Express. He said you know what, Ches goes, work gets done. whether you're there or not, work gets done. If you need some time, take some time. And then you come back, and it'll be fine. And then somebody else on the team is going to need some time and you know, what you'll fill in for them. Work gets done. We can survive a couple of days without you. So great. I know that work will get done. Take care of yourself. You know the old adage and Nabeela Ixtaleban uses this analogy a lot. And you've heard it before as well. You know, in the airline Air New Zealand, right? In a crisis, do you put your oxygen mask on first? Right? And then you help everybody else. So, you know, as leaders, take care of yourself, first, make sure you're taking care of yourself. Because if you're working 80-90 hours, weeks, week, after week after week, can't do it.  


James Laughlin 1:03:22 

Yeah, there's almost like a badge of honor nowadays that people wear proudly, I do the most hours and I only sleep four hours a night and I do X, Y, and Z. But actually, for the leaders to be sitting there and serving at the highest level they need to be getting their sleep and the rest and their vacations. 


Chester Elton 1:03:40 

Yeah, yeah. So, it's really interesting that the tide between our two books is really quite lovely. You know, leading with gratitude, we've got eight strategies there on how to lead with gratitude for extraordinary results and anxiety. We've got eight strategies. Well, the eight strategies and anxiety is to use gratitude. And so, it's a nice tight, you know, the human brain isn't wired to keep you happy. It's wired to keep you safe. That's why negative news gets so much attention because we're on the lookout for what could possibly go wrong as opposed to what could possibly go right? And when was the last time somebody says, hey, what could go right? Nobody says, hey, what can go wrong? Right? So, we're always on the lookout, we're always, you know, afraid, right? So, you can't be It can't hold two emotions at the same time. Yeah. So, you're either in a state of gratitude, or you're in a state of anxiety, well, choose gratitude. Right? And so, we get a lot of great practices. They're like, keep a gratitude journal, perform random acts of kindness. You know, right, right. Thank you notes. I'm a huge fan of thank you notes. It's old school. I know nobody does it anymore. But I've also got a thing you know; Adrian and I are doing a lot of executive coaching. Because, you know, top executives who do they talk to? That's right. They got nobody, right. Only at the top. So that's right. Right. You're, you're Simba, you're top of the food chain. Right? So, what's interesting is, say, what are some of your personal rituals? You know, do you write in a gratitude journal, one of the things that I do first thing, and some of these are executives, I coach, some of them are friends that are going through a hard time. I do a morning ritual, right? I go for a walk, and I do a little 10-minute meditation, you know, and at the end of that meditation, they always give me a little positive affirmation. And I capture that. And I texted out to, I think I'm up to like, 12 people now. It's getting a little Oh, good. Well, and it's a personal message. It's like, Hey, here's your thoughts for the day. And here's, here's what it means to me. I hope you're having a great day. And I was always cheering for you Chess. And I send it off. So, you know, it's not like, you have to respond. You know, sometimes you get a little heart or whatever. So, I remember talking to one of my coaches, I said, hey, by the way, I send this to you. Is that a good thing? Use Oh, I love it. Like, don't miss a day. 



James Laughlin 1:06:15 

That's amazing.  


Chester Elton 1:06:19 

I go, great. I was texting a friend of mine. And she was just really going through a hard time. She'd never respond. And I always send it on to them, you know, just want to let her know, I'm thinking about her. I know times are hard and I got the sweetest text back. After probably sending her 60 texts, right. She said, hey, thanks for not giving up on me. 


James Laughlin 1:06:43 

That's amazing. Made my day. That's incredible Chess And it's a good reminder for leaders of all backgrounds. And even just if you're a leader within your family, one of the greatest leadership privileges of all time, is to reach out and let people know that you're thinking of them and write those thank you notes. And it's funny, I'll share something with HSA. I'm sitting over here in the corner. Every year on my son's birthday. He's only five so I'm only five years in, but I plan to keep this up. I write him a handwritten letter. And I'll just show you my terrible handwriting. So, I write them a handwritten letter every year saying what's going on in his life. And at this time of the year, I print out a bunch of photos of old school of what's happened in his life and in a family's life. And I'm going to give them to him when he's an adult. He's in his 30s. And I just think documenting things and acknowledging things and connecting with people in a written form. It's an old-fashioned way of communicating, but it's a really deep and sincere and thoughtful way to communicate. So, I love that that's part of what you do and who you are. 


Chester Elton 1:07:43 

Yeah. Oh, listen, he'll treasure those. You know, I'm a huge fan of journaling. So, I lived in Italy for two years. I was a missionary for my church, you know, in southern Italy, and it's so great to my church, they can send you anywhere. And I always joke that when you open that letter, and it says, you know, you're 19 years old, you have to spend two years in southern Italy. That's when you know, Jesus loves you, you know. So, I love the old school, you know, the handmade papers and so on. This is a glass bookmark that I picked up in Venice, you know, but it's yeah. And then, and I love you know, keep the gin I'll put little, you know, tickets to hockey games in theaters. And little thank you notes and stickers, and I've got 40 of these. That's amazing, you know, and, and I write them, you know, basically for me, and yet, I'm hoping at some point, my kids will, I've told them that I've put money in some of the pages. So at least you should go looking for treasure. But I got to share this one with you. It's really funny. So, it's got these little latches and it's very, like Arabian Nights, right? So, I was out visiting my son Garrett in Wichita, Kansas. And we went to church together and I bring it in you know, write it in church, you know that the sermons in the church aren't always engaging, so I want to be productive. Anyway, I left it in the queue. We're almost back to his place. So geez, I, we got to go back. We went right back while everybody laughed. It was kind of like that, but I couldn't find it. Oh, somebody. Somebody turned it in. Like, who wants it? Right. So, we did we found a guy who slowly is in the lost and found he goes, I'll go get it meet me at my house, right? So, he gives me back this journal. And I said, So, what parts of the Journal did you like? Like, did you read? And he goes, are you kidding? I was afraid to open it. Some like, evil spirit was going to come out for me. As the curse of the Elton journal, you know. So, so good I love it. I'm a big fan of handwritten notes and letters. You know, what the message is with that James is I took the time. I care. Right? And people say, Yeah, but is it timely? Like, you know, a text is really timely. It's, you know, right away. So, you know, the thing about a letter or a handwritten note is it's always timely. And here's why. Because when it arrives, people put it aside. And then they go, oh, now I've got time. And they read it. I've got all kinds of like, some of my favorite thank you notes, I put them in my journals. Right? And my kids, you know, long after I'm dead, they'll go, hey, what could they say about Dad? Liquid dad said about somebody. I, when my kids were off at university, would write them a letter every week. And it was always interesting to me when they came back from university. They'd have all their stuff. Here, the textbooks that were going to cash out or the clothes I'm going to throw away. Here's my box of letters from my dad, they never throw them away. They always keep them. 


James Laughlin 1:11:04 

That's lovely. That's amazing. And that's to me, that's what it's all about. As far as fatherhood leadership is one of the most important things in life. I love it. That's amazing. And Chester, where can people connect with you? So, I know that there's going to be a lot of people just hope tonight, oh, they'll want a lot more obvious. So, I know that on LinkedIn, you've got an incredible community. So how can people follow you and get into your community then on LinkedIn? 


Chester Elton 1:11:29 

Yeah, LinkedIn is a great place. You know, we've got lots of followers there. We're constantly publishing. I post a little gratitude photo every day, it was so funny, I started in March, and I said, I do it for a year. And then I couldn't stop. Keep doing it. So, follow me on LinkedIn, we've got a twice a month, we publish a newsletter called the gratitude journal. And we've got like 123,000 subscribers, we bring in guest authors. I just got a note today, we, we did a, we bring in other authors, and they'll help write the message on the newsletter. And I think it's three or four times now, it's been the thought of the day on LinkedIn, which is always lovely. We also have a podcast; we promote the podcast and the newsletter anxiety at work. Always free. So, LinkedIn, the gratitude journal, and anxiety at work. We also have a website called thecultureworks.com. When your culture works, everything works. And that's where a lot of our speaking and writing and training, and we're doing a lot of executive coaching now as well. So, the books, the speaking, and the courses, and the coaching. 



James Laughlin 1:12:47 

So that's amazing. People are so fortunate that you're putting it out there, and that you are accessible. And you know, anybody that's listening, please go and subscribe to the podcast and leave a review and get on LinkedIn and follow-on LinkedIn and going to the website, please, I'll put all the links in. For those that are listening. I'll put it under the YouTube description. Also, put it on all the footnotes of our on Instagram and so forth. And also, just I've got one question for you. Before we finish up, so if you had to give a piece of advice to your children, or grandchildren, and that advice was around Hey, Dad, granddad, how do I lead a life of purpose? What would your answer to that be? 


Chester Elton 1:13:27 

Wow, that's uh, why didn't you just ask me? What's the purpose of life? I mean, come on. You know, I, I am. I'm a big fan of simple messages. And I'm going to share with you another book, I don't have it handy. I should always have one here. It's called the boy, the mole, the fox, and the horse. Have you heard of this book? No, no. It's a children's book. It's written for children between the ages of 80 and eight. So pretty much everybody listening to this podcast qualifies. It's um, it's an artist. He's in northern England, Charlie Mackesy. And he's got these beautiful sketches. And it's the story of a little boy and he's going into the wild, and it's scary. And he befriends this wise old mole. They free a fox from the snare. And then they add to their tribe, this big, giant, gentle horse. And there's a couple of messages in there that have really stuck with me that you know that I'm teaching my grandkids and the little boy in the mall are sitting on the branch of a tree. And the mall asks the little boy What do you want to be when you grow up? And the boy says, kind and you know, if you want to live a purposeful life if you want to really develop deep relationships be kind. It costs you nothing. Later in the story, they go through the storms. And they're exhausted and they're soaking wet, and the little boy is laying on, on the back of the horse. And he asks the horse, what's the bravest thing you've ever said. And the horse says, Help. He said you know, asking for help, doesn't mean you've given up. It means you're refusing to give up. And so, the second part of leaving a wonderful and Purpose Driven Life is don't be afraid to ask for help. My dad has an expression. He said Ches, be good to everybody. Everybody's having a tough day. You don't know people you pass on the street people that work with and for you, you don't know what they're going through. You don't know if they're having trouble at home trouble with their health trouble with their kids. Here's what you do know, is that the time that they spend with you, they can feel valued. They can feel like their voices are heard. You were kind you're encouraging. They mattered. I love that message for my dad, you be good to everybody. Everybody's having a tough day. Being kind costs you nothing. And when it gets tough. Don't forget the people that love you will rally. Don't hesitate to ask for help. And you know what, James? That's my story. And I'm sticking to it. 


James Laughlin 1:16:30 

That's stunning. Yeah. So that's amazing. I think, you know, for your grandkids, they eventually listened to this, or they hear that somewhere else. That's going to be so profound and impactful. But also, for anybody that's listening to this. That's incredible. So, I want to say thank you for being so vulnerable and open and sharing that that's incredible. And thanks for taking the time to connect. 


Chester Elton 1:16:50 

You bet. Hey, listen. I'm a rugby player from way back. So, this has been a delight. You know, I live in the States for so long now. Nobody knows rugby like nobody. So, it's great to know that, you know, as an old scrum-half, I've got a winger up there that's got the speed up and down the up and down the pitch. Yeah, James, this is this has been delightful. Thank you for your, your energy and your positivity and, and the good work that you're doing there. You know, Adrian and I are always humbled when we get asked to be on people's podcasts that you would share your platform so that we could talk about leadership and gratitude and make it safer to talk about anxiety. You know, that's a ripple effect that we never take for granted. And so, I'm honored and grateful for your time and your work. And that you would think that I could add something for your listeners to make a difference. So, from one gratitude leader to another, thank you, thank you very much. 


James Laughlin 1:18:09 

Thank you so much for listening in today and investing in your own personal growth. Please hit that subscribe button. I would love, love, love If you'd leave me a rating and review as it really helps me to impact more people. I've got some amazing guests lined up in the coming weeks and folks, it's that time. Get out there and live life on purpose.