Monday 21 May 2018

Soul man brings his recipe for success to Dublin

Gavin McLoughlin talks to 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' creator Jack Canfield about how you can improve your business

Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul
Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Gurus are not to everyone's taste, but even the most cynical of business people must be a little impressed by the success of the 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' series.

Created by motivational speakers Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen in 1993, the series went on to sell over 500 million copies and became a massive brand in the home of motivational speaking, the United States.

According to Forbes, the creators later sold a majority stake in the brand, which went on to expand into everything from television projects to dog food.

Irish people may be a little more cautious than Americans about the motivational industry, but Frankie Sheahan's Pendulum Summit is trying to replicate the success of the American industry in Ireland.

Now in its fourth year, the summit will be encouraging attendees to 'unleash their warrior mindset'.

Leading the charge will be Canfield, one of the main attractions at this year's event in Dublin.

He will share with the audience what he calls 'The Success Principles' - the title of one of his many dozen books.

The book is based on interviews he conducted, he says.

"I interviewed over 75 of the most successful people, mostly in America, some international, to extract what are the principles that they live their life by, that allowed them to become millionaires, billionaires, generals in the army, Olympic athletes, professional athletes, Emmy-winning actors and Oscar-winning actors and so forth," Canfield says.

"We discovered that there's about 65 core principles that everybody practices.

"I can't teach all those in a short workshop, but I can teach the basics.

"It's like knowing the combination to a lock, if you miss some of the numbers, there's no way the lock's ever going to open. If you have the numbers in the wrong order, the lock's not going to open."

He believes that some people are missing key ingredients for achieving their goals.

"A lot of people are working really hard to be successful but they're missing a couple of key pieces - I define success as doing the right things in the right way in the right time in the right order," he says.

"If you know how to do that then you can pretty much create success in every area of your life. So I'll be sharing the success principles, not only talking about them but helping people really integrate them."

Canfield, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, started his career teaching in an inner-city high school in the United States. He felt his students weren't learning through traditional methods and so began looking for new ways to inspire them.

That set him on the path to his own financial success and he is at the centre of a business empire that also includes coaching sessions and audiobooks.

In common with many of his peers, a lot of what Canfield says is neatly packaged into digestible soundbites.

"People need to understand that everybody has a unique purpose built into their body, their brain... some people are meant to be physicians, some people are meant to be doctors or healers, some people are meant to be mechanics," he says.

"If you find out the thing that you're meant to do, your life purpose, and there are techniques for doing that, then you can align your goals with that purpose."

What does Canfield say to people who are cynical about motivational speakers and the massive industry which has grown up around it?

He claims his approach delivers tangible results.

"Here's the deal," Canfield says. "Anyone who takes my seminars and works with me usually doubles or triples their income, whether it's individually or corporately, within three years."

The Pendulum Summit, he says, is "an opportunity to learn some advanced concepts and principles that most people never get exposed to because they're so busy with their nose to the grindstone, they don't step back and say: 'how do I sharpen my axe?'. They just keep whacking away at a tree with no axe and it never comes down."

The Pendulum Summit is a bigger event this year, with 7,000 attendees expected.

The cheapest ticket is €350 per person, per day.

Canfield encourages people to have an open mind.

"The worst you're going to lose is a couple of hundred dollars, and two days of your life. But if you look at the evaluations, people talk about the most amazing experience of their life," Canfield says.

For Canfield, the first of his 'success principles' is about personal responsibility.

"Take 100pc responsibility for every aspect of your life, the results, the conditions, your health, your wealth, the quality of your relationships," Canfield will tell attendees.

"When people do that they give up complaining, they give up excuse-making. Many of us are constantly blaming other people for what's not working in their life.

"A lot of us all have excuses for why we don't achieve things, our parents were alcoholics, the economy was rigged or whatever, and then the other thing is we complain about stuff," he says.

"Complaining means you have a reference point of something you'd prefer you're not willing to risk creating. No-one ever complains about gravity, because you don't have a reference point of anything better. So when you're complaining, by definition that means we prefer something but we're not willing to go out there and create it."

Businesses are one of the biggest markets for motivational speaking in the US. Canfield's advice to executives is to listen to what everyone in their organisation has to say, and to make sure they have "accountability partners".

He particularly has advice for people going out on their own in business.

"You've got to set goals… a lot of people today that are solo entrepreneurs have no boss. So there's no one holding them accountable to do the uncomfortable things," he says.

"Business is made up of people. People are the same whether they're individuals or in a corporation. We need to learn how to be motivated, stay motivated, have a clear vision, how to motivate our teams. How to create a vision for them, how to get them involved. People want to be part of something that's making a difference, and not just doing a job."

He has plenty of his unmistakeably American self help-style advice for people in leadership roles.

"Leaders need to be inspirational, leaders need to be good storytellers, leaders need to be someone that walks and talks so that people feel they're someone they can respect and honour, and are glad to follow. Leaders need to be self-reflective," he says.

"A problem with a lot of leaders is they think it's my way or the highway, I'm the only one who knows anything. So they're missing out on a lot of important data.

"One exercise I'll sometimes do with chief executives is have them think of something they want that they don't have. It can be anything.

"Everyone stands up and walks around for about 10 minutes, speaks to as many people as possible, and says 'give me one good idea for how I can do this'. After 10 minutes people have 15 or 20 great ideas, and I say: 'Have you ever thought of doing that in your own company?'"

"Sometimes your receptionist or your guys on the floor know more than you do about the company."

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