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054: Chip Bell: It landed and a miracle happened

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Chip Bell Show Notes

Chip Bell’s unit was in an ambush site during the Vietnam War. As an officer, Chip usually went with the unit most likely to make contact with the enemy. One night, Chip’s unit was totally surrounded by an enemy unit that was ten times the size of his unit. As the enemy began to get closer to his unit, Chip called for artillery support. What happened next was of legend. Listen to Chip tell his story of getting over the hump and what it meant in his life.

Chip grew up on a cattle farm in South Georgia. His father was a full-time banker and a full-time farmer and his mother was a teacher.  Being the oldest in a family of three children Chip was strongly encouraged to take the lead, set the example, do more than his share, and always do the right thing.  This expectation gave him a strong drive to achieve, serve others, and pursue excellence in a fashion that reflected ethics and a keen sense of fair play.

Chip has had a wealth of life experiences from being tested in the heat of intense military combat as an infantry unit commander in Viet Nam with the elite 82nd Airborne, to being a small unit (guerrilla) tactics instructor at the Army Infantry School, to opening for Back Street Boys.

The values that influence Chip (and the ones he strives to pursue) include Integrity, partnership, honesty, reliability, and a strong dedication to excellence.  Chip seeks to be a role model for wholesome relationships grounded in ethics with an obvious zeal to do whatever it takes to yield positive, productive results.

The legacy Chip wants to leave behind is that he made a difference in the lives of others—both personally and professionally.  His work, focuses on creating the kind of experiences for customers that build loyalty and advocacy.  That includes helping leaders of organizations create a culture that supports those serving customers and to find creative solutions to most challenges, rather than settling for the typical logical ones.

Chip’s most treasured avocation (and vocation) is professional writing—an outlet that has yielded 21 books, which he claims is more than he has read. His other passion is keynote speaking—a role that enables me to positively influence hundreds of leaders at the same time.

Chip is a very happy person and feels he’s extremely fortunate to have been given a successful career filled with adventure, challenge, learning, and success.

Chip currently lives on the shores of beautiful Lake Oconee with his wife of 50 years Dr. Nancy Bell, where they try to spend as much time as possible with their three beautiful granddaughters.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @ChipRBell and get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“There’s no limit to ingenuity.” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet

“(Organizational) cultures are not rational, they’re emotional” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet 

“If we’re leading an organization of computers, we wouldn’t have to worry about morale.” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet 

“The human side of business operates with a different logic than machines.” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet 

“Organizations that are consistently great…have found a way to instill passion.” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet 

“How do we keep helping people tie their work to a grander mission?” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet 

“Helping people find…connection of meaning in what you do can make all the difference.” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet 

“Leaders help people see what matters in what they do.” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet 

“Too many leaders think they are just there to get the work done.” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet 

“How we help people feel valued…is a path to, my life matters.” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet 

“Your attitude towards life is something you choose.” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet 

“The attitude you bring…is what you pass on to employees.” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet 

“I choose a great attitude.” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet 

“If you can’t manage yourself, obviously you can’t manage others.” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet 

“Your job is to take responsibility and to be a role model.” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet 

“No matter how frightened you may be, it’s not going to win the day.” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet 

“Every day is a chance to achieve something new.” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet 

“It’s not about me, it’s about the contribution.” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet 

“I prioritize by, will this make a difference in the life of people I influence?” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet 

“The next day you get a new opportunity to right whatever mistake you’ve made.” -Chip Bell Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Chip Bell’s unit was in an ambush site during the Vietnam War. As an officer, Chip usually went with the unit most likely to make contact with the enemy. One night, Chip’s unit was totally surrounded by an enemy unit that was ten times the size of his unit. As the enemy began to get closer to his unit, Chip called for artillery support. What happened next was of legend. Listen to Chip tell his story of getting over the hump and what it meant in his life.

Advice for others

It’s all about giving back and making a difference in the life of others.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Not enough time in the day.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Be authentic.

Secret to Success

Jack Daniel’s Whiskey.

Best tools that helps in business or Life

I think I am a creative person and that helps me a lot.

Recommended Reading

Holy Bible: New Living Translation

Contacting Chip

Website: http://www.chipbell.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chiprbell

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChipRBell

Resources

How are you raising customer expectations too high?Interview with Chip at CCExpo

54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.


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Click to access edited transcript
054: Chip Bell: It landed and a miracle happened
Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we uncover the leadership like hat that help you to experience, break out performance faster and rocket to success. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.
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Jim Rembach: Okay , Fast Leader Legion, I am excited today because we’re going to get the opportunity to have a show with one of the most dynamic keynote speakers that I have had the opportunity to see in the past couple years. Chip Bell grew up on a cattle farm in South Georgia. His father was a full-time baker and a full-time farmer and his mother was a teacher. Being the oldest in the family of three children Chip was strongly encouraged to take the lead, set the example, do more than his share and always do the right thing. This expectation gave him a strong drive to achieve, certain others, and pursue excellence in a fashion that reflected ethics and a keen sense of fair play.

Chip has had a wealth of life experiences from being tested in the heat of intense military combat as an Infantry Unit Commander in Vietnam with the Elite 82nd Airborne to being a small guerrilla Tactics Instructor at the Army infantry school and opening up for the Backstreet Boys. Chips most treasured avocation and vocation is professional writing and outlet that has yielded 21 books which he claims is more than he’s ever read. His other passion is keynote speaking, a role that enables him to positively influence hundreds of leaders at the same time. Chip currently resides on the shores of beautiful Lake Oconee with his wife of 50 years Dr. Nancy Bell, were they try to spend as much time possible with their three beautiful granddaughters. Chip Bell, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

Chip Bell: I am ready. Just bring them to me, this is so much fun, thank you Jim.

Jim Rembach: I’m glad to have you. Now I’ve given our legion a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better.

Chip Bell: Sure. My current passion more than anything else helping organizations with innovative service the kind of service that is what I call value-unique not just value added. I think you think about value added as being taking what customers expects and adding more. The challenge with that is—first of all we pretty quickly can ran out of room. There’s obviously a limit to our generosity but I think there’s no limit to ingenuity and value-unique expand in that unique, simple, unexpected, surprise you can provide customers that not only delivers the kind of good experience they want but one that is so unique that they are eager to tell other people to be advocates for your organization.

Jim Rembach: You know Chip there’s so much competition in what we’re talking about and I often find that we try to get those if were in an organization or leading in a way that is [3:05 inaudible] we create incentives, we create performance management systems and we try to drive to a certain level of engagement in a manner by which is very mechanical and doesn’t have a whole lot of inspiration and uniqueness and innovation associated with it. When you start talking about that and helping others do some of those things that you’re talking, what are some of the barriers that you see preventing organizations from being able to execute?

Chip Bell: To your point, Jim, I think so many times the organizations focus on the objective quantitative, arithmetic side of the business. Obviously their stakeholders care a lot about that and that’s important, but what we’re talking about is human being, human relationships and cultures. And cultures are not rational they’re emotional they’re not always linear and logical, sometimes they’re illogical, that’s the nature of human beings. I think the degree in which we balance that sense of the quantitative side with the qualitative side, the more we balance the sense of arithmetic side with the anthropology side, if you will, of an organization more likely to create a spirit not just bottom line substance. And so, I think that’s one thing that an organizations often miss is if we were leading an organization of computers we wouldn’t have to worry so much about this, but we worry about morale, we worry about relationships, we worry about the sides of the business that are by definition human and I think that operates with a completely different logic than the logic of machines, the logic of numbers, the logic of computers.

Jim Rembach: And thinking about where you’ve been and your life experiences and where you are today, I start thinking about so many things associated with the human condition and experiences. There’s a very different way of leading that is necessary when you’re under fire in the jungle versus being in an organization trying to get people to move towards a common goal. With all of those we have to find different ways that we become inspired, help to keep us grounded so that we do move in the right direction. And a lot of things we do on the show are associated around that, as well as we use quotes as a tool. Is there a quote or two that kind of stands out for you that kind of helps point you in the right direction that you can share with us?

Chip Bell: Well, I think there’s a lot of quotes. But I think part of it is Aristotle’s comment when he talked about the pursuit of excellence being a habit, that’s one that stands out for me. And I think it is recognizing again that if you look at this organizations that are consistently great, that are renowned overtime, not just one moment in the sun but have a long legacy of excellence in the marketplace, you find they have found a way to instill passion and excitement and enthusiasm among the people who work for that organization. And I think tying it back to the military example that you used, part of the difference between leading a Ranger unit, for example that I have work luckily to lead, and just what you might say the everyday ordinary drafted soldier. Those people who were in Ranger units felt a sense of mission, sense of purpose they saw it as almost a calling and they were there not only for purpose that mattered to them that was important to them, take away the political side whether the particular war was favorable or not, the fact that they were there for their buddies for their unit to be seen as an excellent unit in the eyes of others, all of those things propel them to greatness and to demonstrate great courage and to take risk they might otherwise not take. If we look at a lot of the research Dan Peake has done for example, when he talks about do incentive systems work? What is it really motivates people? It comes back to a sense of purpose, that had sense of grounding and calling that’s important for them. A sense of growth is just something that’s going to be an opportunity for me to learn and increase my competence and knowledge. And I think those are two critical aspects in any culture is, how do we keep helping people tie their work to a grander purpose to a grander mission? We’ve all heard that famous quote of, “What are doing on land bricks? What are you doing? I’m doing a cathedral.” And the motivation of the worker who sees a role as cathedral building not just brick laying creates a different commitment, zeal, and passion for what they do.

Jim Rembach: Thanks for sharing that. As you’re talking there’s something that kind of stood out to me that has been my toolbox to some degree, as well as in my dialogue, as well as in my framing is the word called, ‘mindset.’ A lot of people may push back and say, “Well, it’s just semantics.” Really? Like you were saying, “Do I use the words I’m laying bricks or do I use the words that I’m building a cathedral?” Because they’re going to plant very different things in somebody’s mind, that’s trivializing it, it could be something massive that causes somebody to have a totally different feeling and engagement that comes from inside, not that you’re trying to coerce.

Chip Bell: Exactly. Well, we all probably grew up reading Viktor Frankl and some of the great work. One of his great book was, Man’s Search for Meaning, I always remember him telling the story of being in the concentration camp in Germany. He’s a psychologist, philosopher and he was deeply interested in what were the things that made a difference in terms of those who survived the concentration camp and those who didn’t? And he found that it had nothing to do with whether they were physically strong or not, it had nothing to do with whether or not they were scrappy and clever in getting what they needed, it all had to do with whether or not they had purpose and whether they were looking and saw life and saw themselves in being in control of their environment.

Eleanor Roosevelt always said, “No one makes you inferior without your permission.” And so in many ways helping people find that important connection of that meaning in what you do, and value in what you do and can make all the difference in terms of, again their commitment, but it’s also that sense of joy in what I do. What I do every day matters. And probably the role of leaders is help people see what matters about what we do. Why they’re important? And how they’re valued in the quest for excellence in whatever they do. Too many leaders think they’re there and just get the work done you started with, we’re talking about systems, systems performance. I think it’s also encouragement and affirmation and coaching and those things that may not be as easily quantifiable. William James, great psychologist said, “Deepest craving of human nature is the need to be valued.” And so how we as leaders help people feel valued? And that again that connection with purpose is one of the path to my life matters, what I do matters, I matter.

Jim Rembach: I sure value you Chip, for the things that you do and for being on the show. Again thinking about where you are today and what you’ve been through and the life experience that you had and the way that you grew up on the farm and the whole work ethic and all of those things, those don’t come easy. We have to get over a lot of humps in order to be able to either live by those or sometimes not and then get back on that horse or that camel, so to speak. We have humps that we have to get over and they make us, and define us and help us set us, sometimes in wrong direction but there are things that all of us have learned from and can learn from. Do you have a time where you can remember you have to get over the hump and it was a defining moment for you, can you share that with us?

Chip Bell: I do. And I don’t want to be particularly graphic but one of the defining moment in my life that I was blessed to have, although it scared the hell out of me, because I thought this is in. When I was in the military my unit was in an ambush site and as an officer I usually went with the unit most likely that they contact or the one I consider to be the weakest. Ambush might be seven or eight people and you’re in a location and you’re there to engage the enemy in the night and so usually you’re in a position of stealth the enemy might know that you are in that area but not precisely where you are. In about to the middle of the night we came under fire from a unit about 10 times our size, let’s say there were eight of us, they’re probably a 100 NDA soldiers and they were all lined up across a big open area and they knew we were in that area and they will continue until they swept over us. Obviously you’re out numbered 10/1 your chances are remote that you live through that and you knew that if they continue to proceed sweeping the area they’d stumble upon you pretty quickly.

And so I started calling an artillery on my own position behind them and walking it in hoping that I would walk that artillery, it’s a great big 105mm howitzers that are firing at us 2 or 3 miles away, and hopefully it would catch up with them before they discover us, obviously you never return fire because it gives away your position. I started working our artillery and I reach the point in that process where it’s getting closer and closer where we’re beginning to catch some of the shrapnel from the artillery, now it’s getting close, and there’s a call that you make where you ask drop to five and that means drop that thing 25 meters closer to where you know we’re supposed to be and they call back is confirmed danger very close and the requirement on the part of the officer who’s calling in that to say, “Roger, all my part” which means I am giving you authorization to put that next round right where we are. And so you can hear it coming in the distance and you have a chance to tell everybody in that fight, this is it It’s coming towards us the hope is it takes us out along with the enemy because we could see their silhouette, it’s that close.

And so it landed, a miracle happened, it took the enemy out but no one in my unit got a scratch. There has some strange things that happened, one individual had their pants legs shredded by the shrapnel but it didn’t touch their flesh. I had another person who had the stock of the weapon taken out but he was holding the upper end of his rifle, so it didn’t touch him. Another person had their helmet pierced by big piece of shrapnel but he decided the last minute to take his steel [15:06 inaudible]and not be wearing it and obviously we’re laying palm on the ground, no one got a scratch we were supposed to have been taken out. Of course, we couldn’t here for about 2 to 3 days from the sound concussion and other things but the hearing does eventually come back. But I walked away from that experience I was supposed to go on with that and I didn’t, and so I will have a great day every day the rest of my life is going to be an awesome day it’s turned out that way because I think your attitude towards life is something you choose. The great actor Michael Jeffry says, “The only disability in life is a poor attitude.” So it’s the attitude that you have, the attitude that you bring. I got blessed when I was growing up a parents who have a very upbeat, positive, you can do anything kind of attitude. I think it’s the same attitude that pass on to our employees, that upbeat, be optimistic, positive, you can do anything kind of attitude and it’s very contagious in how it’s done. So, I think that particular instance in Vietnam in 1969 probably was an important turning point in my life, it’s one of the significant emotional experiences that shapes how you view your life but also it shapes how you’re going to live every day. So, every morning I get up and it’s a great day, there’s going to be a great day. I have things thrown my way but I choose my attitude and I choose the right attitude. I think that’s one big moment in my life.

Jim Rembach: That’s huge for anybody, thanks so much for sharing it and I wish we had more time to go into all the details because I’m sure that in itself—I can’t even imagine, many of us can imagine being able to go through that and knowing that you made your own call to have friendly fire, that’s amazing.

Chip Bell: When you’re responsible that’s what you do.

Jim Rembach: That’s a great point, standing up and doing what we need to do and leading from upfront and trying to get movement, trying to have an organization reach its goals is that we have to be willing to not just take the shots but call the shots to come to us.

Chip Bell: Absolutely. That’s your job, that’s your responsibility, that’s your calling. It’s not that I was there to be a hero or there to get some medal or there to do something grand or glorious, I was doing my job because I was responsible for that unit and I was responsible for a mission that matter, and so that’s what you do. And I was fortunate in the fact that I had great training in the military of how to be an infantry officer and so I credit that great training. And you’re taught how to respond under fire, you’re taught how to make decisions when everything around you looks like it’s coming to an end. You taught how to manage yourself through that and if you can’t manage yourself obviously you can’t manage others around you. So was I scared? Absolutely I was scared. Did you think this is going to be it? Absolutely. But your job is there to take your responsibility and to be a role model for those around you in terms of the courage you exhibit. Is it being frightened? No matter how frightened you may be it’s not going to win to that it’s going forward even though it feels difficult and impossible, you’ll find a way. You aren’t given more than you could handle.

Jim Rembach: That’s another great point. And I know that for you getting opportunity to learn more about you is that you have a lot of things going on your plate and you’ve done a lot of things—yeah, but you also have a lot of things going, you’re not slowing down. So, when you get up in the morning you’re not only saying I’m going to have a great day it’s I’m going to have a lot of things to do in this great day, it’s not sitting back.

Chip Bell: Absolutely. The worst thing I can imagine is a day with nothing to do, that sounds boring, and you don’t learn anything from that. So, every day is a chance to learn something new and to achieve something new. So, to me it is a gift not an albatross at all.

Jim Rembach: I know that you have a lot of things on your plate and so when you start thinking about goals, what are some of the goals you have?

Chip Bell: My ultimate purpose is to make a difference and so the work I do every day is oriented toward that end. When I make decisions and decide on priorities every day, when I realize I’ve got 12 task I’ve got to get done but I only have time for 7 or 8, how I make decisions about the priority of where am I going to put the biggest attention and try to make smart about time management is we’d just going to make the biggest impact on the lives of the people that I influence, it is the number one criteria, it’s not about me it’s about the contribution, that’s important. And the way in which I try to go about it is with the sense of joy, with the sense of enthusiasm and excitement, but the choices are all about—will this matter? Will this make a difference? Will this change those people that I influence? So, that’s how I make decisions. Sometimes I’m wrong, sometimes I make the wrong decision, but the next day you got a new opportunity. A new opportunity to right whatever mistake you make and go forward and not be pulled down by.

Jim Rembach: And the Fast Leader Legion wished you the very best. Before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.

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Jim Rembach: Alright, here we go now Fast Leader listeners, it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Chip the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster, Chip Bell are you ready to hoedown?

Chip Bell: Absolutely.

Jim Rembach: Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?

Chip Bell: Not enough time in the day.

Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?

Chip Bell: Be authentic.

Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

Chip Bell: Jack Daniels whiskey.

Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?

Chip Bell: I think I’m a creative person and that helps me a lot.

Jim Rembach: What would be one book that you’d recommend to our listeners, it could be from any genre?

Chip Bell: I think the Bible.

Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader Legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/Chip Bell. And the Bible and we’re going to give you a link to, is going to be from one of Chip’s favorite version, so we’re going to get the information from him. Okay, Chip this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you have been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything you can only choose one, what piece of skill or knowledge would you take back with you and why?

Chip Bell: I think my ability to mentor. And I would have used it more readily with people who were younger, newer and less experienced.

Jim Rembach: And I think we all should take that as something going forward that we should do. There’s always someone who could use some mentoring and we need to make ourselves available for doing just that.

Chip Bell: That’s it, it’s all about giving back, it’s all about making the difference in another human beings life, that’s why we’re here.

Jim Rembach: Chip it was an honor to spend time with you today, can you please share with the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you?

Chip Bell: It’s easy, chipbell.com, it’s the name of the website I can remember. It will tell you all about what I do, and keynotes I give and books I’ve written, and it’s also a way for you to say things that are important to my life, like my family. I even got a section—photographs of family, grandchildren and so forth.

Jim Rembach: Chip Bell, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom, the Fast Leader legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot Woot!

Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the www.fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.

END OF AUDIO

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