DiscoverBusiness Leaders PodcastBuilding Champion CEOs With Charmas Lee
Building Champion CEOs With Charmas Lee

Building Champion CEOs With Charmas Lee

Update: 2020-08-06



There is no doubt about the skills that each of us possesses; what is often lacking is the right mindset to turn those into success. Charmas Lee, the Founder of Building Champions, has been transforming countless individuals in this regard for over 30 years. Charmas is a coach, motivational speaker, sports and fitness professional, two-time TEDx speaker, and the author of Think Say Do and other books. As he talks with host Bob Roark on the show, partake of the incredible wisdom he has accumulated over the decades in the areas of mindset, motivation, self-development, and personal mastery. With Charmas, you can learn how to make excellence a habit and success a default state.


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Building Champion CEOs With Charmas Lee

Our special guest is Charmas Lee. He is the Owner of Building Champions and the author of Think Say Do: Disrupting Systemic Cycles of Faulty Thinking. He's the author of six additional books. He's prolific and a two-time TEDx speaker. He also speaks to Vistage groups across the country. Charmas, thanks so much for taking the time.

Thank you much for this opportunity. I'm glad to be here.

We're going to have some fun. Tell me about your business and who you serve.

The name of the business is Building Champions. We specialize in personal and professional development. I've been a coach for over 32 years, eclipsed the 10,000-hour rule 2.5 times. What I've seen is with victory in site, I've seen many people slip into mediocrity. We create comprehensive strategies for those who are trying to move in a different direction, provided with a purpose plan and a clear set of priorities and get them to knock the ball out of the park.

I read the Think Say Do book. I also was lucky enough to see you speak at a Vistage group. I am exposed to your work. You're working in the athletic arena at the Olympic level. You've done track and field.

I've had a chance to work with athletes in the National Football League, senior level of figure skaters, USA track and field, and the World Boxing Organization.

I think of figure skaters and boxers, they both got to move on their feet or bad things happen.

They've got to have excellent footwork, but more than that, they have to have the right mindset. They've got to bring the right mindset every single day, especially in the competitive environment.

[bctt tweet="Start with the vision and then move forward from there." username=""]

Maybe years ago, the mindset wasn't that much of a buzzword. I’ve got kids and I try to coach my kids and they're older. We talk about mindset and approach. Having mindset and keeping a mindset are two distinct skillsets. When you're working with the athlete that's on the long grind to get to a honed edge, what do you do to help them keep their mindset? 

The most important factor is it's going to start with their attitude. My responsibility is to ensure that they bring the right attitude so that they'll have the right perspective. It’s funny how the mind works. Based on the attitude, it will determine how you see others and how others see you and it plays such a big role. The second thing is that we have to create a series of habits, practices, and rituals that they perform on a daily basis. I want them to get to a place where when they don't perform a habit, practice or ritual that we've designed, for example an AM or a PM ritual, by creating incredibly uncomfortable. What that will do is that will set the tempo and press the agenda for the day, whether it be in the training or the competition environment. We implemented mental fortitude routines. We call them mental mastery routines.

Sometimes they're amazing that these athletes are trained to put a full script together in black and white and memorize it, including sights sounds and smells and things of that nature of the environment they're about to go into. They can visibly or visually see what's going to take place during the competition, whether it be boxing or whatever the case may be. They already have a strategy in place on what's going to happen. For example, if I get hit or if I've got to go from left to right, or if I fall during my exhibition. They've already got this. I call it a Front Side Focus. My responsibility is to prepare them for everything. Condition the mind for success, the physical body for success, and have the right attitude as I invoke on this journey.

I think about the inventory of tasks. What are the proper steps to get their mindset? How do you visualize and anticipate without fulfilling what you visualize, like falling down? You go, “I visualize that so I did.” What are the building blocks that you see when you're working with an athlete that takes them from a challenging timeframe to where they can adhere to that mindset visualization process? What are the steps?

I think the first step for me, when I get an athlete, I perform an evaluation to determine where they are physiologically and psychologically. We do a full-blown assessment that determines what they are doing in their nutrition, with their sleep, with their exercise, what kind of attitude they bring to the table. It’s not just the athlete, it's the CPO or the executive director or whomever I'm working with at that time. We perform a full-blown evaluation and then I have to meet them where they're at. One of the mistakes I made when I was a younger coach was, I would mistake chronological age for biological age. You may have a young person who looks like they're 25, but is only sixteen. I would want to train them like they were 25. When they're sixteen, they're sixteen.

What I have to do is I have to be smart about how we communicate the expectations. We also have clearly defined expectations, consequences, requirements for our results, but also be pliable a little flexible about what's going on. Post-evaluation, we simply create a plan. We want to create a plan that's pliable for both of us. I believe that you should have a bit of fun when you're going down a journey like this. It's important to enjoy the journey. I should say when it's time to work, it's time to work and when it's time to play, I want you to play like there's no tomorrow. If we can forge a link between attention and excellence with the athlete or the CEO or whomever I'm working with or the eight-year-old soccer athlete, there's a good chance at success would be imminent.

The first piece is how can I establish rapport? How can we forge a link between attention and excellence? How can I teach them, Bob, to sell themselves on themselves? You're going to get hit if you're a boxer. You’re going to fall if you're a skater. You're going to get knocked into the stand if you’re a football player. If you're a world-class surfer, trust me, you're going to fall and it's going to hurt. You have to learn how to get back up, sell yourself on yourself, remove the excuses. I provide them with some friendly accountability with one of my morning mantras or something to that effect. We keep them on track.

BLP Charmas | Building Champions


There's a lot to consume. I think about the young CEO, they got in the job and it's the first time that they've been a CEO. They go, “I now have to go and drive this operation properly and there are sets of skill stacks requirement.” When you talk to that younger CEO or even the experienced CEO that's run out of bandwidth. You're looking at building blocks, for you and that client, when you start to prioritize those building blocks, what's your process to identify and then prioritize?

I think the first thing is vision. We want to reestablish the vision and I let the young CEO know. The CEOs are becoming younger and younger as you well know of some serious corporations.

It could be that we're getting older. We just think they're getting younger.

I asked them about the vision, and the vision that I want them to describe to me is the one where they're swinging from the chandelier. I don’t want to talk about the nansy-pansy vision. That’s for a different conversation and for a different coach. We start with this vision piece. I have this thing called the Successful Win. It's basically, do you have clearly defined expectations for yourself? Do you have clearly defined goals? Are you results oriented? Have you learned how to manage energy and not time like outstanding performance do? One of the biggest things that the CEO is telling me, “We don't have enough time.” Some of them have families and etc. It's not about time, you need a deadline. You have to learn to honor deadlines.

We go through this process. We look at the success when we find where they're lacking. For example, the gentlemen or the young ladies give themselves a score of three on a scale of 1 to 5 and its vision. I'll ask them a question. “What would your personal life look like in total victory? I mean total victory?” I would suggest that 65% to 70% of the time they have dismissed that aspect of their lives. They're there to serve and they're there to run a thing, but they forgotten about this personal piece. I talk to them about being selfish for the first 60 minutes of the day. Take care of yourself, invest in yourself first, make yourself the first check on your priority list.

For the remainder of the day, those other eleven hours you got to work, you can be selfless toward others. I also share with them about this vision piece. Most people understand that vision is not a place that you go to. It's a place that you come from. I heard that quote from someone else, “You have to learn to live it daily in every single dimension of your life.” It's about your spirituality. It's about your academics. It's about your professional development. It's about your family. How do you show up every single day? It starts with a clearly constructed vision. Those who have not designed a clearly constructed vision, when the obstacles get in the way, they seem to be the first ones who want to derail themselves from the prize. It's an easy thing to do. We start with the vision and then we move forward from there.

I think about the opportunity to be distracted. If you could see my desk, you can tell that I don't complete any single task at one time. It's the nature of the beast, the rituals to come back and get re-centered, then you go, “Did I get the priorities of the day done properly?” The gratitude and family and the things that are important and have you taken care of those, it’s lost easily and subsumed by something else. The thing that I found interesting is we were talking about periodization. What I thought was interesting is that as I was looking at the definition, it had a lot to do with physical fitness regimen. I would be interested to hear from you is, where you started seeing the physical regimen go over to the business regimen application of that technique. 

[bctt tweet="Mindset promotes skillset." username=""]

I've been a coach for years. I've worked with various levels of sport, little guys all the way into the big guys and girls, etc. What I've been able to do is learn what it takes to become a champion both on and off the field. If you would have told me years ago that I'd be doing this professional speaking and coaching outside of the athletic arena, I'd probably said, “Bob, you're not telling the truth.” I wouldn't call you a liar, but I probably say you’re not telling the truth. It became evident to me when I began to watch people with what I call unrealized potential. Meaning that I could see what they had in them, but they couldn't see it. They would trip over the lines in the parking lot and I would think, “There’s something missing here.”

I simply took the same strategies that I use in the track or in the football arena, whatever the case, and I put together a curriculum. I began to test it out and it was an amazing thing. There is a direct correlation between those who could achieve in the athletic arena, whether they did have or did not have the giftedness skill or ability same in the academic or corporate arena. I determined that these skills of concentration and focus were the two primary pieces to affect actual performance. Here's how this happens. We speak at approximately 125 words per minute. We listen at 400 words per minute. We think of 48 thoughts per minute. The mind has much time to wander. We are constantly distracted and bombarded with many things. I got to determine that the first step, no matter who I'm working with is two boards that link between attention and excellence.

The first six minutes of any training session, no matter what group I'm working with, it's mental fortitude training. This is simply designed to remove the distractions that they're dealing with every day. We call it driving their attention forward. You drive the attention forward and you get the biggest bang for the buck. I’ll tell you how powerful this piece is. I used to work with athletes five days a week, a couple of hours a day. We got good at this aspect of the middle 42 training that we went from five days a week, two hours a day to 135 minutes a week total, and got the same or better result. Why? They were dialed in and focused. I can hold their attention for 45 minutes, three times a week. It was an amazing thing.

BLP Charmas | Building Champions


Once I realized that focus and concentration were essential, I began to drop into different environments and begin to teach that. I began to teach it because I believed in it. I also needed to work that within myself to learn how to attend and to attune by. I ended up doing a couple of things. I began to study Neuroscience and these other sciences outside of sports science. I recognized there a direct correlation to many levels on performance. I began to put the pieces together and let me share this. There's a rule out there called the 5/95 rule of human performance. It suggests that performance is 95% physiological and 5% psychological, but the 5% controls in 95%. It was Dr. Kenneth Henson who discovered this. I adapted that rule and I created a stepwise approach titled Think Say Do, so I could give other people a stepwise approach to winning in life.

It is nothing more than the 5/95 hinder performance wrapped up nice and neat in the language that you can understand from the perspective of the layman, not the athlete, driving that attention forward, putting the right habits, practice and rituals in place, committing to the habits, practice and rituals, bringing the proper energy and attitude to every single situation and demanding the most from yourself. If I'm working with you, you have different genetic ceiling than someone else would have. You may be able to achieve a whole lot more based on who you are. My responsibility as a coach is to close that genetic ceiling, year-after-year if you're an athlete, CEO or whoever so that you can become the best in the world you can do what's best for them. That's what I do on my side of the house.

Periodization simply a strength and conditioning model that's been around since the 1960s. We created what we call an undulating periodization model, which is effective for the corporate arena as well. Old days are big bouts of work, big bouts of recovery so you’d spike out this. Undulating is more I can keep you at 88%, about 364 days a year. When I'm doing the standard periodization, you're only good for about 4 or 5 races in a full year. At 88%, I can spike you from time to time. You can peak up to six times a year. We put these same models in the corporate arena and we teach our clients these things. One of the things that athletes are good at, they don't see time as time. They manage their energy not for time. How they manage energy is this. I'm 59. Energy is one of my strongest resources that I have to be careful. They keep the priority the priority. Time and energy sit on the same couch but we don't look at it.

Everybody has 24 hours in a day, seven days a week, 168 hours. It's how you use that time. If I'm going to keep the priority and remove the distractions, I'm going to get more done than the next guy. I can stay focused longer than the next guy and I'm going to win. All of those things from a strength and conditioning side, rest and recovery and hydration and fueling. How can we keep you operating at a certain level for an extended period where when you show up, not only do you show up, you show out? It’s like, “I want to be like that guy. There's something about him. Where did he get that?” When this individual walks into the room, he or she becomes the decisive element in their workplace. It's like, “Did you lose weight? Did you get your hair cut? Are you wearing a new suit?” “No, I changed my mind. That's all I did.” It's a mindset that promotes skillset.

Years ago, I was at a meeting somewhere and they talked about the corporate athlete. They're talking about the professional athletes in the arena for a short period of time by and large and said, “The corporate athlete can be in the arena for 40 years or more.” They talk about how you peak and recover, peak and recover to continue to perform for decade after decade. Some of the stuff that we were talking about before, you've got the corporate athlete. They're getting better at mindset and being aware of effective time and being aware of being on task and bringing the energy. Periodically, you get beat down, something happens, family issue. We have a pandemic. What's the ritual that you've suggested or trained into that person that lets them step back, assess, reset, and get going again?

BLP Charmas | Building Champions


The first thing I'll share with you is that I think restoration is equally important as working. It's important. my two cents to folks who are at this place where it's not quite burn out, but they're experiencing some quality thinking. They're a little disappointed or discouraged or they're fatigued. The first thing is you have to find a way to find 45-minute escapes per day. Every single day, we fall into finding 45-minute escapes. For me, I run-up to the local coffee house and I will sit there and I will warm up my imagination with a triple espresso with caramel and whip. I will celebrate. From time to time, I'll have a cup from China or some other place and I will imagine that I'm in that location. I'm telling you the mind is a powerful tool. What we have to do is we have to learn how to sell ourselves on ourselves.


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Building Champion CEOs With Charmas Lee

Building Champion CEOs With Charmas Lee

Bob Roark