Creating An Engaging And Energizing Workplace Culture That Sparks Success With Chester Elton


Chester Elton talks with Tony Martignetti on his journey to becoming the number one bestselling leadership author and organizational culture, employee engagement, and leadership expert. He shares an inspiring story about the power of imagining something in the future and taking it in even without seeing it clearly. He says that one of the things that can bring success to life is your attitude towards it and the attitude of gratitude that will create the path of great things. His incredible journey and experience have helped him provide real solutions to leaders and transform workplace culture that is vital in leading a multi-generational workforce. 


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Creating An Engaging And Energizing Workplace Culture That Sparks Success With Chester Elton

It is my honor to introduce my guest, Chester Elton. He has spent decades helping some of the world's most successful businesses engage their employees to execute on strategy, vision and values. He has been called the "apostle of appreciation" by Canada's Globe and Mail "creative and refreshing” by the New York Times and a "must-read for modern managers" by CNN. Elton is coauthor of multiple award-winning New York Times and number one Wall Street Journal bestselling leadership books, including All In, The Carrot Principle, Leading with Gratitude and his newest book Anxiety at Work. His books have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold more than 1.5 million copies worldwide. Adrian Gostick and Chester are both Top Ten Global Gurus in Leadership and Organizational Culture. Chester grew up in Canada. He loves hockey. He's so excited that his team the New Jersey Devils is finally letting fans back into the game. Chester, I want to welcome you to the show.

Tony, I'm delighted to be here. Who doesn't love sitting around the campfire? This is going to be great.

This is why I love the title of the show because it gets people warmed up and excited to share and that's what this is all about. One of the things that are great about this is I'm bringing people on who have had a remarkable journey to getting where they are and making a huge impact. I'm thrilled to have you here.

Thanks for the invitation.

Let me share a little bit of how we're going to roll for your sake and for the audience's sake. We're going to share your story through what's called flashpoints. These are points in your story that have ignited your gifts into the world. We're going to stop along the way and see what's showing up. You can share what you're called to share. With that, I'm going to hand the mic over to you and let you get started.

It is interesting. When people ask me about my life, I start up by saying I grew up in the happiest household ever. I have four older brothers that are all amazing. We're all best friends. Our wives are all best friends. I thought everybody grew up in a happy house, loved their mom and dad, their brothers, their brother's wives and everything. I come to find out that I was lucky as a kid to grow up with so much joy. You talked about flashpoints. The biggest flashpoint in my life has always been my dad, John Dalton Elton, Dalt to his friends. He's passed now for some years. I'm the youngest of five boys. I always think he would love the technology now because he was a radio broadcaster. He was on air and he managed radio stations as he got later in his career.

To see me in front of a microphone with headphones on, podcasting and broadcasting, he would've loved that. He's got a boy that's on the air live and in color. It was a wonderful flashpoint. My dad was one of those guys that you love to be around because he made you feel better about yourself. One of the things that my brothers and I all learned from my dad was everybody's important. Everybody has a story and every story is worthy of the teller. It was interesting. Whether you were bagging these groceries or captains of industry, he made you feel good about yourself. As a kid, he always would say, "You can be whatever you want to be. You're gifted. You come from a good family. You have the opportunity. As long as you do the right thing, you work really hard, you'll be fine."

Everybody has a story, and every story is worthy of the teller.

I'll tell you another flashpoint. This is very personal. My mom and dad were married for years. It's one of the great love stories. He met her when they were in high school. He only ever had one love and that was Irene. It was interesting to see as I grew up how much he adored her. I never heard my parents argue. I never heard my dad ever raised his voice to my mom. He maybe did. It was probably like, "Lookout," was the only thing or, "Duck." He would always be so complimentary. I'll share this with you, Tony because it's a sweet moment. I'll never forget as I was older, I'd be sitting with my dad. My mom would come into the room or across the room. He would bump me and say, "Ches, look at your mom. Isn't she beautiful? Isn't she talented? Aren't we lucky?" We're all married and all married very well. We're all madly in love with our wives. We had a discussion one time and we said, "What are some of the great lessons we learned from dad?" This is after he passed. My brother Kim said, "The greatest lesson dad taught us is how to love your wife." That's sweet.

It’s beautiful because when you're telling this, I think about how your environment shapes you. It shapes how you look at the world. To have that as a foundation is a beautiful thing, it creates your lens on how you want to see the world. I'm sure there are lots of things that happened along the way that challenged your view of the world. Sometimes things will challenge or resolve what have you. Ultimately, having that as a foundation helps to set you on the right path. One of your books Leading with Gratitude is powerful because now I understand where this all comes from. It comes from this place of being grateful for all that you have from the place of love.

They were a remarkable couple. It's interesting you talked about these flashpoints. I love the way you do your show here. You think, "What were some of the seminal moments in my life?" The next big flashpoint for me was I served a mission for my church in Southern Italy. Our family is very devout members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, better known to the world as the Mormons. You get a chance to volunteer. Back in my day, when you are nineteen, they lowered the age to eighteen now, you can dedicate two years of your life to preach the gospel. I got to tell you, Tony, back in the day, a letter would show up. You'd open the letter and it would tell you where you're going to spend the next two years of your life. As a missionary, you can go anywhere, most places. Some countries don't allow it.

It's one of those flashpoint moments like, “Where am I going to spend the next two years of my life, from 19 to 21?” I opened that letter and it said, "You've been called to serve your mission in the Italy Catania Mission. It's Southern Italy." Tony, when somebody says, "You got to spend the next two years of your life in Southern Italy," that's when you know Jesus loves you. God does love you because it was beyond fabulous. The food was great. The people were friendly. The language is fun. I know a little Italian. It's very expressive. There were dialects. People were kind. The fashion was great. I love history, the Roman Empire, the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci and all those things. It was fabulous.

Over and above all of that, what it taught me was and will happen again in my life. You're single. You don't have a job. You pay your own way or the church pays for you to serve. You wake up every morning and your job for two years is to make somebody's day better and to brighten their day. Bring them some good news. The gospel, literally, the translation is the good news. It taught me to be altruistic, to serve, and to engage. It taught me that there were things more important than the shiny objects that surround us. Some of the relationships that I built there and some of the friendships have lasted a lifetime.

VCP 87 | Workplace CultureI will tell you, Tony. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of something about my mission. In fact, if you can look over my shoulder, that's a pizza spatula. We've got this little place up in the Adirondack. On the back of the fireplace, we put in a little pizza oven. Why? It’s because it's Italian, Tony. You've got an Italian last name. It's Mangia. It's the pasta. It's the food. It's the culture. For me, that was a huge flashpoint to be grateful, to be kind and to be of service to your fellowmen with no expectation of any money changing hands and that there would be anything. You do it because it's the right thing to do and that was a huge flashpoint for me.

When you say this, I think about Adam Grant. He had this book the Give and Take. With giving, where does that come from? It comes from years and years of the European heritage that we see. People always come to the Italian household or the different European homes. Being in each other's presence, serving meals and being together, especially in this environment because it's hard to be together. Even before the pandemic, there was a loss of connection around gathering, being in each other's presence and creating that warmth that comes from, "I don't need anything from you. I just want to be with you. I want to share with you whatever I can do to lift you up." I think of it as filling your bucket. There's this old book. I can't remember who wrote it. There's an element of that when I hear you talk, it reminds me of a desire to want to help people live a better day.

The thing I loved about the Italian culture, which for years, we haven't been able to do is the kissing, the hugging and the slap. It's very physical. My family was that way. We were huggers. We'd snuggle up on the couch and watch movies together. We were very physical that way. God knew exactly where to put me. “Send him to Italy.” I'll tell you the other thing that was funny. I was worried when I was nineteen because I was a picky eater. I was terrified they were going to send me to Japan with all that wacky sushi and everything like that. "Please don't send me to Japan." They sent me to Italy. I'm like, "This is perfect, spaghetti, pizza, ravioli. I'm in." It's a delight to reflect on those wonderful people and culture.

I'll tell you what else it taught me as we're talking about flashpoints is that the world's a big place. There are a lot of people doing things a lot differently than you are. Isn't that wonderful? Learning another language to me was a huge flashpoint. You've probably got friends that will tell you this. When I speak English, this is the English-speaking Chester. When I speak Italian, it's the Italian Chester. It's different. Your personality changes because your language changes. The inflections changed. There are words in Italian that you can't translate and yet in Italian, it makes perfect sense. You translate in English, you go, "That's not the same." That appreciation of different cultures and different ways of doing things and creativity was a wonderful flashpoint on my mission as well.

It also can adjust the biases you have to the way people operate. When you meet somebody who has a very loud or a very fast-paced way of bringing themselves into the room, you may not think of them as being aggressive. That might be the way that they are. That's their cultural way. It's not good or bad. It’s just it is and that is helpful to know that when you've been exposed, now you can see it.

Before the pandemic, my wonderful coauthor Adrian Gostick, who's the brilliant writer behind all our award-winning books, traveled all the time. We traveled to the Middle East. We go to Africa, Asia, South America, Eastern and Western Europe. Adrian and I both grew up in Canada. We're always delighted when we get to go up, have the good Canadian chocolate bars, talk to people that understand hockey, experience all those different colors, all those different languages and all those different foods.

There are things that are more important than the shiny things around us.

I got a great tip from a friend. He says, "Wherever you go in the world, there are two things that people are always willing to talk about enthusiastically." I said, "This is going to be good. What are those things?" "Those are their families and food." Every culture is proud of its food. Everybody's proud of their family in one way or another. That's a great tip because I thought he was going to say, "There are two things people always talk about, religion and politics." I go, "I'm not doing that." Those are the two things you don't talk about. Think about that. Food and family is always a safe place and an enthusiastic place. Those are wonderful flashpoints.

There are two directions I want to head in. One of them is I would love to talk about how Adrian and yourself came to be collaborators. How that evolved? What were some other things that, as you progressed in your career, brought you to where you are? What brought you to think, "I'm going to be writing books?" What were some of the other struggles? Not everything is always peaches and rainbows. I'm sure there are some elements along the way that were setbacks and things that set you on a path to say, "It's not always an easy thing to navigate." You can start wherever you like.

I love talking heads, “How did I get here?” As the days go by and the water flowing down, it is interesting. Finding my soulmate and my wife Heidi was important. That's a pivotal moment, as you would say a flashpoint. When you fall madly in love, you get married and you make plans to start a family, the first thing you think about is, "How am I going to provide? Where are we going to live? How are we going to make a living? How are we going to pay our bills?" Growing up in a broadcast family, four of my five brothers went to some kind of broadcasting, whether it was sales or management, except for my oldest brother, Tanner, who is a lawyer. We don't talk about it much. Everybody's got the black sheep.

I was in sales. I loved sales. I loved solving people's problems and bringing a product that made their lives easier. I always had a philosophy. I never sold anybody anything they didn't need. Interesting aside, the way I put myself through college as I sold books door to door in the summer. I sold Bibles out of Nashville. It's something out of a movie. From Southwest, the book came out in Nashville, Tennessee. I'll never forget. They recruited kids from a church school, BYU being a good Christian school. There was a guy on stage.

This is a funny aside. That was my first time being in the South. I'm down in Nashville. I grew up in Canada. We're Northerners. He's up on the stage and he says, "I welcome you all here to Nashville, Tennessee. I came in from Brigham Young University talking about selling Bibles door to door. We got a warehouse back there. It's three football fields long full of books. We aren’t got one Bible. I don't know what you're going to sell. If you all want to be selling Bibles, we got lots of Bibles." I was like, "Here we go again with the cultural difference."

Heidi and I are married. I got a job in Detroit selling TV Time. We moved to New York, which was fabulous. We lived in Brooklyn and then we moved up to Hartford. I was that local, the national sales manager for a TV station in Hartford for a while. I came back to Brooklyn. That's when my mom called me. She said, "Ches, I've always wanted one of my boys to work for Obert." Obert Tanner had founded this wonderful company called the O.C. Tanner Company. They sold recognition programs. She called me, "Ches, I was talking to Obert. He's got an opening for a salesperson." I said, "The rest of the salesperson in the whole world is Mason Chester. You've got to talk to him."

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There's an opening in New Jersey. You got to understand I'm living in New York. All the jokes are about New Jersey. "Why would I ever move to New Jersey? I'm living in the epicenter of the planet, New York City, Brooklyn, the Dodgers." I said, "Mom, I'll talk to him." She said, "You get that job." My mother was very emphatic. I said, "Mom, I'll talk because you never know." I had some great interviews and the whole bit. Another flashpoint was I got the job. We're going to move to New Jersey. My territory is Northern New Jersey. My mother related this story to me about Obert. Obert is this legendary figure. He's the founder of the company and all these wonderful stories. He's a remarkable man.

She said to Obert, "Ches, got the job. Aren't we lucky?" Obert said back to her. Think about this and what this means to a young guy, a young family still building his career. He said, "Irene, if he's who we think he is, we're the lucky ones." Think about that. Do you think I would ever do anything to disappoint Obert? Not a chance. I worked a little extra. I put in the lecture time. I'll never forget that. We're off selling recognition programs. We sold jewel-encrusted lapel pins and catalogs. That was fabulous. I grew up in this competitive family. We all played sports and tennis. Getting the trophy at the award presentation was perfect for me.

I had another flashpoint. The CEO at the time was a guy named Kent Murdock. We're still great friends. He's long retired. I called him up and I said, "Kent, I've got this idea. I did this wonderful program with Novartis pharmaceuticals. They brought in these consultants. I got the nominees. Tell me about your company." He said, "It'll take too long. Let me give you this book written by our senior VP of International. It will explain exactly who we are and why we're the thought leaders in our industry." "That'd be great." Overnight mail, this book shows up. It's got a bookmark. It's signed by the author. I said, "Kent, we should do this. This has to be awesome." Nobody's written a definitive book on employee recognition. We've got at the time years of experience. Let's write the definitive book on recognition in the workplace.

My life would be so much easier because people would call me. I wouldn't have to cold call. Ever the salesperson, how can I benefit from this book? Here's the next flashpoint. Kent says, "That's a great idea. Write the book." I'm like, "Kent, I don't think you understood what I said. You give me crushing quotas every year. You should write the book and then I benefit from the book." That's the key right there. He says, "Chester, you're a smart guy. Figure it out. Think about that." I'm thinking, "This was supposed to make my life easier and now, I've got to figure out how to write a book. I don't know how to write a book."

If you've met any of my high school buddies and you said, "Do you know Chester Elton?" They go, "He's a good guy.” “Do you know he's got six New York Times bestsellers and Wall Street Journal? He's a bestselling author." They’d go, "Are you sure we're talking about the same Chester here? I was in his English lit class. I'm not so sure about that." For years, I'm playing with ideas, titles and concepts. He calls me back. He is a great leader. He says, "I've been thinking about that book. I hired our new Head of Communications. His name is Adrian Gostick. He's a writer. You've got all the ideas. This guy knows how to write. He's coming to the national sales meetings. Introduce yourself and write the book."

It turns out Adrian grew up in Canada. He was born in England. We've got English roots. We got that hockey thing going. We hit it off. We come up with an idea. Almost exactly a year to the day, we walk into Kent's office, we drop a book on his desk and we say, "We found a publisher. We've got the ideas. It's called Managing with Carrots." Kent leans back. He goes, "I love being CEO. You say stuff. It happens. You put stuff on the university." We found a little publisher in Layton, Utah. It never published a business book, which was probably to our benefit. They were excited that somebody wanted to publish. We wrote a book called Managing with Carrots. It was case studies of the best clients we had.

The world is a big place, and there’s a lot of people doing things a lot differently than you are.

He says, "What do I have to do to support this book?" I said, "You got to buy 5,000 copies. The publisher will make money and we're in." He goes, "I can do that." We had 100 salespeople around him. He can give them as gifts and so on. That was our first book. Little did we know, as we're talking, we've finished our fourteenth book. We've had all these bestsellers. We've traveled the world. They are in 30 languages. All back to that flashpoint when Kent Murdock said, "You're a smart guy. Figure it out." It enabled us to do it. I’ll never forget the phone call. I've hired a writer. This is going to make this so much easier. It was fabulous.

There's something about this power in that but it's like the challenge that strikes down and says, "Figure it out." It seems like, "Get out of my face. Go do your thing." At the same time, it also accompanies that. "I believe in you. Go figure it out." It's the fact that you can leave it open to many different ways of figuring it out and not like you have to do it yourself and struggle through. Don't struggle. Figure out a smart solution. I love that because when you're given a challenge, a big, hairy, audacious goal, you can say, "I can either say I can't do that or I can accept it and then figure it out." It's very powerful. It's the first book and then what happened?

You don't know what you don't know. We thought, "To be a success, it's got to be like The 7 Habits. You got to sell ten million copies." What we came to realize are those Harvard Business School books you see at the airports, the bookstores and stuff. Most of those books don't sell 5,000 copies. Right out of the gate, we weren't doing right. We ended up selling 35,000 copies. We thought, "That's not very many." Our publisher goes, "Are you kidding? This is fabulous. What's your next idea?" We thought, "I don't think we've gotten that far." We had this vision that we maybe write a library of books and stuff but it was way down the line.

We published three books with that little publisher, Managing with Carrots, The 24-Carrot Manager, A Carrot a Day. Carrots became our theme. Anybody who knows me, I wear orange all over the place in honor of the carrot. It's a happy color in a lot of things. It's on-brand for us. The next big breakthrough for us was we started to publish with bigger publishers. Simon & Schuster called us. In fact, I thought they were punking me. I thought it was one of my brothers. The guy calls up from Simon & Schuster. Have you ever thought about publishing with a big publisher? Every author dreams about publishing with a big publisher. He says, "We like your ideas." We ended up publishing The Carrot Principle with Simon & Schuster. It was introduced to a fabulous editor, Emily Loose, who made our work so much better. She challenged and pushed us. That book sold over 500,000 copies. It was in all these different languages.

In the introduction, that's when the Toronto Globe and Mail, which if you're Canadian, for Adrian and me, being called the "apostles of appreciation" by Toronto Globe and Mail is a total props for your high school reunion. That's like the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post all in one. That launched us. To the readers, that was book number seven for us. We'd done well with our books. Each book sold a little more. In our book A Carrot a Day, we sold over 100,000 copies.

We got better and better as we learned. We went to bigger and bigger publishers. We went from Gibbs Smith, this little publisher in Layton, Utah. By the way, they're a big publisher. They were little in business books to John Wiley, which was all business books to then Simon & Schuster. It was remarkable. We got a front-page write-up in the New York Times in the business section. It started to roll. Another flashpoint is we had international credibility. We weren't speaking in Canada, in the US. We were invited to Singapore, Hong Kong and all the great capitals of Europe and it was game on.

VCP 87 | Workplace Culture

This is the embodiment of what this show is about when you think about it. You probably never would've dreamed that you would have written a book and here you are having written seven-plus books. How many books in total?

There are fourteen. Seven is good. Fourteen is twice as many.

When you think about it, once you get the ball rolling, it starts to take up momentum. It starts by having that one step that you take and start going down that path. I think that's the power of imagining something in the future that could be possible. Sometimes it's not even seeing it clearly. It's taking a step towards something and seeing where that might possibly take your ad that's a beautiful way. Part of it is coming from your attitude towards life, having that attitude of gratitude that has driven you on this path of creating great things.

Also, the relationships you built along the way, the editors and the publishers you meet. There are good people that are everywhere. That comes back to my dad, 99.9% of the people on the planet are good people. There are some bad guys out there and we've all met those. The thing is, they're a fraction of a percentage of most of the people in your life. That was interesting. We were on a roll. We formed the carrot culture group, which was fabulous. We developed training around our books. It was so funny. After we published our first book, a company called us and said, "We're reading your book and love it. You speak on your book, right?" We went, "Sure. That sounds fun." We went to a bunch of SHRM Conferences and saying, "Who are the good speakers? What do they do that makes it fun?"

A friend of mine, John McVay up in Toronto says, "If you steal one idea, it's plagiarism. If you steal a whole bunch of ideas, that's good solid research." We stole as many ideas as we could. We had fun on the speaker circuit. The fish guys threw out colored toys, different colored fish. We made a toy plush carrot. We started throwing Garrett, the Carrot. He became our mascot. We hired a guy that worked for us. He was a standup comic. He says, "Make it fun. Nobody wants to hear somebody speak and lecture in it." We never had a podium. We always went into the crowd. We threw Frisbees and wristbands and name that tune. We made it fun and engaging. We're learning how to do that online as well.

It was interesting. You talk about the hard times and this is where it got tough for Adrian and me. We had this incredible run. Every book was selling more than the last. We had our training group and everything and Kent retired, our guru, our rabbi. The new CEO who we'd known, not well but we'd known him. I was at O.C. Tanner for years. I loved that company. I lived, breathe and bled O.C. Tanner. When the new CEO came in, he was a good guy. He has a different take on where he wanted the business to go. With this thought leadership, IP and the books, I don't think he ever got it. I hesitate to say this because I don't know if it's true but I don't know that he ever read any of our books.

Life got hard for us. We thought we were making a difference. The salespeople loved us because every time we published a new book, it was another excuse to go in, another take, more training and so on. No matter how hard we tried, it didn't seem like we could ever break through. Kent loved us. We loved Kent. We had disagreements but at the end of the day, we knew that he loved us and we loved him. When the new CEO came in, it got hard to the point where we quit. We left and we thought, "We've written this library of books for them, 7 or 8 books. Why don't you love us? What's not to love? We're good guys. We've written all these books."

It was shocking that they couldn't get us out of the building fast enough. It wasn't quite. Don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you. It was closed. We didn't have that safety net. We didn't have that regular check, the royalty checks and this big organization behind us. We were stepping into the abyss. It was tough. We immediately said, "We've got to publish." One of the sticking points is at some point we wanted to own our work, which a company can grant you. It's well within their privileges to do that. It went from, "We'll think about it. No. Stop asking. Don't ask again. It will never happen." As a writer, you want to at some point own your work.

We immediately went back to Simon & Schuster with an idea on a book for culture, All In. It was a huge hit. We sold well over 100,000 copies of that book. It was a New York Times bestseller and Wall Street Journal bestseller. We then could breathe. We had IP that we could develop in the training and coaching. We self-published a book called What Motivates Me with a wonderful assessment. That gave us the proprietary data that we could draw on. Things started to click.

As you know though, when you work for yourself, you're a little anxious. Is there going to be a phone call, an email or a text that's going to say, "Why don't you come to speak to my company?" There is no safety net. That was a huge flashpoint for us. Everybody's flashpoint was the pandemic. We were going to have probably the biggest year ever in speaking and it went to zero. How do you take what you did so well in person and translate it into digital? It's been great. It's been fun. It's been a struggle. We did a lot more writing. People would pay us to write.

You can't have an engaged workforce or culture if people are anxious.

We wrote a book for one of our friends that's coming out in 2021. We wrote Leading with Gratitude with a new publisher. We've got HarperCollins business. They immediately wanted us to write our latest book Anxiety at Work. The royalties and the advances there filled a big hole. We're anxious to get back. Hopefully, there'll be in-person conferences as the vaccines get it out there and people feel safe. I get to go to a hockey game. That's a big step. Pretty soon I should be able to go to a conference. I'll tell you, our work Anxiety at Work is a huge flashpoint. We're cultural leadership experts. You can't have an engaged workforce or culture if people are anxious. Anxiety is the number one issue in the workplace, particularly with Millennials. Over 40% say it's their number one issue. We were delighted to draw on our experience on cultural leadership and provide solutions. How can you deal with that? Stress is momentary generally. Anxiety is that thing in the back of your head that doesn't seem to go away. How do you manage it?

It seems like anxiety is that long-tail effect, not just in the moment. There are so many different directions to go in. One of the things that came to mind as I was thinking about the later part of your story is this element of, “You're only as good as your current work as your latest act.” That can be motivating to create more and amazing things but also it can be discouraging at times because you're like, "Look at all the great things I've created already. I should be appreciated for all of that."

VCP 87 | Workplace CultureMy dad used to say, "It's a lot easier to find new audiences than it is new material," and you're right. You are only as good as your last book. We had a couple of books that didn't sell all that well and that was horrifying because who's going to give you a contract after? None of them were total flops. One was close and that's when you get nervous. You got to be all-in on the next one. There was a lot of pressure there.

That's when resilience comes in and that ability to be able to have that. To come back to the attitude of gratitude, to know that, "I know who I am. I'm grateful for who I am in the world. Therefore, even when setbacks show up, I know what I can do to create the next thing."

It's so funny you mentioned resilience. Your titles are important. It's the subtitle that explains what the book is about. Anxiety at Work is 8 Strategies to Help Teams Build Resilience, Handle Uncertainty and Get Things Done. That resilience and uncertainty is a huge issue. When are we going to be able to go back to work? When are we going to be safe? Why don't we get our vaccine and so on? In fact, it's interesting. We've developed our own show Anxiety at Work and a community, which is interesting. One of the things our research showed us was that only 10% of employees are comfortable talking about anxiety with their boss. We created an online community called We Thrive Together. It's a free community, a safe place to talk about wellness, to talk about anxiety. We've been gratified on the engagement there. We have over 300 members, daily questions and shows. We bring in experts. We do workshops. It's lovely.

I have one last question for you. What is one book that has had an impact on you and why?

I'm so glad you gave me a heads up on this question. In our anxiety community, we don't call it an anxiety community because it makes people anxious. The We Thrive Together community said, "What are some of the things you do to tamp down anxiety?" One of the members said that she goes and pulls out her children's books. She reads them. She's said that the messages were always so positive, simple and lovely. I'm sure she would reminisce about reading to her kids. One of the members, Lenny Deshaun who's a Frenchman living in London says, "If you love children's books, you've got to get The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse."

It is the loveliest children's book. It's by ‎Charlie Mackesy. He draws these charcoal drawings and then these wonderful little sayings. This boy is lonely. He's worried about the wild. It’s uncertainty. He makes friends with this mole and they talked. They save a fox who's in a trap and they make friends with this giant horse. It's their journey through the wild. These wonderful little sayings, one of my favorites is the boy and the mole is sitting on a tree branch. The mole says to the boy, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" The boy says, "Kind." That is the best. Not a doctor, lawyer, butcher, baker, candlestick maker. "I want to grow up and I want to be kind." They make friends with this giant horse and the boy asks the horse, "What's the bravest thing you've ever said?" The horse says, "Help." "What are some of the most important lessons you've learned?" "That I'm good enough the way I am."

You'll love the charcoal drawings. One of my favorites is he says, "One of the great lessons I learned is that life isn't perfect and it doesn't have to be." It's so funny because the charcoal drawing is messed up. You can see in pencil in the bottom ‎Charlie Mackesy has written. He says, "When I finished this drawing, my dog walked over it and messed it up," as if to prove a point that it doesn't have to be perfect. It's The boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. Trust me. Treat yourself. It's fabulous life lessons. He said, "I wrote it for children from ages 80 to 8."

Chester, this has been amazing. I'm so grateful for this time together with you. Before we wrap, I want to give you a chance to share where people can find you and if there's anything you wanted to offer up.

Follow me on LinkedIn. I love LinkedIn. We publish a gratitude journal. There are some great tips in there. I've got a wonderful one about being grateful for good friends. is our community where we support each other on wellness and anxiety and I give you more than three places. Come join us. We’ll have wonderful conversations. Tony, I'm delighted to be on your show. One of the things that we're so proud of with our book Anxiety at Work is we want to get the message out, a safe place to talk about anxiety. What we're offering your readers from you because they know Tony and I know a guy who knows a guy, as we say in Jersey, is that if you buy 100 books, Adrian and I will put on a one-hour workshop with your leadership, with your employees.

Normally when we speak, we charged a ton of money and we're worth every penny, by the way. If you want to support our book launch, if you buy 100 books, we'll do 30 minutes of presentation on anxiety, eight great strategies on resilience, how to deal with uncertainty and get things doneake your Q&A. All you got to do is drop and say, "I'm a friend of Tony and he said that if I bought 100 books, I could get Chester and Adrian the show out." We'll be delighted to do it for you. The reason we offer such a bargain is we want to get the word out. It's the number one issue in the workplace. People are suffering and we can help. We can give you the tools so that you can help. I hope you'll take us up on it.

Thank you so much for everything. This has been amazing. Thank you to the readers for coming on the journey with us. I know you're leaving with some amazing insights. That's a wrap. Thank you.


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About Chester Elton 

Chester Elton has spent two decades helping clients engage their employees in organizational strategy, vision and values. In his inspiring and always entertaining talks, Elton provides real solutions for leaders looking to build culture, manage change and drive innovation. His work is supported by research with more than a million working adults across the globe, revealing the proven secrets behind high-performance cultures and teams.

Elton is co-founder of The Culture Works, a global training company, and author of multiple award-winning, #1 New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestsellers, All In, The Carrot Principle and The Best Team Wins. His books have been translated into 30 languages and have sold more than 1.5 million copies.

He has been called “fascinating” by Fortune and “creative and refreshing” by The New York Times. Elton has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS 60 Minutes, and is often quoted in Fast Company, Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal.

In 2020 Global Gurus research organization ranked Chester #4 among the world’s top leadership experts and #2 among the world’s top organizational culture experts. The Employee Engagement Awards 2020 named him a Top 101 Global Employee Engagement Influencer, and Engagedly named him Top HR Influencer of 2020. He is a member of Marshall Goldsmith’s #MG100 Global Coaches, a member of the Fast Company Impact Council, and serves as a board member for Camp Corral, a non-profit for the children of wounded and fallen military heroes.


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