The #1 lesson I have learned from my dad, on his 70th birthday

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Today my dad, Tom Chenault, turned 70!

If you have ever met my dad Tom, you know he is truly one-of-a-kind. I know that’s a cliche but trust me it’s the real deal with my old man.

He’s a force of nature. Funny. Self-deprecating. Loved by CEOs and homeless people alike. A hot mess express of the highest order.

How the hell does he do it?

This is my answer.

Happy birthday dad, you’re my hero.

Full Transcript:

Hello, it’s Adrian. And today is a very special day today. My dad, my Contact Mapping co-founder, and you know, such an important mentor and person in my life. I’m choking up already, and I just got started. One of the most important people in the entire world to me, my dad, turned 70 today, which if you know him is pretty hard to believe he is. I think he’s so often more energetic than I am at 36. So if I can be half as energetic as you dad, when I’m turning 70 oh man, that would be a huge, huge victory. But I want to share with you a little bit about my dad and what I have learned from him over the years and what I think makes him so special because he is really one of the most remarkable, special phenomenal people and unique people that I have ever met. And I’m thankful that I can say that I am like him in many ways, but he has so many unique experiences and unique things about him that there is definitely only one Tom Chenault.

So let me, if you don’t know my dad, Tom, let me tell you just a little bit about him. He is very successful in his career. He will be the very first to tell you that he is a hot mess. He is 32 plus years sober as an alcoholic. Now alcoholism and AA is a huge part of who he is and helping addicts. And he’s just one of these people that you truly never know what is going to come out of his mouth. And sometimes that is to hilarious effect. Sometimes especially as his son, that is to very cringy effect. But he is somebody that you just, you can count on whatever he says, being crazy and being fun. And so what I think makes him so special, he’s, he’s really, you know, the thing I observe about my dad is he’s, he’s really loved not by everybody out there. I’m sure many people out there who Tom Chenault is not at all their cup of tea, but so many people love him. So many people are attracted to who he is and to his heart. And the shirt I’m wearing today is one of his favorite sayings. It’s something that came from him and he is, you know, that’s, that’s who he embodies. He embodies this idea of fire your brain and hire your heart. And he talks about that all the time. He teaches that all the time, but he’s, he’s special. And, so while, you know, you can receive that wisdom and that idea, if you look at Tom and you want to emulate Tom, or you want to go, “What makes him so special? How, how could I be like him?” It’s not always easy to figure it out. And so I have somewhere between a 36 year and a one-year head start on thinking about that very question. And so I want to share what I think is the thing that makes Tom so special and makes my dad so special. And hopefully it’s something that maybe you can incorporate too. So when my dad says, “fire your brain and hire your heart,” what I actually see as the behavior we are, that is underneath that is I think that #1, he is better than anyone that I know at figuring out what is in it for somebody else, how he can help someone else win, what they need, what they’re up to, what they’re trying to get. He is so good at figuring that out, but not only is he good at figuring it out, he’s good at holding that in his mind, in the conversation. He’s really clear about hat. If he can help the other person win, you can get clear about what’s going to make the other person win. That that’s going to be a great thing for everybody involved. And so he has the coffee shop interview, right? He created this conversation this way of asking people questions and getting to the heart of the matter. And you know, he can, he always says, I know your blood type, right? He’ll, in a conversation. He will figure out how to size you up and to figure out what it is that you want out of life in a hurry. And that’s not necessarily in tangible terms, right? Maybe it’s what your ego needs, maybe it’s how you want to feel. Maybe it’s how you want to be thought of by others or by him or whatever. But he’s so good at figuring that out. And so he figures that out and then he logs it,

He documents it, right? Whether it’s in the Contact Mapping app, whether it’s, it was on index cards in the seventies and eighties, he’s had a million different ways of doing this, but he does not lose track of what it is that he believes you need. And he keeps that through the relationship. So that’s one, two is he’s really clear about what he needs in a conversation. He’s really clear in his mind of what he wants to achieve. And so what he does so well is figuring out the inner set, how to create an intersection point between those two things, because it’s not always a logical intersection point, but you know, you want to look like the hero and I want to get this deal done. And so how do I figure out how you can help me get this deal done in a way

That has me totally in the background and you look like the hero, because then everybody wins. Whatever that looks like. He is phenomenal at creating those sorts of conditions. And so he’s figuring out what you need, he’s clear about what he needs. And he’s able to sort of hold those two things, but he’s clear that if you don’t win that it doesn’t work. And so he’s always trying to work toward that in conversation. And the last thing that I see about him, actually, not the last thing, the next thing I see about him is that he is fearless in asking anybody for anything about anything. When once it is clear to him, how those intersections, he has absolutely no fear asking for something completely extravagant for asking for something, like he knows how to move the conversation to the point where it’s time to make an ask.

And it can be an extravagant ask. It can be a huge thing. It can be something completely audacious and he maybe he’s fearful, but he does it anyway. He’s courageous about asking for that. And so he moves fast and he moves things forward because he gets clear about what’s in it for them. He knows what he wants. He finds the intersections point and he is courageous and bold in asking for what he wants. I think that is the magic of how he has been so successful. But there’s one last X factor about who Tom Chenault is that I think is the thing that takes the cake. And that is that he is, more than just about anybody I know, somebody who, if you call him when your back is against the wall, if you call him when you’re down and out, if you call him, when you are really struggling, he will do whatever he can to help you. He’ll give you the shirt off his back. He’ll loan you the 500 bucks. He’ll do, he’ll do what it takes to help people. And he loves the underdog more than anybody. He loves the misfit more than anybody. And it isn’t a show. It’s the real thing. And you know, you’ve probably, if you know him, have heard stories about the things that he has done for people. And I will tell you, that’s the tip of the iceberg as his son.

And so dad, if you’re watching this or when you watch this, I just want you to know how grateful I am to have you as an example in my life, how much I learned from you how much I’ve learned from you as a kid, how much I learned from you in my adult life before we became partners in Contact Mapping, and what an honor it has been to get to really have a front row seat and learn from you in so many new ways over the last few years with Contact Mapping and for all of you who are watching, I just invite you please go and and give my dad, Tom, some love on his wall for his birthday. Give him a call, tell him what he means to you, because I know he means so much to so many.

And I just want you to know that we’re all beneficiaries of you, dad. We’re all beneficiaries of the, the way that you live your life out loud. And so thank you for that. And I’m glad that you are such an energetic 70 year old, cause you are a long way done a long way from done with telling your story. So love you. Dad, love you for watching with me. So thank you for spending time with me today. And I hope you enjoyed this. I hope you got some value out of it and learn something and have a wonderful rest of your day. Talk to you soon. See ya.