Who hasn’t ever felt stuck. Especially in our career. We talk with Chuck Papandrea in this episode about how to move, even when in a great career track, to find satisfaction and growth. Initial steps to start when you are looking to get unstuck. And, how to leverage continuous improvement through professional and personal development to achieve your goals.
When we talk about failure a lot of times it is associated with an event, something happens in your life, and it’s the mindset of you know a failure. That event in and of itself is a neutral, one time event. It’s something that happened. It’s how we view that event, it’s our perspective on that event that determines whether or not we see it as positive. Chuck Papandrea
Chuck’s 19 year corporate career was split between the GE Nuclear Fuel and GE Consumer Finance businesses, culminating in 6 years of driving change through Lean and Six Sigma as a certified Master Black Belt. Leveraging engineering degrees from both Notre Dame and California Berkeley, and over a dozen corporate development and leadership programs, Chuck thrived in this environment and earned a solid reputation as a strategic, results-driven leader. To the outside world, this had all the elements of success.
But Chuck felt stuck – and he was stuck – in his career, his finances and his life. In 2003, Chuck’s world was transformed through exposure to the power of a self-directed education. Chuck aggressively pursued personal and professional development, which continues to this day, and he’s never looked back! This growth and expanded perspective enabled Chuck to establish an international consulting company in 2006, providing leadership and personal development, executive mentoring, process transformation, and enhanced business performance and growth. His satisfied clients include one of the Big 4 accounting firms, two Top 30 international banks, and countless organizations of all sizes – as well as the teams and individuals therein. In 2011, Chuck was introduced to LIFE, a company that delivers life-changing information and services in the areas of financial, professional and personal development. In LIFE, Chuck found a principle-centered leadership and personal development program to enable his professional clients to achieve extraordinary results in both their business and personal lives. Further, he recognized an opportunity to build into the lives of others outside of the business environment, promoting financial, professional and personal development and the life-changing impact they could have. In this, Chuck realized he had discovered his lifetime passion.
Welcome to the Generation Open podcast with LDR21. a podcast about workplace culture and leadership that leads to transparency and an open organization. Today we are joined by business consultant Chuck Papandrea to discuss career development and mindsets. Here’s your host the founder and CEO of LDR21 Jen Kelchner.
Jen Kelchner: [00:00:28] So Chuck, thank you so much for being with us today on the podcast. I kind of want to get started. You and I have met through our local chamber which is, the Cobb County Chamber, here in the Atlanta metro area. And we really had great conversation talking about mindsets, personal development, what happens when you get stuck in your career.
Jen Kelchner: [00:00:47] And so I really wanted to have you on to talk people through that. So let’s kind of get started a little bit with what happens when we get stuck in our career. So we choose these paths, we’re there, maybe we’ve been very successful for a time, and we feel like we’re stuck. Let’s start with a little bit of your story.
Chuck Papandrea: [00:01:05] OK. Thank you. Thank you very much. Pleasure to be here today. In terms of being stuck, in terms of my background of my career, I had what everybody would look at as just this this perfect track. Educational, you know education wise, in terms of the schools and I was able to go and degrees I was able to get. And did very well, and all of that. Went into a corporate environment with General Electric and just had some awesome jobs that I was able to do. And I was able to really ascend into a number of different positions early on in my career that people, my peers, weren’t getting until further on in life.
Chuck Papandrea: [00:01:48] Through that through that track though, I got to a point in my career where I really started to get introspective and I started to ask those vital questions about – you know, how did I get here, you know what’s next for me. You know things like that. And as I took that inventory of myself all of a sudden I realized that I’m stuck. You know what I mean? I’m stuck. I’m stuck personally. I’m stuck professionally. I’m stuck financially. I’m on a track that is not necessarily leading me to where I thought it would lead me. It’s not leading me to where I am sure I want to go. And and the way I really analyze that for myself was – number one I looked at where people five years down the road were compared to where I was and it didn’t look so bright for me.
[00:02:42] And, I even went one level above me, two levels above me. I all of the sudden realized that they’re not exactly where I want to be either. You know in their careers, what they’re doing, how they’re spending their time, the compensation, just everything around them, their family lives. It just didn’t seem to me the track that I wanted to be on. But I truly felt stuck.
[00:03:05] I was fortunate enough at that time to have somebody come alongside me and provide some exposure to personal development, professional development, and just better information into my life. It was kind of ironic that my entire career was based on continuous improvement. It was based on helping companies, helping processes, helping to see where I could take something apart and make it better, where I could help teams to move themselves forward to produce a better result than they were. And, I just didn’t take a look in the mirror and realize that I could do the same for myself. So, bottom line was I was exposed to self-directed education. Exposed to the power behind reading great books, engaging with other individuals that were doing the same, listening to audios outside of my field, engaging in that personal development – the human engineering. All those elements of being able to understand personality styles, to understand behavior, to understand attitude, conflict resolution. All of those different areas and then just core leadership understanding what it meant to lead. Understanding the different elements of leadership effectiveness.
[00:04:35] Just all of that over the course of the next few years of my life really started to transform where I was and what I was able to do. In that period towards the end of my corporate career the people around me, the managers around me, my peers started to ask those questions what are you doing. You know how are you making these changes in your life. You are different. We’d be in a meeting we’d be you know sitting around you know in a room and the way I expressed myself, the way I interacted with others, the way I could command a room just changed so much that people started to take notice. And I started to get more opportunities within that corporate environment. But that switch you had been flicked. And I recognize for myself that it was no longer in and of itself the track that I wanted to stay on. My mind had been expanded with new information and I knew that that my track was going to be different. So it was funny how opportunities to get unstuck even in that environment came just by the fact that I was moving on.
Jen Kelchner: [00:05:49] Such a dangerous state when you start expanding your mind. It’s a beautiful dangerous, not a bad dangerous. But it’s like just throwing you know gasoline on the fire – it just explodes rapidly. That’s been my personal experience too. It’s like this a new taste for life, a new taste for learning, a taste for just new experiences, and figuring out new ways to do things so it’s interesting.
Jen Kelchner: [00:06:13] So what were some of the first steps that you took. You know finding yourself in a great job, in a great field, doing really well, realizing that you’re not fulfilled and satisfied where you are. So nothing to say was wrong with where you where but you recognized for yourself you’re not there. What where some of the first steps that you took that you start kind of discovering what path to go down, how to do the development.
Chuck Papandrea: [00:06:39] Right. That’s a great question. The one of the first one of the first things I did is I took stock of where I was. So I was taught within this continuous improvement mindset that number one you have to define a problem and you have to measure where you are. So that’s what I that’s where I started. I tried to understand how I got to where I was, what I was already learning from. Again at General Electric (GE), we had a phenomenal in-house courses. We had Crotonville and all of these different areas that we were able to go in and learn. But it was a lot of it for me in my experience was just towards that job or just towards that environment. It wasn’t really expanding me outside of that.
[00:07:25] So I needed to I needed to understand how to expand myself out of that mindset out of that environment. So the first thing I did was I defined that problem, but I also defined where I wanted to go. Defined for myself the lifestyle that I wanted. Defined for myself how I wanted to live from that point forward.
[00:07:49] The second step on that was to seek out people that were doing that. Seek out people that were living in those environments, doing more or different than what I was doing. And from that, I sought them out either personally or I sought them out through what they wrote or recorded in terms of you know their education. And then I set about to repeat or you know learn from it and duplicate what they had done.
[00:08:19] So in that you know my journey started by seeking out strong leaders, strong entrepreneurs, strong just leaders within the business community as well as the community at large. And I actually landed upon a group of engineers, like myself, who had expanded outside of what they were doing into the realm of professional development and personal development. And became very entrepreneurial. And I started to understand their journey, their path, and sought out their training sought out their education and trying to come along side of that. And that was my first entry into into that environment. Where I landed was you know a group of entrepreneurs, a group of leaders that were producing and providing great content in all of those areas outside of what I had been learning. And I just devoured that information over time and just really started to read on a consistent basis. Listen on a consistent basis. And as much as I could, come alongside people that were also learning from them or some of those leaders themselves. And really engage from just that association piece as well. And that started that started that journey for me.
Jen Kelchner: [00:09:49] It’s interesting you and I have a very similar methodology. My approach to how I solve problems, or if I coaching somebody or figuring anything out. You take basic process map, like flow maps for workflow – but to figure out and define where we are and knowing where we’re trying to go and looking at roadblocks in between and redesigning that to get there.
[00:10:10] So I appreciate that you said that. And then the other piece is I think that I want to reiterate the you just said. Seeking out leaders whether they are formal mentor or someone that you follow and read and study. But making sure that you’re in alignment with them and staying in track with that I think is very important for people right to be aware of.
Chuck Papandrea: [00:10:30] Right. There’s a there’s a principle around that. It’s a financial principle, it’s also a principle outside of that. From a financial perspective don’t take financial advice from broke people. Take advice from people with financial success that you would like to emulate. The same concept goes into the leaders that we follow. Seek out somebody that has done what you’re looking to do. Seek out somebody that has the results in the area that you’re trying to learn. Don’t take advice from people that don’t have the success results that you’re looking for yourself in your own life. And that that allows you that opportunity to duplicate what they have done from an experience base.
Jen Kelchner: [00:11:18] Absolutely. You know one thing that we find, and I’m sure you’ve seen this in the course of your career too. When we talk to organizations about developing people – whether it’s you know executive coaching for their leadership, or you know the scope of development, whether it’s your coursework or internal coaching program. But we often find that there are some, not all, but some leaders and business owners that are still very stuck in that fear based mentality that if I develop my people they will steal all of my information and leave. Why do I want to spend the time and money to invest in people if they may not stick around? I’m sure you’ve seen this as well. I have my own theory on how to overcome that but I’d love to hear your point on why we want to do that.
Chuck Papandrea: [00:12:05] Right. That actually to me goes into two different tracks. The first one exactly what you’re talking about is that fear that you will develop somebody and they’ll leave your company. The mindset that I feel around that is…that you in this environment that we’re in right now, most people are not going to be with you and with your company for the long haul.
[00:12:28] When I started out in my career, there was a mindset that you could you could join a company, get on the retirement program, you know look for a pension when you get to be 65 et cetera. You could you have a great career in that you know entire 45 year plan so to speak. That’s not the case anymore. Most people move in and out of jobs. Now our mindset should be to develop them as best as we can while they are in our care. As leaders we should be developing people while they’re in our care. And then while they’re there they’re going to perform so much better. They’re going they’re going to maximize their efficiency and effectiveness while they’re with you. When they move on, they will move on, they are going to be better off for that. And they’re going to look back from that experience, they may come back to you someday and be part of your organization. But whether they do or don’t, they’re going to be another just enthusiastic fan for you and for your company. And in this age of social media, in this age of word of mouth ,they’re going to be somebody that’s always speaking positively of you and your organization.
[00:13:37] In terms of investing in people and they might leave, the other side of that is not investing in them and then they stay. And that’s that’s a very dangerous thing to have happen as well. The second side of what you’re talking about there in terms of developing people and that fear that sometimes gets into some leaders, is what if I develop somebody, what if I share with them everything that I’m doing, what if I allow them to see what it takes to take my role? And they actually pass me? What if they actually move me or replace me in my own position? And there’s that fear base of actually losing your job because you’ve developed somebody to replace you.
[00:14:21] And what I learned over my career is I want to create a replacement for myself. I’ve added value to my company and more often than not I will be able to move up to the next level when I develop somebody to move into mine. If there’s not another level for me to go to within my own company, I will be able to expand out of that, into another environment, always having that mindset that I will land safely and I will land somewhere better than where I am right now.
Jen Kelchner: [00:14:49] I think that’s an important part of mindset shifting for people to understand. While changing our mindsets and reframing the way we think is hard work, it’s not easy…it is very simple steps, very simple routines to do that right. But it’s a lot of repetition, changing the way we think. A lot of re-affirming things, of telling ourselves you know differently than we’ve ever learned before. But part of that is focusing on that success point for ourselves that we are going be OK.
[00:15:24] I’ve often told clients before when they are just dealing with the fear piece itself is – is it going to kill you? There’s a difference between fear being a true danger, right. You know if you’re going to swim with great white sharks, there’s a high probability you are not going to survive. Right. That’s real – that’s a real fear. That’s a real danger. But fear that’s just telling you you can’t do something, or you don’t have enough value to contribute, those sorts of mindsets…I say fear is lying to you. Fear is just playing a trick in your head. And we have to keep overcoming that. You are going to be okay regardless of hard times you may even encounter in taking that next step. That is super important that we do that. Keep those open early adoptive learning type of mindsets. In order for us to succeed especially as leaders.
Chuck Papandrea: [00:16:10] Right. When I learned about fear and tried to get a better understanding of what fear is, what I learned is (and I might be misquoting this a little bit) but the only two innate fears that we have as humans. Number one, is fear of falling. Number two, is fear of loud noises. Just everything else is learned fear. So if they’re learned fears, we have to understand why we’ve learned them. But we can also understand that if it’s a learned fear, we can also unlearn that fear. And there is a concept that I learned from the company that I engage in, in terms of my own professional development, is that courage is earned. You’re not necessarily going to have courage to the end point of courage. But if you have courage enough to take that first step, and have success in that first step, you earn an element of courage within yourself to take that second step and third step. And sometimes overcoming fear is not all that you know taking one bite and getting it all. But just those daily disciplines of working yourself up to the point of being able to master the entire you know source of that fear.
Jen Kelchner: [00:17:27] Absolutely I think that’s a great way to look at it. I want to talk about you and I also have very different definitions on failure. Different in the way that we discuss it with people but not the end meaning of it. And I’d love for you to share with our audience about failure and our narrative too.
Chuck Papandrea: [00:17:46] Right. I love that because I actually grew up in an environment where failure was a negative. You didn’t fail. Whether it was your grades, whether it was in sports, whatever. Failure was final. Failure was something that was going to stick with you and was going to be part of your permanent record throughout your entire life. And I learned more recently, a completely different perspective on failure. When we talk about failure a lot of times it is associated with an event, something happens in your life, and it’s the mindset of you know a failure. That event in and of itself is a neutral, one time event. It’s something that happened. It’s how we view that event, it’s our perspective on that event that determines whether or not we see it as positive. We can grow from it we can learn from it. It’s something that was just a step along the way. Or we can view it and say you know from a negative perspective and say you know that was a failure. My gosh I can’t believe that. You know I would have done something like that. And what happens though is that story – positive or negative – becomes a repeated story. An event happened once. It was neutral. What really guides us, what really determines our mindsets afterwards, is that repetitive story that we tell ourselves over and over again afterwards. And we can tell ourselves a very positive story about that over and over and we will reinforce and we will grow. And it can truly be a pivotal moment for us.
[00:19:31] It can be that a milestone moment for us from a positive perspective. Or we can go through our entire lives in the beginning actively telling ourselves it was a failure, we were a failure etc. etc.. And then even over time no longer telling us telling ourselves actively that story that we planted that down deep enough to where when other things happen, our mind still returns to that story and also tells us that we were a failure.
Jen Kelchner: [00:20:00] Absolutely.
Chuck Papandrea: [00:20:01] I know you have a great perspective on that as well.
Jen Kelchner: [00:20:04] I do. You know failure…so a lot of this comes from history, our story. And that’s where we all come from with this, right. That the work that we do with developing people often comes from a deeper set of experience that we personally have had in addition to whatever training we had. For me, if I were to be just the average person looking at a piece of paper, my rap sheet so to speak, from my adulthood it would look like a litany of failures. Just a lot of wrong turns, and a lot of missteps. And you know both of you know personally -not as much professionally – mostly personally. But when I was doing a lot of my own work in the last seven years, that really changed how I think and reaffirming positive mindsets, and also this work…was I kind of had this visual in my head. That it’s just like driving down the road and going to the grocery store and I take the same route I always go. And for whatever reason, I have a little moment in my head, and I forgot to take a right at the intersection and instead I went through. You know the first thing that we do if you’re driving to the grocery store and miss the turn is, oh no big deal. I mean kind of spaced out for a second and missed my turn but I’m just going to turn right here at the gas station and get right back on the road. And I thought that’s really what “failure” is from my perspective. I just missed my turn. It’s OK. I came down here, I’m turning around and getting right back on track.
[00:21:32] And it was a helpful visual aid for me in continuing to not go back to old ways of thinking or to listen to the old tapes that were in my head say, “Yeah, but remember you’ve done this before. Remember what this means now, you know.” As you were talking sharing about the story that we can tell ourselves about that fixed event, it reminded me of that childhood game telephone you know. That you’re whispering to somebody or you’re listening through the tincan on the wire or the little string, you’re never hearing anything clearly. And each time that story gets told, it shifts a little. There’s a new version that gets told. And I feel that you know creating those narratives about our perceived failures, that’s what can happen. It just retells itself in different way, at a different time. And we hear it playing on a loop.
[00:22:17] But I firmly believe that you know failure’s not a nuclear event. Like you said it’s not final. Sometimes it’s figuring out what didn’t work for us and identifying what we can cross off the list and look at the next time. And this is applicable not just in our personal life but in our in our business life. That we have to say well I tried something new, it didn’t work. Okay. It didn’t work. Why didn’t it work. We just do a quick debrief and assessment of myself. Why didn’t this work. Well, I found this and this out about myself. I learned this new lesson. Okay. Now I’m going to take that positive stuff I just figured out. And we go to the next step, or try something else again. And so that’s kind of how I like to look at failure.
Chuck Papandrea: [00:22:56] When you had said a minute ago about if someone looked at your rap sheets and looked at your experiences. My perspective on that – faith is very important to me it’s integral to who I am and in how I you know how I live my life. There’s a book by Mark Batterson that is called In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day. And in that he talks about God being in the resume building business. And everything that has happened to you up to this point in your life you now have a set of experiences you have now a set of roles, positions. Failures are not whatever they were the way you perceive them. All those experiences all come together for you in this moment to do what you are now being called to do in this moment.
Chuck Papandrea: [00:23:47] And no one has had those experiences except for you. And they’re unique to you and your unique to you for a reason for a purpose. So when you look back at all of those you know however you judge them all those events in your lives you know that you probably draw from each of those to be successful in this conversation. To be successful in what you’re doing right now with LDR21. It’s everything up to this point has made you who you are uniquely to be able to succeed and thrive where you are right now.
Jen Kelchner: [00:24:22] Hundred percent. I completely completely agree with you on that. As we move in to kind of wrapping up. I want to talk about a little bit more about creating a well-rounded approach to our development.
[00:24:33] I know a lot of us in the work that I’ve been doing in organizational work, especially as coaches, are wanting to eliminate this concept that work life balance is a thing. I think a lot of organizations now are picking up on it and trying to remove that word from their language altogether. And look at this as more as a person, as a more holistic approach to development. That you know it’s all life. We may go to work and have a career and we do all these things – but at the end of the day it’s same person, same life. So having a better approach to the way we do our development. So I’d like for you to share a little bit about the work that you do with Life and how that looks at a full approach to an individual’s development. And why we want to do it that way versus picking pieces.
Chuck Papandrea: [00:25:22] Right. Right. That’s a great question. And I remember in my in my career with GE where there was a lot of conversation around work life balance. And that was when that just seemed to come into vogue. And it truly wasn’t what I would now envision as work life balance. I would say from a development perspective, first of all, the company Life is a company that provides information, developing information, in three main areas: financial, professional, and personal development. And it’s important to be well-rounded in all those different areas.
[00:26:09] Where we start with most people is actually the area of finances and financial development, getting financial literacy. And when you think about, you know from a professional perspective, whatever we’re doing for the most part we’re probably doing it because we are pursuing income. So if we really take a step back and say we’re going to work 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, maybe 45 years of our lives chasing money, wouldn’t it be a good idea to understand truly what money is, the definitions of money how it works, what it truly means. Just getting a holistic education around money and finance and your personal finances. So for most people that’s a great starting point because not only for education but for most people financial stress is driving their lives. It is driving every decision that they have. They’re consulting their checkbook and their calendar for every decision they are making primarily around the financial perspective.
[00:27:11] So a great financial education number ones going to teach you those defensive strategies, that teach you the information that you need to get more of the money that’s coming in to stick to you, to get out of debt, etc. That’s going on defense. And a lot of people have heard that and understand that and you understand that there’s a need for that. The second side of that in terms of your financial education is going on offense. It’s understanding that you need to add more value in terms of what you’re doing right now. Increasing your earning potential, increasing your ability to have more earning potential, and eventually to create more assets in your life. When you understand the core of that and understanding creating more value in yourself, creating more potential for earning, that immediately leads itself to personal and professional development. Because the No.1 investment that we need to make is an investment in ourselves.
[00:28:09] Warren Buffett has said that the greatest investment that he talks about is an investment in yourself. The more you learn the more you will earn. And that’s very true. So once you understand the value of that, you then we will embark on that professional development. Understanding that your role, whatever you’re doing, there is a technical side to it. There is a there is a transactional side to what you do. But so much more importantly, there is a human engineering to what you do, there is an interactive peice, there is the understanding of the fact that you’re dealing with people in most anything you do. And having that development, the personal development, professional development is key to that.
[00:28:53] So as a company that I aligned with Life, Life has understood that it’s not just the finances, but it’s everything else. It’s the family aspects, the relationship aspects, it’s the professional development, it’s that business acumen, it’s understanding how you know the entrepreneurial side of things. It’s understanding all those people skills, behaviors, the attitudes, everything around that, it’s understanding personality styles. You know understanding and getting a great education all those areas is vital.
[00:29:32] Think about a wheel of having all those areas. As a company we used to talk about 8 F’s. Faith, family, finances, fitness, following, freedom, friendship and fun. And if you understand that your life is lived in all of those areas, and you maximize your life in all of those areas, living on principle and all of those areas, if it was a wagon wheel then you know all those were more evenly distributed you’d be rolling along pretty well. If you were missing a couple of those, so to speak, your wheel would be notched and you’d have a pretty rough ride. And therefore, it’s very important to develop yourself in all of those different areas.
[00:30:14] Now I’ll tell you a lot of times because I am engaged in this because not only am I a student of development but also you know someone that provides to to business clients, to entrepreneurs, to individuals you name it. I’m often asked what do you recommend as an audio I should listen to. What do you recommend as a book I should listen to. And your point around you know, all that well-rounded aspect, my first question is what gaps are you seeing, what areas are you trying to fill, where are you seeing an issue? Because I have my favorite books I have you know my favorite audios. I have my favorite leaders that I learn from. But that’s not necessarily a way to resolve the problem that you have in the moment.
[00:31:01] So let’s again going back to the beginning of our conversation. Let’s define what you’re looking for, let’s define where your gaps are, and let’s go about to find some content some information that will change the results in your life there.
[00:31:17] I like to also in this environment mention a lot of people want to change the results they have in their life. They wherever they are, their track, their success, their sales numbers, their clothes, whatever. They’re having an issue and they just want to change the results. They think well I might just act differently or behave differently, make some changes in my actions and change those results. It really traces all the way back to information that you’re drawing in on an ongoing basis. Those daily daily disciplines of getting new information over time, the way we learn as adults. And when you learn new information that will drive new thinking. That new thinking will drive better actions, better behaviors, better habits which will lead to better results. And that’s the space that I’m in is in that information space and providing people the best information possible, best principals possible, to be able to get them to succeed and just be the very best person themselves you all those years we’ve talked about.
Jen Kelchner: [00:32:19] I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. Because I love hearing that. It gets me excited. Well folks that is all the time for today. I want to thank Chuck for being a part of this conversation, starting a conversation, and really helping us think about simple steps to start addressing what changes we might need, or where we could start if we’re feeling a little stuck in life, in your career. Remember that it’s all one in the same. So helping you find that place where you can become passionate and feel sustained and satisfied at the end of every day. That’s a very important part of our human existence. Remember that failure is a fixed event and that it is the story you tell yourself after that fact that will help you in that mindset changes as well. And to take a well-rounded approach to your personal career and financial development to be able to succeed and find out where you want to be in life. So Chuck thank you very much.
Chuck Papandrea: [00:33:15] Thank you.
[00:33:17] We’d like to thank Chuck Papandrea for joining us in this episode of Generation Open. Thanks for listening to the Generation Open podcast with LDR21.
[00:33:28] If you would like to find out more about how to improve the health of your organization or would like information on our rapid change program go to our website ldr21.com.