Ep. 35 Arjun Channa & Ken Andrukow - Mastering The Voice In Your Head

Arjun Channa is an experienced hotel operations professional, with strong interpersonal skills, spearheaded with a very uncompromising character of excellence in service and a record of delivering superior performance in all aspects of the hotel operations (Managed and Owned). He is the current general manager at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas

Ken Andrukow is a seasoned entrepreneur who has built multi-million dollar businesses across several sectors. He has an uncanny knack at spotting industry pivots before they happen and bringing new businesses to market successfully.

In today’s episode, Arjun, Ken and I talked about:

  • How did Arjun start in the hospitality industry
  • 2 things why Arjun loves the hospitality industry: to connect with many people as possible and travelling the world
  • How did Arjun’s father influence him as a hotelier
  • How did Ken and Arjun become good friends and colleague
  • Understanding leadership
  • Mastering the voice in your head that can help you to be more focused and positive
  • Ken on mastering the voice in his head and his creative approach on negativity
  • Positive mindset is important
  • Arjun and Ken on vulnerability
  • and MUCH MORE!

Resources and Links:

Ken Andrukow’s LinkedIn

Level 5 Mentors

Connect with Arjun Channa

Transcription

Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.

Eric Malzone 0:01
Oh, we are live. Ken. Arjun. Welcome to the show.

Arjun Channa 0:06
Great to be here. Thanks, Eric. Thanks again.

Ken Andrukow 0:09
Morning guys. How are you?

Eric Malzone 0:11
doing really well. And I was I was joking before recording that I don't do very many polyamorous podcasts with multiple guests at once in multiple locations. So it's always fun adds a new flavor to it. And Arjun What a treat to have you. I am. I know, of course our audience is familiar with Ken. Ken and I have recorded multiple episodes together on the show. You can go back and look at it. I think the most recent one we did was getting out of your own way, which I've heard from a lot of entrepreneurs really hit home with them. And Arjun, I know you and can have known each other for a long time. And, you know, you you work the Ritz Carlton, I believe you're the GM of the West and Calgary you have man I was looking at some of your backstory. You've lived in Switzerland, Algeria, United Emirates, Beijing, Kenya, India, Puerto Rico, Calgary right now you're in St. Thomas, and your Star Wars fan. Man, where do I start with you? I don't even know maybe give us some of your, your background, how'd you get to where you are now, which is in St. Thomas?

Arjun Channa 1:16
Well, I have a huge smile on my face, if you could see that. But I know this is podcast so. But that's not because I'm looking over my shoulder right now. And I can see a beautiful ocean and a beautiful blue sky day. And this is not to make all those folks jealous who have had snow recently. I've had a privileged journey, I am humbled every single day, Eric and candles, only Latin America is the only continent I've not worked in, in my 30 years career in the hotel industry. And I was telling the ladies and gentlemen of the Ritz Carlton St. Thomas here in US Virgin Islands, I've been here since August. I'm telling them that reminding them again that when I signed that contract, it's not just for the brand, which I'm proud of, obviously, in the industry that I signed up for, but I signed that contract because of them. It's about connecting with the folks and the people traveling the world and trying to make everybody connect and make the world a little bit smaller. That's my humble goal. So yes, it's been quite a ride, but excited.

Eric Malzone 2:16
And how long have you? How long have you been with the Ritz brand?

Arjun Channa 2:20
So the Ritz Carlton, I've been since August this year 20. I arrived here on the 16th. But I've been with the company 24 years now and 30 years in the industry overall. Well,

Eric Malzone 2:34
yeah, and the hospitality industry and you know, the hotel, hotel industry, I guess. Well, how do you describe it when people ask you what industry and what do you say origin?

Arjun Channa 2:43
I always start by saying I'm in the people's industry. Because at the end of the day, it's not that in 30 years ago, it's not as we didn't have any choice, we did have choice. And I chose two things. One is to connect with as many people as possible. That was the inspiration I have from my father. He was a hotelier actually an army officer joined hotelier. So I saw that inspiration right from there. And the second reason was that I wanted to really travel the world. And honestly, I mean, there are other industries where people can actually travel, most people are forced to work from home for not the right reasons these days, as you know. But this is one industry that can take me anywhere, there is a hotel, I can go. So that was what I signed up for.

Eric Malzone 3:26
Where was a Your father was, was a soldier, he said he was in the army, what army,

Arjun Channa 3:30
but he wasn't the Indian Army back in late 60s, early 70s, fighting the war with Pakistan. And then after being a prisoner of war for almost eight months, he gave up on that after pressure from the family. And he started from scratch in the hotel business in India, all the way up to Vice President of all the curtains in India back in the 80s.

Eric Malzone 3:53
So you intentionally kind of looked it sounds like he put a lot of intention behind the occupation in the career that you chose. You decided you want to work with people you want to travel a lot. When did that come into play? When did you decide? I mean, that's that's most people just kind of ping pong their way through life, you know, going from one opportunity is presented and then to another but you've set a lot of intention early on, when did you know that that was the area that you want to get into? That's a huge powerful realization?

Arjun Channa 4:20
That's a great question, actually, for you. And for the listeners on the call. You know, it's hilarious back in 8788, like any Father, Son talk, my father sat me down and said, Listen, you have two options right now, my father was always a visionary. So he could see that there is a future with computer. So he said to me, he says, I can I can give you two options. One, you can either become like your father or hotelier. And that's not a bad thing. However, there is also computer science, you can go and study in the US, I'm willing to take a loan and get you there and all that etc. And you could make computers back when you come back to India. So here's the fun part. I often share this story with folks who asked me that question that if I was in the country, pewter industry. Boy, I would be in a very different world today, that's for sure. If I had started back in the late 80s. And I and you know, monetary wise, that would have been very good. But here's the thing, what I really remind people and myself to humble myself is that your net worth can be calculated into $1 term, but your network cannot. Your network truly remains priceless. And for me, it was always about the people. And I said to him, I want to become like you, I want to become like you who is making a difference in people's lives. And that's what I want to sign up for. And I would never change that, ever in my life. So that's the long and short answer of that one.

Eric Malzone 5:40
So, as a hotelier how, in what ways do you affect people's lives? How is those How are those relationships benefited from you?

Arjun Channa 5:52
I think for starters, Eric, a little bit about me is that I speak six languages, and I'm about to learn my seventh one, which is Spanish. The reason I share that Eric is because my father, being a visionary, he already told me that languages will always bring people bridge gaps brings cultures. So as far as I'm concerned, for me, it's all about making a difference in people's life. And you'll be surprised running a large or small hotel or a large organization or a small organization. It's it's often the smallest things that become the biggest problems. And I've seen leaders across the globe in different areas get so frustrated about the big things, but they forget that it often starts with the small things. And I'd like to give you a small example. You know, we The hotel has 180 rooms spread over 15 acre, and that's just the hotel side, we have the resident side, which is 106 more residences and other 15 acres. So it's a 33 acre property. But here's the thing, I've got a beautiful like any Beach Resort, you can imagine there is always a beach restaurant. And I've got amazing 11 ladies who work very hard every day, here's the thing. I just it took me less than 10 minutes to understand that they don't even have a water station. And I became adamant to get a water station for them as soon as possible. And you have no idea you can they can they may have other issues. It's a hot day, they're working constantly eight to 10 hours out there in the sun. But long story short, I challenge them on drinking water every day. Just being human to somebody. It makes an incredible impact. We've been beating record dollar budgeted amounts every single day. Just because they have water water drink. Of course, there are many other things that go with it. So that's, that's what I'd like to share, say on that question of yours.

Eric Malzone 7:42
Yeah, great, great insights. And I'm curious too, because Can you referred Arjun onto the show? You guys have known each other for a while? What's the origin story with with you guys?

Arjun Channa 7:54
Can I let you say that,

Ken Andrukow 7:56
um, my general manager at the gym, I got an email from ergens wife when he was moving from Ontario to Calgary. That she wanted him to join a gym, and she found us. And then Stacey spoke with Arjun when he arrived in town, and I went over to the hotel and started chatting with him about what he was looking to do. And you know, I think we had some great workouts together. But mostly, we just formed a really strong friendship. Within. Within our first meeting, I would say we knew that we were empathetic to one another. There was some serendipity to why we came together. And yeah, we've, we've, you know, we've been good friends, colleagues, ever since that day.

Arjun Channa 9:01
You know, guy just would like to add, it's, you know, how we cross so many people every single day, and you cannot possibly have an amazing bond with everyone. And that's not how life was made. However, back to your question about the hotel industry and why I chose it that the fact it's the people industry, when you come across people like Ken and and and when you get that click, there's almost that almost that click it protonic click, I would say and I had that with can mind you don't get me wrong when he came to the hotel, to encourage me to do workout to look after my health more than anything else. He busted my chops, I must admit, really that I could have taken off that day. The morning when I started with him at six in the morning. He is persistent, like anything and you would know that. But often that's exactly what you need in life. You need somebody like that, that you can call part of your tribe. I really consider Ken to be part of my tribe, somebody I can count on anytime for anything and I know that all of us Even those who are listening, all of us have somebody like that. But then to be absolutely keeping your emotional intelligence in place and following your gut, and seeing who that person doesn't build with that I'm I'm very, very proud of my friendship with Ken. And for everything that he has done and continues to do for me. So

Ken Andrukow 10:16
Arjuna view? Have you ever read the book, The Power of moments by Dan and chip Heath?

Arjun Channa 10:21
No, I have not actually. But I'm thinking,

Ken Andrukow 10:24
you need to buy about 50 copies for your staff. There, there's a story in there about the Ritz Carlton. And I spoke to your leadership team, many years ago, now. And I talked about focusing on excellence and experience experiential travel. And I think I related it to them, in the sense that they've taught me a lot, that team has taught me a lot, and particularly the western hotel where where you were at back then taught me a lot, because my early childhood days, my father would take us to the Western on Sundays for dinner. And I learned a lot about hospitality at that time. But in the book power of moments, they relate a story about how a young family went to a Ritz Carlton, and forgive me, I don't remember where it was. And they had a beautiful day. And they got on the airplane to go home. And the daughter realized that she had left her stuffed toy at the hotel. So it was a very important toy to her, she was upset. And so her father wrote to the hotel asking if they could, if they did happen to find it with a please send it back. They of course, wrote back, we found the draft, and we will will forward it on shortly. When the draft arrived at their home, it came along with a photo album. And the photo album included pictures of the draft in the spa, the restaurant, by the pool at the bar. And basically the sentiment was sorry for the delay, I took a few extra days to sit by the pool and enjoy the hospitality of the Ritz Carlton. But I'm home now and we can both share the experience. The the amount of attention it took to do something like that is spectacular, how simple it was. And the amount of time that would have taken would have been very small. But that's that's kind of what I think of as the brand, what it stands for. And it's just a really great service story. And obviously, it created a great moment for the family.

Arjun Channa 13:03
Totally with you can and you make a great point without the Ritz Carlton way has been legendary for ever, ever since it was conceptualized. But here's the thing. I've been only here two months now. I can tell you, the people actually live that excellence in their thoughts. So excellence has always been a mindset, whether we have actually paid attention to it or not. And here I can tell you leading these powerful 300 passionate ladies and gentlemen every day. They I love the way they take ownership. And Eric, this is one of the things that I was most passionate to talks about was the accountability piece. It's how everybody, when they hear a problem, they own the problem, and they take the problem to finish. And there is no way a guest should leave unhappy, then all I did is just bring in my passion and said no employee should leave unhappy too. And as we closed the hotel down back in August, so I arrived here on the 16th of August on the governor's order because the COVID cases have gone up, we shut the hotel down on the 19th. For one month, I worked with my guidance team on fixing the hotel, putting processes in place cleaning up the landscaping. And then on the 19th of September. Finally we were ready to open but here's the thing, the brand is the promise and we are the keepers. And that is what has taught me it instinctively told me I need to treat my ladies and gentlemen being my employees as guests. If I really want them to look after my guests. I need them to make them feel what it feels like to be a guest. So on the 17th of September, I invited all of them with social distancing and physical distancing. I invited them to enjoy the resort, me and the executive team. We flip burgers under a restaurant and serve them just like how they serve everybody. And when I think about servant leadership, that is what this is all about. That one event where they were treated. To a pool on a beach, and a lunch, and a little dinner, they never forget that every single day, there's almost every day there is a word of gratitude. And that is what the brain does. So to Ken's point, that giraffe just didn't go back. They wanted to make sure that they had the little girl's feeling at heart, and that only a proper culture can make it happen. So I just want to add that thanks again, for bearing with that story.

Eric Malzone 15:25
Yeah, that's powerful. So, you know, leadership is something that you live every day. Arjun, I mean, with, with every position you've had within, you know, and well, everything you've done, really. And, you know, I, it gets tiresome to talk about, but it's been such an unusual year in 2020. And we haven't had the same tools available to us that we had in 2019, or even February of this year. So when you look at your role as a leader, and especially your roles, servant leader, how have you had to shift what you've done, I guess, tactically, not strategically, or maybe a little bit of that, too. But how have you had to change this year? It's been, it's been challenging.

Arjun Channa 16:10
And there's no doubt about it. And you know, first of all, to all those who are listening, I really want to say this from the bottom of my heart, that it's the voice in your head that you really need to manage, not the fact that you got an account or not, did you get the job or not, or whatever is going on in your personal life or your work life. It's actually the voice in your head that you really need to master. And I really mean that in every sense. You need to master that voice. When I shut the western Calgary down, and I have to send all my passionate, amazing 232 loving team back home, it was the hardest thing. And I'm sure those who are listening, including you both gentlemen, with all the people you speak to, and here, everybody's gone through something. This is life changing, no question about it. But I think I wanted to make sure that I remain as grounded as possible, I was counting my blessings, every single morning. That time when I did not have a hotel under my belt, there are four other family members who rely on me completely. On one paycheck, there was lots going on, I will not lie about it. But I found my piece in the voice in my head. Every single morning, I got up, I had already taken I think my wife doesn't know this. I hope she doesn't hear this podcast, but I took one of our lipsticks. And I wrote on the mirror in the bathroom, that it's not how bad the thing is, it's how bad you or your mind think the thing is. And if every single morning, I saw that, and then I added another question to that sentence I wrote there, I will not ask myself a question that I do not deserve to answer. And I guarantee you every single morning I woke up very positive. Of course, Ken and I were still in touch as well, which is such a help. Again, it goes back to the tribe I was talking to tribe you keep makes a huge difference. And I said, You know what? I've always been servant leadership. It's always been about helping people. What else can I do? So with the help of two other gentlemen that I had made friends with, through an association, we created webinar series, and cameras read over those created a webinar series just to help people and I was thinking, what do I call it, I wanted to keep it simple, how many times we complicate our life by trying to come up with the name, the word whatever. I said, you know what the only way is up, once you hit rock bottom, and all of us have our different rock bottoms. The only way is only up and we created these webinars. And all we did is I strategically chose folks to be part of that webinar. And deliberately in every webinar, we did not use the word COVID. We did not use the word pandemic, these were people stuck at homes, just listening to one another, and powerful stories of how you can get back up there. And I'm very proud of that. And who knew three or four months later, I would have inherited a Ritz Carlton St. Thomas, in my career, my job was not given to me on a platter, I worked hard for it to get this. So it doesn't come until it doesn't you don't put it in the input as well. So you got to keep believing. I hope that answers that question.

Eric Malzone 19:03
Yeah, I have a follow up question on that, too. So you mentioned and I try to write it down, but I may miss it a little bit. Don't ask a question that you don't deserve to answer. Go back to that. Can you expand on that a little bit? That sounds like a profound thought.

Arjun Channa 19:21
Well, if you look at it, spiritually, it could be why is this happening to me? Like what have I done bad in my life that this is happening to me? That's spiritual, professionally, what was his or her hidden agenda as to why it's my job that is now made redundant or whatever, instead of his or hers. So you can swing this any direction you like, it could be even on a personal basis at the end of the day. Why does she speak like that to me, or why does this keep happening to me? I truly believe that those are not the right questions to ask. You see at the end of the day, I truly Believe that leaders need to spend a time but very consciously time on building their character. We talked about a lot of leadership lessons and we see these TED talks and everything that inspires us for a couple of minutes. But then again, that negative thought bounces back in the head. So I think the most important thing over here that has really worked for me and I pray people can pick up the pieces from this one from my suggestion is that do not ask a question that does not deserve to be answered, it's going to trickle a chain of thoughts like all this happens. And it's going to lead you to not take action where you could have taken action or lead you to take action, but you should not take action. And sometimes it's too late. But it's always about the voice in your head. And, and, you know, just just a wrap on this point. When I when I was challenging the leaders over here, and I was challenging them to answer the question, What does servant leadership really mean? And they give all sorts of answers. There are no wrong answers. But if there is one way I summarize servant leadership, is that the joy you get in the service of others can never be the same joy as and when you get. And I'll just got mariangela over here that if you have that you give if you don't, then you teach. Never, that never goes away. I just wanted to show that.

Eric Malzone 21:22
That's fantastic. Ken, how do you go about mastering the voice in your head?

Ken Andrukow 21:30
Well, love a softball question me here.

Unknown Speaker 21:33
Yeah,

Ken Andrukow 21:34
yeah. But, um, you know, look, I, we've all had negative experiences in our in our life. And there are, those negative experiences tend to bring up emotional response.

And

if you, if you have difficulty managing negative situations, they can have really dire effects on on your life because they begin to create habits that are counterproductive to what it is you say you want to accomplish. So when I'm faced with negative situations, I tended, instead of really thinking about what to do right now, I really, I get much more inquisitive. And I want to take a creative approach and respond to it from creativity. Because oftentimes, in those negative moments is, that's, that's something in the world telling you this is your opportunity. Because it's so uncomfortable, to actually fix something. Because the negative things that happen in your life usually come because of habits you've already formed in the past. And you have an opportunity right then in there to create a new habit. And that's, and that's a really creative way of looking at negative situations. Does that make sense?

Eric Malzone 23:29
Yeah, it does. And there's it both Wait, wait, you gentlemen are saying reminds me of and I don't know where this this came from? Otherwise, I would definitely quote them. But someone asked a group, you know, who do you talk to most often in the day? And people would say, Oh, my spouse or you know, my best friend, my, my girlfriend, my dog. Right? Like, well, no, you talk to yourself the most, you're constantly having a conversation with yourself. And I think that's something that a lot of people actually may not even be aware of, and especially people within the world of business and entrepreneurship and innovation and leadership. We have to be really aware of what we're saying to ourselves because it dictates everything. And it's a powerful thing. And I think you know, when we talk about looping what you were saying early Arjun about, you know, being a leader, you have to develop great character. I think that's part of it. Right? Is is really being able to stand with yourself. And, you know, I'd love to when we talk about characters of leadership, you know, that's a big, that's a big broad topic. And I'd be curious, you know, if we could break it down a little bit, what is what does that mean to you character, characters, strong characters of leadership.

Arjun Channa 24:47
It's no different than how you nourish yourself. We all know that. If you have a deep fried item, it's going to do different things than when you have a veggie or boiled veggie Let's be clear, all different items in the world are amazing.

We know that true. You know?

I'd like to answer that question from, from an example perspective live example. So first things first, it took me three days to quickly walk around the hotel, connect with the folks. And that was just those three days between the 16th and the 19th of August to realize that this hotel has all the bones to become the best Ritz Carlton in the world, there's no question about it. It's not a first, this hotel was hotel of the year back in 2015. And now it's been renovated with 100 million dollars invested in it post, those two hurricanes are headed on 2017. I'm so glad we didn't lose anybody, which is awesome. So it took me three days to come up with a slogan saying one in 21. And we made a very special logo for that as well. And that is make this the number one Ritz Carlton in 2021. That was the vision. first lesson over here, keep it really simple, easy to understand, easy to read, I've seen so many vision statements previously of other organization. But we will grow this, we will do that we will do this. And by the time you've come to the third line, you forgotten what that first line was. And I wanted to keep it really simple. In one line, everybody can read, we're making this the number one Ritz Carlton 2021. But then the leader has to focus back again on the voice in the head and a strong character because of experience, you have to also show them the way. So I believe in the power of three, you can cut the elephant in three and still eat. And that's the bottom line is I said, First reduce defects, just by reducing defects and having that as a mindset, it's humbling because you know, as a human being, wherever there is a human being there will be defects. I mean, even even if the computers are so smart, then why do we have tech support. At the end of the day, we always will need the goal is to reduce defects. And that rapidly resonated with the team. The second thing I said to them is simplified process. And I and I know it sounds very simple. But I said that the leaders are being guided by me that before they point a finger at the employee for something not happened, right? It's to point the finger at the process. Because if you can get the process right, then the human being can perform correctly as well. And they loved it. They loved hearing that because it made sense that you know what to point a finger at me because I you don't given me the tools or whatever that is. And then third, but not the last one or the least, I said to them, once we've reduced the defect, once we simplified the process, I said execute passionately and flawlessly. There should be no reason. And just by telling them that these will be our three guiding principles. It's absolutely nothing short of a miracle how everybody bought into the vision, they understood the message, and they embraced it. I'm very proud to share this with you. This is an internal number, we had our intent to recommend, which is our internal guest satisfaction score sitting at 45%. Prior to the last closing, in the last one and a half months of operation, we are at 80% right now. And I kid you not that I take great pride because the team has a vision, and they haven't broken down into measurable steps. So that again comes from a strong character in the sense that it comes from experience. And you know that old saying right, that good decisions come from bad decisions. But I also reminded the leaders, nothing comes from no decisions.

Eric Malzone 28:26
I love it. I love it. So going back on that to recap that four people are listening. So you know, you, you install. And I love the rule your rule of threes, too, I think people you know, I had Tim Pollard on the podcast recently, who is, you know, mastery of communications and understanding that, you know, from him, when I gather was architecting a message that you know, only has a certain amount of points, you want to limit what you're trying to get across and then really make sure you're delivering that message powerfully and effectively. And the rule of three seems to go right along with how to communicate and that's a strong sign of leadership as you you know, if you threw up a 20 page PowerPoint presentation for your your team and said, Hey, here's all the initiatives that we're going to be putting into place for 2021 and you're going to lose them they're never going to remember it right. They're just not going to retain it. But when you just said they're stuck with me automatically Anyone have to write it down reduce defects simplify process execute passionately and flawlessly. Like if you can just keep it to those three things. It's I mean, I don't see a business and maybe can chime in I don't see a business or organization that would not benefit from those three things.

Ken Andrukow 29:37
I think you could look at one of my favorite brands and say they do this all the time. The exact same three things and that's apple. Yep. Um, mean brands that I admire. Ritz Carlton, four seasons hotels. Apple, you know, this They're, they all stand on the same principle.

Eric Malzone 30:05
Yeah, it's powerful. I love it Arjun, I'm gonna, I'm gonna write that down and keep it next to my desk for many reasons, you know, there's there's one rather small and I say that facetiously, topic that I want to cover with you guys. Because I think you both know how to harness the power of this particular quality. And that is the power of vulnerability, especially in leadership and communications and building relationships, you know, over, you know, the collective, I don't know, how many years of business experience we have amongst the three of us, but what lessons have you learned? invulnerability? And, you know, any kind of stories or anecdotes you have about why it's so important, you know, when it comes to leadership, and, you know, serving your clients?

Arjun Channa 30:58
Can you want to go first?

Ken Andrukow 31:01
You go ahead.

Arjun Channa 31:04
Um, I think the word in itself, being vulnerable is, is deceptive. And often we can Google the meaning of the world word. But my question to the whole world is, do you understand the world after you Google it first, or after you feel it first? It's no different than the chicken come first, or the egg. And you got to start somewhere at the end of the day, and you know, that I love sharing with the world over doesn't matter which language it is, it always works. I remind the team that you know, when when you slip on a banana peel and fall. And I said, I don't want you to experience it. To know what I'm saying don't do it is when you slip on a boundary and fall. And if you laugh at yourself the loudest in the room, then you know that no matter what comes at you from anybody else, looking at you and everything, you will never feel embarrassed. Because you have the emotional intelligence of laughing at yourself first. So I asked them, can you resonate with this? And you can imagine Aragon can both? Exactly the unanimous answer is yes, in the room. They say yes, I can we can relate to that, irrespective whether we fallen or not. So why can't that example not be used in business? On my second day here at the Ritz Carlton, one of those standards is to use the guest name minimum two times, if not three times in a conversation. The next morning at the lineup, I stood in front of all my leaders. And when it was my turn, I said, I literally, I'm upset with myself, I want to be vulnerable here in front of all of you, and you would have never come to know. But I want to tell you all that yesterday, I missed an opportunity to really take the guest name twice, even though I introduced myself and the guest did introduce themselves to me. And first time, it was just a little hit. But then I did this couple of times very powerfully, but very honestly. And you can sense the understanding of the people in the room, irrespective how strong as a leader, you are the the mood changes in the room, and automatically a couple of other leaders started saying about themselves. Yesterday, I missed an opportunity because of this. And yesterday, I could have helped my colleague from a lateral support perspective, and unfortunately, I could not and I should have done it, etc. And that along just cultivated a cadence of such strong accountability, but more importantly, self accountability. So for me, the vulnerability piece is just extremely powerful. It's all in the presentation. I hope that answers that question.

Eric Malzone 33:38
Yeah, it's great. Ken, what insights do you have on vulnerability? How is it over your career, your lifetime? How have you learned more and more about it? And how do you intentionally utilize it to you just live it every day? Both? something in between? How is what is your relationship with vulnerability?

Ken Andrukow 34:00
Well, I think it's important to say where it's where vulnerability is rooted in that is, in a willingness to be honest. And oftentimes, those who are not, don't show up in a vulnerable state, you will see that are generally probably not always very honest about you know, the, their experiences. You know, what, when I go through my career and think about moments, that were defining for me and moved me in a direction that I was seeking, it's always been a vulnerable moment. It's been a moment of, you know, change. And, and it's only when I'm willing to stand up. You know, we talked earlier about you know, we spent a lot of time Talking to ourselves. And, and first being honest with myself about what I'm feeling and then being creative in the sense of who will I talk to about this? Who will? Who will this resonate with who will support me? tools cool challenge me. And I use that time to really get clarity on just just exactly how I'm feeling. You know, because of what I do for a living nowadays, I have a lot of opportunity to talk to people about my, my career. And one of the parts of my career that was defining was when I was diagnosed with cancer. And you could see the shock on people's faces, when I'm describing that experience to them. And oftentimes, what I'm describing that experience, I come to tears, and it's a vulnerable moment for me, and I want them to know and feel that I'm willing to be in that stayed with them, even though, you know, we may be just getting to know each other. It's a it's a part of my life, and it's still a painful, vulnerable part of my life. So, you know, I don't shy away from those moments, if that makes sense.

Eric Malzone 36:32
Yeah, it makes total sense. And, you know, I look at vulnerability is, you know, like you said, honesty, but also the ability to connect with people, I think. When Josh Hillis is one of my favorite people within the fitness and nutrition space, and he said something on a podcast years ago, that still makes me laugh. He's like, you know, when I look at my clients, and I converse with them, I just always keep in mind that I'm probably only better at them in one or two, one or two areas, that's fitness and health, and they're probably better at everything else, they're probably better parent probably better with their finances probably better, whatever else they do, they just assume that they're better at everything else, you kind of have one or two specialties that you're really good at. And that's okay. And when you come to that, that noticing or that relationship with yourself, and you bring that into the conversations you have, it brings humility, and it brings ability for people to be at a common ground with you because we're all bad at something. And, you know, we've all had painful moments. And when you're vulnerable with and you're open with it, people begin to trust you. It's just that simple. You know, I the story that, you know, may may resonate with with you guys. I mean, Canada definitely will because so I had to go to this training as a CrossFit coach. And it was an Arizona and it was some of you know, the more really into a coaches across the country were there. And at that time, I was also following programming from James Fitzgerald, who is a big name in the work. And long story short is we had a lunch break, everybody was going to go work out together, and everyone's going to kind of do their own thing at this gym. My workout for the day, but I had to do was 50, handstand push ups for time. And for people know what that is handstand push ups, you get up, do a handstand leaned against the wall, and you got to bring your head down on the ground, you got to push yourself back up. I was not good at them. I refused to do them on my own because I hated them. And it was a vulnerable point for me, I don't even want to talk about it because my ego could handle it. Now I had to go into this room at lunchtime with all these coaches, I was going through the certification program with and embarrassed I had two choices, I could do the workout according to what it was or I could try to you know, I could just not do it, and choose, you know, something that I was good at to try to impress everybody. Well, I decided to do the workout. And I told these people, you know, here's my workout, kind of, I'm a little freaked out. So I started and you know, I barely did one and I was expecting everybody in the room to look at me and be like, this guy calls himself a coach. That was my worst fear. I was like, you know, this guy's this guy's not legit. And you know what happen? the complete opposite. All of a sudden, I had three coaches running over me be like, okay, change your hands here do this. And what probably would have taken most of these guys and women 10 minutes to complete took me an hour and 20 minutes. But they all stuck there. We were late going back to class, but they waited for me and they cheer me on. And I finished and I was so happy and excited that I was vulnerable and the relationship I now have with all these people and they all kind of shared Oh yeah, don't worry, man. I'm terrible at this. And I chose vulnerability that day. And I still have relationships now from that moment. And I'm so glad I did. And I think a lot of us are afraid to show those weaknesses. And I think all three of us are telling you here it's it's actually an asset if you do.

Arjun Channa 39:54
Eric, thank you for sharing that. And if you don't mind, I'd like to share something on top of that. Then this happened in Ken's gym and the CrossFit that I joined eventually, after spending some time with him, that even when I was not able to finish an exercise, the team could have easily moved on to the next one. But they did not. They stood there. I was rowing Actually, I remember and I was I was really struggling, but they stood there. In fact, one of them even said, Come on origin, I'm really feeling hot. So you're near the fan. And you're saying, you know, it's a really hot day today, can you pull a little bit more into the air is really helping. But you know, there was humor, there was there was seriousness, there was a you know, really fist pumping and incorporating that camaraderie is just priceless. But here's what I want to mention with that. You see, one thing is that we focus on culture. So that could be the culture of the CrossFit. But often enough, below the radar, we fail as leaders to see that there is a subculture as well. So the culture can convert the subculture for better or worse, and the vice versa as well, which we don't necessarily see it. So often, I would ask, so listen, I'm going to this hotel. What's the culture of the hotel? That's the kind of question I ask, and that's not a bad question to ask. But then I would ask a specific question. So tell me, how's the rooms team? How's their culture? How is the food and beverage team? How's their culture? So if the people who are listening on the call, irrespective whether you're on a big companies, small companies, small business, whatever it is, think about these small subcultures. So the example that you just gave Eric, it can easily be argued and said, Could it be a subculture, which was so positive, even if the main culture of the organization might be a little negative? The subcultures are positive, and that's when you got to go after those cells, those are the good cells of the body, you got to find them and really multiply and understand why is that subculture so good, even if the organization does not? So again, it goes back to the right questions that you ask or not.

Eric Malzone 41:51
That's great. It's great insights. And I love looking at that analogy of, you know, there's a whole body in the there's the sub cells that are positive that you really want to nurture and grow. And I think within any kind of community or culture, you always want to really raise up the behavior and the mindsets that are positive, so everyone else can see that as an example. And that's that's a key to leadership, I would imagine as well. Arjun, I have, I'd be remiss if I didn't ask you this question as we bump up on time, because I heard you and can do an interview together on Amber's Ville towers segment that you did earlier this year. And you brought up a Star Wars quote? Do you remember that quote? Oh, boy. Oh, the

Arjun Channa 42:34
middle of May the fourth be with you know, the code of the one of the Luke Skywalker entering in Kansas? Often? Yes, yes.

Eric Malzone 42:43
Tell us about that quote, and why it means so much to you, because I'm getting to hear it.

Arjun Channa 42:50
I appreciate that. I think that you know, how we all have, we have a summary of a lot of experiences we've had from childhood, and some of us carry it heavier than the others, some of us, they've just embedded it in their habits like Ken was talking. So I wanted to quote the moment where Luke Skywalker, the young euxine, Walker is getting trained by Jedi the Jedi bomb, and she is going to become a Jedi. But when he's getting trained by Yoda, he asks us, Yoda tells him, you got to go through that dark tunnel and come out from the other side. And Luke Sahara says, but I'm a little afraid. And he says, that's okay. And then he says, what should I be afraid of inside the tongue? And I love the reply, because that comes summarizes our conversation about our thoughts in our head. And Yoda says time, only the demons take with you inside. And that is so defining from that moment. I mean, now that I've worked across the globe, I've worked in countries where they don't speak the language and still made incredible bonds that are so lasting, I always go with a very clear slate, open mind. And I will always code that moment, because it's the demons you bring with you that you should fear the most. It is not because of anybody else. So that was the code in that gathering. I'm so glad you caught that one, Eric, but it's a beautiful moment of that movie. And I would see it again and again, just to re instill that that positive behavior that it's all in my head if I can carry it right. I'm taking it with me.

Eric Malzone 44:29
That's awesome. Well, you know, I'm, I'm a child of the 80s. So I couldn't pass up on that. I really couldn't. Gentlemen, we have covered mindset. And we have covered leadership. We have covered vulnerability. We have covered so much today. And I think a lot of it is very, very actionable for the for the listeners. So as we wrap this up, is there any last I mean, today's recording day for people referencing is November 6 2020, who knows, but November 7, we'll bring this year. We'll probably release this sometime in December. You know, as we wrap up this crazy year, any messaging that you'd like our audience to hear and kind of your final thoughts?

Arjun Channa 45:20
I'm gonna try going here. I think we, we seriously need to be reminded first, from a spiritual point of view that the sun will come up tomorrow. It is going to be another day. It's it's just the moment that you need to worry about, and not about what's yesterday or tomorrow. I've, I've shared a quote with my team that I know that they, they took it exactly the way I intended it, and the code has got minion on it, and you know, minions cute and adorable. And this one, I, I have the ability to drive people crazy. I don't know if I was born with it, or if I learned it, but damn, if I'm good at it. So you can appreciate the kind of reaction I got from my team because obviously, I am a driver. And as leaders, we are drivers, we are born that way. But you're only a good leader, if people are following you. So I just say that it this ball. There's so many curveballs thrown at so many of us this year, and it's gonna be not seen rock bottom yet. And there's still things happening. But it's all in the anticipation. You if you anticipate a curveball is going to come, you will be ready to meet it exactly where it should be met. That's what I love it.

Eric Malzone 46:40
Thank you, Jen. Ken, how about you any final thoughts for today?

Ken Andrukow 46:44
I think I would get to the end of this year, and have one simple statement to myself. I made it you know, this pop pop a bottle of bubbly? Yeah. You know, the the, the world is an interesting different place these days. And no one knew how to respond. Most people were reacting to what was going on. And, you know, there's a lot of lessons that you that you can draw on Now, if you've made it through. And this wasn't a year of tremendous growth for some and, and, and for others who were in a reactionary mode, a lot of sacrifice and, and suffering. Either way, there's lessons to be drawn from everything that you went through. And I would I would guess by December, everyone's extraordinarily tired of all of the topics that have gone on this year, and are ready to move on. But before you do, just look back and figure out what is it that you experienced? And what can you take away from those experiences into the next 12 months and whether things get better in the world or not? I think you can still take a lot away from what you what you went through this year, and, and improve every day going forward.

Eric Malzone 48:31
Awesome. And I think that's pretty universal for any year. Right? We just find that exception to 2020 as its unique. So Gentlemen, thank you so much for coming on. This has been an absolute pleasure. I've really enjoyed the conversation and you guys offered so much value to the audience today is a very grateful So ladies and gentlemen, Arjun channa, Ken Andrukow. Thanks for coming on.

Ken Andrukow 48:57
Thank you, Eric.

Arjun Channa 48:57
Thank you, Eric. Thank you again. Thank you.


 

 

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