“Our privileges are not for our pleasure, but for our purpose.” -Chris Brady
There is no one in the world quite like Life CEO and Creative Director, Chris Brady. Not only does Brady run a multi-million dollar company in Cary, North Carolina, but he also serves as the Executive Publisher of Obstaclés Press and is a New York Times best-selling author in which he’s sold over a million copies of his books in 6 different languages. Additionally, Brady is a sought-after speaker, humorist, businessman, husband to leadership speaker and author, Terri Brady and is a father to four incredible children. Life World Headquarters employee, Renée Turner, said it best in a recent statement, “When I grow up, I want to be Chris Brady.”
Though Brady’s public successes make him a hero to many, he would tell you that these achievements aren’t his source of fulfillment in life. He states: “It was only in serving something larger than myself that I found true happiness.” Chris Brady truly lives a life of service and embodies the Bible verse, “to whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48), in the way that he lives his life.
“I have had the pleasure of a 30 plus year relationship with Chris Brady and one of the many benefits of that relationship is that I have had a front row seat to watch him lead and grow in all areas of his life. He does so with purpose, passion and an incredible hunger. As the CEO of Life, he has the incredible ability to take complicated issues, navigate through the noise, and provide clear direction and solutions. I’m looking forward to the next 30 years.” –Rob Hallstrand (COO of Life)
Chris Brady brings such a unique perspective to his role as CEO and Creative Director of Life. That is why we are excited to feature his interview today. Enjoy!
(The italicized responses are quoted directly from Chris Brady)
What is your favorite part of being the CEO and Creative Director of Life?
I am blessed to be trusted with doing this work, and I don’t take a single moment of it for granted. I know that there are thousands and thousands of people out there who stake their reputation on us delivering what we say we will, and that drives me! But by far the biggest blessing that I walk away with is seeing lives transformed by our message. When I receive those emails or letters describing broken marriages that got fixed, addictions that got kicked, friendships repaired, attitudes improved, and even children who grow and learn from our materials, it makes all the effort worth it! It’s the difference that our company makes in people’s lives that is my favorite part of what I do, and I think it is the same for our incredible Life employees, as well.
What do you look for and what are you learning as CEO that translates into giving Life Members and customers a competitive advantage in our industry?
First and foremost is life changing products. We are committed to providing educational, informational, and service products that truly make a difference in the lives of our customers. Whether it’s helping them get out of debt, grow professionally, or improve themselves personally, our materials and events have to be truly transformational. We are always looking for ways to add more and more value to what we provide.
If there was one product created by Life that you believe every person in the world should have, what would it be and why?
It would have to be our #1 seller, the Financial Fitness pack. Getting on top of personal finances relieves so much stress and opens so many doors that it really is a great place to start. Besides, often when people go through the program they fall in love with learning again, and that begins a whole new process of growth and discovery as they dive into many of our other products to improve other areas of their lives.
How did your experiences as a Life Member in the field prepare you to transition and lead a multi-million dollar company on the corporate side.
There is no question that this is one of my secret weapons. I spent twenty years doing exactly what our Life Members do in the field, so I would like to think I have a pretty good window into the difficulties and opposition they face in merchandising our products and building teams of people to do the same. Let’s face it, sales of any kind is hard, and it takes a big dream and strong tenacity to succeed. It is not theory to me; I’ve lived it. So I am driven to work hard on the company side to do everything we can to smooth the way for our Life Members in the field. It’s hard enough for them to do what they do without a company throwing obstacles into their path.
On the other hand, I also won big in the field, so I know what it feels like to push through and make it to a high level. This is equally important. I have heard of many founders of companies and corporate executives who claim some amount of field experience, but there are very few who ever truly made it big in the field. Because I was blessed to do so, I think that perspective helps a lot, too. Because I really believe in this business and the possibilities of the great things that can happen for those who give it their all and stay the course.
What has been the biggest turning point/shift in growth since the company has launched?
Intel corporation had a momentous shift in their corporate history when they launched something called “Operation Crush.” Basically, it was a shift in their messaging. They didn’t have to make a single change to their product or technology, they merely had to represent their product in the right way to their customers to win back market share that Motorola was taking away from them. As a result of that tweak in messaging and the subsequent push with their customers, they landed the IBM PC contract and went on to dominate the world (and still do) in microprocessor sales. Similarly, we have this past year undergone a seismic shift in our messaging, focusing in on our best-selling brand – the Financial Fitness suite of products. This messaging has hockey-sticked our growth and launched us into the next major shift, which is our new “Life 2.0” compensation plan that we’re rolling out this Fall.
How important is the Life on Life Initiative and how did you come up with the idea?
The Life on Life initiative is as important as it gets! It basically turns our Life Members loose in their local communities to make a difference anywhere and everywhere they see a real human need. The terminology was borrowed from ministry, but it is also a nice pun on our corporate name. “Life on Life” means that we give of the very time of our life to another precious human being to try to help them with something they cannot do themselves. At the corporate level we have zeroed in on illiteracy as the root of many societal ills, and are donating $1 of every Total Personal Development subscription to helping to fund literacy efforts in various areas of the markets in which we operate. We at the company also allow any employee two paid hours per week to dedicate to this cause and use it to instruct and teach those who cannot read. But things really get crazy with the Life Members in the field who have used this program to do all sorts of great things in their local communities such as neighborhood cleanups, graffiti scrubs, work at soup kitchens, serve at orphanages, host fund-raisers, honor veterans, and help with urban housing projects. What has already been accomplished in just a short amount of time is staggering, and best of all, it’s only the beginning! At Life we are all about making a difference, and the Life on Life Initiative is doing just that in so many ways.
Okay, now for a fun one! What super power do you wish you had?
Ha! That’s a good one, and actually one that my kids ask me all the time. So I’ve got a ready answer: I wish I could teleport, because I love to travel and there is so much beauty and so many interesting people to meet, cultures to experience, and history to study, but only so much time.
What is one of your most embarrassing moments?
When I walked through a pane glass window in the world headquarters lobby of my division at General Motors after returning from grad school. It wasn’t exactly a great demonstration of the value of the scholarship they had given me!
What is your favorite quote?
It’s attributed to D.L. Moody, and it says, “Our greatest fear should not be that we won’t succeed, but that we will succeed at something that doesn’t matter.”
Who inspires you?
Anyone who decides to live a life that doesn’t revolve around themselves, who stands for what they believe in, and sacrifices their personal comfort for a positive, meaningful mission they believe in.
When you get a little free time, how do you like to use it?
Two ways: Spending time with my incredible wife and kids, and reading. But there’s always motorized adventure, too. That’s always good to clear the cobwebs out of my brain.
What one question or statement would you like everyone who reads this to consider?
20 Years from now, what will you wish you had done today?
“One of our greatest competitive advantages is having Chris Brady as CEO. Chris and I have been business partners and great friends for over twenty years. He is one of the most creative and character-centered people I know. After working with him for an extended period of time, I realized that he refuses to play politics, refuses to pass the buck and has a burning desire to achieve excellence in everything he does. Indeed, I met him when we were both eighteen-year-old kids about ready to enter engineering school together, and his hunger to excel was present even back then. His friendship and business partnership has been a blessing to our family.” –Orrin Woodward (Chairman of Life)