Genuine success can be measured by the number of positive relationships you have built through the process. In this short but meaningful episode, Solomon Ali interviews Chris Ryan, the Austin & Dallas Chair at TIGER 21 and President at Paredigm Enterprises. Chris is an experienced entrepreneur, rainmaker, investor, turn-around specialist, and philanthropist with a career that spans over 25 years of building, leading, and growing both people and organizations. With an experience long enough to identify the real meaning of success, he notes the three things that should stand out when building your business – health, purpose and growth, and focusing on relationships. Earn some useful advice on becoming successful from Chris on today’s show!
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Finding Your Purpose With Billionaire Coach Chris Ryan
Chris, I am so glad and excited that you’re here. Welcome to Minority Business Access. We’re trying to help minorities, young entrepreneurs who are starting a business or thinking about it. I won’t do great justice to introducing you. I want you to introduce yourself to our audience and tell them a little bit about who you are, what you’ve done and things of that nature. I might ask you a bunch of questions, so we can try to help them figure out where they want to go.
First and foremost, I want to thank you. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here. I’ve had the privilege of spending a few minutes talking to you and getting a little bit of your backstory. Here’s my sense. My sense is you are a man of deep character and incredible resilience. People like that change this world in a meaningful and purposeful way. I have no idea where this conversation is going to go but my energy is up and I’m excited about the opportunity of being here because my suspicion is good things are going to happen. Having said that, my background is fraught with a fair amount of success, but probably an equal, if not greater amount of failure.
I was born and raised in New York, went to school in Texas, became a technology entrepreneur at a relatively young age, built and sold a number of companies. I had a bunch of failures, dealt with a fair amount of adversity. As you all know, one of the things that all of us can appreciate is you learn a lot when things are going well. All of us learn more when things are going tough. I did that for about fifteen years. I enjoyed the work that I did and got married, had a daughter, then went through a dark period where I got divorced. I was rudderless and found myself falling. It wasn’t about money. It was about purpose. I felt like I lost my purpose, which is an incredibly bad feeling because it feels like the world falls out of you.
A lot of entrepreneurs that want to do their business, they come up with a great idea or concept and they want to jump in and they think they’re going to make all this money and have all this freedom. Can you speak to that a little bit what it’s like?In the quest for the almighty dollar and success, oftentimes we sell out our significance. Click To Tweet
Not to dispel the myth, but both of us have been in a position where we’ve achieved what sounds like from the outside the dream. We have success, money and have a house. To wrap it into the last question, after feeling lost, I found my calling. What I do now is I help successful people find their calling, significance, fulfillment and purpose in life. It’s a game-changer. We’ve both been at the top of the mountain and candidly, it sucks. Here’s why it sucks. In the quest for the almighty dollar and the success, oftentimes we sell out our significance. Here’s what’s important. In the world that I inhabit, I have a community of folks that are billionaires on down and what defines this group is not the size of their wallets or the length of their financial sticks.
They’re all super successful and more successful than me but what they all strive for is significance, purpose validation, relationships and love in their life. In building their empires and in creating their fiefdoms, there’s a cost. Maybe it’s a relationship with a family member, their health, a sense of purpose around legacy or philanthropy. What I’ve experienced is that all of these folks, if given the chance to focus on their significance in life, they find a few things. They find purpose, fulfillment, relationships that may have been strained in the context of them becoming the kings and the queens that they are. All of that’s real.
I want to ask you something and we’ll go back to the conversations that we were having earlier. I know in my life you had asked me about my name. I changed my name from Richard Carter to Solomon Ali, I left the RC in there so that I always remember what that struggle was like. I lost everything in 2006. It was painful after building a business up and thinking that it would last forever and sacrificing relationships with my daughter. I didn’t think I was sacrificing that relationship at the time because I would cut out time during the day go see her, take her to cheerleading, take her to different places.
In doing so, when she was about 28 to 30, she told me, “Dad, you took me but you’re on the phone.” That was years ago and it didn’t dawn on me that I thought being present was there. I had given up so much in pursuing being an entrepreneur. It’s a cesspool. You get sucked into it. You start out thinking you’re going to have this freedom in this money. If you work hard and do a good job, all these great things will happen. It didn’t happen that way for me. What can you tell the people who are looking?
I have a few thoughts. In 1996, at the ripe old age of about 28 to 29, I was given a book written by a guy named Bob Buford, and it was called Halftime and it was about the transition of success to significance. What he talked about is how men, in particular, hit this interesting midpoint where they’ve achieved something and for all intents and purposes, they should be successful and feel they’re top of the mountain and they feel empty or maybe they feel a fraud.
I’m happy to be here. If I’m being totally honest with you, we talked for a second in terms of setting this up and you light up when you talk about your daughter. We haven’t talked about the millions you’ve made or the houses you have. We have had such a non-material superficial conversation. We talked about your daughter. When you talk about your daughter, you smile, you’re leaning in and I hear a few things. I hear the regret in your voice for what you said. More importantly than that, I hear the realization of the fact that there’s no doubt you did everything you thought you should do when your daughter was in cheerleading practice and you were driving her around, but you were the coolest Uber driver before Uber driver was around.
Did you love your daughter? Sure, you did. Were you loving her in the way that she recognized and wanted? No. That’s not because you didn’t love her. That’s because you were doing what you need to do at the time that you thought was the best for her. You thought that was enough. Here’s the great news. All of us have the opportunity if we realize what we’ve done to go back and to make the changes that give you the relationship that you want with your daughter or with the wife that you have, or with the brother that you may be estranged from. I see this day in and day out.
What we talked about is the fact that you are on a journey of a character. You are an entrepreneur. You were successful. You’ve seen the highest of the highs and the lowest of low. We said this when it came to your name, what I experience of you in the short time we’ve spent together is high integrity, deep relationship care, a sense of purpose around what you’re doing and helping other individuals with their entrepreneurial journey. My comment to you is if you were talking to your 25-year-old self, what would you be saying? That’s what you talked about on your podcast. This is your purpose and calling in life. You do it with strength, integrity, truth and with a real heart. That to me, having met you, is apparent.
What would you say to the entrepreneurs who are starting? I know you know all these great billionaires. You work with them and you have all of this going on. As an entrepreneur, where they’re trying to get, the circle that you’re in, some of them probably feel the same way I am. I gave up a lot to achieve this level of success. What is? We all get there when we’re at the end. It’s like, “I did almost half a billion. Is it worth it?” What I gave up I’m starting to doubt whether or not my life had meaning. What I would like to do is try to make sure new entrepreneurs come in a little bit more well-rounded before you sit back and chase that new business and everything, and pour yourself incorrectly and get to where I’m at or where I was when I was going to take my own life because I had lost $100 million-something. I don’t want someone to do that. That may not get a phone call at the right time and not know that it will be tomorrow, whether you’re successful in business or not.
My answer may not be the most popular of answers, but it’s the truth that I live day in and day out. It’s also the experience I have in working with a phenomenal group of successful entrepreneurs. Here’s the secret formula. That seems to be common sense but it isn’t common practice at the end of the day, you can’t lose focus on what’s most important to you. No question, building your business is important, and you need to stay focused on that. There are three things that stand out. The first one is health is the ultimate currency. If you don’t believe that, wait long enough and you’ll figure that out.There will be a tomorrow whether you're successful in business or not. Click To Tweet
I’m not talking about health when you’re seeing 60 or 70 years old. If you’re not eating, sleeping and if you’re not focusing on the health that allows you to be the best version of yourself that you are, you’re selling yourself out. Health is key at whatever age it is. Second thing, everybody needs to grow, both in the context of what they’re doing professionally, entrepreneurially but outside of that as well. You may be the coach of your daughter’s cheerleading squad. You may be the missionary that goes on mission trips all around the world. If you serve only yourself, you will be a lonely person, male, female, old, young. You have to find things, including your work that are greater than you and embrace them.
You grow, learn and benefit from this journey called life, on this rock that’s rolling around the sun by serving others in ways that help them, the community as well as help you. Purpose and growth are critical. The third thing, we haven’t talked about this, but I’d be surprised if you can agree with me. You’ve got to focus on relationships and figure out your top five. It’s your daughter, your wife, it’s God. Figure out those top five relationships that are most important to you and treat him preciously.
I wish I would have known that earlier. We read books, things like that. We say, “I’ve never heard of a person on their deathbed asking for more money. They were asking for relationships, their wives, their kids and things of that nature.” I tried to do that in a sense that I understood which was physically be there, but I didn’t understand that I was not mentally there and engaging. I’m sitting back I’m trying to make up years and you can’t make it up. You don’t get to go back. We can share something with you. That will keep you from making those mistakes because it’s great to make the money and develop a business. In that business, you’re going to have ups and downs, you’re not going to always be on top, but the relationships that you develop throughout your life, you’ll agree will last forever.
They do. As you were talking, I had a thought that hit my head that may be worth sharing with your listeners. The question that you clearly are now asking yourself whether you realize it or not, and I got this from a gentleman by the name of David Brooks. The question is, “Are you living for your resume or are you living for your eulogy?” There’s a 5.2-minute video on YouTube. It’s David Brooks: Are You Living for Your Resume or Your Eulogy? It’s the best five minutes of any piece of media that I’ve ever watched TV movies. It’s the best five minutes because what it does is it gives you clarity on how you want to define your life. Thirty years from now, people are speaking at your funeral. Do you want him to say, “He made a lot of money, he had a lot of houses and a lot of businesses?” Or do you want him to say, “Solomon was a man I looked up to. Solomon was a man who I saw as a mentor. Solomon was a great dad. Solomon was a great child of Christ. Solomon was a man I admired, respected and love.” That’s how we want to go out.
That’s amazing. It’s David Brooks. He wrote a book called Second Mountain. I had the privilege at a conference of getting a chance to meet him. There was a point where we were all asking for questions. I got up and I went to a microphone and said, “I’m going to ask him a question. I’m going to make a statement.” The statement was, “I’ve never been so moved by somebody who, in the context of a YouTube video, has helped me re-task where I want to focus.” It’s David Brooks: Are You Living For Your Resume Or Your Eulogy? You can if you search it on Google or you search it on YouTube, you’ll find the video. I cannot recommend that enough because it helped me repurpose and re-task myself from chasing the almighty dollar to tracing real significance and purpose in my life.
What would you want to share, Chris, that we haven’t talked about?
This has been good. I feel drawn to you because I sense that you and I connect across pretty much everything that we’ve talked about. At the end of the day, if there are three things that I would say, the first thing is you have to focus on health, personal growth and relationships. If you lose sight of that, you’re ungrounded. That’s one thought. The second thought that I would say is as you go through this life, showing kindness costs nothing, being humble costs nothing, yet it’s a phenomenal gift to the people that are around you.
The third thing, in the community that I serve, I use a lot of little silly tools and techniques that tend to get benefit, validation and love into this world that I inhabit. As an example, in September of 2019, we did a program called a Random Act of Kindness where everyone in this group had to go out and do one random act of kindness. People bought coffee for folks or gave extra tips. What I find is when you give selflessly to others, that gift tends to come back to you as much if not more. The benefit is not only to the giver, it’s also to the person who received it.
What would it take for you to do a 30-day challenge where you did one thing that was important to you and we use the example of your daughter? The question is, for 30 days, could you send your daughter a text message, an email, a phone call or write her a note? If you did that to your daughter, how would that change your relationship? The other program that I’ve instituted is one level beyond. Think about a relationship that’s important to you if you did one thing more. Let’s assume you’re talking about your bride. What would it take for you to bring her flowers one day when she wasn’t expecting it? Write her a love letter. Maybe you’ve been married for ten years or maybe 100 years, whatever the case may be. What’s one thing more you can do in the relationships that matter to you that can create significance, impact and validation in a way that truly benefits you both?
Chris, how would my audience reach out to you to get the help that they may need, either for coaching or some mentor or participate in one of the programs?Losing sight of health, personal growth, and relationships, you become ungrounded. Click To Tweet
My email address is Erapmus@iCloud.com. That was the name of the first company that I had. There’s a story behind that. They’re more than welcome to reach out. In terms of coaching, I run an organization. I don’t do individual coaching but I do have a newsletter that I send out to my community that I would be happy to modify for anyone interested in getting it. That’s where things like David Brooks’ video or I’m also a big fan of a gentleman named Sam Harris and others where I share some of that information.
It has been awesome to have you on. I enjoyed it and we have a lot in common. It’s been a wonderful energy level.
Solomon, you’re an exceptional human being. Your story resonates at a real soulful level for me. I suspect your audience get a chance to hear you all the time. This is my first exposure to you. I am truly grateful and I acknowledge the journey that you’ve been on. It seems in the path that you’ve taken, you’re now in a great space, and I commend you for it.
Chris, thank you so much. I appreciate you coming on.
- Chris Ryan
- David Brooks: Are You Living for Your Resume or Your Eulogy?
- Second Mountain
- Sam Harris
About Chris Ryan
Chris is an experienced entrepreneur, rainmaker, investor, turn-around specialist and philanthropist. His career spans over 25 years of building, leading and growing both people and organizations.
Chris started his first company while a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin at age 17. Subsequent to graduating, he spent a few years in telecommunications before founding multiple technology companies including Erapmus Network Services, Erapmus Desktop Management, and Erapmus Resources. These companies were combined and sold in early 2000, just prior to the tech crash.
Following the sale of his businesses, Chris spent 4 years as a consultant, investor and business analyst. Specifically, he was a turn-around executive for both Renaissance Capital and Skywire Software. Additionally, he assisted with the strategy and funding for multiple start-up companies in the technology, healthcare, online and services sectors.
In addition to his professional work, Chris has done pro bono consulting for the American Heart Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, CEO Netweavers, Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership, Sci-Tech Discovery Center, Susan G. Komen and many others. He has hosted over 110 charity fundraisers, facilitated strategy planning sessions, fostered partnerships and created new programs in support of the charities
Chris is a single parent of his 11-year-old daughter Bishop. Outside of work, he is an avid tennis player, runner, pianist, TEDster (www.TED.com) and reader.