Chris Behnke – Co-Founder and COO of Choose Growth

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Chris Behnke - Co-Founder and COO of Choose Growth

Spend every single morning, praying (if you’re inclined), planning your day, and exercising. Often I see people that “get busy” cut that part of their day out first, it’s natural to do so, but when you’re the “busiest” is when its the most important time to not skip that part of the day. Critical clear thinking is so important for success and growth, and when you don’t start the day out right, you are simply not going to be as effective.

As an experienced executive, entrepreneur and expert in media, branding and technology, Chris might sound like a geek on paper. However, when you meet him in person, he emits a powerful energy and enthusiasm that are contagious. Chris’s talent for business showed itself at a very early age when he co-founded Avalon Technology Group, a small technology company in Portland Oregon, at the age of 19. Just two years after marrying his high school sweetheart Alice, he helped develop a web-based “thin-client” technology that paved the way for venture funded startup Hyperlinq Technologies, his second major business venture. In 2001, Chris began working at Rentrak where he helped develop and launch the successful theatrical measurement software suite, “Box Office Essentials.” As the Vice President of IT he led the successful launch of every major new product developed for the company including Ondemand, Stationview, Digital, Mobile & National TV measurement services.

Chris andAlice now have four children, if you live in their neighborhood, you’ll see that this is one very on-the-go family! Chris often trains for marathons and races with his family in tow. He sees his mission as doing whatever is necessary to ensure his family’s power and effectiveness, so he also includes his kids in his businesses as much as possible.

Chris is passionate about giving 110 percent to everything in life and purposefully casting contagious vision. He currently serves on the board of M25 Ventures, and he is the Chief Operating Officer of Choose Growth.

He is the founder or co-founder of several other successful businesses including Pick Pocket Molly which he started with Alice, Fit2b Studio, The Corporate Wellness Center, Biogenic Nutrition, Wired Success, and Lead Above Media.

What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m Co-Founder and COO of Choose Growth. In the last 15 years, I am by far the most excited about this business.

Where did the idea for Choose Growth come from?

Choose Growth several years ago as a high-end executive coaching firm. What my business partner Isaac Tolpin and I began to experience was we had a “lid” on our own ability to impact the community around us. We felt our “Magnitude of Mission” increasing and saw our own business model limiting us, we needed to pivot.

It didn’t take long for us to understand that every successful leadership or executive coach faces the same lid on their business. We pivoted the company to empowering the very best in the industry to break through that lid by offering business management services specifically targeted to the needs of small business owners. Websites, PR services, marketing, branding, billing, invoicing, HR, etc… We also have developed several products that allow coaches to start to generate recurring revenue, this is key, revenue not tied to their “per hour” work is essential to their businesses future success and growth. Pivoting to the new business model has been a fantastic experience, while it was a natural transition, it has been difficult learning process along the way. The difficulty of creating a business, and shifting the business model is good actually, struggling through, making mistakes, trying, failing, then trying again until you have success is what makes business work. The most successful entrepreneurs, the ones that build the best companies are the entrepreneurs that perseveres through this “refining process” and don’t give up.

What does your typical day look like?

Up at 5 am, spend some time praying, and thinking through the day, what’s important, what’s not, what’s critical to move things forward. After that, it’s 4 – 5 mile run. Then some time in social media, blogging, and writing. This is a fantastic time to think through things, I have found these first 2 – 3 hours of the day are often the most important.

After that it’s to the office until evening. I have four kids, so getting home at a decent time is very important. I try hard to make sure and spend one on one time with each of my kids at least one day per week, with my older ones, I like to take them to the office some days, or take them out on dates, or “coffee” in the morning. It’s important to spend focused time teaching them about life, business, and critical thinking. After the kids are in bed, it’s time for my wife and I to unwind, plan, dream, and talk. We don’t have TV in our house, so that frees up time for us to work on things that fit with our family’s purpose, being intentional about every aspect of our lives is very important to the culture of our family, and me personally.

How do you bring ideas to life?

It’s a “layered” process, I like to “think” out loud both verbally and on the whiteboard. Often the only way I can “see and understand” the idea is to write out a mindmap on the whiteboard and talk through it. Drawing really helps me, over the years I have create and designed many user interfaces, and I always start with hand drawn sketches, nothing is faster.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Connected smart mobile devices. Absolutely the most important thing of the next 10 years will be the “connection” of everything, from your fridge telling you when the milk is about to go bad, to your phone instructing you to your parked car in a crowded parking lot, connected devices will change the way we do everything. We just at the very beginning of this, it’s going to be a very interesting next few years.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

The worst job I ever had was project lead developing measurement system for Hollywood executives. It was horrible experience, high stress coming from some of the most unreasonable, difficult, self absorbed people I have ever met. However, it was also one of the most valuable business experiences I have ever had. I learned a ton, including how to work with difficult people, how to manage expectations of people impossible to please is a very valuable lesson to learn.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I would spend a bit more time planning, and doing research. As a passionate entrepreneur, I get caught sometimes moving too quickly, not spending the time to make sure the direction, approach or solution is really the best.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Spend every single morning, praying (if you’re inclined), planning your day, and exercising. Often I see people that “get busy” cut that part of their day out first, it’s natural to do so, but when you’re the “busiest” is when its the most important time to not skip that part of the day. Critical clear thinking is so important for success and growth, and when you don’t start the day out right, you are simply not going to be as effective.

What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Funding! Best way to overcome funding shortage is not to raise more capital unless you truly have no other option. It’s always better to get leaner, more creative, more resourceful. When you become successful, all those little changes you made early on to save a penny here, or a minute there, are amplified exponentially. Usually having a lack of funding is one of the greatest gifts to the future of your business. It’s painful in the moment, but pays out over the long term.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I would love to see someone created a data aggregation business for medical information.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

There are a lot of things I wish were different or better, but really world is pretty awesome, people love to complain about it, saying how it sucks, and pointing out all the bad things that happen. It’s true there is a lot of bad stuff, so do something about it, and don’t tell me you’re too busy, you have the same number of hours per day as Newton, Einstein, Galileo, Martin Luther King and George Washington.

Stop talking and start doing!

Tell us a secret.

I will not wear regular socks, only wild funky ones.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

Google Docs: best cloud / collaboration document system by far
Twitter: simply amazing, the communication is years ahead of it’s time
Flipboard:  quickest way for me to see relevant news, LOVE the app

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Outwitting the Devil, by Sharon Lechter, this was originally written by Napoleon Hill in the 30s but was never published. This book is simply amazing, it should be required reading in every school in the country.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

@harvardbiz – straight up fantastic content on business
@johncmaxwell – definitive expert on leadership, and generally a pretty cool person
@garyvee – new school edge entrepreneur a little self absorbed, but solid content

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

Just last night, my wife keeps a little journal of funny things our kids have done, we were reading it together last night… Kids are amazing, and so funny, if you have them, make sure and enjoy them!

Who is your hero?

Thomas Edison.

What holds people back?

Fear!! Fear is the number one most common reason people never go where they want to go, build what they want to build, or have the life they really want to have. It’s amazing to me how much fear owns people, 98% of the people out there just drift through life, no passion no purpose.

What is the most important thing in life?

The order goes like this, god, wife, kids, and then business. Everything in your life should be viewed through the lens of your personal purpose, why do you do what you do, and say what you say, if you don’t have purpose, you’re a drifter.

Connect:

Chris Behnke’s Website: http://chrisbehnke.net
Chris Behnke on Twitter: https://twitter.com/chris_behnke
Chris Behnke on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christopher.r.behnke
Chris Behnke on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisbehnke

Published on December 17, 2012 .

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