Welcome to this week’s episode of the One Away Show featuring Chris Harris! Follow along on YouTube above, or listen on Apple Podcasts, or Spotify. A full transcript is provided below for your convenience.
Chris Michael Harris (CMH) is the founder of CMH Media, Host of Entrepreneur Hour Podcast + Entrepreneur Hour TV, Speaker, and Performance Coach. Having founded and successfully scaled multiple startups to 7+ Figures in his mid-to-late twenties, Chris Harris has mastered bringing concepts from idea stage to fruition and growth… and quickly.
Chris’ focus is on leaving the world better off than he found it, and is passionate about serving others first and creating empowering content to uplift his audience to take control of their own futures. To learn more about Chris Harris, visit chrismichaelharris.com
TOP 5 TAKEAWAYS FROM CHRIS HARRIS
- Handling too much responsibility and running all angles of the ship only leads to burnout. In order to build a business, leaders need to forgo execution and focus on vision.
- Taking care of your mental and physical health ensures your business has good health. Sometimes, it means that you need to put business on hold.
- Growth requires a lot of: sacrifice, time, and energy, so make sure you take “affordable steps” and don’t let the fuel run out
- If you solely rely on natural ability, you’re going to hit a natural ability ceiling. Constantly feed yourself new learnings, implement those learnings, test yourself, and repeat (Chris’ process).
- You need to prepare for the long haul, not the short-term. The short, measurable steps are what will lead to massive growth that is right around the corner.
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TRANSCRIPT: THE ONE AWAY SHOW FEATURING CHRIS HARRIS
BRYAN WISH: What is one of your One Away Moments?
CHRIS HARRIS: Sometimes I tell my story and people are like, “Dude, how old are you? Like 60?” I’ve had a lot of experiences in life, all of which have taught me valuable lessons along the way. One challenging aspect of answering those questions is deciding, “What would be the number one thing?”
As I explained to you prior, I view all of my experiences as linear. Somehow, they’re all interconnected. There are certain things we could talk about that are absolutely highlights. I’ve had things happen where I’ve known, “Absolutely. That is going to be in the book that I write at some point. This is a notable thing.”
Backtracking, the top experience right now that everybody’s curious about and seems to resonate with has been the health challenges that I’ve gone through. I started my first business from my college apartment. Within 36 months, after we worked our butts off, we were fortunate enough to grow that company to a 7-figure business.
The whole time, I was in my mid-20s. We had no idea what we were doing within this growing empire. The company dealt with moving and logistics. We provided effective residential moving. We started off by just moving college students. Later, the business evolved into furnished installation for off-campus student housing, such as apartments.
Our business was running in 32 states around the country. At one point, I had about 350 part-time and 4-5 full-time employees, but we had movers all over the country. Business was rocking and rolling.
When I was in the middle of getting ready to raise my Series-A, the first round of large institutional funding, the wheels essentially fell off. Due to many reasons, the business suddenly just was not working. Ultimately, this was because I had run out of gas.
In that moment, I realized that I had been the engine, the glue, and everything else in between. Handling too much responsibility was an error that arose from my own ways of building a business. You should never build a business that way.
The major catalyst in the process of the company’s demise was my chronic health condition. After being unaware of it for almost 20 years, I was diagnosed just shy of two weeks before my 30th birthday as precancerous for a colon condition.
I had what’s known as a severe case of intestinal dysbiosis. Basically, this means you have what’s called a microbiome, and inside that microbiome are living bacterial organisms that thrive inside of your gut.
There’s a specific ratio that you want to have of “good guys” to “bad guys.” Not all bacteria are bad. When it gets too unbalanced, the “bad guys” start to invade and take over the “good guys.” That’s when you start to see is a lot of issues that are precursors to serious conditions, such as:
- Crohn’s Disease
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Colon cancer
After substantial lab results came back, the physicians told me “You can’t keep going down this path the way you’re pushing yourself, with how bad your results are. We’ve never seen anybody with these kinds of results for someone your age in 35-40 years of practice. You will not be around at 40, let alone building businesses.”
I ran out of gas. I just couldn’t keep pushing. I literally was physically inhibited from being able to continue working like I had been prior to this diagnosis. Up to that point, I had been growing a 7-figure enterprise, not counting going beyond to 8-9 figures we had planned for that business.
I spent the better part of the last part three and a half years just fighting this disease naturally. I saw my father battle Crohn’s. It’s definitely a hereditary condition for me. For those who have a predisposition like that digestive problems in your family, you definitely want to make sure you’re doing something like a Viome once a year to get a good read on your gut health. That’s what really leads to everything else.
That was the problem. It wasn’t just a gut issue for me. It wasn’t isolated or localized. It starts affecting how you absorb nutrients, which can lead to many deficiencies that increase the risk for problems like an underactive thyroid and adrenal glands.
I felt like I had nothing. I had the testosterone levels of a 65-year-old man. My thyroid showed double zeroes on my urinalysis and saliva analysis for iodine. This meant the treatment wasn’t working. Nothing was working. Everything was just shutting down. Internally, I was literally imploding.
I spent the better part of the last three and a half years refusing to go the same route my father went; taking Prednisone and steroids. Having been misdiagnosed for as long as I was, I had to take all kinds of medications throughout this period.
Many of the medications were for mental health diagnoses. First, it was ADD. Then it was mild depression and anxiety. These were all symptoms and signs of my condition that many people don’t know are correlated, including physicians.
The doctors were prescribing me so many pills and drugs, many of which had intense side effects, and I just never felt too great. The only option I had was to go that route. I continued down this treatment path: “Let’s ramp up the Prednisone’s, the Humira’s.”
One of the major side effects from Humira is leukemia. I was like, “Bro, I’m not interested in leukemia. That’s not a route I want to take in my life.” Instead, we took the hard route. We decided to treat my disease naturally. I made major dietary and lifestyle changes, and a massive amount of patience. Time seemed to just slow down.
Making my health my main priority meant that I had to put my business on hold. You know me better than anybody, Bryan. You know how ambitious I am. You know how much of a driver and a type A personality I am. Having to put all my aspirations on the backburner is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life.
This decision was so contradictory to who I fundamentally am as a person. I felt like I was watching everyone else be able to go out and pursue their dreams while I had to focus on my health.
This entire experience pushed me to learn and grow. I’ve become so much better in all the areas that I would define as weaknesses about who I was. This growth also extended to the skillsets I possessed prior to that point and still do up to today.
BRYAN WISH: What were you doing at the time of building the business that you were doing that was so destructive that it took you 3 ½ years to be able to work out?
CHRIS HARRIS: I got cleared for the gym last week. Imagine the retirees doing water aerobics. That’s effectively what I’m cleared for, even 3 ½ years later. Powerwalking, stretching, and light yoga are all I’m cleared for right now.
It’s been a long journey. Some of it was hereditary, but there’s also a lot of different culprits that contributed to this issue. Many came at my own expense and were self-inflicted.
For one, if you’ve done heavy antibiotic use, especially when you were younger, particularly the really strong ones for Strep Throat, those don’t discriminate between good and bad bacteria in your gut. They just kill everything.
You end up creating an environment where the bad guys can invade and take over, especially when a poor diet coincides with that. Foods that are heavily processed are full of antibiotics.
Many meats that you typically buy are free range, with no hormones or antibiotics. Eating even just one piece of chicken that has antibiotics can disrupt your gut balance for an entire month. There are so many disruptions that we incur through eating a modern diet.
The other factor that we absolutely know plays a massive role is the toll stress takes, particularly on the gut. The gut is far reaching. Don’t just look at it as this isolated or localized issue. It will start impacting and affecting everything else to do with your body.
For me, if I had to define the 4-5 years of my life I spent on my startup business, I’d sum it up as stressful. Everybody thinks that growth is fun. Well, growth can be fun, but growth also requires a lot.
Growth requires a lot of:
Doing big things requires big energy, and if you don’t have the right resources, you can’t maintain it.
BRYAN WISH: And big sacrifices.
CHRIS HARRIS: I made a ton of sacrifices. In a large way, I lost sight of who I was. You really want to do what Daymond John taught me, which is to take affordable steps. We didn’t do that.
Growth is exciting, but effectively what you have to measure, particularly as a business owner, is considering, “Yeah, I sold a lot, but does that mean I’ve grown my company?
Sales and company growth are entirely different subject matters. We tend to inherently view them as the same thing. If I asked hey, Bryan, have you grown your business this year? You’d be like, “Well, we hit half a million dollars.”
Again, you’ve only told me how much you’ve sold. You didn’t tell me, “Well, we improved our infrastructure. We brought in a bunch of outsourced parties.”
That’s the measurement that we use to indicate how healthy or how prosperous your business is.
Fundamentally, you need to shift your mindset with a paradigm shift around that. That’s what I did. I followed down that path, and as a result, I sold myself almost to death.
I almost killed the company with how much we sold growing from 50,000 to 500,000 to 1.2 million in literally less than three years. It was a little over two years, actually. It damn near killed me.
The major source of my stress came from not having the right resources around me. I wasn’t investing in my learning. All the things that I do now come down to the main lesson I’ve learned throughout this health process: you can only go so far.
Gary Keller talks about your natural ability ceiling and how people kind of only rely on that. I definitely relate this to a fixed mindset. If you solely rely on natural ability, you’re going to hit a natural ability ceiling.
After some discouragement and disappointment, they rally themselves back up. Then, they hit a natural ability ceiling again. It’s just up and down, banging your head against the wall. For those of you who can’t see me, I’m kind of doing those hand gestures.
This process all comes down to learning how to win at life, and figuring out how that applies to your business, as well.
Here are the four core steps of this process:
Then, you continue this same process over and over again.
It all comes down to having three things:
1. The right resources
2. The right coaches
3. The right mentors
During my startup phase, I wasn’t doing any of these things, which led to massive amounts of stress. As a result, I had to make huge sacrifices including dietary and lifestyle changes.
At the time, I wasn’t sleeping. Sometimes, I’d go whole days where my diet consisted of those resealable Monster energy drinks and no food at all. Coupling that with taking a stimulant like Vyvanse, drinking caffeine, and eating sugar all day long is a recipe to completely burn out your endocrine system.
That’s precisely what I did. It exacerbated my existing gut condition to not be getting the proper nourishment I needed, plus consuming all those stimulants, sugar, and processed foods.
My health condition was due to a combination of a lot of different things. Effectively, if people want to avoid that, prevention is wrapped up in everything I just said.
Slow Down, Mind the Process, and Understand That This is a Journey
The destination is not the answer. Your life doesn’t magically become better when you reach your destination. It’s an evolutionary, ongoing process. You need to set yourself up for future long-term success, not for a short sprint.
I guarantee you that with any business venture, it’s going to cost twice as much as you think, and it’s going to take four times as long as you expect it will. You need to prepare for the long haul, not the short-term exit like I had in mind.
When it came down to it, I think it was hard to acquiesce because we’d already gone so far down that path: sprint, sprint, sprint, sprint.
BRYAN WISH: I was talking to my trainer this morning at the gym. I work with someone once a week. I was saying, “I look at this as an investment. It’s been such an investment in my health.
Because I’m invested in my own health, I can come to the business better and come to my relationships better. It’s one of the most internal things where yeah, paying a couple thousand dollars a year to be in shape is not fun, but it’s a long game.”
Like you just said, we need to stop looking at life in sprints because you clearly learned a hard lesson. You learned it early and you can work the next 60 years of your life and you’re going to be great.
CHRIS HARRIS: Most of us have a similar distorted view. For one, people would look at my story and say, “You’re no longer doing that business and thus, you failed.” That’s an erroneous way of looking at things. There is no such thing as starting over. There’s no way I can hit reset like a video game and go back and forget the things that I learned along that way.
Now, I’m building on top of all the things that I’ve done already. Moreover, once you learn, you can do better. I always say this. You can expedite the steps, but you can’t skip any of them when you’re starting and growing a business.
Now, I can do these steps far more expeditiously than I did the first time. I can avoid many pitfalls that I endured the first time around. Still, remember that you’re never truly starting over. I think sometimes people are like, “Oh my God, well, Chris Harris is starting over.”
No; even while I was going through this health recovery process, I literally recorded and published 222 podcast episodes. I built a massive audience because I was like, “Okay, doc says I can’t work. What can I do?” I used all of my experience and built this platform that became my podcast and now my YouTube channel. It’s the same content, I’m just sharing it on sister platforms.
We’ve landed some amazing guests, such as:
- Daymond John
- Barbara Corcoran
- Grant Cardone
- Guy Kawasaki
- Marie Forleo
- Dave Asprey
Many of the guests are people I never thought in a million years that I’d be able to have on a podcast. Now, I can even call them friends. It’s been mind-blowing to me. It makes no sense.
Sometimes, we don’t realize that even in our most difficult challenges, we’re still effectively moving forward. We’re still creating our one thing, our One Away Moments, that is going to blow the lid off things.
Most people would say, “He took 3 ½ years and now he’s ready to go again.” Rather, I took 3 ½ years investing in my health and also putting together all the pieces; those little, step-by-step things that I did, as little as I could work.
These steps are what will lead to the massive explosion that I know is right around the corner. Now that I’ve gotten cleared, I’m ready to sprint again and start growing businesses.
I think sometimes we look at it as too binary, but that;s just not how it is. You’re always doing something valuable, every single day. Little by little, chipping away at problems and building successful habits will eventually lead to a big epiphany, like the One Away Moments that you share with your audience.
BRYAN WISH: To your point, there’s power in compound interest from a banking standpoint, but there’s also compound habits from a strong foundational standpoint. That’s something I learned working with Alan. What was so impressive about him was he was so consistent at the daily actions. He never missed a beat.
That adds up over time. For these One Away moments to happen, there must be breakthroughs. For other people, this might be something different. What it ultimately takes for these One Away breakthroughs to happen is the compound interest, the compound effect of all these little things you’re talking about.
You’re bringing a very interesting perspective to this show. You’re not talking about a person but talking about personal experience and all the little things that are compounding to a greater picture. You can see it so clearly, but it’s hard because a lot of people can’t right now.
You’re about to sprint again. What are things you’re going to do differently, based on what you learned and what you’ve reflected on, that you think will allow you to sustain for the long haul and keep continually creating processes for these One Away moments to continually happen?
CHRIS HARRIS: The biggest misconception we have about success in any area of life, but particularly with building a business, is that we tell ourselves the same story: “We have to do it all.” We have to figure out a way to just juggle all these pieces and that’s the way people do it. The Grant Cardone’s of the world, for example, are all just out there figuring out a way to juggle 7,000 things at once.
This myth is fundamentally not the case at all. I know this because I know these people and I’ve had these conversations with them. If you haven’t read the book The One Thing by Gary Keller, who I’ve already referenced, it’s an amazing book. It will literally change your life. Absolutely go buy it. It’s a must-read for anybody, but especially for entrepreneurs.
In the book, he talks about how you need to have your “one thing.” What’s the one thing that doing will allow everything else in your life to become easier or unnecessary? The big mistake that I made before in growing a business. We were just all over the place. I was stretched way too thin.
Looking at it from a more granular standpoint, actually take the time to sit and calculate my steps and figure out the answer to this question:
“What is my “one thing” right now?”
Choosing one doesn’t mean the other things don’t matter. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to address them at some point in time. Instead, I always have a list of things that are important to me: “Okay, these are my top 10 needle movers. These are the things that I know I want to do.” These can be anything, depending on what your business is.
Taking that time to reflect on those 10 things, then breaking it down to these are the 10; here’s the one. Here’s the one for right now that I need to do to make the next tangible step.
Every “one thing” you select should be based on goals that Michael Hyatt called smarter goals:
- They’re smart
- They’re measurable
- They’re actionable
It’s actually an acronym that stands for all these various things.
I use his full focus point, or I go through his entire methodology of having goals and then reverse engineering them. I focus on the one thing at each step, each season, each quarter, each week, each day, so I’m always moving towards those goals.
Most people tend to completely overwhelm themselves. They find themselves in paralysis mode because they’re looking at the things that they want to accomplish. This is where entrepreneurs are great. We have big ideas and amazing visions we want to accomplish. As much as this is a strength, it can also feel overwhelming.
Here’s the thing: goals are paradoxical. Meaning, the longer you go without reaching your goal, the bigger and the further away you feel from it. In your mind, it becomes something huge and grandiose that will never be attainable. If you think this way, it never will, because you’re not taking tangible steps forward. Nor are you measuring the things you need to accurately reflect upon the progress that you’ve made.
Think about a time when you worked with a coach, or even just a friend. Imagine someone making observations of your work. You’ve got this massive challenge you can’t figure out. You’ve been trying every which way to sort it out.
Somebody says, “Why didn’t I do this?” They can see it. They can map it out. So, you’re like, “Oh yeah. Why was I making it so difficult?” Well, because in your mind, you have not reframed it to be this massive thing that is unattainable. As long as you keep up this mindset, you feel further and further away from the goal because you aren’t tracking your steps towards achievement.
If there’s one piece of advice I can give anybody, it’s one I had to learn the hard way. I realized that I burned myself out trying to do it all. Thus, I realized the false logic in trying to “Do it all.” Now, instead, I’m always learning: physically, emotionally, and mentally.
I could not work more than an hour a day. What is the one thing in that hour that I have that I can do? I focused on building my brand. Right now, all I can do is send emails, get big podcast guests on my show, and build this platform, build an audience, because that will then allow me when I am healthy, to have someone to become a target consumer whether it’s clients, students, etc.
That opens up doors for me. Building my brand was the one thing for three years. That has now allowed me to, “Hey, I’m not starting from scratch because I’ve got a big audience. I’ve got 75,000 people that follow me on various social media platforms. I’ve got a podcast that reaches millions of people.”
Not getting overwhelmed or stuck in the weeds requires some reflection. I think we undervalue that as a society. Warren Buffet spends his whole morning just thinking and people are like, “What a waste of time.” Or “Oh, well, it’s Warren Buffet. He can afford to do that.”
No; the reason he’s where he’s at is because of that, not in spite of it. He was able to achieve and become Warren Buffet because that’s who Warren Buffet has always been. That’s a success habit he’s always had.
Building that in, finding out what the success habits look like, making things tangle, making steps forward, making them measurable and actionable is going to allow you to make yourself realize and feel you’re making steps towards your ultimate goals.
BRYAN WISH: It’s a perspective to achieve One Away moments.
CHRIS HARRIS: That’s exactly what it is.
BRYAN WISH: I wrote down a health crisis away from losing it all. Without the things that you were doing that created the health issue, if that didn’t happen, maybe you would have gone further. To bring it back to the story, you would have lost it all.
CHRIS HARRIS: Yeah, I would have killed myself. That’s the pace I was on for sure. It would have been at the point where we couldn’t reverse it.
BRYAN WISH: It’s a growth mindset you took in with you in the recovery process. The same principles apply. You just applied it to your health opposed to a business. When you go back to the drawing board to relaunch based on the platform you’ve built, you have all the knowledge now and you’ll be able to go a lot faster with these lessons. Any parting words? Let us know where we can find you and follow your platform.
CHRIS HARRIS: The only parting wisdom I’d give to you is something that I learned along this journey. I didn’t realize just how much this life of entrepreneurship meant to me until I was backed into a corner and had to leave it behind for a while. That’s what it took for me to really realize, “Do I actually want this?”
Now, I tell people that whatever you do, make it a lifestyle, not a career. For me, I am an entrepreneur. I don’t just “do” entrepreneurship. Every time I’ve seen breakthrough or massive growth with myself, with my students, or my wife who now has built a 7-figure business at the age of 30, I know there’s always something we’re doing right here.
I don’t think this kind of success comes from just being lucky or fortunate. I think we really busted our butts to figure out what that is. We bought into that. There was no looking back. There was no turning back; we had to burn the ships and go all in.
Whatever you do in life, I don’t want you to tip-toe. I want you to jump all the way in headfirst. Go for it. Does that mean there’s more of a chance you’re going to fall flat on your face? Absolutely.
This isn’t a pat myself on the back, look at me. I wallowed in self-pity for a long time. I spent more than three years watching the world around me grow, and I resented every minute of it. I hated the fact that I was where I was. I cursed God, the universe, por whatever you want to call it for putting me in the situation I was in at that particular moment in my life.
This isn’t a “let’s celebrate Chris Harris,” thing, at all. I’ve never seen anybody not be just completely obsessed and bought all the way into whatever they’re trying to do succeed. Take away the hacks, take away the knowledge, take away the strategies, the X’s and O’s, and it doesn’t matter.
Everything goes by the wayside if you’re not all the way in. You need to be 100% committed. Fully dive in and invest yourself in whatever you choose to pursue.
As far as where to find me, on all social media platforms my handle is @heyCMH. My name is Chris Michael Harris. You can find me all over the web at Chris Michael Harris.
You can also go to my website, which is heycmh.com or follow my platform on the podcast which is Entrepreneur Hour Podcast on all podcasting players:
- Apple Podcasts
Or, you can follow my new YouTube channel which I would love and appreciate if you could like and subscribe there because we are still growing that thing. It’s brand-new. It’s Entrepreneur Hour TV.