Chris Natzke

and Robert talk about business and how martial arts training really helped Chris think differently about growing his business and impact in the community. He use martial arts to encourage students to pay it forward, requires them to do chores cheerfully and random acts of kindness. These concepts of putting other first really are powerful in personal development and business growth. Chris also understands the power of story and helps people to craft memorable stories with a purpose.

A little bit about Chris...

 Chris Natzke is not only a champion himself, but he has been training others to find their own Inner Champion for over four decades.  As an 8th Degree Black Belt/Master Instructor and former national Taekwondo champion, Chris ranks in the top 1% of all martial artists in the world.  Now, as a life-leadership coach, keynote speaker and author, his passion is sharing his unique brand of Black Belt Leadership so others may discover the most empowered version of themselves – leading to clarity of purpose, increased confidence, and the courage to take inspired action to make their dreams come true.

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Chris Natzke
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Show Notes

Robert Peterson 0:00 

Today's guest is my friend Chris Natzke. Chris is not only a champion himself, but he's been training others to find their own inner champion for over four decades. As an eighth degree black belt, master instructor and former national taekwondo champion, Chris ranks in the top 1% of all martial artists in the world. Now as a life leadership coach, keynote speaker and author, his passion is sharing his unique brand of blackbelt leadership. others may discover the most empowered version of themselves, leading to clarity of purpose, increased confidence and the courage to take inspired action to make their dreams come true. Chris Natzke and Robert talked about business and how martial arts training really helped Chris think differently about growing his business and impact in the community. He uses martial arts to encourage students to pay it forward, requires them to do chores, tearfully and random acts of kindness. These concepts of putting others first really are powerful in personal development and business growth. Chris also understands the power of story, and helps people to craft memorable stories with a purpose. Chris, thank you so much for joining me today. I'm excited to have this conversation and just share your journey

Chris Natzke 1:43 

with the world. It's great to be here. Robert, great to be here. 

Robert Peterson 1:47 

I typically just let my guests share their journey and entrepreneurship and what they're doing now. Then we'll dig some of the lessons out based on where their journeys took them. 

Chris Natzke 2:00 

Excellent. The whole journey of entrepreneurship probably. It started quite a while ago in 1995. It came as a result of following a lifelong dream of wanting to own my own professional martial art studio. I, at the time, right out of college, I landed a really good job actually with the top consumer products company in the United States. I was working with them as a sales executive. it always had this burning desire to transform lives through martial arts. It was one of the probably the most impactful aspects of my life coming up until that time, and had been moved from several places across the United States. I started my career in consumer product sales in Chicago, went to Southern California for four years, then got promoted to the general offices in Cincinnati. After a two year stint there, was promoted and brought out to Denver. At the time, I was married and my wife at the time, she and I had been together since high school. she said, you've as long as I've known you all you've ever wanted to do was own a martial arts school. I know that you're doing okay, your job and you're liking it, you're doing very well. I know that's not what your heart is. you're absolutely  So she encouraged me to start on the path of owning a professional martial arts school. What I did was I actually started a program at my son's grade school. leased it out three nights a week, and got it up to about 50 students. During that time, one of my mom's in the program was a real estate broker. she knew my dream, my intention, I started this in April. she said, if you want to get a commercial site, which was my goal to, maybe have one start looking at about a year, she said, You really need to start looking now. April, May I start looking? By July, I had signed the lease and by October or November 1, I opened up my school. things went at warp speed. I took those 50 students and brought them over within a year. I had 200. Within five years, I had 500 students at one location. That was my first foray into entrepreneurship. 

Robert Peterson 4:32 

Nice. Obviously, you recognize that the life transformation aspect is really what empowers that growth. recognizing that martial arts is more than just a physical activity. It's a mental activity and targeting children at that level is really powerful. 

Chris Natzke 4:59 

Also just from, I'll share with you two things that I share a lot with my life coaching clients. Number one is that entrepreneurship, for me, is the best personal development workshop you can ever take. you have your there's nowhere to hide all the issues, all the fears, all the whatever's have a tendency to pop up, and you have to look at him if you want to be successful, you can't stop them away somewhere. The other thing that I share is that moving, at least from my experience, from the corporate world into entrepreneurship, was not only the most exhilarating time in my life, it was also the most petrifying time in my life. Both of those things kind of worked in concert. It's interesting, it's been 2728 years since I made that. I've had opportunities, since that happened to companies that have come and, and have recruited me and asked me to come on board with them. I've come close a couple times. At this point in time, entrepreneurship is what is realized, that's the lifestyle that I want to live, being able to make an impact, but also being able to do it on the things that I'm able to create in the container that I create, versus doing it within someone else's organization. 

Robert Peterson 6:20 

Nice. Has your studio run since 1995, to the present?

Chris Natzke 6:26 

It has and although I have a little caveat, because this is the second half of my entrepreneurial story. I had that school, as I said, started it in 1995. did quite well. It moved through up to 500 students in the Oh 506 timeframe, all of us and entrepreneurs will remember the Oh 809 recession. things tended to soften a little bit. I was also going through some life changes at that time. I actually sold it to one of my students in 2013. that I could focus on my current career, which is working as a life leadership coach, a speaker and author and a workshop facilitator. 

Robert Peterson 7:14 

Nice. Let's talk a little bit about that transition. You mentioned the transition from corporate to entrepreneurship was both exhilarating and petrifying. How was the transition from martial arts professional studio owner to stage speaker life coach?

Chris Natzke 7:35 

It's interesting because it wasn't as petrifying, I'd already gone through that, although I will say, it was a challenge. when you create a business like a martial arts school, and you put your heart and soul into it, it almost becomes an extension of you. Many entrepreneurs have had that experience. in fact, for me, I had wanted, I knew that I wanted to move on to do some different things for quite some while from quiet for quite some time, but I didn't really feel like I had found the right person to take over the school because I still had an emotional attachment to those individuals, my staff, all of my staff I had trained since they were kids, and now they're in their 20s working for me. I just had a real heartfelt connection to all of my students. I did find a friend of mine in the martial arts industry who relocated to Denver, who initially made that purchase. Then he actually sold the business to one of my students. The transition was challenging from that place. It was also not as bad as before, because now I knew I had a basis of work, a foundation of work to build off of, I knew I had been through some of these challenges in the past. I knew I had survived them. interestingly enough, Robert, when I look back at the work that I'm doing today, relative to the work that I was doing, when I own the martial arts studio, it's very much similar in terms of what I'm doing, my audience has changed. I'm not teaching people necessarily each and every day, how to kick and punch, although I still do that. I'm still very active. We have three schools in our martial arts organization here in Colorado, and I still actively teach quite a bit, but I don't own the schools. the lessons of moving through obstacles, focus concentration, or being able to move through obstacles with ease and grace, all those things that I taught in martial arts. I'm now able to do that from a speaker and a coaching standpoint. 

Robert Peterson 9:44 

Nice. Obviously, there's a big community element to the work that you are creating. maybe that's different because of the martial arts connection and In community, it's different than a regular gym. It's different than even a ninja gym, that is more recent than that martial arts classes are done primarily in groups, they're primarily focused on the development aspect, which is just as important as the physical aspect. there's a uniqueness to martial arts. Let's talk a little bit about the power of community and why that's been so helpful for you in your process as an entrepreneur. 

Chris Natzke 10:35 

You hit it right on the head. I'll give you an example. I learned this probably after having my school for 1015 years. I knew I always knew that community was incredibly important. I loved being part of it. I still do love being part of the community for all the reasons that you stated, but I had this one instance. Again, as I said, about 15 years into me owning the school, we had had a martial art program, and then also a separate aerobic kickboxing program. This is generally geared toward females, a lot of moms did the program. when their kids were training, they could get their workout. I had this one day, it was I believe, was a Tuesday at around five o'clock. I had an instructor who had told me a couple of weeks in advance, she couldn't teach the class and asked if I'd sub for her. The class was going to start at 515. I went in at 5pm, to start setting up the room and getting the musical queued up. I noticed there were about six ladies in there already for class, and they were chit chatting with each other, they're warming up and I thought, wow, this is interesting. Almost every one of those ladies had been with me for anywhere from four to six years. if they would have trained in martial arts, they would have already received their black belt, maybe even their second degree black belt. I'm sitting there watching them and I'm going, all we're doing is teaching them to kick and punch a bag, but they show up each and every day. here they are 15 minutes early chit chatting with each other. boom, it hit me. It was the community. That's why they were there. I happen to be a vehicle, I own the punching bags they could hit. That was probably fun to do. there was a benefit of getting in physical shape. They were there because of the community. 

Robert Peterson 12:27 

Nice. Once you recognize that there's this power and connection in the community. Let's look at that idea of community building from a business owner's perspective. now that you recognize that there's more to this than just getting in shape. What changes or things did you do differently to be intentional about the community? 

Chris Natzke 12:57 

One of the things that I did and a lot of the things that happen in the martial arts world, the martial art, let me just give this as a, as a pre frame, the martial arts industry in the United States is a relatively young industry. Okay. martial arts basically came to the United States in the 1950s. most of it was taught by men who had trained martial arts in the military, there wasn't a lot of finesse to what they were doing is pretty hardcore stuff. then you had instructors coming from Japan and Korea, and that was a hardstyle, as well. around 1980, something happened to the industry. That was something called the movie The Karate Kid. Now all of a sudden martial arts school owners had this huge influx of eight 910 year old kids, and they didn't know how to deal with them. We had to evolve as a community, as an industry, and how do you deal with kids. We realized one of the ways to do that was to combine a strong sense of teaching martial arts with a strong sense of developing character. the old model used to be that you'd invite anyone in. They were mostly men in their 20s. you just weeded out the ones that didn't have the strong character and perseverance, just reading them out naturally. Now, you have this whole influx of students, where in order to retain them, you had to develop that big my big shift,  so one of the things I'm probably most proud of, there are several things, terms what we do with our program, but one of the things that I enacted pretty early on is when students were getting ready to test for their black belts, and this is now anywhere from a three to three and a half year journey. Before they were eligible to test and then prior to their testing, they would have to go into a very intensive 60 In a weak or four month training program, to get them ready for the test. One of the things that I did very early on is I connected them with one of my staff members, one of the instructors as their mentor, to take them through the process. then what ended up happening as we developed little subcultures of little families within the community. They had people that they aspired to be like that were mentoring them through the blackbelt program. then those people learn how to mentor as well. it became a culture of not just your own existence, your not survival of course, literally coming together as a group as a family to get through a very challenging period, and then be able to give back by helping others move through that process. That was probably one of the key pieces to our ability to develop and grow. I kind of dropped the number before at our peak, we're at 500, we're actually at 504 active students. When I started the school in 1995, the average school in the United States was 80 students. we were able to really multiply that. It was building that culture of community. 

Robert Peterson 16:21 

Your willingness to prepare other leaders to teach the classes,  one of the big challenges for many entrepreneurs in many industries, is, I'm the expert. I'm the only one that can do it. I've got to teach everybody. of course, if you have to teach everybody, you limit your school to 8080 people or less, if that's the average, that means there's a bunch of schools with 20, or 30, or

Chris Natzke 16:46 

  1. Exactly. What you're saying reminds me of two of my favorite quotes from John Max the leadership, the leadership guru, and he says, number one, is if, if you're leading and nobody's following, you're just out for a walk. That's number one. number two is, leaders don't develop followers, leaders develop other leaders. that sometimes, when we are in a position of being an entrepreneur, we're a solopreneur, we're thinking of surviving on our own. There is an element of that that is beneficial. There's parts of our businesses that we need to learn to help in our own growth and development. For me personally, the times when I own my school and are still leading an organization, that just totally fires me up, is when I'm teaching other people to do the same work that I learned how to do, and seeing them do it and sometimes even surpass me in their ability to deliver. 

Robert Peterson 17:52 

It's a challenging thing to be willing to delegate to be. It's hard for entrepreneurs to let go, it's hard for an entrepreneur to even know, how do I explain this or teach this, but that's where the real power comes right in martial arts, like many other skill sets, doing it takes you to one level, right teaching, it takes you to a completely different level. When an entrepreneur even hires a VA, and they have to teach their process to a VA, that transfer of knowledge requires the entrepreneur to be able to teach, which takes his process and skill set to another level. they don't even recognize that and there's real power in the way you created this mentorship. Opportunity, because now you've got students teaching students, you're delegating and passing on, which develops a community of trust, because now you're empowering others to lead others. and that creates an incredible culture. It also elevates everybody's game, each of those mentors get so much better, now they're teaching that same skill they learned at another level. 

Chris Natzke 19:09 

It's so super powerful, you position that so Robert, and it made me think, I dropped a couple of numbers around here in terms of how much growth we were able to experience. that journey from 50 to 200. happened in a relatively short period of time. It happened in about a year. However, I got stuck at 200 for a couple of years. I go a little bit above and I go back, it's because during that time, I was doing everything. I was teaching the majority of the class, not all of them. I was doing the introductory lessons, I was answering the phone, I was even mopping the mats and cleaning the toilets,  so I kept having people I go to conferences with and people say delegate delegate and quite honestly my friend you couldn't pull any of that stuff out of my kung fu grip. Finally, I had a gal who was my program director who I finally hired. Her name is Rachel. Rachel had been begging me to be a kickboxing instructor, she took the classes, but I had never really trained her to teach. that was my domain, I was gonna let anybody teach those classes. All of a sudden, she begged and begged and begged, and finally said, Fine, you can do it. let her teach this class. Robert, she totally blew me away. Totally blew me away. She was an amazing teacher. That was a huge pivotal moment for me, because I was like, wow, what have I been? Number one, I've been holding her back, I've been holding the growth of the school back only because of my own insecurities,  of not wanting to let go. When I did that, I started developing and training other people, that's when we got to the level of 500 students, but I could still be floating around in, just hitting my head up against that ceiling, if I wouldn't have taken that move. 

Robert Peterson 21:07 

Such great lessons. Obviously, once you cross that threshold, you're like, why didn't I do this two years ago?

Chris Natzke 21:16 

With my coaching with business owners, one of the first things we talk about is, within their business, what are the roles and responsibilities? where is there an in an instance, an example of where you can delegate, I call it part of my five ds of keeping agreements. So, many entrepreneurs get overwhelmed. There's so many things we're doing. The first thing I have them do is they detail it, they just take a piece of paper, and they write down everything that they've got rattling around in that noggin of theirs. Sometimes the best thing is just getting it out of your head. Then step number two is to delete it. Now what does delete mean? that means what are some things on that list that at this point in time, you're just going to choose not to do? You're just going to take them off your list? That sometimes it's very difficult for people. Number next is, you might say, there's some things that I don't need to do this month, but I'm going to need to do them in maybe two, three months. that's you defer it, you put it in what's called a someday maybe list,  So what ends up happening there is okay, it's currently September we're in right now, I'm not going to do that. I don't want to do it this month, but I will do it in November, and you actually have an active system, where you place it in every month you review it to see what you want to put into your project list. you delete it, you delete it, you defer it, then number four is where we're talking about as you delegate it, where do you have an opportunity either in people you've developed to take over that, or people you can hire, as you said, our virtual assistant. you've done those four ds. now once you've done that, as you've whittled down your list, so now you can do it. I've seen people go from lists of 30 items to five or six. just think about the clarity you get when you're able to do that. when you get clarity, that's where expansion happens. That's where creativity happens. that's where you start being the leader of your business, versus the business leader, you

Robert Peterson 23:20 

feel so powerful. good. We started this conversation about community and talking about the internal community that you created. I also know that you've created something that allows your community of students to impact their community in meaningful ways. Would you share how that's what that is? How has that helped?

Chris Natzke 23:45 

I'm going to go back to the example of when we get students ready to test for black belts. We do something pretty unique. I told you that they spend those four months getting ready. I'll just give you a couple of things they have to do physically, in four months, they have to do 4000 pushups, yes, in four months now, if they have to do 4000 crunches, they have to spar 120 rounds. they have to do all these physical things. What I'm probably most excited about and what I'm most proud of from a legacy standpoint, is that they have to do a whole piece of personal and community development during that time. they have to do 400 random acts of kindness that are logged, we literally have a log and in the last 12 years, we've generated over a quarter of a million random acts of kindness that do now I misspoke a little bit there, Robert. the younger guys, the 10 to 13 year olds, 1415 year olds, they have to do only 300 Random Acts of Kindness, but they have to do 100 home chores. Parents love me right Um, they have to mentor someone for 10 sessions, they have to eat clean for an entire week. no sugar, no alcohol, no processed foods, getting a 10 year off of beers is tough, but I make it happen,

Robert Peterson 25:16 

i know 

Chris Natzke 25:21 

The final thing they have to do is they have to spend a day in empathy. They have to choose a 24 hour period, where they're either spended being blind, deaf mute, or in a wheelchair, so that they have an idea of what it is like to empathize with someone who has a physical affliction. then we finish that up with, they all have to do a community service project collectively. As I'm speaking to you here, at the end of this month, we'll be generating money through a kick Athan, and we'll be donating it to the Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association. all those candidates will collect money, they'll have to do 1000 kicks on a Saturday morning to generate that cash. Then we'll go and walk with the recipients of that money at the end of September. 

Robert Peterson 26:16 

That's fantastic. 

Chris Natzke 26:17 

When you do that, what happens is, and entrepreneurs might be sitting there and going, Man, I don't know. We basically build it right into the structure of what we do. that every business has the opportunity to do something to that extent, because every business that we have, is basically predicated on acts of service. I always love this analogy, the super coach, Steve Chandler says, if you go to a vending machine, and it's not working, there's generally a sign on it that says out of service. If you want to build your business, ask yourself how you, your employees, and your community can get into service. When you do that, you generate this inertia, where my experienced customers come from. I don't even know they exist, but it keeps the energy flowing, of serving in a profound way. 

Robert Peterson 27:21 

That's so terrific. Incredible, because of the power of community inside your organization. Now impacting the power of the community, outside your organization. A little throwing a bone to the parents doesn't hurt anymore. 

Chris Natzke 27:42 

Here's this, that I'm paying the bill, and it's exactly,  I always knew that our school was doing Robert. Let me preface it by saying this. Kids today have a multitude of activities they can partake in. When I opened up my martial arts school in 1995, I had six other martial arts schools within a two mile radius of me. I did not consider them to be my competition. My competition was baseball, football , ballet, and gymnastics, you name it. 

Robert Peterson 28:20 

Today, it's exactly the device in everybody's pocket. Exactly. It's new in games. 

Chris Natzke 28:28 

Yes. I knew that we were doing a good job. When I would have parents come to me and say, Master Netsky. Jimmy doesn't want to come to class anymore. Would you please talk to him? he needs to be here. of all the lessons you and your staff are teaching him. They were asking me to tuck their kids into stains.  That's when I knew they were seeing the value. It wasn't about kicking and punching. Although they got good at that, too. It was about the intrinsic value they were getting from the experience. 

Robert Peterson 29:03 

Let's talk a little bit more about this day of empathy. There's a powerful exercise in that idea that most of us take for granted, in just our life and health and as an entrepreneur, as a coach. You see people all the time, sacrifice By seeing their body for convenience, sacrificing their health, for convenience with the idea that, I'll do it someday. Now you're planting some pretty powerful seeds in young people's minds of recognizing the gift that they have in their body, in, in their life. Can you share a little bit more about it?

Chris Natzke 30:25 

I'm smiling because this is one of my favorite things to talk about. I'll answer that in two ways. Number one is I use this with my life coaching clients. I use it when I speak to groups, particularly entrepreneurs. I'll share a phrase that one of my coaches shared with me: we need to take care of ourselves. We can help take care of others. notice, I didn't say take care of others, it's help take care of others. when you take care of yourself first, then you're giving from the overflow. We've all had situations where we're giving, we're giving, we're giving, we're basically, we have an empty tank. we don't have the energy anymore. We're not taking care of ourselves. then we get resentful, and cynical about our businesses and our lives. We have to make a practice of taking care of ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, so we can give from the overflow. From that perspective, that's when we can be at our best. if we aren't at our best, we're cheating the people, in my opinion, that we were here to serve. That's the first thing. 

Robert Peterson 31:37 

I'm gonna catch you there, because I know my wife, in particular, targets women. Everybody mentions, we remind the airlines till, announcement, make sure you put on your oxygen mask first. Then we have women that are sitting next to their children, they walk one by one and remind them, because the motherly instinct is so strong, of course, to put the mask on their children first because they want to take care of their children. It's instinctive that we're, we're trying to push against that instinct. The challenge is that so many mothers give up themselves, for their spouse, they give up themselves for their children. Entrepreneurs can do the same thing and give up themselves for their business. recognizing this idea of self care is not selfish. 

Chris Natzke 32:34 

In fact, it's nothing further from being selfish, because as I said before, if we aren't taking care of ourselves, and doing a good job of that, we can't be at the best of ourselves, to serve others. Case in point, I absolutely have a wonderful relationship with my mom, and my mom's 83. Now, she was a nurse for over 50 years. She was working constantly. I grew up in a household where my father was alcoholic. He was there, but he wasn't really there. My mom was not only working full time, but she was coming home each night. She was raising myself, my brother and my sister. I distinctly remember, hearing my mom constantly say all the time, I'm so tired. I'm so tired. During the course of my life, I remember my mom always saying to me, Chris, you can do anything you put your mind to, if you put your mind to it you can accomplish anything you want. when it came to her, like getting more education or taking care of herself, she would always say I can't do it, because she was so devoted to just serving other people. Again, I have this huge respect for nurses, because not only was my mom a nurse, but my two sisters were, so I grew up in that environment. I also saw how they were giving at their own expense. that you use the example of children. Let's face it, some of us as entrepreneurs, we view our businesses as our kids. Absolutely. if we're not able to make that commitment to ourselves, to take care of ourselves, so we can help take care of others. I don't think we ever reached the pinnacle of what it can be to be a really functional healthy entrepreneur. I just don't think we can do it. 

Robert Peterson 34:34 

The entrepreneur becomes the bottleneck and, and sacrifices himself, which means when he gets sick or she gets sick, because that's what's going to happen that your body has, two rules rest now or you will rest later. 

Chris Natzke 34:54 

One of my favorite books and I recommend this when I coach entrepreneurs. What is the E Myth by Michael Gerber? One of my favorite books. I just remember I'm gonna paraphrase his quote, but it's something like I was in my business versus working on my business. I was in my business, I was working day in and day out, I finally realized I was working for a lunatic. Lunatic was me  Now, what some of that comes from. I'll just speak from my own experience. Some of that comes from fear. If I don't do this, I'm not going to have enough, I'm going to miss this opportunity. that sometimes in the short period of time, that little juice can get us going, it can act as a catalyst. if we maintain that, and that becomes our only way of functioning, we begin to break down. It can't be fear based. It has to be a I'm gonna move into my entrepreneurship, from a standpoint of confidence, I have faith in myself. I'm not doing it from a standpoint of not enoughness. I'm doing it from a standpoint that I am enough. then from my enoughness is where I'm going to serve. 

Robert Peterson 36:10 

Nice. We gotta get back to the other half of the service. 

Chris Natzke 36:13 

Oh, yes. I'm gonna share this story. This is one of my favorite stories, particularly when I speak to youth groups, I share this story. I told you about how my students would have to train very intensively for their black belt, that four month period, I had a student of mine that started with me when he was four years old. His name was Josh. Josh started with me and what was called at the time, the little ninja program, little boy, big, fluffy head of red hair, big ears, freckles, not particularly talented. you look at him and go, this kid will probably never, I don't know if you'll ever make it to be a black belt. Josh kept showing up. He started with me when he was four. Now he's 10 years old. He's getting ready to test for his junior black belt. So, I already shared with everybody all the things he had to do to do all the push ups and the crunches, whatever. When we get to the standpoint of what he needs to do from his day of empathy, he hears the day in the wheelchair. he's like, that's it. That's what I'm doing. He has an uncle, his uncle Jimmy, and Uncle Jimmy was a Vietnam vet. For Josh's entire life, Jimmy has been confined to a wheelchair. He decides he's going to do his day of empathy in honor of his uncle. He calls up his uncle and his uncle Jimmy. I'm testing for my black belt. I need to do a day of empathy. I'm gonna do this day in the chair, and I'm going to do it in honor of you. Jimmy says, that's great, buddy. Buddy. Tell you what I know you're way too well. If you do one day in a chair, all you're going to be doing is popping wheelies down the street. If you're going to do this, you're going to do it. You're going to do two days in the chair. On the second day, Uncle Jimmy drove up Josh's driveway, in his customized van lowered the hydraulic lift. Josh rolled on, got lifted in the backseat, his dad went in the front seat, and Uncle Jimmy took them to Craig Hospital here in Denver. he took him to the rehabilitation ward. What Josh got to witness was a man who was a new quadriplegic who was breathing through a tube in order to move his chair. You can imagine at 10 years old, Josh was pretty impacted by that story. That was that visual, so he came home, and one of his assignments was to write an essay about his day of empathy. He started writing his essay, typing up his essay, but he didn't send it to me initially, he sent it to uncle Jimmy. Jimmy ready goes, This is amazing. Jimmy sent it off to the headquarters of the American Disabled Veterans Association. They read and they said, This is amazing. they published it, Robert, in their national newsletter. Now suddenly the story's gone all around the country, to disabled veterans in the newsletter, and they're like, kid, Denver, blackbelt Denver. Wait a minute, our national convention is in Denver this year. Let's have him speak. A couple three months later, here comes Josh up to the podium, which is up to his eyes, and he's reading his essay. At 10 years old, Josh was not only a junior black belt, but he was a published author and a keynote speaker. Not bad,  what's so great is that at the end of the story I am still in contact with Josh and his family. Josh is now in his 20s. I was at his house for dinner a couple years ago with him and his mom and her and her new husband, and he was still talking about that experience. When I share that story, I have people come up to me all the time. saying how that story resonated with them. Here's what I always tell them. The reason it resonates inside of you, is because there's a part of you inside of you, that deeply wants to serve, and be empathetic toward others. when we learn to do that, and we, and we position our businesses from that perspective, that to me is thriving. It's just not what's in the balance sheet. It's been able to thrive financially, of course, we want to do that. to do it from a standpoint of service, where we're making an impact in other people's lives. 

Robert Peterson 40:36 

When it really demonstrates the power of story, yes. Ultimately, that's what our life is about. That's what our business is about. That's what impacting others is about and when you can understand the power of a story. Now you help your requirements, help Josh create this story. Then, his uncle Jimmy sharing it created opportunities. that's so often. First of all, everything you and I do is about the story. Ultimately, as a coach, I'm helping people change the story of their past, yes, change the story that they believe about themselves in the present, yes, so that they can grab onto a new story for their future. Ultimately, life is about the stories we're telling ourselves and telling others, right marketing is ultimately all about the story you're putting out there. The reason that story, of course, is so empowering is because it captivated people, of course, the right influencers. The challenge for so many is that they don't think their story matters. 

Chris Natzke 41:53 

It's so true. I have one of my coaches say to me, Chris, you have to remember the things that you think are ordinary, other people think are extraordinary. we're so close to it, we don't, we don't understand it. it's interesting, as a continuation of Josh's story, I'll share this story as well. As part of my work. I also coach people who are aspiring to be speakers. I share this with them when I talk about the power of story. This is an offshoot of Josh's story. I was part of a mastermind group. I was invited to be part of a mastermind group here in Denver. There were three different masterminds within this organization. I was asked by the head of the organization to visit each one of the memberships and do a training of some sort with some sort of the business training, it was on the topic, yes means when you go to a training, how do you implement it in your business, it was something like that. It went actually relatively well. I gave everyone value. At the end, we had questions and answers. In two of those three groups, Robert, there were people who had heard me give my keynote at other events here in the Denver area. In two of those three meetings on two different days, with two different people, when the first people in the question and answer period raised their hands when I called on them, they said, Can you tell us the story about the kid in the wheelchair? Who, and that's when it hit me. I'm like, I just gave them a whole hour worth of all this content. they're going back to two months ago when they heard me speak. They wanted to hear Josh's story, because that's what moved them. I would say suggest anyone who's listening out there is Get clear on your story. Get clear on your Why? Why you do what you do, because that's what's going to inspire people. I always love Simon Sinek. I don't know if you're familiar with his work, Robert? Oh,  Nick has got the great thing on the power of y and he has a great TED Talk. In that talk, there's some place where he's talking about Martin Luther King Jr. he says, in August of 1963, a quarter of a million people didn't congregate on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to hear Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his I Have a plan speech. It was a dream. It was his wife. It was his story. 

Robert Peterson 44:33 

They didn't gather to hear him. They gather he didn't hear any of the others. 

Chris Natzke 44:37 

That's right, whatever it is. It's the most famous speech in history for sure. He connected with his why what his story was, and that's because there were many people that didn't agree with his policies, even within the civil rights movement. 

Robert Peterson 44:57 

Oh, absolutely. In fact,  we all know examples of Yes. That wanted to, to, get their rights by force and actly. he was committed to, to be peaceful. Just peaceful activity and love. He was committed to that. What's interesting is that the other guy in this is a speaker. They're all fighting for the prime spot. and he didn't care what spot he went up in. Yet his name is the only one stamped on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. 

Chris Natzke 45:35 

If I may share just one more brief story, of course, I heard this from a man who was one of his best friends. His name was Dr. Reverend Harold Middlebrook. Dr. Middlebrook was one of the people who helped organize the voting rights movement in Selma. He helped organize the March on Washington, he was with Dr. King when he was assassinated in Memphis. I was doing an event here in Denver, where I was doing my board breaking experience workshop. Dr. Reverend Middlebrook was part of that. He was 77 years old, at the time, and a whole other beautiful story, he eventually did break his board with me, that's a whole other story. The night before, we all got together with him, and he was telling stories about his experience with Dr. King. Wow. What many of us don't know, Robert, is that speech was not the one that he started that day, or the one he was scheduled to deliver. He had actually delivered the I Have a Dream speech the night before in Detroit, but months before he had submitted another speech, and the organizers were afraid of him, rather than up the crowd. It was a very sedate speech he was giving. Anyway, he's there. It's August, it's hot. It's the middle of the afternoon, he's droning on giving the speech he had submitted. There was a woman, an African American actress who had been in Detroit the night before, and heard him deliver the I Have a Dream speech. He's sitting there droning droning on, she's sensing, he's losing the crowd. she shouts out from behind him, telling him about the dream, Martin. he immediately breaks into the I Have a Dream speech, no notes. The rest is history. I've always just been inspired by that story. again, he was speaking from his heart, he was telling his story, he was telling his why,

Robert Peterson 47:48 

Obviously, as a public speaker, instructor is teaching people to speak, when the story is yours, when it truly is tied to your experience tied to your why you, you don't have to memorize it, you don't have to, you don't have to drone through it, you don't have to, because it's, it's you and you're putting you out to the crowd in a way in a way that resonates with the crowd because they know, this feels real, this feels  it's so powerful. That leads me to say one of the issues you talked about in character development in part of the, as a big part of your programs, is to be proud of personal development. today, we see so many entrepreneurs in social media, on their website, and all these places. They go rent a mansion and go take pictures with the sports car out front, and they feel like they need to be somebody else in order to satisfy an audience. you speak a little bit more into authenticity. 

Chris Natzke 49:03 

yes. That's a subject that's near and dear to my heart. and it's not to say that the monetary and the physical rewards are not nice things to have. they're not important to have. We need money in order to survive. I've always loved the distinction between extrinsic versus intrinsic goals. the extrinsic or the sports card, the mansion, all those things. The intrinsic is who we become as a human being, who have been in that experience, and in my opinion, how we're able to serve others from that experience. Again, I guess my definition of success is someone who can have the experience intrinsically, as well as extrinsically because I don't think they're mutually exclusive. there's some that have us that get it wrong in the other direction. We think it's all about just giving, giving, giving, and building ourselves intrinsically, but never getting any of the earthly rewards, if you will, quite honestly, it's, it's a balance. It's a balance with that, because if we don't have success, and money within our businesses, we're limited with the amount of people that we can serve. It is about this balance. At the same time, when I'm coaching speakers, for instance, there are many times we probably all have this experience where we're listening to a speaker. if you were to look at their diction, look at how they put sentences together, look at their body language, there's nothing special about them. you're like, moved to tears by what they're saying. What's because they're authentic from a heart space. You can see other speakers who have all the right gestures, all the right voice inflections, all the right diction, and you're like,  they're really good. they don't move us. it's again, about having that balance. When I coach speakers, when we have challenges, I'll give you this story. When I first started speaking, 1012 years ago, I had pretty immediate success in the martial arts world. Now I'm moving into the speaking thing. The speaking gigs just aren't coming at the same regularity that students did in the martial arts. I'm like, What's going on here? So I'm on the phone with my mom, who I shared before, absolutely adores. She's one of my biggest fans. She's that one person, I have one or two people in my life that I can call up and just vent, I don't have to put on a facade, I can just say, this is what I'm dealing with. Would you listen to me? So I'm on the phone with her. I'm like, Mom, this isn't working. people aren't paying me and this, that and the other. She's just listening. she lets me just exhaust myself with all of my complaints. Then she asked me this question. She says, Chris, you want to be one of those motivational speakers? Hmm. I said, Yes, I do. He says, Do you think anyone's gonna want to listen to you if you've never had any challenges? Or if you've never had any problems? Or if you've never had to overcome any obstacles? Boom,  Mind Blow, it's like, oh, my gosh, exactly. people weren't going to connect with me or I was going to be able to connect with an audience, if everything I touched turned to gold. Everything I did was perfect. They were going to connect with me when I went through challenges. I was able to overcome them, and help them through my experience. that was, I've spent a lot of money and time and energy on coaching and speaking, that was probably the best speaker coaching ever got was for my mom. It's true. you don't want to be doing therapy up on stage,  You got to be able to, you have to have processed what you've gone through. When you can speak to it from a standpoint of being authentic, having it had that emotion right underneath the surface, and being able to have people feel what you felt that to me is one of the biggest pieces of power as a speaker is being able to make that connection with an audience. 

Robert Peterson 53:34 

Yep. the message is in the mess. 

Chris Natzke 53:37 

Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. Chris,

Robert Peterson 53:41 

What was the impact of being an author and writing a book?

Chris Natzke 53:44 

It was twofold. It was first of all, an act just like I talked about being an entrepreneur, it was an act of personal development. My experience was that there was a tremendous amount of vulnerability in sharing my story, in fact, I didn't have this happen with my second book, but it happened with my first book, Black Belt leadership. I almost had, how has it been put before, it's like the author's remorse. it's like you write it, it's done. It's in print. Somebody buys it from you and hands it to him. there's a part of you going, just don't read it. you bought it, it's done you but you don't have to read it because oh my gosh, what if they disagree with what I said, What if I'm incongruent, whatever, whatever. That was the first part of getting over that hurt. number two, that it helped my business in a lot of ways. It helped it practically because it gave me this whole basis to build off of, so I could, let me put it this way. It helped give a sense of credibility. Woody that I didn't have before. People, even to this day, have a great admiration for people who have taken the time to author something. people have a veneration around that. Then from a practical standpoint, it gave me avenues to build my business that I didn't have before. I could do speeches on it, I could do workshops on it, I could do online programs on it, they were the gate, open up this hole, it allowed me all this material to do my weekly blogs, which was allowing me the ability to get out and bring my message to other people. It allowed me to get on podcasts, both my books did, because now I had subject matter I could speak with so I'm a huge proponent of people who feel they are being called to write their story. Going back to my old coach's advice, what we think is ordinary, other people think is extraordinary. We all have a story. We all have something to give. 

Robert Peterson 55:59 

Oh, so good. Chris. Little we'll take a little diversion. What do you have to do in your free time?

Chris Natzke 56:08 

Free time? I love to hike. I love to walk. I did. Back in 2014 I walked the Camino de Santiago. Oh,  500 mile walk across northern Spain. I love nature. I love yoga. I love spiritual and personal development. you'll oftentimes me, you see me watching things on the internet, just, part of just continuing to expand. I've got two grown sons, which I love spending time with. In fact, one was just over today. In fact, I'm a dog sitting with his puppy right now. I love spending time with my boys. I had my children very early in life. now they're both grown. Now it's like having two adult friends. That's been pretty awesome, too. it's

Robert Peterson 56:54 

it's pretty fun place to be. Chris, you've shared quite a bit of business success. What was one of your biggest business challenges or current challenge? 

Chris Natzke 57:06 

I'll give an example from the martial arts world. I shared before that back in 2008 2009. Many of the service organizations went through challenges when we were in our recession. As a result of that, I was like, my business had been humming along. All of a sudden, things just started to slow down. I was literally Robert, I coached, I was coaching people on how to run martial arts schools. now it just wasn't working. I made probably the biggest business mistake of my life, I was coming up, it was 2010, I was coming up on the end of my lease. I got in my mind that the way that I could put juice in my business was to relocate it. Okay, I thought, if I just have a new location, it'll bring energy, I'll have to drive by traffic I didn't have before. I found a space that on paper had three times the amount of drive by traffic that my current location, and I spent a ton of money, regardless of what people will say, at least in martial arts, when you move a facility, it's gonna cost you money,  You buy new mats, new mirrors, blah, blah, blah, blah, I thought that when I made that move, he was going to bring this big influx of business, and it didn't do anything. I call it the business, the biggest business mistake I ever made. if I would have done it again, I may have still moved locations at one point in time. The lesson that I learned was, if the change didn't come from the physical change, there were changes I needed to make inside of myself, about how I was doing the business. that that lesson in and of itself would have saved me literally 10s of 1000s of dollars. And interestingly enough, when I do live coaching with people, and they're talking, maybe they're difficult, they're having difficulty in their job, they're having difficulty in their relationship. You always hear the story of people who are having difficulty in their marriages. they're like, if we just, if we just buy a home, that'll probably be what we need, let's just have a child, that's it, deal with the issues, and then take care of the stuff on the outside afterwards. That was my own little, little moment of crisis of not listening to my own coaching advice. What I would say is, if you're having difficulty in your business, what are the things you can keep doing? What are the things you can stop doing? What are the things you can start doing before you look on the outside to create Eight? What do you think is going to be the band aid that'll get you through?

Robert Peterson 1:00:03 

There's two levels of that, There's the inner work inside of you. In the case of a studio business that has a facility, what's the inner work you can do? Inside,  even the idea of new mats and new mirrors can make a huge impact without having to change. Change, Zack,

Chris Natzke 1:00:20 

As I share that story with you, I can get pretty excited and inspired. What I did is I started enrolling people in this vision, like,  move the school, that's what we need to do. it wasn't like I had anybody tell me no, that's not a good thing to do. In retrospect, all the problems that had led to my business softening before that game were they came with me, they just moved the location with me. That's what I would say, that was my biggest business mistake. 

Robert Peterson 1:00:56 

So good. Thank you for the vulnerability. Chris, what's the big dream?

Chris Natzke 1:01:03 

The big dream for me is I would love to be able to continue to have my message move around the world, particularly on a national level, I love speaking, I love going out either doing my keynoting as well as my my board breaking experiences where I go into corporations, and they use the breaking of the board as a as a physical metaphor for breaking through challenges and overcoming limiting beliefs. My dream is to be able to go out and do that work on a regular basis nationally, as well as continuing to coach and build other leaders within organizations and the businesses that I help facilitate. to not only have my message be something that can help people individually, but also help them become great leaders in their organizations, in their families, in their businesses, etc. 

Robert Peterson 1:01:54 

Absolutely. Okay, Chris, you spent an hour with our entrepreneurial audience, and you want to leave him with Chris Netsky, his words of wisdom, what would you share?

Chris Natzke 1:02:05 

One of the things that I say a lot in my talk, and it's actually all over my literature, is a champion. a champion can be a champion in business, in martial arts in life. Champions don't need to be told what to do. They just need to be reminded. Sometimes the reminder is having a recollection of, oh, man, I used to be able to do this, or I have this inside of me, that's one way of reminding, but also is changing your perception on things. having the wherewithal, having the strength, having the vulnerability to be able to step back sometimes, and see if the things that we're doing, the way that we're being is really serving us and reminding ourselves because the most successful people that I've seen in the martial arts, in business in life, are the ones that are humble enough to take the time to look at themselves and reinvent themselves when it's necessary. That's what I would leave you with. 

Robert Peterson 1:03:05 

Chris, thank you so much for sharing today. What obviously wonderful stories, wonderful presents, and I just appreciate the impact you're making in the world. 

Chris Natzke 1:03:14 

Thanks, my friend has been my pleasure. All the best.