Two-Brain Radio With Sean Woodland, Episode 8: Brian Chontosh

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Sean: 00:00 – Hi everybody and welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On today’s episode I speak with founder of Crooked Butterfly Brian Chontosh. Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland is brought to you by Two-Brain Business. To learn more about creating your Perfect Day as an entrepreneur, you can book a free call with a mentor Brian Chontosh, and this is not an overstatement by any means, is an American hero. He served 21 years in the United States Marine Corps where he rose to the rank of major. He received two Bronze Stars and a Navy Cross for his actions in March of 2003 during the second Iraq war, and he is also the founder of Crooked Butterfly, where he helps people from all walks of life develop leadership skills. Brian talked with me about the incident that led to him receiving the Navy Cross and how it affected him both as a soldier and a person. But we spend the majority of the time talking about leadership and exactly what it means and takes to be a good leader. He really had some interesting things to say. Enjoy the conversation, everybody. Tosh, thank you so much for being here, man. How you doing?

Brian: 01:19 – Oh, aces, man. Always aces. You don’t have time to not be.

Sean: 01:24 – That’s what I love about you. You’re just one big ball of positivity all the time.

Brian: 01:28 – Yeah, it’s genuine though, I’ll tell you that. It’s authentic positivity and it doesn’t mean that I don’t have my moments, you know, everybody has their moments. As we get older, get wiser, my moments are fewer and farther between.

Speaker 4: 01:42 – That’s awesome man. Some of the listeners might not be aware of your background. What happened to you on March 25th of 2003?

Brian: 01:52 – Yeah. March 25th, 2003, and it’s crazy when you say 2003 because now we’re saying that’s16 years ago, 16 plus years ago. And it seems like forever, except, I don’t think it hasn’t not lived with me every day or multiple times every day since, you know, for the last 16 years. But, we were in OIF 1. I was with CAP Platoon 35, we were 1st Mar Div rolling up route one. We were lead element, leading the entire division on our corridor, and we got ambushed man. And so we responded just like training, you know, you spend all this time training, creating immediate action so that you can execute without thinking, you know, you’re reflexes. I love Tony Blauer, how he talks about the startle flinch and, you know, his theories, and it just clicks and our reactions and our flinch mechanisms happen so much faster. And, you know, our subconscious mind responds with remarkable precision and it’s always correct, because there’s no judgment involved. And then, so we responded and we eliminated the enemy. You know, we solved through trench myself and a handful of men. And we came out on top of that day.

Brian: 03:15 – I read that you turned into the ambush. Now some people might think that’s crazy, but that is actually what you’re supposed to do in that situation, correct?

Brian: 03:26 – Yeah. I mean, we were in what’s classified as a near ambush, so enemy—we’re mechanized, or we’re a mechanized, reinforced infantry tie-in, tanks in the lead. Four tanks were leading us. I was the next vehicle. We were a soft-skin vehicle, motorized vehicle Humvee. And I had a platoon behind me of my platoon that was all motorized up and then we had the rest of the battalion. It was all macked up and we came under fire, you know, a coordinated ambush. Our tanks, so they stopped and they oriented the main gun rounds and they started, you know, shooting sub-cali main gun rounds into the ambush site.. But meanwhile that would be their TTP, their technique, tactic and procedure to respond in kind to, you know, people shooting RPGs and machine guns at them because they’re in the tank, you know. We’re soft-skin vehicles and our techniques are a little different. But, got him on the radio and say hey, you gotta move, you gotta move. And we took some RPGs and some mortar rounds, some automatic machine-gun fire, and the vehicle behind me was hit and Doc Johnson was killed instantly from an RPG and Corporal Contero was wounded. And then, near ambush, you know, we were within a hundred yards. We’re motorized. So the deal is you turn into the ambush and you violence of action and aggression, you assault it. And whoever acts the fastest and the most violent usually has the higher chances of surviving. And so Armand McCormick, who’s driving the Hummer that day and I was like, hey dude, go. And he’s like, “Which way? And I’m like, “That way.” And he just, I mean, he’s a stud, man. And he just turns and just starts driving right at this machine gun nest and Thomas Franklin’s up top in a 50 caliber shooting free gun at the machine gun nest. And Armand basically crashes into this huge berm and it ends up being almost a flank. The furthest left flank from our orientation of the enemy. So I got out of the vehicle and started running down the trench, shooting dudes.

Sean: 05:39 – You received the Navy Cross because of what you did there. And I’m going to steal a question that I heard Andy Stumpf asked you. He really didn’t ask it like this, but what effect did receiving that award have on you and how did you deal with it?

Brian: 05:57 – The effect of receiving the award wouldn’t weigh on me until, well after. I didn’t receive the award for probably a year, year and a half afterwards. A year and a half because, we had done the whole tour over there nine months. And I’d love to sit here and look you in the eyes and bullshit you and say it didn’t have an effect or whatever. But it did. I mean, it still [inaudible] my ego. It changed. It changed me in ways that I’m not proud to say that it did at the time. You get all this attention, you’re recognize for heroism or heroic deeds or acts. It makes you feel—you’re celebrated, it makes you feel good. It makes you feel almost invulnerable. Like, I mean, that was just one 10- minute page in nine months of combat, you know, probably 30, 30 days of intense combat. And then, you know, low-intensity conflict afterwards following our combat phases. But, you know, you start to take more risks, you start to get more aggressive, success counts upon success upon success, and it changes you. I mean, you can look at it, there’s a theory about it. Victor’s Disease, Victory Disease, or the Napoleon Disease, you know, it happened to Napoleon when he went after Russia, but you start to become a product of your own success and then your machismo starts to build and bravado. Yeah, it started to affect me so much to where, you know, going into Fallujah, you know, one could look at you and say, wow, that dude is like fearless. And then somebody else could say, he’s a reckless idiot. And the only thing that determines whether or not you’re fearless or you’re reckless is whether or not you get people killed or you get killed yourself, you know what I mean?

Brian: 07:58 – And, I just happened to land on the right side of the coin of being fearless, I suppose. But I would reckon that I was—looking back now through these years, I had a moment, a spike of awareness, you know, I have some phenomenal mentors in my life looking over me. Pat Malay was my battalion commander. Bob Pedic was our opto, spent a lot of time with those guys that were watching over, and we’re just seeing the success, and the success, but it’s keep taking chances. You’re taking more chances. You know, and I’m just blessed to have them in my corner to say, talk to me, and that’s hard. That’s a hard pill to swallow when you look at yourself in the mirror, you’re like, holy cow. Wow. Like I am exactly who I despise, letting some of war get to my head. And I was just really fortunate to able to have been given that recognition before I hurt somebody, you know? Or worse, yourself or actually, you know, before I hurt myself, or worse, hurt somebody else.

Sean: 09:06 – Sure. Yeah. How did you learn to become, and we’re going to talk about this later because of your leadership seminars that you do, but how did you learn t
o become an effective leader in that position?

Brian: 09:19 – Man, that’s a huge, huge question. I mean, that’s the magic question of the leadership field too, right? I go, how do you, how did you learn to be a good leader? Or how did you learn to be an effective leader? Or what is the secret to leadership? And if I were to answer you, Care. That’s it, just care. Care about what you’re doing. That’s like, don’t try so hard. Just be a good human being, I mean, that’s my phrase, like, just don’t suck at life. If you want to be a good leader, do some research, do some studying and listen to people talk. But don’t try to be that person. Don’t try to do or follow their formulas. Don’t try to over think things. Just be a good human being. Care about others, care about the job, care about what you’re doing, the task at hand, and it will come out, you know.

Brian: 10:17 – I mean there’s obviously a handful of other things that would help, you know, leverage that grip for you. But like if I were to boil it all down it’s just like, hey, just don’t—and that’s what I like to say, don’t suck at life. You want to be a good leader? Don’t suck at life. Don’t be a douchebag. Don’t be a miserable, selfish, you know, prick and care about other people and try to do more for others than you do for yourself. If you do one thing for yourself, do three things for somebody else. And you’re winning at that point. I think that’s leadership, you know?

Sean: 10:55 – We’re gonna get back to that in a second, but first I want to know how did you find CrossFit?

Brian: 11:02 – Man. How did I find it, how did CrossFit find me, maybe sort of both. I know when Marcus Mites, Todd Widman, you know Todd Widman, we were instructors together at the infantry officer’s course and this is 2004, 2005, early 2005. And at that stage, we’re senior captains in the Marine Corps. Not senior captains, but you know, we’re captains in the Marine Corps and we’re at the school of infantry teaching every marine officer who’s going to be an infantry office their basics. And in order to teach people how to, like, you need to be at the top of your game. Like I have never been more challenged to be at the top of my game ever outside of, you know, combat, than at the infantry officers course there in Quantico and I’m surrounded by the most talented group of peers I’ve ever been surrounded with.

Brian: 12:01 – And Marcus comes into the office one morning, it must’ve been like four in the morning, 4:30 in the morning, and “Hey guys, hey guys, check this out. Check this out. Type it in. Look at this, look at this. Let’s do that.” And the workout was Cindy. And I’m like, OK, fine. Like, well, I’ll do that this afternoon. Let’s meet this afternoon. Because first, you know, I got to go to the gym in Jacksonville for two hours and then I’ll go for a long, long run, then I gotta get back and make sure students are doing what they’re doing, make sure the other instructors got the courses, don’t need anything. And I’m going to go to the pool cause I like to go to the pool. That’s my fitness regime. I might hit the obstacle course and on the way back from the pool. But once all that’s done, let’s go do Cindy, we’ll do this CrossFit thing. Look, it sounds interesting. “I’ve been doing it guys, I’ve been doing it for five weeks,” and I just thought, oh, OK then that’s my answer. He’s an awesome, awesome dude. And so it’s me, Mites, Widman. Oh, Donald Horton. And we’re out in the back of that schoolhouse doing Cindy. And bear with me, I got like 28 plus rounds of Cindy. I was like, OK.

Sean: 13:10 – And I’m sure the standards were all really good too. Right?

Brian: 13:15 – I’m doing Marine Corps push-ups, Marine Corps pull-ups, you know, I think, you know, we think we got it, we’re jacked, you know what I mean? And it’s “OK, this CrossFit thing is kind of cool.” I felt weird afterwards but I wasn’t devastated and OK, no problem. Fast forward, we start doing CrossFit and we throw it in the mix and then we start doing it. And Greg Glassman’s coming to Quantico over there at, weapons training battalion with sniper school and they’re looking for people to come and attend this, this Level One seminar, man. And so of course it’s like, hey Tosh, like you’re going to go and represent. I’m like, OK, cool. That sounds good. And get over there. And of course those were the days when it was Nasty Girls video had just come out, right? Like it was, it was Eva, Annie Sakamoto and Nicole Carroll, who didn’t have a crush on those girls and watching the videos. Like a workout would come up on the main site and you wouldn’t understand what a movement was, but then they’d have the video archive and you’d go there and you click on it, watch it, then you go to the gym and practice it. And so I go there and it was Brendan Gilliam, Sherwood was there like interning or something, Annie Sakamoto was there, it was a long time ago. Man, it was great. And Greg Glassman was teaching the seminar and I did it and just fell in love with it because it just represented the mindset of the unknown, the unknowable. It was an uncanny, exact parallel to like, the enemy. You don’t know what uncertainty is out there. You don’t know about the environmentals and human dimensions and this is all the stuff that we’re studying, we’re teaching, we’re training and enter CrossFit into the workout.

Brian: 14:58 – It wasn’t that we were new to the methodology, it was just that we’d never been presented the definitions, the specificity and articulation of terms and the rationale and the science, the scientific method behind it all that it struck a chord with me, you know, and it’s like, oh wow, like we’ve been doing this, but now we can do it even better. Now it makes sense. Now I know why I working. And I became loyal to CrossFit from that moment on. And so of course after the seminar I’d go back, and guess what workout I have to do? Because I learned what a push-up, Cindy really was, I did Cindy, and I think we got like 20 rounds, 21 rounds. T

Sean: 15:38 – That’s still really good, man.

Brian: 15:39 – Yeah. But then was devastated afterwards and I was like, oh, OK. So like I get it now. Like I am hooked, you know, Standards-based, and it’s nothing that we weren’t teaching with our tactics and stuff to the students at infantry courses, just it applied now to a really cool way of tackling our fitness instead of, you know, just jacking steel and going for long fast runs.

Sean: 16:06 – Once you incorporate that into the training with your Marine Corps soldiers, what effects did you see?

Brian: 16:14 – Oh, I did. You know, I did a talk with—Greg invited me to an ASEP conference in you know, Wichita and I talked about that. You can find that on the internet someplace. But it was weird because you know, people want to do CrossFit, but it was hard. I was right on the scene coming in and everybody was just kind of like, oh, we’re so rooted in our, our jack steel or go for a run routine. And then you want to try to reintroduce something different. And so you just sort of slow play it a little bit first. First what you do is you just dominate it yourself, be an example. And then people will start looking at you like, wow, whatever he’s doing, I want to do that too because that dude is rocking. And so that was like how I started it. And then I was a company commander. So you just told the men what you want them to do and they have to do it. And I would integrate it into our PT. So I’d have commanders PT once a week or every other week and the mindset of the unknown and the unknowable and the methodologies there and just pushing, you know, constantly challenging and unique and different ways, bodies and movements instead of just always the same way. I mean injuries went down. Our standards in terms of Marine Corps evaluated fitness metrics like increased, I mean everything went through the roof, you know. And so injury injuries went down, heat casualties and you know, and then this is all anecdotal cause I’m not a scientist, but you know, looking at the nutrition thing and forcing pe
ople to just learn a little bit more and you just try to educate a little bit and hope that they’re making better decisions and you kind of supervising it and then you’re having the first sergeant make better decisions to support meals when we’re in the field. Heat casualties went down, I mean everything, everything was just rocking. And I give a ton of credit to really CrossFit being the backbone of all of that.

Sean: 18:15 – You mentioned the original Nasty Girls and you mentioned Nicole Carroll, who is now your wife. When the two of you work out together, who gets the best of those? And be honest.

Brian: 18:25 – Oh man, I crush her.

Sean: 18:25 – Come on. Really?

Brian: 18:26 – I beat her in like 5 of the last 6 workouts, man.

Sean: 18:26 – All right. I’m going to ask her that. I’m going to see if she corroborates that story.

Brian: 18:35 – So, you know, but like the last five workouts that we’ve done, all linked to my strengths, right? So she’s five-foot three or something.

Sean: 18:43 – So a lot of wall balls and rowing.

Brian: 18:48 – She’s in shape, man. She is in wicked shape. It’s so impressive. She walks the talk and—she lives it, behind the scenes.

Brian: 19:00 – And she’s a great ambassador for it too. So it’s good to have her out there. How did you decide to start Crooked Butterfly?

Brian: 19:09 – You know, I didn’t really decide to, I think somebody else decided for me. And then, so I retired. I retired in October, 2013. You spend 21 years of your life in a structure, right? You’re in this community and you’ve got hierarchy, you’ve got command, you’ve got rules and regulations and traditions and everything, and you’re in this kind of like this structured lifestyle and then you’re told it’s time to get out. And it’s like, OK, well, who am I? You know, like, I don’t even know. So I struggled for a little while trying to figure out if I was still who I was absent that structure. Do I really believe in what I believe in still, will I still act in certain ways? Will I still treat others the way that I do? And I’m very fortunate to find that yes, and I like that. So there’s reinforcement there. The one thing that was missing was in the latter part of my career, you’re in command. You have marines and you treat them, you look at ’em as like you’re trying to help ‘em grow up and be better human beings. Obviously be better at the job to wage war for America or whatever, you know. But I really looked at ’em as my sons and daughters and just wanted to impart wisdom and values and beliefs and help them be better. And you know, you’ve got hundreds of men under your charge and it’s cool, you know? And then you have your subordinate commanders and you have your standards of leadership. And so you’re trying to use them or put them in positions so that they can leverage their experiences and their talents to give, and it’s just a big giant family. And I got out of the Marine Corps and I don’t have that anymore. And I just feel like I still have a lot to offer, a lot to give. I’m not saying that all my stuff is right or perfect or the best. I just think it’s a unique way of looking at things because I have a specific set of experiences that are fairly unique and a specific set of successes. And I took a while for the transition. The transition, I didn’t try to rush through it, just sort of did my thing, you know, I’m blessed with luxury to have Nicole, you know, as an amazing support structure there to just kind of let me find my way.

Brian: 21:34 – And then all of a sudden something fell in my lap for a gig. Like, hey, do you want to do this? And I’m like, well yeah, I’ll do it. And you know, I hadn’t been not working for small little things here. Just donating time and whatnot. But then I was the director for the Triumph Games and I was just kind of put in charge. I had all this like freedom to do what I want and make it great. And then that grew into working with Power Home Remodel and doing an event for 220 of their people. And it just, it would be backed up with something. And that just kind of that momentum, it just started to happen naturally. And the next thing you know, you’re getting contacted by this person and that person. And then this group, and I find myself now full. A handful of groups, commodities, interests seeking me for, you know, just to help them or their organizations or their families or their endeavors, you know, be better. And so, along that process it just started to evolve and we made Crooked Butterfly.

Sean: 22:39 – Yeah. I was reading on your website, there’s a great quote on there and it reads, “We arranged the intimate meeting between you and yourself.” What does that mean?

Brian: 22:51 – We arranged an intimate meeting between you and yourself. I’m going to go in a couple different directions and frustrate you. I’m not in it to sell my wares. I’m not here to sell you a book. I’m not here to sell you a philosophy. I’m not here to, you know, peddle a syllabus, anything like that. What I want to do with clients is get to know them, figure out what they think they want, what they think they need. Reconcile the difference between the two and kind of like observe and assess on my own and then put them in situations to explore and then kind of like poke at them a little bit and push them comfortably against the margins of their experiences. That sounds like CrossFit. And push them into the unknown and the unknowable. That sounds like CrossFit. And get them to explore the space in their head a little and be there to cue them up with questions, what they should be thinking about or different ways of thinking about what they’re thinking about or asking, hey, what are you feeling right now? What’s driving? Instruct this engagement so that they can have this introspection. And so what I like to do is I like to create events, to create opportunities, create things that will force you to be able to, not force you to be able to, but force you to have to look at yourself. Like, here it is. Like, here’s the mirror man. Like you don’t, you don’t get to pretend, you know. Mother Nature, she doesn’t let you, you know, have a bad day. She doesn’t judge you either. She just is, and it’s not personal, but you can’t lie to her.

Brian: 24:29 – You can’t just like go out into the woods and like cheat her out of being able to survive or being able to find your way or being able to be physically fit and get through the obstacles that she has for you, you know? And that’s what I like to do. I think, I mean, we started off the conversation just warming up before we started recording about that too, right? Like just making excuses. You know, you don’t get the opportunity to make excuses out there and we start to fall into this trap of not only making excuses for ourselves, but like letting other people make excuses for themselves. Patting them on the back, hey, it’s OK. You know, or, and that’s not my style. It’s absolutely not. My style is to rip those away from you. Take away those excuses and say, hey, when you don’t have those, then we can start to like look at the situation and say, OK, here’s what I get to develop around you to grow. Or here’s what I need to avoid because I can’t grow or I’m not willing to grow. And so well don’t put yourself in these positions. Right? And so I force people to take a good hard look at themselves. And it’s not easy. It can get ugly. It’s not therapy, it’s not counseling, I’m just trying to remove that artificial veneer or the filter away so that you can see what you really have and then try to arm you with ideas or thought processes or skills to then be who you want to become. So let me hijack for a second. I always talk what I am or who I was. And guess what? That’s all you’ll ever be. You know, if you talk about who you want to be and why do you want to be that person and it falls back on what you believe, now you’re going to go places. Right? And so I’m trying to help people go places instead of just sit with where they’re at.

Sean: 26:27 – Can you give me an example of what you do on a typical day at C
rooked Butterfly to help bring that out of people?

Brian: 26:36 – Hmm. Yeah. There’s no typical day with clients because it’s all customized to that individual or that group or that audience, you know? I need to, I want to be responsive to the client. I don’t want to just to go in and go we’re going to do this and I’m going to give you that and I’m going to have this conversation. It’s already staged or it’s already caught up or queued up because then it’s not like, I mean, you know, mindfulness is a big huge buzzword in the world today, and it’s exactly not like you start to go down and I’m going to deliver a package. You’re not really mindful. You’re not really present with what’s going on and then responsive and you can take the pattern to go. So there is no typical day or routine with any group of clients that I have. And when I hear myself say that out loud, I’m just kinda like, yeah, you’re a snake oil salesman. And I’m not. It sounds like it. And you know what? Like if it sounds like it, then fine. Don’t press the button for more information. You know what I mean? Because there’s plenty of people that do believe it in this. Plenty of people and organizations that are coming, that are repeat clients and they’re just like, yeah, let’s do this again. Let’s go more. Where can we take this? We can take it wherever you want. You know, whenever I butt up against the limits of my creativity or my talent, I’m just going to be honest with you and tell you, hey man, like we need to pull somebody else in or you need to start looking at this person or like you’re at the extent of my talent.

Sean: 28:11 – What’s the first thing that you try to determine about a person when he or she comes to you about what it is you need to do to make them a better leader?

Brian: 28:26 – What is the first thing that I try to do with individuals. Man, it’s back and forth, back and forth, like one—dealing with men, I try to, the first thing I do with them is just try to show that it’s OK to be vulnerable. I find that as a trend dealing with a lot of men my age, little bit younger or whatever. Like there’s these barriers that we put up and I can’t show weakness or I can’t show vulnerability or I can’t show indecisiveness. And I mean, geez, even in the Marine Corps, like those things were just like poo-pooed, right? Like how dare you, any of that, how dare you show the—and I get it and there’s value there, but taking anything to an extreme becomes its own on fault, right? Becomes its own poison. So, working with men, I like to just start sharing, and sharing my thoughts my ideas, exposing myself, vulnerability because once we can do that then we can find comfort and then we can have, start to have authentic conversations and exchanges and we can go places and then we can really find out what we need. But if we’re not there, then if we can’t operate from a position of just being open and honest and authentic, then I’m just taking guesses at what you want me to think and we’re never really solving anything. So I do that and it, you know, there’s gotta be a quick read and I like to just use nature, man. I just put you out there outside of your element where you’re a little bit uncomfortable and then I can use all of that to start breaking down the barriers that you’re spending all this energy. If you start spending energy on trying to keep up with me and climb mountain and not be cold and not be afraid of the dark or try to stay dry and not wet, like you’re spending all the energy on that stuff, you’re not spending energy keeping your barriers up and those things just start to erode. And then I’m right there, just right there. And that’s what I tried to do with a lot of the more macho, I’m failing at the words for it. And that’s not all clients, I deal with women. I love dealing with teens. I love dealing with teens like 12, 13, 15, 16.

Sean: 30:49 – Why is that?

Brian: 30:53 – You know, I recently [unintelligible] working with the Keyala Fundacion and I told them this, why I loved working with them is because it, and it was all driven around a conversation I was having is, and we see it, we see it pop up in our Instagram feeds every now and then depending on who you follow. And you’ll see they all, all of these motivational places, they all steal from each other and share the same shit, right, with a different picture on it. But, it’s a quote saying, “Hey, be the person that you needed when you were 16.” And I think about that a lot. It’s like, man, who was the person that I needed? What did I need to tell myself when I was 16? Or any derivative of that concept. And that’s why, I just love that. And so I try to be that for them and share that with them and trying to get them to take ownership of it so that they can understand that there’s another 16-year-old out there, right to your left and to your right that need you to be that person. Do that for each other. I mean, you might not have it now. You’re not 40 years old or 45 years old like me to be able to do it for you. But like, look at this beautiful fellowship that you’re a part of. You should be doing that for each other because there’s a lot of ugly out there and so you start being the person for each other that each other of you need. I just enjoy those conversations with them because it gets them thinking in ways that they don’t normally, and it’s different than the adult audience in their life telling them that you need to do this or you need to think about that, or you can’t do this or you can’t do that and every time I was told that when I was 16 years old or whatever, plus or minus a couple years, that was the first thing that I did do or didn’t do. It just created resistance right off the bat. I was not getting anywhere, so I really love that audience.

Sean: 32:43 – What is the biggest misconception that people have about leadership?

Brian: 32:48 – Oh man. The biggest misconception about leadership. I dunno if it’s a misconception or it’s just an energy or something. Just like don’t try so hard. Stop trying so hard, man. It’s not something that you read and just get. It’s not something that you just like go and listen to a podcast and then get it. You know, I said read a book or watch an instructional video or go take a course or go to college. Leadership is just making good decisions, taking good action, doing the right things, given your set of experiences to the best that you can. And the more experiences you have, the more opportunities you get to make decisions, to help other people, to do the right thing, to fail or succeed. The more times that you get to do that, the better off you’re going to be when the time comes to make decisions or lead, you know, so people just want like, hey, what’s the hack? What trick? What’s the code? What’s the just cliff notes? What’s the this? It’s due time. Immerse yourself and just live life. Hey, I mean, I told you a couple minutes ago, just stop sucking at life. Be a good person. You know what I mean? Just be the best possible human being you can, and go out there with a big, happy heart, and do for others, make good decisions where you’re doing it and you’ll find—how come most of the best leaders—that’s terrible English. How come—let’s just go with it. How come most of the best leaders that you can identify with right now wouldn’t consider themselves a leader?

Sean: 34:38 – That’s a really good question.

Brian: 34:41 – Would they raise their hand and say “Oh, I’m a great leader.” They wouldn’t categorize themselves as that, but yet you find them to be fascinating leaders, so stop trying to be a leader and start trying to be a good person and time will put you in this position where people are looking up to you for guidance, for advice, for direction, for comfort, for whatever it is, you’re a leader.

Sean: 35:07 – Other than trying too hard, what do you think the most common mistake people in leadership positions make when dealing with people that they have to put in position to be successful?

Brian: 35:25 – Oh, that’s tough, man. Anytime you put like, what do you think—fI think a lot
of stuff all the time. I find it really hard.

Sean: 35:35 – Let me rephrase it. You said try too hard, what does trying too hard as a leader look like?

Brian: 35:44 – Ooh. Can I go back to the old one?

Sean: 35:46 – Yeah, let’s do the other one then.

Brian: 35:46 – Trying too hard as a leader it comes off as trying too hard for others. Like, oh, that guy’s just trying too hard. Or you’re trying to apply theories, principles, in just very, very rigid manners. You’re not just fluid, flexible, you don’t process, you’re not mindful, you’re not in the moment and present and just receiving this information and weighing the information and using how it makes you feel and how it make you think in place of using both of those tools for you to then take your actions and move forward. Trying too hard would be just like, “Oh, so and so said this and I’m gonna live my life based off of that quote.” And all I want to do is absorb as many quotes as possible. Read as many books as possible, and then just do what those people would do instead of spending the time to synthesize it and make it make meaning for you and leveraging the lessons that they are giving you against your own strengths and weaknesses and character, values and your own personal, you know, principles, things like that. Make it make sense, internalize that stuff and then take that, synthesized package and present it to the world and carry it forward. That’s what leadership is supposed to be like.

Sean: 37:13 – When people, they come to you and then they leave after how much time you spend with them. What’s the main thing that you think you want them to have learned during their time with you?

Brian: 37:26 – It’s unique to each individual. But I would say a trend, a theme across the board was that it’s OK. It’s just life. It’s just life, man. It’s beautiful. Live it. You know, you’re gonna make mistakes and you might think you want to go this direction, but if you’re not present in the moment and realize that hey, now’s a great time to take a left hand turn even though the Google Maps is saying go straight, like just take the left hand turn and feel it out. If it doesn’t work, guess what? Just raise your hand. You don’t have to be infallible and people are very forgiving, especially when you just acknowledge like hey man, I just thought that was a good opportunity and man, I’m just glad I recognized that it wasn’t when I did instead of keep forcing it. Hey, we’ve got to stop and we’ve got to go back. Hey, OK, cool man. Because we were thinking the same thing, you know, and listen to other people, you know, treat others the way—I don’t want to say treat others the way you want to be treated. That’s fair. But I also like to say treat other people the way that they would like to be treated. That’s getting to know the other person, and I mean, that analogy goes right, to working out. Some people like to be yelled at for motivation and some people like to be ignored and some people like to be cheered on. And if I like to be cheered and you don’t, but if I treat you the way that I like to be treated and I start cheering you on and you start to have—our relationship starts to deteriorate or your performance starts to you know, digress, I don’t want to keep cheering you on. I should at least be present enough to say, oh wow, I better stop doing this. I need to try something different. So that’s why I like to always throw in, you know, treat others the way you would like to be treated, that’s the big golden rule. But also like I think in leadership, treat others the way that they would themselves like to be treated. And if you negotiate between those two things, I think you’re on the right track.

Sean: 39:22 – I know you’ve dealt with a lot of people and a lot of people have come through Crooked Butterfly. Is there a moment that stands out to you when you had sort of connection with a client or a moment with a client where that person, the light went on in their heads and they said, all right, I get it. Or at least I understand now what path I need to walk.

Brian: 39:37 – Oh yeah, man, happens all the time. And I love it. I love it, and it never happens in front of you where you can measure it and see it and you get the instant feedback. It’s always like four months later, eight months later, four weeks later, whatever that number is. But there’s some time delay and you get an email or you get a phone call or a text message. There was a couple that are pretty special, they’re in touch, all the time and they’re like, man, I just used this, I just used that, remember when we did this together, and I was thinking this and I remember and I really want to apologize because I just used your stuff today or you made me this, and it happens all the time. I love that. And that feedback, I mean anybody receiving that sort of feedback would feel good and it’s appreciated. So, you know, but at the same time it’s like, I also don’t want it to be stroking my own back, my own ego either. Those are the clients that when they come back to you after a period of time, you know, or, in the Marine Corps when 15 years goes by and you receive this random note on Facebook or something and it’s like, hey sir, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I just want to say thank you. Bye. I’m not asking you for anything, I’m not in need of anything, not trying to sell you anything. Just wanting to say hi. Just wanted to say thank you. Just wanted to say hope you’re doing well. It’s like, yeah, man. That dude got it, that dude gets it.

Sean: 41:07 – Final question. What have you learned about yourself doing all of this?

Brian: 41:18 – I’m still a work in progress. Aren’t we all, right? And not to be cliche, but I’m learning a ton about myself. Maybe that’s why I do it. Maybe I’m—I know that’s why I do the podcast. My goal is to just walk through my own thoughts, like dedicate a week to just engaging with something that’s bothering me or a question or a thought and just try to turn it over and just speak it out loud. I’m always learning different things. Like right now I’m trying to learn to forgive myself. I think I beat myself up an awful lot. What was I working on before that? You know, gratitude, you know, and I find that every time that you look at other people, other clients, and you’re starting to see what they need, it’s like boom, boom, boom. Inevitably in every one of them, there’s a tiny little something of yourself saying, hey, you might have a little of this too. Or it’s awakening. You find yourself giving to somebody else or asking them a question because you’re trying to lead them down a certain path. And then like when you’re asking your client that question, you’re asking yourself the same question. And while they’re in their head working through their answer, you’re [unintelligible] to yours, and it’s amazing, you know, so maybe it’s just being selfish and I’m just doing this really for me. But, I’m learning so much, I’m learning how to handle people better. I already know where I fall often. And it’s like, OK, hey, learning how I fall in those same places into circumstances that I never would have expected change the fall itself. So I had a call with one client and we talk about it to this day. And we’re four days into an event, a really intense one, physical, and I just, I got short with them. And when it happened, I was like, oh man, that is the worst possible thing you can ever do, you know? And what I did was like hey dude, I’m so sorry. Just call it out right then and there, acknowledge it, call it out, apologize, hey, like, and it turns into a learning point and I think we’re way closer for having gone through it like that, you know? And I mean it’s happened here and there, but it was embarrassing for me when it did happen. But I handled it in such a way that was just consistent with my beliefs, you know, consistent with who I am. But it also like inevitably reinforced a lot of things that I was actually trying to impart on him. And so there was a credibility piece there too. So, but it’s like, OK, Tosh, that happened. I can’t sit here and say that
that will never happen again, but the next time it does happen, it’s will be a lot longer than it happened this last time. And it will be less intense and I better handle it a little bit better, at a minimum. So, yeah.

Sean: 44:30 – Well listen man, I appreciate you taking the time. Best of luck with everything. Thank you so much for your service. Thank you for everything you’re doing. You know, helping build better leaders and honestly thank you for just being a really good dude. It’s always a blast to talk to you.

Brian: 44:44 – Thank you man. I think the world of you dude and just keep crushing it.

Sean: 44:48 – Likewise, friend, likewise. Thanks a lot, Tosh.

Brian: 44:50 – You bet, brother.

Sean: 44:52 – I want to take another opportunity to thank Brian Chontosh for speaking with me. If you want to follow him on Instagram, you can find him at @Tosh.CrookedButterfly, and you can find out more about Crooked Butterfly at Two-Brain Business with Sean Woodland is brought to you by Two-Brain Business; to learn how to generate profit and take your business to the next level, you want to check out “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” by Chris Cooper. It’s available now on Amazon and if you’re lazy and you want me to read it to you, I will literally do that in the audio version. Thanks so much for listening everybody. I’ll see you next time.

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