Episode 607 – Chris Mossa

Chris is a Chief Strategy Officer & Endurance Runner

Chris Mossa, Chief Strategy Officer at Graphite in New York City, shares his passion for endurance running and the impact it has had on his life. He discusses the evolution of running from a competitive pursuit to a mental health practice and now a focus on longevity. Chris emphasizes the importance of finding commonality to make connections in sales and business and highlights the value of getting to know employees beyond their professional skills. He also shares insights on thorough preparation in both comedy and corporate settings, emphasizing the importance of having interests outside of work. Join Chris and host John Garrett in a conversation about the power of personal passions and building connections in the professional world.

Episode Highlights

· Finding common ground is essential for making connections in sales and business
· Creating a comfortable space for employees to share personal interests is crucial for organizational success
· Prioritizing team culture over client relationships
· Endurance running has evolved from an athletic pursuit to a mental health practice and now serves his longevity goals
· Thorough preparation is crucial in corporate presentations, similar to the confidence gained from stand-up comedy preparation

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Podcast Transcript

Chris Mossa [00:00:05]:
Hi. My name is Chris Mossa. And when I’m not abusing myself with 10, 15, and 20 mile runs, I’m listening to John Garrett on What’s Your “And”?!

John Garrett [00:00:18]:
Welcome to episode 607 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. And to put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “And”? Those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work, it’s the answer to the question of who else are you beyond the job title. And if you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the award winning book. It’s on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at www.whatsyourand.com. The book goes more in-depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to our corporate culture. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such great reviews on Amazon, And more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.

John Garrett [00:01:05]:
And if you want me to read it to you, that’s right. This voice reading the book. Look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audiobooks. And please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast. You don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this week is no different with my guest, Chris Mossa. He’s the chief strategy officer at Graphite out of New York City, and now he’s with me here today. Chris, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your Hand.

Chris Mossa [00:01:31]:
Good to be with you, John. Thank you.

John Garrett [00:01:32]:
Yeah. It’s gonna be a blast. It’s gonna be so much fun. Endurance running is not something I do, so I’d love to hear about it. And I’m just gonna take your word for it, but I have 17 rapid fire questions. Get to know Chris out of the gate here. You’re buckled in. Alright.

John Garrett [00:01:47]:
No. I’ll start you easy, I think. A favorite color? Blue. Blue. Solid. Yeah. Mine too. How about a least favorite color?

Chris Mossa [00:01:55]:
Anything like mustard, like brown, like that, like, brownish yellow

John Garrett [00:02:00]:
Oh, yeah. Nasty.

Chris Mossa [00:02:01]:
I yeah. I can’t even and even walls that are painted that color, not

John Garrett [00:02:04]:
Oh, on purpose. It’s like, what are you doing? Like, it’s like yeah. I know. I hear you. I hear you. Alright. How about, your 1st concert?

Chris Mossa [00:02:11]:
I can’t believe you’re making me disclose this publicly. So, you know, I’m a child of, like, the late eighties and early nineties, so my 1st concert was MC Hammer.

Speaker C [00:02:19]:
Nice. That’s awesome.

Chris Mossa [00:02:22]:
Yeah. Well, it gets worse, John. So he had opening for him, Vanilla Ice. So with both Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer at what used to be Giant stadium in New Jersey

John Garrett [00:02:30]:
That’s amazing.

Chris Mossa [00:02:31]:
For an action packed show.

John Garrett [00:02:32]:
Yeah. Man, people would pay $300 to see that show today. Like, they’re just being Oh, man.

Chris Mossa [00:02:37]:
I feel the shame is gonna start pouring in when people hear that answer.

John Garrett [00:02:40]:
That’s incredible. That’s a lot of puffy pants in one room audience. Like, that’s amazing.

Chris Mossa [00:02:44]:
I had a pair of those puffy pants in the early nineties.

Speaker C [00:02:46]:
Right? I love it, man.

John Garrett [00:02:47]:
That’s super awesome. How about a Star Wars or Star Trek?

Speaker C [00:02:51]:
You know,

Chris Mossa [00:02:51]:
I’m gonna give a contrarian answer. I don’t care about either one. Fair. Totally. I’ve never seen Star Trek. I’ve seen one Star Wars. I just I can’t get into it. It’s not my speed.

Chris Mossa [00:03:01]:
It’s not my I just the whole other world thing, I never dug it until I watched you know, then I watched Game of Thrones, and that was the 1st show where I was like, oh, wow. Like, this I get this whole other world, but, like, I just never got into, like

John Garrett [00:03:14]:
It’s another world on Earth, so it’s a little easier on Game of Thrones.

Chris Mossa [00:03:17]:
Alright. Alright. More historical, but

John Garrett [00:03:19]:
yet Okay.

Speaker C [00:03:19]:
Alright. I hear you.

John Garrett [00:03:20]:
How about a favorite Disney character or animated character? I’ll take anything.

Chris Mossa [00:03:24]:
So I’ll go with mister Incredible. So my kids love The Incredibles movie. And if you know anything about that movie, the dad in that movie is like this big a powerful guy, that’s really kind of like a bumbling. He’s always making mistakes. He’s tripping over himself, and his wife kinda keeps him in line. And it feels like a good metaphor for my

John Garrett [00:03:43]:
Yeah.

Speaker C [00:03:44]:
Okay. Alright. I like it.

John Garrett [00:03:45]:
No. Fair enough. How about your computer? More of a PC or a Mac?

Chris Mossa [00:03:48]:
A total Mac, all

John Garrett [00:03:50]:
Mac all the way, you know,

Chris Mossa [00:03:52]:
which is weird in my profession. So, you know, in the finance accounting space, everybody’s PC, but, you know, I’m a, you know, an Apple fanboy. So, you know, I need all my systems working together. I need to, like, move seamlessly from iPhone, iPad to Mac to, you know, AirPods, to

John Garrett [00:04:07]:
The watch. The everything. Watch.

Speaker C [00:04:09]:
Oh, yeah. Right. Right. There we go. Alright.

John Garrett [00:04:11]:
How about more cats or dogs?

Chris Mossa [00:04:13]:
Dogs. Yeah. So for a long time, I actually pretended that I was allergic to cats. So when I was in this house, they would you know, if they had a cat, I would say, you know, I I’m sorry. I’m I’m allergic, so I can either take my EpiPen out or, you know, or you can just going.

Speaker C [00:04:28]:
No. No. No. We’ll put the cat away. Right?

Chris Mossa [00:04:30]:
It worked for a long time, and then it started to people started to realize what was happening.

John Garrett [00:04:34]:
I’m allergic to cat personalities. That’s really what it is. It’s not the dandruff or the the hair. It’s just there are personalities. They’re

Speaker C [00:04:41]:
I love that, man. How about, oh, this is

John Garrett [00:04:42]:
a fun one. Suit or tie or jeans and a T shirt?

Chris Mossa [00:04:45]:
Jeans and a T shirt. Oh, okay. I mean, for every day I mean, it’s nice to get dressed up every once in a while, but, yeah, if if it was, you know, this was, like, the 19 seventies, I’d be very I’d be terrible. My I can’t imagine going to work every day to school.

John Garrett [00:04:58]:
Exactly. Alright. How about ice cream? I’m a huge ice cream fan. In a cup or in a cone?

Chris Mossa [00:05:03]:
Oh, cone. Totally.

John Garrett [00:05:04]:
Cone. Oh, yeah. Alright. Yeah. It didn’t even blink. You were like, there’s not even a choice here. Alright. Since you’re in New York, do you have a favorite pizza place?

Chris Mossa [00:05:13]:
Well, so I’m in New Jersey. So I’m right outside

John Garrett [00:05:15]:
in New York. Okay.

Chris Mossa [00:05:16]:
Yeah. So my favorite pizza place, the place I went growing up, and we still go periodically, it’s a place called Star Tavern in East Orange, New Jersey. And they just do pizza totally old fashioned, you go in, you get the little beer glasses, like, in the little, like, third of a pint, like, 6 ounce glasses, and it’s it’s just whatever they have on tap. The pizza’s phenomenal. It’s you can’t eat it for, like, 10 minutes after they serve it because it’s so hot. It was one of the first places I took my wife when we started dating, and you came to New Jersey for the 1st time.

John Garrett [00:05:45]:
That’s awesome. That’s very cool, man. I love it. That’s so good. How about a favorite movie of all time?

Chris Mossa [00:05:52]:
That’s a tough one. You know, I love the movies. I mean, I grew up watching The Godfather. I’m a big Al Pacino fan, so Scent of a Woman. I mean, those are. I’m more about performances than, like, the specific movie, and, like, the performances in those films were were phenomenal. So I’d have to go with those. Yeah.

John Garrett [00:06:07]:
I love it. And since you have the accounting background, balance sheet or income statement?

Chris Mossa [00:06:11]:
Balance sheet. 100%. Oh, okay. Alright. 100%. Income statement’s just what happened yesterday. Balance sheet’s like, you know, this is all the stuff we’ve got. This is all the stuff we owe.

Chris Mossa [00:06:20]:
Like, that tells the whole sore

Speaker C [00:06:22]:
Yeah. Okay. Alright. I like it.

John Garrett [00:06:24]:
How about a favorite number?

Chris Mossa [00:06:26]:
Oh, 2.

John Garrett [00:06:26]:
2. Is there a reason?

Chris Mossa [00:06:28]:
I was always, like, the 2nd kid in something, like, I was the 2nd kid like, the 2nd grandkid in the family. I was Oh, okay. So, like, it’s just this number that’s, like, traveled around, my my second favorite number would be 13 because that’s always been kind of a a lucky number for me. My son happened to and that was way before my kids were born, and then my son happened to be born on 13th, so it just kinda perpetuated. So 2 and 13. If I’m at the roulette table, those are the numbers I’m playing.

John Garrett [00:06:52]:
Right. There you go. There you go. How about a Toilet paper roll. It’s important one. Over or under?

Chris Mossa [00:06:59]:
You know, honestly, I have a a 4 year old and a 6 year old. Like, as long as there is toilet paper, it’s a win. Like, as long as somebody hasn’t finished it and not replaced it That’s awesome. And it’s it exists and it’s where it’s supposed to be when it’s supposed to be there, like, that’s a win. I don’t care. Doesn’t matter how I have to pull it.

John Garrett [00:07:17]:
I love it. I love it. That’s so much. We got 2 more. How about a, favorite cereal from when you’re a kid or an adult? Either way.

Chris Mossa [00:07:25]:
Frosted Flakes.

John Garrett [00:07:26]:
Yeah. That’s the I think that would probably be my go to.

Chris Mossa [00:07:29]:
You know, I grew up in a I grew up in a house where, like, it was all healthy cereals. Like, it was Cheerios and Rice Krispies like, as as, you know, kind of adventurous as a guy, and, like, frosted flakes were a special treat. And so, you know, now I if there’s frosted flakes, yeah, I’m having to go frosted flakes. Probably my running shoes because, you know, I it’s one of the reasons why I love the sport. I mean, you could do it anywhere. I’ve done it all over the world. Like, as long as I’ve got those, like, I know I can go out and get, like, an hour of enjoyment doing something.

John Garrett [00:08:04]:
Yeah. You

Chris Mossa [00:08:04]:
know, really easy to travel with. It’s not a bike, not a set of skis, not golf clubs. It’s like fit in any bag and, like, it’s 60 minutes I could always go out and do.

John Garrett [00:08:13]:
There you go. And do you have a brand?

Chris Mossa [00:08:14]:
I’ve got them moved over the years, but I’m running in Brooks right now.

John Garrett [00:08:17]:
Okay. Alright. There we go. I love it. So let’s talk about it in in in I mean, just running in general, but, I mean, endurance running, I mean, that’s like a whole next level to it all. And how How did you get started? Was it as a kid or more later in life?

Chris Mossa [00:08:30]:
Yeah. You know, I went to a high school where there was a big sports culture, and, you know, I had played soccer and basketball and and baseball and, you know, some wrestling, a little football growing up, like, kind of the standard sports. But when I wasn’t really good enough to, like, be on any of those teams, like, I would not have had a high school career in those sports. So I joined the track team just on a win, and I started running, and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the the fact that it was a mix of, you know, there was individual competition, but you’re also competing as a team. There’s relays. Like, there’s a nice mix. And so I just stayed with it.

Chris Mossa [00:09:05]:
And so I ran through high school, ran recreationally in college. I certainly not competitively, but always just that, was always my go to. And I just consistently, even when I started working, found that it was a place for me to go to get my head settled, to, like, think about the day, to get ready for the day, it was just like my own time, nobody could bother me, and I just kept doing it. And that was, you know, 30 years ago, and so and at different points, I’ve done it more or less. You know? I for a while, I got really into, like, the Spartan races and tough mutters and, like, those crazy obstacle races and, you know, then, you know, the kind of marathon, you know, and was doing a lot of races when I lived in New York City. They a great circuit in New York City of you know, they have a big race every year in every borough and, you know, you’re trying to complete those Yeah.

Speaker C [00:09:49]:
The New

John Garrett [00:09:49]:
York City Marathon. Absolutely.

Chris Mossa [00:09:50]:
Well, they have the marathon, but then they have in each borough throughout the year, they have, like, a half marathon or a, you know each borough has, like, a flagship race, and there’s sort of like a a thing about completing all of them in 1 year. So I did that for a couple years. And

John Garrett [00:10:10]:
I mean, with some of the more endurance stuff, I mean, like, you know, the longer runs, I mean, you know, because it’s it’s one thing to just, like, run around, you know, or jog for, you know, an hour or whatever, but then it’s like, no. No. I’m gonna go do, you know, 26 miles or even further type of thing. Like, how did how did that get in your head?

Chris Mossa [00:10:27]:
You know, it was you know, when when you’re running and when, you know, someone like me like, I I could get bored doing the same thing very easily so there’s always has to be, like, sort of, like, something on the horizon that, like, I’m I’m moving towards, whether it’s completing that circuit in in 1 year, whether it’s training for a marathon, whether it’s just trying to beat a time, whether it’s trying to run longer, you know, whatever that is. And so it was just kinda the next thing. You know, I’d always been like a 4 to 6 mile guy and then, you know, about 10 years ago, I just said, let me see how far I can push it. And I just kinda kept going and, you know, did the New York City marathon, did a bunch of half marathons, now I now my life’s kinda moved in a different direction. I don’t really have the time to train for those things. So now I’m running for, like, longevity purposes. So I’m doing what they call out a zone 2 training, which is all about managing your heart rate during the run for optimal what they call, you know, kind of basically, it’s better for your your body. You sort of stay in these in these burning zones that Yeah.

Speaker C [00:11:23]:
Yeah. It’s just

John Garrett [00:11:24]:
more efficient. It’s like, you know, I can’t run as far, but I can run this much. And if I stay in this zone, then it’s just as much as Or healthy or whatever.

Chris Mossa [00:11:33]:
Yeah. I mean, you know, running for me went from, like, an athletic pursuit to, like, a mental health thing. And to now, it’s it’s almost like, you know, I’m in my forties now. It’s how am I gonna stay healthy for the next 40 to 50 years? How do I keep my heart healthy? And it all comes back to running. Like, that’s something I know how to do. I don’t have to relearn that. I I just have to do it a different way. So and so that’s kind of been my focus recently.

John Garrett [00:11:56]:
That’s awesome, man. I love it. And so is a marathon the the furthest that you’ve gone?

Chris Mossa [00:12:01]:
It’s the furthest I’ve gone in a in a competition. I’ve run

John Garrett [00:12:03]:
the boat. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker C [00:12:05]:
On per well yeah.

John Garrett [00:12:08]:
There was this one time on accident where I didn’t stop, And

Chris Mossa [00:12:13]:
Yeah. I mean, I’ve had some longer training runs. Okay. But marathon’s the longest competitively that I’ve yeah.

John Garrett [00:12:19]:
I’ve done a half 1 half marathon, and it should not be called half of anything. Like, that should be the marathon, and then a marathon is a double mar I don’t know. Like, it’s It’s crazy. I mean, it’s far, you know, and and good for you, man. That’s that’s impressive. That’s really good. And so do you have any of the The more memorable kinda runs that you’ve had in your career, the ones that pop into mind?

Chris Mossa [00:12:39]:
Yeah. So, you know, one of the other big things that’s always been important to me, it’s it’s important, my wife and I have been traveling. We’ve traveled all all over the place. And so when my son was born, this is he’s gonna be 7. So, you know, this is six and a half years ago. We had been planning before he was born, you know, we were gonna go on a trip and we said, you know, we we’re gonna take it. Doesn’t matter how old he is or it doesn’t matter where we’re, like, we’re gonna take them. So we ended up going to Spain, and so we took him with us.

Chris Mossa [00:13:05]:
He was he was 8 months old. And so that happened to be the year that I had completed that circuit in New York City, and if you complete that circuit, you get an automatic bid into the next year’s marathon. So, like, starting, like, 2 years before, I had kind of been on this path. Like, now I had a bid for the marathon. It happened to be the year that my, you know, my wife got pregnant, my son was born, and then the following year, I was gonna be in the marathon. So I was training all of that summer. And so we went to Spain. We ended up going for about 2 to 3 weeks, actually, 3 weeks.

Chris Mossa [00:13:35]:
And so we were in San Sebastian, Spain, which is right up on the Bay of Biscayne on Northern Spain in the, in the Bosque region of Spain, if you know that that area. And so we had a great apartment, and I was doing all my long training runs there. So I would go out and I would just run along the Spanish coast for, like, 2 hours every day doing, like, 10 miles, 15 miles, 18 miles, whatever, you know, whatever run that day was. But I did that for, like, 3 weeks. So, like, a big chunk of my marathon training was in Spain. Like, which is crazy now that I I didn’t. Right? Not part of my, like, regular life now. But Right.

Chris Mossa [00:14:10]:
Felt like at that moment, I have, like, a window to be somewhere. I had a 9 month old, which is awesome because we were traveling with him and he did great. And I was training for the marathon in, like, Northern Spain, like, some kind of professional athlete or something, like, you hear about these guys. They they go, like, across the world to train. Totally. Yeah. I’m you know, this the Tour tour de France, guys are like, yeah. I’m training in California in the winter, and so I’m like, oh, that’s awesome.

Chris Mossa [00:14:32]:
But, like, I just happen to be in Spain, so that’s why I It’s

John Garrett [00:14:34]:
the Chris Mossa plan. Everybody knows that.

Speaker C [00:14:36]:
Like, No. I love it, man.

John Garrett [00:14:38]:
That’s so cool because it is like you know, it’s it’s combining 2 of your ends, really, and and family. I mean, I’ll I’ll let you throw that in too. So, I mean, it’s altogether where, you know, you don’t have to carve yourself up and only be 1 version of Chris. It’s like, no. No. We can do all of these things. I don’t have to leave a part of me outside or at home. I Side or at home.

Chris Mossa [00:14:57]:
I think that’s really important. I think that’s important no matter what you do in life. It’s like, you know, if all you have is work and even if it’s just family on on the back end, which is wonderful, if there aren’t things that sort of get you excited that are don’t have a monetary end to them or not just financial or you know? I think it’s, you know, I think you get bored really quickly, and I think you kinda look back and say, wow. I was I was I don’t have any passions. I don’t have any interest. So for me, I’ve always had, like, these kind of outside of work interests and, you know, it hasn’t always been easy to find the time to do them, but when I have, it’s it’s really enriching.

John Garrett [00:15:31]:
Yeah. Because it’s not something you have to do every day or even every week, but when there’s time or make time and be intentional about it, Then do it. You know? Because I would imagine that when you’re not running, you’re not as good at your job or life, I guess, really, in general. You’re you’re just better at both when you’re running.

Chris Mossa [00:15:49]:
That’s a 100% true. There’ll be times when my wife will literally force me to go out for a rush. Like, you know what? You haven’t run-in 3 days. Like, I could tell. Like, you need to you

Speaker C [00:15:56]:
need to go. No.

John Garrett [00:15:58]:
I I mean, it’s it’s funny, but also a 100% true. I mean, because it because it is. I mean, it’s it’s just it’s the thing that That really is who you are, and I think we mix up our identities where we think that our job is who we are, and no. No. No. That’s what you do.

Chris Mossa [00:16:22]:
Where you get the most meditative, like, which means, like, you get the most time to be introspective. So, like, for some people that might be like woodworking. I know some people who are really good, they like going into their shop and they they get spend hours and the time just passes. So, like, I always kind of aligned, like, that particular thing, it’s like, that’s when I’m at my most meditative. That’s when I have my best ideas. That’s when I have the time to sit back and be thoughtful, like, as opposed to being reactive, which is a lot of the day is sort of being reactive. And and so those 2 things to me have always kinda sat in the same spot. It’s like, where am I the most meditative about my life, my career, my family, and and when I’m running? So it’s I’ve just stayed with it.

John Garrett [00:17:01]:
It’s almost like where you just sorta lose yourself, you know, where it’s just it’s it’s almost just second nature. Like, I don’t have to think about this, I don’t have to try. I don’t have to this is just in my it’s in me, and it’s just it’s just easy to do, like, because that’s just me doing doing me, you know, type of thing. They’re getting ready to retire, and they’re like, you know, I don’t know what I’m gonna go do, and I’m like, what? Like, I mean, like, you have a lot of good years left, And you apparently spent it all working, so you have the money, and you don’t have a reason to do anything. Like, you have nothing, like and it’s it’s that’s so scary to me. I say this

Chris Mossa [00:17:48]:
all the time. Finances aside, I could retire tomorrow and fill the entire day. I wouldn’t be bored for 1 minute. Like, there’s literally not a moment in my life where I could say, like, I’m bored. Like, there’s always something interesting if you have interests to do. I’ve I find like, if you enjoy reading or, like, you enjoy some kind of fitness, like, those are things you can do anywhere with anybody. You know? Like

John Garrett [00:18:09]:
also too, I it translates over to to having conversations with with humans at work and whether it’s clients or coworkers or whatever. I mean, Like, if you’re just all work all the time, man, I wouldn’t even wanna hang out with myself. Like, you know, like, it’s it’s just brutal.

Chris Mossa [00:18:25]:
Yeah, there’s more things to connect with people on. You know? In in our our business in client service, like, there are a lot of touch points. You’re not working with kind of the same group of people at a company every day because we’ve got partners and clients and like all of them are customers. And so connecting with all of those different people is not easy. I mean, there’s there’s sort of a skill set in just doing that even if when you get beyond the work itself. And so that’s really kinda helped me over the years is like having things outside of work and what we’re there to talk about, to build a connection, make a connection, start a relationship, that then makes the work just a lot easier. You know, because you’ve connected on something different. Whether it’s your kids, or whether it’s some interest that you have outside of work, or whether it’s somewhere you’ve been in the world, or whether you’ve, you know, a lot of times, it’s a lot of fun, like, meeting someone and you’ve been to their home country.

Chris Mossa [00:19:13]:
Right? Like, if they’re from somewhere else, and, like, that’s a cool narrative. Like, and, you know, once you build that connection, like, the work you know, as long as the work is good, but the work takes care of itself.

John Garrett [00:19:23]:
Yeah. And, I mean, I think everyone’s doing Pretty good work. You know? We’re not trying to suck. You know? And and even then, if you if you create that connection, there’s probably a little more forgiveness there as well aware, I I think that you know, you’re not gonna mess up on purpose, but if something does go wrong, then, well, you know, hey. Like, I trust you because I’ve seen you as a human. You haven’t brought this, like, fake social media you to this or, you know, this relationship. You brought the real you, and then, there’s a lot more trust there.

Chris Mossa [00:19:51]:
Yeah, you’re more than just reputation. Like, you know, I think what you just said is key. Like, I see somebody as a human. I think there’s a lot that comes out of that.

John Garrett [00:20:06]:
Career? Have people known the running side of you?

Chris Mossa [00:20:09]:
Yeah. I mean, it’s definitely not something I’ve I’ve hidden. If I if there’s an opportunity, if I if I, you know, have seen somebody else that’s I can tell does that, then it’s something to talk about with them. If not, the, you know, the the races and things like that tend to be interesting to people. So

Speaker C [00:20:23]:
Yeah.

Chris Mossa [00:20:23]:
You know, like, I do a lot of pitching and selling, like, our services so, like, you know, 1st rule of sales is make a friend. Right? The easiest way to make a friend is find commonality. So, like, you know, I think if you sort of peel back the onion and you bring it back to, well, how do I find commonality? Well, I know about these 9 things. Like, let me see if they know about 1 or 2 of those things, and, like, boom. We’ve got a connection. Right? And then we can talk about business. So yeah. I mean, I’ve always been open about it.

Chris Mossa [00:20:49]:
I think people who who work with me would know that that’s a big part

John Garrett [00:20:52]:
of my life. Yeah. No. For sure. That’s that’s awesome because, I mean, it’s you. I mean, like, what do you want here? You know? And and, I mean, I’m almost 63 and pretty skinny, so I always get the, oh, are you a runner? And I’m like, nope. I can’t say because I I grew up playing soccer, so running was Punishment. You know? Like, so and, it took me a long time to figure that out.

John Garrett [00:21:11]:
Actually, it might have been another guest on the podcast many years ago where I was just like, I just figured it out. That’s why I don’t run because it’s punishment to me. It’s always been for some

Chris Mossa [00:21:20]:
You did that half marathon, John. I mean, that Yeah.

John Garrett [00:21:22]:
Well, I was dating somebody. Peak on race day was my mantra the whole way through my SORTA training, but it is so important to just find Some sort of human connection. And even if it’s not your thing, you at least have interest in it. You know? And even if somebody’s not running the New York City Marathon, They’re like, wow. I saw it on the news, or I saw people running by my borough or whatever. You know? And and, I had to sit at that red light for 4 hours while you guys all ran through

Speaker C [00:21:58]:
or, you

John Garrett [00:21:58]:
know, just whatever. No. But it’s like, no. But it’s I I love it, man. And so do you feel like how important is it that An organization creates that space for people to not only have an hand, but share it? Or how much is it on the individual to just, you know what, hey, around my peers or, You know, and when the opportunity pops in, I just, you know, drop it type of thing.

Chris Mossa [00:22:20]:
I think the organization has a responsibility to to create an environment where people are comfortable doing the latter. Not right. And so, you know, you know, at at Graphite, I mean, we do we do a lot of things on the cultural side to kinda bring people in outside of work. Right to get people to, you know, kind of open up about those things, we do an annual off-site. We just all got together down in Orlando, you know, because we’re we’re a remote team. So we got everybody together down in Orlando. We did Epcot. We did some team building stuff, you know, in in Disney, which was a lot of fun.

Chris Mossa [00:22:51]:
And through that, you get to kinda know people, which when you go back to your desk, oh, now I know this thing. I never would have known that from the 19 Zoom calls we were on about you if I didn’t spend, you know, 2 days with you in in some part of the world. So I think that the obligation for the company is to make it a place where people are comfortable sharing those things. You know, where they don’t just look at work as a paycheck, where it is a place where they’re they’re making friends, and if you’re making friends, you’re sharing interest. Right? Those 2 things go together. And so that’s how I think those 2 those 2 come together, but I do think people it should be, you know, that should be on them too to kind of bring their whole self to work. Don’t just bring your, you know, your accounting skills to work, like, we I wanna know all of it. Right? I and this this kinda hit home for me a couple years ago.

Chris Mossa [00:23:33]:
I was interviewing somebody, and I always end every interview with, like, hey, is there anything, like, I should have asked you? Like, anything, like, somebody would have told me or, like, what did I miss? And this this woman who’s who works for Graphite Today said, you didn’t ask me anything personally. You didn’t ask me, like, and I was like, you know what? You’re so right. Like, I was so focused on, like, finding the right candidate and checking off these boxes against the job description and making sure, you know, you were a good professional fit, I didn’t ask you anything. I’m like, I’m so sorry. And so we had a whole conversation about, like, her things that she likes to do, and and it was great. And it and from that point on, I always ask people in the interview process, like, some question that or multiple questions that gets to, like, who they are beyond what they’re there interviewing for.

Speaker C [00:24:19]:
I love it.

John Garrett [00:24:19]:
Yeah. Because, I mean, we’re around these people more waking hours than our friends and family, You know? And even even in a remote I mean, we’re on calls. We’re, you know, always talking with each other and and everything. And, like, if I don’t even know who you are, then, like, what are we doing here? You know? Like, in how do how are we making each other better humans, you know, at life, not just at work, but, you know, bigger and better? And and so Because I I truly believe that if, you know, if people are helping each other become better humans, they’re gonna have a better company. It’s like you have to pass go, you have to collect $200, you know, playing monopoly type of thing. You know? And and I feel like organizations are so focused on The first thing of, well, we have to make money. We have initiatives that we have to meet and goals and all this. And it’s like, yeah, but if if you take care of your people, All those will happen.

John Garrett [00:25:07]:
I mean, probably even ones that you didn’t even know existed and will will also happen.

Chris Mossa [00:25:11]:
We have an expression here. So graphite just a little bit history, so I used to run a company that was similar to Graphite. Graphite acquired my company, and that’s how I I made it my way to Graphite. And so at that company and now at Graphite, we used to have a a phrase that, you know, our most valuable client, like, our most high you know, highest revenue client was not as important as our most junior employee. Not right? Like, at the end of the day, like, you take care of the team, the team will take care of the clients. Like, that’s always been kind of my philosophy and having been in professional services for so long and it served us well. I mean, we’ve built a, you know, tremendous team. So

John Garrett [00:25:43]:
Yeah. Because there’s there’s clients out there that you can get, Especially nowadays, the employees are not just sitting on a bench waiting to get hired. You know? And so if, you know, it’s take care of them, and they’ll take care of you and and the clients and everybody wins. I love that, man. That’s such a great great mantra for everyone listening. And this has been awesome, Chris, but I feel like before we wrap it up, Since I peppered you with questions at the beginning, it’s only fair that I turn the tables and make this the Chris Mossa podcast. So thanks for having me on. And, yeah, well, I’m all yours, man.

John Garrett [00:26:15]:
I’m in the hot seat.

Chris Mossa [00:26:16]:
Alright. Sounds good. So, John, you mentioned at the beginning here when you and I were chatting maybe before we went on that you used to work at PwC as well. Yeah. How did you go from accounting to the career that you’ve got now? Which I know is Yeah.

John Garrett [00:26:28]:
Well, yeah, you know, it’s it’s one of those where yeah. In the moments, everything felt like a massive roller coaster, and it was just like, what is going on? And then I look backwards, and it’s actually a straight line, which is crazy. Even going back to college, you know, because I engineering That’s how I started out and then a d in physics and just gotten, you know, completely destroyed. And I was like, well, I guess I’m going to business. And then, you know, I go, you know, go over to business and then, Well, what what, you know, degree can I have the lowest GPA and still get a good job with? And they’re like, accounting. And I was like, perfect. I’m doing that. It’s also like it prolonged the grow up decision because they’re like, you can do accounting, and still later, you can go into marketing.

John Garrett [00:27:07]:
Later, you can go into finance. Later, you can go into, you know, whatever else. And and I was like, oh, perfect. Yeah. I was at at PwC, and then I started doing stand up open mics and stuff, and then got good. So So then I was like, you know, I was taking vacation to go do shows and stuff, and I was like, alright. You know, let’s see what happens. So I I went to industry where it’s just a little easier, less Travel less everything.

John Garrett [00:27:30]:
Sure. Yeah. And so did that for a little bit and then had a new manager that came in from the outside and who is not getting along with me, and so I was I was gonna leave anyway. And then the comedy career was also taking off at the same time, so it’s just this perfect storm where I was, like, let’s give it a go and, run as fast as I can and try to get escape velocity to get out into orbit, and I don’t Recommend anyone do it. It is crazy, and it is super hard, and it’s even harder once you get into orbit. And so whenever people are like, hey. I’m thinking about, I always tell them don’t because if you try it and you don’t make it, You’re gonna find me first and punch me in the face. Like, that’s and so I don’t wanna be the guy that’s the reason that you, you know, whatever.

John Garrett [00:28:20]:
And so I’d rather be the guy that told you don’t do it and then you prove me wrong. Like, I’d rather that because It’s really hard, and if I some stranger tells you don’t do it, and you’re like, alright, I probably shouldn’t, then I just saved you a ton of therapy in heartache and everything else. But if I told you don’t do it and you’re, like, you know what? F that guy. I’m doing it anyway. Then there we go. I mean, we just you know, that that’s I mean, you started your own company. It’s it’s it’s almost the same thing except for I’m also the product.

Chris Mossa [00:28:52]:
So that’s kind of a test is what you’re saying. Like, the the the the person who says kind of, you know, thanks, but no thanks, Sean. I’m gonna do it anyway. That’s the type of person that’s gonna succeed.

John Garrett [00:29:01]:
Then you probably have The inner fire because, I mean, basically, you know, I get punched in the face every day. You know, whether it’s a conference that decides to book another keynote speaker or it’s a company that decides to not do a consulting program because they don’t wanna invest in their people or it’s you know? Whatever it is, there’s always something or it’s you know, you put out a tweet and somebody, you know, tries to, you know, troll it or whatever. And it’s just like, you just have to have that thick skin and have to punch through it and be like, well, what I’m doing is bigger than this, And so I’m not even worried about that. Like, I’ve got you know, and you just have to keep the faith and keep grinding. And it’s hard and it’s scary because there’s no career ladder, like, there’s no KPIs to then, oh, I’m gonna get promoted if I do this. It’s like, no. Like and if you don’t do the work, You don’t get paid. I mean, it’s that there’s no vacation days.

John Garrett [00:29:51]:
There’s no, you know, whatever. And so, you know, I just make sure that people know what it’s really like. That way then they don’t think it’s all, you know, lollipops and rainbows over here. You know? It’s it’s work.

Chris Mossa [00:30:02]:
How is your approach to, I don’t wanna say failure, but when things don’t go right, like somebody boots over you for a conference or you do a set and maybe that set doesn’t quite hit the audience, like, how is your approach to that change from when you first started?

John Garrett [00:30:15]:
I think it it was probably that’s a great question, man. You have a good show. Probably, Who I am and what I do. Because, clearly, there was a a misconnect here between what I can offer and what, apparently, you thought you were saying no to. Because if you understood this, then you wouldn’t have even had to think about it. It would have been, okay. Yeah. Let’s do you.

John Garrett [00:30:48]:
Like, we’re done. Like, let’s make it happen. And so it’s like, okay, how can I be better at drawing this picture for you? So it’s less of me pointing the fingers And less of me looking internally at how I can be better at conveying that to to people on the outside.

Chris Mossa [00:31:03]:
Yeah. Make it a turn into a learning moment. I got 1 more for you, John. Can I

Speaker C [00:31:07]:
do 1 more?

Chris Mossa [00:31:07]:
I don’t know

John Garrett [00:31:08]:
what I am about.

Chris Mossa [00:31:09]:
Okay. How do you think about preparation? Like, what’s the percentage? I always find I I always like to ask people this. Like, whatever the thing that you do in life, what’s the percentage of time that you’re doing that versus the percentage of time that you’re prepping to do that?

John Garrett [00:31:22]:
That’s a good question too. Yeah. I feel like there’s a lot of prep, even subconsciously in the back of your mind. While I’m flying to an event, it’s visualizing what it’s gonna look like, you know, I get into the room beforehand, before I speak at a conference just to feel the energy of the room and what’s it gonna be like and all that, You know, all of that is prep. You know? And and also too, I mean, the 24 100 times I’ve been on stage is all prep. You know? Like, you know, doing that open mic in New York City on a Tuesday, you know, that’s prep. You know? And so if you add up all those hours, Man, I am working for $3 an hour. It is crazy.

John Garrett [00:31:59]:
Like, you know? It’s a lot of reps. Yeah. I would say I would say, yeah, a lot of that is prep. And even It’s interesting because when I’m when I’m performing or even when I’m working with an organization, new ideas are coming up as I’m doing that. So it’s it’s kinda cool to to where you know, if I’m just sitting in my in my office by myself, I’m not nearly as productive As if I’m out in the world and talking to others and stuff like that, for sure. But, yeah, that’s a good question, though.

Chris Mossa [00:32:26]:
That’s a lesson I I I’ve learned in my career is is the the further I go in my career, the more time I actually set aside for preparation. When I was younger, I used, you know, think I could just kinda get up and wing it and you kinda fight your way through it and maybe it was okay, you know, but, like, the longer I’m out here, the more I realize, like, the prep is where most of the work happens. The prep before a client meeting the prep before the pitch, like, you know, knowing that stuff cold and then the, you know, the iceberg, the peak that people see is only 10%.

John Garrett [00:32:54]:
Right. That little that peak at the top. Yeah. Right. Fully yeah. And and, I mean, that way then too when you are pitching a client or when you are speaking to an audience or whatever and if there’s a glitch or if there’s anything there’s a hiccup of any sport, then you’ve got it. I mean, you know, when I first started, I remember I was doing some shows at the Borgata in Atlantic City with Louie Anderson, and he was telling me, like, when you’re new, Comedians are asking the audience when to laugh. Like, you know, at the end of the joke, I’m like, hey.

John Garrett [00:33:22]:
Please laugh at this part. But when you’re when you’ve done it so many times, I’m telling you When to laugh. I’m telling you how to react. I’m telling you because I own this room. I own this stage. I this is my domain. So, you know, a new comedian’s told the joke 10 times. You know, an experienced one maybe a1000, Jerry Seinfeld’s told it 10,000.

John Garrett [00:33:42]:
You know? So if somebody heckles or somebody interrupts a super, you know, legend, they don’t care because they’re like, oh, they’ll get right back into it because they’ve told the joke so many times and they know it inside and out that we got this, you know, type a thing and and and that goes for pitches as well and and anything corporate, you know, it it doesn’t matter if it’s the 1st time you’ve done it. If you know it inside and out, then you’re gonna be a lot confident in that, and, you know, sometimes things happen. You know, somebody asks you a question out of nowhere or power goes out or who knows what. Things happen. You know? And so, like, how do you how do you deliver that for sure? Cool. Super. This has been so much fun, Chris. Thanks for being a part of What’s Your End.

Chris Mossa [00:34:24]:
Yeah. My pleasure, John. I really appreciate you having me. This was fun.

John Garrett [00:01:30]:
Awesome. And everybody listening, if you wanna see some pictures of Chris out in some of his runs or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to www.whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. And while you’re on the page, please click that big button to do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to read the book. So thanks again for subscribing on Apple Podcasts or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread that who you are is so much more than what you do.


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