Excerpts from NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris’ Interview with Chip Bell, One of this Year’s Annual Meeting General Session Speakers
October 15, 2013 12:16 PM
Chip Bell helps companies build cultures that support long-term customer loyalty. As founder of The Chip Bell Group, he works from both Dallas, Texas, and Atlanta, Georgia. Before starting the firm in 1980, he was director of management and organization development for NCNB, now Bank of America. He holds graduate degrees from Vanderbilt University and George Washington University, and brings both academic and real-world experience to his many publications.
Below are excerpts from his interview with NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris. The full interview will be featured in an upcoming issue of CARING Magazine.
VJH: You’re known for helping people present themselves, marketing themselves, putting their best foot forward, to find acceptance with others. Is that a fair summary?
CB: I think that is a fair summary. What I like to focus on is how do you build loyalty? How do you build relationships where the customers want to be associated with you in an enduring way - a long-term relationship? I want customers to be advocates, to be champions for the organization that delivers great service to them.
VJH:You’re also known for your ability to communicate, to speak to an audience and convey your message. What did you harvest from others that that has allowed you to become a great speaker?
CB: I'm always reminded of a wonderful line from Karl Wallenda, the great aerialist and tightrope walker. He said, "Being on the wire is living, and everything else is just waiting." I love that line because it's sort of how I feel when I get a chance to present to a group. Everything else is just waiting.
When I'd ask my dad growing up what it means to be successful, he would say, "If you do what you love and if you make a difference, you will be successful. Regardless of the outcome, you'll be successful." I try to practice that in when I step on that stage. I want to have a lot of fun, to show my passion for what I do, and to hopefully make a
VJH: JFKonce said that nothing good ever happens without passion, you need enthusiasm in order to get anything done. He said it was the mother of all values.
Norman Vincent Peale reminded me that the word "enthusiasm" comes from two Greek words, "en," and "theos" - literally "to be filled with God."
CB: When you see someone who’s very passionate about what they do, it’s as if they have been inspired by God.
VJH: Let me ask you about the other end of the age spectrum. For the first time in history, we have a massive generation of people who are living longer - if you get to 65, you’ve got a 2:1 chance of living to be 85. If you get to 85, you have about the same odds of getting to 100. What do you say if you’re speaking to a group of seniors?
CB:I asked my 97 year-old mother about two weeks ago, "What comes to mind in terms of the things that were the most important things in your life, the real highs in your life?"
She said, "I raised three great kids. I had a wonderful, loving relationship with a wonderful man, and I had a lot of fun." After I heard that, I said, "if you could do it all over again, what would you do differently? What are your regrets?" My mother said, "I'd dance a lot more." I thought that was a great metaphor for how to live life. She meant it as the freedom, the letting go that comes with dancing. She would have had more moments like that. No matter how old you are, find the time and the way to dance more.
VJH: What is happiness? How do you get it, and how do you keep it?
CB:Being happy is a choice you make. I've actually had a great day every day of my life since 1969. I had one of those significant emotional experiences where I called in the artillery on my own position and walked away from it. I was supposed to die there and it’s a miracle I lived through it. I've had a great day every day since that point. I get up every morning thinking it's going to be a great day. When you start with that attitude you're usually not disappointed. Happiness is an attitude that says, “I want the best in life.” Why not make that choice every day?
VJH: Is there any difference between the words "happiness" and "joy"?
CB:Joy and happy are the same to me. When you’re radiating happiness, it's infectious, and other people pick it up, and they want to join in. Part of the influence we can have on other people, when we are the beneficiary of great fortune, is to help pass that attitude of joy and happiness to other people.
VJH:. When I say “caring” to you, what does it mean?
CB: It means being a citizen of the planet. We have no alternative but take care of each other. To me, the ultimate goal is how we connect and take care of each other.