Episode 117: Happy CEOs with Chris Yonker

Chris Yonker

Chris Yonker is a recovering high achiever. After years in sales for 3M, Yonker was left unfulfilled. There had to be more to life than a job. Now he and his team work with high achievers like executives, entrepreneurs, and athletes to expand their consciousness and capacity for fulfillment. Chris Yonker is a vision alchemist, NLP practitioner, author of Soul Intention, and speaker.

Check out this episode!

Mentioned in this episode (in order of appearance):

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About it by Michael Gerber 

Learn more about Chris Yonker.

You only have one life. Design your life your way. Get Chris’s free vision workbook: https://greatestyearsofyourlife.com/

Check out Chris’s book, Soul Intention: An Executive’s Guide to Building a Life by Choice, Not by Chance. 

Chris Yonker’s YouTube Channel

Follow Chris on LinkedIn or Instagram

Chris Yonker (00:00):

I want to enjoy my life experience while I’m living it. I want to live a legacy, not necessarily just leave a legacy.

Intro (00:09):

Welcome to Learning Life, where top experts share their business knowledge and personal journeys each week. “And The thing that I realized from the CEO to the NFL football player, to the janitor – we’re our toughest critics, and we’re hardest on ourselves.” – James Lawrence And wanted to bring education to the market. I wake up in the morning and I am constantly learning.” “The only way to grab somebody’s attention is with a story” – Cal Fussman. Happy learning! And now your host, Jon Tota,

Jon Tota (00:38):

Welcome back to Learning Life with Jon Tota. My guest today is Chris Yonker. Chris is a leading expert in vision creation As a vision alchemist, author, and speaker, Chris and his team work with executives, entrepreneurs, athletes, and celebrities to get clarity on what they really want. Then make the strategy, mindset, and behavior shifts to create that. Chris spent over two decades leading a Fortune 500 sales team. He’s an NLP practitioner, author of the book, Soul Intention, and a seventh-degree black belt- all around a very interesting high-achiever. So let’s get into it, Chris, welcome to Learning Life.

Chris Yonker (01:11):

Thanks for having me here. I’m excited to be here.

Jon Tota (01:14):

Now. Obviously you’ve got a very interesting background and you’ve done a lot of different things along the way. So before we jump into your real expertise as a Vision Alchemist, tell us a little bit about how you got here. What was the start of your journey and some of the background that you had in big company sales before you set out on your own?

Chris Yonker (01:33):

That’s a really good question. So in essence, I went to school and got a marketing degree and then I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, but I was attracted to sales because I saw that A) they are paid well, B) it allowed flexibility and freedom, which I think a lot entrepreneurs I found value pretty highly. And I, I like being able to basically own my destiny a little bit more. That was the entry point for me. And actually what ended up happening was I for five years- I got hired right out of college- for five years I’m selling advertising for 3M. And then what ended up happening was the division that I was working for got sold and I never saw it coming.

Chris Yonker (02:25):

It was a great wake up call because I realized that as much as I thought that I was in control of my destiny in regards to I sold unnecessarily my soul and for the company that would always take care of me. What ended up happening was I was going to be unemployed and I had to figure out what I was going to do about that. Fortunately through my network, I was able to find a new career change, still sales for 3M. And because I had a great track record by that point, and was able to relocate to New England, which I know you’re a fellow New Englander. And after about 10 years of being here my wife Jolie and I realized that, you know what we really like where we’re at. And I don’t think we want to move back to the Midwest, even though we value the West, we’d rather just sign up to be here. So that’s, that’s, that’s what kinda got us kind of got us moved and got us started and what really drew me into that, that that career, if you will,

Jon Tota (03:25):

Very cool. And I know that, you know, the way that you work with people is really around the vision creation. And so I think for our listeners, that’s a little bit different than some of the other experts that I’ve had on the show. So tell us a little bit about what you mean by that and what the whole concept of a Vision Alchemist is.

Chris Yonker (03:44):

Yeah, that’s certainly a question. So I think that, I think I went through, as an NLP practitioner and I got to meet a lot of coaches, right. And we’re talking about this before we started a podcast. And when things are realized through the coaching model is, is that oftentimes a lot of coaches are coaching someone to get breakthrough, to get to something they don’t have, if you will, to get to the next level, whatever it is. But the fact that matter is what I found now in my own experience, working with the people I’ve worked with, because they getting about like, how can, I mean, when I started doing consulting about 10-15 years ago, and I started working with these folks that are business owners, right. And you’re like, wow, they’ve got successful lives, they are making multiple six to seven figures personally. You know, from the outside, some will go like oh man, they’ve made it, they have made it. Yet, they have issues in their marriages dysfunction within the family with the kids ’cause they’ve traded so much time with them to be a way to build the business for their family, but they weren’t there for the family at times- not judging it’s just what I noticed. So they built this business and had success and they’re still not happy and they don’t have joy and peace. And I’m like, Whoa. One of my mantras – hey, life is short. It just is. Look at when we’re recording this now, Jon. We’re in a finger quotes “pandemic,” and it’s real. And the fact that matter is, and people realizing when this came across and like all life got disrupted, like it caused many folks to really dig in and ask “what really matters?”

Chris Yonker (05:27):

Like I have friends and people that I know that have like moved their companies, sold their companies, a friend of mine moving just literally moved from Boston, sold their place and moved to California. And why? Because I’m like, you know, what, what do I really want? Like what is the real me? The true me? And what I mean by that is the thing I’ve realize is that so often folks start a business to be free, to have freedom. But what is it that’s driving that entrepreneurial spirit – power. I want power. Or I want control, or I want to be the best. I want to be competitive or perhaps I want to be known. Any of these drives, Jon, they’re ego-based. And I’m not saying egos are bad, but if you really want to be fulfilled and have joy and peace and grace in your life, there’s an evolution that’s necessary to move beyond obtaining your happiness from something that’s outside. Happiness doesn’t come from the external reality and your rules about what’s necessary or the contingencies that you’ve built to allow you to truly be happy and fulfilled in your life.

Chris Yonker (06:41):

And so when I saw this chasm here, I’m like, Whoa, this is like, it’s taken me awhile. I’m a recovering high achiever. It’s taken me a long time to, just like, you know, I want to enjoy my life experience while I’m living it. I want to live a legacy, not necessarily just leave a legacy because in essence, leaving a legacy, what, what, what’s the price of that per se? Is it possible? I can take my drive and what’s gotten me to where I’m at and redirect it so that I canmeet the next level. The only thing that I’ll say on this note is the same thing I tell an entrepreneur, celebrity, best-selling author, physician in any of these folks I’ve worked with what got them to where they are, can not becomes literally comes to the bars that held them in their self and they can’t, it becomes a prison and they’re not able to really get to the next state. It’s it’s, it’s amazing. It’s amazing to witness,

Jon Tota (07:49):

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Jon Tota (08:39):

For years, I set this goal as an entrepreneur, that the reason I started my own business was to have freedom, to have freedom of your schedule, to work when and how you want and with who you want. And I know there came a time where you get so caught up in running your business and you’re working for your employees and your investors and your customers that all of a sudden you feel like, well, I’m no better than if I just had a normal corporate job and I’ve got all this responsibility and risk on top of that. And so it became the opposite. And I spent years trying to figure out how to get that roadmap back to freedom. But now was that- is freedom one of those ones that is too much of an external need that it’s not true to yourself, or is it, or is that the right type of motivation?

Chris Yonker (09:24):

Yeah, that’s a really good question. Part of the problem is because we look at like, well, I got the result I want. Or like I’ve got a seven figure business, or I created a company and I was able to exit and make X, Y, and Z. We can create these conditions, but we really got to put our NLP hats on here, Jon. How do we find the path of freedom? Like what’s freedom really mean, right? At the end of the day, what do people really, truly want as human beings? What we really truly want is we want to be, we want to have love, love ourselves, love others. We want to have self esteem. We want to have a sense of security. These are the three fundamental drivers in our nature, right? Either we’re pursuing pleasure or pain, oftentimes we’re trying to avoid what we don’t want to happen, which is really more likely about security.

Chris Yonker (10:11):

Security is around certainty. I want freedom, but I want certainty. Well, guess what? We’re really not in control. People are realizing that this year, right? At the end of the day, the thing we call certainty that we, that we’re pursuing this freedom, but the freedom from what? Like you said, I want freedom from having someone to tell me what to do. Okay. So what are you going to do? Well, what I’m going to do is I’m going to build a company and I’m going to serve customers. Then you’re still going to serve someone, that’s someone somewhere, right? The question is, are you aligning your gifts and what brings you joy and happiness to where you serve? Like, I, my philosophy is we’re basically souls having this human experience through this life and we’re born here and we have the ability to raise our level of consciousness as we’re here and to help each other with the journey and the way we know each other, the journey is to do exactly what you’re doing right now. It’s serving other people to help them and their journey, right? Like you’re using your strengths to do that. And that’s, that’s what I believe life is about, which is one of the two biggest illusions that… There’s two illusions that I address with my clients, because these two illusions degenerate our reality, like how we look and view everything, our beliefs about all these things. It creates our own experience.

Jon Tota (11:43):

Interesting. Because it is how you define freedom. I think that – this will bring another concept of video that I saw you had up on LinkedIn- but I feel like if I’m not serving in some way, whether it’s volunteer work or business in one form or another, or just creative projects, if I’m not giving something back and I’m not occupied on as much of my time as I want to do it with, I feel like I’m not being utilized and I’m not. I don’t have that full feeling of freedom. I feel like I’m not using my potential. And then I start thinking, or am I just trying to keep myself busy? And I watched your video about this. And I thought it was really interesting and a good topic for a lot of high achievers that pack their schedule with so many goals that they almost just become busy for busy-ness sake, maybe? Tell me a little bit about that.

Chris Yonker (12:36):

That’s right. That’s a good light. So are you familiar with the book The E-Myth by Michael Gerber?

Jon Tota (12:45):


Chris Yonker (12:45):

A lot of entrepreneurs out there read that book, right. And I’ve read the book. It’s not a big, big read, but often the book is quoted, right? And there’s one quote in specific that gets quoted over most others. And it’s, “The entrepreneur has spent too much time in their business and not enough time on their business.” You can take it and apply it to your life, right. We spend so much time in our lives. We don’t spend enough time on our lives. And the first orders of business is a business is when folks come across my path, usually they’re referred to me or they heard me speak somewhere and they’re in a deal of pain somewhere. Right? So they’re trying to avoid this pain, and the pain is coming from their own, thorough their own situation.

Chris Yonker (13:27):

But one time with some of this, what happens is folks are like, well, I don’t have enough time to work on this right now. I don’t have time. I’m too busy. And I’m like, Whoa. Right. Think about why do you start your business? Usually they’ll say freedom, control, right? So it’s like, well, who’s in control? We created all these stories about how busy we need to be and society and even technology to some degree- technology is amazing, but it doesn’t help all that much. Because part of the challenge is, is it creates more demand of our intention. And the first order of business with anyone is like, I’ve got to get their awareness cued up and their self-awareness. And a lot of times we’re so like you said, we’re so busy in it, we can’t even be self-aware to do anything about it.

Chris Yonker (14:19):

And we cannot change what we don’t notice. If we have no awareness, we have nothing to work off of. As a martial artist, one of my favorite tools is,uan app or a technology called the coach’s eye, which allows me to videotape someone’s movement and then show it for them. And I could even draw lines and talk through what I’ve seen if they’re not there virtually and share with them. Because the fact of the matter is like, even when I started practice tennis back in the, geez, late eighties, I went to a tennis academy in Bradenton, Florida, and they’re videotaping us there. And because you, you just, you think you’re doing something, but you’re not really aware enough. And so I stress with my clients. Some people that hire me, one-on-one, I’m like, Hey, if you’re not into meditation, that’s cool, but I’m going to introduce it to you.

Chris Yonker (15:08):

And I’m going to ask you to start doing it. And then the first thing is like, ‘well, I don’t have time to do that. Like you want me to…’ Like, whoa, whoa whoa, what, where does this construct of time anyway? It’s one of the biggest illusions we have and a great limiting belief that we have is there’s not enough time. There’s not enough time. So that’s, that’s a great, another great limiting belief on that same topic of just like, I must work hard or I must struggle to create my success is another one. So anyway, back to the time and space, it’s really it’s necessary if we really truly want to evolve, creating that space is essential.

Jon Tota (15:46):

Yeah. Yeah. And I, I do. I feel like exactly what you said, technology has not made it more efficient. It’s made us all more available. And so particularly now where everyone’s gone remote. So I feel like there’s, I, I do, I can’t even count the amount of video calls I do in a day and I enjoy them all, but it does seem to stack up all the white space when you used to be able to think. And that’s a big problem. One of the other videos that I saw you put out there too, and I think this is interesting. I just, this one comment you made stuck in my head when you’re talking about vision planning, is that you say it was something along the lines of most people spend more time planning their family vacation than planning their life.

Chris Yonker (16:30):

Yeah. Yeah. And that, that’s, that’s a reality. You know, you say, well, what would you plan or some of you may be sitting down and go like, well, what does that all mean? Well, I’m like, well, what’s optimal for you, right? Like, how do you want your health and wellness to look. Everything builds on top of everything else. I believe if we don’t have our health and wellness, eh. You know, I know you’re someone who enjoys the outdoors. It’s like you cycle, boating, right. I guarantee you you’re doing something to take care of yourself. So there’s that element, but then, okay, now I got that. Then what’s my context and how I manage myself mentally, emotionally, I manage myself spiritually. What do I believe about why I’m here, what this world’s about, what life’s about in general?

Chris Yonker (17:10):

And then, okay. If I get that down and then what do I think about my loving relationships and where can I grow there? And from there, like, what do I believe about parenting? If I want to have, and be a parent. What’s that gonna look like and feel like? And then from there and said, okay, well, what kind of life experiences do I want to generate? And then what’s gonna be necessary economically through that. And then, okay, how do I fit my business into that? And when I work on, I’ve done a lot of family succession work and it comes back down to, it’s like, well, let’s get really clear on each individual and family, what you really want for you, not cause you you’re third generation, that doesn’t mean you have to like be part of the family business. And that’s not… A lot of folks sometimes they ended up taking this position because they feel they should. And then a lot of our, a lot of our decision-making around what we truly want comes from our fear.

Chris Yonker (18:07):

My friend of mine just brought up to me. It was a really interesting point. I just met someone recently really, really cool lady who had a near death experience seven years ago. And when she was delivering her [child] and she actually saw herself in the room, the whole whole deal and came back in her body and she’s like ‘hol- I’ve got I’m on I’m, I’m done, I’m done living in fear and how I want to live my life.’ And she made some radical changes- started her own business, built a whole seven figure business out of her home and hasn’t looked back, but she changed how she looked at what she really wanted in regards to her vision.

Chris Yonker (18:45):

And that’s doing that work to really dive in and get clear. And if you look at I’m sure you’ve heard of the work this lady did, who was, she was a hospice worker and she was on people’s death beds and she was interviewing them. And she found that there was a trend in regards to what they say they regretted. And I had this conversation with my grandfather several years ago who lived to be 99. And my grandfather and I had this amazing dialogue about his life experience because at 99 he was still sharp, so vivid, the whole thing. And we talk about, we know that the second topic and what I found from my own experiences and from what this latest research it is, this, that one, the top, the top – Are you familiar with this study at all, Jon? Have you heard it?

Jon Tota (19:26):

No. No. Tell me.

Chris Yonker (19:27):

Well, the number one thing that people said they regretted is that they wish they had made decisions that align more with what they wanted for them, not their concern about what someone thought or with how we respond to what they say.

Jon Tota (19:43):

Interesting. Because so many of our choices are made with other people’s intentions in mind, to accommodate them. Really in the end, the biggest regret is that you didn’t put yourself and those personal needs or your personal vision at the forefront.

Chris Yonker (19:59):

I mean, at the end of the day, I mean, you’re a parent. You and I are, and I have a five-year-old so, or six? Six year old? How old is my daughter? She’s turning six. But Grayson,ou know, our goal is, is to help her with responsibility, to build resilience, be a loving, compassionate human being and become independent, right? Like the goal of a parent is to help create independence. So you and I like as if we have kids that are under 18, we are responsible for them. We are, but outside of them, we’re not responsible for anyone else except for ourselves.

Jon Tota (20:35):


Chris Yonker (20:36):

And then once they move on, then that’s it, we’re, we’re responsible for ourselves. That, and our own happiness.

Jon Tota (20:43):

I love that concept just life by design, not by default, because it’s true. Once you start making some decisions, you start falling into a path and it may not have been what you planned. And then sometimes I guess you’ve probably seen this with people you get too far along a path and it almost seems insurmountable to come back and get back on the track you wanted, right?

Chris Yonker (21:08):

Yeah. Yeah. Every day is a gift. So what do you, what do you do with it? It’s your choice.

Jon Tota (21:14):

So definitely for everyone listening, I think a great first step and a great way to learn more about Chris and his team is go to Chris yonker.com and scroll down. It’s about halfway down on the homepage. You can just I think just punch in your email address and download a copy of the free workbook. And that’s a super way of just being conscious of what you want and what’s important to you personally. Also check out the book. Chris, tell us a little bit about Soul Intention, the book cause I know you could find out more about that on the website too. Who’s that for? Who would be a good reader for the book?

Chris Yonker (21:50):

There’s a book I wrote with the intention of getting through the book in under 45 minutes and I did it intentionally because of the market. [laughs] Think about it- when someone comes to me, they already believe they don’t have enough time. I wrote it to be read in a sitting. And,the book is called Soul Intention and it’s an executive guide to building life by choice, not by chance and it is available on Amazon and you can get it in a print version or a Kindle.

Jon Tota (22:22):

Very cool. So for all our listeners, we’ll put those links in the show notes, but Chris yonker.com check out Soul Intention on Amazon and just do a search for Chris. I love the content that you put out on social media. People want to connect with you and read up on some of the stuff you’re putting out there, is LinkedIn the best place?

Chris Yonker (22:42):

Yeah. Good question. Linkedin is good. I also have Chris Yonker Instagram handle that the folks that are on the Gram can, can check me out there as well and a YouTube channel too.

Jon Tota (22:55):

Very cool. Very cool. Well, Chris, thank you so much for taking the time to come with us. I think your message right now is so important because you can’t live by chance, right? Because we’ve seen this in everything that’s happened with the COVID pandemic. That if you leave things up to chance and you don’t design around what you truly want, things like this can turn your, your world, your career, your business on its ear pretty quickly. And, and you have to be able to know what you really want in life. So thank you. Thank you for making the time to be here with us. I think your message is super important to all of us.

Chris Yonker (23:29):

Yeah. Well thank you very much for having me. I really do appreciate it.

Jon Tota (23:32):

And to all of our listeners, thank you for being here for another episode. As you know, we release a new episode every Tuesday, so wherever you’re listening, be sure to subscribe, leave us comments and ratings. We love to hear from you guys and until our next episode, happy learning.