Chris Ullman is the Director of Global Communications at The Carlyle Group, an investment firm based in Washington, DC. He’s also a four-time international whistling champion who has performed with symphony orchestras, major league sporting events, and in the Oval Office for President George W. Bush. You may have seen him on the Tonight Show, or in the New York Times. In 2012, Ullman was inducted into the International Whistling Hall of Fame.

In his new book, Find Your Whistle,  Ullman shares his memoirs and inspires readers to find their simple gift, their “whistle” as he calls it, and share that gift with the world.


Mike Alden: All right. Well, my name is Micheal Alden and we are here in Blue Vase Studios and this is the Alden Report. Again folks, I always talk about how excited I am to be able to talk to interesting people. To talk to people that are changing the world, to talk to authors, business people, entrepreneurs, people from all walks of life, and for me, it’s such a gift and I am really, really excited for my next guest. His name is Chris Ullman. He is an interesting guy. He is a four time international whistling champion, he is the head of communications at the Carlyle Group. I’m going to talk to you in a little bit about what the Carlyle group does, but I think they’re pretty important. And he’s got a great book out called Find Your Whistle, Simple Gifts Touch Hearts and Change Lives. It’s a really, really interesting story, even kind of how we met. I’m really, really excited to have him. Chris, thanks for being my guest.

Chris Ullman: Mike, thanks for having me. It’s great to be with you and your listeners.

Mike Alden: So tell us a little about your background. So first of all, so you’re kind of in world for what I maybe I guess call like high finance, I think. Tell us about that world and how you got involved in that world first, and we’re going to get into your book, in the whistling. Your life is just fascinating, but how did you get involved in the whole finance world? If that’s the right way to describe it.

Chris Ullman: Yeah. I work at a place called a Carlyle Group, and we’re a … Well we call ourselves a global alternative asset manager, which is fancy talk for we buy things, we make them better, and we sell them. And I do the corporate communications for the firm and we’re a global firm, and we invest money on behalf of wealthy individuals and institutional investors such as pension funds, and corporate pensions and the like. And I’ve been at Carlyle for just about 16 years, and when I started, there was no communications function. It was literally just total green field, and over time we’ve built a wonderful team, and we focus on the media relations, the corporate brand internal communications, communicating with our investors, social media, and my bosses are all billionaires, so I get to help them with their personal philanthropy, getting the word out about interesting things that they’re doing. So I’m as blessed as can be, this an amazing job.

My career-wise, I’ve been in D.C. for 30 years and working … I worked in the White House, I worked on Capitol Hill and worked in the for-profit, the non-profit sectors and I’ve just had a very wonderful career and still going strong.

Mike Alden: That’s great. I love D.C., I interned for a congressman in the Rayburn building for a little while and it just … It’s such a great area. There’s so much stuff going on even, you know, with people you see what’s going on in the news, but the city itself is just … I mean the energies is amazing. I loved being there when I was there. I did mostly constituent work, so not a lot of legislative stuff, but when I was there, had an opportunity, it’s just awesome, so …

Chris Ullman: Oh yeah.

Mike Alden: Political science major and an attorney by trade, so you kind of have to love D.C.

Chris Ullman: Oh yeah, well I’m glad you had that opportunity. Same here, I worked for a congressman. I was a spokesman for three years or so, and it was so exciting, and this was back in the mid 90’s for me, when Republicans ran Congress, but Clinton ran the White House and they actually had to work together to get things done, so it was a good time to be in Washington. These days it’s a lot more anger, hatred, and divisiveness, which is why I’m so focused on kind of my book and trying to get the message out about love and joy, and people making the world a better place.


Mike Alden: Let’s I guess, let’s get into it. So you wrote this book called, Find Your Whistle, and you are a four time international whistling champion, which, you know, I think you joked about on your TEDx talk that people like well … And you’re also in the whistling hall of fame and you joke and said, “Well, yeah.” You don’t know what that is into that crowd. I thought that was … I love the … Your humor. How did you begin to write this book? Why’d you write the book, and tell us a little about it.

Chris Ullman: Well, I’m glad you mentioned my TEDx talk. And so, back in 2013, I had the chance to do a Ted Ex talk and what was really interesting about it is the organizer of the event was drawn to the notion that I’m a champion whistler. So he presented the opportunity to do one, but then I thought, well what would I say? Now of course I do communication for a living, so I spend a lot of time focused on what is the message and what is the intent, and what is the hoped for outcome.

So I literally spent six months trying to ponder why would anyone care that I am a whistling champion. Then what I kind of concluded with that, I’ve had this array of experiences over the past 30 years, where I’ve whistled in the oval office for the president, and I’ve whistled for handicapped children, one of whom whistles but can’t speak. And I whistle happy birthday more than 400 times a year for people, and so I knew I had great stories, but what I was looking for is a thread going through them, and during that six months preparation, I concluded that I was able to touch people’s hearts and even change some lives using this simple gift. Because I’m not a hero, I’m a whistler, and no one would ever mistake whistling for heroism, and that’s okay, because not all of us can be heroes. And but everyone has something simple inside them that they can share with other people.

So, I gave my talk and had a great, great time, and I had a pianist with me, I had a violinist who did dueling banjos with me. And so that was just tons of fun and was a way to make the message more interesting for the audience, and then the book flowed from that.

Mike Alden: Okay.

Chris Ullman: Where after I finished this talk, and I had all these great stories, I had this theme, and I said, “Wow, I should write a book about this.” And so, then over the next four years, I wrote the book and found a publisher, and so my book just came out in June of 2017. Now I’m in the marketing mode, and just trying to get the word out.

And ultimately, I’m trying to empower people so that they better realize what they are capable of. I think we have a hero-centric culture and we love our heroes, and sports heroes, and political heroes, and all sorts of people who’ve done amazing things. You know, climb Mt. Everest blind, and those are all great things, and I would never take anything away from them, but you don’t have to be a hero to touch a heart. And I want people to realize that what they are capable of, and that you don’t have to do a heroic thing, you can do a simple thing and still make a difference.

Mike Alden: Yeah, I know. That makes a lot of sense, and you mentioned the heroes thing. I find that, you know, especially within the world of celebrity, or within the world of professional athletes, and we put these humans on a pedestal and hold them up as if they are a deity and 9 times out of 10, they remind us that they are in fact human and they let us down. I think too many of us are looking for heroes that just … They shouldn’t be. I think it was a Charles Barkley who said something like, “I’m not a role model.” I mean, people didn’t like what he had to say, but you’re right. We can all be our own heroes within ourselves.

Chris Ullman: Yes, and … But adding to that, what I’m trying to do is get people to think outside of themselves. So I think … So for me, I have this talent. Yes I can whistle well, and I’ve whistled with symphonies and, I’m one of the best whistlers in the world, but the point is that what am I going to do with it? If I just whistle to make myself happy, that is not going to make an impact on the world. But if I can use this gift to reach out and touch a heart, that’s really powerful. Here’s one little example.

As I no doubt whistle happy birthday hundreds of times a year, and I’ve gotten to be friendly with this senior citizen whose now in her late 80’s and I’ve been whistling for her for almost 10 years now, on her birthday. A couple years ago, I called her up and … It was probably around 3:00 in the afternoon, her name is Jean. So I got Jean on the phone, and I whistled for her, and then we chatted for a few minutes, and she said to me, “You’re the first person I talked to today.”

Mike Alden: Wow.

Chris Ullman: And I thought, “Oh my gosh!” So it’s 3:00 in the afternoon, and no one has called to wish her a happy birthday. No one has come to visit her, and hopefully other people did later in the day, but here, I was able to take my simple little gift and touch her heart in this little way. I’m not curing cancer, so I don’t claim it’s a big thing, but for a few moments, I was able to tell her that she was important. And then, that gives me joy too because being able to share my gift is, makes me happy, and when I whistle happy birthday for people, I routinely hear, “You made my day.” And what a gift that is to me.

So of course, I’m doing it for them, but it brings me joy as well to know that I have the capability to reach out and touch someone, and that spurs me on to do it even more. Because why limit myself? If I can continue to do good for a larger group of people, by whistling happy birthday for example, then that’s what I should be doing. So I’ve kind of turned it into a ministry, believe it or not.

Mike Alden: Yeah, as I’m listening to you, I really appreciate what you’re saying. And I think, you know, our listeners need to understand that as well. It’s those, truly those little things, those small moments, the things that you’re doing on a day to day basis. You said, you’re not curing cancer, but to me that doesn’t … To me, I know you’re trying to be humble, but when you do call somebody on their birthday, and you whistle for them, and like you said, she hasn’t talked to anybody up until you. The impact that it has on her is immeasurable, meaning that after you hang up that phone, you may not know that you had an impact on her day that made her feel great, and then she went on to do great things herself, and I think a lot of people need to really appreciate not only what you’re saying, but the theme is those small things truly can have a global impact. Right?

Chris Ullman: Yeah. Oh yeah. One of the things I do in the book is to feature other people whose simple gifts touched my heart.

Mike Alden: Right.

Chris Ullman: And the goal is to entertain people, so I’ve got all these great, funny, poignant stories in the book, and that I want people scratching their heads saying, “Hmm. What’s my whistle? What is my simple gift?” So to try to give readers a better idea, I feature 10 people whose simple gifts have made an impact in my life. And those people run the gambit, from my mother and her simple gift is empathy, to a young lady who makes a homemade Christmas card for my family every year and has made it for 20 years. Very simple, but it’s my favorite card, I look forward to it every year, and to a priest who runs a homeless shelter and his whistle is love, to a man who makes carrot cake for me once a year, usually on New Year’s, because he knows I love it and he doesn’t have to do that-

Mike Alden: Bring some of the carrot cake over here. Love carrot cake.

Chris Ullman: Yeah, well then you would love this. This is the best carrot cake the world has ever known. And … So your listeners might be saying, “Wow, so it’s a Christmas card, so what?” Or, “It’s a carrot cake, so what?” But that’s really the point.

Mike Alden: Right.

Chris Ullman: Is that it’s so simple and it’s just him giving, or her giving, or him or herself in this loving way to brighten my day. And then, hopefully, I’m paying it forward, and so that’s what the … Kind of the empowering part of the book is all about, is getting people to realize how powerful they are as individuals. I think a lot of people forget that they are capable of changing a life. You don’t have to wait for someone else to do it, you can do it.

Mike Alden: Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. I’m going to ask you a question in a sec. But folks, if you’re listening right now, we are on with Chris Ullman. You can find him at ChrisUllman.com. You can find his book, Find Your Whistle. It’s on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, you can just Google him. And by the way, take a look at his Ted Ex talk also on YouTube. I just watched it right before we got on today. It’s pretty awesome. I mean, his background, we haven’t talked about it yet, but he’s serenaded the president, he’s been on the Tonight Show. He’s lived an amazing, amazing life, and what he’s talking about, what is your whistle. It’s not necessarily about his talent of being a four time international whistling champion, it’s about what’s within you that can help others. It’s a great book, it’s very, very inspiring. Again, go to Amazon or you can just … You can also just go to ChrisUllman.com.

Chris, so I think I know the answer to this question just from what we’re just talking about before, but I do like to, from my own crutch I guess, to have a list of questions I like to ask people. This one’s kind of my favorite; it’s why it’s the first one.

Success, as it right now, you have a very successful career with the Carlyle Group as a head of communications and that’s a big deal in and of itself. But your career as a whistler, I know it dates back all the way to when you were five years old, but how do you define success within that world of becoming a champion whistler?

Chris Ullman: Well first, if you take a 30,000 foot look at success, and I spent a lot of time thinking about this because I have three children now and they’re 15, 14, and 11. And my wife and I talk to them a lot about making the most of their gifts. And so to me, their success to a great extent is an absolute. It’s what am I capable of doing. Unfortunately, our society generally measures success relative. It’s how are successful were you relative to that person, and I am not discounting that. That’s kind of life. Is that if you have the Indy 500, someone’s going to win it, someone’s going to come in second. So yes, success is relative in that case. But when my kids get a report card, I say to them, “Did you do the best you could do? So is that B the best you are capable of?” And if they say, “Yes.” Then I’m not going to upset. If they say, “No.” Then I will say, “That’s a missed opportunity, and we need to help you be all you can be.”

So ultimately, I think true success, especially if you’re looking at it from an existential or even a religious standpoint, is really about maximizing the gifts God has given each one of us individually, and it’s up to us to do something with those gifts and make the most of them.

Now, so of course, the relative aspect of success, as they said, is a part of life. So I got to be a champion whistler. You know, won the championship four times because … Pretty much all the standard things that you have to do to be good at anything. You have to work really hard, you have to really want it, have to be creative, innovative. And I’d say I’ve done those things.

So like an innovative area for example, I’ve developed some kind of funky whistling techniques almost no one else can do. So a big part of the way I live my life is trying to figure out how do you differentiate oneself in the marketplace. So just use an example.

So most whistlers whistle with their lips. So you pucker your lips and the air goes through it and there’s your whistle. But I can whistle with my tongue. So you say, “All right. So what?” I say, “Well, I can do these things where I can make a referee whistle sound.” And the way I do that is by going literally (brr) like it’s cold, plus the tongue whistle. Put the two together, and you make a whole new sound. So what does this have to do with whistling and innovation? Well what I’m able to do is take this so called referee whistle and use it as an embellishment to make my whistling more interesting and dynamic. It helps me interpret pieces better. So, that’s a way to differentiate. So that’s been a big part of how I’ve approached my art of whistling, is how do I develop new techniques to innovate.

Another thing, and this gets into the hard work category. In 1996, a mere 21 years ago, I did a Graceland pilgrimage. So I spent a week driving throughout Tennessee to go and visit and commune with Elvis. And I whistled for five or six hours every day for a week. In my car, alone of course, because no one could tolerate that much whistling. Heck, I can barely tolerate that much whistling. But the goal was to perfect the songs that I had been working on. Just over and over and over and over again. And for any of your listeners who’s ever read Outlier by Malcolm Gladwell. The 10,000 hour rule-

Mike Alden: You stole my question, man.

Chris Ullman: It’s over and over and over and over again. Aw, I’m sorry.

Mike Alden: That’s okay. That’s all right.

Chris Ullman: You can tell we didn’t rehearse.

And it was just over and over and over again. It’s the tedious part about becoming great at something. Whether you’re crocheting or whether you’re a writer or a poet, or whether you’re a doctor trying to do the best stitches possible. It’s just over and over and over and over again. I’ve always been fascinated by people who say to me, “Hey, do you practice?” I’m like I was looking ’em kind of cross eyed and I’m like, “How could I be good if I didn’t practice?” And sure, I practice all the time, hours at a time, and thankfully I like to practice. Because if I didn’t like it, it would just … I wouldn’t do it.

So here’s another interesting and fun example. Is that I’m … About why I’ve achieved as a whistler is that I’m very good at arranging music for the lip. So I’m going to do the national anthem tomorrow. So obviously this will be after … Your podcast will air after this.

Mike Alden: Right.

Chris Ullman: So, I’ve done the national anthem a bunch of times at major league sporting events, baseball games, basketball games, and the like. That I decided I want to do a different arrangement of it. From the way I arranged it in the past. So I spent the past couple of weeks and thinking through, how do I take this song that everyone knows, and make it mine. But now make it mine in a different way than I made it mine in the past. So I’ve come up with kind of a somewhat of a jazzy version that I’m just super excited about, and I’m hoping the baseball fans will like it. But that process of arranging the song to fit my instrument, using my little do-dad embellishments, it’s a fun process to go through. I’m very excited about the process of doing it, and then of learning it, and hopeful that people will like it.

Mike Alden: Yeah, you know, that’s great. So, you know, I’m glad we’re talking a little bit about success in … I think you’re right. I mean, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell did such an amazing job. I read his book and I don’t think I had written my books yet, and I was like, “Man, this guy … He’s just so talented.” But there’s another book called The Talent Co., was actually written before Outliers and his name is Dan Coil, and one of the things that he talks about is the ignition moment in someone’s life. So all that hard work, all that stuff you’re doing right now, there’s a reason why.

Was there a point in your life that you said, “Man, this is what I want to do.” I want to put in those hours because, you know, Michael Phelps and you hear about all these athletes and things like that, when all these professional athletes, for the most part, they’re doing it because they love it. You’re spending six hours in the car, day after day, hour after hour, year after year, because you love it. But was there a point in your life that you can recall where you said, you walked into a room, I know you think, I think you said your dad might have whistled before, but was there something that really that … That really hit home for you?

Chris Ullman: There was. So I grew up listening to classical music, and eventually got into jazz, blues, you know, jam band, Grateful Dead stuff, kind of later in high school. But all my early listening was classical and so I got to know Mozart’s Oboe Concerto. So it’s a fairly complex piece, it’s around 21 minutes long, so it’s orchestra with oboe, and so I started just whistling the oboe part. And I came to master it.

Then one day, I was on a bike ride, and I just said to myself. It just literally popped into my head, I don’t know why. I said, “Why don’t I whistle this with a real life orchestra?” And it just seems so utterly outrageous to have a whistler in an orchestra. Especially with a traditional classical piece by Mozart. But I said, “Why not?” So I made a demo tape of me whistling kind of along with a recording of it, and then I drafted a letter, trying to establish my credentials, and then send it to 50 orchestras in the, mostly in the kind of mid-Atlantic region of America, the United States. So you’ve got like Maryland and North Carolina, Virginia area. And sure enough, three of them said yes, and so then of course, I was scared because … Be careful what you wish for.

Mike Alden: Right, right.

Chris Ullman: But for now I actually had to make sure I knew every note. So then I launched into this intense period of preparation where I actually went and got the score and made sure I knew every single note, and eventually, I did my performances. I got on stage with, and it was just me and the orchestra. At that point, I realized, especially because the audience reaction was so positive that it has potential, and then, as with a lot of things in life, it’s what do you choose to do with your gift? Or what do you choose to do with opportunity? And so over time, over the past 20, almost 25 years, I just look for opportunities to whistle whenever I could. And I had these just fascinating experiences where I get a very binary reaction.

So for example, I met the conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra, one time, and a friend of mine, who’s with me said, “Oh you got to hear him whistle. He’s great.” And the conductor kind of looks at me and says, “Whistle.” I said, “Okay.” So I whistle a song, and she says, “Wait here.” Then she goes 10 feet over, talks to some guy, comes back and says, “How would you like to perform with the National Symphony Orchestra in front of 60,000 people at the U.S. Capital in one month?”

Mike Alden: Wow.

Chris Ullman: I was like, “Ah, let me check my schedule. Yes.” So she got it. So she was one side of the binary reaction. Then I was at a car wash a few years later, and getting … It was one of these high school car washes and I went up to the person, I said, “Well, what’s the cause?” “Oh it’s for the T.C. Williams High School Orchestra.” And T.C. Williams is a high school in Alexandria, Virginia, where I live. And I said, “Well is the conductor here?” And they said, “Yeah, she’s right over there.” So I went up to her, I introduced myself, and I said, “I’m a champion whistler, I’ve whistled with 10 symphony orchestras.” And I tried to present it in a way that whistling with her orchestra was the next logical step. And her reaction was goose egg, nothing.

Mike Alden: Right.

Chris Ullman: She’s like, “Oh.” So it’s totally binary how people react to it. So some of your listeners maybe saying, “This guy’s way too freaky … It’s just beyond my comfort zone.” And other people are going, “Ah, this is different. This is fun.” And I can’t predict how people are going to react, and whistling is whimsical on one hand, but I take it seriously. But I don’t take myself too seriously because it’s whimsical and I try to strike a balance of being professional, and make sure I have a top level of quality, but still being joyous and fun with it.

Mike Alden: Yeah, you know, I really like your demeanor again. I watched your Ted Ex talk and it’s really funny. I recommend it to anybody. Again, we’re on with Chris Ullman. If you’d like some more information about Chris Ullman, you can just go to his website. It’s Chris and then U-L-L-M-A-N.com. His book is called, Find Your Whistle, Simple Gifts Touch Hearts and Change Lives. It’s his story about, you know, kind of the things that he’s gone through throughout his life, but really what we’re talking about here is what’s your whistle? What is … What talent do you have to offer the world that can change lives and I think that’s really kind of the point of the book.

But you know, Chris, when we talk about you know, the whistling and again I love your humor. It’s great. But you really are at the pinnacle. You’re at the top of the top in the world in what you do. And so I look at what you do is no different than again, as we mentioned, you know, Michael Phelps or Tom Brady, or any world chess champion. You’re doing the same type of stuff just within your field, right? I mean it’s the same level of commitment and I think that’s what I love to drive home with our listeners is whatever it is you’re trying to do, whether you want to be a champion whistler or whether you want to be Tom Brady. It’s possible but you got to put in the work, right?

Chris Ullman: Oh yeah. Totally … And as I look across my 30 year career, and I am amazingly blessed and I … Every day I get on my knees and I thank the Lord for the opportunities that I’ve had. And the financial benefits and I’m humbled by it all. And I think, you know, if I try to be really objective about how did I get here, you know, I think in my profession, you know, I think every profession is different, you know, how do you get to the top. I mean, yes, you have to work hard. In my profession, communications, especially like public relations, what I have found has really worked for me is two things. One is being an advisor and not a message taker, and what I mean by that is, you know a lot of people in life, they’re good at identifying the problem, and you go to the boss and you say, “We have a problem.”

Mike Alden: Right.

Chris Ullman: But that’s a message taker. An advisor goes to the boss and says, “We have a problem, here’s the situation. Here is the background. Here are the three options. Here’s my recommendation. Now let’s talk about it.” And that ladder approach, more the advisory approach is very much premised on courage. Being able to take a stand with the boss and be able to back it up with knowledge and history, and a perspective that comes from experience to a great extent, so that you are not just a message taker for the boss. You are helping the boss make the decision, and the boss comes to rely on you, and it’s that process as I worked in my career. The older you get, the more experience you have, the braver you are and the more committed you are to being an advisor. The more effective you become over time, and it becomes a real positive feedback loop I found that the more they trust you, and the more your advice proves to be valuable, the more they will trust you and then you become integral to the process rather than peripheral to the process.

So that’s been I think a huge part of it. And then the other part for me, has been what I call the heart and the head. And I do a lot of mentoring with college seniors, trying to help them think through their heart and their head. So heart is what do you want to do, and head is what are you able to do. And you can picture like a vin diagram in where these two overlap with each other and you find the careers and jobs and that where the heart and the head come into sync with each other.

Now thankfully, I’ve … I’m a fairly existential thinker, so I spent a lot of time pondering what am I good at, and where do I have the most value, and what makes my heart sing. And so I worked hard throughout my career to get those to match up with each other, and that’s what really enables me to have skill and passion in sync with each other. Because readers know that if you are doing a job that you like, but you’re really not good at, it’s not going to work, and vice versa that something you’re really good at but you really don’t like, that’s not going to work too well in the long term either. And because I’ve been able stick my heart and my head in sync with each other, and match that up with really good jobs, that just … You know, the enthusiasm and the confidence are like rocket fuel in a career.

Mike Alden: Yeah, you know when … A lot of times people aren’t fortunate enough to really, to be obviously where you’re at and a lot of times people just go throughout their life and they’re never able to find that balance that you’re talking about. But then when I think about, you know, you and I talked to have a list of questions and the listeners usually know you just talked about being an advisor, not a message taker. I looked at my one question, I always ask, what advice do you give young people to grow in the workforce? And I think that that message answers that question, but it also gets you to the place you want to be, because if you become more valuable to the people around you by offering some sort of, like you said advice, or trying to provide a solution rather than just identifying the problem. ‘Cause anybody can do that. That to me, is just such sound advice for any career. Right?

Chris Ullman: Oh totally. You know, there’s … One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately and there’s a lot of emphasis in our society these days on diversity. And I’m all for diversity, more women, more minorities in senior positions and in careers that are under represented by women and minorities and I think that’s great. But what we … I think really should be focused on regardless of your gender, regardless of your race, regardless of your ethnicity, is are you brave? Are you courageous?

Because if when you’re sitting in a meeting with a whole bunch of people, especially if they’re people more senior than you, and kind of a tide is going in one direction, but in your gut, and in your head you say, “Mm … I’m really not happy about that. I think we should go in that direction.” It takes courage to be able to raise your hand and say, “What about this, instead of that?” And that is the kind of diversity that I think is what we need to push more than all of them combined, because you need brave people who will stop the boss from doing stupid things. Or stop an organization from adopting a herd mentality where because the tide has turned, then everyone just goes in that direction before you thoroughly explored all the options. And it’s bravery and courage that get people, and put them in a position to question, not in an obnoxious way, but in a thoughtful fact based, logical way that you present an alternative. And it’s amazing.

I mean that famous play, Twelve Good Men. I think it was called Twelve Angry Men? Which is the one about the jury? I think it was Twelve Angry Men.

Mike Alden: Twelve Angry Men. Yeah.

Chris Ullman: Yeah, where remember 11 of them were going in one direction, and then one of them said, “Mm, I’m not sure about that.” And then eventually brought the other 11 over. And that was courage. Didn’t have anything to do with gender, didn’t have anything to do with race or ethnicity, it had to do with courage, and that is the biggest piece of advice I give to young folks these days, is be courageous. Of course, you can’t do it willy-nilly you have to have your facts. You have to be logical, you have to be respectful, but that is really the kind of diversity that I think is what will help someone stand out in their career, but more importantly make a bigger difference in a day to day in your job and your organization.

Mike Alden: Yeah, and I love that advice. As someone who’s sitting in a corner office in my company and at one point, I’ve had almost 200 employees, and in my top level executives have been with me since day one, and if you surround yourself, and I’ve seen it happen, people … You can surround yourself with yes men and women, and they’re going to make you feel good about the decisions, but if you want to be successful, whether you’re the CEO or whether you’re a middle level manager or whether or not your personal life. You can’t surround yourself with just yes men and women because you’re not going to break through, you’re going to make bad decisions. And if people are afraid to give you that advice, things are going to fall apart.

But what I really love about what you’re saying though, not even from the CEO level because I fully appreciate that, is that the advice that you’re giving to others who maybe even aren’t at that level yet that are trying to get to that level, is provide solutions. Like you said, lay it out, you know, try and be as objective as you can. Maybe give some alternative, you know, like you said, turn a path so that people rather than watching somebody make a bad decision.

You know with Outliers, you talked about Outliers, right? That story in Outliers where, Korean Airlines, you remember that story in Korean Airlines with the-

Chris Ullman: Oh totally. If you’re readers, I mean if your viewers have not read this book, you must. And if you read it while you’re in a plane, it will freak you out.

Mike Alden: I mean that’s kind of what it is, right? It’s like, “Hey, you know, let’s have a talk, you know.” Well it’s great stuff. So we don’t have a lot of time left, but folks if you’re listening right now, and you want to find that book that’s going to tell you some awesome stories, but it’s also going to really put in perspective truly the little things in life, and you know I appreciate that with my book, 5% More, but I love Chris’s story, I love his commitment and I love what he’s doing. So if you want some more information about Chris, you can just go to ChrisUllman.com. You can also find, Find Your Whistle on Amazon, Books-a-Million, Barnes & Noble. You can just Google it. I also recommend that you go to YouTube and watch his Ted Ex. It’s really … It makes me smile thinking about it because it … He tells a great story and it’s not just a lecture so to speak.

Now Chris, I wasn’t sure I was going to do this, well I kind of was. Now you had mentioned that this podcast is going to air after you’re going to do the national anthem that you have somewhat of a unique twist on it. Would you be willing to close out the show with that version of the national anthem knowing that it won’t air until after?

Chris Ullman: I would be delighted. Okay.

Mike Alden: All right. Here we go. I can’t wait. I’m excited. Chris Ullman, everybody.

Chris Ullman: Okay.

Play ball.

Mike Alden: Wow. That was amazing. Again folks, if you want some more information about Chris Ullman, you got to visit his website, it’s ChrisUllman.com. You can find his book, Find Your Whistle at Amazon, Books-a-Million, and Barnes & Noble. Google it. Obviously his talent is been on display here, but his story and what he’s talking about and how your inner talent and your whistle can have an impact like we mentioned earlier, not only on an individual, but truly on a global basis. It’s a great book, he’s obviously a great guy doing some great things, so go ahead and check it out.

Again, my name is Michael Alden, this has been the Alden Report, and we’ll see you soon.

 

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