Beyond the Click Ep 1: Chuck Ainsworth of Epic Rivers Leadership


On this episode of “Beyond the Click” we’ll talk to Chuck Ainsworth. Founder & Chief Coaching Officer Founder at Epic Rivers Leadership.  You’ll hear about leadership challenges attorney offices face and how they can be turned around. And learn about Chuck’s favorite leadership resources.

Listen to Episode 1

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Rob Ainbinder: “Beyond the Click” is a show about marketing and more for attorneys dentists and other small businesses. I’m Rob Ainbinder, CEO of Why People Click and your host. On this episode, we’ll talk to Chuck Ainsworth, founder and chief coaching officer at epic rivers leadership. You’ll hear about leadership challenges, attorney offices. And how they can be turned around and learn about Chuck’s favorite leadership resources. Welcome Chuck. [00:00:33] Chuck Ainsworth: Thanks, Rob. [00:00:34] Rob Ainbinder: Thanks for joining us. How did you get into leadership coaching? [00:00:39] Chuck Ainsworth: Wow, that’s that’s a story. Interestingly, I was a high school dropout. Okay. Never been to a day of 11th or 12th grade. [00:00:47] Ended up going to community college and eventually scrapping my way through college and eventually graduate school and bumped into this idea of leadership coaching and absolutely fell in love with it in part, because it’s [00:01:00] just a highly customized way for people to learn and thinking about my own experience, the reason school didn’t work for me, cause it was this sort of rigid template. And if it worked for you and you fit into the program, great, for those of us who are maybe wired a little bit. It was a struggle. And so coaching is just the most, highly customized just in time approach to how we develop leaders. [00:01:25] Rob Ainbinder: So, so far who, what, who’s been your most memorable leadership client? [00:01:32] Chuck Ainsworth: Wow. It’s hard to nail it down to just one person, but I’ll tell you the profile of the person that I, that I really enjoy working with. Good. Typically they’re highly successful. They’re subject matter experts in their own domain. So I do a lot of work with physicians, for example, obviously brilliant in their own right. Tremendous amount of training and hugely important to our society. But when it comes to managing people, that’s where things get a little tricky for them. Sometimes the reality is they’ve just never been trained. I haven’t been trained to practice medicine. They haven’t been trained to lead people. And so I love the opportunity to just partner with, again, what I would say is people who are, are real experts in their own domain already experiencing lots of success. But now they’re responsible either for leading a team mm-hmm or leading a team of other highly successful experts. And that requires something different. [00:02:28] Rob Ainbinder: What are some of your favorite leadership slash business resources? These could be books, podcasts, YouTube channels, you know, what, what do you, what really gets the leadership vibes flowing for you? [00:02:41] Chuck Ainsworth: So I do love to consume books these days. I, I most often listen to audio books. Couple people come to mind for me. Brené Brown has certainly been an, an influence to Dr. Brené Brown and she’s really introduced the idea of vulnerability and some of the additional layers of emotional intelligence that are required for leadership even in corporate America. [00:03:03] So, Brené Brown the one that comes to mind immediately. Mm-hmm And then another one is Jaco Willick, Jaco Willick is I think he’s the most decorated Navy Seal. He was a Navy Seal trainer and just has some really helpful points of view on leadership. He wrote a book called “Extreme Ownership”. And that one of the provocative things, Jacque, let me tell you, he’s people either love him or they hate him. He’s a provocative guy. One of the things he says is there are no bad teams, only bad leaders. I don’t think it’s quite that simple, but it does cause me and the leaders I work with. So kind of look in the mirror, like when things aren’t going well on my team, they’re not going well on your. First thing we gotta do is look in the mirror and say, “Hey, you know, how have I played a part in creating what we have here? [00:03:47] Absolutely. [00:03:48] Rob Ainbinder: Turning, turning to something that’s pretty important to us and, and who we serve. What leadership challenges do, attorneys offices face, and how are some ways they can be turned [00:04:00] around? [00:04:02] Chuck Ainsworth: A great question, Rob. So I think, you know, it, it is, it actually is a similar to what I mentioned earlier for physicians in the medical community. Trained individuals. The reality is law school. The process of becoming an attorney is a highly individualistic sport, right? In law school, you’re not trained to operate as a team. It’s about competition. It’s about winning . Largely you’re set up to work independently. And then all of a sudden you join a firm and you find out you’re at an office and there’s actually colleagues and there’s maybe some shared expectations that have to have to be wrestled a bit. And so I think one of the I’ll tell you, one of the key questions for law firms to ask is, do we wanna be a team? Or do we just want to be a group of attorneys who happen to have some shared services? Like yeah, we happen to share the same printer, maybe the same front office person, and support staff and office, but, but are we independent or do we [00:05:00] wanna be interdependent? [00:05:01] And that’s a really critical sort of question number one, that I would challenge them to. [00:05:08] Rob Ainbinder: That’s a really good, good question. And a good definition for leadership in lawyers’ offices. You know, I’ve asked a couple of questions here. What’s something that you wished I asked. And how would you answer it? [00:05:29] Chuck Ainsworth: Wow. Well, I think about if I think about your audience maybe the question would be like, what can somebody do today? Mm-hmm , you know, how can I lead more effectively? How can I be a better member of a team today? And so I’ll just give you a real. How I’d respond to that? A lot of the work that I do is built around simple visual hacks. [00:05:48] Okay. And so there’s a group of symbols. I wish you could see it today. It would make it come alive in a, in an easier way, but imagine like an equal sign or a plus sign or a hashtag, all of these are visual symbols that we use as hacks for emotional intelligence and for, for leadership. And so here’s one, I’m gonna explain it to you. It’s using the equal. To, to help inform what you listen for. So if you’re a leader for that matter, if you’re a parent, if you have a significant other, this will be valuable for you. Here’s the key communication happens on three levels. The three levels are what the person is saying. There’s what the person is feeling. [00:06:29] Mm-hmm . And then at the deepest level, there’s, what’s most important. To the other person and why, so what said felt and important? The reality is conversation and communication is like an iceberg. What we know about an iceberg and what is what’s above the surface is always smaller than what’s below the surface. [00:06:47] Sure. In fact, they tell us like 10% of an iceberg is above the surface. Mm-hmm hard for me to believe. But I experienced that as being true conversation. What’s above the surface, even in our conversation right now are the [00:07:00] words that we’re sharing with one another. Sure. That’s only 10% when your significant other says something like, Hey, what do you wanna do for dinner? [00:07:08] Mm-hmm those are the words. But underneath of bat is the second layer. That’s what the person is feeling. Maybe they’re feeling hungry, maybe they’re frustrated. They’re on the hook to figure it out again, instead of you or me the question is what, what are they feeling? But at the deepest levels, what’s most important. [00:07:28] Is it deciding together? Is it just that we figure it out and move on to what’s next? Is it that they’re tired and they all wanna have to make another decision what’s most important? Mm-hmm so those three levels, the reason I shared the equal sign is I will literally either take notes in my head or sometimes even on paper and write down, you know, what did Rob say? [00:07:46] What do I think Rob is feeling positive and. And what do I think’s most important to Rob? And if I ask those three questions, if I think in terms of those three layers, mm-hmm, , I’m gonna have a [00:08:00] much richer, much more meaningful, much more in tune conversation with whoever the other person is. So my challenge to your audience would be to think about that. [00:08:08] Who are you frustrated with right now? Is it one of your kids again? Is it your significant other, is it, is it a partner in your. Right. You’re hearing what they’re saying, but my question for you is what are they feeling? And I like to joke that feelings is like the F word at work. Most of us just don’t, it’s kinda uncomfortable and awkward, but you need to pay attention. [00:08:32] Here’s why feelings are data and it’s data that helps us understand mm-hmm that bottom layer, which is what’s most important to the people around us. If you take that one simple. Model away and you apply it this evening. I guarantee you’ll have a richer conversation. [00:08:53] Rob Ainbinder: Great. Right. Well, thanks so much for sharing that. [00:08:57] That’s yeah, that’s really neat. [00:09:00] Yeah. And if they , if they wanna learn more about things like these visual hacks, these models, how can they find. [00:09:10] Chuck Ainsworth: You can go to . And so it’s really four streams that we talk about the idea of epic Rivers. Part of the meeting behind that for me is four streams that when practice really lead to what I call life, giving leadership and life giving leadership might, might be a new term to you, but you’ve experienced it. We’ve all experienced. You know, working for a leader that was toxic and it just sucked the oxygen and the energy out of a team. Sure. And hopefully you’ve had the opportunity like myself to work for a life giving leader and that’s somebody who helped everything and everyone around them grow well. Life giving leaders, they really practice four things. And so if you go to you’ll, you can read a little bit more about those four areas and what we focus on. [00:09:55] Rob Ainbinder: Fantastic. Well, thanks so much for sharing that, Chuck, and thanks for joining us. [00:10:00] Chuck Ainsworth: Thanks Rob. [00:10:01] And I want to thank those that have listened or watched our show “Beyond the Click”. It’s produced by Why People Click the premier marketing agency to lawyers and dentists, as well as other professional organizations. Listen to the Podcast on Apple, Google, wherever you listen. Find out more about our lawyer marketing services at

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