My Conversation with Corey Ciocchetti

Posted on September 18th, 2013 in Perspectives on Leadership by John Jensen

Guess what day it is!  GUESS WHAT DAY IT IS!

I had the opportunity to speak with a man by the name of Corey Ciocchetti.  Corey is an Assistant Professor of Business Ethics and Legal Studies in the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver.  Corey graduated with a law degree from Duke University School of Law, a Masters degree in Religious Studies and two Bachelors degrees in Finance and Economics from the University of Denver.  Corey is also a very inspirational speaker that speaks at many different engagements (retreats, conferences, universities).  Corey is also the author of the book Real Rabbits: Chasing An Authentic Life.

Last week on the leadership blog I spoke about choosing a leader that you admire and emulating them.  For Corey, that leader is Benjamin Franklin.  Corey says that Franklin’s rags to riches story is inspirational.  He also states that Franklin was always willing to make a stand and “ruffle people’s feathers.”  All the while maintaining his stature of being “well respected” by those around him and many people around the world.

In Corey’s book, as well as in many of his presentations, he talks about a champion racing dog named Cash and his owner.  “They are sitting on the porch one night and the dog says ‘I don’t want to run anymore; I think I’m going to retire.’  She says, ‘why would you do that at the peak of your career?  Look at all that we can have.  Are you hurt?’

‘I’m not hurt.’

‘Do I mistreat you? I didn’t think I did, but did I mistreat you?’

‘No you treat me wonderfully, you always have.’

‘Are you too old?’

‘No, I still have some race left in me, I’m not too old.’

‘Then why won’t you race?’

‘After running and running and running, all my life,  I finally realized those little white rabbits I’ve been chasing are fake.’”

Corey says that dogs and animals can’t rationalize things, much like humans can.  Things like chasing fake rabbits are not fulfilling for humans, because “we have the ability to seek things.”  Corey believes that if all you do is seek money, someone will always be richer than you are.  And deep down no one, in their heart, wants that.  People want things like family, friends, and relationships.  He says that people want a bunch of things, but if you put certain things first than you won’t be happy.  You will always chase and chase and never catch it.  That kind of behavior leads to depression.

This all brings up the question of “what exactly does it mean to be living an authentic life?”  Corey answers, it is to figure out exactly who you are “and then be that.”  He says “Don’t let the world pressure you into do things or who to be… That’s wrong.”

Corey says we as students need to understand the motivations of peer pressure and that those things are not in your best interest (things like drinking or cheating in class).  You must resist those pressures, because at the end of the day “you are what you habitually do.”

In Corey’s presentation he shows a clip from the film “Any Given Sunday” where the main coach speaks about who life and football are both a game of inches. (Click here to watch).  Corey says that this is the most valuable clip that he has in his repertoire.  Corey says, “look at the things he is saying.  Life is the six inches in front of your face.  Too often we look to our past and to our future, but rarely do we live in the moment.  The clip is profound and true.”

One of Corey’s presentations focuses on reclaiming our generation from the negative stereotypes and beliefs that our elders have.  In order to defeat those stereotypes, Corey says that our generation is “very smart.”  Our brain power has increased.  However, “motivation and desire is just not there.”  He says that in the current economy, market, and state of the world a lot of young people find themselves thinking “what can I do?”  He says that bad behaviors are taking away from valuable time that we have to make a difference.  “That kind of stuff is killing your generation.”  He says our generation is making a difference in certain areas (technology and social media).  However, interpersonal skills, working in teams, and taking initiative is extremely rare.  He says that when brain power mixes with poor motivation, it becomes this negative perception of our generation.  There is truth behind it!  “You are geniuses, but lazy.”

Switching gears, Corey and I spoke about his advising style he uses when he is working with students.  He says that he will never meet someone halfway on an issue.  He says that if you visualize this style, you have two arrows pointing at each other, making them clash.  This leads to awkward compromise and tension between the two parties.  Instead, he suggests meeting someone halfway, and then going the whole distance together.  “If you work together, the results are better.  Never meet halfway on the things you value.”

In the past I have often spoken about the importance of associating yourself with the right people.  Corey has an idea that is most easily described as “2+2=5”.  He says that this idea is all about synergy.  In this metaphor, “everybody is a two.  If you put the right two together you will get more than just 4.”  He says that good leaders are good at finding a bunch of twos and then adding them together and getting more.  He says to wait until you find your five.  “Your perfect two will make you better and lead to your success.”

“Leadership is the ability to inspire others to achieve their goals and dreams.  A real leader can inspire other people.  If you figure it out, your job then becomes to teach others.”

I wanted to take this chance to thank Corey for taking the time to speak with me about leadership and living an authentic life.  Corey is a truly inspiring individual and I strongly suggest watching some of his presentations on YouTube.  Also, please take a moment to “Like” his Facebook page here.

Until Next Time,

John Jensen

“Authenticity is key.” – Tim Kaine

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