Entrepreneur Chris Dufey on Why You Have to Change Yourself to Change the World
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In this series called Member Showcase, we publish interviews with members of The Oracles. This interview is with Chris Dufey (pronounced DuFay), founder and CEO of Coaches Cartel, which helps fitness professionals get more clients and freedom. It was condensed by The Oracles.
What was a defining moment early in your life?
Chris Dufey: Shortly after marrying the woman of my dreams and discovering she was pregnant, I received an opportunity to move from Sydney, Australia, to the United Arab Emirates to start a new business.
I decided to take the opportunity. With my wife six months pregnant, I said goodbye to her at 4 a.m. and got on a plane to Dubai. Even with the hope of starting a business that would give my new family the life they deserve, I was trembling with fear, tears pouring down my face.
For three months, I worked 12-hour days as a personal trainer, seeing clients from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. while sleeping on a couch. But my family depended on me — success was my only option. This was the hardest chapter of my life, but it laid the foundation of freedom to work anywhere in the world and take my family with me. Making it back to Sydney in time for the birth of our daughter made everything worth it.
What are you more skilled at than most people in the world?
Chris Dufey: I get lost if things become too complicated. So, I’ve learned to simplify the tactics, strategies, and principles needed to start and grow successful businesses. Now I help others build their businesses because I can diagnose what is broken or missing and get to the solution quickly.
Most entrepreneurs are busy but ineffective because they’re working on the wrong things. My job is to give my clients’ businesses — and my own — a straight shot to success.
What are the core values that guide your business, and why did you pick them?
Chris Dufey: I base my business on three simple values. First comes profit, which is necessary to function and ultimately help others. Second is having a positive impact on everyone we touch by bettering their lives and giving them 10 times the value they pay us. Finally, there’s freedom for my team and me to work with our dream clients on our terms and create the lives we want.
What did you learn from your favorite mentor?
Chris Dufey: One of my mentors is “Million Dollar Coach” author, Taki Moore. One day, I asked him about his business targets, and I’ll never forget his answer. He didn’t mention a metric or number once. Instead, he explained how he wanted to feel each day as he worked in the business. He focused on the experience he created for others and himself. Money is a business metric that is easy to count, but other critical factors determine whether we are truly making progress.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Chris Dufey: I would tell my younger self to chill out, play the long game, and enjoy the adventure. There will be plenty of ups and downs, so don’t beat yourself up when you’re in a slump. Enjoy the process, and take every day, bruise, and failure as they come.
What’s the biggest common leadership mistake?
Chris Dufey: Failing to lead by example. It’s not what you say that matters — it’s what you do. I constantly remind myself to exemplify what I expect from my team. The philosopher Epictetus put it best: “Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.” To change the world, you have to change yourself.
How do you hire top talent?
Chris Dufey: Attitude is the most important trait I look for. I believe most people can learn almost anything, but there’s no cure for laziness. I want to work with people who take responsibility, have an open mind, and take pride in their work.
How do you prevent burnout?
Chris Dufey: I’ve burned the candle at both ends several times in my life. Each time, I was busy but lacked intent — which usually means you’re ineffective.
Even though I tried to prepare my business to function without me before the birth of our third daughter, I quickly fell back into the grind. Before I knew it, I was up at all hours, working hard throughout the day, talking to my team located around the world, and being a family man in between, wondering why I was wrecked at the end of the day. My libido, drive, and focus went out the window. One night, I found myself practically having a breakdown.
This taught me the incredible importance of meditation, my spiritual practice, and being conscious of my thoughts and actions. By no means do I have this nailed down, but that’s why it’s a practice. I learned to look at life as seasons. For example, when our daughter was born, my role as a husband and father became my top priority, which meant other areas of life didn’t get as much attention. As long as I reach minimum effectiveness in all areas of life, I can be who I want to be in the moment.
What are you working on right now?
Chris Dufey: In addition to running my company, I’m also shooting a documentary called “A Life Worth Living.” I’m bringing together high performers in different fields from around the world to redefine what “success” means today and what we need to do to live it.
Never in my wildest dreams did I consider myself a filmmaker, but here I am. I jumped into this project with no idea what I was getting myself into, and I love it. There’s nothing better than deep, meaningful conversations with exceptional people, and I get to call that “work.” Life is great.
What is the most exciting question that you spend time thinking about?
Chris Dufey: I’ve gone through a period of asking big questions, even taking psychedelics like ayahuasca and having profound, life-altering experiences. But right now, I want to maintain awareness of the present moment. Each day, I ask the same question: “What is my intention?” The answer makes everything else simple and purposeful, without confusion, to make the most of every situation.