Karl Schroeder: Defining Moments and Being in Your Integrity
"What will it take to keep you?" The moment that the CTO asked the question, Karl knew that despite loving that company and what he was doing, his path was now leading in a different, completely uncharted direction.
From living in his car to falling 25 feet while rock climbing to abandoning a college basketball scholarship, Karl's story is one of defining moments, honest introspection, and "being in his integrity."
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Shea Oliver: Hi, I'm Shea Oliver. Welcome to The Priority Paradigm. I'm sharing stories of amazing people who have made radical changes in their lives for something more important. Today. I'm with Karl Schroeder, and he has an awesome story to tell us. So without further ado, Karl, tell us your story.
Karl Schroeder: Hi, Thanks Shea. My name is Karl Schroeder, and so this is a little story about, I guess the road less traveled. And, I think, you know, when I think of stories like this, I often think of one thing that I like to choose to think about, to bring into consciousness and awareness, to remind myself of the important things of have these types of stories is that is this idea of defining moments. So I'll take you back to a defining moment. A year ago I was working for a startup. A really well funded startup in the energy space, looking to transform the geopolitical landscape of the energy distribution in oil and gas and alternative energies around the world.
Karl Schroeder: That was really, really a cool job in a cool opportunity and I was product managing and leading the product team and also working with either directly with the C-Suite and the decision makers and, a number of events had kind of started to take shape some signals, I think they were, I previously had ran fulltime, a marketing business, and I still do a little bit of freelance projects on the side, but things that really kind of get me here and get me going, being very selective with those because if I want to make sure that this is something that I can really sink my teeth into, something that my heart is aligned with.
Shea Oliver: Absolutely.
Karl Schroeder: Unbeknownst to me, following those signals produced a result that was pretty considerable and it didn't have to do any. It didn't have to do with the revenue that I was collecting from the project work or the outcome of the project work. But it was more of, of recognizing a strong signal inside of me. And so a little over a year ago, I made the decision to step away from that business. And I stepped away from, you know, a comfortable six-figure salary and leadership and equity and every benefit that you can imagine under the sun with a promising startup. It was all looking really good. And, and I remember I didn't really plan for this, but I, I sat down with some of the executives and the c suite and the leadership and declared my intentions to step away - into this new project, which for me is coaching and leadership and lifestyle and high performance. And I didn't state that at the time, but I sit in, there was a project that I, that I wanted to pursue that just wasn't going to let go of me and I and I needed to make that known to the team and also make it known that this was a huge opportunity to learn and experience in leadership in a way that, you know, it's challenging when you run your own show. I didn't really anticipate or prepare what I was going to say, but one of those defining moments for me came when the chief technology officers slipped to me and asked the question, quite frankly, said, what would it take to keep you?
Karl Schroeder: And there was. It was an unequivocal thank you, but there's nothing in the world that can keep me in this position and it's not because it's bad. It's quite the opposite. This is an amazing opportunity, but it's not my opportunity. So you know, I think change comes. Change comes in our lives and transformation comes in one or two ways. Something new comes into our lives or something new is created from within. I pursued a lot of opportunities and gained a certain amount of. I gained some really good skills and I gained a certain amount of success in a lot of different areas in life that were pretty unintentional, but they were more reacting to opportunities in front of me and being pulled towards these rather than being pretty intentional, actually incredibly intentional and clear with the direction that I wanted to pursue. So that was the defining moment for me in this journey.
Shea Oliver: Absolutely. So how, so while you were hearing these little signals in the background as you were thinking of making the shift, what were people who were you talking to anyone around you, and what were they saying about you stepping away from a, what is a dream job, too many people?
Karl Schroeder: That's a, that's a really good question. You know, I think in retrospect as I look back on this, this story goes back a lot, a lot of years. It goes back way before that defining moment and I could share a number of defining moments sitting through this and I think, I think that's really the point is the signals were always there.
Shea Oliver: Well, take us back a little bit and share that with us. What was going on? Took you to this point where you actually were able to say to somebody who said, we're going to give you a fortune if you'll stay with us and you walked away. So take us back on this journey.
Karl Schroeder: Okay, I think from a very young age, especially when you get to the, go back to those transformative years, three years to seven years old and the things that happened in, in life, it really created a personality and sort of character that it guided me through the first 18 years of my life. And I went to college and I as an example, I went to college. I looked at three schools, three of them in Colorado State University, CU, and Denver University, and a small school in Iowa where I grew up.
Karl Schroeder: Okay. So the mountains from a young age had always called me and I found this in literature and you know, it was just one of those things to open a magazine or something of the Rocky Mountains, which to me was, was, you know, words like Breckenridge and Summit and Vail and Rocky Mountain National Park. And I traveled there once as a kid and we drove Trail Ridge Road and I looked at these mountains around and I didn't think that people actually did things in the mountains. I mean, that was the limitation of my experience at the time, but it captivated me, and I carried that all through my young years and then it was time to look at college and so I looked at the three schools that were close to the mountains. But another thing that was really important to me, it was basketball and sports and I grew up in that. My Dad is a coach and, and I was surrounded by coaches and amazing role models growing up. So that was important to me too.
Karl Schroeder: So I went to college in northwest Iowa and I brought the mountains with me. I played basketball. I ended up after my sophomore year, I made the decision to not be on the team. So I got a scholarship and I decided that I really wanted to pursue climbing and the future in that area and not play basketball. And that was a difficult decision because my dad is an assistant coach on that team and when we were younger, when we were younger, when I was in fifth grade, he sent me to the final four to the championship game in Minneapolis. This is Duke vs. Michigan way back in the day with Grant Hill, Christian Laettner, and the Fab Five if you remember that.
Shea Oliver: Oh Yeah!
Karl Schroeder: My dad gave up his ticket so I could go and I got back and it was a pretty moving experience for me. So I remember getting up in the middle of the night after I got home, and I went upstairs to use a different bathroom because in retrospect I want it to be noticed. And so my dad asks, you know, it's everybody's asleep, but he kind of poked his head out and said, "bud are you okay?" And I said, dad, I'm fine. I just wanted to say thank you and when I play in the Final Four and make sure that you got a front row seat. And he said, forget about the front row seat. I'll be coaching you bud. You can imagine that, you know, the challenge of telling my dad that I wasn't going to play basketball for him at the school that had given me a scholarship to play basketball and in two out of the next three years our school won the national championship - without me, well was there a second row, the mountains on spring break and then drove across the country to make sure that I was sitting there with my dad as he had that experience. But you know, obviously those things are not easy decisions to make in life and I think life is a combination of big decisions but also a lot of really small decisions that we make each and every day. That was a big one. That was the defining moments for me in my life.
Shea Oliver: So sorry to interrupt you, but how did your dad react when you said the days oh hoops are over?
Karl Schroeder: My Dad is..., My Dad reacted in a way that was full of love and support and compassion and you know, I don't remember exactly word for word what he said, but it was late at night and we were by ourselves and I shared this with him on campus at the school and he said, he said, bud, whatever you decide to do, you're going to be great at it, and I can tell you've thought about this and I trust your decision and you've got my full support.
Shea Oliver: Whoa, awesome. Awesome. Awesome.
Karl Schroeder: Yeah, right, it's pretty cool. Yeah. Thank you for that. Thank you for asking that question.
Shea Oliver: Yeah, it's, you know, it's something I see often. Actually just last week, a young boy I coached who's a sophomore in college or going to be a junior in college, came and told me, yeah, similar story is moms and business and his dad loved baseball so he was playing baseball and going to get a business degree and he told me it took forever, but he got the courage up to tell his parents that wasn't what he wanted to do and you know, he was in tears telling me the story in the gym and he said it's not what I wanted. Nice. How did you, what did your mom say when you told her and she said the same thing your father did. We get these ideas in our heads.
Karl Schroeder: We should do and I'm glad you shared that because I think for me in that moment in the wonderful gift that my dad gave me and all of this, and it's like this. When I was, when I was much younger, I remember walking, it was a Saturday morning, like 10:00 in the morning and I'm walking through the house and, and just randomly my dad stops me in between the kitchen and the dining room. It just stops me. He grabs me by the shoulders, out of nowhere. He just said, you know, but he said, I know you love basketball, but I don't care how good of a basketball player you are. I love you because you're a good person. And then you walked away.
Shea Oliver: Oh, that's beautiful!
Karl Schroeder: That's how you know, that's the space I grew up in. So in that moment in the car, I think the gift that my dad gave me, he gave me the space to have the courage to tell myself that basketball was done for me and to close that chapter in my life.
Shea Oliver: Yes,
Karl Schroeder: Of course I didn't know we would win a national championship and I, you know, I still a part of that in a way that I am and we celebrate the love that even to this day and talk about her all the time. But then, you know, so I went to Colorado and I climbed and I lived out of my car in park and I was a climbing bum and I did that on purpose, you know, I would really want to just experience the mountains and experience what that had to offer and, you know, again, these things can have unexpected results and after a few years of growing and developing myself as a climber and somebody who works in an outdoor space, I had an accident. I fell about 25 feet onto my head and ended up in the hospital and that changed things a little bit. And so for a week in the hospital I was on dilaudid and among all kinds of other stuff, nursing pretty serious injuries, head to toe.
Karl Schroeder: I don't remember hitting the ground. So I woke up and the rest of the situation was happening And I'll be honest with you Shea, after that, I struggled with addiction in sort of personal displacement.
Shea Oliver: Understandably so.
Karl Schroeder: Yeah. So the bottle kind of took place, took the place of out of climbing for a while in my life. Some of that had to do with the fact that in an unconventional, you know, sort of life and lifestyle. I got lost a little bit. I was really distracted by all of the noise and the signals weren't so clear and I was looking for the signals in very external, in retrospect. I didn't see it at the time, but I was looking for the signals for external validation. Things like the way I looked, the clothes that I wore, the car that I drove or the car that I lived in, my bank account, the thing, you know, all of those things.
Karl Schroeder: And it was kind of a maladaptive perfectionism. And I lived with that for quite awhile. And when I transitioned out of that, I kind of thought for a moment I'll never have it, based on my history and some of the legal issues I've been having full transparency that crossed my mind. I was ever going to be able to have a real job again in my life.
Shea Oliver: RIght.
Karl Schroeder: I had to figure out my own stuff. And I did that for awhile and after about a year of running my own business, I was offered a job to, to create and build and lead a business development arm for a tech company, a small business, a 30-person company that had an office just above where I office in Denver. And, and that started a whole different path and career and technology and leadership and business development and product management and in lean and lean startup and design thinking and a lot of other cool things that I'm really prepared me in a lot of ways to transition into the business that I have now.
Karl Schroeder: So I worked with three or four different organizations of different sizes and all of these organizations. And for me this was a bit out of fear and scarcity that I took these jobs, right? I'm going to take whatever I can get. I studied English in college and literature that has nothing to do with product managing a tech startup like that. But the cool thing is, is it provided a that, that intention in a little bit of that hunger and that desire. And that sense of necessity in that it created a number of really, really awesome relationships, and I got to work with a handful of companies, four companies over the course of four or five years who all were all doing really, really important work in technology and innovation, but also in the social and social enterprise sector. And I didn't look for these intentionally and I was working with people with a lot of influence. A lot of leadership chops and despite everything that I saw, there were still struggles that these organizations were facing that no amount of money and no amount of talented could solve and those were issues of well of leadership and communication and contribution and of commitment. And so I saw the opportunity to take what I've learned and build that into a practice and a lifestyle of my own business that has gotten me to where I am now. And you know, people ask me often, what are your credentials and qualifications of coaching as a leadership coach? And as a high-perfomance trainer, certainly I am training and I have certifications and all that man, live. So. Well,
Shea Oliver: Very cool. So as you're, let me take you back to one of the things you just said. You got a degree in English, which is very cool, my, in my opinion, and you were kind of living a life of scarcity. Has that changed? Are you still living a life where you're chasing opportunities or you have a different mindset about things?
Karl Schroeder: I'll take a stab at that at a couple of different levels, and that's a really good question. I think the fact that you answered it, asked the question that has come up in our conversation is indicative of like, there's just a conscious awareness of that. And so with that awareness and understanding, I in, in this is a way that I also, you know, a framework through which I coach and deliver coaching and look at the world. And then as I think Peter Senge said it is that the fundamental difference between problem solving and creation is simple. In problem solving, we look to find a something we don't like and make it go away. I'm paraphrasing, but in creation we imagine something that could be and we bring it into existence for the first time. Now as a creative person and you and I chatted a little bit before we got on this call and you mentioned that too, about where this is going in this design thinking approach of what is the smallest most discrete, like incremental thing of value, that or that might have value that I could put it into the world because when you look at possibility and you look at abundance and they look at creation. In my experience, in my observation, it's easy to do one of two things. It's easy to look at a future that doesn't yet exist and painted it in a beautiful and perfect way.
Shea Oliver: Sure.
Karl Schroeder: And it's also easy to imagine the same future absolutely crumbling and falling apart because you know, when you look at possibility and you look at creation and you look at putting something into the world for the first time, it's not perfect. Right? And that's very different than how we've been programmed, I think in large part by the industrial economy and the way things worked. And the agreements that we had in a system that no longer exists because www dot whatever changed that forever, and we're in a connection economy. So we're using a lot of old paradigms and kind of hitting our head against the wall, understanding like why doesn't this work? So this idea of scarcity and abundance is. It's one thing I think to look at it at a conceptual level, it's a different thing to look at it as an approach to life and as it is an approach to life, man it's messy. It's sometimes there are some moments in some instances are wildly frightening, like massive anxiety and a ton of scarcity is coming out of someplace at that moment. But conversely we can, you know, with practice and with attention and tune, we can look at this the same, the very same situation and see opportunities, see presence, the, a whole lot of other things that come from a place of abundance.
Karl Schroeder: And I think abundance is abundance and scarcity, both live in a place of the unknown. Looking into the future and looking at your future of possibility. So it's, it's a daily struggle. Sometimes it's an hourly struggle of staying tuned into, you know, working from a place of abundance and not toward a place of abundance.
Shea Oliver: And how do you do it, how do you stay... I'm assuming that abundance is where you want to stay, how do you fight that battle to stay in that place and to move and to live in the present moment and see abundance in your future and in the present?
Karl Schroeder: Well, I think on a, on a large scale, one of the most important things for me that I've done with a great deal of intention is to surround myself with people who are open to experiences, open to understanding a strong support network of likeminded people who are mentors and role models and, and people who I'm working with has a coachee consistently reinforced that because here's the trick. I can only see so much, right? Like, I'm biased and partial and I don't see myself the way that the world and the spirit and nature and other people see me and most of us don't have that and we can exercise that as a skill to an extent but mean to have those people around who can call you out on your stuff. And I think that's a starting point.
Karl Schroeder: The second thing is for, you know, from a skills level, a number of, you know, there are a number of different tactical things that you can do. For me, Yoga is huge. Meditation is huge and it's evolved. When I, when I first started doing yoga and meditation daily compared to where I am now, it's like it's massive evolution of have that experience, but for me, that experience of presence in prayer and connection and I find that when I'm connected, when, when the word should doesn't live in my vocabulary, and I'm connected to the present moment, problems don't exist and a lot of abundance and creation can happen, right?
Shea Oliver: Oh yeah.
Karl Schroeder: I've seen a future that hasn't happened yet or in the past that can't be touched. So, however that is, whether it's yoga, meditation, hiking, climbing, activities that really get my mind focused on a kinesthetic sort of thing, and this is what works for me and I think everybody has different things that will cue these things, but the end state is presence in the moment. Problems don't exist. Right now they're mostly imagined and so that in addition to kind of just recognizing where the triggers are, okay, scarcity monster on the shoulder starts popping up and whispered in the air does just kind of say, hey, listen!
Shea Oliver: Well let me, let me, I'll hopefully this isn't too personal, but what is it that that scarcity monster says to you that you have to battle.
Karl Schroeder: You're not good enough, smart enough or not... It's shame and guilt and fear. It's, you're not good enough. You don't belong here. You didn't earn it. You got, you got marks, you got history, man.
Shea Oliver: How do you deal with those specific things? How do you, other than the meditation, that's great, but what happens when that happens in the middle of the day, when you're heading into a meeting that's really important, or you're about to, you know, sit down to write something that you have to have written down and you don't have that. You can't go do yoga, you can't go hike, and you can meditate. How do you deal with that monster?
Karl Schroeder: That's a great question, and I think that takes me to where yoga has and I would say yoga and meditation and I know that's one way to talk about a certain experience that we have in life about being present again and so for me as an example, to take that experience of yoga off the mat and take it into the real world where life's coming at you at a thousand miles an hour, right? Especially if you choose to. If you choose to step into a place and really accept abundance, you got to be ready for life to come at you hard and fast and it will
Shea Oliver: And it was scary
Karl Schroeder: And it will humble you. Yes, and it's scary and for me just to exploring the nature of what humility really is and it's not to be meek or to step back, but it's still look at what's true. Truth, not only the bad parts of truth, but the good parts of true. So for me it's been an exercise of learning the good things about me. But how do I, how do I, how do I take that into real life? If I'm stepping into a big sales meeting or a, you know, an update with the board of directors or to have a challenging conversation with external stakeholders on a project that's way far behind and you know, a lot of things are going to be missed as an example. For me it's a, it's a matter of just getting present in the moment and setting an intention. So what I will do often is a minute or two before I walk into that room, I'll find a quiet place and I'll take some deep breaths. Sometimes I'll do a little qigong just to get my blood activated in my body and I will set an intention, for who's going to show up in that room, and I'll ask myself a question like who needs me and my best today in that room and it gets me in my own stuff, a place of service and I'll tell you what, Shea, what is really cool and you know, triggers like this can happen all over the place, but for me, I'll really reinforce that trigger. The moment I walked through the threshold of that door and it just comes on for whatever it is that needs to show up in that moment. But I think the trick is to get out of, get outside of myself and there are a bunch of tools, you know, crucial conversations and a bunch of tools that you can use to actually be the strategy and tactics of a conversation like that. But none of it matters because under the surface people are gonna read your energy and they're going to read your intention and that's what they're going to trust and remember.
Karl Schroeder: I think if you can cue into that space, which yoga every day is a practice of that. Right? And so it's just like basketball, you know, you walk into the gym and you don't start throwing in three, half-courters app you dribble and you work on your footwork. Right. So it's a lot of just apply me to have that, all of that daily into those big moments and then you can show up. But I think the most important thing is just to show up - show up.
Shea Oliver: Very, very good. So, you've gone through a bit of a journey that's obviously got lots of steps to it. We're all, we're all in that same boat. If you could today, go back and talk to that kid that was trying to make a decision about where to go to school for college, what would you tell him?
Karl Schroeder: Trust your gut.
Shea Oliver: So that was one of the things that took you a while to learn.
Karl Schroeder: It did take me awhile to learn and it took me a while to learn also that I think there's more packed into that. I don't mean that to be kind of a Glib saying, right? But to trust your gut in a sense of it's not out there because it's really easy to look for. What are other people doing? What will my dad think? What will my friends think, future does this holds for me? I don't know. This is unknown in this, this, this is scary. And, you know, when we put things like that into the universe and in the conversation, it's often advice to get back. And as you know, and as I've experienced that even the people that love us, most of us the most want to protect us a little bit. And so you get advice and you get, you get people who want to see you be safe and secure. And life isn't safe. Life is secure, right? But trust your gut I think is the most important thing. And if, if I, if that was the advice that I've gotten in, followed wholeheartedly in a very young age, who knows what might be different, but things might have happened a little bit faster, but advice is kind of one of those things that, taken with a grain of salt.
Shea Oliver: That's a good way to put it. That's true. So can I ask where you fell on your climbing accident? Where were you climbing?
Karl Schroeder: Yeah, I was climbing in, I had just gotten done leading for the summer. I was leading experiential wilderness trips with teenagers, and we were traveling around the southwest, and I had been hands to climb a route on the diamond, which is the, the northeast face of Longs Peak here in Colorado. So it's a 2000 foot rock wall, a route that was definitely at my level, at my grade level, at 14,000 feet and I hadn't trained all summer. So we went, my climbing partner and I went to Boulder Canyon and, and there's a route called Practice Rock and it's this old kind of maybe like a 30, 35, maybe 40 foot, flaring, pin scarred crack.
Karl Schroeder: And so my thought was, my intention was, I need to climb fast and I need to get comfortable falling to be on this big route, you know, when the last time I was up on the diamond at that time of the year we had ice crystals falling over our heads and we were kind of like tucked in this waterfall, ice crystals falling from a thousand feet above us and they weren't really crystals. They were giant columns, of ice. Scary environment. So I was thinking, okay, here's what I gotta do. I gotta climb fast and climb hard and again and I cannot be afraid of falling. So I climbed up to the crux at about 25, 20, 25 feet up and I told my belayer I said, I'm going to push off. Is that all right? I got Ya. So I just pushed back and I remember that first piece pulling out and thinking in an instant if that, if that second piece, so there's the cam in the crack that's holding you that I put there, that doesn't hold this and that might not be very good. And, I don't remember hitting the ground.
Shea Oliver: One of the great things about the human mind.
Karl Schroeder: That was a, that was in Boulder Canyon, on a crag that you can see from the road - a pretty prominent feature was actually a route that was on a cover of one of one of the local guidebooks.
Shea Oliver: Sure. So have you since that point given up climbing or have you gone back to it?
Karl Schroeder: No, I still do climb. In fact this, in about a month, I'm in five weeks. I'm heading down to Ecuador and I'm climbing Cotopaxi
Shea Oliver: Nice!
Karl Schroeder: The Range of Motion Project and I'm going to be climbing with 23 other people, half of whom are our amputees. So we're climbing to raise dollars and awareness for amputees in developing countries which are predominantly underserved. So we're, we're working to raise money and awareness to get people mobile again. OR the first time ever. So, you know, I've taken what I've learned from climbing and you know, it's really kind of enriched my experience and what this all means. And so yeah, I'm heading to Ecuador this in five weeks to, to climb with the Range of Motion Project and climbing for ROMP and I'm really excited about that.
Shea Oliver: That is so cool.
Karl Schroeder: As a result of that, climbing has taken a new, a new meaning to me. Have one that's even closer, more dear to my heart and not my ego.
Shea Oliver: Certainly. So did you ever make the summit of Longs Peak? Did you ever make you that climb?
Karl Schroeder: We didn't do that? No.
Shea Oliver: So do you think you'll do that route someday?
Karl Schroeder: Yeah, I definitely do
Shea Oliver: Cool. I've been on top with climbers come up, but I've never gone that route.
Karl Schroeder: You've been on Longs. Okay. Awesome
Shea Oliver: It's beautiful up there. It's a special piece.
Karl Schroeder: It is.
Shea Oliver: Although for people who are thinking, oh, they should go climb it, there's some other places that are, I would recommend more - just because Long is a party on top, so there's just so many people up there
Karl Schroeder: That's right
Shea Oliver: Well. Very cool. So as you kind of came to this big decision point where you're looking at, in the face of somebody saying, I'll give you anything to stay with this opportunity. That is a dream to most people. How much doubt was inside of you once you took that first step and said, no, there's nothing you can do. You walked out of the room, did doubt hit at all?
Karl Schroeder: No, it didn't.
Shea Oliver: Never did?
Karl Schroeder: No, it didn't. It never did. And it surprised me a little bit that it didn't.
Shea Oliver: Yeah, no doubt. Why? Why do you think it never did?
Karl Schroeder: I think for a while now I began to realize that, that I looked at my life and my lifestyle and on the surface it was awesome. It was perfect. We're traveling and ski lodges in the winter time and traveling all around the world and riding bikes and experiencing cool places and things and working with really exciting people. What occurred to me was something needed to shift on the inside. Something internal and I didn't quite know what it was, but for me the question that I asked myself was what would it look like if I woke up in 30 years and I'm still doing this?
Shea Oliver: What picture did you paint when you saw that?
Karl Schroeder: Death, and maybe not to be so morbid, but it was like dying today for a future that might one day come and I realized that it wasn't an issue of the people I was working with or the job, that all of those things were really good, but what I realized is that I was out of my integrity and when I was out of my integrity, no matter what person showed up from a skills or you know, an experience standpoint for these organizations. When I was out of my integrity, I wasn't showing up and being in service in a way that was integral to I guess and aligned with who I am as a person and what really gets me going. I didn't know what it was, but I knew I had to figure it out.
Shea Oliver: That is an interesting. I have not heard somebody say out of my integrity. That's an interesting way to put that. Can you talk a little bit more about how do we, how do we find that? What is that?
Karl Schroeder: Well, I think for me, and maybe it would help and I love that you asked the question because I don't think I've really understood the distinction of like this before because it wasn't that I wasn't fully committed to these organizations that, you know, it was the opposite and I was probably over committed in a way that I was attached to outcomes that I didn't have control over. That created quite a bit of anxiety and some stress, and on the surface it probably looks like, wow, you're really committed. You're really passionate about this organization. I think when I was really passionate about and part of that also was getting, you know, learning the skills, getting the certifications, taking the classes and doing all of the things to build a, you know, the, the toolbox and the tool set to do these jobs really, really well. And I think that approach helped me be successful pretty quickly.
Karl Schroeder: But being out of my integrity meant that it was, it was the purpose and the intention behind it. It was to get to an outcome that I thought an organization or product or something should have. And so it wasn't as much of a shared, co-created vision of something. It was something that I thought that I needed to accomplish in order to validate the time and energy investment that I made in myself and project.
Shea Oliver: Sure, sure.
Karl Schroeder: Very much an external thing. So being in that integrity, for me, it was getting so clear on, on my mission and purpose and not in a way that it's out there, but it's mission and purpose in a way that it's created in this moment. If this is something we find, I think it's something that we constantly and consistently are in the creation mode of. And for me that moment was, I don't know, I have no idea, but I'm burning the boats at the shore here, taking the island. If I leave myself an opportunity to go back, it's going to be convenient and comfortable and safe. And despite that, I just know that that would be a life half lived for me and if I'm not fully engaged and committed in something from me on the inside, then it's going to show in the work that I do on my level of commitment I have for an organization.
Shea Oliver: So you made this, this shift now, can you, can you verbalize what it feels like to be, to turn the phrase in your integrity, and I realize that's probably a challenging question to do, but you know, you have stated I didn't look back. I didn't really have doubts. So you somehow knew you were there. Can you, can you verbalize that feeling and that, what is that experience like when you click into the moment of this is where I have to go?
Karl Schroeder: Yeah. And I think what I learned is it with what you just said is this is where I have to go. That doesn't really exist. Almost like it's a myth and I love distinctions, distinctions help me kind of navigate. I would say the first thing that came to mind when you asked that question was I feel like I'm in space completely enabled to, to triangulate or positioned myself, you know, at least in the previous world I had an identity. Like there were things that reflected a certain position and respect and identity
Shea Oliver: Nice business card.
Karl Schroeder: Totally. To really make that step. It's not like, wasn't so much like a journey. Like Hey, we're gonna go to. It would be like, hey, we're going to go to Phoenix and we're gonna take go karts and we're going to bring a credit card and we want to arrive on this day. You know, it's, it's a journey with a destination and there's some nuances to it, but we know where we're going. This for me was kinda like, like imagine what if a group of people, like if I sat down with a group of people in 1491 and I said, how are we going to get from New York to LA and the fastest time possible. And these people look at me and they say, what's New York? That's what it feels like. It's more, it's like a quest, you know, less than a journey. So the feeling is what do I grab onto where it's, how do I triangulate so that I know that as I move I'm moving in the right direction because truly I don't know where the destination is yet.
Shea Oliver: So it's somewhat paradoxical.
Karl Schroeder: It is totally! I love that.!It is, it is very paradoxical and I'm still in the process of figuring out how to navigate that - it is a different type of existence, right? With a lot more freedom. But sometimes constraints are healthy. So part of it is figuring out where to impose some constraints on my life and burning the boats at the shore is one of those constraints
Shea Oliver: For sure. So what about the people around you? So your dad was super supportive when you decided to basketball was done.
Karl Schroeder: Oh, my dad and my mom both.
Shea Oliver: That is a gift that so many of us are blessed with that we sometimes forget how important it is when you know in your heart that they will say I'm behind you. So that's great. So what about other people in your life? Because you built up a social community as you were becoming Mr. Corporate Executive being the, you know, the big guy. What was the reaction of people around you when they found out that you said, Nah, this ain't my path?
Karl Schroeder: You know, surprisingly from a lot of places I had a lot of people say, oh, that actually makes a lot of sense.
Shea Oliver: Really. Say more.
Karl Schroeder: I don't really know if I have more, but what I can, what I will share is six or seven years ago when things were a little bit tough for me, I didn't have a car and I was working on building my practice and I had. Somebody introduced me, she, she overheard a friend over for me talking about climbing and she said, well, you should meet, my client, Stephen McGee. And so Stephen and I met at the REI Starbucks here in Denver. We just talked about climbing. And he shared with me a program that he was putting together It was a leadership program designed for six men and the capstone project, it was a nine month project, was to summit Aconcagua, which is the tallest mountain in South America, and one of the seven summits. And I'm like, I'm in, sign me up, you know, but we had a really, a really great conversation that we really connected in. And, at the end of that conversation, Stephen quoted a price to me for the program and it was an order of magnitude. I let me put it this way. I hadn't earned that much money in that whole year of work in my life up to that point. ,Then he said something to me that I'll never forget. It was another one of those defining moments. He said, Karl, I know it's a lot of money, but I believe in you and if you needed to come up with that money tomorrow, I know you would. It doesn't matter to me if you say yes or no. The message to me was I believe in you. So that is a signal that I have followed and, and I've been fortunate enough to over this last six years to get into a place in my life and business where I've hired Steven and I work with Stephen as a coachee now and I've also worked with him on some different projects to help support his business as a marketer. But that's been probably one of the most like bright or powerful signals for me to follow in all of the noise in this. And, I will say it's, you know, it's pretty awesome how these things work because Stephen is a, has. I'm raising money for the range of motion project Stephen and his business, Stephen Mcgee Leadership. He is the first business sponsor and I'm happy to to say that out loud and you and I are meeting later this afternoon and I mean it would be silly for me to take in the list is huge and the list is long. But Stephen has been one of those people, from a professional standpoint, as a friend, as a mentor who is in addition to my mom and dad. And, you know, my basketball coaches growing up, one of those people who is just consistently a signal of leadership and, very lucky to have that.
Shea Oliver: That's very, very cool. So what, if I can ask, what exactly are you doing today that's making you feel fulfilled, fulfilled in life?
Karl Schroeder: What exactly am I doing today that makes me feel fulfilled in life? Okay. That's a good question. You know it's a good question when you get the pause, right?
Shea Oliver: Exactly. Well, that's part of this. I mean, you're, you're living, you're living an uncommon life. You're, you're following your own drummer or however you want to put it. You don't do that by accident. You've made this decision. And part of this I think is there is this - I'm going to find some fulfillment. So what exactly are those things that are making you feel fulfilled today?
Karl Schroeder: The number one thing that makes me feel fulfilled today is his coaching.
Shea Oliver: Very good. So you love, love being a coach.
Karl Schroeder: I love being a coach.
Shea Oliver: Cool. Now we're talking business coaching or we talking basketball or both.
Karl Schroeder: Right now I'm coaching leadership, and I coach in style and lifestyle and approach. And I coach and human performance. I work with leaders and entrepreneurs in primarily in social enterprise, so people who are who are dedicated to serving, if you're familiar with the triple bottom line of business exists to serve people, the planet, and then profits. For me it's just fulfilling to me a part, a voice in the conversations and hopefully maybe a guide post and a signal and a safe place for other people to come and to dream big and to take big steps and small steps each and every day.
Karl Schroeder: Because I think, you know, as something that Stephen shared with me that it's become a big guiding theme in my life is that spirit and inspiration meets us at the point of action. It's not, it's not that that the biggest thing for me to feel fulfilled at the end of the day is simply to ask and it's not about. It's not about the quality of the result that I get or whether it was good or bad. It was simply a result of look at and to look at it and say, if it was a failure and mistake, awesome. That's just one way to not do things in the future. That's a massively good learning opportunity and I feel like I don't feel fulfilled when I'm holding back, when I choose to not say the thing or to shy away from a challenging interaction or conversation. So for me to feel fulfilled is really just to be alive and be present.
Karl Schroeder: And it used to be this overwhelming feeling that I got to accomplish all of this in the day and we hear a lot about productivity and hacks and tips and tricks and sleep and how to hack this and that and the other thing. But, you know, is that Edward Abbey put it like growth for the sake of growth is the defining characteristic of cancer and that took me a long time to figure out that I don't have to necessarily that I produced something that is somebody else is going to see. That's awesome to be fulfilled. But just to know that I'm in my integrity.
Shea Oliver: I love that phrase. That's an awesome phrase. That's very, very cool. Okay, so, a few final questions, number one, if you were given the opportunity to tell somebody who had been in your boat, who had the world being handed to them, that was being offered, the what is it, what, what can we give you to either keep you here and get you to come and do this thing? And they were trying to make a decision of whether or not to do that or follow something inside of them. What's the one piece of advice you would give them?
Karl Schroeder: Slow it all down.
Shea Oliver: Ah Nice, very nice. And so why? Why is that?
Karl Schroeder: Well in that space and that space when you really truly slow things down because you know that's a very charged moment and it's in a very emotional moment. It's an emotional moment to, to even have the courage to call forth the conversation like that, to speak your truth in it. So the advice I would give is first, slow it down, slow down. So you've got the space for clarity and awareness.
Shea Oliver: Nice.
Karl Schroeder: And from that space, the second piece of advice I would give is trust your gut.
Shea Oliver: I had a feeling that was going to show up
Karl Schroeder: Go with your instinct, man. You can't go wrong with that.
Shea Oliver: Right. No. I absolutely agree with you that that's awesome. So if somebody were to want to get ahold of you, is there a way that they can contact you or learn more about you?
Karl Schroeder: Absolutely. I'm online at https://www.karlschroeder.co/ and that's k a r l, last name.com. And my email is Karl@karlschroeder.co and my direct line is, is a local number is 303- 809-1482.
Shea Oliver: Very cool. Thank you. So I always end with the same question and the question is what question did I forget to ask you?
Karl Schroeder: Oh Man.
Shea Oliver: And take a moment that it's okay to take a moment. This is one. Most people are very like, oh, you know, I've often found that people have something else that they want to say and so I should have asked one more thing, but I don't know what it is.
Karl Schroeder: What I'm trying to be clever right now. You know what I'm trying to pull into my bag of tricks and that's not really working, so I'm just going to stick with what didn't come out. There's one question that comes to mind right now and it's a maybe a tough question for an interview format for this circumstance and that's what's present for you right now?
Shea Oliver: Answer your question
Karl Schroeder: You know, it's, it's such an awesome thing when two people come together, the truly is the output. The sum is greater than the individual parts. And so what I came in with before we started this conversation in the place is very different in where I'm at now. So what's present for me right now is, you know, kind of in summary in all of this, there's something that is something that one of another, one of my mentors and, and a role model of mine, Anthony Trucks that was just on a conference call with him. Anthony is a, he's a former NFL player and an orphan. an adopted individual. His story's pretty amazing. If you have opportunity, I recommend everybody check it out. But Anthony said something to me once and it really hit me kind of square between the eyes and it's something that, it goes back to this college football days. He said, you said it's pretty easy. This give everything you have today for whatever you keep inside is lost forever.
Shea Oliver: Perfect. Absolutely perfect. And I think that is probably the ideal place to say thank you. Thank you very much for your time today. I greatly appreciate it.
Karl Schroeder: Likewise.