Creating a Family Brand and Reinventing Company Culture with Chris Smith – EP 135

Interview with Chris Smith

Mario Matavesco

Creating a Family Brand and Reinventing Company Culture with Chris Smith

Culture is the glue that holds everything together and defines who we are as a family, community, or business. We can intentionally craft this culture or let external factors unintentionally shape it.

Chris Smith is a testament to this understanding of culture. He embodies the belief that culture is not just what we say or believe, but it’s what we do, how we do it, and how consistently we align our actions with our stated values. This is the true essence of a thriving culture; one that echoes in the corridors of a home, or an office.

Chris is the mastermind behind The Campfire Effect, a framework that helps entrepreneurs and brands tell their stories effectively.

Alongside his wife Melissa, he also created the Family Brand, a powerful resource that empowers individuals to become better parents and spouses and ultimately build stronger families.

Whether you’re a business owner looking to strengthen your company culture or a parent striving to build a healthy family dynamic, this episode is packed with value.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

✅ The three-pillar framework for building an amazing family and company culture.

How to discover your true calling and stop living from a place of “should.”

Practical tips on being more intentional in business and in life.

Featured on This Episode: Chris Smith

✅ What he does: Chris Smith is the creator of The Campfire Effect, a proven framework helping entrepreneurs and brands tell their stories. He’s also the co-creator of Family Brand, a powerful way for people to discover how they can become better parents and better spouses and how they can build a stronger family. He believes that life should be lived by design, not default and that your family is your life’s most important work. Chris and his wife Melissa encourage, inspire, and teach families through their ‘Family Brand’ podcast and ‘Level-Up Your Family in 8 weeks program’ on how to build relationships that last and create an intentional family culture and brand.

💬 Words of wisdom: The two most important days in your life are the day you’re born, and the day you find out why.” – Chris Smith

🔎 Where to find Chris Smith: LinkedIn

Key Takeaways with Chris Smith

  • How standing up for your beliefs creates a success ripple effect.
  • Using the “campfire effect” to create a culture of growth and collaboration in your company.
  • How the lack of clarity on their identity and values hurts entrepreneurs.
  • Leadership principles that apply equally in your family and your business.
  • Every family has a culture. You either build it, or the world builds it for you.
  • Your employees, not your customers, build the company culture.
  • Rewiring your limiting beliefs and breaking free from the “shoulds.”

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Chris Smith on Creating Your Family Brand With the Campfire Effect

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“If you don't define what your family stands for, the world is going to do it for you.” - Chris Smith Click To Tweet


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Read the Full Transcript with Chris Smith

Justin Donald: What’s up, Chris? Great to have you on the show.


Chris Smith: Hey, man. I am stoked to be here. Obviously, you know what, you and I know each other a little bit but more so, I’ve heard the most amazing things about you, Justin Donald:, from some of the most incredible people that I know. So, I’ve been excited to connect with you for quite some time, and I’m honored to be here.


Justin Donald: Well, thanks for the kind words. And by the way, your reputation has preceded you very much so the same way and I’ve been eager to get to know you from several mutual friends and I’m going out to visit one of them tomorrow actually. So, I’m very excited just for you to share your story and the cool things you’re up to. You have two different companies, two different brands that are creating a huge impact in the world and I’m excited to get into those. But before we do, I’m just curious where your entrepreneurial journey started. Like, how did you get to where you are today? What made you feel like you had what it took to be an entrepreneur?


Chris Smith: Yeah. Maybe there was some foreshadowing in sixth grade actually at the year in school assembly when like you’re about right before summertime and they’re telling you all the amazing things you’ve accomplished. I think I still to this day got punked because my friend before me, literally, his award was most likely to become president of the United States. And then my next buddy, like, most likely to succeed. And then they go, “Chris Smith:, least likely to be found in his seat.” That was the award I got in front of the whole school was least likely to be found in my seat. My mom was like, “Oh, my gosh. You know, that’s my kid.” And my mom asked me, like, “Why did you get that award?” And I was like, “I can’t not be up out of my seat. Like, I just can’t not talk to people. I can’t tell stories. Like, I just have to communicate with people.” And so, I’ve always loved the idea of connection and influence and telling stories and it never in my mind was like, “Oh, I’m going to become an entrepreneur someday,” but I just naturally went into sales and business development. And I think, Justin, I was too naive and too dumb to know that sales even had a stigma around it. I didn’t know so I just saw sales as a way to like serve people and connect.


And so, I was the head of business development. I was good at it and I always sold through story. It was super raw but I started having some success. And then what ended up happening is I became the head of business development for a wealth management firm, and I’m just there doing business development, doing what I always do, knowing how to bring in business, confident in that. And what happened was this wealth management firm, which was an RIA, merged with an insurance planning firm, and I thought, “Great,” like more holistic, better offering. They move us all into a new office together and I just kind of start watching this merge unfold. I don’t know if you’ve ever been part of a merge but…


Justin Donald: Oh, yeah.


Chris Smith: They’re not usually the most intentionally thought out. They just kind of like, “Oh, there’s a business deal here,” and they slap them together and whatever bodies are left laying at the end, you know.


Justin Donald: We’ll figure it out later.


Chris Smith: Yeah. And I had never been through it. I’m super naive and so I’m just watching this merge unfold and I’m like, “Man, we are not being intentional about these two brands becoming a new brand and the culture.” And so, I just kind of raised my hand and volunteered and said, “You know, I had always been intentional about my own story and my own message as the head of business development,” and they were kind of like, “Dude, knock yourself out. Yeah, like, just leave us alone. But if you want to help figure some of the brand culture message…” So, I just started trying and I made a bunch of mistakes. I was super naive. Long story short, though, they started to listen to me and they started saying, “Maybe he has some things that could help us be more intentional about our identity and who we are and our message and our culture.” So, I didn’t realize it but it was actually my first case study. I was just getting to have fun and I always joke they couldn’t fire me because I was doing it for free as a volunteer. Well, we started. They did let me kind of reshape the identity of the firm, our message, our brand, our culture. They’ve let me start talking a lot about leadership. And within two years, we were bringing in as many assets under management in a month as that firm had ever done in a year.


And that’s where the light bulb went off. And an owner actually came and gave me ownership. He walked in my office one day. He goes, “We could have never done this without you.” He’s like, “I want to give you equity in the company.” And the minute he did it, I knew that like that’s the thing I was actually called to do. So, it kind of happened by accident and I just said, “Whatever we just did here and being super intentional about our identity and our culture and our sales.” And so, what I call it now is leadership and language, basically. I boil everything down to like leadership and language. And so, that was several years ago and they gave me their blessing and they didn’t want to see me go but they became my first client and I’ve been kind of trying to perfect the method and the model ever since.


Justin Donald: Oh, I love it. Important question. Were you able to keep your equity?


Chris Smith: Actually, I sold it back and so it actually ended up being a really good thing. And I probably could have but I realized what would been best for that relationship because he became a close friend at that time would be to sell it back. And they’re still best friends to this day. We go on a family trip with them every June. So, yeah, it was a cool experience that happened kind of by accident.


Justin Donald: And by the way, that’s the answer right there. Do what’s best for the relationship like, especially, when this relationship matters.


Chris Smith: Oh, yeah.


Justin Donald: And you want to nurture it. That’s fantastic.


Chris Smith: Yeah. He was someone who’d been really good to me and my family and our kids had become really great friends. And what I realize, I mean, my favorite quote has become, “The two most important days in your life are the day you’re born and the day you find out why.”


Justin Donald: Mark Twain. One of my favorite authors of all time. One of my favorite books of all time. Yeah, it’s great.


Chris Smith: Yeah. And so, I didn’t realize that’s why I was put on this earth. I mean, it never occurred to me up until that point, Justin, what’s my calling? Like, what’s the thing? I was just, “Hey, I’m good at sales. It makes a great living for my family.” So, I just did that. It was through this process that I was like, “I think this is why I was put on this earth. I think this is my calling but it just kind of came through by accident.” I was just trying to help and it’s just been this most amazing blessing and the most wild ride the last ten years.


Justin Donald: Oh, I love it. And by the way, I want to weigh into that a little more but I’ve got to tell you, the award that you won, I think, is the greatest award I’ve ever heard, the award of least likely to be in your seat. I mean, that is a classic award, and I feel like there’s originality in that award. They’re like, “Let’s find a custom-made award here for Chris Smith:. How can we dress this up and make it sound like kind of good?”.


Chris Smith: Yeah. It’s like, “He doesn’t fit into any of the categories of the awards that we have, so we got to come up with this…”


Justin Donald: I love it. It’s so good but it’s so fitting, too, right? Because your career, like you could even see at a young age that you were relationship-oriented, people-oriented, that served you well in sales. It served you well in consulting. It served you well in deep-rooted relationships with key people. So, I think that’s great. And so, this trial, this test which happened in the company, this wealth management firm and this insurance company that merged, this is like a total one-off like, “You can’t fire me. I’m doing this for free. Let’s see if this works.” This becomes The Campfire Effect, right? That’s the business that was kind of spawned. And how did you get the name Campfire Effect? And by the way, I already know the answer, but I love it. So, I want everyone else to know.


Chris Smith: Yeah. So, I decided I’m going to go do this. Again, I had this conversation with my buddy. He’s like, “I don’t want to see you go but if you are, we want to be your first clients because I want to keep working with you.” That gave me the confidence and then I just go out and start enrolling because I know how to enroll, even though I didn’t really have this really proven method or framework I did from one company. So, I just was able to enroll people into this kind of mysterious thing but still get them the…


Justin Donald: You’re a sales guy.


Chris Smith: Yeah.


Justin Donald: You can sell them into whatever.


Chris Smith: Yeah. I can enroll them into the vision of what’s possible. And so, I was doing that and they were like, “Well, where is your website?” I was like, “Don’t have one,” which, by the way, it’s this myth that so many startup entrepreneurs like, “I got to have a website. I got to have this.” It’s like, “No, you don’t.” Like, I went and created a lot of revenue and a lot of impact before I had a name for my company before I even had a, you know, there are some aspects of that that would have been good had I done it but I was just… So, a buddy of mine one day was sitting out with me at lunch. He’s like, “Well, what is this? Like, what are you going to call this?” And I was like, “Man, that’s what I’m struggling with.” I was like. “You know, what I’m trying to create is like that effect that takes place when you’re sitting around a campfire. Because when you’re sitting around a campfire, everything’s so authentic and you’re so present. You’re not thinking about yesterday. You’re not thinking about tomorrow. The human connection is effortless.” And I was like, “Because that’s what I think we created inside of that firm. We created this effect of inside the culture of the firm, and leadership was just super authentically connected, and we created a culture of belonging.”


Because when have you ever been around a campfire where you didn’t feel like you belonged? You just feel like you belong. And then I also want people that when they go out to sell and enroll to have so much confidence that it doesn’t feel like selling. It just feels like you’re sitting around the campfire. It’s like that effect. And my buddy goes, “Yes, campfire effect.” So, literally, it’s just like this conversation. And so, that’s what we just ran with it and have called it. That’s what we’ve called it since.


Justin Donald: Oh, I love it. That’s fantastic. And there’s this level of intimacy that exists with the campfire effect, right? Like, you’re not sitting on screens out at a campfire. You’re engaged. It’s dark out. You’re seeing people totally present and often totally vulnerable because you’re beyond the surface-level stuff. Yeah, that’s really cool.


Chris Smith: There’s also this element that around the campfire is like I think you start to kind of wander around. You start to think about what could be possible, like what’s out there. And that’s a thing that we talk a lot about in the Campfire Effect is when we work with organizations is we want to help them start to get like access to what could actually be possible because what’s possible is usually way bigger and way more than we think is possible.


Justin Donald: Yeah, And this is like this whole concept that I implemented years ago that has been massive for me with kind of creating a space to think, to carve out to basically eliminate all the distractions or interrupt the interruptions, right? And so, that you can get intentional, you can get proactive. And so, when I think about like a campfire, you’re kind of creating a space where you’re proactive, you’re not being distracted by notifications or work emails or whatever it is and so that was huge for me. I feel like you get that. You’re creating time and space to just think and dream and wonder and converse and go deep. So, I love that. I also want to mention that there are a lot of people and I want to protect privacy but there are big-name companies that have done this that have worked with you and have hired you. There are big-name personalities and people and let’s call it popular culture or whatever. So, this brand has become a big brand and this is kind of like a consulting gig but you had another business that basically spawned from this business, which is fantastic. So, talk about that. Talk about the family brand.


Chris Smith: Yeah. So, with The Campfire Effect, our methodology is called Uncover Your Identity, Unlock Your Message, Unleash Your Team so in that order. So, we help them first uncover their identity of who they really are because what’s so interesting is entrepreneurs and organizations is, over time, this kind of happened slowly without us even realizing it. What happens in most organizations and most entrepreneurs is what they do and who they are just start to meld into one thing, unfortunately, and they really lose sight of the who they are, and they make it all about what they do. The problem most times is what they do is highly commoditized. So, we come in and the very first thing we do is we separate those two things back out again and we help them realize this is what you do and it’s amazing but like let’s get deep on who you are like what you want to be known for, your identity. And when we unlock that, it unlocks everything. And we talk a lot about leadership like showing up like a leader and having language like a leader, right? So, we’d be doing this for organizations and individuals, like you said, uncovering their identity, unlocking the message, unleashing their team. And our promise to them was, “Hey, fly in and spend a day with us. That’ll kick off our engagement and you’ll have gotten you’re in complete ROI and you’ll have more clarity after that one day than the entire time you’ve been in business or we’ll give your money back.”


Justin Donald: Wow.


Chris Smith: It was like this really bold promise. So, this is the kick off the engagement. At the end of that one day, you will have gotten your entire ROI and you will have more clarity than you’ve ever had on who you are. And so, companies are like, “Take us up on it.” And every time they leave, at the end of the day, individuals are like, “Yeah, I got my whole money’s worth and I’m more clear than we’ve ever been.” Well, so we were creating these, and then and then we would work with them and we would work with them to take that identity and that message and drive it through all of their sales, marketing, and branding. And then we’d also drive it internally through a framework we created called the Cultural Operating System. So, like culturalize it and cool things were happening. Well, driving home from the office one day, we had an entrepreneur, a firm fly out from New York to work with us, and at the end of the day he goes, “I don’t think you guys could do it but you delivered like you kept your promise. I’m so excited for the next 90 days.” But he said something to me that really stuck with me on the drive home. He said, “Chris, what we did today day will impact our firm for the next hundred years.” Well, the reason that impacted me is because of my time in wealth management, it’s really commonly known this idea of shirt sleeves, the shirt sleeves in three generations that over 90% of all families that inherit any kind of wealth, by the third generation, over 90% of the time, all the money’s gone and it’s completely destroyed the family.


Justin Donald: Yes, because you can name the few families on one hand that defy the odds, right? It’s that small of a group.


Chris Smith: Which that number always blew my mind like when I was in wealth management. And to this day, we still work with a lot of financial advisors and wealth managers, and the numbers are still staggering like, “Man, over 90%?” So, when he said this will impact our firm for the next hundred years, I thought, “100 years? That’s three generations.” And something about that too, that just kind of clicked. And on the drive home I was like, “Well, I want something to impact my family for the next hundred years.” And then I thought, “Why have I never taken my family through the very process I’m taking these entrepreneurs and organizations through that are creating these incredible transformations?” It just hit me like, “I want to be intentional in my family. I want to uncover our family’s identity. I want to unlock our family’s message. I want to unleash our family team. So, I just went home and told my wife. It was date night, actually, that night. We’re pretty committed to a weekly date. I shouldn’t say pretty. We’re very committed to a weekly date, and on our date I said, “Hey, I want to take our family to the campfire effect.” And she’s used to my crazy ideas as an entrepreneur so, she’s like, “Yeah, sure, whatever.”


And we weren’t really thinking that anything profound. It was just an experiment. And, man, Justin, it like really started making a difference in our marriage, in our home, in the culture of our home, the relationships with our kids, this new language that we had access to. When I say that everything I’m about is leadership and language, it really is like I believe that language is the fundamental element of creation. And that’s a bold like there’s a lot packed into that statement that I could talk hours about but I’ll just say like there’s never been anything in the world created without language first. And you can’t speak in it and not create. And unfortunately, most people are using language that is actually creating further away from what they want, whether they realize or not, even organizations. It’s like the very language they’re using is not contributing to what they want to create most. Well, by taking our family through this process, we unlocked a new language like we had access to different language that just started upgrading our lives and our culture, our home, and our relationships. And I was kind of like, “Man, this is powerful.” And then we had an artist take this language of mission, vision, values, and design it and hang it up in our home.


And so, people started asking about it. And then one day I told my wife, I was like, “We just like branded our family. How cool is that? Just like you would a company but we branded our family. We created a family brand.” And I was like, “Family brand, that’s a great domain.” Of course, it was for sale and they wanted a ton of money and I negotiated with them and eventually got it bought. So, we were just sitting on it doing nothing with it. But then my wife, one day, she’s an RN. We have five children. And so, she was like really pondering, “Do I go back to work? When would I like to go back to work?” And I was just actually praying and asking God like, “What should I do?” It wasn’t getting an answer. And as you listen to a podcast that said, “Hey, if you’re praying to God and you really want God to give you an answer of what to do with your life, maybe don’t ask, ‘What do you want me to do?’ or share with him your ideas. Maybe you should say, ‘Hey, what do you want me to do to build your kingdom?'” Like, flip the…


Justin Donald: That’s powerful.


Chris Smith: That’s a better question, right?


Justin Donald: Yeah. Like, let’s stop being self-seeking.


Chris Smith: Totally. And she was.


Justin Donald: You want to serve. Yeah.


Chris Smith: She said, “I was totally being self-seeking in my prayers like for me.” So, she goes, “Alright.” So, she goes, “The very first time I actually prayed and said, ‘Well, alright, God, what do you want me to do to build your kingdom?'” She said in an instant this thought just, “Build my kingdom by building families.” So, to my wife’s credit, she had the courage. She did not renew her nursing license after all that work to become an RN and it’s like gone all-in on her calling. So, she created the podcast and we’ve created this program now for families and we just feel really like blessed like that we’re making a difference for families out there in the world.


Justin Donald: That’s awesome. Well, I’m thankful for what Melissa’s doing and what she’s leading, and have had the privilege of being on your podcast. And I just love what you guys stand for on so many levels and enriching in like powerful way. In fact, what’s more powerful than establishing this brand for the thing that matters the most? I think it’s incredible. I interviewed Rich Christiansen. I’m not sure if you know Rich and how well you know him and Legado Family. And I just think he’s doing amazing things in the world and I’m just such a huge fan of him but I’m also just such a huge fan of you and what you’re doing and Jon Vroman with Front Row Dads. And there’s a number of different groups out here that are saying, “Hey, let’s put family in the driver’s seat and let’s create like a priority around this. And let’s start from the foundation.” And I just love that you guys are about that.


Chris Smith: Well, and what’s interesting is that I love the work that Rich is doing with Legado. I love what Jon’s obviously with Front Row Dads. And what’s so fascinating is if you’re an entrepreneur and you want to go find resources to upgrade your brand, your identity, your message, your culture, your operations, your systems, endless amounts of resources, like too many, actually, in fact. Right?


Justin Donald: Totally.


Chris Smith: But if you’re a family who wants to upgrade those same things as a family, they’re few and far between, sadly. So, I want 100 more family brands out there in the world. I want 100 more Front Row Dads and I think all those people would agree that like it’s so big. There are so many families to serve that will never get to in a lifetime that I’m glad to see and I don’t see it as competitive at all. Like, any time I hear someone say, “Oh, we’re doing work with families,” or, “We’re doing work with dads,” or, “We’re doing wonderful work with moms,” I’m always like, “Great. Like, we need more. We need more people doing the work that my wife’s doing and taking a stand for families.”


Justin Donald: Yeah, there’s no doubt. But also, I think that there is a framework that a lot of people operate out of but I think the majority of people say, “Alright, I’m going to have the biggest skyscraper by tearing everyone else’s skyscraper down,” like I’m going to be the best through competition, through whatever means I need to do and I’m going to destroy your skyscraper. Mine’s going to be the biggest.” And then I think you have a small percentage of people that actually say, “I am going to build everyone else’s skyscraper up and in the process attract more people into our city because there are so many skyscrapers that looked really nice, right?


Chris Smith: It’s like we need more people out there doing what Family Brand does and Front Row Dads and Legado, in my opinion, because it creates awareness for this industry, which this industry, even entrepreneurs, a lot of times they’ll pretty easily stroke a check for 10, 20, 50, sometimes $100,000 to make an investment their business. Ask them to write a check for $5,000, $10,000 to invest in their family, even though it’s not a muscle that we’ve ever been. So, I think we need that muscle to be training more people by having, “Oh, that is an industry that you…” And sadly, most of the investments that families do make into their family is reactive when there is a problem like then we find ourselves paying for rehab, therapy, counseling, which those things are great. But it’s like I believe that families should be given the opportunity to proactively financially invest in the strengthening of their family. And I’m not talking about like a family trip. That to me is an indirect. It’s still proactive. I’m saying like, “No, just like you’d brand a company, just like you’d create values for a company, just like you’d learn to upgrade your parenting skills.” Yeah, I just think we need way more people out there giving families the opportunity to invest in their family.


Justin Donald: You would never run a company without clarity here. You might, as a scrappy entrepreneur, get started that way and maybe, you know, I have not seen it but to scale, to attract people, to have exits like you have to have clarity on those things to really make it. You really have to know, like, why are you here? What are you about? What’s the problem that you’re solving for? And if companies need this to be successful, I would argue that families need it even more.


Chris Smith: Totally. Like, we don’t think about this idea of scaling a family. It’s like, yeah, you could scale your family and whatever that means, scale the experience, scale the adventure, scale the connection but it’s not good. It’s not going to happen by accident. Just like scaling a company would never happen by accident. It’s going to require some real intentionality. And it always makes me laugh when an entrepreneur or a family says, “Well, the problem is we just don’t have a culture or the problem is we don’t have values.” And I always go, “No, whether a business or a family, it’s impossible to not have a culture.”


Justin Donald: Yeah. They’re either defined by you or you don’t have it and everyone else creates it.


Chris Smith: Yeah. It’s either you have a culture, whether it’s by design or by default. You have values, whether by design or by default. So, what we’re saying is you might as well just do it by design. Create the culture of belonging and love by design, create values by design, create language. And look, this idea of leadership, the greatest leadership development opportunity in the history of the world is in homes, not out in companies. So, you’re a leader in your home like everything that applies and we’ve borrowed so many strategies in our own family and that we teach in Family Brand and we always give credit to the book but we borrow so many great business strategies that apply to families. But it’s really easy to you’re so busy building a business, you can forget to build your family. And so, I love, though, where I’m at right now between Campfire and Family Brand is I just see that I have this opportunity to kind of just wake people up to what’s possible around their leadership and their language, whether it’s to grow the culture of their firm or grow the sales of their company, or it’s to grow the culture of your home and grow the people that are in your home.


Justin Donald: And from the culture standpoint of your home and I think about like scaling the impact that we can have as a family, I think that’s incredible. But if you’re not intentional, then the default is actually societal and cultural values and standards, which I’m going to argue for most people are way below a comfortable threshold or an acceptable threshold. So, you’re already swimming upstream to a certain degree. So, the earlier we can start establishing the values and establishing the family brand and who you are, what you stand for, the impact that you’re going to have in the world, the better off your family is going to be.


Chris Smith: Yeah. I think you said this on when you’re on the Family Brand Podcast, Justin, like the alternative of not defining your family’s values and doing it by design, it’s not like, “Oh, it’s not going to happen.” No. The way I see it is if you don’t define what your family stands for, the world is going to do it for you. So, it’s like it’s not like a, “Well, we’ll still be okay,” because you brought that point about intentionally growing together. It’s not the opposite of intentionally growing together, “Well, we just don’t grow together.” No, we actually are going to grow apart. So, there’s a risk and there is a cost. And I guess if there was one word that probably sums up everything that I’m striving for, at least, is I’m striving myself. I’m trying to be as intentional as I can in my own business, my own family, and I just want to help other organizations. Just like that first firm that I was with when I saw the two companies coming together, I just was like, “Man, we could be more intentional about this. We could do this by design and on purpose. We could intentionally create a culture of leadership in this organization. We can intentionally go out and control the message we’re going to share or we just let it happen. And the same thing with families.” And intentionality requires work. Clarity requires work. Like, you have to take a stand for it but, yeah, I mean, it lights me up. I love doing it.


Justin Donald: That’s so cool. And you have some very prominent high-profile people that are going through Family Brand that have just gone through and are currently going through or about to go through your process, which I think is so cool. Let’s back up here for a quick second for Campfire Effect. So, I’m imagining and I might be way off here but is there kind of like an immersive program or process that you do with these companies where there’s like a weekend or a series of days or maybe it’s a two-day, three-day, one-day, whatever it is, and then there’s the option to continue on for a longer period of time. Is that kind of how it works?


Chris Smith: That’s how it used to be prior to COVID, right? We would kick off with these two-day workshops and people could decide if they wanted to go further. What we have now is we have a six-month group program that’s really where we’re building it with them and helping them implement it. And then we have kind of our done-for-you program where it’s one-on-one. So, we have those two different options. And really one of the things that we say a lot in that is the goal when someone comes to work with Campfire Effect to upgrade their leadership and their language to unlock this growth is we want to help them become what we refer to as the preeminent brand of choice in their market.


Justin Donald: That’s good.


Chris Smith: And the definition of the word preeminent is that you’re very distinguished in some way and you’ve surpassed all others.


Justin Donald: That’s good.


Chris Smith: And it doesn’t mean like it’s a better than or a bigger than. It has nothing to do with that. It’s like you’ve surpassed everyone else because of the value you provide and the language around the leadership and you’re just so clear on who you are and how you articulate it. It’s kind of unfair. It’s like there is no competition, so to speak because they hear you speak, they see how you show up, they see how everyone else speaks and how everyone else and it’s like, “Well, there’s no question, I’m going to work with Justin. Like, there’s not even a question in my mind.” And you can actually create that through leadership and language. However, it’s easy, though, sometimes to step over dollars to pick up dimes. What I mean by that is a lot of companies, the reason we added the cultural piece later, the cultural operating system is we saw that some of our clients were getting so focused on that this new identity and leadership and language was all about sales, sales, sales, growth, growth, growth, they were kind of stepping over their very own people to have it all be about their clients and customers. And we were like, “Well, no, this identity that we’ve uncovered, we have to live it first. It has to be about your people first and then you and your people collectively go serve the clients and the customers.” Yeah. So sorry. I got us off track there but, yes, we have a six-month group and then one-on-one where we’ll work with individuals or organizations.


Justin Donald: I love it. And then what about the Family Brand? Is that more of like a one-time experience or is there a tale that continues on or group type of dynamics? Because I remember when I first learned about working with you, and I don’t even remember what happened but I thought we were all in agreement that we were moving forward. This is with Casey Weade, and I think we had all set up to like go through your program together. It’s going to be the Johnsons, the Sparks, the Weades, and the Donalds.


Chris Smith: That’s right.


Justin Donald: Yeah. So, this is like way back. And so, it’s funny, when we hung out in Austin…


Chris Smith: By the way, we’re revisiting that, Justin, now that you brought it up. We got to make it happen.


Justin Donald: I love it. Yeah. So, we were hanging out in January when you were in Austin, and I totally was connecting more dots. And then I remember hearing after the fact from Casey that they did it and it was amazing and how cool it was. I’m like, “What the heck? I thought we were all doing this together.” I didn’t even get like I said, “Yes, I was in. Where’s my memo?”


Chris Smith: Justin, like, dude, I’m one of the cool kids. So, the way Melissa has designed Family Brand is so, first of all, what’s cool is like I think there are so many people, whether it’s for organizations or families where you’re sometimes the fear is, okay, I’m going to buy this thing. It’s going to be useful, it’s going to have some useful tips, but I’m not actually going to get to the conclusion that I really want. And that was like not optional for us with Family Brand. It was like, look, if you go through the program, you will at the end have a defined mission statement, a defined vision statement, seven core values, and there are seven reasons all based on research and science that we’ve, you know. And so, we have a digital program that does that. So, families want to say, “Hey, I just want to do this together as a family on our own.” We have countless examples and dozens and dozens of families who have like, “Yeah. We completed the program and at the end, we had our core values. We had a clear vision of who we want to become as a family. And we have the cultural operating system and we know how to live it.”


We then also have groups. So, we’ll kick off groups that go through at a time and that’s more of the community aspect. And we’ve had families like you’re talking about Casey who’ve just said, “Hey, I’ve got a group of 5 to 10 families that I want to…” And these are families that I want to grow, I want to be intentional about growing together with them. Right? And so, they’ll come kind of enroll us and do like an immersive experience for their group of families. And then we ourselves have a rolling program where you can jump in that’s three months long. And then at the end, though, we really want families to stay connected to it because our vision is to build the largest community of intentional committed families who are living life by design that are just inspiring each other. And I just keep speaking it out into the universe because we’re going to create it. This September, we’re putting on the first ever what we’re calling the Family Summit. It’s going to be small. We’ve rented this amazing retreat cabin up in Utah but our vision would be that, eventually, the Family Summit has thousands and thousands of families from all over the world, including their children. It’s a mastermind for families because we go to these masterminds for just us as the business owner.


Well, what if we could have a mastermind where the whole family gets to come and we’re teaching entrepreneurial principles to kids and wellness and like, you know. And then, we have a few families right now that, if they want, they can hire us one-on-one, and my wife, Melissa, guides them through and it’s like a done for you. And at the end, they’ve built their family’s brand, they have their cultural operating system, they know how to live it daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. So, we teach them cadences and rhythms, again, just like a successful business house. Why don’t we have these cadences and rhythms as a family? And sometimes people ask like, “How do you guys do the things you do with your family? How did you sell everything you own and move to Hawaii for a year? And how do you take these trips?” And we talk like it’s all guided by our family’s brand, our values. It doesn’t happen by accident but it’s important to us because of what we’ve decided we’re committed to as a family.


Justin Donald: So, talk about that because the whole reason I started the Lifestyle Investor podcast was to like really figure out how to help people live an epic lifestyle, like something that they are thrilled to do. And so, investing often is the component that unlocks people’s giving themselves permission to do it. Like, I’ve now solved the equation that it costs me X dollars to live my life, and I now have passive income that exceeds that amount of money. So, now I can be intentional but we can be intentional before that. But what I really want to highlight are people that live this epic life and then let’s model that. So, what are some of these cool trips and these cool experiences that you guys have done as a family?


Chris Smith: Yeah. And one of the things that we’ve really landed on and we’re constantly refining our own message, right? And by the way, it’s kind of interesting is the guy who helps everyone else with their own message. I need help from people I trust. But what Melissa and I’ve really landed on lately with Family Brand is that everything that Family Brand is about is three things: one, helping families intentionally grow together, two, living this amazing life of adventure and possibility, and three, creating relationships that last. So, that middle, when you’re asking like adventure and possibility, it’s like when we told everyone we were going to sell everything we owned to move to Hawaii, this was December of 2020, we decided. Sorry. August of 2020 we decided. By December 2020, we’d sold everything we own and moved.


Justin Donald: Wow.


Chris Smith: And everyone was like, “How could you do this? Why would you do this?” And people were blown away by our answer because our answer was always the same. It’s like, “It just called to us.” We felt called because one of our values is Mr. Adventurous and we’ve said it enough to where we’re like, “Well, let’s be adventurous,” and it just called to us. And then the question is like, “Well, how did you do it?” And it’s like you just go like you commit to it and you make it happen. And there’s that whole quote about commitment. When one definitely commits oneself, things start like commitment moves the world, right? Like, commitment creates this black hole that then pulls things into your vortex, right? And then we had someone who kind of challenge us one time. It was a little bit like almost like telling us we’re irresponsible. And they go, “Well, what do you think life is, one big adventure? And my wife and I look at each other, we’re like, “Yeah, yeah, actually we do.” But I hadn’t even thought about until they asked us that but I was like, “What else is it?”


You know, Helen Keller, “Life’s either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” And that doesn’t mean that when you say life’s one big adventure, look, adventures require planning. Adventures require intentionality, and adventures require sacrifice. Adventures are often hard. So, it’s not this just like willy-nilly. It’s like, no, life is like life’s meant to be lived. And I want to wake up 20, 30, 40 years from now, look back, and be like, “You know what? We weren’t the perfect parents. We weren’t the perfect family. But you know what? We lived and we created experiences and we loved each other and like, look at what we did. Look at what we accomplished together as a family.”


Justin Donald: I love it. Did you feel like there were certain things that had a grip on you that were like hard to part with? And then at the same time, did you feel like this maybe liberation comes from parting from all this stuff that kind of you buy it and you own it but it ultimately ends up owning you?


Chris Smith: Yeah. So, like the liberation or so, the things that had a grip on us are the things that I tell everyone like has a grip on you. It’s the shoulds, the supposed tos, and the expected tos that we don’t realize it. We just let run our lives from the time a lot of us are children. Like, you’re supposed to go into this field. You should get this kind of job. You’re expected. And I think what’s happened for us, Justin, is having our family’s brand and our values over the years has allowed us to shed a lot of the shoulds and shed a lot of the supposed tos and shed a lot of the expected tos and operate more from a place of what calls to us as a family. Like, who do we want to be? And I’m like, dude, my wife and I, we go on walks most every night. Last night just on our walk because we were walking the dogs, she was like, “Do you remember how much work it was to move our family out to Hawaii and two dogs and all the paperwork?” And we were just reflecting on it. We’re like, “I can’t believe we did it.” It was hard. It required a ton of sacrifice, a ton of effort, and it was so liberating to be there. And when people ask us, like, “What was that you’re like in Hawaii?” we don’t have a better word than just we always say it was magical.


I just went on an eight-day trip to Tokyo or, well, we went to Tokyo and then we cruised all around Japan with my two oldest boys and people are like, “How did you do that?” It’s like you just start realizing you’re a creator. You can create anything. You’re the creator of your life. You’re the creator of all possibility. When you wake up to that, it’s like, “Well, I can create anything.” I can totally go to Japan for eight days and be completely offline and away from my business. Why? Well, because I can create it. And I love like the amount of families that have told us over the years, like, “Man, Chris, the longest vacation we’d ever gone on is one week and then we met your family. And so, the next year we went on two weeks. And guess what? Everything was fine. My business survived. And so, then the next summer, we went for a month.” And then you just start, like, edging into it, and then you start realizing you can like I can work from anywhere in the world. And I know not all businesses have that luxury and it’s going to take more but I think you just start realizing you can do more than you think you can. And, look, we’re a family of seven, so it’s not like it’s convenient or simple or easy but you can do it. You can do more than you think you can as a family.


Justin Donald: I love it. Well, you are a walking billboard for possibility and opportunity and just having the will to make things happen. I love that the Smiths are adventurous and having your mantras, having the statements that help define who you are, who your unit and family is. That’s powerful. Where can our audience learn more about you and about both Family Brand and Campfire Effect?


Chris Smith: Yes, if you go to, that’s where you can learn more about or either one of them, and then We also have a podcast. Justin was just on it so his episode will be awesome. All of you should listen to that. And then a really cool thing that I tell every family they should do just because it’s fun and you get this really amazing resource at the end is So, Melissa designed this really cool quiz that allows you to answer some questions that assess the kind of the current state of the culture that’s in your home. and one of the things you’ll find out pretty quickly about Family Brand is we believe culture is everything. The culture in your home kind of governs all. You can have the most amazing sayings in the world, the most amazing values, but if the culture isn’t authentic to it, and so it’s a resource to help you create a more intentional culture of belonging and love in your home. So, Our podcast is called Family Brand. We have a book coming out this year. We just got it to the publishers. We’re really excited. It’ll be called Family Brand. I can’t wait for that to come out.


Justin Donald: Well, cool. Congratulations on that. I know writing a book is a huge undertaking and I just hope more people just dig in and take even more serious what family values and having a brand looks like and kind of the legacy that you and your family can have via impact and via just kind of unity and being on the same page. So, I love the work that you’re doing. Thanks for spending time with us. And I love ending the podcast with a question for our audience. And by the way, I know this is going to resonate with you because you talk about this a lot. So, it’s interesting because the question I ask is very similar and very much along the lines of what you preach in both your companies. And that question is this, so those of you watching, those of you listening, what’s one step that you can take today to move towards financial freedom and move towards a life that you truly desire, one that’s on your terms, that is by design, not by default? Thanks so much and we’ll catch you next week.

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