A Fierce Farewell from Chris Douglas, EVP of International Expansion and Learning

Dear readers,

My time here at Fierce is officially coming to an end. Not in heart, but in presence. Although I'm technically retiring, I'm not a big fan of the word "retirement." I prefer the Spanish word jubilación—it suggests jubilation and joy rather than a "stop" or "end." Although one chapter is closing, I'm about to embark on a new and exciting beginning.

Inherently, I'm an explorer. Over the course of my career, one of the things I look back on with so much joy is that I've been able to work with two wonderful organizations—Fierce Conversations, and before that, Alaska Airlines—that have given me the opportunity to use my explorer nature and exercise my entrepreneurial spirit within them. They have given me the opportunity to create positions that didn't exist, and to use my creative capacity in ways that both benefited the organization and myself. Looking back, I can honestly say there's really nothing I would change.

When I reflect on the challenges I've witnessed, especially coming from the angle of conversation, I've been saddened at times, especially as it relates to the way we govern. Unfortunately for some, it's more about being right than getting it right and no one seems to be having the conversations needed to evolve our world. Humanity is still struggling to have effective conversations that can solve big problems. At Fierce, we know it can happen. It's our vision to create a better world, one conversation at a time. We have and continue to make an impact, and yet there still is so much to accomplish, and there is such a global need for what we do.

As much as I believe that our governments aren't making the inroads they should, I've observed that businesses, on the other hand, are making some progress when it comes to how they are communicating across borders. We're very much in a global economy and businesses are required to collaborate more than governments to achieve the results that allow them to expand and grow. And employees are often spread around the world, making the skill and strategy of conversations critical to their success. Although they're being initiated from an economic perspective, conversations are changing the way we connect in a positive way. From a Fierce lens, we're witnessing this shift and are reminded on a regular basis how people are taking our training into their homes and communities and are making a difference outside of their work.

This shift in communication and the uptick in quality conversations is exciting to see because it's apparent that people are a lot more willing to be curious about what it takes to be successful. And from what I've witnessed over the years, it's curiosity that has been the most critical factor in business success and in all avenues of life. If we enter into our conversations with the intent to learn from one another, wonderful things can happen that couldn't otherwise.

On a personal level, one of the greatest lessons I've learned during my career has been simply to give myself a break. I'm a lifetime learner, and at times, I set a level of expectation on who I am and what I deliver that has been very onerous. I've placed a lot of energy into owning up to other's expectations rather than living up to my own, and one of the things I'm learning and that Fierce has certainly aided me in is to enjoy who I am, where I am, and find my authentic self. If you're reading this, I encourage you to find joy in who you actually are rather than trying to seek out who you think you need to be.

The past 13 years at Fierce have been extraordinary. One of the things I've enjoyed most has been the opportunity to grow our business globally. I've learned so much from my colleagues and clients around the world whom I now call friends.

I give credit to the success I have had to the people around me who scripted my life in a positive way, and who felt that I was capable of accomplishing things that I didn't even know I could accomplish. These people offered me support when I stepped outside my comfort zone into an area that was challenging, but where I was able to grow. Having that support really helped me stretch my wings, and this supportive leadership helped shape the way I have tried to work with and lead others.

If there's a piece of wisdom I could offer, it's to never stop learning. Give yourself the right to find joy in whatever you do. Stay happy in your pursuits, even if it means change, re-focusing, or going in a different direction altogether. In my experience, it's never a bad choice to follow your heart.

I'm looking forward to this next part of my journey, my jubilación, and the joy that comes with venturing into something completely new. I can't wait to see what life will bring next.

My time here at Fierce has been incredible, and I am so full of gratitude to have been part of a company that has helped businesses grow, strengthened relationships, and changed so many lives in meaningful ways. I have so much love for this company, for everyone involved, and for what we've been able to build together! My special thanks to Susan Scott who has given me the opportunity of a lifetime.

Take care of yourselves,

Chris Douglas 

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