Leader of the Month for July 2004:
For decades, filmmaker John Christensen had been seeking to fulfill a dream of his: capture a story on film of people entirely engaged in and contagiously passionate about their work. Then, when he least expected it, John experienced the moment of epiphany that led to the fulfillment of his dream. John had finished the business portion of a trip to Seattle, Washington, and was waiting out the remaining hours before his flight was to return him home. Rather than sit in his hotel room, he inquired about local tourist attractions and was directed to the Pike Place Fish Market. John experienced his epiphany moment while walking through the market amongst the many customers and shops. He witnessed the boundless positive energy and enthusiasm that the Pike Place Fish Market exuded. These men were creating an unbelievable environment of playfulness and fun that positively impacted the customers around them. The fishmongers were joking and having fun with each other, interacting and engaging their customers, and demonstrating great passion for the task at hand--selling fish. John knew immediately that this was the story he had been looking for, and this was a story that needed to be heard.
The employees of the Pike Place Market had been consistently engaging in practices at their workplace that created an environment of goodwill, fun and passion. These practices led the fish market to increased profitability and local prominence. Then John Christensen entered the picture. John's dream of workplace enthusiasm, coupled with the energy and spirit modeled by the fishmongers at Pike Place Fish Market, proved to be a sublime combination. And through the tale of workplace fun that he summed up in four simple, powerful principles, captured on film, then reinforced in four FISH!® books, John turned the ripples that had been started by the fishmongers into waves. These waves took place in the form of the countless organizations that dispensed with their traditional, outmoded methods of conducting business to adopt the four concepts of The FISH! Philosophy®: BE THERE, MAKE THEIR DAY, PLAY, and CHOOSE YOUR ATTITUDE.
John Christensen saw a ripple in what many patrons before him deemed a trivial event. Through his vision and storytelling expertise, he took that ripple and narrated, explained and packaged it in a way that the greater public could connect to and derive great value from it. John turned an event he witnessed into The FISH! Philosophy® that has gathered momentum as it has advanced through numerous organizations. Now, this transformational tidal wave of play and energy has completely traveled our world, bettering the lives of individuals in their workplaces and improving the profitability of the businesses who have embraced The FISH! Philosophy. It is for this positive contribution to individuals and organizations that John Christensen has been selected as LeaderNetwork.org's Leader of the Month for July 2004.
About John Christensen
Filmmaker, CEO of ChartHouse Learning, Co-author and Developer of The FISH! Philosophy®
Resides: Minnetonka, Minnesota, USA (suburb of Minneapolis)
Family: wife Gaye and two children (Kelsey 10 and Tori 4)
Favorite quote: "Making dreams come true" -Walt Disney
Place in the world John most likes to visit: Egypt
Personal passion: (1) demand more compelling purpose from our work (2) growing our company (ChartHouse Learning), growing myself and working on our cause
Dream: Being the Disney® of experience learning
Book recommended for aspiring leaders: The Answer to How is Yes: Acting on What Matters by Peter Block
John Christensen and Leadership
Harry Geist, FISH! Journey Guide at ChartHouse Learning, has this to say about John Christensen’s leadership: “John is a terrific leader. He is really authentic and passionate about what he does. His honesty, goodness and authenticity are the hallmarks of his leadership style. He leads this organization in a way that enables a spirit of long-lasting, deep and profound connections to occur throughout the organization. He creates a sense of freedom that enables employees to create great, fulfilling work for themselves and their teams.”
John’s advice to aspiring leaders: Believe in yourself and believe in your team
John’s most admired leaders: Walt Disney for his powerful vision and ability to dream big; Steven Spielberg for bringing out the best in people
John counts the following as the leadership highlight of his life: Having a vision and seeing it come alive
Traits John considers most important in a leader: Be real - Build trust - Have a dream!
John suggests embracing the following precepts: Be curious - Be outrageous - Live big!
Asked about past and present leadership trends, John responds: I am seeing a shift from the past (when people refused to change or shift paradigms because things had always been done a certain way in their organizations). New leaders are saying no longer will it be this way. Leaders in many industries are practicing incredible leadership.
John's thoughts on The FISH! philosophy®: The four principals of The FISH! Philosophy can help us find the deep source of energy, creativity and passion that exists inside each of us by learning to love what we do, even if at the moment we may not be doing exactly what we love. The FISH! Philosophy is a life-long learning approach that inspires personal transformation through a culture of individuals who feel alive, engaged and committed to the work they do. The FISH! Philosophy is really ancient wisdom for modern times, a lifestyle choice to engage in life-long learning and self-improvement. The products we offer are really learning tools, from some of the best mentors one could have - real-life experiences that ultimately reignite the human spirit.
Where to Go for More About John Christensen
Where can you find out more about John, his leadership, The FISH! Philosophy®, and ChartHouse Learning?