Be Successful But Don’t Forget To Enjoy Your Life
Chris Rodgers is the founder and CEO of [Colorado SEO Pros](https://www.coloradoseopros.com/), serial entrepreneur, husband, snowboarder, mountain biker and overall lover of life. He moved to Colorado 7 years ago after leaving his corporate marketing job in Chicago to go back to school and start his own business. He has been growing his SEO agency over the past 6 years and has partnered in several startups along the way.
I had the opportunity to interview Chris recently. Here are some of the highlights of that interview:
**Jill Griffin:** Where did you grow up? Describe your early childhood and its significance on your life.
**Chris Rodgers:** My family moved around quite a bit growing up because my dad worked in sales for a large packaging company, so in the time I was old enough to remember, I lived in Oklahoma, Connecticut, Illinois, and Florida. I think this experience helped me appreciate different areas of the country, and ultimately opened up a lot of opportunities when I started my career in Chicago. I was a pretty hyper kid and actually got in a fair amount of trouble because I didn’t like being told what to do or how to do things (starting in pre-school where I actually got kicked out for climbing a fence and trying to leave). I started thinking outside the box at an early age and began to push boundaries and do things differently than other kids. This trait caused a lot of issues in school, but ultimately is one of the big things that set me apart from my peers when I was old enough to channel this way of thinking. I admit, even today I am a bit of a rule breaker and push the limits, however I have learned boundaries and developed a strong moral compass so I don’t end up falling victim to my rebellious nature.
**Griffin:** Describe a painful setback in your life and what it taught you. (For example, I lost my dad when I was 15. It was a “hard scrabble” to get my education. It taught me to speak up and ask for what I needed.)
**Rodgers:** When I was in my early teenage years my dad’s company was bought out and he was laid off after a 22-year tenure. At that point my life of simply being given things I asked for changed. I had to get a job if I wanted to have money and buy the things I desired to have. This was very important to learning the value of money and getting exposure to business and commerce, even though I was simply working retail at a local grocery and drug store. It was real world experience that left a lasting impression, and helped me better understand the lessons my parents had been teaching me about working hard, showing up and doing the right thing.
**Griffin:** When did you first get the whisper you belonged in business?
**Rodgers:** I have a distinct memory that sticks out. When I was in 2nd grade we were doing an exercise in class exploring what we wanted to be when we grew up. Many of my peers gave the typical answers of policeman, fireman, or race car driver. I asked my teacher what it would be called to be my own boss and not be told what to do (or something to that effect). That’s when I learned what an entrepreneur was, and that was my answer. I forgot about that memory the rest of my childhood, but that same spirit emerged after I got my first job out of college and ultimately ventured out on my own after feeling stifled in my position at a large corporation.
**Griffin:** Briefly outline your early career and your goals.
**Rodgers:** I started in various sales positions fairly early beginning with selling popcorn with the Boy Scouts and school magazines; then telemarketing for a window washing company and outside sales appointment setting for an energy company. In college I began b2b sales for 2-way radios and cell phones, this was my first experience working with and competing directly with older adults. Up to that point I was just trying to make my own money and there really weren’t any larger aspirations. I was a psych major in school but after graduation ending up interviewing with R.H. Donnelley in Chicago for a sales and marketing position selling print and digital advertising (the yellow pages). The opportunity ended upon sounding great and I took the job. I was extremely driven from day one to be successful and move up the ranks. I worked long hours, asked lots of questions and tried to mirror the older big shots who had made it. I moved up the ranks quickly and set myself apart from a large and competitive sales team. My specific goals were to be promoted faster and in less time than the rules required, and achieve success and recognition for my efforts. This is when I realized I could achieve real-world success despite overwhelming challenges.
**Griffin:** What drew you to your current work?
**Rodgers:** R.H. Donnelly got into the digital advertising space around the same time that I joined and I heavily gravitated towards those channels because of the transparency and tracking data that could support and inform different marketing strategies (versus the major ambiguity of print advertising). I became a leader in my office in selling and implementing RHD’s first search-marketing offering, and this sparked a big interest in digital. I ultimately wanted to get involved in product innovation and marketing execution and I managed to get a meeting with a senior exec in charge of the mind west region. By that time, I was already exploring a full-time master’s program in internet marketing. That conversation had a huge impact on my career trajectory and ultimately led to my first jump into the unknown. The exec told me he thought the school sounded like a bad idea and he didn’t see how any of my plans would help with my sales numbers. My decision to leave was made immediately after that. I owe that individual gratitude for making such a tough decision incredibly easy. After that I completed a masters in Internet marketing, worked as a senior SEO analyst for an agency in Chicago and ultimately started my own SEO agency after my first failed venture (a social-media and travel platform for the ski and snowboard industry).
**Griffin:** Talk about a big business set back and how you handled it. What did it teach you?
**Rodgers:** A year or so after starting Colorado SEO Pros we secured a contract with a large international IT services company, we grew the project and worked with them successfully for about 3.5 years when there was a sweeping change across the C suite and new leadership was brought in. Out of the blue one day the creative director called me and cancelled the contract and he informed me that the CEO had a golf buddy who said they didn’t need SEO and they should just do PR instead. That account was a large percentage of our revenue and I believed if we lost that client our company might not survive. After an extremely rough and stressful day or two, I composed myself and began formulating a plan to move forward. We had to fight through the transition but survived and emerged stronger and more confident in our ability to overcome daunting challenges and setbacks. I have now made sure to carefully manage the percentage of revenue that a single client commands.
**Griffin:** What are the principles you now live by?
**Rodgers:** Honesty and concern for others, doing the right thing even when it’s harder, and making sure that you provide more in use value than you receive in monetary value. I believe that if you do the right thing, try to help others and add value to people’s lives you will be rewarded with success and happiness. Making money and being successful is great and can be really exciting, but if you are cutting corners and screwing people over you are on a path of making the world a worse place. Help others be successful and keep your ego in check, and always maintain a mindset of gratitude and abundance, never competition and scarcity.
**Griffin:** What advice do you have for building and living a fulfilling life?
**Rodgers:** Figure out what you want to be, do and have with utmost specificity, then create a plan to execute and work with persistence every day to achieve your goals. I am a true entrepreneur and love what I do, but it’s not about the money. I have an amazing family, am a passionate snowboarder and have built a lifestyle that allows me to do the things I want on my own terms. My life is insanely busy and stressful, but I have achieved a level of balance to enjoy the process most of the time and I feel grateful every day. Make sure you remember to live along the way to success. If you sacrifice everything in the present you will look back realizing you achieved your goals at the cost of missing the life you wanted to build in the first place.
### Work hard, be good to those around you and don’t forget to live life to the fullest every single day.