Chris Reimer is an award-winning marketing and communication strategist, a passionate, motivational, personable storyteller who loves educating and persuading others via social and new media. He is the Founder and Chief Power Officer at Boosa Tech, a consumer tech products company specializing in power banks. Reimer is also the author of the 2015 business book Happywork: A Business Parable About the Journey to Teamwork, Profit, and Purpose.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in St. Louis, MO, in the middle of the United States. I had a younger brother, and we lived in a modest house that backed up to a public golf course. Our back fence separated our yard from the 16th tee. We spent a lot of time running around on that golf course – learning and playing golf, fishing, and running around in the woods. While in those woods, we’d find golf balls, the errant shots of average golfers. We’d clean them up, set up a table at the gate leading to the tee, and sell them to the golfers. Our prices were better than the pro shop, which really pissed them off. They’d drive a golf cart over and tell us to stop, and as kids, we were intimidated so we’d pack up. But once they left, we’d open back up and sell some more. Having an all-cash business at the age of 11-13 that didn’t involve selling weed = a big win!
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
Time is something you cannot buy. Sure, you can have someone clean your house for you, you can hire people to handle tasks to help free up time. But you can’t get back the years and decades. In my 20s and 30s, I wasn’t building anything. I had a fine career, but I didn’t spend much time planning and building. I wish I would have taken my own personal development more seriously, especially between the ages of 20-35.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
In social media marketing and social media customer service, some say you have to respond to everyone, to every inquiry. Any message sent your way, you have to respond. No, you don’t. As a professional communicator, you must communicate with the end goal in mind. Keep people happy, avoid controversy, some mixture of the two… I’ve received messages both publicly and privately from lunatics and had coworkers ask me, “You gonna answer that?” If nothing is achieved by answering, I don’t answer. Better to let it twist in the wind than fan the flame.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
In 2014 I started a dream job as the marketing director of a coffee company. I had actively campaigned for the job, knew my love of coffee had me in the right industry, and jumped right in on day one. Nothing went as planned, I could do no right, and 8 months in I was told I had done nothing worth praise since day one. Nine months in, I was told to go find a new job. It was not the first time I had been involuntarily separated from a job, but this situation was the worst. I had actually done some great work for them – they were wrong. I just didn’t fit in there, and I had so many swirling, conflicting emotions about why. I was ashamed I hadn’t recognized the problem earlier. I played the “what if” game, I exhibited a lot of Impostor Syndrome, and in the days after receiving the bad news, I was confused and in a fog. Plus, I had to come home and tell my wife the bad news (and as I said before, this wasn’t her first rodeo with me, either).
About one month after getting fired, I was sitting at our dining room table and had a complete meltdown. Through the tears, I just kept saying “What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with me?” I keep an intermittent journal, writing down things I want to remember. On that day, for some damn reason, I wanted to remember how it felt. Months later, after finding a great new job and getting over the whole incident, I gave a speech in front of 250 people in support of my book Happywork, and I went into details of how unhappy I had been. In front of the whole crowd, I read that passage from my journal and broke down on stage. You can imagine the tension in that ballroom; the audience was paying rapt attention! I gathered myself and jokingly asked for some vodka. My vulnerability and honesty were appreciated by the crowd, probably my best speech ever.
To this day, I can’t read that 2015 journal entry without having sadness sweep over me. Recounting it for this WorldClassPerformer piece was just as difficult, but I share it because I believe the grief was unavoidable, quite natural, and therefore necessary. I hate admitting this to my former employer, but I’m glad I went through it. I’m better for it.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
Go where others aren’t willing to go, and do what others aren’t willing to do. Such an attitude and work ethic makes all the difference. It doesn’t mean work 90 hours a week. Although if you talk a good game and want the bling and that lifestyle, don’t kid yourself. Successful people aren’t lucky. It could take 90+ hours to get there. It means take chances, get uncomfortable, volunteer to do something when no one else is, stand up in front of a crowd and give a speech, be THAT person.
I’m not special. Most of the time I’m an ordinary guy. But I have taught English in Moscow, flown a plane over the Loire valley and piloted the TGV bullet train (in the same trip!), published a book, bizarrely changed careers from CPA/accounting to marketing, trained Yemeni freedom fighters on the proper use of social media, been in a Russian jail, started a few companies, and had Entrepreneur Magazine name me one of the top five Twitter users in the world to follow. All of this is super weird and hilarious to me, but most of it happened because I tried. I’m not even a big risk taker! But in select, important moments, I’ve just stepped forward, out of line, and gone for it.
What is your morning routine?
I wake up between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m. and immediately make coffee. I typically do a pour-over with my Kalita Wave, and coffee from Blueprint in St. Louis, or out-of-town roasters like Verve or Temple. There have been times, momentary lapses in judgment when I actually exercise! Post-pandemic, my wife and I will rejoin a gym and do 4:30 a.m. workouts. Until then, coffee and CNBC have my entire morning. I wake our two daughters, sometimes make them breakfast, and get them off to school. I start working around 8:00.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Being present in the moment. This involves doing my best to honor whatever situation I’m in by giving it my full attention. And that means ignoring my phone and the constant notifications. And to do that, I’ve fine-tuned my notifications to only receive what I really need (sorry, Twitter). Further, if I’m with you, I will do my best in this short attention span age we live in to give you my full attention. Text messages can and should wait.
My company Boosa Tech manufactures some of the best portable phone chargers in the world. I have two cellphones! I’m all in on mobile productivity and am constantly amazed at how our phones can simultaneously be a voice recorder, airline boarding pass, world connectivity device, camera, photo editor, mp3 player, health monitor, traffic map, video game console, streaming device, alarm, clock, calculator, social media, language translator, Zoom device, calendar, and I could go on! It’s completely amazing! So, use your phone for those things, but actively train yourself to put it down, ignore it, and don’t get the shakes while you’re separated from it. Work to break your addiction, and enjoy the real world around you while you can.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I once heard someone say the phrase, “Incoming email is nothing more than other people putting assignments on your desk.” It’s great if they’re real assignments, something you’re getting paid for! If it’s just business detritus – sales emails and endless cc emails and marketing emails from retailers and voicemails and you falling into someone’s LinkedIn marketing drip campaign, and you’re having to go through all of this, that’s wasting your valuable time.
Inbox Zero might release some endorphins for you, but what did you really get done? Tim Ferriss brilliantly called it “simulating forward motion” – which means you’re going nowhere fast – and I have worked to take that to heart. I’m not trying to sound like some productivity ninja, and I don’t want to be a jerk to people.
What I am saying is that the random sales call or email or meeting request places zero demand or commitment on me unless I want it to. Once you’re in business and people have your website address, email, and cellphone number, you could spend 50-75% of your day responding to cold contacts that have nothing to do with what you were meant to do that day. Deleting and not responding is not a strategy; it’s the way I feel about my work.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott was the first marketing book I read and provided the groundwork for my 2010 career change from CPA to marketing. The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk is my favorite business book of all time and provided me an early education on social media marketing. The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and Drive by Dan Pink are two books that have provided me lessons on what’s important to other people, what influences them. This can not only help you in your business endeavors but can help you be a better person, too. And I’ll admit to all, with no shame, that The Go-Giver is the only business book that has ever made me cry.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
I don’t take much inspiration from the quotes of others, but one quote I found while researching my book was from G.K. Chesterton: “We perish for want of wonder, not want of wonders.” The world around us is amazing, and we are each lucky to be here. So sometimes we might wonder where unhappiness comes from. I think we struggle to appreciate the ordinary, to notice the wonders right in front of us. People with straight hair always wish it was curly. People with curly hair envy their friends with straight hair. What’s up with that? I’ve always found it weird that we sometimes struggle to appreciate what’s right in front of us.
I also have a personal manifesto I live by, and part of it states, “Your job won’t always be the same, and neither will you.” It might sound banal to most, but it’s deep to me! Our jobs, our work changes, and we’re forced to react – to keep up, or change jobs. But we are changing, too. You might be changing faster than your work. And if we and our work are changing at the same time, hopefully, we’re going in a similar direction. But I remind myself that what is so great today about my projects and my own sense of self-worth will change, and I have to be trained up for that moment, but I must also be mentally and spiritually ready for it.