Christian Griffith is a digital communication strategy expert. He currently serves as the Senior Vice President for Digital Strategy at Freebairn and Company, an Atlanta-based Advertising agency, and is the Founder of Life for a Living, an IT and services company focused on digital communication strategies using the web, social media, smart email, search engine optimization, and paid media programs. Griffith is also an athlete, he has completed over 100 ultramarathon and obstacle course racing events to raise money for the prevention and treatment of child abuse.
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 Myrtle Beach, SC. While I had some dark moments (explained later in your questions, below), when I look back on my childhood, I had some great experiences – as a sponsored amateur skateboarder, I got to travel a lot early in life and learned the value of travel as it relates to growth, education, and experiences. I surfed a lot and it helped me deal with some of the trauma of sexual abuse. It was my escape. My parents were alcoholics, but chose to avoid them and do my own thing and quite enjoyed my life growing up on the beach.
Beach culture continues to shape my life. I still live on a beach, I ride a beach cruiser bicycle more than I drive, and try to instill this culture in my 2-year old daughter who is named “Kai,” which means “ocean” in Hawaiian and other cultures.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
Others’ opinions of you do not matter. What matters is your opinion of yourself.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
“No pain, no gain” – the idea that one should push to the point of failure or pain, all the time, is a recipe for disaster, over-training, burn-out, and no many more negatives.
“carb-loading” – sugar destroys the body and teeth. Many athletes that I know who carb-load have tremendous gut issues and it affects their performance
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?
I was sexually abused as a kid, first by Mom, then by a few adult men. As sick as the Mom experiences were, the episodes with older men who raped me had a profound effect on me. As a child of the ’80s with things like AIDS emerging, there was no way I was telling anyone about it and I lived a life of mental torture wondering if I was gay and asking myself why these things happened to me. It colored me greatly and was the platform for Run2Heal, my 3,142 miles run across America. In between my daily runs, I spoke to groups, organizations, and individuals about childhood sexual abuse and ways to overcome it.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
My internal drive. It’s built-in for me. It can be challenging at times because I can be so driven that it’s not sustainable and I experience burn-out, but it also prevents me from ever quitting which eventually leads to success.
What is your morning routine?
I strive (don’t always make it) to wake-up at 4:30 and do 5:00 CrossFit at CrossFit Black Hive in Jacksonville Beach where I live. I hang out with my daughter most days from 6:30 until she goes to school at 8:30, and then I head to my office and start working. I own my digital strategy firm, so my hours flexible. If I didn’t make it to 5:00 am to train, I go at 11 or 3:30, taking a break from my work. I usually cut out of work somewhere between 3:30-5:30, and go hang out with my daughter again, eat, do some kind of light activity or recover from workouts in the hot tub, or my favorite thing – swim with Kai (my daughter). I usually get back on the computer around 8 pm and work until 10 or 11, and then go to bed.
I have to add that this is not the life I lived pre-daughter. I traveled a lot more and subscribed to a “digital nomad” style of life – meaning I could work anywhere where I had a laptop and a wifi connection. Once you have kids, things change dramatically, but I‘m ok with that.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Honestly, I spent significant time thinking about this and NOTHING came to mind. I am extremely spontaneous, so habits, if I even have any, are few and far between.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I suck at this. I think the best answer I have for this question is that I do not take life too seriously and I strive for work/play balance. I have found that if I can get out my energy through athletics or play, I work much better and can be much more focused.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes – I read this book as an overweight, overworked, has-been athlete, and could identify greatly with his experiences and the drive to find new goals and aspirations as it related to athletics and experiences.
Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life by Eric Greitens – I STILL listen to this book on the regular as it has a way of re-shifting back to the things that matter in life.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
“Everything is temporary.” – this helps me get through challenging events as no matter how hard they are, how long they are, or intense they are, as long as I keep going, they will eventually end.
“CrossFitters never quit.” – as a CrossFit athlete, we train to complete the workout however necessary – whether that means scaling the weight, the time, or the intensity, but never, ever quitting early or stopping.