Christine Comaford is a businesswoman, New York Times bestselling author, serial entrepreneur, and applied neuroscience expert. She is the Founder and a Neuroscience-Based Leadership & Culture Coach at the SmartTribes Institute. Comaford has helped leaders navigate growth and change and is sought out for providing proven strategies to help executives see into their blind spots, create more positive outcomes, enroll and align teams in times of change, profoundly increase sales, product offerings, and company value.
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 bouncing between Palos Verdes, CA and Greenwich, CT. My father was transferred back and forth for his career, as well as by choice once he became an entrepreneur. I was a precocious and adventurous child, very curious and seeing rules as general guidelines. It was clear I was an entrepreneur at a very early age. Fast forward to today when I’ve built 7 companies and sold/taken public 5 and it’s clear this is my path!
I have many stories in my first book, Rules for Renegades, about what shaped my life. I learned a lot about life in my 7 years as a Buddhist monk (age 17-24 yrs old), meditating in graveyards and witnessing an autopsy to understand the impermanence of life; as an engineer in the early days of Microsoft when women weren’t welcomed and I had to figure out how to navigate the environment; in my hospice work supporting 52 people (so far) through their death process; later helping both my parents navigate their own death processes.
Every day I check in to make sure:
1-I have been of service to at least 1 person
2-I have connected deeply with at least 1 person
3-I have learned something important (about others, myself, the world, consciousness, etc)
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
That every human being has equal value to all others, that each of us is a precious expression of our creator/creatrix. That leadership is a privilege.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
Those leaders/the rich/the privileged are somehow superior. That they need special treatment from the “rank and file”. They don’t. They just need different treatment, as their challenges are different. Everyone needs the treatment that supports their unique challenges and will help them to expand, grow, soar, be the best version of themselves (and not of someone else).
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’ve had many of these… one was when my stepson, Spike, suddenly died. He was 21 years old, and he didn’t wake up one morning. It’s so shocking and confusing when a healthy young person suddenly dies for no clear reason. I was numb for 6 months. The gifts of the experience were increased compassion (you never know what someone else is going through and how devastating it might be), the importance of taking time to grieve and asking for help and letting yourself be unproductive, the importance of loving people deeply and always letting them know how much you love them. Being present to every moment and the magic and wonder in it is key too.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
Several things! I am tremendously tenacious. I fall down and get back up. I ask what I can learn, I ask others for feedback. I am super curious and courageous about my personal growth.
What is your morning routine?
I wake at 6 am, drink Athletic Greens followed by a plant-based protein shake, meditate, and then workout. After my workout, I get ready for work.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Meditation. Hands down! Continuous personal growth too (I am always in a class on something!)
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
Meditation has enabled me to stop my thoughts easily. Less thinking = more clarity and insights. More clarity and insights = more productivity!
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer – it’s a terrific reminder that our thoughts are simply the voice of the ego, which is not who we are, and that all that happens outside of us is simply an event—we get to choose as to how we interpret it. Reality is what you say it is.
The Kybalion: A Study of The Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece by Three Initiates – it’s a clear way to understand the laws of the universe.
The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry edited by Stephen Mitchell – it’s chock full of insightful and uplifting poetry. I often read it to my hospice patients as they prepare to die (this has been my volunteer work for the past 23 years). Also just uplifting anytime!
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
“All is well” – because everything actually is
“Choose you” – if you don’t care for yourself you can’t care for others
“Listen” – when you get still inside all the answers are clear
Every year a slogan/word comes to me (like the 3 above) and then I get them engraved on 150 stones (the stone type comes to me too, 2020 was Listen on the pink quartz crystal), and then I send them out into the world. Our clients get them, my friends get them, and then I place the current and past stones out in nature as I hike. Maybe they can help others.