Transcripts: This is David Brower with Your 20 Minute podcast and our special guest is Chalky White. Bernard Chalky White to be more precisely, universally known as Chalky. He’s an almost 40 year renowned and highly successful snow ski instructor and the number one best selling author of his ski instruction book, The Seven Secrets of Skiing. He’s someone that despises procrastination and is one who never stops wanting to help others, which is a major reason why he’s now a motivational keynote speaker throughout corporate, college and school audiences throughout America and he presents his speech, How to Say Nay to Your Naysayers and Have the Last Laugh. I love that man. Welcome aboard, I’m glad you’re here.
Chalky White: Thanks for having me David. Appreciate your time.
David Brower: My first question is how did you get the name Chalky?
Chalky White: It was a long story. About 50 odd years ago now when I first became a police cadet, I won’t use his exact words ’cause they might not be good to put on air. But it was drill sergeant who was when I was in a gymnasium with all the other people that had just joined the cadets as well and he was asking everybody their names and he got to me and he said, using some words, as I said, I can’t really use here, “What’s your name.” I said, “White, sir.” He said, “It’s not sir, it’s something sergeant. I went, I almost said the bad word back then before, but bit my mouth. Then I told him my name was White White and he said, “Oh,” he said, “boys,” now as he told the others, “we’ve got a Chalky. A Chalky White.” I’ve been stuck with that ever since. It’s come in useful certainly in the ski business because I don’t know of another Chalky in the ski business.
David Brower: Boy, isn’t that the truth? It’s a got come in handy too when all your motivational speeches all over where it catches people attention right away.
Chalky White: That’s right. People get me mixed up with the other guy that’s got the same name from Empire Boardwalk. I’ve been around a lot longer than him I’m sorry to say.
David Brower: There you go. Your speech, How to Say Nay to Your Naysayers and Have the Last Laugh, what is a naysayer first and foremost?
Chalky White: Pretty simple really. Just somebody that just consistently says no to you, says you can’t do this and you can’t do that. That can obviously be any third party. In my case, my first big one was my father. The biggest naysayer in our lives are ourselves. We doubt ourselves whether we can do something and the gain down the years for me and others has been how to overcome those doubts and naysayers.
David Brower: We are our own worst enemy at times, aren’t we?
Chalky White: Certainly are. I’m great to say I’m going to talk about here a little bit here, I’ve managed to overcome an awful lot of that down the years and managed to push through and achieve a lot of my goals and realize a lot of my dreams.
David Brower: Good for you. Good for you. You grew up in a tough family environment and ended up being a London Bobby from England and then stepped onto the world stage as a ski instructor. How did you make those, first of all, had to be very challenging growing up in that environment and I say that because been there, done that so I can relate. And how did you go from that into the different kind of experiences to put you on the world map?
Chalky White: As you just said there, I’m actually from an abusive family, an abusive father that used to just beat me all the time and he, as I said, he was my greatest naysayer in my life. Constantly telling me that I would never, ever achieve anything or go anywhere in life at all. That goes on and on for years and years which it did and you start to believe some of that stuff. What he didn’t actually manage to do was actually kill my dreams which were basically really to be involved in sports in some way and also in travel, which I’m glad to say, I’ve managed to do an awful lot of both now. Especially having been in the ski world now for over 40 years and I’ve lived and worked in 11 different countries now.
David Brower: Wow. That is dreams on steroids, my friend. That’s like there’s no naysayers out there anymore it’s just you pushing through and finding another dream and another dream and another dream and touching people along the way, it sounds like.
Chalky White: Yeah, that’s actually true. But believe me there’s been plenty of naysayers through the years as perhaps we’ll discuss here in a little while.
David Brower: Absolutely right. Let’s talk about some of those naysayers and who stumbled you along the way? We’ll find out a lot about that in your memoir that’s coming out, Do They Keep Farm Animals Up Here, when’s that going to be published?
Chalky White: I’m not quite sure. I can’t actually put a time on that just as yet. I’m almost finished the writing of the book and I’ve got some very good contacts that’s going to help me to get it published. It might even end up being self published, not quite sure yet. I’ve got some good contacts for publishers too. If there’s publishers out there that be interested in talking to me, I would love to talk to them naturally.
David Brower: Naturally. Absolutely right. Is that book, is that memoir going to be filled with these kinds of stories about naysayers and all the what if possibilities that you’ve run into through your life?
Chalky White: Absolutely. I’ve even been writing some of it this morning and stories from my childhood, from my police career and also from my ski instructing career when people have told me no that they’re all, a lot of those stories are going to be in the book. What I do is follow up each short story with a takeaway. What can you take away from this story? How might it be able to help you as the reader? It’s all based around something I came up with a long, long time ago called my, what if factor. The what if factor is two questions. What if I don’t? And what if I do? The first question I’ve tended down the years to ask myself is, what if I don’t? What if I don’t follow through and do this? What would be the repercussions, the consequences of that for me?
When you ask that question you tend to come up with all kinds of answers you really, really don’t like especially if it’s a major dream or a major goal that you’ve been trying to achieve. In their way they can be a very positive things ’cause they make you want to answer asking the opposite question, what if I do follow through? What if I do follow through and I do do this? Just talking about my ski career, this question came up after somebody said to me once, “Chalky,” and again, I won’t use the vernacular, he said, “Chalky, you’ll never be a ski instructor as long as you have a hole where the sun doesn’t shine.”
David Brower: Gotcha.
Chalky White: Then I really started to ask that, what if I don’t, what if I do questions. When I asked what if I don’t? It was well, if you don’t follow through you’ll very quickly be back in England not doing the things that you really want to do. You won’t become a ski instructor and you won’t travel. You won’t be involved in sports and the biggest thing of all, if you don’t follow through and try and actually become a ski instructor, the biggest word in the end is regret. That one word that most of us despise in our lives really.
David Brower: No question about it. The other thing is that when you spend some time with what if I don’t question, oftentimes I would think you end up feeding the naysayers and satisfying their wish for you, for lack of a better term.
Chalky White: Some of these people, the naysayers, do think they have your wellbeing in mind but what they don’t also realize that by keep on saying what they’re saying, they could in fact kill a dream if somebody doesn’t have the courage to actually follow through and they just stick and stick and stick as many people unfortunately do and obviously part of my job as a motivational speaker and an author is to try and persuade people that don’t listen to what these other people tell you. Just don’t listen and never, never, never give up on something that is your dream that you believe that you should actually be able to achieve.
David Brower: When you’re doing your public speaking, my assumption is that you spend a lot of time talking about what if you do.
Chalky White: Yeah, exactly. Talk about what if you do. What are the repercussions if you do? Again, for example, I can use a story of when I was going to just about to publish my ski instruction book, The Seven Secrets of Skiing and I went to see my ski school director and I said to him, I said, “How about I use a couple of the ski instructors for the photographs in my book and for demonstrations?” He said, “Yeah,” he said, “that’s a great idea. But you shouldn’t be in them.” I said, “Why is that?” He said, “Because you don’t ski well enough.” I just think four years writing this book and obviously I went away from there slightly crestfallen.
David Brower: Right.
Chalky White: Then I started speaking to others and I was at the stage there where I could of just thrown the manuscript in the drawer and it could’ve still been collecting dust now. But what I started to ask myself, what if I don’t follow through? And what if I, getting back to your question, what if I do follow through? That’s when I decided to find my own instructors and I found three instructors that were all friends of mine, and all of them, all three were world champion synchronized skiing. They were the demonstrations in my book plus me.
After the photographs were taken, the lady who took the photographs was also an examiner of ski instructors for their exams and she came to me, not knowing about my conversation with the ski school director who said I shouldn’t be in the photos, and she said, “You know, your demonstrations, I thought, were just as good as the other three and in fact, your hand and arm carriage when you ski is better than the other three.” I followed through, published the book, glad to say the rest is history and on amazon.com in it’s category it went to number one.
David Brower: That’s I just got goosebumps on that story man. I love stuff like that. When something like that happens and you follow through what if I do and all of sudden out of the blue there’s a mirror that says, “Hey guess what Chalky, you did the right thing and here’s why.”
Chalky White: Yeah. And David, if I might tell you a short story from back in my police career about simply taking opportunities that are thrown up in front of you.
David Brower: You bet.
Chalky White: You might not take. I was very young man, I was only 21 or something like that in 1968 and I was on a emergency car, like you call a 911 car in America here. This call came out as the sounds of a dying cat. Now remember we were only emergency car, we didn’t have to take that call. Nothing else was happening much so we did take the call and we drove out there very quietly because yes, it was an animal in distress but it wasn’t a human in distress. We get out there and we’re taken into this backyard and there’s a bush and lady says, “Under that bush, it sounds like it’s a Siamese cat under there and it sounds like it’s in dreadful pain.”
So I go under there and I’ve just got a normal kind of a flashlight and I look around and I look around and I didn’t see anything. I came out I said, “I think it must have disappeared.” All of a sudden we hear it again. This time I go back in but this time I’ve got a great big seek and search flashlight, really bright thing and I point it and I went, “Wow, it’s not a dying cat at all. It’s a baby.”
David Brower: Oh my god.
Chalky White: The baby still had the umbilical cord and the placenta still attached and it was still completely covered in blood ’cause it had only just been born. And I grabbed it and I just shouted, “Hospital, hospital as fast as I can go. As fast as we can go.” The good news was, the really good news was was that the baby’s life was saved. The moral of this story as far as I’m concerned is, can there be anything greater because I took that opportunity, can there be anything greater than at least helping to save the life of another human being? I really think not.
David Brower: I think not too.
Chalky White: The unfortunate part about it was that the mother was a very young girl and she never got the baby back but the very good news is that, I lost completely lost trace of the baby, I don’t even remember what sex it was. But if that baby did live, I know that it lived and it would be almost 50 years old now.
David Brower: Wow.
Chalky White: It’s probably got a family of its own and all the rest of it that the wonderful things that go with that. Obviously, again, it’s all about what if I hadn’t taken that opportunity? It all goes back to what if again.
David Brower: Yeah, absolutely.
Chalky White: When opportunities are thrown up, even we think it might not be much, as much as we can, take those opportunities because wonderful things can happen, just as I did in that instance there.
David Brower: Wow, that’s a wonderful story and a perfect example of the what if I do. When something presents itself to you and like you say, screaming cat, eh, not interested. But then you follow through. You say, “What if we do this?’ And you go and you find and the story is beyond your imagination.
Chalky White: That’s right. It’s just obviously something that’s indelibly imprinted on my mind.
David Brower: Boy, no kidding. No kidding. That’s, my son’s a firefighter, so I was thinking about him and when he goes on those kinds of calls and those kinds of things, I’m going to share that story with him tonight. That’s a wonderful story, Chalky. Thanks for sharing that with us.
Chalky White: In fact, if you’d like to have it, I’ll send you that as an extract from my book and it’s also I can actually send the printed version of that story to you if you’d like to have it.
David Brower: That would be fabulous. I and he would both cherish that. Thank you for the offer of that. Let’s talk about your book a little bit, The Seven Secrets of Skiing, we’ve touched on that, it’s a bestselling book, it’s available on Amazon and other places. How long has that book been out?
Chalky White: It came out in 2011.
David Brower: Okay.
Chalky White: But it’s still very current. It’ll remain current for a long time because it’s all based around physics and physics of skiing and none of us can really argue with that. If we’re not doing things then certain things won’t happen. But if we do, that’s when we start to adhere to physics, that’s when our skiing can really improve. But by the way, it can be got as a Kindle on Amazon but also on my website which www.the7secretsofskiing, with the number seven, The Seven Secrets of Skiing, people can get that as a PDF.
David Brower: And you can also find out about skiing with you all over the world, about your speaking engagements, because your goal really is to speak to as many corporate, school kids, as many people around the world as you possibly can, right?
Chalky White: College students, would be ideal for them. Corporations because you get sales people that are sitting there and they’re self doubting, being there’s a little self doubt in their life. Should I pick up the phone and talk to this guy? I don’t really want to talk to at all. If they do, again, take an opportunity, they could end up making the sale of the year.
David Brower: Absolutely.
Chalky White: Just overcome their fears the only thing to fear is fear itself and pick up the phone and all kinds of wonderful things could happen. That’s where the what if I don’t, what if I do factor does really come in for these people likes salespeople.
David Brower: No question. I used to train salespeople in radio years ago I wish I would’ve had that what if I don’t, what if I do set of words to use because it would’ve been invaluable as I’m sure it is with everybody that you touch traveling around the world. It’s so easy to remember, it’s so easy to acknowledge and it’s so important to pay attention to.
Chalky White: That’s why it’s worked for me. The what if factor’s worked for me over and over and over again in so many different situations down the years. If I hadn’t used it, maybe I would’ve quit. I was once told that I wouldn’t make it as a fully certified ski instructor because I was the wrong body shape. Because I happened to have bandy legs a we call them in England. I could’ve quit right there after failing three exams in Scotland. The full certification up there and it’s another instance where the what if factor got me through and sent me to New Zealand where I eventually did pass my full certification after making eight attempts to pass three exams.
David Brower: Wow.
Chalky White: Eventually I got there and I’ve now been fully certified for a very, very long time.
David Brower: Procrastination is no longer in your vocabulary.
Chalky White: Try not to be. Obviously we’re all tempted, aren’t we? We’re all tempted all the time to procrastinate but the end of the day you should say to yourself, “Well, what if I don’t actually follow through with this? What’s going to happen then?” Then again, that nasty word regret. None of us really wants that at all.
David Brower: One final question, when you do your corporate speaking and I’m sure you get some, a lot of feedback, standing ovations, those kinds of things. Do you have a favorite story or a favorite experience of that?
Chalky White: Certainly when I tell the dying cat story people like that. At the end of it all if I might finish with this. There’s a finish which I definitely get ovations for, I’m not going to say they’re standing necessarily but definitely ovations. I sing a song at the end of it, if you’d like a little piece of that, I’ll sing it for you a cappella.
David Brower: Yeah, please do.
Chalky White: Because it’s a wonderful world and you never, never want to quit, I’m going to finish with this.
I see trees I see trees of green, red roses too, I see them bloom for me and you and I think to myself what a wonderful world.
I’ll carry on if you want me too.
David Brower: You know what? That is …
Chalky White: Or too hard on your ears.
David Brower: That’s the ringtone on my phone.
Chalky White: Is that right?
David Brower: It’s my favorite song of all time and whenever I get a call on my cellphone, that’s the song that plays.
Chalky White: Up in Vail where I live half the year, I sing that with several of the full-time professional musicians up there and it really works very well in my speech because, part of it suppose is people don’t expect it.
David Brower: Well, Louis Armstrong would be proud, man.
Chalky White: Either that or he rolled in his grave.
David Brower: Folks, if you want to learn more about Chalky White, you can ski the world with him, you can find out about his speaking engagements, you can get his book, The Seven Secrets of Skiing, all on his website the7, with the number seven, the7secretsofskiing.com. Chalky, it’s been a real treat man, thank you.
Chalky White: Might I just be able to give out my cell number please David?
David Brower: You bet.
Chalky White: My cell number us a US number, 970 390-6267. Thank you very much David. It’s been a pleasure to talk to you and thank you for having me on your podcast.
David Brower: You’re very welcome. You’ve been listening to your 20 Minute podcast with David Brower and our special guest, Chalky White, it’s been a pleasure. Be sure to follow us on Facebook on Facebook.com/your20minute.