Chris Sankey was hand-selected for this episode because of his sharp acumen, deep political knowledge, and fair-minded approach. Chris worked in Cutco/Vector from 2003 to 2010, playing a leading role in the Silver Cup office in 2005 and advancing as far as District Manager. He became a financial advisor in 2015 and currently manages the Tampa FL branch of Ameriprise, with over $2 billion in assets. Chris advocates for a greater level of centrist voice in American politics that has the potential to find more common ground between left and right.
Q&A WITH CHRIS SANKEY
Q: We are planning to release this episode on Inauguration Day. It’s likely to be a January 20th like no other in our lifetimes. How do you feel about what’s about to happen?
- I’m excited. I always get excited for Inauguration Day.
- I think it’s a special day for All Americans. At least it should be.
- There’s a ton of history that is behind that process.
- I think it’s one of the special things we do in this country.
- We’ve led a lot of other countries that have adopted that as well.
- For me, I look at it as a celebration of what we’re about as a country.
Q: This peaceful transfer of power, it’s supposed to occur is one of the greatest traditions that makes our American system such a great example for others. I think you and I are both concerned whether the transfer of power will happen as peacefully as it’s supposed to. What might occur on Wednesday January 20th? What are you thinking?
- Hopefully, we’ve seen the last of any violence.
- I tend to think it’s going to go smoothly on Inauguration Day.
- I didn’t expect what happened on January 6th to transpire, but it did.
- With President Trump coming on saying Joe Biden is going to be the next President of the United States, put a definitive nail on the coffin.
- This is over, and it’s time to move on.
- Just looking forward to seeing that process end, giving the next person a shot.
Q: Why have you found this day to be so important, this process to be so important? Why should people watch it and care like you do?
- It’s important because you think back 100 years or even longer than that.
- For a political party, a government to change, it either happens through a marriage, a revolution, internally a civil war or it happens because you’re being overtaken by another country or territory.
- There were situations in both modern and ancient times that didn’t happen.
- I think so much about who we are as a people to say this person or this side, this party lost and now we move on.
Q: As we look at how this will go down, what are some of the changes that have come about because of the Trump presidency that might be positive for the future?
- I tend to be very hard and tough on presidents. I expect a high level of accountability from them, what they do.
- Trump has brought plenty of positives to politics. There’s also been negatives as well.
- Trump’s presidency brought a lot of people to the fray. This guy is doing something I don’t like and so I need to fight. Or this guy is doing something I love and people are trying to take him down for him.
- There’s definitely been some of those lukewarm presidencies, but I think Trump ignited the interest from both a negative and a positive standpoint.
- He showed you don’t have to be one of the political elites to get into politics.
Q: It’s clear we are in a state of greater polarization today than any point in our history. Why has that happened?
- Some of those people that have come slugging right out of the gates are just trying to use the Trump playbook.
- This is being bold, brash, don’t care about anything you say, demean your opponents and be willing to insult because they saw that work at least once.
- There’s been a lot of polarization, but at the end of the day, we’re starting to drift away from that.
- There was definitely polarization and bitterness, but it was all in search of what’s best for the country.
Q: One of the things I’ve felt have contributed to the polarization is the 2-party system that we have. What are your views on the 2-party system and how it’s evolved over our lifetime?
- I want to clearly state I hate the 2-party system.
- I think it’s the driving piece in American society right now that’s pushing us further and further apart.
- My ultimate goal politically, is to eliminate that structure.
- I think when we have just 2 sides of the coin, there is only one option when it comes to politics.
- I look at it from the standpoint of obviously there’s been good ideas Republicans had, they’ve been around for a long time. Same thing with Democrats.
- When 2 candidates can get 70 million+ votes in federal elections for president, you know it resonates there.
- What we’re missing is people are tying themselves to whatever their party has to say.
- Some of those politicians want to run other ideas, but are afraid of being pushed back from leadership by their parties.
Q: Where did this go awry?
- The Democrats and Republicans have dominated politics for the last 150 years since the Civil War and Reconstruction era.
- Back in the 70s, you used to be able to vote and no one could see what you voted.
- When they changed this law, the votes became public in the House and in the Senate.
- I think what happened here lobbyists and companies could then see where true allegiance lay with those people.
- Ultimately to me, we’ve fallen into a hubris where there’s this idea it can’t be broken.
Q: To introduce another voice into the equation, is that what you see being a step that we could take in the right direction?
- If two people in a room are having a conversation and one of them decides in their heart “well, I don’t agree with that,” they can check out.
- Having a 3rd voice facilitates more debate and accountability.
- You see this in other countries around the world, the UK, Greece, some countries in Asia.
Q: I know you’re particularly drawn to libertarianism. What is it that has drawn you to the philosophy of libertarianism?
- I believe in libertarian philosophy.
- Libertarianism talks about the non-aggression principle.
- It essentially means don’t hurt me and take my stuff, and I won’t do the same to you.
- Hopefully, we can be friends and defend each other’s position or property.
- What resonates to me is just the peaceful exchange of ideas which can be applied to the economy, the workplace and even politics.
Q: What are some of the tenets of libertarianism, any sort of independent middle of the road political views you feel like could be common ground between the left and right?
- I talked about the non-aggression principle. That’s the real backbone of libertarianism.
- The fair market is another backbone of libertarianism.
- Libertarianism is about giving people equal opportunities.
Q: What else are some common grounds between left and right?
- Libertarianism is based on the constitution, the founding document of this country.
- It embraces the thought it’s not going to be convenient at certain times, but we’ve to look at both sides of it and really follow that.
Q: Why do you think it’s so important for everybody whether they consider themselves to be left, right or center, why is it important for everybody to make a deliberate effort to see and understand alternative perspectives?
- That’s what life’s about.
- If you’re going to throw any aspect of your life whether work, family or relationships, if that’s the attitude you’ll have, you’re to me not adding value.
- We as Americans have something truly special and we have to work to preserve that.
- I think we’ve got to dig in and not to dig in, in the sense of creating divisions.
- But dig in and say “why I’m believing this? Why does it make sense?
Q: There’s going to be people who are listening to this who support Trump and his presidency. There will also be people who absolutely revile him. What do you think history is going to remember Donald Trump?
- I hope we continue to paint a fair picture of what people have done.
- Trump will be remembered as a major figure in American history.
- There will definitely be several aspects to that presidency and that’s probably how to look at it.
- Dan adds some thoughts here on the pros and cons of Trump’s presidency …
- Stock Market went from 19k to 30k
- A vast majority of Americans felt they were “better off” at the start of 2020 (before Covid) than when Trump took office.
- Pressure on China is probably positive.
- Middle East relations have significantly improved, with key Arab nations normalizing relations with Israel.
- Interest in politics has been sparked.
- On the flip side, Trump has displayed “buffoonery” … a total lack of self-awareness and a greater cause of divisiveness.Yes, he has been treated unfairly by the media and left, but a leader should be able to deal with such criticism more gracefully, and that didn’t happen.
Q: Take us back to 2003 and how you got started with Cutco.
- After high school graduation my mom told me to look for a job.
- I found the Cutco mailer, went to the interview and got the job.
- I knew when I got the job and started doing it, it was what I wanted to do at the time.
- I had a great first manager.
- I got into management. it was an unbelievable chain of events.
Q: What were some of the memorable experiences you had?
- I remember Matt King and Jake Bailey fighting in the office and as soon as they finished, they were best friends again.
- Matt and Jake were like big brothers, uncles to me.
- They taught me so much. How to manage people.
- Matt taught me the importance of showing up on time.
- It’s so cool to see what you can develop into with the Cutco opportunity.
Q: You reference learning lessons that have stuck to you to this day. What are one or two things that come to mind when you think of lessons you learned from Cutco that are still applicable to what you’re doing now?
- For a lot of people, the industries you’re going to go into will present the same challenges.
- They might look a bit different, but Cutco enables you to pick up the patterns.
- You’ll be acting in the present, but in your head you can see things in the future because you’ve seen this situation or problem before.
- Cutco provides such a fertile ground not to give up.
Q: As you look into your future, what are you most excited about?
- I got a recent promotion at work which is great.
- I’m excited to continue my financial planning career.
- It gets me excited thinking about building an organization just like I did with the DM role.
Q: What do you feel gives you hope for our country in the future?
- Every day, 100 million Americans get up and go to work to make a better life for themselves and their families.
- No matter what Donald Trump or Joe Biden are saying or what is going in on in the world, at the end of the day, when you have that many good people getting up and going to make a better life themselves, that’s what honestly gives me hope in this country.
- I loved what Chris said that being in Cutco is like being a Jedi, that you really begin to understand how people think and how to interact with people.
- Anybody with skills from Cutco and skills in selling in general can be a leader who helps bring people together.
- I felt that really applicable right now, regardless of what’s happening as you’re listening to the podcast on January 20th.
- If you are one of those like Chris and me, who don’t subscribe to an ideological checklist, then I think it’s important to challenge both sides.
- Leaders need to stand up not just against the opposition, but leaders must be willing to stand up when they see their own side getting out of line.
- Diversity guarantees misunderstandings. When you have different types of people in different settings, there will be things that are misunderstood. In such times, it is important to give people the benefit of doubt, at least the first few times, to assume good intentions, and to work to understand others.
- If we could do that, we have a chance to create much more common ground and we can be a part of the radical middle that helps create this alternative voice that’s not Democrat or Republican in our society.
Show Notes for this episode provided by Brian Njenga.
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