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Adrian Chenault of Contact Mapping: “Talk to your customers and potential customers”

“If you are going to start a company, you better love the space because you will devote a big portion of your life to it.” I can’t remember where I learned this along the way but it really resonated. It wasn’t until Contact Mapping that I felt I had an idea for a business that […]

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“If you are going to start a company, you better love the space because you will devote a big portion of your life to it.” I can’t remember where I learned this along the way but it really resonated. It wasn’t until Contact Mapping that I felt I had an idea for a business that I truly could pour my soul into. Given how difficult it is to start a company, this is great advice. You have to care enough about the cause to press on when it’s really difficult.


As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Adrian Chenault.

Adrian Chenault is the CEO and Co-Founder of Contact Mapping. Adrian recognized an opportunity to take the principles of Contact Mapping pioneered by his father and infuse technology to make it easy for people of any industry to achieve greater success and connection in their lives.

Prior to Contact Mapping, Adrian spent over seven years at Rackspace where he quickly ascended the corporate ladder. He started as a financial analyst, then moved through finance leadership roles in the US, Europe/Middle East/Africa, and Asia-Pacific before joining the international finance management team where he was most recently the Senior Director of International Finance based in Zurich. There he led the finance function for all Rackspace operations outside the US. During his time there, he worked in the US, UK, Australia, and Switzerland.

Prior to Rackspace, Adrian earned his Chartered Financial Analyst designation while working as an Equity Analyst for South Texas Money Management in San Antonio. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Trinity University there. While at Trinity, he did a semester at the top-rated Cass Business School in London. Adrian currently resides in Longmont, Colorado with his wife and three children.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

My dad and I created Contact Mapping together, and in many ways the company is a direct reflection of our story. My dad Tom has been a very successful businessman in the networking space across a variety of industries. Growing up, he worked from home and was very proactive about instilling his values into us kids. He is very entrepreneurial and is the best networker I have ever met.

After graduating from college, I went off into the world of finance and technology. I spent the majority of my career working for a publicly traded tech company, where I had the good fortune to climb through the ranks quickly and move around internationally. The keys to my own success were the principles I had absorbed from my dad…to be a connector of people and to work as hard I could without worrying too much who got the credit.

Over 10 years ago, my dad coined the phrase “Contact Mapping” to describe his personal method of networking that has been his secret to success. In 2017, we had a lightning bolt moment when we realized that Contact Mapping was a bigger calling, and so we joined forces to turn Contact Mapping into a company with a mission to help everyone in the world unlock the true value of their network.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

With so much social media out there in the world today, we have the illusion of being connected to our network but there is less and less authentic connection. Just because I “liked” the picture you put up of your kid does not mean we actually connected. Contact Mapping is on a mission to create deeper connections in both personal and professional relationships that lead to more opportunities in every area of life.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

When I was first considering Contact Mapping and dreaming about whether to take the leap, a mentor in Switzerland was a huge help to me. My friend Rasmus is a serial entrepreneur and he was a huge resource for me in considering if I was ready. In particular, I remember one night staying up into the wee hours of the morning drawing out ideas for what the business model for Contact Mapping could look like and honing the concept. Without Rasmus, I don’t think I would have had the courage to step out of the corporate world and start.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Disruption is a positive word when it shakes up institutions that are no longer serving us, or perhaps never were. But sometimes, the old principles are timeless and deserve to live on. In our world of social and business connection, the disruption of social media has served in many ways to cheapen the quality of connections between humans in society. Contact Mapping in many ways seeks to disrupt this pattern of disconnection by putting a modern twist on returning to many of the timeless principles of networking. Keeping notes on your contacts in a diary, using a system of reminders to follow up, sending more personalized notes to your contacts.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

“If you are going to start a company, you better love the space because you will devote a big portion of your life to it.” I can’t remember where I learned this along the way but it really resonated. It wasn’t until Contact Mapping that I felt I had an idea for a business that I truly could pour my soul into. Given how difficult it is to start a company, this is great advice. You have to care enough about the cause to press on when it’s really difficult.

“In starting a company, there should be a reason why your team is the right group of people to take on that problem…otherwise someone better suited will come along and beat you out.” It’s easy to come up with far-fetched ideas for the next crazy thing, but if you can’t put together the right team to go after that opportunity you won’t get far. Putting together the right people who have the experience and credibility to go after the problem we are addressing and truly understand our customer’s pain has been invaluable.

“Talk to your customers and potential customers”. It has been incredibly insightful to put ideas and prototypes in front of our customers throughout the process. Each time I am surprised by their take on what we are doing and they point us in a new direction or offer a new insight. It’s easy to get trapped building something without getting enough input from customers but you will always miss the mark.

Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?

Live video has been a great strategy for us. We find that they have been really engaging and help to drive up our reach. The key for us is to ask our viewers to help us by commenting, tagging others, and sharing our content in the video. There is something about the “live” medium of video (even when it’s replayed) that induces much more interaction in the form of comments.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

One of the biggest learnings we have taken from the last couple of years serving clients is that true breakthroughs occur when we help our users pair the right habits with the right tool. We have just launched a premium community as part of our subscription offering and the feedback has been amazing. We are working on launching even more transformational training and coaching offerings for our users to create a movement of professionals unlocking the true power of their network.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

One of the most powerful books that informed Contact Mapping is “The Power Of Who” by Bob Beaudine. The basic premise of the book is that you already have dozens of people in your life who would do anything for you and have exactly the resources you need, and yet you are too afraid to ask. He gives an incredible framework on how to start from the inside out creating a world class network.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I love the Zig Ziglar quote that “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” This has been proven to me over and over again throughout my career. In the corporate world, I succeeded most because of my ability to be a true partner to stakeholders in the operating units who needed my help. We show our Contact Mapping users the power of discovering what others are really looking for and finding ways to help them that create win/wins for everyone involved.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I want to create a movement to inspire as many people in the world to have two authentic conversations every day and to stay in touch with the people that matter. Those two tiny actions, done daily, will create a compounding wave of kindness and connection that would make the world a better place.

How can our readers follow you online?

We invite you to join our Community by going to community.contactmapping.com. You can also check us out at contactmapping.com and sign up for our newsletter with great tips and resources for aspiring connectors. Also:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ContactMapping
https://www.facebook.com/contactmapping
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbN7QJw7fYuBRkN56zfLefw
https://www.linkedin.com/company/contactmapping/
https://www.instagram.com/contactmapping/
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