ForCollegeForLife Ep. 24: Fast 15 with Chris Molina – Going Above the Average


Casey J. Cornelius (00:04):

Hey everyone. And welcome to the latest episode of the, ForCollegeForLife podcast. My name is Casey Cornelius. I’m the founder and president of ForCollegeForLife. And I get the distinct pleasure and opportunity to get to record our speakers and consultants. All the people who make us, who we are, this podcast episode is part of our new series called fast 15, where we ask our speakers and consultants to dig into an important topic in 15 minutes or less. And I’ll tell you, it is hard, cuz everyone interviewed our speakers and they want to have an hour, three hours or seven hours or whatever. It’s so 15 minutes or less today I have the distinct pleasure of talking with Chris Molina and in Chris’s initial podcast interview where we went deep into his background and history and evolution as a professional and as a speaker, there’s something that he mentioned that probably got more attention than anything else. And I wanna dig into it a little bit more in this episode. So Chris, in your first podcast, you talked about how one of your core beliefs or core systems of decision making and so forth is that you always want to do the hardest thing. And here’s my question for you. How do you think students can take a system like that and apply it to their own situation for decision making, goal setting, et cetera, et cetera.

Chris Molina (01:31):

Ooh, I like that. I like that. And, and honestly, I, I just spoke to a new new freshman at Purdue university. You can’t see me, but I’m wearing my Purdue hat right now. And it’s, it’s very similar to what I just told him a couple hours ago. He’s an engineering student and he started asking about the career fair. And essentially I, I explained to him the benefits of doing the things that other people won’t do because when you’re able to do the things that other people won’t do, you get the things that they don’t have or the things that they wish they would’ve worked for in the future. Um, and so how I think students can, can use that same mindset, which by the way, uh, it’s not a mind, it’s not a comment that I made on the first podcast that I thought was gonna get a lot of attention.


It’s just, it’s the way that I think. And then the more that we talk about, the more that we dive into it, the more value that I see in it. And I think that students can, can use this and apply this to their everyday life. At least at the very least when they’re goal setting, by sitting down, looking at the landscape, looking at their peers and, and try to look for the things that other people are not doing, that the, that the average student isn’t doing. And once you start pursuing those things, you can get to those places that other people’s other people generally can’t get to. Um, and, and, and I, and I let, there’s a lot of talk around, enjoy the journey, enjoy the process. Don’t think about the end goal. That’s very cliche. And the way that I like to, to phrase it is that whenever you are pursuing something that is incredible pursuing something that is awesome, pursuing something that you think is great, just that simple pursuit puts you in rooms, puts you on levels that other people generally don’t get to because they’re not willing to put in the work.


So whenever it comes to at the very least that goal setting, look at the landscape, see what the average peer, your average peer is not doing. And then at the very least start pursuing those things.

Casey J. Cornelius (03:43):

Chris, I have two follow up questions. I, I think initially you made the comment about choosing the hardest thing as it related to choosing, um, to enlist in the Marines mm-hmm

Chris Molina (03:55):


Casey J. Cornelius (03:56):

Um, and I wonder how that mindset has been transferable to you in other endeavors as well in that obviously, you know, choosing, uh, choosing one path in the service versus another is one thing, but how does that apply to relationships? How does that apply to stretching yourself in terms of your professional life and so forth? Like how do you apply that concept in other areas of your life?

Chris Molina (04:24):

You know, it was, I, I, I, I credit my time in the Marine Corps for a lot and, and I think it, it helped me have this mindset even more because that was the first adult decision that I had. I was 18 years old. I was actually 17 when I signed up for the delayed entry program for the United States Marine Corps. And so all the prep that I did for it, all the mindset, all the belief that I have, that I was gonna be able to do it, even though it was the longest bootcamp and, and, and, and the famous Marine Corps recruiting poster says that we don’t promise you a bed of roses. <laugh>, um, it’s not easy, but all the prep that I put into it and all the, the, the, the energy that I put into the, the execution helped make me successful in getting through bootcamp, getting through combat training, being a Marine, going to the fleet, contributing to my, uh, unit and, and also being promoted all the way up to the rank of Sergeant and having gone through that and, and decided that I was going to go in that direction.


That was more difficult. The, the, the, the, the, the direction that was not walked by many people, at least where I was from, um, and, and being able to succeed in that, that just helped me make the difficult decisions, even easier in the future. Because once I, I saw that I could do difficult things, why not keep on doing it? Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And, and when, when I could, when I can set my goals or set my sites on a goal that excites me and I, and I know there’s difficulty in it, I’ve already done it before. I’ve already done something difficult before. So why, why can’t I do this again?

Casey J. Cornelius (06:21):

I love that. I, um, this is not a question, but, but just to hear your reaction to it. Um, I, I remember during the pandemic year, uh, I ran my first marathon and I ran it. I ran it solo sort of unsupported, which was, uh, <laugh> a, a wild experience. Sure. But I wrote, I wrote three words on my arm that morning, before I left. Um, the first one was head, the second one was legs, and the third one was heart. Meaning that each third of the, the race, I had to focus on a specific thing. Right. So, uh, the, the first third, you know, focus on not psyching yourself out, not pushing too hard, you know, like do it with your head. Uh, the second one really focus on form and making sure that you’re, you’re, um, you’re moving the correct way in the last third, because it’s hard.


And it sucks for everybody. It’s all about your heart. And what occurs to me is that that really became sort of a mantra that can be applied to, to many areas of life. Now, I came to that one later in life, obviously. Um, but it seems like yours is a, is a perfect mantra too. Like something you can, you can whisper to yourself when faced with, like, I can either go left or I can go, right? Like, no, I’m gonna choose the hard thing. Is that how you apply it? Or is this just not, is it just so ingrained in you that you don’t even think about it anymore?

Chris Molina (07:35):

Um, having gone through very difficult things and gone all the way through it, it, it now, anytime I think about something difficult, I, a smile just is planted on my face. It’s like slowly grows there and I get excited about the complexity of the thing that I’m going to tackle, because I get to, to stretch myself. I get to think deeply, I get to do all these things. I get to be creative. Um, but I, I can tell you the, the, the, the mantra part, although there, there hasn’t been one specific mantra for my entire life, starting with my decision to, to enlist in the, the United States Marine Corps. Um, one, one time that was very memorable that I did actually have some mantras and it wasn’t, it wasn’t me consciously thinking, all right, I need mantras to get through this. It was just something that I was like, you know what?


I need this as a reminder. And it was something that a lot of student veterans don’t talk about that much, and it’s perfectly relatable to a lot of people, but that transition, the transition that I made from the Marine Corps to Purdue university’s campus from military to college, um, I left the Marine Corps around June in 2011. And by August late August, whenever that semester started that year, I was taking 12 credit hours on produced campus. And I was a civilian. I was a veteran and that transition we could do fif we could do like three for 15 minute episodes. Yeah. But I can tell you that, although I had all that confidence and being a nontraditional student, I had experiences. And I had, I had a lot of things that a lot of traditional students didn’t have because I was 25. At that time, I still felt like a fish outta water.


It didn’t feel comfortable. That’s for sure. And what I did on my planner, I had a physical planner and had every single two pages was a week. I wrote two phrases, one on the top left page and one on the top right page. And, and I wanna, I wanna preface this by saying that, um, I think being humble is a very important thing. I also think able to go through these difficult things, to go down the difficult path, to do hard things, you have to pump yourself up. You have to go into that part of your ego that says, yes, I can’t do this because I am smart enough. I am capable enough. I am whatever. And so on those top left page, I wrote the quote to observe a Marine is inspirational to be a Marine is exceptional. And on the top right page, I wrote, I am a us Marine. I am the measure against which all others fall short. And I tried to live up to those every single day. And every single time I planned for the next week, I turned the page and I would write those up there. And it felt sometimes a little corny, but I tried every single day through my actions to live up to those two statements. And so for, for the four years that I was at Purdue university on their campus every single day, every single week, I would glance at those, those sentences, those quotes and, and it did help. It helped a lot. Mm

Casey J. Cornelius (10:55):

Okay. A quick hit question before we end this podcast, Chris. Okay. So I’m, I’m gonna put myself in the mindset of many students who are out there who hear this, and they’re, gased up by it and they’re ready to go, but doing hard things is uncomfortable. What do you say to the person who’s like, but I’m uncomfortable pushing myself beyond my, my barriers.

Chris Molina (11:16):

Hmm. Yeah. I, I’ve never seen anybody that is very happy with their life and with their situation that didn’t go through uncomfortable situations. You, it has to, you, you have to go through life and go through the UN uncomfortable parts of it, because that is what that’s, what’s in the way of that great thing of that internship of that job of, of going up and speaking to that person at that party that you wanna talk to, whatever it is, there’s an uncomfortable part. And, and, and I don’t want to, to, to, to also go into the cliche of, um, the comfort zone is the place where dreams go to die or whatever that spirit is. <laugh> because that can be very misleading. The idea that you can’t do amazing things within your comfort zone, it’s completely wrong. If you love engineering, for example, you can stay in engineering for the rest of your life, and you can do just fine.


You can do amazing things. The key is for those difficult things, maybe it’s public speaking or going to a career fair or whatever it is, joining a student organization and, and going for a leadership position, whatever the difficult parts of those things are being comfortable enough to go through those and understand what it looks like for you to experience them and for you to do well in those areas, at least be a little comfortable to know what that looks like, so that it doesn’t hinder you from the other awesome things that you wanna do. So uncomfortability, it’s a thing that you have to go through. If you wanna be happy in life.

Casey J. Cornelius (13:01):

I love it. I love it. And I hope that you have loved this podcast too. Again, the, the premise and promise of these is that it’s a fast 15 and our time does fly, but I hope that you, um, are interested enough in learning more about some of Chris’s work. You can find more about him at four college for You can also follow him. I think Instagram’s kind of his jam. You can find him at Sergeant Molina, that’s Sgt dot Molina and Instagram. And, uh, we hope that you have found this episode, beneficial that you like share, subscribe, leave comments, all the stuff that you’re supposed to do with podcasts. And we look forward to the next opportunity to chat with you. Thanks everybody.

Chris Molina (13:40):

Thanks, Casey.


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