Out Of The Clouds

Chris Schembra on emotional transformation through gratitude practice, serendipity and the power of storytelling

Episode Notes

In this episode, host Anne Mühlethaler speaks with Chris Schembra, a renowned facilitator, community builder and gratitude expert dedicated to transforming professional environments through the power of recognition, belonging and authentic connection. 

As the author of two bestselling books, ”Gratitude Through Hard Times” and “Gratitude and Pasta,” Chris blends heartfelt storytelling with data-driven insights to deliver impactful keynote addresses and advisory services. His expertise has led him to collaborate with industry giants such as Google, Microsoft, IBM, Dell, and the U.S. Navy, among others. Recognized as a Founding Member of Rolling Stone Magazine's Culture Council and dubbed the "Gratitude Guru" by USA Today, Chris's work has sparked over 500,000 relationships within the workplace.

In their conversation, Chris shares with Anne his journey, starting with growing up by the water in South Carolina, his parents’ epic parties and his devastating subsequent loss of memory due to ADHD medication.

The two then talk about their love of Rome and how Chris was inspired by his own visit to host a Roman style dinner and gathering back home in New York City, for which he invented a pasta recipe. On July 15, 2015, Chris invited 15 friends into his 350-square-foot studio apartment.  Already an engaging event, magic happened when Chris asked one question of his guests that changed everything: “If you could give credit or thanks to one person in your life that you don't give enough credit or thanks to, or you've never thought to thank, who would that be?” 

From there, Chris’ passion for fostering gratitude and meaningful conversations around the dinner table evolved into the creation of the 7:47 Gratitude Experience — so named for the time during that infamous evening that he asked his thought-provoking question. The program is an evidence-based framework designed to strengthen client and team relationships. Since 2020, his company has organised 402 virtual gratitude experiences, migrating to online during the pandemic.

Chris and Anne discuss the kind of gratitude practised at Chris’ events: not the self-reflective kind, but gratitude directed towards people. He was influenced to do this by the researcher Barbara Fredrickson, who proved in the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotion that gratitude has the ability to actually broaden your thought action repertoire needed for positive effect, making our brains more open for joy, contentment, play and connection. Chris' approach at 7:47 events is rooted in empathy and scientifically backed principles, prioritising creating cultures of appreciation and belonging within leading corporations worldwide.

The conversation takes many twists and turns because Chris is an epic storyteller. He and Anne talk about the importance of focus to succeed in business, with Chris quoting his friend Dave who advised him that ‘focus equals growth.’ Anne also asks Chris in-depth questions about his two books. Plus Chris honestly discusses some of the hardest times he’s experienced, including some serious incidents of non-suicidal self-harm.

Anne ends the podcast asking Chris first his signature question, then hers —  “What brings you happiness?" — which brings the two to discuss both hedonic and eudaimonic happiness.

To conclude, Chris advises listeners to go out and seek opportunities and that we can go and tell our stories, along with this important message: “Do not underestimate how powerful your story is.”

An inspired conversation with a heart-opening storyteller and community builder that will leave you moved. Happy listening!


Selected links from the episode

Find more about Chris on  https://www.chrisschembra.com/


LinkedIn - Chris Schembra-https://www.linkedin.com/in/schembra/

Chris’ podcast Gratitude Through Hard Times - https://www.chrisschembra.com/podcast

The producer Charles Wessler - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_B._Wessler

Fiorello LaGuardia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiorello_La_Guardia

Fiorello! the play Chris was working on in Rome

Transcendental meditation 

David Lynch Foundation 

Bob Roth

Vishen Luckyani

Ayla Nova Yoga Nidra

John Levy’s Influencer Dinner Series 

the TikTok from Hilton Head Island 

Susan Drum, Leader’s Playlist - https://theleadersplaylistbook.com/


Marty Seligman's School of Positive Psychology


Gratitude by Above and Beyond

The Spotify playlist from Out of the Clouds guests’ answers to the question: what song best represents you? 

Runaway Hill Hotel in the Bahamas

Hedonistic happiness & Eudaimonic happiness

Lisa Besterman on Chris’s podcast