Transcript of Oct. 11, 1999 Chat with David Silberkleit on About 50 people attended this chat. Most questions were posted by the Fortune Host after screening and compiling questions from the audience.)

FortuneHost: David Silberkleit should be joining is momentarily. This is going to be a great discussion.

FortuneHost: There's great energy in the room!

FortuneHost: Lots of intelligent questions!

FortuneHost: David is joining us now.

FortuneHost: Welcome, David!

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: Hello everybody!

FortuneHost: David, leaving Archie was a big decision. What led up to your decision?

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: Leaving was a very, very complex process and a very difficult decision to make. But ultimately my reason for leaving was to honor what I see as my truth, to put myself in a structure and environment where I could truly flourish.

FortuneHost: Did you feel any family pressure to stay with the business?

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: The family pressure to stay in the business was subtle.

FortuneHost: Can you tell us more about that.

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: My father was certainly not pushing me to stay. He wasn't taking me aside and telling me that I was breaching some family contract, yet I knew from many conversations with him through the years, that it was important to him. I know that my father was particularly conscious of his relationship with his dad, who died in 1986 -- that would be Louis, my grandfather, who was the co-founder of the company. And I know that my father felt, deep in his heart, that his father would have been very proud to see me staying with the company. Because my grandfather was dead, that was all the more significant.

FortuneHost: How did your mother feel?

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: She was always the free spirit in the family, and she was also very strongly the voice of truth and authenticity in the family. There was no pressure from my mother to stay in the business. If anything, all she ever wants is for me to take the best care of myself and to honor what's truthful for me. In many ways, it's my mother's contribution to me that had me take the leap to leave.

FortuneHost: Was there a particular turning point for you where you said, "I have to make a change?"

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: For me, looking in the mirror and actually acknowledging what was happening to my face, and starting to really get in touch with the tension I was carrying in my body, to really look at and be with the health ramifications of pouring my soul into something that in my heart didn't feel authentic for me, I would say that's how I knew it was time to make a change

FortuneHost: How did you tell your father?

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: Telling my father was actually very easy because there was no one catastrophic event. He knew for quite some time that our relationship was seemingly becoming more of a struggle and less of a partnership. We certainly had fewer moments being father and son and I think we both very much wanted to get back to that, especially since he was an only child, and I am his only son. So when I actually left, I'm not sure if either of us really believed it wasn't just a threat or some one-week or one month break, with me returning to continue as usual. But as we talked more about what had happened and as we both got to realize that I was serious about moving on, that was probably the hardest part.

pjlive19 asks: David, are you a married man?

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: I'm divorced now, and at the time was married. My wife was extremely supportive and working in a stable job, which helped tremendously to cushion the reality of leaving my career.

dave_anyworld asks: There were a lot of great things held forth in Archie comics. Why not keep the tradition?

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: The tradition of Archie does live on. You can still go out and buy the comic books today. My father and a team of people still make the products -- and a million copies a month are sold. My departure in no way interrupted the product line. The only tradition that was broken was that of a two-generation family business. It never moved on to the third generation.


FortuneHost: Can you tell us more about your plans for the future? One of our questioners said it took a great deal of guts to walk away from Archie.

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: I appreciate the acknowledgement about guts. Leaving Archie was one of the most challenging decisions I've ever made. In the time since my departure from Archie, I've used the time to pursue a number of adventurous activities. For example, I'm a rock climber and a scuba diver. The fear that I've encountered in those hobbies doesn’t hold a candle to the fear that I experienced when I interrupted the path that I was on and walked away from my entire future as I thought I knew it. I've written quite a bit about some of these issues on my website, In my coaching practice, I counsel executives on many of the issues that relate to fear, that relate to living an authentic life that really meshes with your soul. My work today and for the future is about supporting people to design and lead lives that really mesh with their authentic selves. I'm also working on a book "Keeping Up with the Indiana Joneses: 21 Days to an Adventurous Daily Life." The book is about simple ways to put adventure back in our daily routine, to start to reclaim the fun and excitement that many of us miss in adult life.

pjlive19 asks: David, where do you see yourself in ten years time?

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: In ten years, what I envision is that I will be continuing to develop models to help other people envision and then execute big changes in their lives. I've been writing and speaking and coaching executives to this end, for the past five years. I have a unique perspective given what I've lived through, and I've supported many, many people to make difficult changes in their business and personal lives. Over the next ten years, I will have a larger body of published work, so that I can reach a larger number of people each year than I do in one-on-one coaching sessions at present. I would also like to speak nationally about some of the more subtle pieces of the Archie story. For example, my father and I have had a quite remarkable relationship, and the history of that experience makes a very interesting story of how men communicate and deal with a massive change in both of their futures. We've gotten to a place now where we can actually have very intimate conversations about life, adulthood, and choices we've both made, and it's given us a very rich kind of relationship. These are the things that I intend to more fully examine and share over the next ten years.

FortuneHost: There is a lot of talk about the Generation gap in the workplace today, between GenXers and Baby Boomers, for instance. Do you think that was an issue for you and your father?

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: I'd absolutely say that there were generation gap issues at Archie. It's a very complex issue, because each generation provides something of value to the greater whole. It's only very forward-thinking companies that are wise enough to set up a structure to truly honor the contribution that each generation has to provide. In family businesses this can be very challenging because of all the deep emotional issues that can get in the way.

all_smiles_10002 asks: when was Archie comics created?

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: Archie was born in 1941, in a PEP comic book.

jughead83838 asks: Were the characters in Archie based on real people?

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: The characters were originally drawn by a man named Bob Montana and many of the characters were based on people that Bob knew at Haverhill High School in Massachusetts, where he grew up. There was a wonderful story in the Sunday Boston Globe about ten years ago about some of those characters who Bob grew up with. Unfortunately he died in 1975. The characters that Bob drew and characters that Archie, the company, launched were meant to be everyman characters, that is to say, my grandfather and his partner were comic book publishers and pulp novel publishers in the late 30's and it was their idea to come out with a comic book character who was believable and representative of everyday American life. Bob Montana was a fantastic artist, who I'm sure was inspired by relationships around him. And he did a masterful job of coming up with a typical teenager and his peers. People would be better served to go to and to research the property there. There are also some great books called the Americana series, which are basically encapsulations of each decade of Archie's history. For example, there's a best of the 40's book, which shows Archie's first appearance and gives a pretty good historical account of how each character is introduced in the comics. I'm probably better suited to answer questions tonight about how somebody makes major change in one's life and steps out of what would have otherwise been a predictable future.

honketno1 asks: Are Archie cartoons shown anymore?

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: There is a new cartoon series that I believe is on the air right now. Sabrina the Teenage Witch is also an Archie property, and that's been an extremely successful live action and animated cartoon.

FortuneHost: Is David's dad out there?

mr_chatmeister asks: The actress, Melissa Joan Hart, in Sabrina posed with very little clothing in a magazine. I hear Archie Comics wanted her to apologize. Did she?

FortuneGuest: She did personally apologize to my father, as far as I know.

all_smiles_10002 asks: What made you come up with the idea of Sabrina? I love that show!!

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: Sabrina is a property that was created in the late 60's at Archie, by, I think Dan De Carlo. You can write to to ask Dan specifically how he came up with the idea. My role with Sabrina was simply in helping to revive the property because she was dormant in the mid-80's when I joined Archie Comics.

gertster5432 asks: Have new characters been added to Archie in recent years?

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: When I was at Archie we constantly looked at bringing new characters into the books. One of my projects was actually to bring Sabrina back to life -- that would have been in 1988 -- with a fantastic artist named Dan Parent, who gave Sabrina a more contemporary look, and this material allowed me to sell a development deal for the TV show. It took about six years to become the TV show that Melissa Hart is in right now.

Sonic the Hedgehog from Sega was another new property that I suggested we license while I was in the company, and it's now still a great title for Archie. As I understand it today, the company is still looking for great characters and properties that work in a comic book.

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: Another fantastic artist who has worked for Archie for a number of years, in fact started when I was with the firm, was Rex Lindsey, who has been exceptionally talented in breathing new life into Jughead's character.

mr_chatmeister asks: How did you come up with the names for the characters in Archie comics?

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: The name Archie comes from my father's partner John Goldwater, who recently passed away. He had a friend, I believe, named Archie and he liked the name, and he married that name to the character that Bob Montana had drawn. That character, in the forties, looked an awful lot like Bob Montana.

PClovesDharma asks: did Montana ever ghost write anything else we can find?

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: I'm not sure. I would look in the comic buyer's guide.

gertster5432 asks: How will Archie change in the next millennium?

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: Again, I have nothing to do with the editorial content – or anything at Archie -- at the current time, so I don't know anything about what they have planned for the next millennium, but you can probably get a sense at In general, Archie has always embraced what's current, so I expect that Archie comic in the next millennium will feature Archie doing whatever kids are doing throughout America.

FortuneHost: Looking back on your years at Archie Comics, was there anything you wish you had done differently.

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: I have no regrets about what happened at Archie or what happened at my departure. I don't think I would have done a single thing differently. It was a joyous experience, and it was also a painful experience in my departure.

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: and I feel that living through all my emotions, that living through the entire ride was an enriching experience. After all, I got to wear a Jughead costume and walk down Broadway in the Macy's Day parade. I feel like I have lived.

FortuneHost: Are there any lessons that people who are afraid to try new things can learn from Archie characters?

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: I'm not sure that there are many Archie stories these day about fear and trying new things. Remember, the comic books are primarily built around humor and entertainment. You will occasionally find a story, however, in the comic books where any one of the characters in the Archie family confronts something very frightening. The topics of fear and risk and courage are really more the focus of my work now as a coach. You'll find more about that on my website than on the Archie site. Perhaps that's why I have no regrets about leaving the company. I had nine years of fun playing with Archie, and now my work is solely focused on bringing fun into daily life and also honoring the hard realities that we all encounter as we try to design a lifestyle that meets our needs.

FortuneHost: We're wrapping up now. Any closing thoughts?

FortuneGuest: David Silberkleit: It's been a real pleasure to dialogue about these issues. I get the sense from many people who talked to me about the article that many Americans feel trapped in a job or a lifestyle that doesn't really match their dreams. It's a real joy to talk about the Archie story because leaving the company allowed me to learn so much and now to share what I've learned with other people. In my work as a coach, it's a real pleasure to support people to make choices that honor and nurture who they are. And I look forward to doing that for years to come. I'm proud to be able to relate to my father as his son again. And I welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue on other chats.

FortuneHost: Thank you so much. This was an intense and interesting discussion. Thanks to everyone in our audience.

A recent on-line chat on, led by David Silberkleit:


DS (David Silberkleit): Hello!  David here from Empower Executive Coaching

TopRoadie: Hi

Hotrod: Hi...

DS: What I do each day is work with people around the world as their coach, on all kinds of issues to help them move forward with more velocity in their lives.  My passion, though, is adventure; and generally all my clients are up to something adventurous, whether it's world-record ballooning flights or, like Heidi Howkins (headed toward camp 1 on K2, the second highest peak in the world)  which you can find out more about on GreatOutdoors ...

DS: So today, I'm happy to hear what you have on your minds. I can suggest some ways to be more adventurous in your daily lifestyle.  Ready for questions!

Hotrod: What are your favorite sports?

DS: I'm into just about every adventure sport featured on this site. Lately, I've been into rock climbing.  I'm about 1.5 hrs. from New Paltz,  where the 'gunks' cliffs are located

Hotrod: Do you give lectures, or just work one on one with clients?

DS: Hotrod, not many lectures but I do lots of internet programs & lead classes on the phone.  My schedule is always posted at my site,

Hotrod: Where's the most interesting place you've ever been?

DS: Probably the most interesting is Vietnam, where I spent a month cycling from Hanoi to Saigon. That's a good example of what I was saying earlier -- the trip was an incredible adventure, but you don't need to go to Vietnam to discover something new.  Lots of my clients work 9-5 jobs, and I often support them to find an adventure really close to home.

Hotrod: So doing stuff after 5pm. How do you find clients? Word of mouth?

DS: Yes, 5pm is often the starting bell for an adventure close to home. There's lots of easy stuff to do, like bringing a cycle to work and riding after work; or rollerblading at lunch.  But what's interesting to me is the adventures available in relationships and self expression. Can take more work, but is more rewarding.

Hotrod: How do you work with clients out of state? Do you have clients you've never met before?

DS: I get clients from lots of sources. Word of mouth is certainly the biggest. I also get many referrals from existing clients, because they're all having more fun & making more money than they did before they met me.

Shadow: What adventure programs did you do for Heidi Howkins?

DS: I have tons of out-of-state clients and one in England, a bunch of clients I've never met in person (we work on the phone).  Lots of people like to use the phone -- easier for them to express what's on their mind.

Hotrod: Like pen pals? Are you like a therapist?

DS: Yes, like pen pals, but we work by phone. Practical because of cheap phone rates.

DS: With Heidi, we worked a lot on how she presented herself as a business person, how she could fill in other components of managing her adventure.  She wears so many hats as expedition leader that it was useful for her to have a partner to bounce ideas off; and ways for her to get the job done & juggle the different elements of the expedition.

Shadow: To obtain sponsorship and such?

DS: Hotrod, a coach helps move you forward from where you are. A coach works with functional people to make them extraordinary. A therapist works with someone who isn't always functional. In a therapist-client relationship, you often have to venture into the past to resolve unresolved issues. I'm more like the coach of a team. My job is to optimize the skills of my clients, the same way that only certain players can play offensive line or defensive back.

DS: Shadow, Heidi and I worked together to line up sponsors. The relationship with GreatOutdoors is a byproduct of this; but it's not the sole focus of my work.

Hotrod: Do you ever go on trips with your clients?

DS: I believe I'll have some trips soon that will help people of all levels confront the edge of the comfort zone.  I'm not talking about terror, I'm asking people to push the edge, because that's where adventure occurs .Hotrod, I'm wr king right now to design a series of trips for people to encounter & experience fear in a new way. From my experience, what stops most people from living adventurous lives is fear.

Desert_rat: How did you get into this?

Hotrod: Are you seeking other athletes like her?

DS: Yes, Hotrod, I'm seeking other athletes like Heidi. I'd like to meet more people who are really living their truth. Heidi's inspiring because she's absolutely willing to die for what she believes in. That's probably what makes it extremely likely that she'll succeed  in being the first American woman to summit k2.

Desert_rat: What about her kid?

DS: I believe that Devi will be very proud of her mother regardless of what happens to Heidi.  She is a true pioneer, and for her that includes motherhood.  In fact, if you read her dispatch, probably 6 or 7, she talks about risk and a higher calling that motivates her to be out there in Pakistan climbing right now.   And that to me is the most powerful source I've witnessed in any athlete or any client.

Banshee: Could you describe some of the techniques you use to help your clients add adventure into their lives?

DS: Some of the techniques to add adventure to your life.  Most importantly, be willing to experience everything in your life with hypersensitivity.  There are probably things we do each day that have become routine. It's revisiting those routines and looking for a new adventure that in fact is the source of altering your lifestyle.

Desert rat: How did you get started?

DS: Desert rat, I got into this solely because this is how I live my life. Every minute is an adventure, and believe me it isn't always fun.

DS: Today I'm having severe neck pain from some sort of pinched nerve, and even my relationship to pain is dealt with by looking for some discovery or adventure in that process.  Believe me, I'd rather be out climbing right now than discovering some adventure in pain! But that's what I have today, that's the adventure I've got.  This kind of thinking comes naturally for me, and that's what makes me well-suited to work with clients to add adventure to their lives.  As far as Heidi's kid is concerned, that's an interesting and often controversial issue. Again, her passion is so strong for what she believes in, her relationship with her daughter is actually included in that.

Shadow: I read in your bio that you are a blimp pilot as well...where did you learn to fly one of those things?

DS: Blimps: I've always dreamed of flying blimps, and I can be very tenacious. I spent a lot of time with a ground crew when they were in my area, and they invited me on a ride.   I got to fly a blimp on a delivery flight for 8 hours.

Banshee: How are you able to take some average Joe corporate guy who thinks he may want adventure in his life, and really enable him to live it?

DS: Banshee, for an average exec in a corporate environs, the first step is them wanting some sort of change in their lifestyle from a boring 9-5 routine.   In fact, change is one of the greatest places to look for adventure. Any time there's an interruption of a routine, there's room for an adventure. I haven't met a client yet who didn't have a dream. And that dream is often easily converted to an adventure.   I'm fortunate that I've been around the world on enough different kinds of trips that I often work with clients to create a trip of their own that will fulfill a dream.

DS: Does anyone here want some personal coaching right now?: I'm happy to engage any of you on a personal-specific issue around adventure.

Banshee: When these clients come to you, do you just plan a trip for them, or is there some sort of psychological training that they go through with you as well?

DS: Banshee, again, I'm not a psychologist. I'm a coach. So there's no real formal training that I provide for my clients.  Think of an Olympic coach working with a star athlete.  The coach doesn't need to train an athlete, but he's looking for an edge.  Perhaps nutrition or equipment, something that will provide a winning performance.

Desert_rat: Fear of falling.

DS: OK Desert_rat, do you want to engage in a conversation about fear of falling?

Desert_rat: Sure

DS: I rappelled on Saturday off a 200-foot cliff overhanging such that my feet never touched the rock.

Desert_rat: I'm a good climber, I just get afraid sometimes and I feel like it's holding me back

DS: Where do you climb, inside or out?

Desert_rat: Outside; Mostly sport.

DS: Is there a gym near you where you can practice taking some big falls?  That way you can work at a controlled pace instead of several hundred feet up.

DS: Obviously, big falls in the gym are nothing like you'd experience sport climbing.   I know that from water skiing, for example, unless I was willing to fall, I could never improve my ability as a slalom skier.

Desert_rat: Yeah, i suppose I could, but it's usually the landing part that worries me. Like decking.

DS: Again, in the gym in a controlled environs with a good belay partner, there's no risk of decking. I'd practice intentionally falling 5 feet above your last clipped piece of gear to simulate a lead fall, then gradually increase your height above the pro so you can gradually get more comfortable

Desert_rat: That's the other issue, trusting my belayer. I've seen some big falls come from belayer error.

DS: Looks like you need to get a new belayer and eliminate the weak link in that process.  An inexperienced belayer is not supporting you to have a breakthrough in your relationship with falling.

Desert_rat: Yeah, you're right. Thanks a lot. I really appreciate the advice.

Desert_rat: Can I e-mail you from your website?

DS: I know when I first started climbing outside, the challenges were so massive that I've never had to face fear at that level before.  The first time I rappelled, for example, I spent quite a while noticing how the fear coursed through my body.  I knew what I needed to do, but I'd never experienced it before. Now, the interesting thing about climbing is to constantly stay on the edge of my comfort zone.

DS: If I push too far into the terror zone, it stops being fun. But climbing provides so many challenges, that there's always a new increment to engage.  And that's what has me grow as a climber, and keep experiencing new levels of fear in a responsible and controlled way.

DS: For example, it would not be useful for me to rappell off some big wall climb in Yosemite right now. 200 feet straight down is the max I've experienced to date. I'd be willing to try 250-300 next.  but it doesn't serve me to throw myself into something that's so confronting that my body just gets overwhelmed.  And this is the essence of incorporating an adventurous lifestyle into any routine, to be able to look for increments that keep you on the edge of the comfort zone.

DS: Those increments are all around us. In creativity at work, there might be a way to push the envelope.

Hotrod: Like rappelling out of my office window? ;-)

DS: In a relationship with a significant other, it's possible to relate to that person as if today were the first day you'd met them. That's an adventurous day!

DS: Yep, Hotrod. Fortunately my window's only about 30 feet up so I could handle that. A high-rise might be a bit extreme, though ...

Hotrod: I like that idea. the relationship thing

DS: And yes, Desert rat you can mail me anytime from my website.

DS: Also, the essay about fear of rappelling is called "The Grip of Fear" and is in the essays section of my site.  I wrote about experiencing fear fully in that essay. I was really scared. In fact, experiencing fear is the only way not to be stopped by it!

DS: Hotrod, anything specific about relationships you want to throw out?

Hotrod: I like the analogy you made about making every day an adventure

DS: Novelty is adventurous, so anything new is an adventure

Hotrod: I feel that way with my children. every day seems like a new adventure to them.

DS: If you remember the first time you met a best friend or lover, the novelty makes it exciting. So I coach clients all the time to look for novelty in their daily routine.

DS: Kids are the perfect example. To them, every moment is adventurous. Too few adults have a child-like quality. It's the essence of fun & adventure.

DS: We're going to be ending in a few minutes. Any final questions?

Hotrod: Thanks...

DS: Feel free to e-mail me or visit my site. I'll also be leading phone classes on this topic through the rest of the year. You can also participate in a free phone conversation like this one

Desert rat: Super chat. Thanks a lot.

Banshee: Thanks, David

DS: Thanks to everyone for participating. This is a broad topic and hopefully we'll do more with it on in the future.

DS: Thanks again!


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