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James Laughlin - From Wayward Youth to World Champion

This story has all the markings of Rocky, the story of a struggling, small-time boxer and debt collector, Rocky Balboa, who gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fight the world's heavyweight champion and when he wins, finds himself, and becomes the symbol of hope and inspiration. In this case, instead of boxing gloves, it was drumsticks.

As a child, James Laughlin didn't fit in. He grew up in Northern Ireland with parents of opposing religions and a world he dreamed of escaping each time a plane passed over his head. James was often in trouble for speaking out at school. One day his Head Master offered him a choice—another week of detentions or drumsticks and the school band. With visions of Ringo Star pounding in his head, he soon learned his destiny was to be the pipe major of a bagpipe band, kilt and all.

The drumsticks were his turning point, and James went from wayward youth to becoming a world champion drummer and then a coach who took underdog Piper Bands in Canada and New Zealand to the top of the world.

Yet within his success and persona of positivity was James' reliance on alcohol to mask his lack of self-esteem and identity, and later, the pain of his wife suffering a miscarriage. An Anthony Robbins seminar was the next turning point that allowed James to recalibrate his life and find a new path to help others while healing himself. James created High-Performance Leadership and today coaches high-performing leaders and athletes.

If you love a good underdog story, you won't be able to resist James Laughlin's journey, and if you are after powerful lessons in life on how to get to where you need, want and deserve to go, you will find it here.

My three takeaways from my chat with James:

  1. Measure what Matters. participation medals are not enough.

  2. Tall Poppy Syndrome - ignore it and keep growing.

  3. Passion is who you are, and purpose is what you give to the world around you.

Mark Beckles, Vice President, Social Impact and Innovation at RBC, returns to the show. I am a big fan of Mark's passion and approach to life. In this episode, I ask Mark how to prevent so many of our youth from dropping out. Mark talks about the importance of having a purpose and an identity, finding a mentor, and connecting to people through their passions. Chatter that Matters - inspiring stories of people who overcome circumstances to chase their dreams and change their world, even ours, for the better.


Chatter that Matters is a show that counters the storm of negativity and a growing sense of impossibility. I share inspiring stories of people who overcome their circumstances to chase their dreams and, for some, to change our world. I hope the lessons learned will inspire you, and all who matter to you, to get to where you need, want, and deserve to go.

To chat with me, Tony Chapman, find me on Twitter I LinkedIn I Instagram I Youtube

To learn more about RBC and their programs visit


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