LBL Natella | Quality In The Workplace

 

As with beauty, quality is in the eyes of the beholder. Looking at the organizational growth of the top companies, they have one thing in common - quality in their service or product and very satisfied customers. How they achieve this may differ, but their output is similar in terms of customer testimonials. As an authority figure in quality, OHS, and risk management in manufacturing and service industries, Natella Isazada talks about improving organizational performance and the implications of neglecting quality in the workplace. She shares her personal principle of “quality in, quality out” and the different applications it has in the workplace and in our daily lives.

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Improving Organizational Performance Through Quality In The Workplace With Natella Isazada

I've got another great guest, Natella Isazada joins me. She and I met when she was on stage giving her TEDx Talk. We met after the TEDx Talk and we had a conversation. I was nothing but impressed with her. Her story is incredible and what she does is one of those things that not a lot of people think about, but it's vitally important to any type of business. She is into quality control and quality assurance. I'm going to bring Natella on board and she's going to tell the stories. Natella, welcome to the show.

Thank you very much for inviting me. It's a pleasure to be here on your show.

We started talking at the TEDx at Chilliwack. I was always impressed with what you did because most people don't think about quality assurance. They don't talk about how vital it is to any business because as you said, your motto is Quality In/Quality Out. If we don't have quality control and if we're not thinking about the quality that we put out into the marketplace, what does that do to our brand? What does that do to our company? What does that do to our pride as an organization? I want you to talk about how did you get into the quality assurance business. What does it mean to you? What is the value that you bring to the organization? How do you contribute to that? How do you tell the story about quality control?

I did start in the quality control and quality assurance maybe almost two decades ago. The concept is much wider than the quality control. To make it easier for the people out there who are not from that field of work, quality control is inspecting the quality of parts that you put out there, the product or the services. Quality assurance is a wider concept when you are being more proactive and putting out the procedures in place to make sure your systems work. What I have done over the course of the years is quality management, which covers both of them. Through the years, my role evolved into a larger role, which also includes occupational health and safety, environmental and at the end of the day, it's all about managing the risk for the organization. When you think about quality or health and safety, there are things and lines that you cannot cross.

When we talk about quality or health and safety, there are lines that you cannot cross. Click To Tweet

There are laws in place at companies that you cannot violate, but then there's also pride in what you do. In many instances, the quality that you are willing to put out there and work hard for in many companies is dictated by the customer and by what the competitors are doing in their field. For me, what became my life story started at work, but it became a much wider concept because I find quality everywhere in our life. It applies all the things we learn from working in the field of quality. We apply them to the rest of our life. These days the word out there is risk-based thinking. You have to evaluate everything in terms of how much risk there is to it. What's the worst-case scenario that can happen if you do certain things or don't do certain things? What type of risk and the level of risk you're willing to live with? That concept applies to everything we're doing in our life if you think about it.

The thought process behind risk is an interesting one. You're right, it's not only the risk of the things that you do, but it's also the risk of the things that you don't do. Those were some interesting things because people go, “What are the ramifications if I do something? What are the ramifications if I don't do something?” I bring in occupational health and safety, which is part of what you do, as a perfect example. If we don't follow rules and regulations, if we're not thinking about safety, if we’re not acting safely, then some very serious things can happen.

The problem is most people that I know at occupational health and safety don't go into the why. Why are these regulations here? Why do we do this? Why are we doing these policies and procedures? They just say, “You shall do this because that's the policy and procedure.” How is looking at the why behind what you do, get people to buy into it better, get people to embrace health and safety and quality assurance? How do you go about getting people to understand the value of being safe and looking at quality as something that’s a must-have and not a nice to have?

It's not enough these days to just cover your bottom line or just do the very minimum that the regulations require you to do as an employer. That's simply not enough. Why these things are in place, first of all, our society has evolved. We have come a long way even here in Canada, which is a highly developed country. Laws and regulations have come a long way, but so does the organizational culture. People are not willing to work in a company that barely just covers their legal grounds. People have options these days. I'm for organizational excellence and I'm very strong in organizational culture. What I encourage companies to do is you need to go a bit deeper. Don't just do what you're required to do by law but think about your workforce. These days, especially with the Millennials being the larger cohort and comprising large percentage of our workforce. People are looking more from the workplace.

LBL Natella | Quality In The Workplace

Quality In The Workplace: Quality control is inspecting the quality of parts, products, or services that you put out there.

 

They are looking into the why or why am I here? What kind of companies is this? What do they stand for? Why do I work here? That's how the concept of Quality In/Quality Out came to me. Over the course of many years working in Corporate America and then Canada, I've worked for companies managing their systems. I've also worked as a consultant. I’ve worked with many companies. One thing that frustrates me is when companies do not look into the why of things. They just go by the minimum requirements. The outcome is I have seen many people who also sense that from the employer and they do the minimum that they’re required to do for their job.

The mentality becomes, “I'm paid by the hour here.” It doesn't matter whether you're an hourly employee, on a wage or salary, the mentality is, “I clock-in, clock-out. I do my job. I go home at the end of the day.” What stood out to me and what touched me to the bottom of my heart are not those people who hated their job to the extent that they were willing to take an action and leave that workplace and go elsewhere. What touched me was the rest of them that created this attitude of like, “I’ll do my job and I go home at the end of the day.” The helplessness and the resignation that comes with it. When people feel like, "This workplace doesn't care about me. They cared about their own bottom line. They care about covering their own legal grounds and get the product out of the door. We are here like a little cog in this big mechanism just doing our job.”

In that sense of helplessness and resignation that I was seeing from people, that stood out to me like, “Why do we have to continue leaning that way?” Because if you look at it, different statistics will give you different numbers, but at least a third of our lifetime, of our waking hours, we spend at work. Why be in the place that makes you miserable? This made me think about what can we do about it. I started looking for ways. I took it upon myself to do research, to find better methods of how we can run our workplaces, how we can create this culture when people are not there just for the paycheck, not there because they maybe have some insecurity. They don't believe they deserve something better. They don't believe they can go and get something better. They’re just there for the benefits, the paycheck and the stability but no excitement.

I started researching different methods and I applied points of my own experience from my past. I was a journalist and I was a lawyer. I was able to apply some of those techniques of asking the tough questions, getting to the bottom of things, getting to the crux of issues and started challenging the status quo. There were times when I wasn't the most popular person in management teams or out there because I would ask the tough questions and try to get to the bottom of things. I almost took it upon myself and made it my mission to change things, to try to change the organizational culture and wake up the leaders out there and even the people who see themselves as employees. What can they do? The Quality In/Quality Out concept is more about taking responsibility for what you get in life and what you put out there.

Quality is everywhere in our life. Whatever we learn when it comes to quality can be applied to your daily life. Click To Tweet

That's so important because you're getting into two different things. You're getting into the pride of ownership and work, and also engagement. People are saying that the engagement levels are at an all-time low, that 70% of people nowadays are unengaged. I think that's Inc. Magazine that says that. If we take a look and combine those two and say that there are low-engagement level and a low-level of pride, what does that do to companies? First of all, at least the high turnover but the problem is not the people that leave. It's the ones that stay and go, “It's not my problem. I did my job. It's somebody else's problem.” They don't even do their job because they're going, “I'm not being paid enough so I don't have to care because the people over there aren't caring and the people above me aren't caring. Why should I care?” How do you in quality assurance and that whole world help build a culture from the top down? It's got to come from the CEO down to get people to understand the value of Quality In/Quality Out to make sure that this not only makes people more productive, more valuable and more engaged at work, but it also helps the bottom line. How do you go about doing that?

You take the concept from the field of quality management and you applied that in a wider sense to the entire organization's health and well-being. Let's look at this concept. A big part of Quality In/Quality Out, I wanted to step back to this concept to explain where it comes from. I took it originally from the concept of Garbage In/Garbage Out. I didn't discover it entirely. It came from this concept that originated from the field of information technology. That's a concept that says, “If you're giving me input that's garbage, don't expect much from me. What I’ll produce is going to be garbage as well.” This concept is that the core of that resignation and helplessness that I am getting bogged with. The concept is that, “I'm just someone who is small. My role is small. I don't have much power around here. I work with the garbage that people give me. That's why no surprise, I produce garbage.”

This comes still from the process thinking. When you refer to quality assurance, what you will learn from that and how we can apply it in a wider sense, this tool that's called process-based approach. In quality assurance and even in the international standards for quality management, you have to look at everything you do in terms of the process thinking. The process thinking tells you that anything you do in life, workplace or anything, look at it in terms of what inputs you receive, what inputs you’re required to do your job, then you do your part, which is your value-added activity and not inactivity. The keyword here is you take the input, add your value-added activity and then you produce the output.

If you look at anything you do in terms of input, my value, my activity and my output, that's process-based thinking. What I challenge organizations to do is to turn things around. If you receive the garbage input, don't just say, “I have garbage input, that's it. I'm going to work with it.” You take charge and whatever level you are. Everything starts with the leadership, but my concept goes wider. It goes to everyone. You can still take ownership and you can still take responsibility in your own life. When you receive garbage input, that's when you have to challenge the status quo. That's when you have to go through the source of that input and resolve it with them. There are many civilize ways to resolve issues and oftentimes people don't go to work thinking, “I'm going to go to work and do a lousy job today.”

LBL Natella | Quality In The Workplace

Quality In The Workplace: Quality assurance is proactive. It’s putting out the procedures in place to make sure your systems work.

 

They just do what they're doing. Sometimes things happen because they’ve always done it that way and nobody challenged it, nobody cared. My concept is you have to challenge it. When you add your activity, make sure it's value-added, not just because you inherited some old procedure that was sitting there from twenty years ago. Make sure there's a lot more when you think about the quality of processes before you go into the technical details. You add the activity and then you take pride in the output that you produce. Your output is quality output. This concept applies to everyone at all levels in every organization. When I talk to leadership, I start off by introducing the concept of the internal customer, internal supplier. In every organization, leadership always cares about customers.

Most of the time they cared about the customer because they’re the ones who pay the bills and they're the ones who run the show. We do what the customer wants us to do. We supply when they wanted. At least many good organizations work with the customer focus in mind. The concept I introduced to leadership, that's a very important concept. You have to see everyone within your organization in terms of the supplier-customer relationships. When we were applying the concept of an organizational structure, then you start all those relationships. I have a tool that I've developed to myself. I've tried it and we use it in different organizations. It does work well if you do it right. We challenged everyone to think about it. They’re tools and questionnaires I developed. They can be applied, used and produce results. You have to challenge every function out there and everyone in your organization to think about who relies on them for their input and who they rely on for the input they need for their process?

Once we develop a map of all those interrelated connections, people sometimes get shocking results. You asked one function, “Who do you think the internal suppliers are? What kind of job you do for them?” They do their best and when you meet the parties to put them together, sometimes people get shocking results. How people simply lack understanding of what other's expectations are, what people rely on them for or what they need or what they expect, what they need to do their job well. That's how you bring down those organizational barriers of communication and bring the walls down. That's the concept that has been with me all my life, bringing the walls down and doing other ways of communication. Focusing on what do we have in common. What kind of common goals we may be seeing in this life and how can we help each other along the way?

You take a couple of things that are near and dear to my heart. The first is lead at any level. You look at it and say, “Take ownership of your work.” I call it lead at any level because every single person within the company is a leader. Everybody has the ability to sit there and go, “This isn't right. Something is wrong.” Take ownership and say, “This isn't going any further until we fix this.” Everybody has the right to do that. The second part you talk about is as we pass things from department to department, make sure that not only are you giving good quality, you're also understanding what are the needs of the person your handing it to. Are you explaining what you need to the person that you're getting it from?

The “quality in, quality out” concept is about taking responsibility for what you get in life and what you put out there. Click To Tweet

Therefore, as it goes along the chain, the process, the system, whatever, everybody within the system understands what the other people need to be able to get a superior product at the end of the line to be able to take care of the customer. That's important because that's open and effective communication. We did a webinar for the Quality Assurance Institute. What we talked about is quality assurance is a branding piece. In terms of your internal customers, I agree with you, they're not employees, they’re internal customers. If people don't understand what's the end result? What are we trying to achieve? How is this going to be used and by whom? Sooner or later, people will stop caring. You need to be able to instill the fact within the entire system that you're not just screwing a bolt right-handed until it's hand tight.

You're doing it for a reason. The reason is that there's a bigger project that you're trying to create. You may have a small little part of that, but you need to understand what's the overall objective? What are we trying to do as a company? What do our clients need from us? How do you go about helping companies build that process so they understand from the moment something comes into the company to the moment it leaves what that process is and communicate the importance of what people do along the way to the next department?

I do lots of things. I do have seminars and training sessions I offer where we focus on the silo mentality. It’s not necessarily to vilify but understand where the silo mentality comes from. How it was developed in the first place and what kind of benefits may have been there from having that mentality in the beginning. How things turned out along the way and how it's limiting our ability to do a good job. I have training sessions I offer to work around that, which opens people's eyes in how simple the solutions could be if you think about it and look at it the right way. I want to bring this example. I like sometimes to keep things as simple as possible, but not simpler than that. I think that's attributed to Einstein probably. He said that in the first place, but I do like to keep things simple. Sometimes I like to use examples that are very relatable that anybody can understand, even if you're not a professional dedicated to quality assurance.

In one of my seminars, for example, I had brought up this simple example. Everybody knows the story of Goldilocks. It was a kid story we read or it was read to us when we were little but there’s a good moral behind it. It's a little girl, she walks into a house that belonged to three beers. She tried out papa bear's bed, mama bear’s bed, the baby bear’s bed. The same thing goes to the porridge, the chairs and everything she tried in the house. She ends up in the baby's bed. That's where she was found fast asleep. That's where the bears found her at the end of the day. How long is the way until she reaches that point? If you think about it, it’s probably a story about quality assurance and the value of quality. She tried one bed, “It's too big.” She tried another bed, “It's not soft enough or it's too soft.” She tried another and says, “This is fine. It’s the right size and the right level of softness.”

LBL Natella | Quality In The Workplace

Quality In The Workplace: In every organization, the leadership should always care about the customers because they’re the ones who run the show.

 

To me, what I tried to teach by this is that quality is in the eyes of a customer. Sometimes that's the internal customers and sometimes it's the external customers. You might think you producing the best quality because it's in your mind. This is what you're doing. Do you believe this is what you’re supposed to do? Most of the time you work with specifications that you inherited from before or you believe this is the right thing to do. If you start opening those communication channels, have an open mind to check your ego at the door. I still believe it's not about your ego, but what's the best for the organization. You start realizing that the same thing that could be quality to you is not the right quality for your customers. Start listening more and don’t be set on any of your old ways. Things have to be way more agile these days. The mentality of, “We've always done it this way. It’s always worked for us.” It doesn't work anymore. You have to be very in-tune with your customers and see what they see as value, not what you think is value.

That's critical. It's not about you, it's about the people you serve. As an employee of a company, you're serving your clients and you’re serving other departments and other departments are serving you, depending on what the relationship is. When you sit there and say, “That's good enough.” It may be good enough for you, but is it good enough for the person who's going to be taking this and using it at the end of the day? That's what's important. That's what everybody needs to realize as a company is who's the person that's going to be using this at the end of the day and is it good enough for them? Is it going to fulfill the job that they needed to do? If they're spending their hard-earned money and they're buying your product or service versus somebody else's, is what you're producing going to solve the problem that they have in a way where they say, “I'm giving these people money, they're giving me a product or service. It's a fair trade.”

That goes both ways. Sometimes it's about the poor quality. You have done something that's not good enough for your customer. It also goes the opposite way as well. Sometimes we get so carried away. We might be so much in love with the product that we offer, we keep adding features to it. Being fully aware of what are the features and the quality that customers are willing to pay for. What is something extra, something fancy, something that truly makes the scope of your project go wide open and it does not add value in the eyes of a customer? It's all about staying in tune with them. Are you overspending? Are you over-engineering? Are you adding too many things to it that the customer does not need?

There's a perfect example. If you look at Microsoft Word for example. 95% of the people reading this, if not 99% of the people, use Microsoft Word at some point in their time. A friend of mine who is an expert and teaches other people at a very high-level how to use Microsoft Word within companies says that the average person uses 5% to 7% of what the program is capable of. He says 99.9% of people will never use more than 50% of the features that this thing has, but they're built into the system. The things that you're going to use are going to be different from the things that I'm going to be using. Different people will use different parts of the system, but it's over-engineered for the vast majority of the people that use it.

In anything you do in life or in the workplace, always include value added activity. Click To Tweet

They're saying, “We'll put another feature in there.” Sometimes that's great and sometimes it's not. I don't know if you've ever seen the show, West Wing. There's a perfect example in West Wing where they're talking to this Navy guy who was a submarine captain. They were talking about, "Why would you spend $500 on an ashtray?” He grabs a hammer and smashes this ashtray and instead of the ashtray breaking into a million pieces, it breaks into three perfect pieces. He says, “The reason we spend $500 on an ashtray is that when things break in a submarine, they can cause a lot of havoc. We don't want a million pieces flying around in a submarine. We wanted to break it into the least amount of pieces as possible.” It's a matter of sitting there going, “What is the end thing it’s going to be used for?” How do you instill that within various parts of the organization so they understand that either they've over-engineered or they haven't taken the customer's needs into consideration? How do you help tell that story or the Goldilocks story to make sure things are just right?

The answer is not even that complicated. It's simple if you keep the communication channels open. It also depends when you said are we over-engineering or not? First of all, we have to see what the application of your product is. Is it like mass production that applies to masses? Is it customized to certain extent? Is it highly customized? Do we have a niche market? The level of customization or difference will be dictated by that. On top of that, when it comes to explaining to customers and companies how to make it right, what I teach them is this. Think of it as a project and you’re managing the project. What's critical here is to talk to your customer through the length of the project or the life cycle of the project.

When I do those consulting jobs or take on a project, even within an organization I work for that I have a project, I'm always having the end-user or my internal customers in mind. I don't like to surprise them at the end when my part is done, “There you go. This is my part, I’m done.” I like to keep communication channels open to throughout the lifecycle of my project so that there would be no surprises later. Customers may change their mind here and there. If I keep talking to them and they have a channel of contacting me anytime they want, we'll always keep talking until the end of this project. We'll always know what's going on. There might be deviations at times. There might be things that we’re out of our control, but now they are adding more time to the schedule as much as we try to stick with the original schedule.

This is life. Things can happen. Sometimes everything is not controlled. Keep your communication open, keep your customer in mind, keep in mind what's the value to them. Any time something major happens, talk to them and have your channel open for them to contact you. Customer needs more involvement these days. They don't want to be involved in every tiny detail. That's why at the end of the day, they hire experts and companies to do the job for them, to get projects done for them. The communication does not hurt. Customer service should be there, managing the expectations and keeping the communication open.

LBL Natella | Quality In The Workplace

Quality In The Workplace: Keep communication channels throughout the life cycle of your project to avoid any surprises at a later time.

 

Effective communication can make big problems small if we keep that communication channels open. I absolutely agree with you. I want to shift gears and talk about your TEDx Talk. Your TEDx was very powerful. I want you to walk me through the journey of why did you want to do a TEDx? What was your reason for doing it and what was the experience like?

The whole mentality behind TED is the ideas that's worth spreading. The whole thing there is about the ideas, worth spreading or not, that does have a wide application or not. I like the way the TEDx Talks all the time and when the time came for me, I thought maybe I could be on stage one day. I didn't have to think hard about the idea. It simply came up for me. I just realized that this idea I shared on the TEDx stage has been with me all my life. I look back and maybe I didn't know everything upfront. I had different life experiences going in several countries. I'm learning several languages and engaging myself in quite different careers.

When I looked back, I could perfectly connect the dots. The idea was about humanity, about communication and the things we're focused on. How we can have simpler and more effective channels of communication if we learn to focus on what we have in common as opposed to focusing on our differences. We witnessed this happen in real life between human beings, countries, families and workplaces. That's an intelligence, not simply focusing on the differences. Who is different? What's wrong with them? Focusing on how different we are does not help. To me, that's the root of many problems. I’d witnessed that when I was a child in the Soviet Union, my life as a teenager and a young independent in Azerbaijan. That's the country I came from. My experiences as I moved across the oceans. I lived in the States for several years and then finally I moved to Canada.

When I look back, the mentality of us versus them, that's what I call it. That causes lots of problems in workplaces, families, in politics, within the same country system, between countries. In my talk, it's looking back and looking at all these different stages in my life and the message itself became so pronounced that things do work. Miracles can happen if one person can do so much by simply challenging the status quo, asking the right questions. Instead of vilifying people, finding the one thing that you may have in common with them at the end of the day. It’s the story of a child who did something huge by simply asking the right question. The stories of me like working with what I call, “I've seen the best of humanity. I’ve seen the worst of humanity.”

Quality is in the eyes of the customer. Click To Tweet

I've been through some ups and downs in my life and just how things work. Things are possible when you try to focus on what you can possibly have in common with another human being. That's what the whole story is about based on my life journey. The experiences of me working in the States and here in Canada in the field of corporate management. Many of those concepts were amazingly applied across the border in different areas of your life. I bring it back to workplace mentality, how we can achieve so much more and way more effective in what they do professionally. If we can only break down those barriers in communication and start focusing on what we have in common, what kind of goals we have and how we can work together.

It's our commonalities. We all have far more in common than we differentiate each other. I believe that if we listened to each other, if we understand each other, if we value each other, amazing things can happen. I wholeheartedly ask every person reading this, take the extra few minutes and listen to Natella’s TEDx Talk because it's absolutely amazing. I enjoyed it. Your book is almost out. Tell me the name of the book and when is it going to be available?

The name of the book is Quality In/Quality Out. It's going to be in 2020. I'll provide more information on my website. It's NatellaIsazada.com. It's not ready yet. I still have to finalize it and then it has to go through editing and all that good stuff. The chapters are there and the concept is out there.

LBL Natella | Quality In The Workplace

Quality in Quality out

When you leave a meeting and you get in your car and you drive away, what's the one thing you want people to think about you when you're not in the room?

When I'm not in the room, I don't want people to think about me. I want people to think about how it changed them, how it made them feel, the communication that we had. My hope is that people think about the breakthrough that they were able to make in their own thinking. When I'm gone, I don't want just to be remembered by all. I want them to go right to where they were before I started. Hopefully, I leave them in a better place. Just help them with some of their barriers. Help them to see their own problems in the new light. My goal is not to solve everybody's problems, but to help people define those simple solutions. I've been told this many times on different stages in my life, through the student years and my career that, “You're good at one thing. You helped us to find simple ways to look at a complicated problem.” That's what I want to leave people with. Stay where they’re at, go back to their problems and be like, “Now I see.” I told them to have any breakthrough and make progress in solving their problems. Any progress is good progress for me. I don't want anybody to be stuck.

Having simple solutions to complex problems. Natella, it has been a pleasure having you on the show. Thank you for adding value. Thank you for being you and thanks for being on the show.

Thank you so much, Ben. It has been a pleasure talking to you.

You're very welcome.

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About Natella Isazada

LBL Natella | Quality In The WorkplaceNatella Isazada is a Personal and Organizational Excellence expert, TEDx speaker, author and training facilitator who resides in Langley BC, Canada. Born and raised in Azerbaijan, Natella has her Bachelor’s degree in International Journalism from Baku State University. She started her career as an investigative journalist uncovering larger scale societal issues and helping marginalized people get their voice heard through telling their stories. To become a bigger help in protecting their legal rights, Natella became a lawyer after graduating from Russian Social State University.

In the late 1990s Natella Isazada won a prestigious Fellowship award and moved to the US to join the Masters of Public Administration program at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Since then she has been part of the corporate world helping US and Canadian organizations become industry leaders through the implementation of world-class quality management systems, business process improvements, and leadership development. She has over 15 years of combined work experience in Business Process Improvement, Quality and EHS Management in manufacturing, service and information industries. Her journalistic and legal background have enabled her to get to the crux of business issues through asking tough questions and to achieve top results through her unyielding ability to draw the line between the negotiable and non-negotiable in the world of business operations.

As a life-long learner during these years, Natella has obtained several professional designations, including Advanced Communications, Leadership, and Organizational Excellence certifications. Natella firmly believes that the path to improved Business performance lies through the personal growth of the team members. This has been proven through her own personal journey and through the examples of many other she has helped during her career. The principle she promotes through her brand is Quality In / Quality Out. NATELLA’S BRAND: QUALITY IN /QUALITY OUT Quality In/Quality Out is about moving organizations and individuals away from a traditional mindset of Garbage in/Garbage Out. Originating from the field of computer science GI/GO made its way to all other fields and became the way of explaining poor or mediocre performance.

By assigning the blame to our predecessors who feed us “garbage”, we admit we have no power to produce quality results. Natella turns around this victim mentality, by replacing it in our minds, our vocabulary and our actions with a more powerful model: Quality In/Quality Out. QI/QO model not only emphasizes how our inputs impact our output but puts full responsibility on each of us for the quality of what we produce and the value we bring to our customer – external or internal. Natella shows how by focusing on the needs of those who rely on our input for the success of their processes, we all share the accountability for the final product or service we sell to the end-user. She helps organizations to overcome the silo mentality, break down communication barriers and to work effectively towards common goals by applying the QI/QO principle to their own circumstances.

Her blog and her upcoming book explain how Quality In/Quality Out is a proven cost-effective business and personal life approach. She has recently spoken from a TEDx stage to further promote her idea on how we achieve more through cooperation, connection and focusing on what we have in common.

LBL 125 | Power Of LinkedIn

 

In this episode, host Ben Baker talks with relationship marketing specialist, Janice Porter, about the story behind how Linkedin became a way for her to build her business. She talks about its advantages in building relationships and shares advice on how you can best present yourself in the platform—from your way of communicating to the images you use. Janice then discusses the importance of staying on top of mind and doing things that will make sure you are remembered for people to work with you. Learn more about how to connect with people and see your business and brand thrive.

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Listen to the podcast here:

LinkedIn: The Online Platform To Use For Networking And Business Building With Janice Porter

Janice Porter is not only a phenomenal woman but she is an incredible speaker. She does LinkedIn training, relationship management, and a lot of networking training as well. For her, it’s all about communicating the right way. Janice, welcome to the show.

Thanks, Ben. I’m delighted to be your guest.

You were kind enough to have me on your show so I had to reciprocate it. We both met through LinkedIn. It’s a perfect way for me to meet a LinkedIn trainer. It’s amazing how many of my guests, relationships, friends, and customers that I have all come through LinkedIn. It is an incredibly powerful tool if used the right way. I’d love to start off by letting people know where you come from. Where are you? Where are you going? What is the impetus of your business? What was the genesis? What makes you special? What makes you different?

My background is teaching. I was a school teacher in my first life then I became a corporate trainer. It’s always been around me that I teach. You say you learn from teaching and I think I probably do, too. I did corporate training for many years. I was training business customers on how to use their newfangled phone systems and voicemail systems back in the day. It was a lot of fun. It got to a little bit of tech side which I wasn’t prepared for originally. I taught how to answer the phone and the soft skills around phone courtesy as well. After many years of a good ride as a contractor, my world changed because everything changed in the world. The company didn’t want contractors anymore. I was a contractor by choice because I had a daughter at home that I was raising. I had to figure out what was next.

I’d always been one to want to do something on my own. It took me a while, but I figured it out. I fell into LinkedIn as I was exploring, “What is this thing?” I knew what Facebook was and I’d played around with it but I didn’t know what LinkedIn was. Back in 2011, I’ve started to look at, “What the heck is this?” I was fortunate enough to meet a young man who was ahead of the curve. He was doing LinkedIn training and he enlightened me easily and quickly about LinkedIn. I found myself as a natural teacher sharing what I learned with people I knew. The light went on. I went, “I could do this. This is my way back to teaching.” That’s how my LinkedIn training as part of my business started. If we are natural networkers, which are part of what I do as well, we tend to share what we do with people. It could be a good movie, a good restaurant or anything that has to do with passing along a good thing. That’s how the LinkedIn piece started for me then I turned it into a business.

Why LinkedIn and not Facebook? They have a different viewpoint, attitude, look, smell, and feel. The customer base and communication are different amongst the different media. Facebook and LinkedIn are two of them. There are hundreds of other social media platforms. Why LinkedIn versus Facebook? Which one, as you first admitted, are you far more comfortable with?

I never liked the casual social feeling of Facebook. I didn’t want to put my family on there. I was thinking of Facebook as a backyard barbecue. You’ve got in your casual clothes and you’ve got a beer in your hand or soda. You’re chatting about the movies you saw, the restaurants, the football game, the hockey game or whatever. It didn’t seem like business to me. I think part of LinkedIn was linear. It’s straightforward. The details were organized for me. That was the attraction, not to mention that the level of conversation was more advanced. It was business so I could get to the heart of what I wanted to get to people faster.

That’s the big difference between Facebook and LinkedIn. The culture, communication, and expectations are different on LinkedIn. That’s why 90%, probably 95% on my online communication is through LinkedIn. People assume that if you treat them well and with respect, if you engage with them properly and if you are professional, they will connect with you. They will engage with you and they will have amazing meaningful conversations. I have clients, friends, and relationships around the world that I could never have had but for LinkedIn.

There is an art to being able to create those conversations that will quickly move forward. How often do you reach out to somebody on LinkedIn to make a connection and they accept your connection request? That’s it. They don’t do anything. The point is to communicate and start a conversation to see where it goes. It’s networking online.

It’s another way to communicate. I look at it from a different point of view. It’s amazing to me how many people connect with me. People take the time and effort to connect with me. They put a connection request in front of me, I sit there and say, “Yeah.” I look at their criteria and say, “Is this person interesting to me? Can I add value to these people?” Yes. There are criteria here. I then connect. The first thing I do is I’ll reach out to them and say, “Thank you for connecting. Nice job. I’d love to find a little bit more about you.” 65%, 70%, 75% of these people never connect back with me.

The word social on LinkedIn is different from social on Facebook or Instagram. Click To Tweet

That’s my point. Why bother?

People are looking for vanity metrics.

That’s true. Also, there are a fair number of people who are having third-party tools or having someone do the third party connecting for them initially. Number one, that’s not kosher on LinkedIn. You’re not supposed to do that. It’s against their policies. Number two, I get the idea that you want to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, but you’re still at a disadvantage if you don’t connect yourself.

Our reason to be on social media platforms is to be social. We engage with people to network. Can you add value to them and could they add value to you? It’s got to be in that mindset, “Who can I help?”

It’s s servant mindset. However, the word social on LinkedIn is different from social on Facebook or Instagram for example. That’s the thing that people have to realize and understand. I was talking to a woman that I met on Facebook Live. She was one of the people that was commenting on what the person that was doing the presentation was talking about. I connected with her after on Facebook and LinkedIn because she needs help on LinkedIn and I think I can help her. When I spoke with her on a phone call, she doesn’t understand the power of LinkedIn. That’s what I love to be able to share with people. They don’t know where to start if they don’t know. They don’t know what they don’t know.

If you were bringing a new client on board, what would be the first things that you would help them with if they don’t know what they don’t know? There are many people out there with LinkedIn profiles. I look at them and go, “You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re not communicating the right way. You’re not playing the right image across.”

It’s all about first impressions.

Absolutely. What would be the top three things you would help somebody with to be able to make sure that they are putting their best foot forward?

The first thing I would ask them is, “Who are they looking for? Who is their target audience? Who do they want to be seen by? Who are their prospects? Do they live on LinkedIn?” There are certain professions and businesses that it makes sense to be somewhere else. If their target audience is there and they’re satisfied there is one, they may have a certain target audience that fits Facebook or Instagram. They also have a new audience or different audience that they want to pursue on LinkedIn. That’s where we would start. I would look at keywords that we’re going to use throughout their profile that would attract the right people doing a search for them. We start to build their profile to give that first impression first of all. Their banner, their photo, and their headline, those are the first three things. People nowadays don’t have to talk to you before they form that first impression. For example, if I go to your LinkedIn profile and all I see is the default blue background behind you, that’s one of two things. You either don’t know what to do with it or you haven’t taken the time to personalize your profile and make it look effective and professional along with your headshot photo. That's the first impression.

It’s the little things that make a difference. It’s like people who use the default PowerPoint presentation. When you click Open on PowerPoint, that’s the open presentation and they don’t know what else to do. They have no idea how to customize colors and they don’t know how to do fade-ins, animations and all those things. It gives a basic idea of there’s more to do than just the basics. Tell me about images and graphics. Graphics tell a good story. What type of headshots would you put in?

LBL 125 | Power Of LinkedIn

Power Of LinkedIn: The point with LinkedIn is to communicate and start a conversation to see where it goes. It’s networking online.

 

Let’s start with the headshot because that is first. For headshot, I hope people can afford to get a professional headshot if they’re in business. There’s a range for sure, but they’re not that expensive. It’s a good investment for your business. Head and shoulders and I want to see that sparkle in your eyes. I want to see your face. I don’t want to see you looking off to the side in an artistic pose on your headshot photo. There was a photographer I once spoke to on LinkedIn. He didn’t like to be on camera himself so he had a picture of him, taking a picture. It’s cute but we want to see who we’re dealing with. We want to see a head and shoulders, a well-lit photo.

I have a story talking about this workshop I was doing for a team of mortgage brokers. I was talking about the headshot photo. There were quite a few people in the room and I said to this one guy, “James, would you mind if I brought up your profile?” After I had talked about, “You don’t want logos as your profile picture. You don’t want pictures of you at the beach or at the party. Often, we’ll see pictures of you at a wedding where you’re in a tuxedo or a nice cocktail dress. You’ve got your arm around somebody and you cut that off so that now we just see you in the photo.” I cut into his LinkedIn profile and sure enough, that’s the photo that was there. It’s a wedding, cut off at the arm. He was like, “I was so embarrassed.” He was a good sport about it and he did change it soon after. The first image is your headshot.

The background photo, I see as an opportunity to market yourself. I was working with a realtor and he said, “What do you want me to put in there? What should I do?” He did the color of the company that he works for and he put their big logo on the banner. I said, “This profile is about you. We’re focusing on and showcasing you, not the company.” I’m okay with the logo of your company being in the corner. Maybe on the top left corner or bottom right corner, you can have the logo of the company you work for. This is about you so we want your slogan, your URL and your tagline on there. We want people to be able to get a hold of you if that makes sense easily. It’s going to be your website URL or maybe your phone number, depending on what kind of business you’re in. Even though you’re going to have that information throughout your profile, that’s the instant image that people can find out how to get a hold of you. That’s what I recommend that has something to do with your business.

I’ve got my book. It’s on my background.

It makes sense to me or maybe you speaking as a faded piece or a part of the background because that’s what you do as well. Anything that works to give us a sense of who you are. For me, I did a simple background that matches the colors of my website. I tried to keep my branding all the same colors and that was my tagline and my URL on there.

It’s important to make sure that the graphic matches your personality. This is how people judge your personality. Some people judge you whether it’s right or wrong. You have less than three seconds, you probably have less than two seconds to make an impression.

Somebody told me you have 55 milliseconds.

You have an extremely short period of time to get people to sit there and go, “Of 355 million active profiles on LinkedIn, this is what I want to read. This is interesting to me.”

If they don’t have a photo, I never bother to connect with them if they’ve reached out to me because they didn’t put time and effort. If I see something creepy looking, I don’t connect with them or accept their connection requests. If I see something that doesn’t work with anything that I’m looking at, I don’t bother. First impressions are extremely important.

What about the taglines that people use? You have 120 characters, which isn’t a lot to be able to tell your story.

Natural networkers tend to share what we do with people. Click To Tweet

It’s more than you think. It can be surprising somehow. It’s not a tagline per se but some people use their tagline there. What I teach my clients to do is to think, “This is where we start with, the keywords.” These keywords need to be what I call egoic labels. You’re an accountant, an author, a speaker or a trainer as opposed to an accounting firm or training. LinkedIn is a little bit different than on Google because people search for people most of the time. That’s why I suggest two or three keywords that are egoic labels. For some, it might be four or five keywords. For other people, it might be two or three. Add a benefit statement or positioning statement around how you help people and how you give value to people.

Someone’s new, a Millennial, Gen Z or someone like that, and they’re getting started with LinkedIn. How do you start? What’s the best piece of advice for somebody to start? You’ve got zero connections, zero likes, zero followers or zero everything. How do you get there to be able to build something that people would go, “That’s interesting. Maybe I should take a second look?”

What was the name of that kid that we met at the restaurant? That’s a perfect example. I helped him with his profile. It was night and day from what he started. He came from another country. He had a degree in some professions, something to do with earth science and sustainability. He’s in the perfect place in Vancouver, British Columbia. He was working at a restaurant as a server. I’ve worked with a few people that are like that, including my children. They need to present on LinkedIn an authentic profile as professionally as they can with a professional headshot. I think it’s important to use terms that tell your stories. I like to say for people who have come out of university, for example, to look at who are they.

Are they an aspiring accountant? Are they an aspiring geologist? As a benefit statement, they can say that they are looking to gain knowledge in their field by meeting lots of people. Whatever it is, make sure that everything that they’ve done is listed on their profile. I’ll give you an example. I once spoke to a young man who took piano lessons. He was right at the top level of taking piano lessons to the point that he could teach piano. The ARCT, it’s called. He went to the piano teacher who was a friend of mine. He’d finish university and he was looking for a job as an accountant or in an accounting firm. He said, “Do you think I should put this on my LinkedIn profile and on my resume?” She said, “Of course, you should.” He said, “Okay.” He goes for an interview with a big accounting firm. The principal that he was talking to said to him, “I see that you played the piano.” That was the thing that struck this person. The reason it did is that this is what we would call stick-to-itiveness. He’s taken something all the way through, finished it, and has something to show for it. It doesn’t matter what it is, they need to put in on their profile.

It’s the difference between jobs and skills. Yes, I was a waiter. Yes, I dug ditches. Yes, I pulled drywall up to the third floor. Those are jobs. The question is, “What did you learn doing them? What are the skillsets? What did you do? How are those skills transferable?” Those are the things that you would be able to put on your LinkedIn profile. You’re trying to tell a story. I love the fact that you said aspiring. I’m aspiring this or aspiring that because that’s authentic. You’re not saying, “I’m an expert with 10,000 hours doing whatever.” You’re saying, “This is where I am and this is where I’m going. This is my vision.” People will relate to that. Everybody starts somewhere. You’re right with the piano story. What it tells people is that this person went through years of training with thousands of hours of practice. That’s dedication. If they’re dedicated to that, they’re also going to be dedicated to you.

I saw a podcast interview with Kody Bateman with Nancy Lieberman, who was an amazing athlete. She runs a huge charity organization and she was a basketball player who is close to my heart. She was saying, “There’s a number of people who are reaching high standards in their field and that we’re all on teams.” They were athletes. That’s another piece that bodes well because you’re a team player or you have stuck with something to become successful at if it was an individual sport. That speaks highly and a lot of what kind of a person you are.

You’re willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. That’s why I was getting back with skills. Those are the things that people need to focus on. It’s not the job that you did, it’s what you learned. What are the skills that you developed while you were doing that job, whether you were in a university or whatever?

A young man that my husband and I know is successful in his business and he’s a true entrepreneur. He told me that he doesn’t hire people for a job. He hires them for the skills that they have and he finds them a job. I’m like, “That’s amazing.”

Let’s talk about relationship management. Not only do you have LinkedIn training and networking coaching, but you also do work with SendOutCards. You said, “I was with Kody Bateman, who was a CEO of SendOutCards.” He’s going to be on my podcast and I’m looking forward to having him on the show. In fact, you introduced me to him so there’s another LinkedIn connection. We’re building our connections one at a time. I want to find from you why you love SendOutCards so much. It’s not only a system, but it’s a way to remain, create and build relationships. Tell me about SendOutCards, what it means to you, and how you use it effectively.

I’ve been on SendOutCards as an affiliate for several years. It’s part of my DNA now. People tease me if I go to ask somebody something, they’ll say, “I know you’ll want my address too.” That’s what I do, I get their mailing addresses. Some people that I talked to about SendOutCards will say, “How do you get people’s addresses? Nobody gives those out anymore.” I never have any trouble. I just ask. When I ask, it could be five minutes after I first started to talk. They have no problem giving it to me. What I love is that I can send somebody a heartfelt card at the drop of a hat. I don’t have to go to the store, buy a card, come home and write it, find a stamp, go back out and mail it. It’s a convenience of being able to act on one’s promptings and to be able to make somebody’s day.

LBL 125 | Power Of LinkedIn

Power Of LinkedIn: Stay on top of mind so that you are remembered and people will work with you again.

 

The best epitome of SendOutCards that I can tell you is the story that I’ve been telling for a long time that’s in Kody’s book. It still gives me goosebumps. This is a story where Kody Bateman who taught me how always to think, “Who needs to hear from me now?” He sends cards every day. This particular day, he decided that it was the organist at his church. He wanted to tell her how much he appreciated the music that she plays every week in the church. He picked an ordinary card out of the catalog, it wasn’t fancy, sent this message to her and sent the card out. Two weeks later after church, this woman came up to him and her name was Pat. Pat said, “Kody, I have to tell you that that card that you sent me, you have no idea. That morning, I was thinking of quitting. I was tired of people saying to me ‘Why don’t you play this? Why don’t you play that? Could you make the music differently?’ I was being hurt by it. I was going to phone the church and quit. Something told me to go to the mailbox first and there was your card. Not only did I cry, but I didn’t quit.” It’s that little bit of kindness that somebody showed her and made her feel special.

That’s SendOutCards in a nutshell. Yes, it’s a system. Yes, you can send your clients touching base type of cards so that your top of mind and remembered throughout a period of time when you might not be. By being remembered and by having those cards come to you, they may think of a referral to send you that you might have been out of touch with them. I have another story. One of my SendOutCards friends sold three homes in fifteen years, all in the same area. They bettered their housing situation and each time, they used a different realtor. Why? It’s because nobody stayed in touch. That’s an example of staying top of mind so that you are remembered and people will work with you again. You can’t take people for granted. It does both of those things in my estimation.

People want to be listened to, understood, and valued. That’s what the system does. It’s a card in the mail that comes that addressed to you. You open it up, it’s a four-colored card that may have a picture but it’s the fact that somebody is thinking about you that day. It’s a tangible touch. It’s something that people put on the mantle or on drawer and remember it. There is a relationship there that you’re never going to get with an email. When somebody sends you a physical card, you know they sent it to you. They didn’t send it to a hundred thousand other people in a mail merge situation. They sent that card to you.

They may have done that. You have to be careful that when you do a mail merge type card that the words and phrasing on it those people feel special. There are people who use it that way. You have to be careful because you walk a fine line. There are still those in both types of situations where you can use it.

If the matter of looking at things and they’re going, “How do you make people feel special?” That’s what it’s all about.

I send those things that make me feel good but when I received one not long ago when my first grandchild was born and my friend who’s a SendOutCards client took a picture of my grandbaby that I posted. She put it on a card and sent it to me and said, “You need to have this on your desk. She’s beautiful.” It touched my heart. It reminded me of what it makes other people feel when I do it for them.

It’s the physicality of that picture along with the card that builds long term connection and long term relationships. That’s what it’s all about for you whether it be LinkedIn or networking training. It’s teaching people how to build relationships in a meaningful way so that they last five, ten, fifteen years down the road. People remember who you are. When you leave a meeting, when you get off the stage, when you get in your car and you drive away, what’s the one thing you want people to think about you when you’re not in a role?

What I want them to think about is that I gave them some value. I did it in an authentic way. I’m approachable and if they want more help or more training, more conversation that they can reach out to me.

How do people reach out to you? It’s JanicePorter.com.

Everything’s there.

Janice, you have been an absolute treat. Thank you for being part of the show and we’ll talk to you soon.

Important Links: 

About Janice Porter

LBL 125 | Power Of LinkedInJanice began her career as a teacher, was a corporate trainer for many years and has now been in business for herself for several years. She found her niche coaching and training business professionals to network at a mastery level and turn their connections into new business.

Her passion is working with motivated people who are coachable and want to build their businesses through Relationship Marketing and Networking - offline & online.

LinkedIn training is a huge part of Janice’s business – she believes anyone in business or looking for a new position, needs to have a professional LinkedIn profile, and that it is a powerful online platform for attracting new clients or being found by recruiters. It is also a valuable tool for building and strengthening one’s reputation and authority in his or her field.

Janice knows how powerful it can be for one’s business to build relationships and show appreciation to prospects and clients alike. It really is all about the follow-up! She is affiliated with a company called SendOutCards – and shows her clients how to use this system to show appreciation, stay top of mind with people, and increase their sales.

If you are interested in hearing more about LinkedIn, effective relationship-building strategies, appreciation marketing, or receiving solid networking information, Janice welcomes your calls. You can also listen to Janice on her Relationships Rule Podcast – on iTunes and most other podcast platforms.

Janice really values the friendships and business associates she makes and when she meets someone new is always thinking "How may I support you?" as ultimately this is what it is all about to her - being of service.

LBL 124 Gary Bertwistle | The Mojo Radio Show

 

The word mojo goes back to shaman, voodoo, and wizardry. but in this day and age, mojo is mostly used to refer to the vitality that some people, leaders, or companies have. In this episode, host Ben Baker talks with Gary Bertwistle and Robbo Robertson about their show, The Mojo Radio Show, which is about helping people to get their mojo working. Sharing some information and discoveries that they have unlocked through the show, Gary and Robbo also talk about the key characteristics to look for in a guest so that they can be valuable to the audience.

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Listen to the podcast here:

The Mojo Radio Show With Gary Bertwistle And Robbo Robertson

I have a treat. We're talking to two of my favorite guys, my two mates coming to me from Australia. I had the pleasure to be on The Mojo Radio Show and I had to return the favor because these guys were a pleasure to talk to. They were insightful, they were funny and they were a lot of fun to be with. Robbo and Gary, welcome to the show.

Thanks, Ben.

I love having you guys here. They're real troopers. These guys are up at 6:00 in the morning doing a radio show. I’ve got to give them kudos for that. I want to talk to you about the show because I love what you guys have been doing it. You have been doing this for a long time now. I want to talk to you about the show. What was the impetus of the show? Who's your audience and what makes you so valuable to them? You had built an incredible audience over the years.

It's taken a lot of hard work. The show started with Gary coming to me and going, "I'm traveling a lot, listening to a lot of podcasts. There's a lot of not so good stuff out there. I reckon we could do something that's a bit different and a bit groundbreaking." That was where it all started. It wasn't a guess. 

We weren't early into the podcast world. We came in when The Wave was beginning. The problem was a lot of guys who started shows were very narrow on their content. After you'd listened for quite a while, they ran out of areas within their chosen topic to talk about and also the production wasn't very good. Back in the day before people started building their own studios and doing everything live, the production wasn't very good. The host is coming through clear but the guest would be on some crappy line. It was not well-produced. It was not great content and there wasn't great consistency. Because we both used to work in radio here in Australia, I rang Robbo and said, "You're a production guy. You can make it sound good and you can edit it properly. We control the quality of the sound. We get great guests, treat them as guests and make it about the guests. We do a show around mojo, which is in and out of work. It gives a lot of flexibility with topics and we add value." That's the new recipe for what we want to do. That's how it all started.

A big commonality is people take the time to think and do deep work, putting message out to the world. Click To Tweet

Where do you guys define mojo? Let's start there because mojo is one of those words that's been around forever but it means different things to different people. I want to know what it means to you. 

It goes back to the shaman and voodoo and wizardry. It used to be a purple velvet bag that the shaman would carry which should be full of the herb of this and the bone of that and a little medicine. If somebody was off or needed something special to make them feel better, they dip into their paper bag and pull out the mojo. Today it's about that vitality that some people or some leaders or some companies have. This is not based on skills or competencies, it's about how they turn up. Mojo can be anybody in any organization, any social group, any family. It’s that person who looks at things differently and turns up in a different way. They approach everything they do and the people they approach with extra verb or vitality. That's how mojo is now and teams can have it and then lose it. People can have it and lose it. Social groups can have it then lose it. Our job is to help people. If I haven't got it, they have to find some of it. They've got to keep it, but if they never had it, where is it?

That's important because you're right, it's not something that you can learn. Mojo is not something that you could learn. You either have it or you don't have it. It's like being a leader. You can learn to be a better leader. If you don't have leadership qualities within you, if you don't care about other people, if you're not empathetic, if you're not a great audience, if you're not interested in making other people better, if those aren't part of your natural DNA, you're never going to be a leader. You're never going to be a natural leader. You can take courses, you can read books but if you don't have that natural essence, being a leader of people becomes so much harder and almost impossible because it's all about the know, like and trust. I love that about the thought behind The Mojo Radio Show. It's dealing with the people out there that are the movers and shakers, the people that are doing something different. What brought you to that impetus? What brought you to the place that said, "These are our people. How are we going to celebrate them?" What is the way you do celebrate them?

The podcast world is changing a lot. There are a lot of podcasts now that the host wants to be as much as the star of the show as their guest. Mojo Radio Show was built upon the greatest like Letterman. In Australia, Andrew Denton, Dan Rather, the great interviewers where the interviewee is the star. It's about extracting from them, what are the commonalities in their leadership or their day-to-day rituals or routines, how they approach the world, how did they do it? What are the commonalities across these people in all scopes of life? It gives them this extra something. How do they turn it up?

I agree, there is a certain nature part in leadership. What we discovered through the show is that by asking the right question, there are some commonalities of leadership and high performance that we can draw in parallel to in whatever field they’re playing that we can then take away to that team and to our children and to our families. That's been the exciting part. From day one, we were always about talking to a person who was probably in business, either for themselves or within the work. We had it in mind the certain person who we wanted value from the show. They wanted people who wouldn't take themselves too seriously, but will take the guest seriously. If they gave their time to our show, they would walk away with gold. We aim to do that now for six odd seasons going into seven seasons. I have to say, I do think there are some certain standout commonalities we've discovered through that questioning process.

It's always a thread. Week after week, the people we talk to are so varied in what they do and how they do it. There's always a thread and that's one of Gary's talents as an interviewer. He picks up on these threads and you can go back five or six episodes from where we are and you can follow this thread, this theme that runs through all these amazing people. That's been the biggest revelation for me. As someone who hasn't thought of working on this side of what we do regularly, it is quite interesting how these threads could have weaved their way through these people's lives. They all seem to have these similar traits, ways of doing things and the way of looking at things.

LBL 124 Gary Bertwistle | The Mojo Radio Show

The Mojo Radio Show: The podcast world is changing a lot. There are a lot of podcasts now where the host wants to be as much as the star of the show as their guests.

 

What are the couple of these commonalities that you guys are seeing?

I would say if you were looking at the commonalities and if you talk specifically of leadership and leadership of self, the leadership of family or community group, company, organization, brand, then humility would absolutely be a primary standout. Whether it be one of the most successful sporting teams in the world, the Old Blacks from New Zealand right through to the great military leaders we've spoken to, company leaders. Humility and being of service to others, truly being of service to others and asking the question about, “Who can I help? Who can I serve better?” We do a show around resilience, grit, bouncing back, dealing with troubles. That's one of our most downloaded shows, Resilience and Grit.

It’s taking the time to be curious. A big commonality is people take the time to think and do deep work. They journal, they disconnect. Sitting under all that is they are very clear on their identity of who they are. Their identity is not wrapped up in being a business person. That their identity is wrapped up in who they are and the key responsibilities in their world around their children, their community and family. They are giving back, taking the time to think, pondering the future, pondering the what-ifs. They are the thread underneath the show with their identity, curiosity, resilience, certainly humility, being of service. Regardless of whether it's first responders, whether it's somebody leading a small business, whether it be someone who is a wonderful author who is putting the message out to the world. Definitely, there are things that have been in common thread.

That's interesting because to me, those are the true characteristics that make people interesting. The people that are humble and care about others, the people who want to listen about others, the people that are worried about more than themselves and the greater good, those tend to be the people that are the true leaders in the world. Those tend to be the people that other people want to follow. They are the people that excite other people. The fact that you guys can get the most out of those people is amazing. When I was on your show, I felt that it was a conversation. It was purely a conversation and I love that.

I love the fact that you had some information about me but more than anything, you guys listened. You were interested. I love the fact that you do that in the show and that is probably what makes your show so successful. As you said, it's not about the host, it's about the guest. I'm sure at this point in time, you can be as picky as you want about who you're going to pick and who you're not going to pick. What are the key characteristics when you're looking for a guest that makes them someone that you think is not only going to be interesting in front of the mic but they’re going to be valuable to your audience?

To be able to achieve success in podcasting, you must listen, watch and read everything that someone's done. Click To Tweet

If I can prequel this, I'm sure Gary will have a separate answer. Gary does the most of the guest recruitment for want of a better word. For the ones that I've thrown into the mix, one comes to mind straight away. We had a guy on named Noel “Razor” Smith. He's a UK resident who spent decades in jail. His story was that he turned his life around and got out of prison. What inspired me to write Gary an email and go, "We should talk about getting the guy on the show," was that story. It’s that inspirational story of he's a hardened armed robber who's turned his life around and got himself out of prison and not only that, he became a celebrated author and journalist. Sometimes it's the story but for Gary, he sees other qualities that I don't. I look at some of Gary's guest and sometimes I go, “Hmm,” but then we finish the recording and I go, "That was awesome." I'm sure he has his own process.

I don't know that it's always about the story. You can hear a great story and that will entertain me for 40 minutes but that's all fine for them. What do I do? I listen to probably sixteen to twenty hours of podcasts a week. When I’m doing research for our show, I listen to your stuff when you come on the show. The other part is finding information for myself that I can use. I approach it like investigative journalists where I am listening to somebody else in the interview techniques and also what information this person is sharing. We've got a guy coming up soon on the show. I heard him on the show. What I listen for is what is he talking to? How does that relate back to our target audience? Can they get gold from that? What has he talked about? What hasn't he talked about that I know he could talk about? Would it add value to a person in their own world, in and out of work to help them be better? 

The whole idea is to listen to people with not learning for yourself but also a curious mind to go, “What is he or she saying? What are they not saying that they could say? Will that add value to the audience, to make you better in and out of work to improve your world? There have to be tangible takeaways or insights and the worst thing is when you have Ben Baker come on this show and all you're already talking about what you've done in other shows. That's not going to cut it for us. There’s a woman named Preethaji who is seen today as a modern-day philosopher who owns her own academy in India with her husband, Krishnaji. We talked about this and she said, "Too many people are doing and not being."

For me, we never wanted it to do a podcast. We wanted to be great podcasters. To do that, you have to have the best production, you have to make it sound great. You have to make it interesting as it sounds. You have to have the best guests and you've got to draw out of them the stuff that they haven't talked about. Even in a lot of cases, we find stuff that they haven't even thought about before. You've been given a little cue somewhere on what they've talked about or written and then you product that. You take them on a journey. That's to me, the art of the interview. One of the things that I've taken from Preethaji is I never wanted to do a podcast. I wanted to be a great podcaster with a great podcast show. It's a better story but you've got to go beyond that too. There are many people who have told that story in ten podcasts, twenty podcasts.

We interview people who have done a thousand podcasts. Suzi Quatro, she's done probably 100,000 interviews but we found an area that she'd never talked about before. To me, it's taking the time to think and journal and go, “What's she saying? What do I want to know? What hasn't she said before that will add value to Ben's world?

LBL 124 Gary Bertwistle | The Mojo Radio Show

The Mojo Radio Show: To be great podcasters, you have to have the best production and make it sound great.

 

Gary's not giving himself full credit here because of the bit he's talking about with Suzi Quatro wasn't something she hadn't been interviewed about before. Gary found a topic which she'd never even thought about. Take credit where the credit's due. Gary does pick some great questions.

We're going to go into this because you're right, getting the most out of your guest is critical for any great podcaster. I love the fact that you don't want to do a great podcast, you want to be a great podcaster. You want to be a great interviewer. You want to bring insight to your audience. How do you prepare? I know that you listen to a lot of podcasts, but when you're getting ready to have somebody on your show, what are the things that you do to sit there and say, "What can I do to find something on this person that's going to be that breath of fresh air?" It's tough because there are a lot of people that do podcasts that talk about the same thing over and over again. What are the things that you look for and you listen for to be able to be that little bit different and to take the conversation in a different way?

Our show production-wise has an element of rock and roll about it. We do take a lot of lessons from Brock. One of the keys for me is I listen, watch and read everything that someone's done. I also take a cue from Elton John and Bernie. Bernie will hand Elton John some lyrics, "If he can't write a song in 30 minutes, I close the piano and I walk away. I won't try and draw blood from a stone." The thing to me is I'll stop prepping a show a couple of weeks out. We're recording a topic that is completely in my wheelhouse. I have listened to these girls. I write general notes. I started to get together my list of questions and then I close the computer and go away, forget about it for a few days. When I go back, I do some more. Then once I've done all that, then I go back and say, “What haven't I thought about if I was an audience and I listen to these people talk? What would I want to know if I was at the circumstance with their upbringing? How they do things? The brand I've built, I'm sitting in an audience watching them.”

 

It's what they're good at that they haven't talked about but then stepping away and going if you put your mind to thinking about it, what do I want to know that they've never talked about before? I know they're experts in it or it's an area they have been true. It can add value to who are the target audiences for the show. It is a process. The problem now is that we don't listen. If we are listening, we're not hearing what's being said. We look but we don't see what's going on. We don't take the time to think to get beyond the covers into what's going on underneath it. That will add value to your target audiences. That's what Dan Rather and Letterman and all these great interviewers do is they don't rush it. They walk on prepared and they are prepared to listen. There is stuff I want to talk to you about and draw it from you but I'm also allowing you to provoke our thinking. You’ve got to places that we haven't prepared for but we've uncovered with you. We ideally take them on a journey through the interview where we can go to places we've thought about, but then also stop. They can randomly come up because you say something interesting. People like Jordan Harbinger and the great interviewers on podcasts, that's what they're good at.

I agree with you because when I do my show, I'll walk in and I'll do my due diligence and I'll look through it but I don't want to have an overly prepared show. I want to have a certain few questions that I have on the top of my head and a direction that I'm thinking of. For the most part, I want to listen. I want to ask questions, I want to listen and I want to see where that conversation is going to take us. You guys have that conversational style where you allow people to feel comfortable enough that the magic happens. That's a skill that goes way beyond interviewing. That's a skill of life. That's a skill of business, that's a skill of anything. I want to find out when you guys are doing that, when you're in the moment, when you're a part of the interview and somebody says something completely unexpected, how do you make them feel that is the most important thing at the moment and move it in that direction? Sometimes it throws your entire interview off but by doing that, it creates magic.

Sometimes if you drop a great piece of gold on the show, it may not be appropriate at that moment because you're in flow. Click To Tweet

Every interviewer has got their own process. I've always had two pads in front of me, one big pad and one small pad. On the small pad, I keep all the gold eggs. When you drop gold like one of the bits you said was a great question to always ask yourself is, “What am I missing?” That's gold. That gets into my gold journal. I keep that separately. I also got a big pad which is the scribbles. Although I know where I'm going with an interview, I'm also writing down cues of things you've said that I find fascinating. If I'm an audience, am I on the journey and can I take at the right time that makes sense to capitalize on without losing the complete flow of the show? Sometimes if you drop a great piece of gold on the show, it may not be appropriate at that moment because you're in flow. I'll write down what you said and then I have a feeling that now's a good time to get back to, “Earlier in the show you said.” It’s to keep the flow because it might not be good at that time, but we might get to a point where it’s now appropriate and it keeps a few things together.

The other thing was a piece of gold by Laura Gassner Otting who was on the show. She used to work at the White House in the Clinton administration. She has book called Limitless. She said when she's working with her clients, the people she works with face-to-face and with children, she's always saying to herself, "It's such an honor to hear your story." When you are interviewing somebody and/or being interviewed like you are, the best thing we can do is to honor you to say, “It's a privilege.” If they want to give you their time individually and listen, then we should honor that. A lot of podcasters don't honor the audience and they take it for granted.

Robbo and I coming out of the radio industry, we've seen a lot of that talking. We want to value every word. In the process, how do you make them feel right? It's knowing that you are listening and you do honor them and you are taking notes of things they're saying to build the flow. At the same time, it’s having your own process, to capturing the right information, the right questions at the right time. To take not only the person being interviewed on the journey because you’ve got to set it up and take them on a journey but also the audience so they can stay with you, not get bored and turn off. 

That's got to be the base though. That's got to be your starting point, it's the audience’s story. If you don't start with the audience and think, “Where am I taking them?” then you're losing from the beginning. 

We had a letter coming in from the audience not long ago. We did the show on controlling your mind. He said, “I started heading and went. These guys would have done the work. They wouldn't have this person on there unless it was worthwhile. I'll give it a crack.” The last line of his letter was, "That show changed my life because it suddenly freed up this person to be able to control the input and outputs from their inbox." It was only because they trust us to put a show together. When we respect their time, knowing if you're going to listen to us as an audience, we're going to give you some gold and we're going to work hard to extract the gold from a guest, then we honor the guests and we honor the audience. Somewhere in there and then behind that, you're going to have your processes. How do you build that flow? You do respect them and that is the old radio days with building a breakfast show. It's building up a radio show. If people get on 6:00 in the morning and when they leave you at 9:00 and get to work, they will feel good about their day.

LBL 124 Gary Bertwistle | The Mojo Radio Show

The Mojo Radio Show: Honor the guests and honor the audience.

 

I agree with you, it's all about the audience. It's important that your guest feels comfortable. It's important that your guest feels welcome and they feel taken care of. In the end, it's the audience that are with you week in and week out. If they don't feel that you know, like and trust them and they don't feel that they can know, like and trust you, they're going to go find somewhere else. They want to see, “Is this show valuable to me? Week after week, are they providing me with something that makes me go, ‘Hmm?’” That's a real challenge. It comes back to the question I asked about finding your guests. When you're thinking about your guests, you need to be thinking about, “Is this person right for my audience? Is this person going to add value to my audience? Is this going to add value to the show in general? Is it going to move the needle?” What do you think is the number one thing that makes your audience trust you and come back week in and week out?

I would get a book a week. Send it to me. Then we’ll ask the guest to come on the show. We probably take two out of ten, three out of ten and I'll read them all. The first part is scrutiny. You have to scrutinize all you hear, read or watch. To scrutinize is to say, “Am I getting value out of this or is this the same old, same old?” We've had people on leadership and wellness and curiosity. No matter what it is, we've had it on. I read the book and go, “There is nothing in here that they haven't heard before.” There are another thousand books on leadership. If all that you’ve done is put together a bunch of stories from other people's work, put in a book and use it as a business card on steroids for your speaking career. Before anything else, the scrutiny is to say, “Do we get value from this? Will this add value to our world? Would it get our mojo working? Can we build a great show? Can this person provide pieces of gold that can make your day better in or out of work?” That’s the absolute starting point and we've got shows which you'll probably never see in the light of day because we know that in the grand scheme of things, what audience expects from us because there's no opinion. There's no new direction. There's nothing but a new way of thinking to make them be better.

There's a folder in my work station that if you're an interviewer, you don't want to end up in because you usually try and find your way out of there again unfortunately.

What is that folder all about?

They are the interviews that Gary’s referring to that fell short of the mark. It doesn’t go anywhere. They’re there during days when we need them, but there are some that have been there for a couple of years now, probably if not longer.

Click To Tweet

I'm honored that I didn't end up on that list. 

You're in a long line from that list.

By the way, before I forget it, shout out to Stan Peake for introducing us. It's amazing how this world works and being able to have people be introduced to everybody else and how small the world becomes when we all connect.

We affectionately know him over here as the Peake-onator. He’s also another interview who’s a long way from that aforementioned folder.

I have one last question that I ask every single guest, and I'm going to get it from both of you guys. When the interview is over or you leave the room or you walk out the door, what's the one thing you want people to think about you when you're not there to defend yourself?

We've already touched on it. The essence of the show is that these guys will make my world better in or out of work and I can trust them to give me gold. That's the whole thing. I take it very personally with the show we put it out in every respect, whether it be the production, the editing, the style, the questions. When these guys put the work in, put the time in and if they put something out there, it's going to add that each of my will to make me feel better and give me tools that I can use to make other people feel better. It’s having the tools. I've had loads of letters and calls from people where they have gone to people who've lost their mojo and they've been able to take stuff that the guests have shared. They can then be of service to others to help them get the mojo working for their kids or their partner or somebody at work. That's mojo work. It’s being able to be of service to others and to say, “We’ve got a killer guest with great content, great insights and it's usable practical stuff.” It's a fun show. It's got a bit of rock and roll but always get something that we can execute upon. 

LBL 124 Gary Bertwistle | The Mojo Radio Show

The Mojo Radio Show: It's amazing how this new medium of podcast allows people to hook up.

 

We interviewed the CEO of a number of Australian football clubs out here. In fact, correct me if I'm wrong, Gary, in his first CEO role, he was the youngest CEO that's ever the big thing in the AFL. Before we started recording, one of his comments was he got the show on the bus on the way to work over Monday morning and he said, “I don't even look at the title. I just turn the show on.” For me to have someone that's best to our show and trust this so much that he doesn't even bother to take a look at the title of the show, he just turns it on knowing that he's going to get something out of it, walking out of the room after an interview or after finishing a show like I did, my question is when he gets to work on Monday morning after listening to us on the bus, what's he going to say about that show? That's my benchmark.

I want to say that you do not disappoint. You were wonderful to be interviewed by and I'm honored to call you guys friends. Thank you very much for being on the show. You guys are on my Spotify list and as it comes up, I listen to it. Keep doing what you're doing and thank you for putting out such incredible stuff week after week. How do people get in touch with you in case people are looking?

Because we're commercial radio guys, it's amazing how this new medium of podcast allows people to hook up. A lot of people that we get introduced us to, because you can do it long-form and you can spend 40 minutes or an hour, sometimes an hour, with some of the guests we've had on, you almost become mates from across the Pacific. When you come to Australia, we'll catch up for a brew, whatever that might be. 

Let me put this to you because I don't think Gary and I had spawned this idea when we spoke to you. We're going to start doing some outside broadcasts. We want to take a few international guests when they're here and record a podcast. I reckon we could take that a step further. We could do a duo podcast record. We could record for your show and ours. Chilling on Bondi beach, having a beer and some fish and chips, I reckon that's fun.

We could have a lot of fun with that.

Important Links:

About Gary Bertwistle

LBL 124 Gary Bertwistle | The Mojo Radio ShowGary Bertwistle is one of Australia’s leading thought leaders on what it takes to unlock your great ideas to get your mojo working in and out of work. His career spans music, radio, retail and today is a highly requested speaker on the Australian corporate speaking circuit.

He is the author of 6 books, including the best sellers “Who Stole My Mojo?” and “The Vibe", he established Australia’s first-ever thinking venue in Sydney, The Ideas Vault, co-founded Australia’s leading cycling foundation
 Tour de Cure which has now generated well over $35 million for the research support and prevention of Cancer, and was a finalist in 2018 Australian of the Year Awards.

At the very heart of what Gary does is having people and organizations think differently. He has helped leaders in all industries and categories, to look at how they currently do things and address what needs to change in order for them to think differently and maximize the ideas that currently exist within themselves and the business, with the view of finding more success.

Find out more information about Gary at his website garybertwistle.com.

About Darren 'Robbo' Robertson

LBL 124 Gary Bertwistle | The Mojo Radio ShowDarren 'Robbo' Robertson has spent more than a quarter of a century recording and producing audio for some of this country’s leading Media Houses and Ad Agencies. Much of his 13 years with the Triple M network was spent recording some of Australia’s (and the globe's) biggest rock acts, as well as producing award-winning programs and promos. 

After turning his hand to TV post-production, he worked on projects big and small including the ad campaign for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, along with work for some of Australia’s biggest retailers and service providers. Short films, TV programs and commercials have all had an added touch of 'Audio Magic' courtesy of Robbo’s audio experience. 


Today he works on projects for a client list that includes Woolworths, Foxtel, The Triple M Radio Network, Subaru, and KFC amongst others, and provides sound design elements for some well-known video games and the world’s leading SFX providers. 

LBL 123 | Power Of Language

 

Being able to connect with other people is so critical for our well-being. In this episode, author John Klymshyn talks about his new book, Deeper Dialogue; Conversations That Inspire, which is the result of a conversation he’s been having for years about the power of language and how it is so important to all of us. Today, John takes a deep dive into the beauty of being in a live conversation, the power of asking questions, the negative fallouts of the existence of social media, and more.

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Listen to the podcast here:

The Power Of Language With John Klymshyn

I've got a great guest on the show. Coach K is in the house, John Klymshyn. I met, John, because I was getting ready to be on somebody else's podcasts. It was Mike Sorelle. John had been on his podcast. I was doing my research. I was listening to a couple of podcasts, then I fell in love with the conversation that John and Mike had. I went, “I got to have this guy on my show.” I reached out to him. John, welcome to the house. How are you?

I'm thrilled to be in the house. I usually don't get invited to nice places like this.

I do my best. I cleaned up a little bit. I made the bed. I fluffed the pillows a little bit because I knew you were going to be here. I was trying to impress. Let’s talk about nuances. It's those little differences that make all the difference in the world. I'd love to explore that with you.

When you talk about nuances, you're talking about freezing. You're talking about the huge gap between perception and intent. Every one of us that's ever been in a relationship have either heard the words or said the words, “But that's not what I meant.” Sometimes we've said it a little louder than I just did. Sometimes we follow that up with honey or sweetheart. It doesn't matter what you meant, what matters is how it was perceived. Maya Angelou, the poet said, “Very few people will remember precisely what it is that you have said. However, they will all remember how you made them feel.” There's an ongoing debate about whether or not we have the power to make people feel anything.

I don't think that's the issue. I think the issue is what is your intent when you get up in the morning? What is it that you're looking to accomplish over the course of your day, regardless of your title, your role? What challenges you have ahead of you? If your intent is to inspire people around you, to craft and deliver language that people will receive in a positive way, then all of a sudden you've elevated your mindset from, I'm going to power through the day. Let the chips fall where they may. Everything I do, I do with, through and for other human beings. They've all got their own challenges. They've all got their own internal battles going on.

The ability to craft questions that are insightful, intuitive, and about the other person is something that can be used universally. Click To Tweet

How do I grab a little bit of a piece of mind share from them where they are interested, intrigued and excited about going to the next step in our conversation. It doesn't matter what it is. For a long time, my passion was all about how do we sell at a high level. When I say a high level, it’s a high mental level, a positive emotional level, and a high dollar transaction level. I've done inordinate amount of training for enterprise salespeople and their organizations. I would get up in the morning to say, “How do we sell more?” About several years ago, I was invited to conduct the class for people that were not in sales. It was a challenge because I had to come up with content that would speak to them, that would feel as though it was designed for them. This was the challenge. It was to get them engaged, to get them exploring ideas.

I found that my history of selling and teaching other people how to sell and writing a book on sales management, I was so focused on questioning. I had not realized that the ability to question, the ability to craft questions that are insightful, intuitive, and about the other person, is something that can be used universally. How do we draw people out? You know from your experience of the work that you do that humans like to talk about themselves. The more I can get someone talking about themselves, the better they feel spending time with me, collaborating with me, moving conversations forward with me.

For the past years, all of my work has been focused on, “Yes, what we want to sell. Let's step back. Let's go up another rung on the ladder and think about what is my intent? How am I being perceived? How can I craft language that has nuanced, that will sing to the Canadian ear, to the American ear, to the British ear, the global English business speaking population?” That led to the book that I told you about. It led to different types of work and coaching assignments. I feel like I've been invited into a much larger amphitheater, not like I'd been constrained before. It's like a musical act that is used to playing 1,500 seat arenas. They're invited to play at Madison Square Garden. It's going to be 20,000 to 30,000 people. All of a sudden, there's this broader audience, the thrill of that. At my age, that gets me up early every day. It's very exciting.

In the world technology, we're trying so hard to pigeonhole people into AI, machine learning or technology of some way. How can we use data to understand people? Data only gets you so far. People are people and humans are humans. Humans want to be listened to, understood and they want to be valued. What you got back to is the questioning. It's not just asking the good questions, it's asking the good questions and then listening for the answer. I'm going to answer this differently than you will. Somebody on the East Coast will do it differently than the West Coast. It's understood that there are nuances. People think differently. They come to whatever situation with their own baggage, their own thoughts, their own perceptions and their own values. The more we can understand humans as humans, the better off we can be instead of trying to pigeonhole people into Gen X, Gen Z and Millennials. We need to start thinking about humans as humans again.

We love being in live conversation. I'm convinced that the explosion of podcasts is not because of the technology. It's because I can select from hundreds of thousands of topics and levels of expertise. I can listen to the first 30 seconds of a podcast and decide whether or not I want to listen to those two people converse. Listening to a conversation or participating in one is the highest demand on the mind. It requires us to listen. Listen is an active muscle thing for the brain. We've got to engage. We've got to make sure that we're not being distracted. We've got to follow the logic of it.

LBL 123 | Power Of Language

Power Of Language: The simple, painful human truth is the more you listen to what someone has to say, the more fascinating they will find you.

 

When I do executive coaching work, I believe that the big value is that I remember what these people have said to me last time so that I can put things in perspective for them. As a coach, we're a sounding board. We're part therapists. We're advisors and at a certain level, encouragers. When you're working with executives, they're not looking to be told you're doing a great job. What they're looking to be told is whether or not their instincts are on point. Our instincts as humans have not changed and shifted. I'm going to ask you a question. I'm pretty sure I know the answer. In Canada, you have Starbucks, correct?

Absolutely.

Any Starbucks you go into, there are a bunch of people that are sitting with headphones. They're tapping away. They're searching. They're looking at videos and all that. There were always tables of people deep in conversation in all different ages, all different strata and all different backgrounds. I don't eavesdrop, but I will stand closer to some tables where it's particularly animated because I want to try to figure out a couple of things. One, do I understand what they're talking about? Two, can I relate to what's going on between them? I always want to know if the person who's not talking is listening.

One of the ways to know that someone is listening is that they let the other person finish. That is a leadership thing. That's a sales thing. That's a get along with humans thing. When we can let the other person completely work out their idea, their thought, or their feelings, when we can let them vent, they feel more connected to us. The simple, painful human truth is, the more I listened to what you say, the more fascinating you find me. I made that discovery as a sales manager when I was in my mid-30s. When I said it out loud the first time, I thought, “That would have been useful when I was dating.”

With marriage, dating, family, work and in sales the more we can actively listen, the more interesting we become. People want to be listened to. They want to be understood. They want to be valued. The first thing they want to be is listened to. They want to sit there and people are, “Uh-uh.” No, they want to sit there and say, “What did you mean by that?” Somebody took the time to actually listen and pay attention to you. That's a powerful thing.

Listening to a conversation or participating in one is the highest demand on the mind. Click To Tweet

When we ask a question that's about the other person, not about our own agenda, when it is out of curiosity that is driven by technique, then we do something that is very powerful. I believe with my heart, soul, and every fiber of my being that questions freely distribute power. I don't ask questions so I can control the conversation. I ask questions so that I can go deeper into that conversation. Depth makes connections. The longer we can spend time together, the more we understand about each other. The more depth there is to the conversation. I have a friend where we will get together when we can, we'll have breakfast. We joke about the fact that during that 75 minutes, we attempt to cover 752 topics.

We've decided that we will put that one on the list. We'll talk about it some other time. Questions freely distribute power. In today's world, with multiple generations in the workforce, this is the first time this has ever happened where there are four generations now we're getting close to five, of people in the workplace. That means that the newly hired person could be reporting to someone that is old enough to be their grandparent. That has never happened before in history. Now you've got cultural things. You've got styles of communications going on. You've got preferences over what's important.

There is a generation that I've heard from leaders is promotion happy. I've done this job for six weeks. I should get a promotion. Whereas there was a time, you wouldn't even think of asking for promotion until you had been in a job for 36 months. You need to perform first. Do what you're asked to do. I don't like to bridge the gap or break down the barriers. It's all about connection. When anyone of any age or any background can connect with someone else on a one to one level, they are building a sense of community in that organization. They are not making themselves the most important person in the room.

It's interesting when you talk about that promotion. I blame the social media generation for this. It's not the people themselves. It's the fact that people are constantly looking at their phones. They're seeing people that are the same age as they are with better clothes, bigger houses, better cars and more. They’ll say, “I've got an MBA. They've got an MBA. I went to this school, they went to this school. How come they're the senior directors and I’m not at the age of 23?” There is that whole mentality of, “There's something wrong with me.” There's nothing wrong with these people.

One of the many unintended consequences and negative fallouts of the existence of social media is a constant comparison. Folks that are on social media a lot are either arguing or comparing with people they don't even know, with people that they have no deep connection with. You count the minutes that you've been doing that, you're losing a lot of good, solid, useful time that you could be more introspective. You could be developing yourself. You could just be relaxing. We live in a world where if you do nothing, there's something wrong with you. At my age, it's a privilege to be able to sit in the backyard, staring at the stars on a Saturday night and “do nothing.” Comparison is the thief of joy.

LBL 123 | Power Of Language

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Everytime we compare ourselves, we are either puffing ourselves up or dragging ourselves down with no sense of perspective. That person has an MBA and they have that job. They got it somehow. If they're connected and you're not, you can't do anything about that. There are eight seconds of mental time that you've thrown away where you could be saying, “How can I get to the point where my MBA earns me, or my effort or the combination of the two earns me a role similar to that?” Comparison is the thief of joy. It is like a little red devil that used to be in cartoons when we were kids. It is constantly sitting there. What that boils down to for me is that is the big question. The big question is, “How do I want to spend my time?” There was a great American philosopher who also became famous for doing sales training. His name is Zig Ziglar. He used to say, “Every day that you put your feet on the floor coming out of bed every single day you are gifted with 24 nonrefundable fragments of eternity.” How are you going to spend them?

Zig is one of my favorites. I want to get back to this thief of time and perception. The problem is it's not just those looking for promotions. It's the leaders acquiescing and giving people promotions without giving them the training to do the jobs that they're promoting them into.

Challenging them to perform. “Do you want a promotion? Let's look at what's going to happen in the next 90 days. I want to see something above and beyond. I want you blowing me away. You blew me away in the interview. That's how you got a seat here. You now need to perform.” This very much comes from a sales mentality. It's healthy for a sales mentality to seep into an overall organization's mentality. One of the exciting things about a startup mentality is they have no idea where the next dollar is coming from. I spent a lot of time with startups. I did a podcast about it for some time.

They are not set for the next nine months. They don't have a year of funding in the bank. They're burning dollars every day with everything that they do. It's healthy for every organization at least once a year to say. If we were a startup and our top five customers went away, where would we get the revenue? That is an amazing way to focus. Everyone, engineers, designers, artists, executives, customer service people, let's make pretend for the next 90 minutes that our top five customers went away. We're not sure if we're going to make payroll in a month. What do we do? Creativity explodes. We look at ourselves on a precipice as opposed to floating down the river of revenue.

If we're going to develop people, somewhere in the back of our minds we should have the medieval approach. Medieval does not mean outdated and unimportant. It means that there was an entire societal system based on this for centuries. If you were going to pursue an art, a craft or a skill, you went through a process. That process was, you started as an apprentice. You put in your time. You watched your lesson. You learned. You tried a couple of low-level processes. You made some mistakes and you were corrected. You received training. You received encouragement. You received correction, then eventually you became a journeyman. A journeyman can do it with their eyes closed. The journeyman can take any raw materials, any music and sight-read it then perform it the next day.

Don't ask questions to control the conversation. Ask questions to go deeper into that conversation. Click To Tweet

After being a journeyman and dealing with all different types of environments and challenges, a very small percentage of people would become a master. That's a long period of time. It's a lot of investment. When Malcolm Gladwell wrote Blink, he came out with the 10,000-hour rule. If you want to master something, do it for 10,000 hours. That is daunting and that is challenging. That's fantastic. It says, “Do you want to play?” As my baseball client says. He went to the show. He played in the major leagues. You've got to earn it. Once you get there, you’ve got to be able to perform.

I am way better now at what I do than I was in episode 1, 5, 10, 50 and 75. It is constant growth. I sit there and say, “What did I do well? What did I do poorly? What could I do better? What can I learn from this? How do I move forward?” We all need to go back to that mentality. This instant gratification world that we're living in doesn't serve anybody. All we see is resumes with six, nine, eighteen months, if we’re lucky two years, where people are constantly moving through the system and moving from company to company looking for that greener grass. I'm a big believer of the saying “The grass is not greener on the other side, it's just another shade of green.”

The light is hitting it differently.

We need to go back and I agree with you. When I started off working with Xerox years ago, I didn't go on the first 30 to 50 calls by myself. There was somebody that was right beside me. They got paid a percentage of my sale. That's the way it was. They trained me. I was their apprentice. They got a percentage of my sale. They walked me through the process. They showed me what did I do right, what did I do wrong, how could I have done this better? You move through systems better that way. Leadership needs to be that way. Leadership is a skill. As we grow leaders, take them from being team leaders to regional, to national leaders, to company leaders, the skillset changes. We need to train and retrain and give them better skills to have those nuances, to be a better leader as they grow along.

Notice how many times you used the word grow. When it clicks in someone's mind that needs to be how they want to spend their time, it's amazing what starts to happen. We can talk ourselves into the fact that things aren't going to go that well. You are probably right because you set the tone. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're probably right.” Notice he didn't say whether someone else thinks you can or thinks you can't. He didn't say who's in your past has told you whether or not you can or can't. One of the most inspiring things that was ever said to me was not meant to be inspiring.

LBL 123 | Power Of Language

Deeper Dialogue: Conversations That Inspire

It was someone who looked at me when I'd said that I wanted to go into business myself. This person knew me well. She looked me in the eye and said, “I don't think you could be successful on your own.” It hurts so deeply and so accurately that I'm standing being here interviewed several years later of being self-employed for that period of time. Not that I’m bitter, it’s not to have anything against the fact that she asked me. I've seen her. I've told her several times. I know you didn't mean it that way, but I've got to tell you, it inspired me. It went beyond motivation. It went deeper into inspiration. Those are two very different things.

Let's take a look at your work, Deeper Dialogue. Let’s talk a little bit about this. Is this a book or is it just going to be audio?

It is only audio. I discovered it over the last two projects that I have published. I discovered this stream of consciousness approach to creating content that I'm very proud of. It takes me out of myself. I have written, sat down, and typed out ten books prior to the last two. I love doing that. I continue to do that. My wife and I are working on a project. We now have a whole new list of literary agents. We're going to be submitting my novel to them. That's that sitting down, typing, creating, printing, editing and all that stuff. Creating an audiobook first is a very different creative experience. I have worked with the same producer of audiobooks for every one of them that I've done. Two of my print books turned into audiobooks and that's a process. You’ve got to stand there and read it. You’ve got to put in energy and all that stuff. You edit and then you go back. I wrote this in 2018. I'm going to bring an updated perspective to it or an additional story.

In creating an audiobook from scratch starts with intent. What's the intention? What is the framework? I came up with an outline. We did about eight pages of notes. When I say “we,” it means the producer and I. A guy named Alex Crescioni. We sat and we talked about it before we started recording. We did it over the course of three months where we would do two or three hours of recording. We'd leave it alone for a week, listen to it, go back and say, “Let's restructure.” The final product is four chapters lighter than what we thought it was going to be. We found that there was little bit of repetition, two of the chapters that go into a little bit of a different territory.

Deeper Dialogue: Conversations That Inspire is the outcropping. It’s the result of this conversation I've been in for years, where language is so important to all of us. Being able to connect with other people is so critical for our well-being. All of a sudden I've been asked to warm up for much bigger acts. Whereas before I was playing for C level celebrities in 1,500 seat stadiums or arenas. I'm going into the BC Center where the Lions play. We've got this huge audience there. It was created out of the intent of language is critical to all of us. Language at its core is music. If I could get people thinking about the language that they craft and deliver, if I can get them taking what I call a half a moment's hesitation three times in a day, every day, that's a tall order. A couple of times a week, perfect. Three times in when I feel stressed when I feel I'm disconnected from what I thought the original intent was, when I'm feeling like I'm not getting what I expect or I'm hoping for.

We live in a world where if you do nothing, there's something wrong with you. Click To Tweet

I want people to take a half a moment's hesitation and think I'm about to say or ask this person something. What do I want this language to accomplish? We can have the intent of making them feel bad about what they've done or said. We can have the intention of putting them on the spot to explain what they've done or said. We can focus on the future together. All of a sudden, I created what I refer to as a frictionless conversation. We’ve all had these conversations where they feel effortless. It's like we're floating. Everything around us fades away because we're so intent. We're so connected with this person. We're having this great conversation back and forth.

There's joy in that. There's a thrill in that because it demands so much of the mind. The brain is a limited entity. The mind is an unlimited territory. Deeper Dialogue: Conversations That Inspire, my hope, my goal, my passion is to be booked to speak twenty times in the next 90 days. I've may not do the speech, but I want to be booked twenty times in the next 90 days so I can share this message. Starting as a sales trainer, I've seen a lot. I've heard a lot. I've discovered some things that work. I'm going to go out. I'm going to teach this to people. After years of teaching that to people in sitting over dinners with their leaders, explaining to them who I think will work and who won't, and who will perform and who won't, I ended up spending a lot more time with sales leaders, VPs of sales, and presidents of companies.

I wrote another book on what it means, how it's done to build a solid performing, fun, exciting sales team. Moving back from that and stepping into these larger arenas, Deeper Dialogue is for people in virtually any role in business, customer service, engineering, graphic arts and marketing. When we stop and think about the power of language, people may not remember precisely what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel. We don't make people feel anything. However, if our sensitivity is to the fact that when I walk away from this conversation, I'm going to think about it for 70 minutes. What do I want them thinking about? What do I want them attaching emotion to that it was a great conversation, that I was a good listener? I was open and that we are collaborating or I had an agenda and I had to get it out and I didn't pay attention.

I love the thought process behind that. My intention is to have a real conversation. I don't come with a set of questions. I know my first question. I know my last question. In between, we have a conversation. I listened to what my guest says. I let them lead where we're going. I always find that the information that comes out of these 35, 40-minute conversations is always powerful. John, you have not disappointed.

I appreciate that. We are talking about something that's important to me. It’s amazing what happens.

Comparison is the thief of joy. Click To Tweet

What's the best way that people can get in touch with you?

They should visit my website, Klymshyn.com. Right on the top right portion of the screen, there's a learn more button. Fill out the form. Give me your email address. Tell me how you think I can be of use to you and you'll get a response within 24 hours.

When you get off a stage, when you leave a meeting, when you get in your car and you drive away, what's the one thing you want people to think about you when you're not in the room?

He’s the real deal. He means what he says. He draws on experience. If I walk into a coffee shop and saw him sitting somewhere and tapped him on the shoulder, he would be the exact same guy there that he was on stage.

It's authenticity. Be who you are, wherever you are, whatever you are.

I say to people, “You know that you understand your purpose.” If someone could wake you up in the middle of the night and ask you, “Why do you go to work every day?” They would be able to say, “I'm headed here. I'm working here. I'm helping people here. I'm making a contribution here.” If you were to tap me on the shoulder in a coffee shop, stand behind me in line at Chick-fil-A, if you were to see me at a concert or at a football game, you would see there would be no difference. Years ago, when my son was in film school, he videotaped one of my seminars. Someone came to him and asked him, “Is your dad really like that in real life?” He said, “Absolutely. That's the guy that sat at my dinner table when I was five.”

Kids are the best reflection of that. John, Coach K, thank you for being a wonderful guest.

Important Links:

About John Klymshynm

LBL 123 | Power Of LanguageJohn Klymshyn is known to clients and fans as “Coach K”. He has been the Architect for growth for teams and individuals in the arenas of Executive Communication, Inspirational Language and practical skills ranging from perennial sales mentality to thought processes John’s clients include: The New York Times, indeed.com, Bank of America, Cushman & Wakefield, Yahoo!, ICSC, NAI Global, T-Mobile, Four Seasons Hotels, Rent.com, ClubCorp, Sheraton Hotels, Colliers International, Pinehurst, American Express Travel.

John is either traveling the world speaking about “Deeper Dialogue ™, “Moving Conversations Forward™”, or “Mindful Leadership ™, or Coaching Executives, writing, and podcasting. His podcasts are downloaded in 25+ countries. Klymshyn has spoken in every major city in North America, as well as Ireland and Mexico.

He has written 12 books, the topics of which have evolved over the years from addressing and exploring creativity, to executive development and scaling teams. His sales trilogy led to one of his works being translated and published in Russian. John narrates his own Audio Books, the most recent of which is breaking all records: “Deeper Dialogue; Conversations That Inspire” … as the work speaks to people in myriad roles. His published fiction runs the gamut from short stories to abstract fantasy novels.

In 2017 Klymshyn collaborated with noted Inventor and Designer Isaac Naor on a unique work: | STREAM | an Audio – Book. An exploration of creativity and flow states. Klymshyn is a New York native. He and Terri (his wife of 34+ years) have two grown children, and currently divide their time between their home in Valencia, California and the world’s great wine tasting rooms.

LBL 122 | eCommerce Strategies

 

The eCommerce business is an industry that has changed dramatically over the last couple of years from the days of AOL, Lycos, and what else was out there to where we are now. In this episode, host Ben Baker interviews eCommerce consultant Curt Anderson. Curt founded an eCommerce business in 1995 that eventually landed on the Internet Retailer Top 1000 eCommerce Companies three years in a row. Since selling the company, he has served as a business advisor working primarily with small manufacturers on implementing eCommerce strategies. Today, Curt talks about what brought him to eCommerce and shares some strategies to help you bring your business to the next level.

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Listen to the podcast here:

eCommerce Strategies With Curt Anderson

I have a great guest. Curt Anderson is from Falconer Electronics and he and I are going to talk about eCommerce. He has been at this probably as long as I have if not longer. We both harken back to the days of AOL and he got some phenomenal tips to bring on. Curt and I met because I was a guest on the Dennis Brown Podcast. He happened to listen to the show and all of a sudden Curt gets in touch with me and tells me about how much he liked my show. He actually bought my book, which blew me out the door. All of a sudden, this LinkedIn article shows up out of absolutely nowhere and he is talking about my book. He's talking about what I do. It was unsolicited, it was gracious, it was humbling, and it was an amazing experience. I had to get him onto the show. Welcome to the show, Curt. You are my friend for life.

Ben, thank you. It's a huge honor and privilege and you're exactly right. Just so your audience knows, I caught you on a podcast. I'm friends with Dennis Brown and I was blown away by your points and connected and reached out. We connected on LinkedIn. I purchased your book and I strongly encourage your audience to grab your book. It’s wonderful, a quick read, entertaining, it has great stories, personal aspects of your life. I got a lot out of the book. I've never done that before. I've felt compelled to type up a little blog post on you and for my connections on LinkedIn or in anybody that follows my posts so we've become friends since. Thank you and I appreciate your friendship. I'm honored to be on your show.

I wrote Powerful Personal Brands and it's amazing the journey that that book has taken me. It's available on Amazon. The book is all about how do you understand who you are, what you do, why you do it and communicating your value. Why don't we get into that? Let's talk about Falconer Electronics, Curt Anderson and where you came from and what brought you into the eCommerce business. This is an industry that has changed dramatically over the last couple of years from the days of AOL, the Lycos and what else was out there to where we are now. To evolve yourself through that maze of things is a testament to you because a lot of people probably didn't survive.

When you try a lot of things and you fail, you learn and fail less every time you do it. Click To Tweet

Three days after graduating from college, my family had a small business and there was an illness in our family and the business had failed. I was asked upon graduation, “If you're not doing anything, could you come back and help salvage and run this business at 21-years-old?” I did and that was in 1990. That was a school of hard knocks. They don't teach that in college, how to handle family failed businesses. That was an incredible learning experience. I got the business back on track and it was very challenging. About 1995, as you're describing the internet. If you remember AOL was doing Superbowl commercials and this whole internet thing and modems. We were still struggling. I'm like, “This internet thing, what's going on here?” You’re right, it was a long journey. There’s a magazine called Internet Retailer. Every year about ten, twelve years ago, they started coming out with their top 1,000 companies, similar to an Inc. 5000 that they do. We had a nice run in the 2000s and we made the top 1,000 three years in a row.

I took on an amazing, incredible business partner who is just a pit bull businesswoman. She wanted to buy the business. I was ready to move on to my next chapter and she purchased the company from me at that time. I was looking for a business to buy at the time and I was hoping maybe I could stumble through another business situation that wanted to get an eCommerce. I kept finding myself consulting businesses, in particular manufacturers. There was a huge need and I enjoyed it and connected with the clients. That’s what I've been doing. Now, I'm with a company called Falconer Electronics. It’s a great company. We're executing eCommerce with this business. That's my 30-year journey.

What people don't realize that have come into eCommerce is how different it was. I remember 14/4, 28/8, and 50/68 modems. Having to dial into the internet and what that meant in terms of speeds. A 486 computer with four megs of ram and 120-meg hard drive with screaming fast, and the phone that you probably have in your hand is 100 times, if not 1,000 times more powerful than that computer was. We're only talking twenty plus years. It is amazing to me to look at where eCommerce has gone and the technological challenges that we've had to come through to get to where we are.

Because of you, if you take a look at it from an industry point of view, if the technology that has allowed the industry to drive, thrive and survive. It takes smart people, it takes people understanding the technology and it takes people understanding how do you use this medium in a viable way to be able to bring people online and bring people to a destination to buy. If the technology wasn't there, Amazon couldn't exist. Walmart online couldn't exist. None of these companies could exist without high-speed broadband technology and reliable computers that are not going to crash at the moment's notice.

Looking back from the journey I took, you can almost pinpoint times where it escalated. You had the internet bubble and in ’99, 2000 and 2001. That weeded out a lot of the players at that time.

LBL 122 | eCommerce Strategies

eCommerce Strategies: The internet bubble weeded out a lot of eCommerce players at that time.

 

It was called the dot-bomber for a reason.

What was great behind it was in 2002 was when Google came on the scene. I think they were founded in ‘96, ‘98. When they've started becoming a household name, it was about 2002. I know for me that was a turning point when Google came on the scene and you could start using pay-per-click. The next phase, 2006 for me, everything was cloud. There are a lot of different eCommerce platforms at the time and nothing was solid and secure. Oracle had come out with a product. It was a division of Oracle called NetSuite. It was one of the first all in one eCommerce, CRM, ERP, on the cloud. It’s totally cutting edge in 2005, 2006. When we went on that platform that was a turning point for us.

Social media, we tried to be very apt to whenever something new came out. I'll be the first to admit, when Twitter came out I said, “Who’s going to type 140 characters. This makes no sense.” The only thing I'll take credit for is I was lucky hiring well. I had a young staff, twenty-something at the time and we started shooting YouTube videos in 2006, 2007. We got on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. We were vlogging and doing a lot of engaging early. That helped catapult our business. Going from pay-per-click to cloud, to social media early on, those were the things that helped me during that phase of having an eCommerce business.

You brought something in and glossed over it, but let's delve into this a little deeper because you and I are both on the right side of 50. We both passed that milestone. We're heading for 100, which is the best way to be. You talked about having innovative young staff. I think it's critical. It's not just the closer they are to the technology, the fact that they are embracing the technology, but they have this love of technology and they don't have the fear of doing something wrong. It's that youthful exuberance of sitting there going, “What if?” instead of, “Oh no.” When you bring staff on board that is young, talented, cutting edge and you can lead them and sit there and say, “This is where we're going. This is what we want to do. You guys figure it out.” It's an amazing marriage.

You're making a great point. After I sold the business and became a consultant, I worked with hundreds of different companies. I ended up working with an agency called the Small Business Development Center. It's here in the States and it's an every all 50 states. I worked with a lot of manufacturers, but I'd have a lot of startups. You sit there and listen. Some of the times these ideas would be wacky, crazy and I never wanted to be the guy. I didn't buy into Twitter. When I had a client sitting across me, I didn't want to be that guy that said, “Twitter is never going to work. Facebook's never worked.” It's challenging to not be the cynic. Keep an open mind but also diagnose like, “This isn't palpable. This isn't going to work.”

It's challenging to not be the cynic. Keep an open mind but also diagnose like, “This isn't palpable. This isn't going to work.” Click To Tweet

I had the business and we had a dynamic team. When you've had your career long enough, you appreciate when you're with a great team. I didn't want to put the company in a position where we lost the competitive advantage because we ignored a technology that was available. Especially with social media, it was free. Time is not free and you simply dabbled, tried this and experimented that. We had a lot of duds. I admit we had one little startup thing that we were trying to do and I wasted probably tens of thousands of dollars trying to do this thing, but that bomb turned into another success that exploded for us. I didn't want to lose a competitive advantage by taking a line in the sand and saying, “We're not going to do that. We're not going to waste that time.” We were eager and hungry to brace anything new that was coming out at that time. We even had a MySpace company page.

That’s a challenge. Let's get into that because there are literally hundreds of social media platforms. Most people don't realize how many different social media platforms there are. The question is most companies unless you've got a department of 40 or 50 whose sole job is to manage social media for you. You can't be everywhere and you can't do anything. It's impossible.

What I talked with a lot of companies about, we talk about social media fatigue. I think you and I have even talked about that. It’s where's your audience? Where are your people? Where can you connect? You can't be everywhere all over the place. We have a limited amount of time and energy, especially for small businesses. You need to focus on, “Where can I execute and where can I get the greatest ROI?” In the 2000s, it was pretty limited. There was a handful coming out. What's fascinating is it's generational. Facebook was connected with a college and we had a social media intern program, which was phenomenal. With the intern program, what we did is we were connecting digital immigrants. Those of us born before 1980 and that was my target market where people that were this whole digital thing caught them off guard.

We're connecting them with the Millennials or kids in college that they can speak the social media language, but they can't speak the widget language. The digital immigrant is the widget expert. He or she have been making or doing this product or service for 20 or 30 years. We created this program. It was wonderful, very successful and dynamic. Bringing the two generations together where the Millennial would show the digital immigrant, “This is how you use the social media platform.” They would teach them, “We're going to talk about this service.” It was wonderful to see the two generations come together.

Even myself, I came from direct mail. I killed a lot of trees. Do I understand A/B testing? Absolutely. Do I understand about needs analysis or talking to the voice of the customer? All of those kinds of things I absolutely get. My business, 90% of what I do is on LinkedIn. Twitter is probably number two, Facebook and I do have a YouTube channel, but the YouTube channel is a repository of videos that I repurpose on LinkedIn and Twitter. Taking that marketing knowledge that I have and being able to translate it effectively to the new medium and be able to speak in the way of the Millennials and the Gen Zs tends to be a little bit of a shadow box for me. You don't get it all the time and you tend as a business owner to sit there and go, “I can do this. I've been marketing for 25 years.”

LBL 122 | eCommerce Strategies

eCommerce Strategies: It's great to overcome weaknesses, but when you can exploit your strengths, that's where you can build the trust.

 

You try a lot of things and you fail, you learn and you fail less every time you do it. I've gotten to a point where I'm sitting there going, “There are companies out there that specialize in LinkedIn marketing.” There's nothing wrong with spending a little bit of money with people that are young, enthusiastic and experts in the field and giving them the direction to say, “These are the people I want to talk to. This is how I want to talk to them. This is what I want them to do. Go and speak to them in a way that makes sense for the medium because they understand the execution far better than I do.” You have to have that marriage. You have to give them direction. It doesn't matter what you do.

When you're a leader, you need to be able to give the people that you're in trusting direction and then you have to trust them that they can go out there and do it. It's all about to follow up, follow-through, evaluation and all those stuff that goes with it. When we can sit there and say, “I've got stuff that I can learn from twenty-year-olds and twenty-year-olds have things that they can learn from me.” It's cool if we build our businesses that way instead of saying, “I'm older. I know everything. You're younger, you don't know anything.” That world doesn't exist anymore. We all have talents. We all have things that we do well. We have things that we don't do well. Things that you'll blind spots. God knows we all have blind spots. It's connecting yourself with people that augmented your skills and be able to put yourself in a position where to say, “We're going to hire good people that understand things that I don't and let them do their thing.”

You're a great point. What was fascinating with our intern program is each year I've asked the students like, “If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could pick one platform, what would it be?” The funny thing is that almost every year it would change. The new platforms were coming out so quickly, even siblings say, the sibling that was a senior in college versus a freshman, they were on two different platforms. I believe Instagram came out. The freshman was on Instagram, the senior was on Twitter. What they were on is Facebook because not only was mom and dad on Facebook, grandma and grandpa were now on Facebook. Facebook wasn't cool and they didn't want to be on Facebook.

You don't want your grandmother seeing your pictures on Facebook.

The next would be Snapchat. It was fascinating. Each year it was moving so fast. If you own a 30, 40-year-old company, whatever your service is, how do you keep up with that? We keep talking about your book and it’s an amazing job you did with your book. What I got out of it was staying in your lane, maintaining that focus and exploiting strengths. It's great to overcome weaknesses, but when you can exploit your strengths, in my experience, that's where you can build the trust that you preach about. You can build wealth and success. When you have those weak spots, bringing in, whether it's a generational divide or those experts you're talking about to help you prop up those weaknesses.

When you've had your career long enough, you appreciate when you're with a great team. Click To Tweet

Tell me about the right knee guy’s story if we're going to talk about staying in your lane.

In my business, in 2000, the internet bubble, I had a wholesale business and who knew what the internet or eCommerce was going to because it just blew up. I did a decent job at acquiring sales, but the fourth quarter of 1999, all of a sudden I was losing a ton of money and it happened so fast. It caught me off guard. I have a running joke. I sold my dollars for $0.97. Nobody could sell their dollars better than me, $0.97 unless you sold yours for $0.96 or $0.95. All of a sudden I get the end of the fourth quarter, I come into 2000 and I had a significant loss. I brought in a consultant to help figure out what I’m doing wrong.

At the time, I had five different channels of revenue that I was trying to create for my business because I didn't want to be caught. I was probably 31-years-old. I took pride in being diversified. She comes in and she's like, “Tell me about your business.” I'm pounding my chest. I explained the whole thing. She goes, “What are you best at?” I'm like, “Our legacy is kind of this, but it's dying.” She's like, “Where's your future at?” I'm like, “I'm putting everything I've gotten at eCommerce.” She was like, “What are the other three things?” I'm trying to justify it feebly. She looks at me and within 30 minutes, she's like, “I'll tell you what your problem is, why you're losing money. You're doing five things horribly instead of two things or even one thing exceptionally in killing that one thing. Get out of the other three to four things and focus on one thing.” I'm like, “You just solved my problem in half an hour. How good of a consultant are you because I don't need you anymore.”

We were kidding about it. I lost touch with her. I hate to admit this but I don't remember her name. I should be sending her gifts every year. It completely changed my whole complexion and my focus. That was the turning point for me and my business. I had four points that were on my desk and every time there was a decision about the business. We have focused on one thing and that was eCommerce. It made life very easy. The business did well. We had success. I ended up selling it. I found myself consulting and dealt with a lot of different businesses. I used to teach LinkedIn at a community college. I had a nice audience and we're engaging and talking. This one gentleman that's sitting in the audience, he's a consultant on the theory of constraints. I wasn't at the time and I was a logistics major in college and somehow this slipped past me.

In the 1980s, a gentleman by the name of Dr. Goldratt wrote a book called the Theory of Constraints. It's similar to the Dr. Deming theories, lean, quality and it's all about removing the constraints within a business. It could be a restaurant. It could be a doctor's office. It's primarily in manufacturing. You're bringing a bunch of raw materials together and where's the bottleneck in a business? Why can't we complete the finished good out the door fast enough? This gentleman is sitting in my office and he is a theory constraints consultant. He's educated me on it. I’m like, “What’s your goal? Where are you trying to take your business?” His struggle was he's a little bit of an introvert, he was marketing LinkedIn. We're chatting, he looks at me and he goes, “I want to be the right knee guy.”

LBL 122 | eCommerce Strategies

Theory of Constraints

He keeps going. I put up my hands like in a time out. I'm like, “What'd you just say?” I go, “What's the right knee guy?” He goes, “If you hurt your right knee, who are you going to go to? You're going to your general doctor. You're going to some practitioner or are you going to go to the world-renowned authority on that subject, the right knee guy? Especially if you're an athlete, wherever you live, I want to go to the guy that's taking care of your local Major League baseball team or your local football team. I want to go to the doctor that says, ‘If you hurt anything on your body, I can't help you. If you've hurt your left knee, I don't know a thing about it, but if you've hurt your right knee, there is nobody on this planet that knows the right knee better than I do.”’

That's what I want to be with the theory constraints. I want to be the right knee guy of theory constraints. The guy's name is Max Crew. He’s on LinkedIn if anybody wants to connect with him. He is a phenomenal guy. We're close friends. What was funny was every time somebody came in my office and I would call it “going to Russia.” People would come in and like, “I'm doing this with my business.” I'm back to my undiversified thing and why I call it, “I'm going to rush.” I'm a little bit of a history fan and Napoleon is concurring Europe. What gets him? Russia. Germany crushing Europe, London bridges are falling down. What got Germany? Russian winner.

Every time somebody is diversifying, I like to ask, “Does this make sense? Can we be the right knee guy at this or are we going to Russia?” Just trying to have a laser focus. I can't tell you how this right knee thing became part of my shtick, where I'd have clients in my office, we'd be sitting there talking and all of a sudden I would explain to write in each story. I wouldn't see this person for six months. I'm like, “How's it going? How's a business?” They'd be like, “I'm trying to be the right knee guy. I'm trying to be the right knee girl.” It resonated. It was like a light bulb went out with the simplicity of the analogy of staying in your lane, being laser-focused and exploit with what you're best at.

When you're dealing with manufacturers because manufacturers are all over the place. It comes down to staying in your lane. It comes down to focusing. It comes down to everything. What do you think is the number one hurdle that manufacturers are not getting when they sit there going, “I want to be an eCommerce solution?”

Sinking my teeth into the project I'm in now, a couple of discoveries as you’re saying the changes. The big thing is Amazon. When I was having an eCommerce, I was in a product line that wasn't found on Amazon. Amazon was still in growth mode in the 2000s. $0.50 of every dollar is spent on Amazon. If a manufacturer has a proprietary product, meaning that they manufacture their own good, they have to consider Amazon. What the challenge is, traditionally they ship pallet loads and they shipped semi-loads. They want to sell a semi-load to another manufacturer or retailer. The challenge is I'm going to put a finished good on Amazon and now I'm selling a $30 product. We haven't done that. “Grandpa started the business, dad did the business, and I've been doing the business and we've never sold one good to a consumer.” The change in the mindset is, “How do I sell one unit when I'm used to selling pallet loads?”

Be eager and hungry to brace anything new. Click To Tweet

Is that a question that you asked somebody when they're talking about it saying, “Do you want to get into this business?” There is a huge difference between shipping 40-foot ocean containers directly from the factory, direct to your client, one invoice, one purchase order, one check to breaking it all apart. Pick, pack, ship and all of this stuff that goes along with it. It's a matter of getting people to understand that eCommerce isn't for everybody.

The second component that is a big challenge is you can go on Amazon and you're less than a needle in a haystack on Amazon. Can you be found? The other component is eCommerce stores are so inexpensive. You can create an online presence almost over a weekend. College kid, if you're teenager, a web designer and I realize it's not going to be bells and whistles. In 1999, you can be on BigCommerce or 3DCart, whatever the shopping cart. The challenges, you're less than a needle in a haystack. You're not going to come up organically on a Google search unless you have a unique keyword or product line that that's not being exploited. You can get on pay-per-click and those clicks are extremely expensive. It's a totally different animal of, “What's a strategy?” You've got Amazon, how do I have a presence on Google? Can I be found on Google? What social media platform? How can I get my product into people's hands and how am I competing with this finish good direct to the consumer versus overseas imports?

The nice thing is manufacturers skipping the chain going directly to the consumer. That's a nice competitive advantage. Where the real competitive advantage comes is the company that can customize. That's the wheelhouse that I've fallen into. I call it scaling your proprietary process with eCommerce. There are two kinds of manufacturers. There's a manufacturer that has its own preparatory product. Some engineer has created a widget, they've solved the problem, they put a name on it and they sell that product. The other manufacturer is the custom manufacturer who makes a component that goes into the finished good and then the OEM is the Original Equipment Manufacturer. Let’s say the Caterpillar and Ford, they probably have dozens if not hundreds of vendors that make a little widget.

I produced the camshaft that go into Caterpillar tractors for an example. That's all I do.

You're the right knee guy of wire harness that goes into a fitting tractor. The challenge for those custom manufacturers, typically 50% or 60% of their business will be with Caterpillar or Ford or whoever that OEM is. They're a little bit vulnerable and the problem is they get so caught up and they've gone years of taking care of that one customer. All of a sudden if something falters with that customer, they’re in trouble. That's how I've evolved into Falconer Electronics. Falconer Electronics is an amazing manufacturer founded in 1985 owned by the same owner. What their legacy is, if you walk into any Walmart in North America, Canada, US, Mexico and you go to their television section, there's a metal fabricated back panel power strip that every single television is plugged into that's produced at Falconer Electronics. If you walk into Lowe's at Christmas time, every single artificial Christmas tree is plugged into this amazing metal fabricated power strip that was manufactured at Falconer Electronics.

You can't be everywhere all over the place. You need to focus on where you can execute and get the greatest ROI. Click To Tweet

The challenges as brick and mortar has decreased over the years. Walmart is not making as many stores as they did in the ‘90s and 2000s. All of a sudden a company like Falconer Electronics got caught a little bit off guard of, “What do I do?” What we've done is we've gone through this whole process of taking their proprietary process and scaling it by taking products that they make for Walmart or Lowe's. They make a similar product for Target. We've converted it into preparatory products and we're selling these products on Amazon. We're selling them on eCommerce and we've actually created software tools where a company can come on their website and they can customize, configure their own product, and create an incident quote within 60 seconds. That's a nice competitive advantage where they can't purchase that overseas. It's pulled on the spot. Those are the types of things that we've been working on.

I have one last question. When you leave a meeting, when you get in your car and drive away, what's the one thing you want people to think about you when you're not in the room?

My goal is I always want to be more interested than interesting. I know it’s cliché, give value. I work relentlessly to be a positive person and try to give value. When I'm out of my wheelhouse or I feel that I'm going to Russia, I need to get back out because I'm not giving value to the company I'm working on.

That's an important thing. For people to sit there and say, “When you can add value to your clients, even if that value is, I don't know, let me go find somebody who does know and let me make that introduction.” You become that valuable resource and you become that trusted person. Even if you can't solve that problem, when you can solve the problem, you're going to be the person that they can trust. Thanks for being that person that trusts, Curt. Thank you for being on the show. Thank you for being a wonderful guest.

Thank you for your friendship and thank you to your audience.

Important Links: 

About Curt Anderson

LBL 122 | eCommerce StrategiesCurt founded an eCommerce business in 1995 that eventually landed on the Internet Retailer Top 1000 eCommerce Companies three years in a row. Since selling the company, Curt has served as a business advisor working primarily with small manufacturers on implementing eCommerce strategies.

This includes spending 4 years with the New York Small Business Development Center.

 

LBL 121 | How To Get Noticed

 

Being noticed has become a necessity in this modern day and age. One of the key persons who can share her genius about how to get noticed is former lawyer, singer, and comedienne Tsufit. Through her unique expertise, she has recently been featured in Forbes and is the author of the award-winning book, Step Into the Spotlight!: A Guide to Getting Noticed. Her life has become a topic of interest for many mainly because of how she has gracefully transitioned from a stable law practice with four small children to leaving all that behind and going on the road to become an actress and a comedienne.

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Listen to the podcast here:

 

Stepping Into The Spotight: Your Guide To Being Noticed With Tsufit

Welcome to the show, Tsufit. How are you?

I'm wonderful. I’m glad to be here, Ben.

I am so excited. This is one of those things where it was meant to be. You and I have met through LinkedIn where I meet a lot of the people that I have on this show, as a matter of fact. LinkedIn is probably my number one avenue for communication when it's not face-to-face. I meet the most interesting people and you have an incredible story. I'm reading through your LinkedIn profile. I've read through your website and you do some incredible things and have an incredible story. You were a recovering lawyer, which is an amazing thing right off the bat.

We have twelve-step groups for that. I prefer to think of it as an escape. I was a Bay Street downtown litigator for ten years. For your American audience, that's like Wall Street. 

That's Toronto. It's the Canadian center of the universe. 

We already established that in our first call together. I was a lawyer and I had four baby girls in four years. I'm a very serious person. When I do something, I do it. I'm not messing with diapers and bottles forever. If we're doing it, let's do it so I did it. I was a lawyer at the time, a litigator. One day, I just had that Peggy Lee moment that “is that all there is” moment and decided to leave the law, kept the kids and decided to follow my dream. At that time, my dream was to be a singer and actress. I ended up being also a comedienne which was part of the original plan. I got on a sitcom for four years on national TV in Canada and played a comedically evil character. 

I put out a music CD. I performed it live at folk festivals and then learned through doing that how to promote myself because I'm stuck at home with four babies and no car. I made CDs when I've got four babies, no car and a basement full of CDs. I had to figure out how do I get it out there? How do I get noticed? How do I get known? I got a whack of publicity not knowing how to do it but just learning. People started coming to me and saying, "Can you show me how to do that?" Before you know it, I'm teaching. I'm teaching lawyers how to attract publicity and get noticed, get known and it shifted from publicity a little bit more into branding and marketing and every aspect of how to get seen, get heard, get noticed and get known. That brings us to the day that I met Ben Baker online.

Let's step back a little bit because to go from stable law practice with four small children to leaving that all behind and going on the road and you're becoming an actress and a comedienne and all that kind of thing, there must have been an impetus behind that. There must've been more of the fact that, “I'm tired of doing this.” There has to be a story that said, "It's time for the next step in my life." What was that story?

I have to go back to the beginning of that story. When I joined the latest law firm that I was in, I think I joined in August and nine months to the day from when I joined that firm, I had my first daughter. I was their first-ever pregnant lawyer, first-ever to deliver a baby. They were very nice about it and they came and brought me gifts and a shower and the whole thing. A year later I said, "I'm pregnant again." I had another baby and they were nice. I remember the head of the firm brought me this Pinocchio doll and a second one, a marionette actually. They were really nice. A little bit more than a year, maybe a year and a half year or three quarters, I say, "I'm pregnant again." Silence, crickets, nothing, no gifts, no congrats.

If you step away from your desk and into the spotlight, you're going to attract so that you won't have to chase. Click To Tweet

A year after that, I had the ultimate nerve to have the closest together of all of them. I think they're fourteen months apart or maybe fifteen. My last daughter was my fourth daughter in four and a half years. The oldest was not yet four and a half when the baby was born. Remember, I'm their first pregnant lawyer. They've never had one before. They hire this person and then she's like a baby producing machine. Two weeks after I get back from my fourth maternity leave, they say, "We're letting you go." They gave me notice. They gave me eight or nine months’ notice. They were afraid. They didn't blatantly say this but I later heard it on the grapevine. They were afraid that I would come back a year later and say, “I'm going to have a fifth one.” I never did have the fifth one. It's not that I hadn't been dreaming about it.

There's a path system in Toronto. It's like an underground system of the walkway so that you can avoid winter altogether and never see it. I remember walking there and seeing a sign once that said, "Bob, I quit." Where this guy is telling his boss he quits to start his own business. I dreamt about that but who's going to do that? I'm practical. I've got four babies. We had just bought a new house when I was pregnant with my first daughter. We moved in. I hadn't even given birth yet. That’s a humongous mortgage. It was like 11.3/4% at the time. I didn't do it voluntarily and I did look for another law job at the time. Instead of sitting around doing nothing, I thought, “What am I good at?” I started devising this thing and did the music CD and that’s when I learned to publicize it. I realized I had a marketable skill and started helping other people do that.

It's one of those things where the world sometimes just gives us a kick in the pants.

I feel like they pushed me out of the nest. I'm a bird, they pushed me out of the nest and I was really grateful for that. 

It's a good thing you were able to fly.

There was an article in the Toronto Sun many years ago when I was performing in that city which said, “Her wings move so fast, you don't even see them moving like her namesake.” The hummingbird, it's true. I'm always moving, I'm always doing something. I had no choice but to fly. Jann Arden has this great line. For your American people, she's an award-winning singer in Canada. That's like the Grammy's. Jann Arden says Canada is the only country where you can headline at Maple Leaf Gardens and still have to take the subway home. Maple Leaf Gardens in its day was like Madison Square Garden.

Anyway, it's true. It doesn't matter if you succeed in Canada, you have to go to the US like Barenaked Ladies or whoever else we’ve imported, Ryan Gosling, Michael J. Fox to make it. It was challenging. This coaching thing brought some stability back. It's not as stable as being a lawyer and I still have to attract my own clients but at least I wasn't relying on being paid whatever paltry something you get from performing in a comedy club or I remember I was in a commercial for three days. That was like a big score but that didn't happen regularly.

Through this whole thing and being able to sit there and go, "Not only am I able to promote myself but I've learned how to promote other people." You wrote a book called Step Into The Spotlight. Tell me about it.

LBL 121 | How To Get Noticed

Step Into The Spotlight!: A Guide To Being Noticed

First of all, I don't promote other people. I teach them to promote themselves. I'm not a publicist. There are people whose job is to promote other people but I learned that I was really good at teaching other people how to promote themselves, not just publicity but like marketing. If you go to the local BNI or the local Board of Trade or Chamber of Commerce, they give you 30 seconds at the microphone. I learned by chance that I was good at that because I saw it as a 32nd show, as a 32nd stand-up comedy bit.

When I first went to those events for the first six months or so, well-meaning people in suits would come up to me and say, “Tsufit, you're doing it all wrong. You're saying the wrong thing. You're not dressed properly for this event.” It's a professional event and I'm wearing a Chinese silk jacket or something I guess that's called cultural misappropriation now or something. I like things from other ethnicities and I always went in a way that I was noticed. I would say something to be noticed. After six months of telling me I'm doing it wrong, they started putting me on stage to teach them how to do it wrong too. Next thing you know, I'm speaking at business conferences and whatever it is. The book came about, it's called Step Into The Spotlight, the subtitle is A Guide To Getting Noticed. The premise on the TV on the cover is that all business is show business. 

If you want to take a peek at the cover, you could do that at www.SpotlightBook.com. It will take you to Amazon. You can see what I mean. It's a retro TV. The idea of that was people were coming to me and saying, “Tsufit, we get it. You're good at this. I'm not sure if we can do it." When I started teaching them and getting results from people, they said, "We believe now that you can show us how to do it. The only thing is you're charging more than lawyers now and we can't afford you, so can't you write a $20 book?" I finally relented and put all my secrets in this Step Into The Spotlight: A Guide To Getting Noticed book, 288 pages of my best secrets. People read it and some come to events with it all tabbed and say, “I got on TV,” or “I did a speech,” or “I had this newspaper article about me.” Other people said, “Tsufit, I still want to go deeper,” so I ended up creating programs and all that kind of stuff. It really built a whole business.

I've got the first element of it, which is the book, the ten-week online program which is the next level, the VIP where you want to work with me, which is the next level. I created this whole funnel with some free tips at the frontend, which you can see at SpotlightSecrets.com. I created this whole funnel around this one core thing which I realized I was good at which was standing out and getting noticed. Even though people do raise their fees when they work with me and they do increase, I never make any representations or promises about income or money or all these people that, right now they call themselves high ticket closers or there are a million names for it. 

To me, if you step away from your desk and into the spotlight, you're going to attract so that you won't have to chase. You won't have to close, so you won't have to learn all those "sales techniques." Harvey Mackay, the guy who wrote Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive and a bunch of other Dig Your Well Before You're ThirstyBeware The Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt, a lot of great titles of his books. I forget the exact quote, it's a great quote and it somewhere buried in my book but it was something about marketing or sales. It's creating a condition where people convince themselves to buy. You don't have to sell to them. You don't have to chase them, you attract them. Attract, don't chase is pretty much the premise of my book that you asked about and everything else that I've done for the last many years.

I love the fact going back to when you went to the Chambers of Commerce and the BNI, all those type of networking organizations where people said, "No, you have to network like us. You have to talk like us. You have to look like us. You have to dress like us." It was Dr. Seuss that said, "Why be the same when you were born to stand out?" I can't remember the exact phrase, but it's why be the same when there is uniqueness in yourself. One thing that most people don't get is to understand what their uniqueness is and how to celebrate it.

What's funny is I have a little tiny business book I called Seuss-isms or something like that and they actually quote Dr. Seuss about a bunch of different things. You are absolutely right about that. For example, I had people in the beginning would come to me and say, "Tsufit, can you help me lose my accent?" I'm thinking, “Are you stupid?” I didn't say it to them but why would you want to lose your accent? That's the most interesting thing about you. You look like everybody else. You sound like everybody, other than the accent. It totally doesn't work.

It really was ironic that everybody's telling me I'm doing it wrong. Those people that told me I did it wrong eventually many of them became my clients because obviously it works to stand out. I asked you who your audience were and you told me they're a combination between entrepreneurs and also managers, CEOs and HR people. It's a little bit different sometimes in the entrepreneurial world and in the corporate world. In the entrepreneurial world, definitely stand out, be distinct, do whatever you want to do. The irony of ironies about the BNI thing that you mentioned, Ivan Misner who's the Founder of BNI started the whole thing. Talk about irony because they're all telling me I'm doing it wrong. He endorsed the book, told everybody to read it, put it on his websites and sent an email to everybody across the world. He's now a member of my Step Into The Spotlight group on LinkedIn, an active member. He commented. Michael Gerber who wrote E-Myth commented, he's in the group. The who's who of Whoville are in this group. Maybe if you're nice to us, Ben and I will tell you how you can join this LinkedIn group.

Do you notice how we sneak in these little promos? It can be obnoxious if you do it wrong but if you just happen to mention that you could join the LinkedIn group by going to www.SpotlightGroup.biz, there's nothing wrong with that. People are grateful later and they thank you. We were talking about the people saying that I'm doing it wrong. In the corporate world, what could get you the big corner office with the view of the lake can also get you fired? I'm being real here. I would like to say to everybody to standout and be different. They can be the accountant or lawyer wearing the pink and purple striped socks.

 

I remember, there was a lawyer, she was a partner and she used to wear bright orange and bright purple and platinum blonde hair. She was qualified to be a lawyer. I'm sure she’s still typecast by a lot of people but she did that. At that time, it wasn't the thing that people did at corporate. To tell you the truth, whenever I head downtown for whatever reason or occasionally, I'm brought in to teach some to a corporate audience, I see they're wearing the nylons, the pumps and the three-piece suits. When I was articling, I not only had the Harry Rosen little silk tie flappy thing that lawyers wore in the ‘80s and carried the suitcase, whether there's something in it or not in the briefcase. There is a look but the guy in the corner office is not dressed like that. The guy in the corner office, he's comfortable, he's wearing jeans, he's wearing whatever he wants. You have to find a way to create a brand for yourself by cloning everybody else. It's not by saying what everybody else says, it's not anymore by climbing that corporate ladder that really doesn't lead where you want it to go.

Find a way to show your color, humor, presence, authenticity, and your reality within your current position. Click To Tweet

I would say that even though it's true what I said, that it's risky, I think it's a risk worth taking. You don't have to hit them over the head with it right away. You can slowly start to show your personality. I have a confession. When I was a lawyer, I didn't really do this what I'm preaching to your audience to do. I would beat the lawyer in the suit. Although I do remember one of my early bosses, the senior partner, he was interviewing for the job. There was a woman ahead of me literally interviewing the same day as me. When I got through the associates who interviewed me to the corner office, he said to me, "I just offered the job a couple of seconds ago to this other person but I prefer you. I don't know what to do because I can't un-offer her the job. Let me talk to my partners. I'm going to see if they'll allow me to offer you both the job. If she takes it, it will be two of you.” She did take it. I took it and I ended up sharing an office with this other lawyer for the first year until they built a partition and made us each separate offices. At the beginning before I started working in law, I had the confidence that you know right now. I was not arrogant but I was irreverent, strong and with humor to the point that people created jobs for me.

As I became a lawyer, I must say, it squished a little bit out of the life out of me. I just became that lawyer, that litigator. The minute I left law and started doing what I'm doing, it's like the ski boots came off. I was flying. I would suggest to any of your audience who are feeling the way I felt when I was a lawyer that you have two choices. Find a way to show your color, your humor, your presence, your authenticity, your reality within your current position. Maybe you're a middle manager, a CEO or whatever you are, you find a way to show it. You start take to consider whether maybe you want to make a transition to becoming some entrepreneur using the skillset that you already have or some other skillset that you may not have even thought of monetizing. 

If you stay and you don't do one of the two things that I've said to you before. I'm not a doctor but I don't think you need to be a doctor to say it can lead to ulcers and all sorts of stress which is never healthy, obesity and all these other things. I lost weight when I left law. I'm not kidding. I call it to follow that dream diet. I was just flying. I wrote a song. I'm a songwriter as well. I went from five days to four days after my second daughter was born, the day after that I wrote a new song. You need to create a space around you for creativity and me, I see marketing as my most creative endeavor of all. People see business as boring. I see business as artistic. I see it as a place to create and add color, flavor and humor.

When I wrote Powerful Personal Brands, it was for those people. It was for people to understand not how to be a rock star, not how to be flamboyant and say, “Look at me.” It was looking at yourself and saying, “What are you proud of? What makes you unique? What makes you different? What makes you you? Now go out there and celebrate that.” I think that the people that can understand who they are, what they do, why they do it and what makes them valuable, emulate that. The other people see that. Other people see that in you. When you can sit there and have that head held high, eyes gaze straight and you know what you're all about. Some people are going to be flamboyant. Some people are just going to be quietly confident, but it's your personal brand that makes you who you are. There's a lot of power on that.

Once again, I will reiterate, this is not without risk. The reason that it's not without risk is that some people will love you for it. They will love that you are being your authentic self and the really colorful, flavorful, delicious you and other people will not so much love you. I won't say hate but maybe, they'll resent you for it. Maybe because they see you being you and they're not being them and they're envious of you. That might be part of the reason. Maybe they don't have the guts to do it or maybe they think you're not being "professional." People on Bay Street and in corporate tend to suffer from this malady, I call professionalitis.

Very often when they leave corporate, they try to bring that into their entrepreneurial ventures. They get an office, they get an assistant, they get these business cards, the brochures, the yellow pages ad and the online thing, and they spend like a whole whack ton of money and nobody comes. The phone doesn't ring, no email, no nothing and they're wondering why. They're trying to transfer from a corporate environment to being an entrepreneur but using the same corporate parameters doesn't necessarily work. I can't tell you how many people have come to me over the years as clients and said, "Tsufit, you won't find anything with me. I'm just boring." No one is boring. Many people have said that to me, “I'm boring, I'm quiet, I'm shy, I'm this, I'm that.” When we start to dig, we find color.

This story I'm about to tell you, she didn't say she was boring. She knew she was amazing but this woman came to me as a client and said she had to give a speech for a bunch of professional speakers. She was not herself a professional speaker but she ran a bureau for professional speakers and so they invited her. She came to me and said, "Tsufit, I can't show up and do a dry, boring speech." She did it for me and it was a dry, boring speech. I said, "Chicklet, let's figure out what it is." For all your audience who are offended by that, get over it. This is how I speak to my clients, don't come to me. With utmost respect, I said to this client, "Let's talk about you when you were younger. Tell me about you. I'm going to find some color." She told me that when she was a kid, she was like eight, she used to help her dad pick tomatoes on his tomato farm. I said, "I think we found a shot of color. Tomatoes are red and I can visualize them." You’ve got to visualize what you're talking about. You just can't talk about words that have no picture associated with them.

We made this analogy between tomatoes and speakers and we said, “Some speakers are still seedlings, they're way too green to go out there and be taken to market. Others are ripe, plump, juicy and ready for market, so ready for her, what she does in her business and others are just plain rotten tomatoes. She used that analogy that we came up with that was grounded in a real story that she had actually told me. She went and did her speech and knocked them dead. It was amazing. There was a lineup of people waiting to speak to her and it all came from her. Only she lived this life and never saw that.

I'll just tell you one more story. I had another client who was a graphic designer and she did brochures, websites, books, business cards and all the boring stuff that graphic designers do. I love graphic designers. Don't boycott Ben's show. I said, “Tell me about yourself.” She said she grew up in the Swiss Alps, in a 600-year-old farmhouse at the top of the mountain and she had to go down to the valley to the library to get books because she didn't own any books. She loved to read so she would go down to the bottom of the hill or mountain or whatever it was to the valley, to the library and get her favorite book. I said, "Wouldn't it be great if we said that your favorite book was Heidi? Because of the Swiss Alps and the whole thing." The reason I suggested that to her was that my client's name was Heidi. She said, "Tsufit, that's true. That was my favorite book." We added that into this story about how she would go down the hill to get her favorite book, Heidi.

LBL 121 | How To Get Noticed

 

Now that she's in business, she makes books and I said, “Lose all the other stuff, website, cards, brochures, pamphlets. Who doesn't have a brother-in-law and a neighbor and six cousins who do that? Let's focus on the book.” She changed her business name to WeMakeBooks.ca. She made a gold plaque for her. She has bricks and mortar location. She made a gold plaque that says WeMakeBooks.ca and that's what she does. She makes books and I refer all my clients in my book creation workshop to her. She also said she went to a networking event and out of ten women in a little circle, eight of them came up and asked for her card after she did that. 

This is what I can see your real talent is. It’s getting people to narrow their focus and sit there and say, “This is what I really do. This is what makes me special. This is what makes me unique. This is what makes me different. This is what makes people stand up and pay attention,” because not everybody's going to love you. Of 7.5 billion people in the world, there are going to be haters out there. There are going to be people that love you and most of the world doesn't care and you can't serve them anyway. You might as well sit there and say, “Who are the people that I can serve? How can I serve them the best that I can and communicate with those people the way that's going to resonate with them?” I love that story about Heidi because that's what that's all about.

That's precisely it. Another way of saying that is to polarize your audience. It's true, not everybody has to love you. Too many people are trying to be loved and liked by everybody and they end up nobody hates them, but nobody knows they exist. I know you probably want your radio show to be evergreen but if you have any doubts, just look at how polarizing an audience got a guy elected as president. It's a very effective technique. You can take a third of the audience, the third of the population out there, you polarize them enough that they'll be behind you. The other people that are trying to please everybody, his opponent wasn't able to bring it home. Despite the fact that you know what it is that you do, you may not be communicating that clearly to your potential audience so narrow their focus, yes. It's definitely part of it.

It's not the only part of it though that matters. First, you narrow your focus, you figure out what is it that you're selling and then what is it that you're really selling? What's behind the thing that you're selling? It's rarely the thing. It's the thing behind the thing that you're selling. Number one, you have to figure that out, narrow it. Number two, figure out how to communicate it. Figure out how to describe it in 30 seconds and people say, "Tsufit, 30 seconds is so short." If you can't say it in 30 seconds, you can't say it in 30 minutes either because you don't know what it is.

It's a TV commercial or a radio commercial, all are 30 seconds. Look at how much information they pour into 30 seconds.

In fact, now they have some commercials that are called blinks. I think they are like two or three seconds. Thirty seconds is plenty of time. The truth is if you're super engaging, nobody will notice if it's 40, 45, but I hear people go on forever. “I'm a realtor and now is a really good time to buy or sell a house because mortgage rates are low.” No. Lose that. Narrow your focus, number one. Number two, figure out how to say it. Number three, figure out where to say it. What are those expensive steaks that Dan Kennedy always talks about in the US? There are two kinds that he talks about. There are these expensive steaks that you order and they go to your house.

Don't be trying to hack that at the monthly meeting of the Vegetarian Society, because it doesn't matter how good your 30 seconds is. It doesn't matter how good your speech is and it doesn't matter how much you narrow your focus. If you're in front of the wrong audience, that's not going to help you either so you've got to find your people, find your tribe and figure out where to put them as well. I mentioned that to my group SpotlightGroup.biz on LinkedIn. I created that group partially as a place to put my audience because until then I'm just going out and finding them where they are, which is great but if I can divert a little bit of those rivers and streams into my lake, why not throw them in there too? Hopefully, you're not going to let anybody tune in to this radio show, podcast or whatever it is, Ben because, that's something not everybody likes to hear. People don't like to be thought of. Dan Kennedy uses a phrase. He's a marketing guru, which people find particularly offensive. He calls his people his herd or some people say, “My flock.”

My flock, my tribe, my whatever.

The truth is offended or not, get yourself one of these things because they will buy from you. The ones that don't buy from you will tell people to read your book or to join your group. Some of the best advocates never buy from you but they have a big mouth, and they tell everybody else to do it. They can be even more valuable than your buyers.

It is important to cultivate connection with your colleagues. Click To Tweet

I had one client. Maybe she did $30,000 or $40,000 worth of business with me every single year at the most. Every year she probably referred $500,000 worth of business to me. I treated her like gold. She sang my praises any which way she could. She got me invited to every conference she could think of. She got me up on stages. She introduced me to the right people for ten years. She was an incredible referral source because she loved what I did and why I did it. She said, "I've got to introduce you to everybody that I know." I haven't spoken to her. She retired maybe several years ago. There are still people that I'm getting business from.

Speak to her. Send her some flowers, Ben. Tell her you mentioned her on a radio show. 

She's living somewhere in Europe now. I don't know where she is. It's one of those days where I know a number of years later, there are still people who do business with me because she told them that they had to do business with me. 

That brings up another topic, something that we have discussed in my Step Into The Spotlight group on LinkedIn, which is, should you befriend your competitors? In this case it was a client, but I get some of the best referrals from my "competitors." One of them in New York City who teaches what I teach and probably with more credibility and crowd than I do because he's able to bring in people from the Today show and from all the big shows. He bought 200 copies of my books and he gave them to participants in his programs and attendees at his events. How much better can it be than that? First of all, it's great to sell 200 books but better than selling 200 books to just like individual people who will read the book and maybe tell one or two people, this guy with every book that he gave out, that was an implied endorsement. Why would he give my book to somebody unless he’s saying, “It's a great book. You’ve got to read this?” Cultivate those connections with your colleagues.

Here's another thing. People ask me about my LinkedIn group, the Step Into The Spotlight group. LinkedIn groups, first of all, a lot of them are pretty quiet these days. JD Gershbein wrote an article years ago about how they'd all become ghost towns and it was really nice that he mentioned that ours hadn't. The thing is there are two kinds of groups out there and I think maybe the ones that are ghost towns are the first kind. The first kind is where the mentor, guru expert, whatever you want to call this person, influencer. Most people hate all those terms. Just say a humble person like me starts a group and there are two ways to do it. The first is you invite all the prospects into the group. You stock your salmon pond with salmon. Whenever you're hungry you go fishing in the pond that you pre-stocked or with mixed analogies, with these ripening fruit on your tree. You stock your own pond.

People are going to be super offended by this, but this is how a lot of people think about it. That is the first group and I see a ton of Facebook groups like that, a ton of LinkedIn groups like that. To tell you the truth, every once in a while I think, "All they have to do is go back." They post some great content. They teach their group, they have their followers. It's tempting but that wasn't the path I chose. I chose the second one, which was to pack my group bursting with my so-called "competitors," my colleagues. People generally way more well-known than the New York Times bestselling authors, Emmy Award winners. Michael Gerber who wrote the E Myth is in that group. Al Ries who wrote Positioning is in that group. Marshall Goldsmith is in there. Ben Baker of all people is in there. Ivan Misner is in there. David Meerman Scott, the who's who of Whoville are in this group. Most of them are way better, way more kazillionary than me. Howard Berg who sold $65 million worth of product, the fastest reader in the world joined. Many people say, "I sold $1 million with the books. I sold this." People are way more successful if you want to call that success for me.

Why did I invite them? They may get the clients that otherwise would've come to me but it makes it a destination that people want to come. It makes it easier to invite people to come instead of always saying, “Look at me.” What do I do in that group? You saw this, Ben, I promote other people in that group. Once every blue moon I'll say something about something I've done but generally, I'm promoting other people and trying to connect them. Liona Boyd, who's an internationally known musician, who's written several books is a member of our group and she asked, “How can I find a publisher for my children's book because their main publisher doesn't do kid's books?” I spent hours and hours inviting other people. Ellen Roseman who wrote for Star and The Globe is in there. I invite people and I cross-connect them and cross-pollinate them and promote them. Every once in a while, somebody says, "Tsufit, can you help me?" That's nice.

Let me ask you one last question. This is a question I ask everybody. When you leave a meeting or you get in your car and you drive away, what's the one thing you want people to think about you when you're not in the room?

I'm going to sneak in one last promo thing before I answer it. If you want some free tips about how to stand out in 30 seconds, you can go to www.SpotlightSecrets.com. What do I want people to think about when I leave the room? That's not something that I have ever consciously thought about. I don't even want them to think. I want them to be blown away and be like, "She gets noticed. Can she help me do that?” For years people said, “Tsufit, that's just you.” Now they're starting to understand it's not just me. It's something that can be learned. I want them to think, to hope, that can she show me how to do a little bit of that? That's what I want them to think. That is often what they do think. 

LBL 121 | How To Get Noticed

How To Get Noticed: Too many people are trying to be loved and liked by everybody, but nobody knows they exist.

 

Thank you very much for being on the show. You've been a wonderful guest. There is unbelievable content in here. People are going to have to read this two or three times to get everything. Thank you very much for everything that you've done. 

It’s my pleasure, Ben. I wish you every success with your show and everything else that you're doing.

Take care.

Important Links: 

About Tsufit

LBL 121 | How To Get NoticedRecently featured in Forbes, TSUFIT is the author of Award-Winning book Step Into the Spotlight!: A Guide to Getting Noticed.
 
TSUFIT is a former lawyer who has been described by the Toronto Star as “a starburst of energy― bright bubbly and upbeat” and by Publisher’s Weekly as a “coaching dynamo”. Her book, Step Into the Spotlight! has been endorsed by Tom Peters, Jay Conrad Levinson, Jack Trout, BNI founder, Ivan Misner, Les Brown, Al Ries & many other New York Times best selling authors and experts.
 
Formerly an actress, singer & comedienne & the subject of 100’s of feature newspaper articles, television & radio appearances internationally, TSUFIT has appeared doing stand-up comedy in night clubs and on national TV and has appeared on television and film commercials internationally.
 
TSUFIT coaches professionals, entrepreneurs, business owners, authors, speakers, coaches, consultants and CEOs to catapult their personal brands and themselves into a starring role! She coaches her clients to get seen, get heard and get noticed!
 
Once named a “Super-Achiever” by Canadian Lawyer Magazine, TSUFIT is a Dean’s List Law School Graduate who practiced litigation law for 10 years before leaving law for the limelight. Her music CD “Under the Mediterranean Sky” has made Top Album lists all over North America and is played on the radio internationally.
 
TSUFIT’s unique story was the subject of a national television documentary which aired on several networks across Canada.
 
TSUFIT is in demand as a keynote speaker, radio and TV show guest, seminar leader and mom (although she points out that she is not currently taking on any new clients in the last category!)

LBL 140 | Cloud Nine Living

 

Many of us get so caught up in the everyday minutiae that we forget the things that matter, the things that are good, and the things that brings us the feeling of ecstasy towards cloud nine. Inspiring us to slow down and reflect on the cloud nine moments of our life is Jordan Gross, the owner of Cloud Nine Living. Jordan shares his insights from his upcoming book, The Journey to Cloud Nine, where he talks about the importance of having the sense of self-awareness and the ability to reevaluate scenarios and realize they are so much more meaningful. He also talks about making changes, being an optimist, and helping others find their cloud nine moments as well.

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Listen to the podcast here:

Cloud Nine Living with Jordan Gross

Our guest is Jordan Gross. Jordan comes to us from New York City. He is the Owner of a company called Cloud Nine Living. We're going to get into it because for me to explain what Jordan does, we'll never do a great service. Jordan, welcome to the show and welcome to the West Coast.

How are you?

I am doing great.

It's great to be chatting finally. I know we connected a couple of times, but this is exciting to be on this show, share my story and share the Cloud Nine story. Maybe we'll even get a little bit of your story as well.

I bet you like I meet most of the people that are on my show is through LinkedIn because to me that's where the interesting people are. No offense to Facebook, no offense to Twitter, Snapchat or whatever. The business audience, the people that are the idea makers, the people that are creating the good content that are adding value and not just creating the needle but shaping it, are on LinkedIn. You and I met through a series of conversations. I went, “I've got to pick up a phone and I've got to talk to this guy.” What I want people to find out is Cloud Nine Living. The name itself brings certain ideas to the forefront. I'm going to let you tell your story because that's what this is all about. Tell me where Cloud Nine came from. What is the genesis of this movement?

Cloud Nine came from this amazing sequence of events. It was a perfect alignment of the stars in November of 2018. It was a normal football Sunday. I live in New York City. I was downtown at a buddy's apartment and we're doing typical guy stuff, yelling at the TV when our fantasy teams weren't doing well, slow-roasting a pork shoulder, talking about things that weren't so important. What made this Sunday a little bit different was that one of our acquaintances from high school had passed away. We started to bring it up toward the end of the day and our conversations went from nonsensical guy stuff to life, love, death, meaning and purpose. It was very introspective in a way that we'd never chatted before. As I'm going home that night, I'm driving in an Uber on the FDR in New York City and I see out in the East River a boat. The boat, the only thing I could see in letters on the boat was its name. The name of the boat was Cloud Nine. The Uber driver, the cashier, the waiter, the waitress, I always liked to spark conversation and get them a little bit outside of the norms of their day. I said, “What does Cloud Nine mean to you?”

His story shaped what the Cloud Nine Living movement is all about. He started to light up at the story of him having a family, him getting married, him moving to America, him making enough money to go back to his home country. He talked about a time when he was a kid that he remembers feeling on top of the world. As I'm listening to his stories, I started to think about my own. I'm thinking, “I've had these Cloud Nine moments as well. I've had these Cloud Nine experiences of uninterrupted joy.” I'm sure there are other people out there who've had them too. I started asking hundreds of people around the world from very high performers, billionaires to dancers, teachers and people in my own life, my family members, my 90-year-old grandma, “What does Cloud Nine mean to you? How are you living your version of a Cloud Nine life?”

You have the opportunity to evaluate scenarios in your life and realize that it's so much more meaningful than it is at the surface. Click To Tweet

As I hear all these stories, I started to realize that Cloud Nine, The Journey to Cloud Nine, which is the name of the book that'll be coming out, is what I'm doing. My life has been characterized by moves in which I was making a change but never went all in. I'd make a change and I wouldn't go all in. I'd always have some safety net behind me. A couple of years ago, I decided to quit my job in the corporate world. I wrote my first book and I help people for a living. That was my Cloud Nine moment. It was that one big change where I made the leap. My one word, my personal brand is being a trailblazer. I blazed a new trail for myself. That's what I do for other people is I'm trying to help them live their Cloud Nine lives by blazing this new trail on their own where they can make this one change in their lives and ultimately have the domino effect occur and everything else changes as well.

Most people don't realize when those pivotal moments happen in their lives. You realize that maybe a few years later, maybe several years later. Maybe at the end of your life you can look back, you can pivot and you can sit there and say, “That was the pivotal moment that changed my life.” When we're going through it, when we're making that messy change because normally it is a messy change, we don't realize how good things are. We don't have the appreciation of the change that’s happening in our lives.

When you're going through that change, there are a lot of things that are happening in your life. Whether it's going from being an employee to an entrepreneur, from this mindset to another mindset, people have to sit there, be able to stop, be in the moment and realize, “I'm making a conscious choice to go left instead of right.” My question is how do you get people to appreciate that? Many people are so caught up with the day-to-day minutia that goes on for most of us, myself included, that we don't step back, sit there and say, “That was a cool day.”

Let me tell you two stories. Number one is probably one of my favorite things that have ever happened to me in my life and it's because it was this chance encounter, this coincidence that occurred as I was writing The Journey to Cloud Nine. It shouldn't have happened because I never do this. I looked up the word ecstasy online because feeling like you're on Cloud Nine, it's this feeling of euphoria or this feeling of ecstasy. Once you go past all the drugs, I saw that the word ecstasy comes from the root word ecstasis. What ecstasis means is to literally take a step to the side of or to step outside of oneself. In thinking about what Cloud Nine means and how to better appreciate Cloud Nine moments, you legitimately have to be in this state of ecstasy. You need to take a step outside of yourself.

In the book, it's a fictional book so what I do is I put you in the clouds. You put yourself into the clouds and you look down at your life from this third-party perspective and you say, “That was a pretty good moment. That was a pretty good day. That's a pretty Cloud Nine life that I'm living.” I say it's one of my favorite coincidences because never in my life have I looked up the root of a word before. This one word that I looked up and I found that the root of it had this meaning, it was this crazy scenario that's like, “That's how you better appreciate your Cloud Nine moments.” It's by every single day having the sense of self-awareness to put yourself into the clouds, look down at whoever you are and say, “I had a Cloud Nine day. I could do this to have a better day. Here's what I need to have a Cloud Nine day tomorrow,” and have that sense of self-awareness.

Story number two is how I was able to understand that I can create a sense of my own epiphanies or Cloud Nine moments. It comes from listening to a ton of podcasts. I've immersed myself in this self-help and personal development world. I hear all these stories all the time about, “It was this scenario where I finally realized I had to make a change. It was this sickness where I realized I had to make a change or this accident where I realized I had to make a change.” Here I am saying, “Why would I ever wait for that?” I was listening to one of my mentors, Hal Elrod, who wrote The Miracle Morning. This guy has been through a lot. He has literally died. He has had cancer.

LBL 140 | Cloud Nine Living

The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)

He has been fully broke. He was a troubled kid growing up. He was in detention all the time. As I'm listening to Hal’s story, a close mentor and friend of mine now, I said to myself, “Why would I ever wait for the perfect or imperfect alignment of the stars to take control of my life and start doing what I want and start appreciating what I currently have?” I always say that my a-ha moment was listening to Hal and realizing that I don't need an a-ha moment to have these a-ha moments. How back and forth and circular is that, but that's what it is. It's that in every single scenario in your life, you have the opportunity to evaluate it and realize that it's so much more meaningful than it is at the surface.

I want to unpack that a little bit. Life happens and it's going to continue to happen. There is no perfect moment for everything. There is no perfect in our world. The world is a continuum. Things are going to get better. They're going to get worse. We're going to be richer. We're going to be poorer. Our health is going to be better. Our health is going to be worse. There's no perfect time to start a business. I started Your Brand Marketing in January 2008. If there was the worst time to start a company, I can't think what it was but it's the right time in my head.

We all need to sit there and say, “If we're going to make a change, there's never going to be a perfect time to make that change.” If we want to lose weight and we want to start a new business. If we want to bring on a new employee, we just need to do it. Have a plan and stick by that plan. If that plan isn't working, evaluate why the plan isn't working, pivot and move forward. We need to sit there and have the ability to take a chance. I love that about you. We need all to make choices in our life to take chances for our own betterment.

It's about knowing yourself. It was the best time for you in your life. It's about calculating that risk. I'm a risk-seeking person. I was okay with quitting my job and not having something to do next. If you're risk-averse, make a more calculated exit from your job if that's what you're going to do. You mentioned this phrase of life is going to happen to us. You know the phrase everything happens for a reason. I don't fully believe in that. I think that everything happens and then it's up to us to assign a reason to it. This comes back to storytelling and how we assign the stories to whatever happens within our lives. That's what I believe is so important in every single scenario. It's like, “This happened. 2008 occurred. Here I am. What do I do?” I can view this now as an opportunity. This is when I'm going to start a business. That's the story that you decided to tell.

My view on life and this is a story I love to tell all the time is glasses are neither half-full nor half-empty, they're refillable. If you look at life as a refillable glass, even if you spill a little bit, even if you go back three steps, even if you go back ten steps, it doesn't define who you're going to be moving forward. We're all going to stumble. We're all going to have things in our lives that are going to reach out and give us a smack upside the back of the head. It's how we react. It's how we take the lessons learned from those events that happen in our lives and become better. Everybody has that capability.

Everybody has the capability of either saying, “I've got cancer. I'm going to crawl into a corner and I'm going to eat nachos the rest of my life and watch television.” They're going to sit there and say, “I've got cancer. What can I do? What can we do to move forward from this point? What can I do to make my life the best life that I can?” That's the difference between the optimist, the pessimist, the person that's going to succeed and the person who's going to sit there and wallow in their life. My question to you is as you were building the journey to Cloud Nine, as you were interviewing people, what were the biggest insights you were getting from people? Were there recurring themes that were coming up?

Before I get there, there’s one last thing on the optimist versus the pessimist. In my mind, even if the optimist doesn't make it through, at least that person will have done everything possible to have tried and given the best opportunity to make it through, whereas the pessimist won't even have given it a shot. That’s how I'd want it and that is that being an optimist gives you the opportunity no matter what the end result is at the end of the day. The themes that have come up have really been every single story has touched on one of these principles. It's shocking because you'd think that I would get different types of stories and I do. I get all different types of stories from people around the world. Some are the highest performers, billionaires, startup founders and bestselling authors. I talked to my mom and dad or normal people. I talk to my friends, normal people. Here are the themes.

There are seven key themes that have come up. There's an eighth theme that is bringing it all together. There's a ninth theme that allows you to start making a change in your life moving forward once you've realized that you can make Cloud Nine moments every day. At the end of the day, we have nine themes for our Cloud Nine journey. The first one is playfulness. The second one is camaraderie. The third one is love. The fourth one is responsibility. The fifth one is accomplishment. The sixth one is benevolence. The seventh is calling. Once you've had those seven themes, the other stories that I hear are that anytime this happens you have this Cloud Nine moment, there has to be the realization of the moment. That's the reflection piece. Finally, once you've had that realization of what your Cloud Nine life is supposed to look like, then it's your opportunity for resurgence. If you haven't been living your Cloud Nine life, you can redefine the way that you're going to live and then live according to it based off of everything that you've uncovered.

Everything happens; it's up to us to assign a reason to it. Click To Tweet

I look at those as key factors in leadership as well. The work that I do is all about trying to make better leaders within organizations and be able to use internal communication to engage, retain and grow employees. I look at those nine principles and I sit there and say, “This is about being human. These are all human qualities and the more we can be human both with ourselves and with the people around us, the more inspired and the more inspiring we can be.” There's a lot to be learned from that. People need to realize that the world that we live in is full of human beings. We all have goals. We all have aspirations. We all have things that we want in life. The more we can help the people around us, first of all, understand their Big Hairy Audacious Goal and help them live it, the better the world is going to be. It’s not just living your own Cloud Nine moment, it's helping others to live their moment as well. That's the world that I want to live in. That’s the world that I see as not only being inspired and living an inspired life, but helping others to feel inspired as well.

You said it best and with the whole metaphor of the book basically takes you on a plane through the clouds. You want to be somebody else's copilot. You want to copilot them throughout their journeys and you want to change the world, but you can't change the entire world all at once. If you change one person's world, you change another person's world, little by little you're changing all of these people's worlds and then ultimately the whole world changes.

It’s little pebbles in the water, they all create ripples. The more ripples we can create, the bigger the waves we can get. I can't solve the world's problems. I'm not president of the United States. I'm not head of the UN. I'm not Richard Branson or whoever. I don't have that reach and influence. What I can do is I can influence the people around me and I can help those people influence the people around them. If we can do that, we can start a wonderful chain reaction. Let's get into something I thought was interesting. You've done a TEDx Talk. Tell me about your experience. First of all, what was the TEDx Talk on? What brought you to a point, “I have to do a TEDx Talk?” What was the experience like? Where is the journey taking you?

I was able to get a TEDx Talk as somebody who was just starting up without a following, without anything except my first book that I wrote, which was called Getting Comfy: Your Morning Guide to Daily Happiness. It was a self-help book about morning routines.

How old were you when you wrote that book?

I was 22.

LBL 140 | Cloud Nine Living

Getting COMFY: Your Morning Guide to Daily Happiness

You were fairly young when you wrote a book. I didn't write a book until I was 48.

It came out when I was 23. I'll have the second book out when I'm 25. I gave the TEDx Talk when I was 24. The way that I was able to get a TEDx Talk with nothing to my name was through relationship-building. For everybody out there who's reading who thinks, “I can't give a TED Talk. I don't know anybody or I don't have a following or I don't have a platform.” It's totally possible if you have the ability to make an impact on one person and a group of people. The way that I got my talk was by reaching out to a number of TEDx organizers and hosts and by figuring out a way that I could add value to them and what they were doing. It ultimately ended up that I spoke at a middle school. It was TEDxClintonMiddleSchool. I spoke to a lovely woman named Sarah who set up the event. I basically told Sarah that middle school students are under so much pressure even at that young age.

My message was all about how to overcome that stress and anxiety right when the alarm clock goes off in the morning. With that, I was invited to give that talk. I went up to Upstate New York in Clinton, New York. It was a really cool TED event because it was an adult speaker and then middle school speaker. It was very refreshing to hear that their messages were all the same, it was the way we packed them up and delivered them were a little bit different. We learn the same things when we're ten as we do when we're 30. It's a matter of how we are going to internalize them best and utilize them in our lives that shape the way that we live. My TEDx was called Getting COMFY with the Uncomfy. It was my morning routine of how to beat that alarm clock and beat that stress and anxiety. It was also about how to get comfy in your own skin. It was also about how to then deliberately get outside of your comfort zone because that's always important for growth, and then the actual five-step acronym approach of how I feel a little bit more confident in situations where I'm outside of my comfort zone.

That's the most important thing, beyond what you spoke about, is that you found a need. They needed you. You had a message that spoke to their audience. You were able to provide them something that was valuable not only to them as organizers, but to the audience that they were trying to serve. It's enormous because too many people sit there and say, “I've got speech X. I speak a lot. I speak all over the place,” and people say, “What do you speak on?” I said, “Here are the general themes that I speak on. How can I make that speech personalized to your audience?” I have certain stories that I tell. I have certain themes that I talk about, certain ideas I talk about. If you listen to me speak ten different cities to ten different audiences, you may not recognize it as the same speech because I do everything I can to, first of all, make the audience feel that they're getting something of value to them. Also make the organizer feel they're the number one special people, that I'm making them look like heroes.

That's what you did, “How can I make these organizers of this TEDx look like heroes and add value to their audience and do that?” That's a good lesson for anybody. It's not about you, it's about the people you serve. That’s a lesson for life. That's a huge lesson and I'm sure it's a huge part of Cloud Nine Living. It's that servant lifestyle. It's not all about me. It's not, “Look at me, look how pretty I am. Look at clothes I'm wearing.” It's, “How I can make this world a better place?”

One of my favorite books is The Go-Giver, which is a short business parable about how giving is so important in business, in life and in receiving even. When you're giving, you're truly living. When you're taking, it's like you're just surviving. That’s what it's all about. It's all about how are we going to most add value to the world? I say that I try to help people with their life statements. One of mine is I add value to others without expecting anything in return even. It definitely resonates there.

You're 25 years old and you're living your Cloud Nine life. You're not even a quarter of the way through. The joke my wife told me on my 50th birthday was the fact that now I'm on the backside. I go, “I've got another 50 years to go.” My question to you is how do you keep inspired by the Cloud Nine life? How do you keep setting those goals to say, “What's next?” Where you're not always reaching for that brass ring, where you can appreciate when you actually do reach that brass ring, celebrate your accomplishment and then sit there and say, “I crossed this bridge. I climbed this mountain. I accomplished this goal. That was really cool. Let’s celebrate this. What's next?” How do you put that within yourself? How do you teach that to your clients?

When you're giving, you're truly living. When you're taking, it's like you're just surviving. Click To Tweet

I'll tell you a little story. It was probably the first time in several years that I lashed out. I impulsively yelled or cursed at somebody who was a cab driver in New York City. I’m a mild-mannered guy, even keel. I was walking across the street and I got honked. I had the walk sign, so I was clearly in the right, but the guy was honking at me and I cursed and I stood there until I couldn't stand there anymore. As he was honking at me, I walked past and I walked to the grocery store or wherever I was going. I said, “Why did I do that? What's wrong? What's going on here? Maybe he was going because he was in a rush or maybe there was an emergency.” I started feeling bad about why I had lashed out when I hadn't in such a long time.

I decided to ask one of my mentors about this. His name is Jeff Hoffman. He founded Priceline.com. We had a conversation about being patient. For me, I'm at this stage in the game where I'm helping a lot of people and I believe in what I'm doing. I want to be this household name with Cloud Nine Living in the books that I write and the teachings that I make. I'm not there yet, but I'm on my way. I have to be patient. I said to Jeff, “How do I break the threshold from making an impact and doing some good stuff to making an impact, like being a Jeff Hoffman or something like that?”

He said to me, “Have you written down your ultimate goal?” I said, “Yeah, of course.” He said, “Have you written down what you're going to do the day before your ultimate goal?” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Have you written down what you're going to do the month before your ultimate goal?” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “How about the year before? How about the year before that? How about the year and five months before that?” He's telling me this and he says, “When I set my goals and I started Priceline.com or I started my record label, I literally projected five, ten years into the future. I envisioned who I was going to be at that time in my life and then I worked my way backward.” Reverse-engineering your goals, but he was telling it to me in a creative way.

I started to think, “This is a great way to remain patient,” because I'm going to have so many opportunities to celebrate where I'm at along the way by setting these micro-goals moving toward the ultimate goal at the end of the day. That was a great way for me to say like, “It's all about being patient, playing the long game and having this set plan, working that plan and then seeing if maybe I don't hit that plan on a certain day, how do I change things up a little bit?” I'm working toward the plan and it's going pretty well. I can do all I can do every single day, be reflective of that day at the end of my day and ultimately try to change things around the next day so I'm doing a little bit better than I was before.

Let me ask you one last question. This is a question I ask everybody as they walk out the door. When you leave a meeting, you get off the stage or you leave somebody for whatever reason. When you get in your car and you drive away or your Uber, what's the one thing you want people to think about you when you're not in the room?

“That Jordan Gross man is a nice, authentic human being.” That's all I want in life. It's that simple. If that's what people say about me when I'm not there, then I'm okay with that.

I'd love to have that on my tombstone. That sounds like a wonderful thing to have. Jordan, thank you very much for a great talk. I loved having you on the show. Thanks for the inspiration. Thanks for being a great guest.

Thank you, Ben. This was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it. Thanks so much.

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About Jordan Gross

LBL 140 | Cloud Nine LivingJordan Gross IS a Northwestern and Kellogg School of Management graduate, a writer, a leadership coach, a speaker, and a self-proclaimed multipotentialite, having experienced positions in large banks like Merrill Lynch to small startup companies like Chowbus, focused on bringing cheaper Asian delivery food to urban populations. He is a corporate refugee turned trailblazer for positive change, optimism, and the belief that our daily actions can help us all overcome stress and anxiety.

Also a best-selling author of a book called Getting COMFY: Your Morning Guide to Daily Happiness, a TEDx Speaker, and have founded multiple companies and organizations!

In his free time you can find me listening to podcasts, at the gym, playing sports, reading Mitch Albom books, writing Mitch Albom type books, and living his own version of a Cloud Nine life!

LBL 139 | Customer Experience

 

How do we deliver customer experience in a way that's meaningful and that people want to listen to? When average seems to be not cutting it, we need something that makes us stop and think and grabs our attention. Customers demand it, organizations demand it. As professionals, we should demand it as well. Adrian Swinscoe, the author of Punk CX, talks about an in your face customer experience that gets down to the brass tacks. He dives into the process of writing his visual extravaganza book, and touches on resilience, KPIs and metrics, effective leadership, and the Law of Three Craps.

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Listen to the podcast here:

 

Punk CX: Customer Experience In Your Face with Adrian Swinscoe

It is another great show and thanks for being with us. Our guest is Adrian Swinscoe. He is the author of a couple of books, but the one that actually brought me to his attention is called Punk CX. It's a visual extravaganza. This book is absolutely amazing. It's a short read and it's designed to be read in chunks. For people who don't know, CX is customer experience and this is customer experience in your face. This is what every Wall Street, three-piece suit Armani-wearing guy should be reading and should be listening to instead of these nicety books because this gets down to the brass tacks. How do we do customer experience in a way that's meaningful and that people want to listen to? Adrian, welcome to the show.

Ben, how are you doing?

First of all, I love the title, Punk CX, because you'll look at this book and it's bright yellow with a pink background. It's shocking. It's in your face. It's one of those things where if you saw it on a bookshelf, you'd sit there going, “Huh?” Either you'd be compelled to grab it or you'd be repulsed by it. That was probably the point of it, is that it's going to be for some people, it's not going to be for others. The people who get it, the people who sit there and read it are better off because of it. Tell me the story, Adrian. What brought you to this point? This isn't your first book. Where have you come from and where are we now?

Thank you for that. Those are some nice words. The cover is designed intentionally as an homage, tipping my hat to Nevermind The Bollocks, the Sex Pistols cover, which was the same colors as the cover, the bright yellow with a splash of pink, white and black. There's the punk reference. It’s an homage. I’ve written a couple of books. One was back in 2010, but the one before the Punk CX was a thing called How To Wow. That was a bit more of a comprehensive look at customer service, customer experience across the journey. It was a bit like a pick and mix stand at a cinema. You've got all these choices of all these ranges of sweets that you can go in and choose as per your appetite. That was fun. It was a bit of a manual, how-to type of thing. That was great and it was great to write that. That was back in 2016 it came out and then at late 2017, I happened to have arranged to meet out with a friend of mine, Oisin, who also helped me edit the book. Oisin Lunny is a great guy and a good friend of mine. We happened to meet up and we were in a pub called The Basket Makers in Brighton where we both used to live at the time.

We're having a bit of a chat about stuff and I got into a rant about the state of experience. I was bemoaning to him the idea that there's all this stuff, all this talk about customer experience, but didn't seem to be getting any better. That's why with all the span, all the effort and all the rhetoric, nothing seems to be changing. Over this pint of Guinness, I was getting increasingly frustrated and I said, “I want somebody to do something a bit more punk, break out, do something to change the script a little bit.” The idea sat with me for a while. I didn't mean anything other than a bit of a drunk-fueled inspiration.

That’s when the best inspiration comes. It’s usually over a couple of pints.

I call it a moment of clarity. It stuck with me for about six months and in the summer of 2018, it popped back into my mind and I start to rethink about it. I started thinking about punk music and the evolution of where punk came from and the evolution of musical genres that led up to punk. What's fascinating is it made me think about how punk exploded at the back of prog rock in the 1970s. Prog rock was also a popular musical genre which was also accused of being overly elaborate and self-indulgence. It’s not interested in its audience. It was all about intricacy and how fancy you can make things. It had long, elaborate solos and all that stuff. Punk exploded out in the back of it because it was this DIY, back to basics, democratic approach to music where it's about energy, about motivation and about daring to be different and not having to have a PhD in music to be able to play. Anybody could play and that was the attractive thing about it.

The thing that struck me was that I was thinking about customer experience, then I was thinking about prog rock and I was thinking, “The customer experience space is looking a lot like what prog rock looked like in the 1970s. It is overly complicated, dominated by all sorts of choices, technology, metrics, frameworks, maturity scales and all these different things. There are similarities here. They have the same characteristics.” There’s a danger as well of prog rock of disappearing up its own ass. It’s becoming more interested in itself and losing sight of its customers, the people they're supposed to be working for. That made me think, “If the CX currently is looking a little bit like prog rock in the 1970s and punk rock exploded out the back of prog rock in the 1970s then, what would hypothetically a punk version of CX look like?”

That brought me to this idea, “What would that look like?” That set me up to think about the book and what I could make of that idea. I then started thinking about it and thinking, “A punk version of CX, how would it be epitomized? How would you deliver it?” Hence, I wrote the book, which is very short of words, slightly profane, a little bit shouty, probably slightly controversial in places, but also incredibly visual. I thought, “Why don't we try and keep it as close to a musical format, almost structure it like an album, almost like, ‘Here's an image or a title and here's a set of lyrics that go with that.’”

What was on the B-side? It was deciding what was on the A-side and what was on the B-side. That's the toughest part.

Average is not good enough. Click To Tweet

Absolutely and then theme it around different things. The idea is if you don't like punk music, it's going to feel like you're getting in a boxing ring. Somebody’s got to keep punching you. If it makes you stop and it makes you think, if it annoys you, then so be it because average is not good enough as far as I'm concerned. Our customers demand it, our organizations demand it, we should demand it as professionals. This is a visual slap in the face for the customer experience industry. That's all where it's come from.

I'm a big believer about internal versus external customers. I don't believe there's such a thing as an employee. They’re internal customers and external customers, but we've overcomplicated everything with this over-reliance and over-fascination with metrics. Everything has to be measured and everything has to be digital. There’s this propensity to grab as much information as humanly possible and not ever look at it. We throw it into the AI, we throw it in the machine learning and it's like, “If that's what AI and machine learning says, it must be true.” It doesn't matter if black is white and white is black. If the machine is saying that's what it should be, that's what our customer experience should be.

We need to go back to the world where we talk to our customers, where we sit there and have conversations over coffee in the convention hall, at the trade and exhibition, to be able to sit there and say, “What do you think? What are we doing well and what aren't we doing well? What could we be doing better for you?” That's what I got out of your book. That's what I fell in love with because that's my vision. We need to stop over-complicating life, business and everything and go back to the point where we talk to people.

There is a piece of reference in the book and it's about a study that a professor of marketing at Darden produced. He was interested in this idea of the quantified self. He was looking at how does that affect heart monitors, step monitors, Fitbits and all that stuff. He said he wanted to understand from an academic research-based perspective what happens when you measure stuff. It wasn't a big study, but it was an interesting study. They had two groups, a measured a group and then a control group. What he found interestingly enough was the group whose activity was measured over a period of time, you find that while the quantity of the activity went up, the level of engagement with it went down.

That made me think that it’s like a personal dimension phenomenon. If you took that idea and took it over and dropped it into an organization and going, “We're trying to measure the hell out of everybody here,” then yes, that might have a positive impact on outputs, but there may be a negative impact on the quality of the outputs. It could explain some of the productivity challenges that we're having because we're trying to measure the hell out of everything. My purpose in that was to ask people to ask themselves, “Just because you can, it doesn't mean that you should. More metrics doesn't mean better metrics. Pick the metrics that are going to matter and that requires understanding your business and understanding what works.”

Adding another KPI or another element to your scorecard doesn't mean to say that you're guaranteed to get more out of it because that over measuring stuff can be almost overbearing through your measurement of people. Maybe having the completely opposite effect of what you desire. We're defaulting to our ability to gather data and to measures stuff rather than engaging our noggins to actually go, “Let's be smart about this. Let's be smart by the input that we're putting into the systems that we're building. Otherwise, if we're dumb, we just build dumb systems.”

There are two things that I got out of that. One is we need to decide what we want to measure and does it move our business forward? Are we measuring the things that matter to us as a company, not the measures to IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Amazon or Walmart? What are the things that matter in our company? If all you care about is dollars in my pocket after tax at the end of the year, why do you measure stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with that? I looked at that. If you want a case point on how you'll over metrics makes people miserable, look at salespeople. If you ever want to see a miserable salesperson, look at the person who has to write their monthly, weekly or daily reports. This is a group of people that do not like paperwork mentally.

Case in point, if you're a good salesperson, I don't care if you're a man, woman or whatever, you hate paperwork. You want to be out in front of the people. You want to be able to do your thing. You want to have that relationship where you're one on one with people. Sitting there at a computer having to fill out a report at the end of the day, month or quarter is the most miserable thing in the world. Businesses have to realize that. They have to sit there and say, “We need some information, but how do we do this in a way that's not going to make our people miserable by doing it?

It’s fascinating that years and years ago, people in business, particularly if it was business-to-business, used to talk about rainmakers. Rainmakers were like magicians. Stuff just happens. They show up because you believed in people. You trust that things were going to happen and you can't measure a rainmaker. You hire them because you know that things are going to happen and you're going to take a chance on them. We think that we're losing some of that magic now. I'm not being a Luddite and saying, “We shouldn’t be data-driven in terms of helping us to make decisions.” In the words of Rory Sutherland, he said that measurably means it’s mediocre rather than immeasurably brilliant. That is the danger that we end up getting. As I talk about in the book, we lose the art in it because it's the art that makes the difference.

It’s the art that makes us human. The reason why I want to talk to you or I want to talk to somebody else or I want to engage with somebody else is because I find the person interesting, engaging and fascinating and they're fascinated about me. That's what customer experience in the end is all about. Customer experience is making people feel that they've been listened to, they've been understood and they're valued. Whether that's an internal person or an external person, that's what customer experience is all about. The metrics have got to support that or else they're useless.

On my wall, there's a chapter in the book which says, “Customer experiences is about more than crap.” If we don't start to believe in it, if you don't start wanting to put a bit of heart and a bit of emotion into it, then how can we expect our customers to put heart and emotion into it? That's almost by design. The book is also meant to be a bit shouty, a bit profane and a bit emotional because it's there to go, “Come on, pull your socks up. We're in a good space. We're doing good work. We've been asked to do good work so let’s be down with it.”

In your book, there are a lot of great stories, but the one story that resonated with me was the bathroom story. I probably won't do justice and I'll let you go in. It's more the fact that says you have this beautiful restaurant, this elegant service, the customers are coming and the toilets stink and the bathroom's a mess. You're missing the whole process. All of a sudden, you've taken their entire customer service and customer experience and you've thrown it out the window because the bathroom stinks. I'll let you get into that but that's brilliant.

The point of that is that experience is a whole business game. It’s a team sport. The point of the story is imagine yourself in a situation where you booked yourself into a restaurant with either your friends or loved one or whatever. You've been waiting a long time to go there and then the day shows up and you go to the restaurant. You're welcomed at the door and shown to the table and it's packed full of people. The ambiance is great. There’s great music. The maître d’ is super helpful. The sommelier comes across and shows you the wines. Everything is going brilliant. The smells are wafting through from the kitchen. People are enjoying their food, it couldn't be going better. You order some stuff, they come super efficiently and everything else. You have your starters and it's all great and then you excuse yourself and go to the bathroom. You go to the bathroom and it's an absolute tip. It's smelly, it's slimy, it stinks. It’s grimy and horrible.

In that moment, everything changes because in that moment you're going, “I was having that experience over there. Everything was going great. Now, I've seen this. That makes me potentially think about if their bathroom is like that, then how's the kitchen? How’s the food storage? How’s everything else?” All that stuff. You start to question all of these different things. The point of the story is to say, “It's not good enough to have a fancy shop front or a great new website or whatever. If your complaints department is garbage or your delivery is outsourced to some surly guy with a bad attitude or the packaging of your product when you send it through the mail is not adequate stuff.” The point is your experience is only ever as strong as your weakest link and you have to see the whole thing.

This is not just for consumer businesses. This is for all businesses. It’s like crumbs. Thinking about B2B, one of the biggest things that they suffer from is their billing processes and invoices. It's like if people can look at the bill and then they get back to the salesman and go, “This bill, what is that? Did we buy this? What was this language on here? It is like a foreign language to me. That number doesn't seem to be right. You didn't explain it to me.” Those are very simple examples, but the point is you have to think about this holistically. Despite all the work that you're doing, if someone hits that pothole, whether it's your billing department or whether it's your section desk or it's the state of your bathroom or your checkout process on your website. It’s the attitude of your staff in stores or whatever it might be, it doesn't matter. All these different things are in this one pothole. If you have a pothole, then in all these other places, you are done.

My favorite saying is that your brand is only as strong as your worst employee on their worst day. Your brand, whether it be can be sabotaged either by somebody inside the company, outside the company, whatever, based on the experience that one person has. It's not just the experience they have, it's also how you recover from it.

I'm not saying that we have to be perfect all of the time because we do have emotional credits. You have an emotional bank account with you. Good brands who offer predominantly can have great experiences across the board will accrue emotional credit over time with people. People are human and they understand that people have bad days and sometimes things go wrong and that's fine. If something happens and they're annoyed by it, you've got enough credit in the bank to allow for that. The next time they come back to go, it's highly expensive. They're like, “That was an aberration. Now service is normal, service is resumed as it were.” If you're not at that level, then you don't have that resilience built into it. If you don't have the resilience built into it, it doesn't matter how much money you spent over here because the link and the chain over there isn't as strong, then you might only get one chance of this.

There are two conversations. The conversation is between you and a couple of friends of, “I went to this company, I did this and I had this horrible experience.” The other conversation is, “I went to this company and something happened. I had a horrible experience, but they made it right.” Those are two completely different stories. The second is a hero's journey. Everybody is going to make mistakes. Everybody is going to mess up every once in a while. Everybody is going to have an off day. In Disneyland, every once in a while, you run into a cast member that's having a bad day. It breaks the magic up, but they do everything within their power, first of all, to make sure that doesn't happen. Second of all, if it does happen, they make it right. That's where you're talking about the emotional bank. It’s saying, “We're all going to make mistakes. We're all going to do things that we shouldn't do. We’re all going to do things that will piss people off. It's how we recover and how we teach our people within our company that every single one of you is empowered to be able to make things right.” Great companies do that.

Let me get onto that because this is one of the things that bugs out of me. It's in the book as well. I talk about frontline people and how I think they are superheroes. They are people that are your front line, the cast members at Disney, the people that work in retail stores, the people that are in contact centers or that run in your help desk or your support desk or connect whoever it might be or even running your delivery. The people that stand face to face or talk voice to voice with your customers, they are superheroes, but here's the thing. In most organizations, despite all the rhetoric of, “Customer service and customer experience are important to us. We value our people,” they're still the least well-respected, the least well-treated and least well-rewarded people in the whole organization. It doesn't make a huge amount of sense given that they are your brand ambassadors. It doesn't make sense in that I don't think we are necessarily recognizing the work that some of these people do. They are absolute rock stars, superheroes. It’s the amount of stuff that they go through every day in terms of dealing with stuff over and over again.

They get called all the time how wrong they are. Very few people tell them how right there are and how much they're appreciated.

Front line people are superheroes, but they're the least well-respected and well-rewarded people in the whole organization. Click To Tweet

I told somebody about this. Wouldn't it be nice if we started a campaign which said, “Can we get a few people to call up something in customer service or customer support to say, “My name is Adrian, I'm a customer, I wanted to say thank you for the work that you do?”

I think that would go a million miles, especially customer service people, whether it's face-to-face or on the phone or whatever. Nine times out of ten the phone call they get is something's wrong. Someone's angry and belligerent and somebody is taking it out on them because they're the person on the other end of the phone. 99.9% of the time, they did absolutely nothing wrong. The difference is some companies give these people the power to make things right and the right tools, the right systems, and the right training to be able to make things right and a lot of companies don't. The ones that don’t, from what I can see anecdotally, have an enormous turnover.

They have burned-out employees, disengaged employees, belligerent employees, wherever you want to go with this because they don't have an outlet. They don't feel that they are listened to, understood or valued by the company or by the employees. They're being beaten up day after day. This is going back years and years ago. One of the girls in my office and this is before I went out on my own, came into our office and she was crying. I said, “What's going on?” She says, “One of the customers laid into her.” I said, “Who was it?” She goes, “I'm not going to tell you.” I said, “Who was it?” I picked up the phone, I called the president of that company and I fired them.

I fired them because I said, “You have no right to talk to my people like that. If you have that big of an issue with us as a company, you should be talking to me but berating my people and making them feel small, insignificant and less than dirt because it satisfies your ego, I don't want you as a customer.” I've done that once in my life but to me, it was probably one of the most satisfying things I've ever done because no one had the right to bring this girl to tears for something that wasn't her fault.

Coming back to the book, there's a thing in the book that I think captures a whole bunch of the stuff that's going on there. I liked it because I always wanted to make up a law as it were. Few people talk about the law of this and the law of that. Adrian’s law is otherwise known as the law of three craps. It was something that occurred to me as I was riding on the train or something. I was like noodling away on my side. The first version of the law was do good crap, keep doing good crap and crap will take care of itself. I shared this with my friend and my friend was going, “There might be another version of this.” They said, “I wish that we worked on it.” They said that version two is also in the book and it is, “Do good crap, ignore the crapsayers and crap will take care of itself.”

LBL 139 | Customer Experience
Punk CX

Those two things speak to a lot of the stuff that's going on in this space, whether it's engagement or whether it's experience or whatever. It speaks to two major psychosis that grips many organizations. Version one is the lack of discipline and commitment to a cause to do something and to keep doing it. The other one is this hang-up around what other people will think, what their peers will think as this social phobia thing. It means that you end up looking like or acting like that dog in the film, Up, where he goes, “Squirrel,” and it's the next thing.

My big challenge for organizations is can you evidence that you are disciplined enough to commit to a court and you've done it consistently over time? Can you also evidence that you're doing that despite the fact that some people might think that it's slightly crazy or you'd do different things and it's out of the unusual and not of the norm and so on and so forth? You're willing to be an outsider to play a long game. If you can get those two things, if you can say yes, then you're already in that differentiated punk space because most people are dominated by these two things.

I think you can sum all that up in one word, leadership. It comes down to effective leadership. People sit there and say, “I've got a vision. This is what my vision is. If it doesn't mesh with our vision, it's outside our wheelhouse. This is what we do. This is what we believe in. These are the people that we saw solve problems for. This is how we solve their problems. This is why people care about us. If we can figure that out and install that into all of our people and say, ‘These are the people we help and this is how we help them and we're going to empower you to do that,’” you’re right, things happen.

The thing within that as well is you almost have to have a thing where you have to be brave and stick to your principles and your belief in the understanding that it might not work and you might have to pay the consequence of it. If you believe in what you're going to do, then that's what good work requires. Otherwise, you're just hedging your career.

There are two things, one is at the back of your book, you have a list of companies and people that you say are the definitions of Punk CX. I'm honored because you're number three on your list that I actually got to interview on this show. The two other people are Stan Phelps. Shout out to Stan Phelps because Stan was the one who put us in touch with each other and the other is Seth Godin. You've got a great list of people. I'm honored that you're number three that I got to do it. Let's pick one number. Why do you think Nike makes your list?

Do good crap, ignore the crapsayers, and crap will take care of itself. Click To Tweet

It’s predominantly because of what they did with the Colin Kaepernick campaign because they were going, “This thing is not acceptable. We believe in sports. We believe in the athletes. We believe that athletes can have rights. It can't be plus-sized one way and not the other way. We believe in equality, diversity, inclusion and all these different things. If you don't like it, tough, but we're standing with it.”

If you burn my shoes, go for it.

It's about taking a stand and going, “That does not work for us. We are taking a stand with Kaepernick based on that issue. If you don't like it, that's tough. If you never buy our shoes or never buy our products ever again, we don't care because you're not one of us.”

The last thing I ask every single guest, as you walk out the door of a meeting, you get off the stage, you get in your car and you drive away, what's the one thing you want people to think about you when you're not around?

What a great conversation and I like the guy's energy and it's positive. I feel like I want to go and do something different.

You took the words out of my mouth. I have enjoyed this conversation. We have had a great time. Adrian, thanks for being part of the show. Thanks for everything you do. I can't wait to shout this out to the audience.

Ben, it's been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for reaching out and featuring myself and the book. Also thanks to big Stan for putting us in touch because that's what makes the world go round.

It's AdrianSwinscoe.com. Adrian, thanks for everything.

Important Links:

About Adrian Swinscoe

LBL 139 | Customer Experience

I’m a huge fan of organizations that do great things for their customers and I’ve been helping many to achieve their own level of greatness for over 20 years now via consulting, writing, speaking, and workshops in the areas of strategy, customer service/experience, customer insight, marketing and business development.

My driving passion is helping create, develop and grow businesses that take care of their customers in the best way possible and create the great teams that are required to do that.

I’m a former teacher, economist, manager of businesses and leader of teams. I’m also a lover of simplicity and advocate of the human touch with a bit of really useful technology thrown in.

Originally from Scotland, I have been lucky enough to have lived and worked in a number of places  around the world and over the years, I have had a varied career that has taken in teaching in the UK and overseas, working as an economist, working in and with a number of large corporate institutions such as ShellFT, and The Economist Group to consulting to hundreds of entrepreneurial businesses and SMEs to help them improve their profitability and growth through customer-centric strategies. The main theme that runs through my career is that I help people and organizations achieve greater potential and results through building better relationships with those people around them whether they are leaders, team members or customers.

I could not think of a better guest to have on the September 11th, 2019 show than Rabbi Jessica K. Marshall.  As a reform rabbi who has gone from the pulpit to entrepreneurship, we explored how her personal values has led her to creating a business that aligns perfectly and provides her clients with meaning and value.

If you use the code:  YourLIVINGBrand Show

When contacting Jessica, you will receive a $50 Amazon gift card for any referral to her services and those who take advantage of her wedding services or retreats will also received a gift card.

You can reach Jessica at:

https://rabbijessicamarshall.com/

or

jessicakesslermarshall@gmail.com

You can listen to the full episode HERE.

Patty Farmer was a bundle of energy today.  We spoke about marketing and how to do it right.  How to understand who your real audience is and how to communicate with them in ways that resonate with them and compel them to engage.

You can find Patty at www.pattyfarmer.com 

and you can download a free copy of her magazine at http://pattyfarmer.com/marketingmediamoney

 

YOU CAN LISTED TO THE SHOW

ON IHEART RADIO HERE

 

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