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Thought Leadership And Elevating Your Brand With Samantha Riley

LBL Samantha Riley | Elevating Your Brand


How can you elevate your brand through thought leadership? Samantha Riley has the perfect answer to this question. Today, Ben Baker interviews Samantha who is the creator of The Thought Leaders Positioning Model and host of the Thought Leaders Business Lab Podcast. Helping experts to be known as thought leaders by developing their leaderships skills, Samantha has elevated the way branding is done. How can you get your ten out of ten? Listen to Ben and Samantha as they discuss more about how you can elevate your brand.

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Thought Leadership And Elevating Your Brand With Samantha Riley

Thanks for tuning in. The emails that I get at, the thoughts that I get and the suggestions that I get for guests, it’s absolutely amazing how involved you people are. I love the passion of my audience. I want to thank you for being with me. Every week we get a brand-new guest. It’s interesting because I always prepare the first question. I always do a little bit of reading on people. I always do the last question, but in between, we never know where we’re going to go. I love the conversations that come up because they’re real, they’re authentic and they’re always interesting. Samantha Riley, welcome to the show from Australia.

Thank you so much, Ben. It’s awesome to be here with you.

We’re going to have a great conversation here.

I’m looking forward to it.

Sam, I want people to sit back and have an idea of who you are and what you do because your business is not just in Australia, it’s global. It’s I love the fact that you got the global email address because it tells a great story. Tell people who you are, what you do and why you do it.

What I do is help experts to be known as thought leaders. I help them to develop their thought leadership and build their personal brand. How I got into that was I’ve been in business for over 26 years now and in about 2010, I moved into the business coaching space because I figured, “I’ve cut my chops on 6 or 7 businesses, I think I’m good at this.” I’m not about vanilla. I’m not about generic. Whilst I can help most business owners, doesn’t mean that I should. What I mean by that is I can help them with their finances. I can help them with their marketing, understanding their admin and all of that stuff, but I don’t enjoy it. What lights me up and what is my zone of genius is to help people get very clear on what it is that their unique thing is. What is their nine or ten out of ten and help them to develop that because I can’t remember who said this, “There are enough sevens and eights and sixes out there. We don’t need any more of those. We want some nine and ten out of ten,” and that’s what I hope people do.

To help people understand the concept very easily, take big picture concepts and break them down into little tiny bite-sized pieces. Share on X

I’m going to interject on that. It’s being a ten out of ten to their scale. It’s not being a ten out of ten on Gary Vaynerchuk’s scale. It’s allowing people to be the best that they can be, take their brand and elevate it.

It’s not like the Gary Vaynerchuk thing where it’s like millions and millions of people know who I am. Definitely, most of us want to be or aspire to be there. Some of us don’t and some of us do. What I’m talking about with the ten out of ten is like, “What is it that makes you unique? Why is it that you do what you do in a different way to all of the other people that do what you do? What is the specific way that you think? What is the specific way that you see this problem that no one else does in exactly the same way?” That’s what I’m talking about, getting super clear on that one thing. It’s usually that one thing that you can’t believe that you get paid for because it comes so easily to you.

It’s amazing to me how few people, when you ask them, “What are you passionate about? What’s your jam? What do you love doing? What are you good at?” You get this vanilla answer. They ramble on for 30 or 45 seconds and you sit there and say, “What do you do and what are you passionate about?” You have to go back to them 4 or 5 times, sit there and say, “What is your jam? What gets you up in the morning? What keeps you going at the end of the day? How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors? Like you, like me and like everybody else, there are millions of consultants out there. There are millions of people that do communication, marketing, branding, accounting or whatever. What makes you different from all the other people who do “the same thing that you do?” because they don’t. Each one of us does it slightly differently for a different audience in a different way. What makes you jam? How do you get people to understand their ten because I love having people strive for their ten?

I’m going to go back and touch on something that relates specifically to what you said. The first time someone said to me, “Sam, what’s your ten out of ten? I didn’t ramble. I stared at him blankly with my mouth going, “Ahh.” In fairness, we were having a mastermind. We were starting to unpack this. I allowed him to take me down the path to be able to come up with what’s my ten out of ten. How I personally got to that is now how I help other people. There are four different areas that I suggest that people go through to get to this answer.

The first thing is to ask yourself, what is it that is my thing? What am I trained in or what are my actual job and my title? These are the kinds of things that you’d see on a CV or a resume. This could be the degree that you did at university. It could be the job that you had. It’s like the real logical stuff. This is where most people normally begin and end this conversation. This is the beginning. The second thing to delve into is what is it that makes me good at that thing? This is where I started to uncover what I’m good at. What is it that I do differently in the office that other people don’t? What is it that people come to me for because I look at it a certain way? What are the challenges that other people have in the office that they come to me specifically for?

For me, for instance, I can take big picture concepts and break them down into little tiny bite-sized pieces to help people understand the concept very easily. I’m no good at putting the process together. I have other people to do that, but I’m very good at going, “This is all the pieces. This is how it all comes together. In that, it’s as important to know what you are good at and what you’re not good at. That’s the second piece. The third piece is life experiences. What is it that I can bring to the table that I’ve experienced that is going to make the view or the lens that I’m looking through different? Have you had children? Have you lost a large amount of weight? Have you been through an illness or a divorce?

LBL Samantha Riley | Elevating Your Brand
Elevating Your Brand: Experiences help you have empathy with different people or be passionate about different things through journeys.


All of these things because these experiences will help you have empathy with different people or be passionate about different things through journeys that you’ve been through in your life. The fourth piece is your passions. This can confuse people because you use these passions in different ways. For example, I’m an ex-dancer. I’m very passionate about dancing. When I’m training, I use a lot of metaphors about being in the dance class or teaching my students. I’ve got other passions like drinking fine wine. I have that in my branding. You use your passions in different areas. If you love tennis, maybe you only work with tennis coaches or people that manufacture tennis uniforms. There’s no specific way to pull those passions out.

Once you’ve got those four areas, you can start to mold them. How could I make this very unique and make these so that it is just me that people can understand? For me, my passions are dancing and fast cars. Those two don’t normally go together so people remember that. Fine wine, that’s a lot in my branding. It’s meant that I’ve been able to pick up some marketing clients that are in that liquor and that fine wine space. People are attracted to those passions. They open conversations. They build commonality and things to talk about. It’s important to bring those things in as well.

One of my passions is golf. I use a lot of golf analogies. When you realize that the person across the table from you is also a golfer, whether they’re a duffer or whether they’re a scratch handicapper, it’s amazing how the conversation elevates because all of a sudden you have something in common. It has nothing to do with business. It has nothing to do with that. All of a sudden, you have a common language. Whether it’s women or men that I play golf with, it doesn’t matter. We have a common language and a common trust built on a common passion. It’s a lot easier for them to sit there and say, “If I relate to them on this level, maybe there are other things in business that we’ll be able to relate on.” At least there’s a common language and a common place to start.

What you said then and I want to highlight it because it was so valuable, is the trust. You go from zero to hero in 0.02 seconds. You don’t even need to have the conversations that are the ten-minute filler to try and get to know someone. It’s like instantaneous. I remember walking out of a conference one day and I heard a car behind me and I was saying, “The note on that car is beautiful.” The person that I was speaking with like instantly. We were together for the rest of that day. We had lunch together. We sat together because straight away, he was a car person. Even the way I said it, he’s like, “That’s someone that totally loves cars.” It’s that instant trust. It didn’t matter what I said after that about business. He was like, “She knows what she’s talking about.”

We’ve got to get you out to Vancouver for the Classic Car Show. We have an enormous car show in Vancouver every year. You get the prototype cars, the generic cars and everything is. For me, I go downstairs and take a look at all the classic cars. For me, it’s anything that’s probably 1960 and before. Those are the cars that I absolutely love. When they roll out that thing in and when they turn the key, I love the sound of those old cars. Ferraris are nice. Lotuses are nice. Lamborghinis are nice, but give me a 1960 vintage car any day over the week. My problem is I don’t have the garage to keep them in.

Our dream wish list is a twelve-car garage so we can have the cool stuff and the old stuff. I get my love of cars from my hubby. He lives and breathes it.

None of us want to make a decision that makes us wrong, makes us feel judged, or makes us feel ashamed. Share on X

That’s cool that you have that in common. It’s a common language. It helps build trust, helps build relationships and fill other conversations in. I love going back to the four parts that you were thinking of when we’re building our uniqueness, when we’re developing who we are, what we do and why we do it. If you don’t understand what makes you unique, you probably aren’t if you can’t articulate it. I have a saying that says, “Stop being a commodity and start being a brand worth loving,” whether that’s an individual or that’s a company. It’s how do you put yourself in a position where people who sit there are like, “They’re for me.” Not everybody is going to be your customer. In fact, 98% of the world population will probably never buy from you and they don’t want to buy from you. If you can be special to that 2% of people in the world, you can eat caviar the rest of your life on 2% of the world population.

At 2% of the world population, you’re going to be extremely rich.

When you start the process with a customer, when you’re dealing with a brand-new client and they talk about their unique and they say, “I’m a lawyer or I’m a doctor or I’m a CPA,” or whatever. Where do you go from there? Most people start and stop there. How do you get them to understand that there are levels 2, 3 and 4 and help them get there?

There’s level like basement and basement two and basement three as well that comes before that. Number one is I always like my clients to tell me what their core values are first. Our core values are like our North Star. They’re our shining light. If we’re not doing things that are in congruence with our values, we’re going to come across as inauthentic. We’re going to do things that grind our gears. We’re going to self-sabotage ourselves and those types of things. We need to know what our values are first. We need to know why we do what we do. By me knowing that the reason I do what I do is because I want people to build a business that gives them the lifestyle that they desire, it means that then when they start to unpack those different areas, they still got their GPS and we’re going this way.

They’re not going to be thinking, “I’m pulling out this accountant piece and I’m good at doing superannuation and tax, but what I’m passionate about is this touchy-feely thing over here.” Everything needs to work together and you need to know, what are your values? Even if you don’t know why you’re doing yet, you need to know what is it that I want my life to look like? How do I want to be spending my time so then we can start to unpack that. From there, it starts to get momentum. You would see this, Ben, because I know you do this work too. The momentum once you’ve got those foundations in place, happens very quickly. As you’re pulling all this out, you’re like, “I know exactly who this ideal client is. I know who this person is that I want to be working with. I know the outcomes that I want to be helping them achieve. It’s very easy then to stop pulling all the other pieces together.

In my book, Powerful Personal Brands, it’s all about getting people to understand who they are first. If you understand who you are and why you do what you do, it’s not what you do. It’s why do you do it. That’s what makes a lot of people uncomfortable. A lot of people get very uncomfortable very quickly when you say, “Why do you do this?” I started the company and I said, “Why did you start the company?” “I want to make money and have financial freedom.” I’m like, “Those are outcomes.” Those are not reasons to start a company. Those are not our reasons to be in business. Those are outcomes that will come out of it. Who do you want to serve and why do you want to serve them? What was the impetus that made you quit your job and want to start this business? What was the problem that you saw that needed to be solved and why do you think you’re the person who can solve it for these particular people? I’m sure like you, it gets the deer in headlights look in a lot of people’s eyes.

LBL Samantha Riley | Elevating Your Brand
Elevating Your Brand: The more pitfalls you’ve been in, the more you know how to get out of them.


The answer I find 9.9 times out of 10 is a mirror. I’ll use my example because it’s easy for me to pull out so it makes sense. Through all of these different life experiences and through a huge life transformation I had back in 2010 from some awful things that happened that led to some good things, I decided that I wanted to recreate this life so that I could have lifestyle freedom where I want when I want. I didn’t want to be putting a key in the office every day and have a staff of 35. I didn’t want that anymore. I wanted to build this life of financial freedom, lifestyle freedom and work with clients to help them do the same. By me understanding what it was I wanted, it was very easy for me to say, “Why don’t I attract the people that also want the same thing?” It’s like we’re mirroring. We’ve been on the journey. We’ve experienced the thing and we’re sharing it. We’ve been on this journey. We’ve achieved these outcomes. This is how you do it.

That’s important because the people that are good at doing something and being able to explain it to somebody else are usually people who have been down that hole. As I tell people, I say, “Over the last many years, I’ve stumbled into more holes than I care to imagine.” Some of them have been feet first. Some of them had been headfirst, but I’ve made my way out of each and every single one of them because that’s why I’m here in front of you. Let me help you avoid those. I’m like you. I want to deal with people that have similar life challenges that I had, serious type of problems that have serious ideas and ideology the same that I do. Be able to help them lead a better life and build better leaders, engage, retain, grow employees and build a better business that’s not a commodity and it’s a brand worth loving. You need to be comfortable with yourself first before you can help somebody else. I think that was what you were illustrating. You became very comfortable with who you were, what you were about and what’s your why was and went out sitting there and saying, “Who can I help that have similar problems and similar challenges to what I’ve gone through and how can I help them avoid those holes and those pitfalls?”

Those pitfalls somewhat give us depth. The more of those pitfalls that we’ve been in, the more depth and understanding we’ve got of how we get out of them. That’s definitely one of my strengths is because I have been like you. I am very competitive in the pitfalls. I’ve done lots of them.

Who needed three people to stand on their shoulders and have somebody grabbed me from up top before you got out of the hole? That was me.

I have done this and I’m extremely resilient so when I fall, I get up extremely quickly. When I’ve got a client that comes to me and says, “Sam, you suggested this and it didn’t work.” I go, “Cool,” because in my head I’ve got nineteen other ways that that person can try and get out of that same hole. People that have had a few things go in their favor and have a business that’s very successful, very quickly, don’t have that same depth. Hats off to them that have done well but from a coaching perspective, that’s not always the best thing because sometimes they see problems in black and white. I had that problem and I dealt with it this way where there’s so much gray area in business and in leadership. We can look at a problem and go, “I’ve got twenty different ways we can do that. Let’s play with this.”

What you said is having those twenty different ideas of different ways of doing it. The problem with a lot of people is they think that success is a straight line. That’s my goal. It’s going to be a straight line from here to there. It never is. There is no such thing as an overnight success. There is no such thing as a hack to be successful in terms of the long-term. We’re all going to stumble. We’re all going to fall. We all have to get up. We have to evaluate what happened and we all need to move forward. When we get away from the attitude of life is going to be perfect. We’re far better off because when we have a viewpoint that life is easy and things are going to go perfectly. As soon as you hit that first roadblock, you panic. You say, “It’s impossible.” Instead of looking over the hedge or around the hedge or through the hedge or under the hedge, you see a hedge and you say that’s insurmountable.

LBL Samantha Riley | Elevating Your Brand
Elevating Your Brand: Always show up in ways that other people feel safe.


In complete contrast to that, we also have wins that happen unexpectedly or quickly that surprised the heck out of us. That in itself can cause problems. It’s this complete ebb and flow of wins and challenges. It’s about, what are the learnings from this? No matter whether we perceive it as a negative or a positive or learning or failure or whatever word you want to use. It’s irrespective, but what’s the learning we can take out of every single experience to be able to help us get to the next one in an easier route.

We’re at that point with a customer and they realize that they’re up against being a six. They can’t see seven. They can’t see eight. They can’t see nine. How do you help them realize that there is another gear, that there is another step and there is another vision? How do you help them be able to see beyond that glass ceiling that’s right in front of them and let them know that there is another gear? Whatever analogy we want to use that they’re capable of getting there. That’s a lot of problems with a lot of people. They’re their own worst enemy. They don’t realize that they are capable of being better because they see things one way and they don’t understand that there are so many different ways of looking at something.

We can’t see the label on the jar from the inside of the jar. I have never known anyone and this is me included. I’ve never met a single person who can do this journey and get to that nine of the ten on their own. The reason is that we are saying the things that we’re used to saying, but that’s not going to get us to the next level. This is where you need to bring other people in, whether it’s a friend, a mastermind, or a coach. I don’t mind who comes in, but it needs to be someone else. The question that they need to be constantly asking you is, “What else?”

“I’m an accountant.” “Cool. What else?” “I do this thing.” “Cool. What else?” It is about absolutely drawing the things out that are hidden that you’ve completely forgotten that you’ve even ever done. If someone asks you what else enough and you’re like, “There was this thing twenty years ago, I completely forgot about it and it’s this and this,” and all of a sudden everything lights up and you’re like, “Bingo.” That was the final piece of the puzzle or at least the next piece. That’s the other thing, I don’t believe that we ever get there because we’re evolving every single day. Getting to that level, it’s about asking what else.

I’m excited about that because that’s something I’m going to use with my son because he’ll be going away to university in a few months. We’re getting to that point where you’re starting to apply for universities. It’s not so much as your grades anymore. Your grades are your grades. You can’t do anything about them. It’s all the little things that you do around it, what have you learned from it and why are you a better person because of it. The more I can get him to say, “What else? What awards have you won? What programs have you got in? What have you learned from these things? What have you taken away from all this? It’s a bigger tapestry and a more interesting tapestry. It makes him more valuable. I’m sure it’s the same way for each one of your clients. It’s the same for mine. The more you can tell a story with a wider tapestry, in a more intricate tapestry, people are sitting there, “That’s interesting. Tell me more.” People will lean in when they hear something unique, different and something that resonates with them.

The deeper we go, the more chance we’ve got people saying, “Tell me more,” or “That’s interesting,” or even hearing something and think, “That applies to me. I’ve never even thought about that before.” The person that you’re speaking to may not even speak back because he may have already got them into that thought. We’ve all been there. We’ve been speaking and someone’s gone silent. You’ve had 25,000 neurons going off in their head and that is such a cool place to be.

It’s those light bulbs in people’s life. You can sit there and people go, “That was cool. I never thought of it that way or I never looked at something that way before. I never experienced something that way before.” All of a sudden, you’ve made them excited because they see things from a different light. They may agree with it. They may not agree with it. They may challenge parts of it, but it doesn’t matter because you’ve got somebody to think of something a little bit differently from the way they did before. That starts interesting conversations.

That’s the best part of being a coach. I don’t know any coach that doesn’t think that the best part is seeing that light bulb moment or that a-ha moment. I know from when I’ve been with my coaches, sometimes they say something and you’re right, it’s not their answer. You may not agree, but you go, “That made me remember what I thought of.” It sends you down a different route. When we’re stuck, that’s what we need. Because when we’re stuck, we’re constantly going in the same direction. It’s about, “There’s something over here. Let’s take a right here and explore this.”

How do you get your clients to explore? Do you get them to journal? What is the best method that you find to help people get to that a-ha, to get them to sit there and say, “I’ve never thought of it that way before that?” Let’s explore this.

They start off by going on this journey themselves because you do need to journal. You need to get that stuff out of your head. From there, it is definitely asking the questions of me slightly hearing the words that are not spoken, the words that are in between the words of going, “Tell me more about that.” “That’s not what I meant.” “No, tell me more about that. Let’s explore that.” “Ben, you said that thing. I’m interested. Do you mind if we explore that a bit?” You have to give in to the process and explore. It might mean something. Sometimes it doesn’t. I remember with a client once we were 45 minutes in. Even I was thinking, “We’re not getting there.” I’m starting to have hot flushes thinking, “Normally, I can get someone to go on somewhere different in ten minutes.” Anyway, I said something and it was like the floodgates opened. Even he said, “I was starting to think we weren’t going to get there. We opened the floodgates. It’s about asking, “Tell me about that. What’s different about that? Can we explore that?” It’s taking those thoughts to a different level and in a different place.

That’s what I enjoy about not only the process of helping to build leaders and helping to build teams but also when I’m podcasting here is that conversation and sitting there going, “What did you mean by that? Let’s talk about that.” I might’ve thought we’re going to go right, but my guest says something and all of a sudden, we’re going left. All of a sudden, that left sounds far more interesting than the question that I originally had in my head. It’s a matter of the more we can listen to people, the more we can sit there and actively listen and sit there and say, “What do you mean by that? You said that.” “I did?” “Yeah, you did. Whether you meant to say it or not, what did you mean by that?”

It leads to amazing uncovering of stuff that could create amazing insights for people across the board. It’s being free to explore and whether it’s with employees, whether it’s with leaders, whether it’s anybody, being able to have those conversations, the more we’re curious about people, the more we’re interested in people. The more we’re interested in finding out the layers that everybody has because everybody has layers. Everybody is different. Everybody is unique. Everybody has a story to tell. It’s helping people get there. The more we can sit there and understand people as individuals understand their story and understand what makes them different, unique and interesting, the more interested they’re going to be in us. It builds back to those levels of trust. It comes down to that. It takes time. It takes effort. I love where this has gone.

There’s just one thing that as you were speaking, I was listening to the words that you were using, there’s one little key that you were, “Sam, what’s that key?” It came up as he was speaking. As the person that’s doing the exploring, we have to be open to going on that journey of exploration. If we’re shut down and we’re not willing to take that journey because sometimes it can be uncomfortable. To get to the depth, we were in a vulnerable place. Sometimes we have to wade through that muck to get to the other side. We have to commit to ourselves and commit to the journey to get to the depth that we want to get to be that ten.

It comes down to building relationships. You’re not going to get people to trust you at that level right away. You have to build a rapport. You have to build trust. You have to believe that the person that you’re talking to wants to listen and cares and is going to empathize. What you say may not go out of this room, it may become the two of you guys. That’s important. It’s important to say, “If I’m going to give you the deepest, darkest secrets of my soul and the things that I’m not going to even tell my wife, my husband, my kids or whoever, there’s got to be that level of trust.

It’s almost like being a therapist in being able to sit there and say, “You’re not a perfect individual.” None of us are perfect. We all have things that are wrong. Things that we don’t do well. Things that we’re not very good at. Things that we have challenges with. Places that we’ve been in our life that we may not be ultimately proud of. Those are okay because those are the things that make us who we are as much as the good things that we are. It’s the challenges that we’ve had along the way that make us who we are and it’s embracing all of that that makes us better.

It’s not just does it make us better, but some of those we still want to talk about as part of our brand also because that makes us relatable. There’s someone that I’m thinking of and his brand is very polished. “I do everything right, do absolutely everything that I say because I’ve had all of this success.” To me personally, I don’t relate to that because he is very successful, but there’s other stuff that he’s not so good at or I know as being in business that there are going to be failures along the way. Tell me some of those things so I can relate to you on more of a human level. I want to know that I’m not the only person that’s made those mistakes. I want to feel better about myself and know I’m not the only idiot. Those failures are also great ways. We don’t want to talk about all of them. It’s not about that. Some of them will create content or create your brand all on its own. My audience knows that I don’t love figures. I can pull apart a P&L like no one’s business. I can tell people, my guys that are pulling reports, “I want a report that says this and this.” I understand all of that. Do I like to be there doing that? My audience knows that.

Getting back to that, it’s the Hero’s Journey. I started my business and I made $1 million at the end. Nobody cares about that story. People care about the story. “I started this company and these were the initial challenges that we had. This is how we overcame them. We were able to do this. We were going along well. All of a sudden, this and this came up. We’re able to figure this out and get some new clients and get this line of credit that we needed and that brought us to the next level.” That’s what makes us interesting. It’s the challenges along the way because those are relatable.

When you talk about somebody that’s overly polished, there’s almost a lack of trust there because you sit there and say, “What’s behind the veneer?” I’ve seen speakers on stage where you know every single word is calculated. Every single word has been rehearsed 100,000 times, every move. I sit there and say, “I’m watching a play.” I am very deliberate when I’m on stage. When I’m on stage, I have three stories I’m going to tell you and I know the basic premise of those three stories, where it goes from there is where it’s going to end up. It’s far more relatable because what I do is I make it relatable to the audience that’s in front of me. That’s what’s important instead of having it something that’s overly polished, “This is it. You get what you get.” You might as well have done a videotape and put it up on the screen.

You’re missing the biggest part again, human connection. If we’re out there doing our thing, we’re not paying attention to our audience. We’re not watching their cues. We’re not connecting with them. Seeing what they want to hear more of and seeing what’s not interesting them. We have to understand that as business owners and brands, whether it’s a brand of a company or our personal brand that we’re in a P2P economy. People want to do business with people. Even the big brands, we connect with someone within that company. We’re not doing business with some shiny plaque on the wall that has been shined up so it’s got no fingerprints on it. Those days are over.

We need to be authentically us. As I tell people, “Be authentically you.” Don’t try to be something that you’re not. Be your company, you’re good, you’re bad and you’re ugly. You are who you are, warts and all. People will know, like and trust you for who you are or not. I was speaking to a guy who says, “I could buy the $2,000 Armani suits and do the Wall Street thing, but it’s not me. My attitude is, this is how I show up at meetings. Either you like me or you don’t like me. Either you respect what I have to say or you don’t.” He says, “If you’re only going to listen to me because I’m wearing a $2,000 three-piece Armani suit, you probably aren’t the customer that I want.”

We’ve got four big banks in Australia, the major banks that look after our whole country. Back in 2010, I separated from my then-husband and we had some big banking decisions that needed to be made very quickly within 48 hours with property and different accounts that were happening. We had multiple businesses tied up in our marriage. I am still now several years later with one of those big banks. Not because of their logo, not because of where their banks are situated, but because I walked into a branch one day and the business manager, I said to her, “I’ve got these things I need to sort out.” She said, “Come into my office.” We sat down and she asked what was going on. She built rapport and very quickly, I went, “This is what’s going on.” I burst into tears as anyone would do in that situation. My banking is still with that big bank because she knew exactly what I was going through and helped me personally to get through that. Even in the six months after that, she would still ring and say, “Sam, are you okay?” She didn’t mean have you got money in the bank? That is exactly what’s happening. This multibillion-dollar bank has got my business because one person cared about me as a person.

It’s that emotional tie to that one person. You connected with that one person. One person cared enough about you to see you not as a bank account, not as a deposit, but as a person. It’s the Maya Angelou, people always remember how you make them feel. I can’t remember the exact quote, but it’s not what you do for the people, but it’s how you make them feel. The more we can make people feel special, the more that we can make people feel listened to, understood and valued, the better chance we have of building rapport, building trust and building relationships.

It’s not helping people feel special because that’s a marketing ploy, but caring like actual real-life care.

That’s what it is. If we truly and absolutely care about people, amazing things happen. If it’s not dialed in, if it’s not because the company says you have to provide excellent customer service or excellent customer experience. If you do it because that’s who you are and that’s what you do and you try to connect with people on an individual level, people will feel that. If you’re dialing it in, people will feel that too. We have that glassy veneer. We have that perfect Armani three-piece suit and that perfect pitch. You’re sitting there going, “What am I not seeing? Why shouldn’t I trust this person because I’m not?

It’s exactly like you said. It’s not just, “I’m missing that one thing,” but the question is, what else am I missing? It’s that trust is eroded by having that question. What else am I missing? None of us want to feel like we’ve done something wrong. None of us want to make a decision that makes us wrong or that makes us feel judged or makes us feel ashamed for making the decision. We step back from that person because we don’t want to put ourselves in a vulnerable position of making the wrong decision. We need to make sure that we’re showing up in a certain way so that other people feel safe. That they are not going to become unstuck by making a decision to work with us.

People want to deal with people. As you said, it’s not the billion-dollar bank. It’s not the logo. It’s not the fancy office furniture or any of that stuff. It’s the people within the company that we relate to. If that person leaves, if you have a good enough relationship, you may leave with them. That’s reality. Companies have to understand that. Companies need to understand that your people have relationships with your customers that go far deeper than a brand. Your job as a company is to treat your employees, your internal customers so good and treat them as if they are your clients because they are and care about them. If you care about your own people, they will be engaged. They’ll stay and grow with you. If they do that, they’re going to care more about the people that you wish to serve, which are your external clients.

Richard Branson does that well with Virgin. That’s one of the best explanations that he’s very open in saying, “I look after my people so they look after my customers.” I think the customer is always right isn’t always the case. This is where we need to be open to everything that’s happening around us. It might be that the staff or the team has done something wrong or it might be that the customer is having a bad day. We have to be open to all of these things around us all the time.

It’s so important to take care of your staff. I remember years and years ago, I realized that one of the staff that works for me was in tears on the phone. She hung up and I said, “What happened?” She says, “So-and-so yelled at me.” I said, “Pardon me?” It was one of my clients. I shut my door and I called the customer. I said, “You have absolutely no right to yell at my staff. If there’s something that they’ve done wrong, you yell at me. You do not berate my people. You do not belittle my people,” because she did. They belittled her. They made her feel like she was two inches tall. I ended up firing that client.

They said, “It’s my right to do that.” I said, “It’s my right to fire you. We’re done.” You need to take care of your people, plain and simple, period, end of the story. If they do something wrong, they’re going to do something wrong. Use it as a learning experience. You’ll figure it out. Make sure the customer is taken care of, absolutely, but use it as a learning experience and say, “What happened? How do we fix this? How do we make this better?” You’ve already lost the money fixing the problem. You’ve already invested in this person because you have to pay for that mistake. Why throw them out with the bathwater? Sit there and say, “What happened? How do we fix this together? How do we learn from this?” If they continue to do the same thing over and over again, that’s a different story altogether. You’ve already invested in these people. Take care of them.

Our staff costs us much more than their wage. To lose one, we lose so much money.

For every employee that you lose, it costs you $100,000 to replace. If you have ten people in your company that you lose on a yearly basis, that’s $1 million out the door on average. It’s $1 million after-tax dollars.

We were talking about all the foundations that we should sit to build that brand and I’ve got a great resource which I would love to share with your readers, The Life By Design Blueprint that takes you through that whole process which helps people clear on what those core areas are, their values and that value proposition out. To get a free copy of that, go to

Sam, we’ve had an amazing conversation and I want to wrap this thing up. I have a couple of questions I want to ask you. How do people find you in Australia?

You can find me at and my podcast is Thought Leaders Business Lab.

I have one last question and I ask it to everybody as they walk out the door. 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?

I want people to think I’m passionate about everything I talk about. It’s that simple.

Sam, you have been an absolute treat to have on the show. Thanks for being such a wonderful guest.

Thanks so much, Ben. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you.


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About Samantha Riley

LBL Samantha Riley | Elevating Your Brand

Samantha left the corporate world and ventured out into the world of business over 25 years ago because she wanted the freedom to spend more time with her family and be financially rewarded for working harder.

She has built multiple businesses, and grew her first 7-figure business before she was 30. She was able to leverage herself out of her bricks & mortar businesses, and worked less than 10 hours per week.

She has replicated that same system to build her online coaching business, which gives her even more freedom as she’s now location independent.

Sam now teaches this system to successful entrepreneurs, business owners and experts and helps them develop their thought leadership so they can replace their income, get their time back, and lead a more purposeful life.

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