The dictionary’s definition of credibility is being trustworthy. Part of being trustworthy is you are who you say you are. Today, Ben Baker talks to Mitchell Levy, a global credibility expert and podcast host of Thought Leader Life, about the importance of building credibility and allowing your audience to simply know you to like and trust you. Mitchell shares his secrets to promoting trustworthiness and authenticity, and discusses why writing a book is a key factor in achieving these. He also touches on the three reasons why you should write your own content.
I've got another amazing guest. Mitchell Levy is with me. He is a Global Credibility Expert and we are going to get into that. That is a mouthful but he truly is. Credibility is the most important thing. Why do people like you? Why do people trust you? Why do people understand you? Let's get into it. Mitchell, welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me. It's great to be here.
We have had some great conversations offline. We had to bring it online. It was one of those things where you got to get this on the mic. You’ve got to get this thing recorded and have the conversation because what you do is important. There are many people out there that don't understand that credibility is about know, like and trust. I want to let you have the opportunity to have your viewpoint about what know, like and trust is. Why don't we start with who are you? What do you do? Why do you do it? What do you do that's valuable to people? Why do they love you?
We’ve got about six or seven questions. By the time I'm done, you're going to say, “This was a great episode. Thanks for coming.” How about we do this? I do want to point out one thing even before I start. What you said was we had some great conversations offline and we have to bring them online. Do you know what credibility is? That definition from the dictionary is being trustworthy. Part of being trustworthy is you are who you say you are. Offline, you have the same level of conviction, of excitement, of the things that you do as you do online. There's no different face that you present in one place versus another because that's the way we used to be in the past. What we are now is people need to see you. They need to feel you. They need to hear you all in a way that's consistently done. You go, “I like this person” or maybe, “I like what the person is doing and how they present it, but it's not for me.” That's okay. You still have credibility.
I'll go back and answer a bunch of your other questions. I’m Mitchell Levy, a Global Credibility Expert. Let me tell you what we do and this is very simple. Our market base is we work with busy and successful professionals who are looking for more credibility. They want that credibility with the book but they have no time. The solution is very simple. What I asked them to do is to imagine that a few months from now. We have ghostwritten, published, distributed, made them an Amazon bestselling author and they spent between five to ten hours. We press the easy button. That's a piece of what we do as, as a publisher. Backing into that, I’ve been in Silicon Valley for 35 years. I spent 25 of those years focused specifically on thought leadership. I spent a lot of time both at the corporate level and at the individual level. I’m working with professionals and corporations. I’m helping them understand what is thought leadership, what to do, how to make it happen, all forms of ways to be able to get your brand out there and do what you do.
I had this major transformation between 2005 and 2017 as a book publisher. What I could say is I was serving the wrong audience. That's an interesting thing to say particularly since I published 800 books. What I realized in 2017 is the audience that is the right audience for me, the audience that I relate to and all of the incremental services came about are people who want to use the book as a credibility piece. That piece will allow them to reach out and either secure more speaking engagements, secure more consulting engagements. The people I like working with are those that recognize that they have a message. They don't want to sit down and write the message and make sure all the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted. They want to make sure the message gets out so they'd rather spend that time. That's who we play with.
The way I like to speak is if we can't do something that's fun, it's time to go and do something else. You should have a business and a life. It's not work because you could play all the time, whether you're physically playing in the conventional sense or you're playing in what other people would call work because you love doing it. I love doing this. I love being on the air. I love talking. I like communicating in such a way. I'm on a monologue but normally, I like the interaction and the listening more. I have one last thing to talk about now and that will be know, like and trust, then I'll say I've covered your questions.
I like listening more because what happens is if you could listen, you could pull out from people who they are, how they want to present themselves and how best you can talk whenever it is your time to talk. That's where I spend most of my energy. It's listening, focusing, bringing out a-ha moments of people who sometimes they recognize that, sometimes they don't. I've spent a lot of time in all forms of elements that give people credibility. The list of stuff if you look at my bio is huge. I’ve sat on a board of a public company for a decade. I’ve ended up being a chairman for a little bit period of time. I’ve created four executive business programs. I’ve ran four of the largest conferences. I’ve consulted to 100-plus companies. I’ve done lots of fun things.
What's most important is the person I'm working with at the time I'm working and helping them get to where they need to get to. I want to leave one last thing on know, like and trust. For those that are interested, my name is Mitchell Levy. If you typed in “Mitchell Levy’s, TEDx Talk,” you would get to the TED Talk I did that's focused on specifically that one question. For me, the answer I wanted to create, what I wanted to have the output of this TEDx Talk be is, how can we be successful tomorrow? What is it that we need to do? Regardless of how technology changes, regardless of how the transformation of humankind changes, I wanted to make sure that if you wanted to, you could be successful tomorrow.
The answer to the question is we do business with those that we know, like and trust. You need to be known not by the world. You need to be known by those people who are in your audience who needs to see you. You need to be liked. You can't be liked unless you listen. That's one of the best tools of being liked is you listen, you comment and you help. You have to be trusted. Trust is a combination of vulnerability, integrity and authenticity. If you're not demonstrating those, if that's not your true makeup, you need to work on that. If any one of those three elements is something that rubs in the wrong way, the truth is in this world, everyone has one of these cameras and everyone has one of these microphones. You've got so much competition. You don't have the opportunity to play around. You have to come out, show up, be the person that you can best be, then people get to see you for you who you are.
All that is important. The phrase that I always use is be authentically you. You need to be authentically you. You can't be Gary Vaynerchuk. You can't be Richard Branson. You can't be Muhammad Ali. You can be you because that's the only person you can be. You need to be who you are at your core. That's why I wrote Powerful Personal Brands. A book is absolutely a credibility piece. I am never going to make $1 million off my book unless every single one of my audience goes to Powerful Personal Brands and buys the book. Don't do it. Don't worry about it.
I'm not worried about it because what the book does is it opens up doors. Let's talk about credibility because it’s down to trust. It’s something that takes a long time to build and can be broken in a moment. My question to you is, what are the different factors besides the book? We'll get into the book and how you go about doing that. What are the different factors that people need to look at in order to build credibility? How do they take their online, offline personality, make it one and be able to make it shine wherever they are?
Here's what's interesting. The definition of credibility is to be trustworthy. It's showing trustworthiness. How can you be trustworthy? Let's talk about the basics. One of the things that are coming into play right now is I'm in the midst of a Napoleon Hill's style approach to interview 500 thought leaders, Ben Baker being one of them, on their credibility and it's absolutely beautiful. I'm going to tell you the one very high-level thing. I learned if I'm going to summarize the number of people we talked so far, I'm going to give you one a-ha message and that is simply to show up when you show up.
What does that mean? I'll give you three elements of that one. One, when you have a meeting with somebody else, particularly if you're trying to sell somebody something, come early. Don't come on time. Certainly, don't come late but come early. Two, there is no reason why you can't Google their name and know a whole lot about them or Google their company and know a whole lot about them, so come prepared. Three, come with your heart because if you don't show who you are, they can't get to know you. If they can't get to know you, they certainly can't get to like you. If they can't get to do either of those, they're certainly not going to trust you and you will not get the job. You will not get whatever it is that you need to do.
How do you build credibility? One is to show up when you show up. What are some tools you use? The first question I'd want to ask those that are reading is who is your audience and where do they play? If your audience is the type of generation that loves to hear things as podcasts, you got to create a podcast. If your audience is a visual audience, not only do you need to play on Instagram, but you also need to play a video version on YouTube or Vimeo or somewhere else. What I want to say is there are a large number of toolsets you could use to create credibility. One that I've mentioned is I did a TEDx Talk. The value of the TEDx Talk is the number of people who have seen it before they've talked to me. The level of conversations I have with people who have never met me before but watched the Ted talk, that level of conversation is so much better than before.
Those that reach out to me directly and they don't know much about me. TEDx Talks, books, podcasts, any channel you have or if you're writing a regular column. There was a point in time where blogging in LinkedIn by itself was a credibility piece, but right now it's only a credibility piece to a subset of those people who follow you. It's writing for Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global. It's writing for Forbes or Fortune or Entrepreneur, wherever you want to play. Having a regular column is another credibility piece. I'll summarize by saying credibility can come from you, your actions and allowing people to see you. You want to play on the platforms where your prospects are, so that your prospects can see you in such a way that you have credibility.Part of being trustworthy is you are who you say you are. Click To Tweet
It's amazing how many people don't understand who their prospects and audience are.
How many times have you heard people say, “Who's your audience?” Everybody.
Anybody with a Visa card is my client.
If you're reading this, that's not true.
My favorite comment is even Coca-Cola doesn't have 100% market share. There are 7.5 billion people in the world. If I had 100th of 100 of 1% of those people, I would be fine.
I will tell you that's not a valid business plan.
It's definitely not a valid business plan but it's understanding, who are the people that care about you? Who are the people that you could help? Who are the people that you could solve a problem for? Those are the people that are your audience and those are the people you need to talk to. The Gary Vaynerchuk model. I'm on a rant because Gary's new 264-page deck where it says you got to put out 100 pieces of content, take one piece of content, split it 100 different ways and send it out every single day. I'm on a total rant against that. You need to put out content that is valuable to your audience on the platforms that they want to look at and listen to be able to look up for you.
Ben, I want to say yes and. Here's the and. When people hear the word, “You need to put out content,” what they're often thinking to themselves is, “I need to originate all this content. That's not going to happen.” I know you and I have talked so we're in similar lines. For those reading, 80% of the content, you share should be somebody else's. Think about what are my favorite long-term movies, Miracle on 34th Street. Think about Kris Kringle. Macy has hired this jolly old man who essentially was sending people to other stores for a particular product. At first, the management thought, “That's horrible,” but then more people came back because they trusted the store.
They felt that the representative of Santa Claus was helping other people be more successful. What do you need to do? You need to be Kris Kringle. You need to be Santa Claus. You need to share. If you're in an industry and there are competitors in your industry who are doing good things, why don't you talk about it? There's enough to go around for everyone. At some point in time, there might be a cooperative opportunity for you to work together. That's coopetition. What happens is if somebody comes to me as a prospect, they're going to want the best thing for them.
In cases where I could send them to somebody else to solve their problem because that's not my service, I'm going to do that. Whether or not I ever get them back as a client is irrelevant because they're going to still recommend me, I was truthful to them of what we deliver and what we can do. When you're sharing content, what you should be doing is being up to speed with what's happening in the marketplace and in your industry. If somebody comes to you, they want you to be their recognized expert, their own personal thought leader. If you're somebody’s own personal thought leader and the only thing you do is talk about your stuff, you don't sound like you have integrity. You don't sound like you have authenticity. If you don't have those, you can't be trusted. If you can't be trusted, you can't do business with.
The interesting thing is the people that create power are the people that take somebody else's content and say, “I read this. This is what I gleaned out of it. This is why it's valuable,” and share it. Whether you share it out to your entire network or even more powerfully if you share it with one person. You find an article that is relevant to a single solitary person and you sit there and say, “I know you're into basket weaving. This is the brand-new article that I found on basket weaving that had talked about ten unique ways to build a basket.” You sent them the article that says, “I was thinking about you and here's the information.” That person looks at that as a gift. You've sent them a gift. You've put yourself in a position where you've sent them something that's extremely valuable to them, asking for nothing in return. That builds your credibility a 100-fold.
To be able to know who your clients are, know who your prospects are and deliver them that slightly added value they don't expect. What do they do when they have a problem that you can solve? By the way, you have to have let them know or they need to know that there's a very focused problem that you solve because when they think about who can help them, your name needs to come to mind.
It’s a matter of registering your name in those people's minds that you can help. They need to think of you as the person who can solve X problem. If you're the person that can solve any problem, you're not anybody who can solve any problem. You need to be the person that says, “If you needed somebody who can turn left-handed screws,” that's how specific it needs to be. You need to sit there and say, “This is the type of problem that I solve for these types of people.” That's what makes you magical. That's what makes you a global credibility expert. That's what makes you an expert because you're the person that has narrowed your focus down to a point where you sit there and say, “I don't do right-handed screws. I only do left-handed screws,” and people get that.
We are so much aligned, even more so than I realized when we were offline. This is great. Thank you. Once again, I want you to remember, for those who are reading, just because you put out to one audience that you only turn left-handed screws, that doesn't mean that there's a different audience you talk to that you say, “I only turn right-handed screws.” That's not a conflict of interest. It’s just in the audience you're playing, you need to be as focused in terms of what you do so people remember you. I wouldn't do things which don't make sense to each other. If somebody thinks you're an expert and they have a problem because their left hand is not turning right and you can solve that, that's great. If there's a different group of right-handers, maybe you create a marketing plan that market simply to left-handers with one thing you do and right-handers with another thing, there's nothing wrong with it. That's not out of balance. That's not out of integrity unless if you're lying under oath and saying, “I only do this.”
I would do it and instead of saying it the way you put it, I'd say, "We have expertise in left-hand turning and have done that in thousands and thousands of times. We've even written a book, I’m Turning a Left-Handed Screw.” That's what you present to one audience. The other audience you say, “We have expertise in turning a right-handed screw. We have done it thousands and thousands of times and we've written a book, I'm Turning A Right-Handed Screw.” In both cases, there's no conflict of interest but you are delivering to that audience that's receiving information from you. You're delivering them something that is easy for them to receive, digest and remember.
That's what's important. I came for years and years in the promotional marketing industry. People call it to swag. They call it whatever they call it, but 90% of the people give something away that has absolutely no relevance to your particular brand or to the customer they're giving it to. If you can give somebody a gift that ties it back to you. You give somebody something that sits there and says, “I'm giving you this pen. We only made 500 of these pens and I want to give one to you.” That's a lot different than saying, “We got these pens. Do you want one?”Trust is a combination of vulnerability, integrity, and authenticity. Click To Tweet
It could be the exact same $0.69 BIC, but it's the way that you present it to them can make them feel special. If you can make people feel special, if you can make people feel valued, that you listen to them, that you understand them, they're going to turn around and say, “This is the person who has credibility.” When they come back to you, whether you are $69 an hour or $89 an hour or $589 an hour, it becomes irrelevant. If you're the person that they know, like and trust and you're the person that they believe can solve the problem for them, they're willing to pay because they trust you.
Ben, I like everything you say. I'm going to put the and on it. Instead of giving the big pen, I want to give away the book. What happens is when you give somebody a book, you do a personalized autograph and you say, “By the way, if this is something that you wanted at some point in time reach out or if you've got a friend who could use this, give it to the friend and I'll send you another copy.”
Books are something that people keep. Business cards, promotional items, a whole bunch of different things, people end up giving to the kids, giving to the grandkids, giving to the wife, ending up in a drawer, whatever. A book, especially one that's signed, has relevance. It becomes a gift. It becomes something where there's an emotional attachment to it. Because there's an emotional attachment to it, all of a sudden there's an emotional attachment to you. I was at a conference. I was signing books at the back of the room. People say, “You will sign this for me, right?” “Absolutely. I’m happy to sign it.” People have to ask me will I sign it? Of course, I'm willing to sign it for you. That was a special thing for them.
Let's get into books because this is the time we should be talking about it. Your program is different from a lot of different other book companies out there. There are lots of publishers out there. There are lots of people doing lots of different ways of how to sell a book and how to create a book. I wrote my book in 45 days and took six months to edit it. The writing was easy. I loved writing the book. The 200-pages of editing was the brutal part of it. Why don't you talk a little bit more about the process? You have the easy button. You make it easy for people. People who normally would sit there and say, “I could never write a book” or they write their first chapter and they go, “This is way too hard. I can't do this. I'm way overwhelmed.” They don't have the time. Those are your people. Talk to me about how do you communicate with those people? How do you help them? As you said, it is a process.
First of all, let’s start with what are the three reasons that somebody would write a book. I'll give you those three and that will help you to find the audience even slightly more. The first reason is something dramatic has happened in your life and it's a cathartic reason. You’re writing because you get it out. Two, you're creating online courses or you're a public speaker, you don't know what you're going to speak about next. You have to write the book in order to give you that thought process or three, it's a hobby. I know that's controversial, but any minute you're spending writing your book is a minute you're not spending either helping your customers be successful, finding new customers or creating a product for tomorrow.
In this world, it's so easy. Those people who say, “I want to spend time writing my book.” As long as you realize that's hobby time, that's not business time. The first thing we do is we help you. It’s very similar, if you’ve got Thought Leader Life and type in Ben Baker's name, you'll see that the first question I ask is, what is your CPOP? What is the Customer Point Of Pain you're solving? I do agree. There are some people who don't know that. Before we go on air, we make sure they know that. If they can't get to it, we reschedule. The point is if you know what the pain point you're solving, and it's not because we're selling pain, it’s simply with many messages coming to us these days.
If you say something that immediately triggers the idea of somebody else or even better, if somebody has a problem, they're going to type into their friend, Google, “I have a problem. How do I solve it?” Imagine if that was the title of your book and your book pops up on Amazon. They see a version of your book in Kindle, paperback, hardcover and audible versions. Who gets recognized as the expert? You do. First, what is your CPOP? We sit down for an hour and we come up with your title, which is your CPOP and your table of contents. After that, we set up a 2 to 3-hour interview and that we do voice only. One of my superpowers is pointing the genius from somebody's head.
What happens is I transport myself into your prospect. At the moment, that's the only place on my business that I'm working in the business versus on the business and that is the interviews. I love doing them. There might be a point in time where I can't do them all, in which case, I have been identifying people like yourself, Ben, who are good at asking questions. I'll do the interview and I'll pull the genius from your head. Think of it as the Evelyn Wood speed reading or the speed reading of your brain on a very focused topic. What is the topic or the pain points you solve for your prospects? Because what we're looking for are those a-ha moments, those gems that when your prospect hears this or reads this, they go, “That's interesting. Maybe I should learn more.”
I've created a school. In that school, we have had 50 graduates. We choose the appropriate graduate for the content that is yours and they come out and pull 140 a-ha moments, 140 a-ha messages. Those are great content for social media. We also write section summaries. We also include images. Our books have color on the inside, but they're also very simple and easy to read. In this world, we don't read books. The way I look at the world is you're not going to create a book that educates the world and tells them step-by-step what to do. You can, but what are you going to sell it for, $19.95? Even if you got $34.95, with the way the book industry is, you're not going to make a lot of money on book sales.
What you want to do is put the book out there that demonstrate you're an expert on what you do. If you want to create the step-by-step guide, make it an online course that you sell for $199 or $499. You monetize the course. You get your branding out and the fact that you're a credible expert in your space with the book. I'll finish the rest of the process. The rest of what we do is each step along the way, you get to approve it. You get to update and review. We'll send you the a-ha messages. We'll send you the summary of the book. We'll send you the section summaries. We ask you for ideas for the cover. We send you the cover designs. Each step you go, “Like it, don't like it, update.”
What I often hear is publishers have published a book and the author goes, “That's not what I wanted to publish or did something I didn't want.” What I have to tell you, it is your book. It’s not my book. You own 100% of the copy. What we do is we distribute around the world and we maintain around the world. You get 51% of the profit. We do a royalty statement once a quarter. Obviously, we keep 49% but you get 51% of the profit. What happens is anytime there's a problem in the industry, we fix that as well. We become your friend that has this asset. You need to use this asset called a book. The book's title is your CPOP. You're using this asset to attract people to you who also have that pain point. We give ideas, approaches and thoughts and have lots of partners that we work with who can help you get the books in the hands of your prospects.
What I love about the book other than the fact that you hit the easy button is your concept of what a book is. Your concept of a book is not your traditional book. It may look and feel like a traditional book. It's got paper. It's got a cover. It's got pretty pictures, but it's telling you to look at it and sit there going, “What's easy to digest? What's easy for people to understand? What's easy for people to relate to?” Those are quotes. If you can sit there and say, “Here are bunch of quotes from this person that give you an idea of this is what this person is all about. This is what they're thinking about.” If I can sit there and look at a four-line quote going, “I get that,” it’s a lot easier for me to use than reading through three chapters. Sometimes, I don't know about the rest of my audience, but I've got a stack of books beside my bed that could kill me. I'll never get through them because people send me books all the time. I'll read 1 chapter, 2 chapters, and 3 chapters. A book like this, you can sit there and say, “I'll read this and I don't read this, but I still get a good idea of what the person's about.”
That's all that's important. One of the things we're doing is we're putting QR codes into our books. One of our authors, a phenomenal woman, one by the name of Marki Lemons Ryhal. Her book is called The Modern Real Estate Professionals Guide to Success. By the way, if you take the word real estate professionals and put in any other profession, her book would be amazing. Marki said, “Mitchell, I’ve allocated three hours so we can create seven videos.” What we do is we help our authors create and I'll do it myself. I said, “Marki, why don't you book an hour? We'll probably do it in 45 minutes.” In 45 minutes, we had her seven videos done and she's spectacular. Inside the book, we have a QR code that points to the video of Marki talking for 30 to 60 seconds on each of her sections. Once again, the goal of the book is to demonstrate that you're an expert and to get people to go, “Maybe that is one of the people that should be at the table. That should be one of the people I need to talk to.”
To build that credibility further, she's got seven videos that she can put on her social media. She's got a whole bunch of quotes that she could turn into infographics and put out on social media. She's got a book that she can hand out to people. She's got the basics of a course. She's got a whole bunch of different things. The more you can do, the more you can sit there and say, “We can take this one piece and be able to segment it.” I get it. Thank you, Gary Vaynerchuk. You’re right, taking one piece, splitting it up and reusing it. It’s the 100 pieces a day that kills me.
It's making yourself into that credibility expert. It's making yourself into a point where people are like, “I've heard of them before or I've seen something of them before. That's interesting.” Nobody sees you, nobody pays attention to you, nobody will trust you for the first time they see you. It’s very rarely that’s ever going to happen, but 6 or 7 or 8 different points where people are sitting there and they're seeing the consistency. They're seeing the authenticity. They're seeing the reliability. Those are what build trust. I love that you're doing that.
One of the ways that people trust you right off the bat is when you get a referral from a trusted friend. I've had many scenarios in life when I was doing many things that my friends knew of somebody that had a problem, but they didn't recommend me because I was diverse at everything I did. Your job in creating your CPOP is to make something simple that your friends recommend you because it's very obvious for them. “I know somebody who could solve that problem,” then they recommend you. When you had that first conversation, you already had the trust built-in. Now you need to demonstrate how you can help them and how you can be their personal thought leader to help them be successful.
Mitchell, here's the last question I ask everybody before I let them out the door. When you leave a meeting, when you turn off your computer, 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?
That one is obvious. For me, "He gave me a bunch of a-has.” At the end of the day, if you could help somebody take what they already think about and think about it in a slightly different way, they're not going to forget you for the rest of their lives. I'm the a-ha guy.
Mitchell, I promise I will never forget you. We'll continue to have these conversations for a good long time. Thank you very much for being an absolutely wonderful guest and for sharing your brilliance with my audience.
Ben, you're absolutely awesome. You do ask phenomenal questions and you bring out the best in others. I appreciate that in you as well. Thank you.
Global Credibility Expert Mitchell Levy (pronounced Lee Vee) is a TEDx speaker and international bestsellng author of over 60 books. As The AHA Guy at AHAthat (https://AHAthat.com), he helps to extract the genius from your head in a two hour interview so that his team can ghostwrite your book, publish it, distribute it, and make you an Amazon bestselling author in four months. He is an accomplished Entrepreneur who has created twenty businesses in Silicon Valley including four publishing companies that have published over 850 books. He's provided strategic consulting to over one hundred companies, and has been chairman of the board of a NASDAQ-listed company. Mitchell has been happily married for thirty years and regularly spends four weeks in Europe with family and friends.
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