Meet Brandon Fong
Brandon HATED growing up on the free lunch program at school... but growing up without financial resources taught him to be resourceful. Before the age of 25, Brandon wrote a book, ran the marketing for an education company with over 250,000 students, traveled to 23 different countries, and even did a $45,000 launch on his first online product. Today, he's on a mission to help 10,000 entrepreneurs build wealth through the power of connection while prioritizing their health and relationships.
What's the number one mistake people make when trying to solve a problem in their life?
I got this from Dan Sullivan, who I don't know if you're familiar with his content, but he's a fantastic thinker if you guys haven't heard of him, but he has this concept called who-not-how. And I think what happens as entrepreneurs specifically or in our daily lives to whenever we come up with a new goal, or a new challenge that we're facing, our first inclination is to ask ourselves, how can I solve this, right? Like all the how questions come up like logistics, and it immediately becomes a little bit overwhelming. And so when it comes to solving problems, I love the filter that instead of asking myself how based questions, I asked myself, who questions so if instead of how can I figure this out and get super overwhelmed, who has already figured this out, that I can develop a relationship with in a genuine way, give back to them, and then leverage their skills and experience to solve the problem that I'm looking to solve a lot faster than if I had tried doing it on my own. So I think that that's an approach that can definitely help accelerate the process of solving any problem, whether it be business or in personal life.
How can you connect with people in meaningful ways online?
I actually recently wrote a book on this topic called The Magic Connection Method. When I open up my LinkedIn profile, I have probably over 100 connection requests of people that have copied and pasted messages without even reading anything about my bio or anything like that. So I think that they're in this world where we kind of like see this fake reality online. It's like we get desensitized to the fact that the people that we're talking to are real human beings. When it comes to connecting with people, when I teach them the magic connection method, I teach a three-part process. So the first part of the email or any, it's not specific to email, but the first part is what I call the hook. And the problem that most people have when they reach out to people is they use the first part of the email to talk about them, right? So instead of doing that, the first part of the outreach, I always teach people to talk about the other person. Then the second part is the irresistible offer. I'm always looking to add value to people. So whether it's an outreach to somebody that I want to do business with, or a networking event or connection that I have, I want to create something that I can do for them, that would add a ton of value to them, and make them actually want to move forward with the connection. The last part is the no-oriented question. I learned this from Chris Voss, who is an ex-FBI hostage negotiator. He told me in the book, “Never Split the Difference”, he talks about how we all have a finite amount of yeses that we have in a day, right? Every single time you say yes to something, you have to give away time, you have to give away energy, you have to give away finances, you're giving away something. So it's hard for people to say yes to things, but it's a lot easier for people to say no to something. So all my emails or all my outreaches they end with instead of a question like are you interested? It ends in a question like would you be opposed to? Or would it be a bad idea if or would it be ridiculous if and when you when you start a question that way it puts the ball back in their court. The real goal of that first email is to show that you're adding value, show that you actually care about them. And then also make sure that at the end, it's just one question so that they're not overwhelmed with all the things that they have to do.
Can you share with our listeners, one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
I found that every single point in my growth, I’ve been able to grow to the next level. And it's been thanks to a relationship with somebody. My favorite story, when it comes to connecting with people is my senior year of college. Going back to the very beginning of the conversation, we're talking about who not how. I tried a bunch of business ventures and nothing was working for me. And I figured, well, why not just find somebody who was exactly where I wanted to be in my career and my health, in my relationships that had already done it, and how can I just find a way to add insane amount of value to them. So I sent an email, I was 21 years old at the time reached out to him. And that turned into that relationship where I ended up running his marketing for three years had experience helping grow the company by over 100,000 students in his online courses. Jonathan helped me to launch my first product, which did really well the first launch, and then also Jonathan got me into a high end mastermind called Genius Network. Genius Network costs $25,000 a year to attend, you need to be making at least seven figures to be in it. And Jonathan just opened the doors and allowed me to help me to get in there. And so that one relationship with that one email that I sent, just open the doors to insane experience, insane connections, and just so grateful. So that would by far be my favorite connection that I had.
How do you stay in front of and best nurture your community that you've created?
I think like it comes down to at this point, at least I'm having lots of individual conversations with people and so I'm always asking what people are looking for. And I may not have an answer at that time, but I'll have a conversation a little bit down the road and I'm like, oh, this person needs exactly this. So like I think it comes from being proactive and really just getting to know everybody that you are looking to develop a relationship with. Just get to know people, really care, come from a place of giving. And then there will usually be opportunities, at least in my life that have shown up for me to circle back and add value to that person, even if like it was maybe even months or years down the road.
What advice do you have for that business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
You can go on LinkedIn, and you can search somebody else's connections if you're connected with them. And the thing that is a kind of an awkward question to ask is like, hey, can you refer me to someone? Right? Like, nobody really likes answering that question? Because it's like, it's so vague. And like, even if you do really want to help the person, it doesn't really help to be asked that question, because you have almost nowhere to go. Whereas if you use the LinkedIn advanced search filter, or if you search somebody else's connections, and then you search with their title or whatever, other criteria, then you can go to back to that person and say, hey, can you refer me to somebody? It's like, hey, Lori, I had the opportunity before we had the conversation, I hopped on your LinkedIn profile, and I came across three people that I thought would be really interesting to talk about, would you be offended if I asked you a few questions about them? And then you can ask a very specific question, instead of just being very, very general. So that's helped me a ton. Just because, I believe that if you're connected with good people, then then why wouldn't you ask that question? So I think that's one of my favorites.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of, less, of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I think I would send more magic connection method emails, I actually had the opportunity to speak at my high school the other day, and it's like I've seen so many students in college where it's like you spend all this money on undergrad and then graduate and realize it's not what you want to do. It's like lots of that can be solved by just having conversations with people and reaching out to people. And I think that as a student, I've always taught people this, that you have this magical timeframe where you can use something that I call the “cute student card”, where it's like professionals love to help ambitious students. Now we talked about going back to the magic connection method. We talked about the irresistible offer. Sometimes the offer is you just being ambitious and talking to them and then implementing what they taught you and being super grateful for it. And like it almost is something to be like too hard to comprehend, but that has served me so much. It's just like reaching out to people, having conversations and then responding back and following up with them. With how much they've impacted my life.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with? And do you think you can do it within the sixth degree?
Because I was in Genius Network. I'm within one degree of many, many connections, like the founder, Joe Polish is like, and I'm not like that, that close with Joe Polish. But I've had the opportunity to meet him and have conversations multiple times, but like he's connected with Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, Peter Diamandis. Also Russell Brunson that you hear a lot about in the in the self-improvement marketing world. I think I answered your question with like, 30 people but those are some of the top people that come to mind.
Do you have any final words or advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
If you find that you're somebody that might not be 100% confident in reaching out to people, like there's really not much wrong, that can happen. I think the worst thing that can happen is like you end up like somebody that's on LinkedIn that copies and pastes. But if you listen to this episode, you're already not going to do that. So you're already way ahead of people. I think you really are just one connection away and to focus on, on every relationship, like it's something that can have lots of potential for growth in the future, even if you don't see it in the present in the immediate, immediate future.
How to connect with Brandon:
Meet Tracy Brinkmann
From hitting the rock bottom of drugs, divorce, bankruptcy and even the death of an 18 month old daughter to running the planning and marketing of some of corporate America's finest companies to his own marketing company. Tracy helps small business owners be seen. And now his podcast is focused on Driven Dark Horse Enterprises. Tracy Brinkman is also a business and success coach that realizes life isn't fair and participation awards do not feed your family or your drive to succeed. This Driven Dark Horse Entrepreneur is looking to share all that he has learned and is still learning about starting, restarting, kick starting and stepping up your entrepreneurial game all while not ignoring that amazing tool between your ears!
What is the importance of reputation on and offline?
I think reputation sometimes flies under the radar anymore. If you think even way back to the early days, when I say early days, I mean, pre internet, word of mouth was a big marketing tactic. And when someone told you about a great business or just somebody that they met, you took their word for it. So now if you take that into the new era of being online, on your phone or on your computer you're doing that same thing, but you're doing it with people you don't even know, as you're looking at a business, you're looking up online and say, wow, this looks like what I need as you're shopping, and then you kind of cruise through their reputation. And if they got the five-star rating, you're like, hey, right on. And I think what's really unique about this is you're taking the word of people you don't even know. So I think it's really huge to pay attention to your reputation on and offline.
Why should we start stop trading time for money?
I think this is probably one of the biggest issues I see a lot of starting entrepreneurs get involved in, especially in the coaching arena that I tend to service is like, they trade those hours for dollars. And I think the limitation on that is that we only have 24 hours a day, right? So if you say, you know what, I'm gonna charge $150 an hour, you can only make that much, 150 times 24. That's it, that's your cap, and you'll burn yourself out trying to maximize that cap. Or if you can start trading value for money now you can a raise your quote unquote, hourly rate, and then be worth less and make more.
Why should I build a team or have a mentor or a coach?
I'm in the coaching arena. So I'm kind of biased there. But I think one of the greatest things I ever did coming up through my career even when I was in corporate America was having a mentor and having a coach to teach me the tips, the tricks and the potholes of the trade to speed up my learning curve, and avoid some of the potholes that you know could definitely sink a career. If you can, like they say ride on the shoulders of giants, well, then you are gonna ride a lot faster and get to your destination a lot quicker. So that's a big thing about coaches and mentors.
Can you share with our listeners, one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
I was attending the Direct Tech Conference in Las Vegas. And Direct Tech is a piece of software that a number of retailers use. They're all just like any other conference, there's the big sessions and then there's all the breakout sessions and I always have made it a point to break away from my clinic, my team that I would be attending together as there was like three or four of us and go sit amongst folks that I have no idea who they are. Right? And that takes a little bit of courage, right? You got to be willing to put yourself out there totally. You learn so much in the process. And of course, you meet new folks. And you learn new tips and tricks from how they're using, in my scenario, how they're using the software versus how we were using it internally. And you're like, oh, I'm gonna go back I'm gonna go try that. So I think trying that for the first time I had done it like a little bit in the past, but this time I went into it saying, okay, every session I'm going to sit with someone I don't know. And I haven't met yet and really broaden my horizons about the retail world the software that's been being chatted about, and just grow my experiences with the other folks and I have probably about half a dozen of those folks I still chat with on a regular basis today, even though I've been away from that software for three years now.
How do you best nurture your network or near community?
I periodically just randomly reach out to folks like if I haven't heard from someone say like, like a Tony, I just reach out and say, hey, how are things going in Tony's world? And just kind of really restart that dialogue. Sometimes folks will just say, oh, it's going great. And we'll leave it at that. Again, it's just randomly reaching out. I think one of the things is pretty good to do in the new social media world if you're following them is if you see something that they post that really resonates with you don't just give it a like, drop in a comment. Engage with them. That's the whole purpose of social media, we miss it, go ahead and engage with it. I think platforms, like LinkedIn are probably a little bit more business oriented than a Facebook or an Instagram. But you know, a lot of folks, especially in the entrepreneurial world, are using all those platforms to share their message and if you find a piece of content, again, that really resonates, engage with it, or even share it and add your comment on top of the hey, my buddy Tony, he shared this man, I totally resonate with it. Here, I want to share it with my fam as well.
What advice would you offer the business professional who's looking to grow their network?
I think it's almost too easy to say, get out there and engage with folks. You know, find it. Of course, it's a little bit more challenging right now as we're recording this given the whole COVID-19 environment but certainly a lot of the meetup opportunities have gone online, and some of them are starting to go live again. So certainly put yourself out there. Here's the thing about putting yourself out there. There's a number of folks that will say it takes courage, which is fact. But here's the real trick. This is called the mindset shift for you, is you don't have to be brave for the whole hour or half hour, however long the meeting is, you only got to be brave for three seconds. Three seconds that follow when someone looks at you and says, hi, who are you? Or hi, my name is Tracy and you are? Now, muster up that courage for three seconds, respond, right? Ask them a question about what they do. Sit back and listen, right. And while you're listening, now you can get those butterflies to fly in formation because you know, that question is coming. So what do you do? Why are you here? Come a little bit prepared. Don't make it sound like you have this canned speech together. But have a couple of answers to what would be canned questions. What do you do? What brings you here? Those kinds of standard questions, be ready to answer them.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self? What would you tell yourself to do more of less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I think if I went back and talked to my 20-year-old self, I would say stay away from drugs. I had a dark time and I was very successful. I came out of the military and started a custom database programming business right at the early stages of the.com boom and got successful, and I went down a dark path. So first thing I'd be telling myself is stay away from the things that are going to derail you. And in my case, it was drugs and alcohol. Anything that's going to derail you, that could be people as well. I think the other piece of advice I would have given my 20-year-old self would be to ask trusted folks what my number one skill is. Because it was probably another decade and a half before someone said, well, you know, you do this so well.
We've all heard the six degrees of separation? Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with? And do you think you could do it within the sixth degree?
Yes, I am one degree away from the person. I really want to connect with and that would be Brian Tracy. Brian Tracy has been one of those guys that I have followed his career, gosh, probably since the late 80s, early 90s. And he's just been one of those icons of not just personal development, but certainly a businessman as well. I mean, the things he's built and things he's done across the course of his career, and I was lucky enough to interview a gentleman on my show who's a friend of Brian Tracy's I come to find out. So now I am I am one degree away from the guy I would love to connect with if not to get on my show to interview like this but certainly to sit down and just have a chat with and pick their brains for 60 minutes or so and walk away with this wealth of information.
Do you have any final words of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I'm just going to take a moment to repeat myself but put yourself out there. And then as you're putting yourself self out there, follow that with just being who you are. Right? Don't try to put on some sort of mask for somebody. They're going to accept you for who you are. And I think if you put that mask on, it will slip at some point and they're going to be questioning your authenticity. Whereas if you're yourself all the time, they may look at you a little tip headed at first like, okay, what's this guy going on? Right? He's got the long hair and the beard. But that's cool. All right. I'm jiving with what he's saying. And pretty soon they're not seeing the mask anymore. They're just seeing you. So put yourself out there and just be you. Because you're not trying to capture everybody, right? There's enough business for everybody. You want to capture the people that are going to resonate with you that you want to work with. And that make you happy to service and that are happy to get service from you.
How to connect with Tracy
Andy is the CEO and co-founder of InCheck, Inc. A nationally accredited screening company. InCheck provides customized nationwide background screening and drug testing solutions to employers, volunteer groups and sports organization. Early in his career as a recruiter, Andy recognized an opportunity to fill a gap in the background screening industry and build a service-oriented business. Twenty years later under Andy's leadership, InCheck has been named as one of Milwaukee Business Journal's fastest growing firms. In Milwaukee BizTimes Future 50 company and Milwaukee’s Best and Brightest organizations to work for. InCheck is also a SPEARity certified organization with Andy being named SPEARity a strategic leader of the Year in 2017. Andy is past president of the Wisconsin Society for Human Resource Management Board.
Why don't you tell us a little bit more about why you decided to start InCheck and what were you striving to create?
The story is kind of interesting because I never in a million years would have guessed that I'd end up in the background screening industry. I don't think anybody sets out to be in the screening industry. But we just kind of ended up in that space as we actually planned to start up a staffing company. And so, as we were in the process of starting up a staffing company, we came up with the idea of starting a background screening company, and it was based on a placement that we were making, and we heard that there was like an outsourced background screening company that was involved, and so our curiosity was piqued. We looked at the market in Wisconsin, there was really only one other provider, and we thought we'd be able to leverage a lot of our relationships to get that business off the ground in addition to the staffing company that we were starting at the time as well. I am one third owner of Extension, Inc, which is a professional staffing company based in Wauwatosa, as well. I'm not really involved on a day to day basis. And I kind of keep that usually under wraps a little bit. I’m not trying to cross sell or blur the lines between the two companies. While I'm a third owner, I spend 99.9% of my time on the day to day at InCheck.
Tell us a little bit about what your typical day looks like. And what do you most enjoy doing?
Anything from sales and business development to account management, working on projects for clients that range from more complex compliance issues, coming up with reports, working through pricing, providing good customer service, providing leadership and management of our executive leadership team, working with marketing, budgets, just across the board. We're a smaller business, we have 42 employees. I'm kind of spread thin, but I really do I enjoy that part of my job. So the variety of it is exciting to me, keeps me engaged. Out of all that, I'd have to say that meeting new businesses, working with new people, signing up new accounts for InCheck, kind of working through the project nature of that part of the job is really probably my favorite.
Can you talk about how that ties into your role as a CEO?
Over the 29 years that I've been refereeing basketball, I started when I was 15. I think the biggest connection is that as a sports official specifically in basketball, you have to be able to talk to people, you have to be able to communicate, being on a basketball floor in front of a gym that might have 1000 or more people in a pressure packed game. When you blow that whistle the spotlights on you, you have to be confident, you have to be able to communicate both verbally and non-verbally. And I think all those communication skills really come into play in terms of trying to establish my presence as a leader within the business of InCheck in working with all the different types of people that I work with on a daily basis.
Can you share with our listeners, one of your most Successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
It's a great segue because it happened on the basketball court and years and years ago actually, when we first started the business so this is going back like 19 years. When we weren't making any money so I was I was refereeing games in the summer as my side hustle to get a little extra cash and I was up at Homestead High School in Mequon was refereeing in a summer league game. The coach I’d seen him week after week and kind of started getting friendly as far as just talking in between games or during halftime, whatever. And one day he was wincing before the game holding us back. I asked him what he did. He said he hurt his back sneezing while he was at work. I asked him what he did. He said he was the head of HR for journal communications, which at the time, was the parent company that owned The Journal Sentinel, Journal Broadcast Group and like six other companies. And so when I told him that I was in recruiting and also in background screening, he invited me in to come meet with them professionally, and so we kind of established the relationship through basketball, but then it developed into the professional side and that was a relationship that we had for many, many years and it was great. So, that was one of my favorite stories over the years in relation to networking and making connections.
How do you nurture your network in your community?
I don't think I do a good enough job of it. I could be more intentional and definitely more strategic. And I've probably been a little bit more reactive than proactive throughout my career. And I think because when I'm in the moment – I’m in the moment and people kind of get to know me. And there's probably a comfort level over the years of working with certain people where if we don't talk for a while, if we don't get together, meet in person, it's fine. But would I like to do more of that, yes. There are some great relationships that I've built over the years that I wish I'd be able to spend a little bit more time continuing. And so, if I did a better job of it, I would be more intentional about scheduling time on my calendar, following up with certain people, and I think it's just going back to the nature of the job that we’re firefighting so much that I haven't been able to kind of separate from the day to day to the point where I can really focus on networking and being intentional about my touches and possibly even using technology to manage that better. So I couldn't be better.
What advice would you offer the business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
Learn about people that are thought leaders in your area of business, both locally and nationally. Get to know your competitors. I think being authentic in trying to think about the version of yourself that you want people to see, when you're out there building that network. Again, it kind of goes back to what I said earlier about being intentional. And I think you really have to live it. And I think early on in my career, that was a transition that I realized that I had to make and that if I was going to do this to the best of my ability, I had to be living and breathing InCheck 24/7. It wasn't just between the hours of eight and five. And I think that would be another piece of advice to give to someone who's looking to grow their network and just as far as living what they do not just during the workday.
Digital networking, which is the world we're in right now, versus traditional networking, which one do you find value in?
Probably more the traditional, the face to face if possible. I think just the idea of meeting people in person, that personal connection is really what solidifies the relationship. I think there are a lot of great opportunities that are available through technology, but maybe using technology to try to get in front of people. Phone calls, it seems like, is kind of a lost art as well. It's so easy to send an email. And that's tough sometimes because honestly, like, I'll call people and I don't know if I should be scheduling that call, or if just calling out of the blue. Is it interrupting someone's day and I guess they don't have to answer the call.
Let's go back to your 20-year-old self. What would you tell yourself to do more of, less of, or differently with regards to your professional career?
Part of that would be to quit drinking, and not be as concerned about being the life of the party and having fun because that college lifestyle kind of spilled over into my professional career, and I wasn't someone that had a job lined up, like right after college. I wanted to. I was more of the procrastinator, like, take my time figure it out bartend here and there, referee some basketball and then kind of get things going. That kind of stuff looking back, that was a startup of bad habits. And so while obviously, things have gone great over 18 years, sometimes I think how much better could they have gone. If I had better work habits, more focused. And that's where I think I started working with a professional coach, like three years ago, I wish I would have found a coach 15 years ago.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with, and do you think you can do it within the sixth degree?
It would be President Barack Obama, that's the person that I would love to sit down with. I've admired the man, as a leader, as a human being, as a man of integrity. And I think you've seen the pictures of him golfing or playing basketball. If I could get together with him and take him golfing or shoot hoops or grab a coffee, that would be a lifetime achievement for me. Just to be around him and kind of take that in would be an amazing opportunity. And actually, how would I do it? Going back to the referee world, someone that I've known who was a referee, and then got into politics, saw him. I think he worked for President Obama, posted pictures of them and his family together at one point. Maybe it wouldn't even take me six degrees. Maybe it would take like three or something but again, combining the referee world into the picture.
Do you have any final words of advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I think it's important that your insides match your outsides. You know, being yourself. Trying to be someone you're not is only going to lead to troubles in the future and being intentional. Now, if you go to an event, go with a goal of making a certain number of introductions, do your prep work, get the most out of that event, scout who you want to meet and go for it again, take action. What are you there for, you're there to meet people, other people are there to meet people. So if you see somebody standing there silently keeping to themselves, just know that that person is probably shy and is just waiting for you to come up and initiate a conversation. If it doesn't go well, that's okay. Because it's not going to click with everyone. But for the people that it does, that you do click with and you find that it's very natural to have a conversation with like, those are the people that you probably have a better chance of developing some type of business relationship with because I think people like working with people that they like. And so those are good signs to continue to follow up and someone who might want to work with you as well.
How to connect with Andy:
Meet Chris Larsen
Chris Larsen is the founder and Managing Partner of Next-Level Income, through which he helps investors become financially independent through education and investment opportunities. He began syndicating deals in 2016, has raised more than $12M and been actively involved in over $150M of real estate acquisitions.
What are some of those connections between generating wealth and relationships?
When I was younger, my father passed, I was five and a good family friend, Clint Provenza not only introduced me to cycling, which was one of one of my real loves in my life, but also the miracle of compound interest. So it's one of those things where if I didn't have that relationship, I would have never been introduced to both of those concepts, and then just fast forwarding through life, and cycling partnerships, turned into business partnerships. And then ultimately completing our first syndicated real estate deal came from our network of investors that we put together. So I mean, whether you look at, you know, foundationally when I was very young, my sporting success or what would call investing success, it's all based upon those relationships that were built going back to my early teens.
Let's talk about how you actually became an investor. Do you want to share that story with us?
So really the drive to be an investor came from my desire for freedom. And when I got to college, what I wanted to do was race my bicycle. So I wanted to be a professional cyclist. I enrolled in at Virginia Tech to be an engineering student. But I found out in about two weeks that I really didn't want to be an engineer. I just I just really didn't enjoy it. And I continue to race my bike, I thought, I'll just get through college, I'll race my bike, I'll become a professional then I'll figure out what I want to do and maybe go back and get a math degree. Well, between my freshman and sophomore years, I lost my best friend, Chris. He died of a brain hemorrhage and it really kind of it put me into depression, kind of as I look back thinking about it, but after a year of racing my bike and really pouring my heart and soul into cycling, I wasn't really happy. Cycling wasn't like the beach. And all that it was before he passed away. For me, I started looking at other opportunities to make money. I want to be able to do what I want to do when I want to do it. I started trading in the stock market. I mentioned Clint, he gave me a Money Magazine article and talked about starting a Roth IRA I started investing in the stock market. But then I found real estate after a couple years of investing. And the ability to actually kind of, as I talked about in my book control appreciation or by asset and approve its value, was very appealing to me. Also, when you're a college student, you don't have a ton of money. I was able to buy my first investment property with less than $1,000. So I really became an investor to have that freedom. And then I molded my career and the rest of life around fueling those investments so that I could ultimately end up doing what I wanted to do and have that freedom to make the most out of not only my life, but also the talents that I've been given.
How do you form relationships with high profile people?
That's a complex answer, I think. But I think it starts with one simple thing and that's with integrity. So if you are a professional, if you're even a young person if you're listening, do your best. That's what we teach our boys. So you want to do what you say you're going to do, and you want to do it to the best of your ability and high profile people spot that. They see drive, they see talent, it's almost like they can sense it. Now, whether you're an athlete or professional in any aspect of your career or life, I think that's the foundation. The other thing is if you find someone, I talked about this a lot when people say what advice do you have, find somebody who you can model success. So find somebody that's done what you want to do, and then ask them, ask them for their advice. I think people that are successful, like to share their success flaws are flattered, especially if it's first generation success, which we see a lot of that out there. So, do your best, do what you say you're going to do and feel free to ask people that you respect. If you do those two things, you're going to rapidly build a network.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking stories or experiences that you have
I would say probably recently, so I've developed a relationship with Open Doors of Nashville. They help shrink the gap between children and poverty. And the executive coach that I work with, we met through an investing group, but then we ended up maintaining our relationship because we both go to CrossFit together. So we've I've seen him in CrossFit, my boys are eight and ten. My wife has seen his family there and his children. He has a young son Connor who’s 17 and just ran 100 miles straight to raise money for this nonprofit, Open Doors of Nashville. And through my networking with Chris and the relationship that I've built with him over the years from a couple different, what I would call networking groups from an investing group, as well as CrossFit, which if you don't know, CrossFit, that well, there's a lot of community involved in that. But there's a big overlap there. And then ultimately, my wife ended up pacing Connor and through our sponsorship in support of this event through Chris, we were introduced to Open Doors and now we have a nonprofit endeavor where we're working with open doors to develop a financial literacy program. So if you kind of look at the pathway of multiple networking opportunities that are that are overlaid there.
How do you best nurture your network and community that you've created?
I think the easiest thing you can do is just reach out when people have a birthday is one thing. So I think it's forgotten. I still try to text people or give them a call on their birthday. Or maybe if you're on Facebook that's another great way that's really simple. So if you want to get started in networking and staying in touch, find out people's birthday. I think when you go up another level now you're talking about how do you basically cultivate a platform and a communication cadence so you're staying in touch with people. And kind of like an influencer, if you will. And what we've done with Next Level Income is we've developed content with the goal to help people achieve financial independence first through education. So we put out a lot of educational content that I've written over the past several years. We reach out once a week and provide them hopefully something that they see value in, and if it resonates a lot of times people will reach back out to me and do that. Again, really easy keeping in touch with people on a quarterly or annual basis.
What advice would you offer that business professional who's looking to grow their network?
I think one thing that I've really focused on over the past year is my LinkedIn network. So if you are trying to grow in business, whether it's kind of move up the corporate ladder, or you're trying to expand that network, I would definitely utilize LinkedIn, you can kind of reach out to different connections. Once you've built your network out, again, now you have to consider what your goals are. If you're building a platform, you're probably going to be putting content out there. If you're not, then just decide if you're looking for a new job with a company, start to network, reach out to people. You can go through LinkedIn or grab their email and reach out to them and just see if they have a few minutes to talk but make sure you have a point. Be direct, be clear with what your intentions are. And the other thing is, if you're going to talk to somebody, do a little bit of background research, because an individual I had a call with had some questions for me and really hadn't even checked out my website, and some of the stuff that I had up there. So, again, that's the opposite of what to do. If you want to grow your network. You know, do it organically through connections that you already have. And then to deepen those relationships, try to have one-on-one conversations, but make sure you're trying to provide value, or at least you have some background knowledge on those people.
Between digital networking and traditional networking, which one do you find more value in?
I still love sitting down face to face with somebody and having lunch. If you look at my goals, you'll see that once a week a face to face is still on there. So it's obviously it's a little more challenging now in a time of COVID, as we still are, but as the weather changed, I made an effort to meet people and we would go for a walk and we would have a conversation, or we would eat outside and do that. I think there are elements that we still don't fully appreciate when it comes to the human being, whether it's, kind of the transfer of energy or just reading body language. And Zoom does a good job of transmitting some of that. But I still don't think there is a substitute for one on one sitting down. So I highly encourage anybody listening if you have a really important meeting, or really important relationship that you're trying to build, I would make the effort to do that in person.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of, less of, or differently with regards to your professional career?
I think what I would advise myself to do is, is listen a little bit more to the advice that I was given. I always kind of tried to try to choose my own path and do that. But if I could go back, I would say okay, take some of this advice from people that you want to emulate. And even if you disagree with it, dig a little bit deeper and figure out why it is and don't make an assumption when it comes to that. And then I would double down on that I would, I would find those people that were successful. And what I would probably do today is just find any way to work with them. And what I mean by that is I would probably offer to work for free, almost like an apprenticeship and find something of value that I could offer them. Figure out what they wanted to do, and then do it.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who would be one person that you'd love to connect with, and do you think you could do it to sixth degree?
My wife knows, I always had a thing for Elizabeth Hurley, we were born on the same birthday. She's English. I don't know if I could figure out how to how to meet her. That was kind of a joke. But there is another Chris Larsen. He founded Ripple and I think it was eLoans back in the day. And a lot of times I'll see him pop up like when I'm doing some stuff on our website. So Chris Larson will pop up. The most high-profile Chris Larson out there. So in all seriousness, I would love to meet him.
Do you have any final word or advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Yeah, don't hesitate, don't hesitate. Don't be afraid to reach out. You’ll get some rejection but it's a very small amount. And you know, I'm of the abundance mindset. So when you're reaching out to people, you and your message and your energy will resonate with those people that feel the same way. So don't hesitate. Ignore any rejection that you get, and you'll find those connections that ultimately will help fulfill the destiny and that talent that you have.
How to connect with Chris:
FREE Book: https://www.nextlevelincome.com/ebook
Today, Lori does a solocast in which she focuses on data and analytics. She shares 3 simple rules for where you should focus your measurement efforts.
Don't overwhelm yourself focus on what's easily available, confirm its accuracy, and most important is the information being collected going to allow you to make an intelligent business decision?
So let's dive into available. The data you're collecting should be collected quickly, you don't want to be investing a ton of time to collect information that who knows if it's really going to help you to make some smart decisions. You don't want to expend the effort that far exceeds the value of the data. When you're looking at what you want to measure, make sure that this is something that is within an arm's reach. You can quickly export information or you're using tools that are compiling these data points. At the end of the day, you want to make sure it's available. So you've got Google Analytics or maybe you can see the number of followers on a social media channel, or subscribers to your email list, how many phone calls that you made that day. This is all data that is easily accessible.
Let's look at the next one. You want to make sure it's accurate information. So we've all heard this phrase garbage in is garbage out. Well, at the end of the day, if the information that you're putting into a system is not accurate, the outcome of that information is not going to be accurate either. So much of reported marketing and sales data does not stand up to scrutiny. It's estimated, extrapolated and decimated to try and produce pertinent conclusions. You want to make sure that you have accurate information in order to be able to help tell the story that's being told with that information. Verify that your Google Analytics are set up properly and test that information. Confirm that when you have email subscribers on your list that they're not spam emails that are being plugged in. You want to make sure it's accurate information that's being used.
And the third item related to data is that it's actionable. You never want to waste time collecting data of minor value. You want to make sure that the data you collect is meaningful and has the potential of moving the needle on your marketing and sales goals. I have a thing that we practice here. Ss this action going to help us move the needle? Is this information going to help us move the needle in the right direction? So are you going to analyze the information and become paralyzed and without being able to make an intelligent business decision? That's the goal at the end of the day when looking at data and analyzing the information you want to be able to make a fairly quick, I would say, but an intelligent business decision.
If you need help with your data, diving into it, helping you figure out which specific items to measure, making sure they're easily available to you, confirming that the data that you have is accurate. And also, making sure that it's actionable, feel free to reach out. www.keystoneclick.com/ is my company. And this is what we do - digital marketing at its finest. This was a quick tip, fast episode, hopefully that adds a lot of value to you and your day.
I'm happy to do more solo casts and if you have any questions that you'd like me to answer related to marketing, building relationships to help you achieve your business and sales goals, shoot me an email at Lori@SocialCapitalPodcast.com and I will gladly answer your questions.
Meet Takeyla Tyson
I am an Accountant with 22 years of experience. I started as a bookkeeper and grew into a leadership role. I discovered that I really loved the field and was always asked questions by small business owners an thought about my own business one day. In January of 2016, I launched KMT Accounting Services, LLC. I wasn't quite sure what I would specialize in and so I took a more a la cart approach when I started. I now specialize in taxes, business operations/consulting and general accounting needs.
Why don't you just tell us a little bit about how you got started in the accounting field?
I started as a bookkeeper and when I first got into it, I really wasn't quite sure what accounting was. But I did know two things; one, I liked numbers and two, I liked puzzles. And for me, accounting was a good mix of that. So I started as a bookkeeper and ended up getting some good opportunities with some local entrepreneurs who had a bunch of different locations that they needed managed. And from there, I grew into their accountant. And as I moved from different areas of expertise from restaurant to construction, I started to pick up a lot of different skills and here I am now.
What are some of the things that you learned that you didn't know before you got into the field of accounting?
I did not know the long hours. I'm still learning things that I did not know about accounting, honestly. And I think if you ever stop learning, you don't grow. So, in the beginning, it was the long hours it was all these crazy schedules and how they interact with them. Different forms and when things are due and all these crazy things. In the era of COVID I'm learning all the new rules, and what they're allowing and disallowing and things like that. So, I've learned to never get comfortable with the county.
What do you wish that business owners knew about their accountant or accounting department?
That they’re assets. Your accounting department, your accountant, they are really your gatekeepers of your financial health, which is critical to any small business and I don't think especially the smaller businesses really get how critical having a very strong accountant or accountant team is to the livelihood of not only themselves but of the business itself. And understanding that it's not just them, quote unquote, doing your books. They really are your partners. And they should be working very closely together to make sure that the company is healthy.
Can you share with our listeners, one of your favorite networking experiences that you've had?
Networking is definitely still a thing. I know people sometimes ask about that or wonder about that, but it's definitely still who you know, and how well you're off, how good you are at building those relationships. So I'm speaking to previous quote unquote lives and my career, I've always made sure that people knew who I was. And it benefited me when I moved into another position where I say, oh, I worked for this particular company and this particular position, and right away, they're like, oh, you know, so and so? And all of a sudden, I went from the someone who was just applying for this job to someone who was given this job. It was amazing, because it was that point for me, where I realized that networking was so critical, because until that time, I didn't see the use for it.
How do you stay in front of the network that you've established?
I do that by sending those emails and keeping contact with them on social media, whether it's LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter, Instagram, wherever they are. Making sure I reach out if I see something that they posted or that they're talking about that I'm really interested in, I'll start a private conversation with them and say, care to catch a cup of coffee on me I want to talk about this a little more or you got 10 minutes for a phone call, I’d really like to know more about this and be genuine about it. People will definitely be open to talk about those things that matter to them. And then in time when you want some advice or you're looking for direction when you reach out, they don't look at it in a negative view. They're like, this person was always just looking for information. Let me help this person out.
What advice would you offer that business professionals looking to grow their network?
Get out of your comfort zone. Try to put yourself in situations where you don't know anyone and just really be genuine and honest with who you are, where you're going or what your interests are. I believe that every person if you take a good five minutes, you'll find one common interest that you can just launch a whole entire conversation on and just kind of break that ice. Whether it's your favorite TV show or favorite food, whatever it is. Strike up a conversation and then there you go. And then try to do something, when you do introduce yourself to those people who don't know, you try to find something really interesting and intriguing that will cause them to ask you follow up questions. Create that repertoire to where they want to continue to engage with you. And not just hi, my name is so and so and I do this.
Between digital and in-person networking, which one do you find more value in?
I still find more value in the traditional networking. Digital is great. It definitely makes for a quick, rapid fire introduction. It's becoming more digital, but networking nonetheless. I think those are still key. I kind of shy away from the I'm just going to randomly email somebody an intro or something like that. I do think email is a great way to kind of open the door and then let them walk through the rest of the process. I don't think traditional networking is going to go away.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I would say do more of traveling. Definitely. More traveling, more exposure to other cultures. Yeah, less worry. I think we spend a lot of our 20s just trying to get everything so perfect. I would have told my 20-year-old self to go into a lot of different fields because I think we get comfortable too young. And we're like, oh, I'm going to be a teacher well, try out something else. You never even thought you might not like. Maybe you're better being a chef or are you maybe your better being an architect or whatever, try a little bit of everything because especially your 20s there are so many internships out there. And you could try it for a month or two or whatever. The value of the exposure to those different fields are going to help you in so many different unexpected ways in your life.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Now who would be the one person you'd love to connect with and do you think you can do it within the sixth degree?
I would try my best to do it within six degrees. But I would love to honestly sit down and talk to Warren Buffett. I would do it only because I do own some of this stock. And they do allow you to come and be present for the actual meetings. So that's my first foot in. And then I would network my butt off to get somewhere within 20 feet of him just to see if that gets me the other way there.
Do you have any final word or advice off for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Don't ever miss that opportunity whether you're at a grocery store or you're going to Walmart. Take every opportunity you can to not just talk about your business but introduce yourself to people period. The simple hello goes a long way and a lot of times especially in this environment people are very starved for conversation. Just a simple hello could possibly open so many doors or give you new ideas or new ways of thinking about not only how to run your business or how to be more useful to the people that you want to serve. So I would say keep your eyes open, and keep your heart open and just keep doing it every day. At least introduce yourself to one person every time you leave the house.
How to connect with Takeyla
Meet Dr. Susan Lovelle
Dr. Susan Lovelle, The Thrive Architect, helps smart, busy women who are just surviving on caffeine and willpower design their own unique blueprint to the energy, power, and balance they want in their lives. Dr. Susan is the creator of Premiere Wellness, a comprehensive holistic health company based in Raleigh, NC, serving clients globally with customized wellness solutions for weight, energy, hormones, and more to help them heal from the inside out, leading to lasting, powerful change.
What's the best thing that I could do or any of our listeners could do right now to optimize their health and begin to thrive?
I come across so many people who literally are just surviving right now whether it's caffeine, wine, willpower, whatever it is, medications that they're on, they're just really kind of surviving. And what tends to happen is that you get stuck in that mindset, you feel that there's nothing that you can do other than just survive. And the most important thing is to realize that you can be proactive instead of just reactive. So by being proactive, you actually make steps to help yourself get better by knowing what's going on in your body. So that's literally the very best thing that you can do to start knowing your body knowing what it needs and then giving it to it.
How do I know what's right for me?
That is the number two thing that comes to me is that if go on Dr. Google and you know the Dr. Webb and everything and you either get way too much information and you think that you've got a million different things and you try and do a million different things. Or even if it is the right information, it may not be the right thing for you. So for instance, how many times do you hear about somebody going on some, whatever the newest diet fad is, and they lose, you know, 20-30 pounds, just like that. And then you try it and not only don't you lose weight, you actually gain weight. And what that's all about is that it's just not the right thing for you.
What is the process to really figuring out what is the right thing?
It sounds very simplistic, but the best thing to do is to listen to your body. Know the messages that your body is trying to give you. So for instance, if you were driving into the desert and your check engine light comes on. Would you just slap a little piece of tape over the check engine light? Driving? No, you wouldn't. Exactly. So we're doing the same thing what our body's telling us these little messages like when we have aches when we have bloating or abdominal discomfort when we have pain. These are the messages. These are the check engine lights that our body is giving us to tell us whoa, something's not right. Take a look and fix it.
What's the difference between traditional medicine approach and functional medicine and really, why is this important?
I actually grew up in the traditional health field and I was a plastic surgeon for over 22 years. I went to Columbia University in New York City, what you learn there is how to diagnose someone, and then what treatment to give them. So for instance, if they were diabetic, you're going to get this particular diabetic medicine. If you have high blood pressure, you're going to get this medicine with this treatment. And it really was about treating the symptoms, not for finding the actual root cause, like what is causing this person to have high blood pressure. And there are many different reasons why someone could. It could be a mineral deficiency, it could be stress, it could be food sensitivities, lots of different things. So rather than just treating the symptom and making the symptom go away, you dig a little deeper and you find out why that person is suffering with that particular condition. And you fix that and then it's kind of like instead of if you had a tree, when you want the tree to look pretty and healthy. Would you paint the leaves with green paint? Or would you heal the roots?
Could you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking experiences that you've had?
I probably would be your most perfect person to listen to the podcast all the time. Because I used to be that very same way I used to hate going out and network I would feel like I have to meet as many people as I can meet and I have to throw my card to as many people as I possibly can. And that's not networking. So I eventually learn from people like you and podcasts like you that instead it’s more about making a relationship. And so with all that being said, I met Dr. Deb Matthews, she's an integrative physician, who happens to be in Charlotte, North Carolina, met her at a seminar for integrative physicians. And we started talking and became friends. And that has led to me having speaking engagements, TV interviews, got a spot on a nine-part docu series. And it was really just because we made that connection as opposed to me saying, oh, you know, I've got to go and hand out my card. It was more about making that connection.
How do you stay in front of our best nurture the community and the relationships that you've created?
It's changed a bit, as you can imagine over the last few months. Previously, I did both in person and online. So I would have workshops and seminars and things like that. So even some retreats, which are wonderful, but we're not doing those right now. So now everything is online, and I do our weekly webinars on a particular health topic. And then I do Facebook lives again once a week and those who are a little, of course, a little shorter, a little bit more informal and really just kind of ask the doc sort of things. And then the third thing is I do podcasts like this one.
What advice would you offer that business professional who's looking to grow their network?
Because we're all online in, at least for the most part where we are here in North Carolina, I have found that I'm getting actually bombarded by people who want to make those connections. And what I found is that I really have to be selective. Because at this point, we just don't have the bandwidth to be everything to everyone. And I really have to pick and choose which way I want to go. And so what I do is I really focus on where I want to grow my practice, how I want that to grow. And then right now, if someone is a good fit for that, then we'll connect and kind of go through that. But if they're not, if it's just noise, I'll put it out that if it's just noise at this point, I have to kind of say no, because I can't do everything.
Between digital networking and tradition networking, which one do you find more value in?
As I mentioned, it's obviously digital, but previously the in person was more productive and when it’s done properly. So when it's more like when I met Dr. Matthew when it’s more of a connection and friendship that we develop as opposed to, you know, here's my card, give me your card, and you know, whatever and throw them in the back.
If you could get back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
The biggest thing was that I would have built my infrastructure differently. So back when I started my plastic surgery practice I got talked into by all the reps and that I had to have the newest stuff and it had to be brand new and it had to be the top line and everything and I had to have all of this staff and I put everything together all at once for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Which I then paid off over the next few years. So if looking at that, I would say don't do it that way, do it the way that I do it now and I just add things as I need them. So if I need a new staff person, I'll get that staff person, if I need a particular piece of equipment or product in my line, that I do the due diligence, and I'll add them as opposed to trying to do everything all at once.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with? Do you think you could do it within the 6th degree?
I'm going to cheat and make it two people. And it would be the Obamas at this point. And I would start with the Princeton connection, because both my daughters and Michelle Obama went there.
Any final word or advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
So the lesson that I learned over the years was to enjoy it. And as I mentioned before, really focus on developing the relations sips not just making a contact. And once you do that, then it's fun. You enjoy going to the networking event you enjoy speaking with people and just connecting one on one and then you never know what's going to come out of that.
How to connect with Dr. Lovelle:
Today Lori’s solocast is on Digital Marketing Research Fundamentals.
Now this is important because networking is all about building relationships and connections and likely for more reasons than not it’s because of business. And business comes down to understanding who that audience is that you want to be communicating with. So why is research important when we're talking about a marketing strategy? Well, the definition of research, according to Wikipedia, is research comprises of creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humans, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications.
So if you think about this, you're going to be spending more time and money experimenting before you're getting things done, versus moving forward and doing the research to help you focus on where should you be targeting, where should you be investing your time. A lot of the guests that we have on the show talk about being very strategic in the events that they attend or the organizations that they're a part of and in hopes of aligning themselves to get in front of the right people.
Let's start with yourself, you really need to know who you are. What is it that you stand for? What problems are you solving for the world? Why should people want to connect with you? You want some sort of distinction that you don't want them to turn to a competitor. You don't want them to think twice about going anywhere else. You want them to believe that they are getting the right thing. They're having the right conversation with the right person at the right time.
Ready for more? Listen in as Lori goes more in depth on how to apply digital marketing research to YOUR business!