Nicole started her first entrepreneurial journey in 2007 with her husband. They decided to start an organic farm & micro-brewery in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest. During the seven years that they ran Acadian Farms & Brewery, she was in charge of all things marketing- everything from events to social media to website design. Learning + doing everything on her own, Nicole created an SEO-friendly website that reached #1 on Google and utilized the power of social media and influencer outreach to get featured in prominent publications like The Oregonian, Portland Monthly, and The Seattle Times, as well as popular craft beer blogs.
So let's talk about marketing because this is obviously your world. I know that you do a lot with marketing plans as we do as well. But how would you recommend that small business owner get started with a marketing plan?
So that's like, the biggest kind of problem I see when I work with a lot of different business owners. They have ideas, and they have a little bit of a plan, and then maybe they have some people kind of helping them, but there's no overall cohesive strategy. So that's where we start and it kind of starts with your foundation, like, what are your goals? Who are your potential customers? Where are they hanging out? What are their struggles? It doesn't have to be like super overwhelming, once you kind of even just start writing everything down, pulling all of that information out of your head, looking at a calendar, and again, knowing who your customers are, and where they're hanging out online, or what their hobbies are. Just really starting to brainstorm all those ideas helps create a plan and an effective plan, and they leave feeling so less stressed. I was working with someone last week and she goes, "I am just so excited to finally have a marketing plan!" So that's what I love doing, and a little bit of planning really, really goes a long way.
One of the things that I've learned is, even though you have a plan, it may not work out the way that you want it to, it's a lot easier to adjust when you have a plan versus trying to make changes when you have nothing fleshed out.
Yes, totally. A lot of them will work out their strategies and just put their notes down all that and like a Google Drive folder, which is super easy, or you know, people can use Dropbox or whatever. But being able to refer back to that, as you said and be like and look like okay, maybe we need to shift like this isn't working or like, you know, we all just went into lockdown again, like how can we adjust where necessary, but having a place to look and kind of keep track really just really helps.
So what are some of the most common things that you're coaching your clients on right now?
So a lot of it is this planning that I've been talking about. Some are a little bit further along and then so it's just really trying to figure out which channels are best for them. Then we start exploring different ways to reach their ideal customers, whether it's, one of my clients just had a big challenge within a Facebook group, and it went really well, she got so many sales, and then another one is planning to expand her YouTube channel because that's where her potential clients are and spend a lot of time. So it's really just getting that plan, and then getting even more granular about where we're gonna execute this and then going into best practices with that, and their schedule, and then just kind of holding them accountable as well. We have so many things when we're running a business so just having that little bit of accountability is super helpful.
Your LinkedIn profile says you offer simple marketing strategies. So can you elaborate on the use of the word simple and what are some simple ways that other small businesses can market themselves?
Yeah, totally. So yeah, in my bio, you know, it mentioned that my husband and I ran a small business for seven years. It was a farm, so not like, huge profits. So we had to figure out simple, easy, and pretty low budget ways to market our business. So I used a lot of what I did in that in what I do now in helping clients. But so it's a lot of social media and I know, some people like, "Ugh, I hate social media." But when you are able to understand the different nuances of the different platforms, and why you're doing it, and then like some stats of like, so many people are on social media. Then just sharing all of these different things and how to do it, then it is simple because we don't know what we don't know, you know what I mean. So, I just like to provide all these different ways and I really come with the approach of teaching them how to do it, even if I'm going to be doing it for them, I want them to know why we're doing, what we're doing, or where we're doing it. So even a simple one, for example, when we had the farm, we had beer, and we're in a very, like craft beer world here in the northwest, it's huge. So I would hold an open house event for all of the craft beer bloggers, and they would come and taste all our beer and then they would go back and write on their blogs and put it on their social media. So we were able to like really grow and gain brand awareness. That kind of like, evolved into like, a lot of the newspapers and publications, even from Seattle coming in and reaching out to us because they saw us on other blogs. There are so many ways, like once you kind of get these small business owners talking, and they get into the strategy, they hit so many great ideas. Once I get past that overwhelm, and not quite kind of like understanding why it's happening, then it just opens up the floodgates, which is awesome.
So this podcast is all about networking and relationships. Obviously, that's something that you're doing and you shared some great examples of fostering those relationships from a grassroots marketing level. Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking stories that you've had?
I can't think of a favorite story, but when you say networking I just think that there are so many things that popped into my mind of so many people that I've met through networking, I'm just a huge advocate of it. I'm an ambassador for our local chamber here in Hood River, I'm a chamber member because we live on the Columbia River. So it's like Oregon, and Washington right next to each other, so I'm in another chamber, but it's like, two minutes away. Also, I do a lot of online networking, and this podcast too was really started with that in mind to create a community because being an entrepreneur can be hard and lonely and I have met people from around the world. I just got an email last week from a gal that had been on my podcast last year, introducing me to someone that needs what I do. So that was almost a year ago, and I was still top of mind enough for her to think of me and reached out and now I have a meeting with her next week. Networking is essential and I just love having that community of having people that know what it's like trying to grow a business, maybe you don't necessarily own it, but, you know, just that whole community.
How do you stay in front of and best nurture your network in your community?
Usually, it's a good bit of social media of just really reaching out and making those connections a lot. Whether I work with them, or they're on the podcast, or people that have been on the podcast will introduce me to other people on social media. So just trying to stay in there because it is meant to be social, you know, that was first and foremost. So just really going back and forth and meeting these people and having a genuine interest in just getting to know people. I introduced two ladies today that both have podcasting interests and they both live in Boise, Idaho. So I was like, "Hey ladies, y'all need to meet," and now they're going to meet for a social distance coffee soon. So really trying to stay in touch with people and follow up and see how their lives are going. Lately, it's been social media, more so, than any other channels.
What advice would you offer that business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
I know, it's kind of hard right now because we don't have any of the in-person meetups or networking occasions, but there are so many opportunities online. There are so many Facebook groups, there are so many LinkedIn groups. I've met so many people those ways, and have been referred business and just met people and had zoom chats and ended up working together. Even local chapters like ours are having online coffee networking meetups. BNI, I know I think they've moved to an online platform as well, so there are opportunities. It's not the same as being in person but I would start researching those and just getting involved in joining those groups and just kind of observing and getting involved and introducing yourself just like you would at in-person meetings.
So if you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
So this is something I've just recently figured out so I would definitely, I guess, tell my 20-year-old self. Just say yes and just start. I've watched so many opportunities go by me just because I was kind of scared to put myself in that position of being out of my comfort zone, or just to try it. I probably wouldn't have gotten past that had I not started my podcast, because that really put me out of my comfort zone a lot. Now, I love it and I can't imagine it not being in my life. I probably wouldn't have gone into coaching, either, because I'm pretty introverted. So those two have really forced me out of my comfort zone. So at 20 I know, I was not doing things that put me out of my comfort zone. So I would say just get started and just go because who cares!
So we've all heard of the six degrees of separation, who is one person that you'd love to connect with, and do you think you can do it within the six degrees?
I'm gonna say Mel Robbins, or Shonda Rhimes because I read both of their books this year, and they were amazing. It changed my life. Yeah, I don't know, though. There's gonna be somebody that knows somebody. I guess so with both of them it kind of ties back to maybe that is why it did have such a big impact on my life this past year. You know, Mel Robbins, like breaking into the psychology of why we do or don't do things, I thought that was really fascinating. Also, she talks about you're not ever really going to feel like doing some of these things, so you just count backward and go. I was like, "Oh my god, she's right," don't get so emotionally attached and just do it. Then I really, really enjoyed Shonda's book, The Year of Yes. Again, just starting saying yes and finding out what happens. The way she writes is awesome and just seeing her transformation was just really eye-opening. So I would talk to them about their books and dig deeper.
Do you have any final word or advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I would just say that having a plan for networking and reaching out to these people should be part of your marketing plan. But you know, really just taking a little bit of time, even if it's 30 minutes or an hour. This is a great time of the year to do it before we go into the new year. So just, you know, taking a little bit of time, like, how can I reach out to more people? I have one client that I help with, who is an attorney, and she wants to grow her network. So we've come up with the list, and she's gonna send $5 Starbucks digital cards, and ask two attorneys a month to go on coffee dates, virtually. I thought that was a really fun and creative yet simple way to really open up our network. So yeah, just kind of pulling all of those ideas, but putting them down on paper will really help you not get so overwhelmed.
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Rocky is a certified profit first professional who was shocked to learn most business owners don't look at their financial reports. Most business owners are not accountants and don't want to be. When he realized how much of a problem this was, he knew his purpose was to help business owners be profitable.
Why do business owners struggle to create profitable businesses?
First of all, accountants don't even know how to create profitable businesses, right? They know how to do taxes, they know how to put all the transactions where they belong, according to a formula that says, this is how we do things, this is generally accepted accounting principles. So there's really nobody focused on teaching or helping business owners to understand profitability. That's why I think so many of them struggle, the system I use is from Mike Michalowicz, he wrote the book Profit First. He is a serial entrepreneur, he thought he did it right, sold his companies walked away with a lot of money, and then lost it all, you know, the quintessential thing and it's because he struggled with this just as much as everyone else did. Then he came up with this idea of when we look at things, we're given the wrong formula and if you use the wrong formula, you're going to have the wrong results. So the formula your accountant will tell you is sales minus expenses equals profit. Where is profit in that formula? At the end, it's a leftover, it's something you find out at tax time. You go to your account, he goes, "Congratulations, you're profitable, here's your tax bill!" And the first question is, "Where is that cash?" Then they just laugh at you and they go, "You spent it." Mike said that's broken let's fix that. Let's do sales minus profit equals expenses. So we change the whole way we think about business, because we take our profit first, upfront because your business plan said you were going to be profitable. Well, why not take the profit upfront, remove it, and then learn to spend less. I think too often business owners, are told you got to spend money to make money and that's not necessarily true.
Why is the bottom line far more important than the top line?
So you've heard this so many times where people who've made millions upon millions of dollars and gone bankrupt. The saying we have is, "The top line is vanity, the bottom line is sanity, and cash flow is reality." What that basically means is, I don't care how much money is coming in. If more money is going out than is coming in, you're never going to win the game. You can't grow your way to profit if it's costing you more than what you're selling it for and that's why the bottom line is so important. The problem is, and it's kind of where we started this, if I wanted to know your top line, you can go look at your bank account and go, "Hey, I had a bunch of sales, look at all the money that came in." But if I said to you, "What's your bottom line?" It's very hard to figure that number out, you don't really know. All you know is I have money in my bank, or I don't have money in my bank, and if you don't have money in the bank, you run out and you get more sales, or you do collections. But it's really a struggle if you don't know what that bottom line is. As we talked about before, most business owners may not know until their accountant tells them four months after the year is over. That's a problem and that's why you've got to create systems and processes, and go in and figure out how much is my bottom line really? And am I appropriately charging for my products? And where is my profit coming from? That's something that even large companies don't have the answer to, is where is profit coming from? So if a big company with a CFO and all these big systems can't figure it out easily, it's really hard for the little guy.
What exactly does a certified profit first professional do?
So basically, what I do is, I serve with one simple goal to help you be profitable. The system that might create it as a cash flow system. So you get your money in your paycheck, and you put your money where you're going to spend it for rent, for groceries, for utilities, and when that money is used up, then you stop spending, and you figure out a better way to do it. That principle works all the time, so what Mike did was use the same principle for businesses. You set up multiple bank accounts, which I know is a little scary upfront, but as soon as your revenue comes in, the first thing you do, is you put money in your profit account because you're supposed to be profitable. The second thing you do is you put money in your owner's pay account, because you deserve to be compensated for your work, and the efforts and the risk you've taken. Then we put money in the tax account, because it's not your money, it's the governments. Some businesses may have some other accounts for special purposes and then the rest ends up in your operating expense account. But what's happened is because you've covered your big nuts first, when you look at your bank account, and that operating account, you know how much you truly have to spend. So it forces you to be more resourceful. This whole thing is built on Parkinson's Law. What Parkinson's Law says is that whatever resources you're given, you'll use them up. So if you have three months to do a project, it'll take you three months. If you've got three hours to do a project, you'll find a way to get it done in three hours. If you've got a $100,000 budget to do something within your business, you'll spend 100,000. But if you've got a $10,000 budget to do something, you'll figure out a way to get it for $10,000. By separating the money and giving it a job and putting it in smaller piles, you learn to be more resourceful, you don't spend as much, and what I do is I kind of create accountability. I help by looking at the actual financial reports and then bringing to light where revenue is coming from whether it's properly priced. In other words, I have customers and you go down and you look into their accounts and you're like, "You didn't realize just put that item on sale, and you discounted it and you sold it for less than what your actual costs are, you actually lost money this weekend by doing that sale. I know you needed to get revenue in but this is a problem." So somebody's got to go in and figure that out and that's basically what I do. Sometimes it's easy to see, sometimes it's more difficult. So for example, I have one customer that I looked at who has two different service lines. His one service line is good, provides a reasonable living, a lot of work. He has another service line that's seasonal. That seasonal service line just put so much money to his profit, it's incredible because he's got so much margin in that business. I said to him, "Stop focusing on this service line that's doing okay, put your efforts where most of your money is coming from, you can work a fraction of the time and make a lot more money by redirecting your efforts."
Do you work alongside bookkeepers and accountants? Are you kind of in competition with them? How does that play out?
I'm not in competition with anybody. I work with whoever your bookkeeper is, and whoever your accountant is because your bookkeepers are putting the transactions in. One of the things I do is provide a second set of eyes on your bookkeeper to help make sure that they're doing things appropriately. The accountants are mostly doing taxes and so that's fine. What I'll do is I will help you put money aside for taxes. So I'll tell you the story of Mike because this is a phenomenal story. Mike was in the recruiting business and he had a blowout year, he had so many placements that year and his revenue went through the roof. Well, the tax accountant based his quarterlies on the previous year. So tax time comes around, and she's hesitant to call them because there's this massive tax bill. She finally calls him and says, "Hey, I've been dreading this call, you owe a lot of money." He said, "I know my sales have been up, I expected this, how bad is it?" She said it's almost six figures, and he said, "Oh, alright, I'll drop off checks tomorrow," and she's like, "I've never ever had anyone tell me that in over 20 years." He was using profit first, so he was putting his tax money aside, and it was ready for him. I've heard that story from practically every person that implements profit first. Tax time is no longer a season of angst and worry. They're like, "I hate taxes, but whatever that bill is, I know I'm ready for it, and I can strike a check."
Let's talk about networking because business is all about relationships. Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking experiences that you've had?
So you know how you felt about money? This is how I feel about networking. But I will tell you this because I realized the importance of it. I've probably spent the last eight, nine years working on this skill, from taking courses on social capital, to reading books about networking to learn how to do this. So I just want to encourage the people listening if this isn't something you enjoy doing, it's just a matter of practice. Now I've come to learn how to do that. I think one of the things that COVID did for me is overnight, is I was doing all this in-person networking, and overnight, all my in-person networking got canceled. Essentially, we went to the online world and I've got to tell you, I have found online networking to be much easier, much more enjoyable, and a much more diverse group of people that I get to meet than I was meeting in my local networking meetups. There are so many online groups that I have found and one gets me to the next, gets me to the next, and that's how we met, Right? We met through a networking group that you had started in the middle of COVID. I don't think in a non-COVID world that we would have ever met. Also, the quickness that the group came together and was willing to help. I think that was the other thing that I've noticed is in online networking, the speed of networking, and the building, the Trust has gotten faster and faster.
So Rocky, as you continue to build and grow your network, how do you stay in front of and nurture these individuals that you're connecting with?
So that's been another struggle for me because I have one of these CRMs and it gets overwhelming, there are all these people in there and I can't find the people that I want. So I've learned a couple of things. Number one, I've learned to take much better notes. I use Evernote and what I do is I have a whole folder that's called "Meetups" and whenever I go to a meetup, as people are talking and networking, I'm just putting my names and notes as I'm listening. That's searchable, so if somebody emails me three weeks from now, I go to my Evernote, I search, I find the note and then I go, "Now I remember everything." I'm kind of just basic, you know, I'm a spreadsheet geek, and so I have found it's just easier for me to create a spreadsheet of the people that I want to kind of nurture and keep track of. So I just put Date, Name, some really basic stuff, and maybe a follow-up date to it. The other thing I do is if I know that I need to specifically follow up, so let's just say that we met and, and you said to me, "Hey let's chat in three weeks." What I will do I will do is I'll go right into my calendar immediately and I will create a task three weeks out, that says, email Lori, and I might put one sentence there about to remind myself. So it's kind of different levels for different people, but I'm still struggling with how to do a better job of nurturing all the relationships. I think what I need to do is probably to create a bigger block of time for me to sit once a week, and just go through the list and at least pick a handful of people and send an email. Some of it I'm good, like if they're good on LinkedIn, then I tend to be more social on LinkedIn. The other thing I find is if there are people who are at events that are somewhat regular, then that creates that natural rhythm as well. If I meet somebody, maybe three events over three months, and we haven't connected for one on one, I'll just reach out and say, "Hey, let's do a one on one." I find having an automated calendar is a godsend. When I left corporate and I was able to turn on my automated calendar, it made my life 10 x easier.
What advice would you offer the business professional who's looking to grow their network?
So I have been told that the purpose of networking is to serve, and just go out and serve. If you want to grow your network, go out and see how you can help people. Of course, you've got to do it in an appropriate way so that you can manage your time. But I think that's a big part of it is to go out and serve and help others, because if you help them achieve their goals, they're going to help you achieve yours.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
So that's a long way back. The world has changed quite dramatically since then. I think there were a lot of things that I just didn't understand back then. So one was this whole networking and relationship thing. It was not something that I understood and it wasn't something that I worked on. It was also a different world in the sense that there was no internet so it was hard to keep in touch with people, you'd actually have to pick up the phone and call them. Then if they move, they got a new phone number and if nobody sent you a letter in the mail, you lost connection, right? Yeah. So I think just going back and telling myself to understand that. The other thing is I didn't understand what my super skills were like I didn't know what my superpowers were. I've been playing with spreadsheets since I was in high school, so back then it was VisiCalc. I was going into fortune 500 companies going, "Hey, accountants, here's how you get off of a paper ledger and you use an electronic spreadsheet." I always thought I was going to create a business around spreadsheets, but I didn't know how. The power of spreadsheets now, I mean, it's a billion/trillion dollar business because nobody can figure out the numbers. If you understand spreadsheets, and you can see the stories that the numbers are telling you, that's very valuable. Now I'm finally in the place where I figured that out, and that's why I do what I do. So those are probably the two things, figure out your super skills, and then learn how to network and build social capital. It's okay, if you don't know how to do stuff, go ask people who will help you. I grew up in the area of you never ask for help, you do it all, you know, it was the lone gun kind of timeframe. So it took a lot of personal development to move out of that and get a little bit smarter.
So 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?
I would love to interview Tim Ferriss because he's an interesting guy, he's a little nuts. But I love to learn how to do things and he's also kind of a thinker like that. I've met people who are friends with Tim Ferriss. So I know, I'm not that far away. I've got multiple people that I'm probably one degree of separation away. Whether or not they listen to him, or he'd entertain my ideas, is a whole nother reality, but I do know people in the circle.
Any final words of advice to our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Just go out, and remember, you have two ears and one mouth so listen more than you speak.
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Listen to Rocky’s podcast: http://profitcomesfirst.com/podcast/
Ann is the owner of reCollect2 Company and creator of the reCollect2recycler, a recycling receptacle used in hospitality and corporate office settings. Manufactured in Wisconsin, you can find her products, specifically in hotel guest rooms and various businesses and organizations in 49 states throughout the US. She's had the privilege of working alongside some of hospitality's most recognizable brands. But her goal has always been to offer a product that's functional, motivational, and impactful.
So why don't we start a little bit about talking about being in the hospitality space and how this year has affected your business?
Well, dramatically, like any business and travel, and tourism and attractions. So yes, I mean, the industry is hurting as a whole right now. But it's really important to notice that there are some markets right now, throughout the US that are seeing an uptick, they're getting busier, and they're doing better. Right now the overall goal is to restore that confidence in travel again, and I know that we will get there. But I would say the immediate need right now is to focus on just keeping hotels open, like literally keeping their doors open, because it's really a hard time especially coincidentally, today is the election and a lot of things are actually surrounded around what will transpire there. So our industry has been in a holding pattern, it's been hurting, but I just feel confident that we will see a light at the end of the tunnel here. It's also cool to kind of put out there that even though all of these hotels that we might see in like our backyard, or our surrounding communities, they have these globally recognized brands, but we need to remember that several of these properties are actually owned by small businesses, like ours. I mean, many are family-owned. So yes, we are hurting, but I do see that we will see some things moving here, hopefully, in the near future.
Your business has a big emphasis on sustainability. Why should this topic be important to businesses and organizations in general?
Yeah, that's a good question. I think that there's immense value within businesses that really choose to incorporate sustainability. And that's it any length or level big or small, whether it's environmental or social. I think that most of us have this inner voice that wants to contribute to a greater good and find ways to give back to something other than just ourselves. So I think that it's important that we can embrace small, incremental, and actionable steps that we can take and conquer larger issues. So this carries over into business. And yes, we definitely see how businesses want to operate more efficiently. Whether that's reducing waste or other operational tactics that they're putting in place. But it's also important not to overlook the people aspect as well. I think now more than ever, we're connecting the dots and we're recognizing how this mindset and social sustainability, their commitments are directly and positively impacting and serving the well-being of the people that make up our communities.
Speaking of people, you've been compelled to bring awareness to human trafficking within your business, can you talk about that a little bit?
Yeah it's a big issue, and I'll be honest, especially lately, it seems like there's been more conversation about it, which there are pros and cons to that, for sure. But I'll kind of start back up a little bit that I first heard about human trafficking, probably five or six years ago. Long story short, I was very triggered about the staggering statistics that I was hearing and seeing just from a global aspect, but nationally, and then even here in Wisconsin. So that was really my first glimpse into hearing about human trafficking. At first, I'll be honest, it's really easy to become overwhelmed by just the sheer magnitude of this crime, and I'm talking about just the number of people that we're finding out are actually enslaved. This includes children and adults, and also the aspect of the money that's involved, the billions of dollars that make up the industry, and all the moving parts that kind of allow this industry to grow. So as I became more aware, and hearing more about all of those aspects, it's hard to, it's hard to ignore, really, and as a mother, and as an individual who strongly believes that people should live in freedom, I felt that it was kind of my responsibility to help be a voice in anti-trafficking efforts and try to support the local causes here that we have in Milwaukee, that who are really the real experts in this field, especially in aftercare. I felt like it was important to help get their voice out there, and just increase that awareness. But that's really like how I became involved in it and hearing about it, I just felt like if I was that angry about it, and felt that compelled that I couldn't really stay silent. So overall I believe it's our calling to respectfully care for each other and speak up for those who can't speak for themselves. And little by little, I think that we can make a change and being in the hospitality space, because our product is literally in this space, and many of our customers are also trying to bring awareness and training to their own properties. It just seemed right to try to join forces, hopefully, sparks of dialogues and conversations, if we can provide resources, and I just thought it was an opportunity for us to unite.
So a number of people have this fear when they hear the word networking, and my goal is really to eliminate that fear and bring some hope and encouragement to our listeners. So can you help me do that by sharing one of your favorite networking experiences that you've had?
Yeah well actually, it was a couple of years ago. I'm kind of laughing about it because we just were talking about this on a separate project. But it was a couple of years ago that I had met someone by chance at a networking event, here locally, and how that connection has just led into education and training on my part and other opportunities, and then introductions into other networking communities and how those communities kind of overlap. It's been kind of incredible how that whole journey how that actually began in that trajectory. Honestly, part of that connection actually led to you as well. So it's kind of neat how that all transpired. I think that you never know who you're going to meet. But I'm also a firm believer and things kind of working behind the scenes, too. I think that things are orchestrated, people are met and connected for a reason and it's pretty neat to see when that transpires.
So as you've got contacts, and you've been networking nationally, and potentially even globally, how do you best nurture and maintain these relationships with your network in your community?
Well, technology has obviously made this more accessible. There's more group dialogue, webinars, workshops, and events that we can take part in. And I think that those opportunities lead to conversations where you really get to meet other people and grow into more of a trusting relationship. Technology specifically, has allowed these educational trainings to happen and I think that this time that we've been living through that we shouldn't underestimate that. I think that being involved, participating, and taking that time to kind of invest in these connections is important. And it's really neat to hear people's stories and I think when you hear people's stories, and you learn their passions and their expertise, and you're just willing to see what they have to offer. I mean, I think that those relationships are reciprocated and I think that participating and hearing all these different areas and stories is something that I try to take part in as often as I can because I think you learn a lot about the person and in those particular avenues and those ways of community and networking.
What advice would you offer that business professional who's looking to grow their network?
I would say to step outside of your comfort zone. I think that we need to embrace and enjoy the journey of taking some risks. This year, more than ever can show us to be bold, to be a voice, to not apologize for taking on something new, learning something new, and I think that taking those steps would be my advice. Because I think sometimes we can kind of stay in our area of what we know or how we've normally done things. But let's be bold, let's break through some barriers, and let's try something new. That would be my advice, and it’s advice to myself because it's been a different curve for all of us. That vulnerability, I think there can connect you to other people as well. So that comes and goes, I think to be bold, enjoy it, take the risk!
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
All right, so let me just say that, before I answer that I'm kind of an odd duck. I was married to my husband at 20, we had our son at 22 and I jumped right into my quote-unquote career not long after, because I was like this planner. I had this kind of all set out what was going to be my timeline, I was adamant about staying on that, and I wasn't going to deviate from that. Quite honestly, I remember specifically telling myself I am never going to be an entrepreneur, I have no desire to be an entrepreneur, this I'm going in this direction because this is more predictable for me. So I think what I've learned for sure is don't count anything out. Because here I am doing something I never ever imagined but really had no desire to do in my mid-20s at all. So I think that's something that I can look back on often and just be like, "You know what? You can't count anything out." I think also, as professionals we can just get extremely immersed in our work which is great, right? But I think my 20-year-old self, I was definitely immersed in my work, I think for the wrong reasons. I think that I had different goals and intentions of where my plans were going. I look back and you know what? I think those weren't the right intentions for me, I think I was able to recognize the time that I was putting in and knowing that I also had a family, and what I was missing out from, you know, the family aspect. Also the bigger picture and doing more and giving back, and how can we affect other people and things like that.
Let's talk about the six degrees of separation. If you could connect with anybody, who would it be, and do you think you do it within the sixth degree?
So recently, I am just very fascinated with Tim Tebow right now and not only from the football aspect, because our family is in the sports world, football was kind of in our blood for a while. There's that aspect, but right now what he's doing with his nonprofit and the anti-trafficking arena, and just legislation, and how he is connecting, how he's getting his message out there. I'm very intrigued by that. So I think recently, that's really been catching my eye a lot and I would love to sit down and have a conversation with him because I think his passion is burning brightly, and I just love the direction that he's going. The other person would probably be Joanna Gaines because I'm not very handy. So I don't know if it's just because I am attracted to the fact that she can fix anything. But she literally, you know, took Shiplap to a whole new level. She's now going to be starting a network. I mean, hello, I'd want to sit down and have a conversation with her because that is taking things to a completely new level. I just find the way that she just delivers her message and all the different projects that she's in and she has family, and she's got this design aspect and now she's you know, getting in again to this network. I just think holy cow! I feel like we could talk for days on just how that has transpired and all the different steps along the way to allow that vision to come to life.
Connect with Ann:
Instagram: @annieriphenburg reCollect2 website: https://www.recollect2recycler.com/
After spending too many years in corporate America, Lorraine said goodbye to the bureaucracy, glass ceilings, and bad coffee. Today you can find her at Round Peg, a digital agency located in Carmel, Indiana building smart marketing strategies for businesses who want to use internet marketing tools to grow Laureen is also the host of More than a Few Words, a weekly marketing conversation for business owners. In her spare time, she loves to travel and take photos.
So you actually started your agency in more of the traditional sense but migrated to digital. How and when did you know it was time to make that transition?
I would love to tell you that I strategically planned that out that I saw this whole digital thing coming and I anticipated it, but no. Actually what happened was, we were doing small business marketing and I hired a couple of young professionals who were like, you know, you need to take a look at this Facebook thing. This is going back 2007 or whenever, you know, right in that time frame. We started looking at it and what we realized, as we were looking at it is we were working with small businesses who didn't have a lot of money. We saw this, wild west where there weren't a lot of rules and there were a lot of opportunities to make a big splash on a small investment. That’s what really intrigued me so much about the early days of digital marketing. It's gotten a lot more static since then, but in the beginning, it was a great place to try out so many different things. One morning, I woke up and realized that that was most of my business and I've never looked back, I really enjoy it.
Why don't you share a little bit about some of the lessons that you learned during this transition?
I think the biggest lesson that I learned it took me a little while to figure this out was that the basics of good marketing, knowing who your customer is, knowing what their pain points are, knowing what your objective is when you have a conversation with them. A conversation can be a television ad, it can be a direct mail piece, or it can be a social share on Instagram. Starting with who your customer is, and applying all the same strategies of traditional marketing to digital marketing makes your campaigns much more effective. I said earlier that it was kind of the Wild West, but as digital marketing has matured, understanding that I have to go back to my roots as a classic marketer and apply that same strategy makes the content much more effective, makes it drive the results, and makes everybody a lot more satisfied with the content we're putting out and the results that we're getting back.
So can you help our listeners remove any fear that they have around networking by sharing one of your most successful or favorite networking stories?
So I love networking, I have to admit that when I first started the business, I was a bit of a networking junkie. I didn't have a lot of customers and didn't have a lot else to do so I was running around any, any, and all networking events until I kind of create a little strategy there. But one of my favorite stories is I was at BNI when I first got started. And I thought that was a great way to learn the basics of networking. One of the rules and BNI is that if you can't attend an event, you have to invite someone to take your place. I called a friend of mine who was a marketer. So I thought she'd be a perfect replacement and she couldn't come. But she said, "You know, I got this friend, Eric and he is trying to get around to all the BNI chapters in the city. I'll hook you up, he'll take your place. And so I was like, great. And we chatted on the phone, and Eric took my place." So I wrote him a thank you note and we went off on our merry way. Two months later, I'm at a different networking event and I'm walking through a doorway. Coming through the doorway exactly the same moment is this very large gentleman. I mean, he's built like a football player. S I do what I always did at a networking event, we almost bump into each other a step back, and I said, "Hi, I'm Lorraine," to which he replies, "I'm you." And I'm looking at this guy, and I'm thinking In what world does a God who's built like a football player think he's me? So I take a step back because I'm not quite sure he's all there and I asked him, "So why do you think you are me?" And he explained, he's Eric, he's the guy that attended the networking event in my place. So I started to laugh and I told him what I was thinking. Eric was a contractor, his customers were homeowners, I was running an agency, my customers were businesses, there was no reason for us to really do a follow-up networking event. Except he made me laugh. So when he suggested that we grab a cup of coffee, I thought, you know what, every now and then you just have to spend half an hour with somebody who makes you laugh. Well, we had coffee, and we had coffee again, and we became friends. What we discovered was, even though our markets were completely different, he would run into people who needed me and I would run into people who needed his services. We had a great referral partnership, we ultimately started looking for office space, we decided that we were going to buy a building. We bought a building that we could house both of our businesses in. Eventually, I bought him out and he's gone on to other things, but all of that I would never have had the courage to move out of my home and buy a building. I can't tell you how many different customers I have relationships with today because of that, and it all started because he made me laugh and because we recognized that as people we really liked being around each other. So that's my favorite networking story is that you know, being willing to have a conversation, even if you're not quite sure there's a business reason to do it.
Now, can you share a little bit about how you nurture these relationships? Because regardless of the size of your network, it's extremely important to maintain and nurture your community in your relationships.
So one of my favorite strategies is every now and then I particularly do this when business slows down. I go through my online address book, but whatever and I make random phone calls and I'm not doing it to sell anything. I will call people who I've met in networking events, maybe we've collaborated, and I haven't heard from them in a while. And I just randomly say, "Hey, I was just calling to touch base." Now, pre all the COVID stuff, I'd be like, "You got time for a cup of coffee?" What I found is, if I would make five of those calls a week, they don't take long, every one of them makes me smile, because these are people I genuinely like and all sorts of things come out of those conversations. Number one, in some cases, it just reinforces the connections. In other cases, I'll get a, "You know? I was just talking to someone and I didn't think about you, but I'm going to hook you up." Or someone mentions maybe, "Hey, I'm going to this event or this conference." One of my favorites was I called somebody I'd known for a long time and she said, "I'm so glad you called, I'm moving to Florida and this will be a great opportunity to say goodbye." Then as we connected, she said she was selling the business and that she would introduce me to the person buying it. Had I not picked up the phone at that moment, she might already be in Florida. I might never have had a chance to say goodbye, but also I might not have had a chance to build that relationship with the person who was taking over.
What advice would you offer that business professional who is really looking to grow their network?
I think that you have to kiss a lot of frogs and I think you have to be particularly in the beginning, willing to kiss a lot of frogs and just go to a lot of events and meet a lot of people. But don't go with the intention of shoving your business card in everybody's face and talking about yourself. What you really want to do when you walk in the door at any networking event, is meet people and look for those people you want to have a longer conversation with. Because it is that follow up conversation that will tell you whether this is a connection that's going to go somewhere. If you approach each conversation with more of your detective hat on, who are you what do you do, who are your customers, is there a place where we overlap? A question I like to ask is to ask them about one of their favorite projects. That's because if somebody starts talking and they light up because they're excited about their customers, that's somebody I probably want to hang out with. If they immediately start with, you know, "I'd love my job if it wasn't for my customers," that's not necessarily somebody who approaches business the way I do. Then one of my other really favorite networking questions is, "Hey, have you been to any other events that you think I might like?" I've asked that question twice in my life and both times, I ended up in organizations that had dramatic impacts on my business, that maybe I would have found eventually. But I found it exactly the right moment because somebody said, "You know, I think you'll like this group," and I went.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I think the first thing I would say is to be braver sooner. I don't want to say the older I get, the more experienced I am. But the more comfortable I am with my gut instincts and my ideas, the more comfortable I am speaking up, and the less likely I am to sort of second guess myself. I might not have had a depth of experience, but I definitely was smart and I think I spent a lot of time in the early years, hiding that a little bit by couching my suggestions or taking a backseat to someone else. Particularly I was a woman in a lot of male-oriented industries so there's certainly a lot of that in play. But I think I would, even when I started my business, I had some male peers, who basically said, "You've got to raise your price, you're worth more than this," and just being braver sooner and being willing to just say no, this is what I think and it's okay if you don't get that.
Any final word or advice offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I think that I would suggest that you never stop building. Often I think business owners get into this. It's almost a high school attitude where they say, "These are the people who were in business when I started, we've grown up together, this is this is my network." It's kind of like my graduating class. But you know what, when I was a junior in high school, I had some friends who were seniors and some friends who were freshmen, and my senior friends graduated and they went off somewhere else. So those younger people coming up were or newer people coming up were bringing in filling in gaps. That I think, is also very, very true of your network. You may have that core, but always make time to bring some new people in for some fresh ideas, because also some of those other folks may roll away from one reason or another. It's not like you have to have that same sort of high level of thinking you have to build out an entire network. But after several years of doing it, and you have that solid core, you always want to be on the lookout for those one or two new people who are going to just add that extra spark which helps you grow a little further.
Connect with Lorraine:
Round Peg Website: https://roundpeg.biz/
Lorraine’s Podcast: https://morethanafewwords.com/
Lorraine’s Website: https://lorraineball.com/
She is the founder of a PR and digital media firm The Impact Kind, based in Michigan whose clients had been featured in Business Insider, Parents Magazine, Thrive Global, and other mediums to increase lead sales and brand awareness. She's got some amazing tips and resources on her website at www.impactkind.com
Let's talk a little bit about what you did before starting your own firm, and how networking has impacted your life in corporate America.
I worked in sales at SME Society of Manufacturing Engineers, which focuses on conferences and events for the manufacturing community. But we were starting lots of new products and new industries like getting into aerospace and defense. So I was kind of the new product girl, I sold everything that was new there. Building relationships was a key component of how I got my job, and then how I made relationships in order to grow all the new products that we were creating. So it was lots and lots of fun and it was a great experience. Because I was really the only woman in that area, but it was awesome. So I made a lot of cool connections. That led to the next products that we were creating so we had speakers, and we had exhibitors based on meeting those initial contacts. So it was a great segue into what I do now.
How did living abroad ultimately inspire entrepreneurial growth?
I had a great opportunity to move to Shanghai, China. I was able to see so many different kinds of pop-ups and different ex-pats from different countries, start new businesses. For me, at the time, I was having my babies raising my family. But being surrounded by entrepreneurs that were really making it like, we have a friend who was a fellow coworker, at Ford Motor Company, an American company, so that's what took us out there. But he stopped working at Ford, he started Mobike and he's like a billionaire. He's got different slip stations all over the world now and he's still breaking into industries. It sounds simple, you have bikes that you can rent and it's kind of like the American version of the Zipcar. It's really just finding where can you solve a problem. He saw that lots of people can't really get on the metro, and there are lots and lots of them in China, and take your bike and everything else you need. So he created different stations where you can rent bikes and put them back. Just because we were surrounded by so many kinds of successful entrepreneurs and successful business owners that did leave corporate and decided to try something different, it gave me that inspiration that hey, you know, I can do that, too.
Can you share how making friends all over the world has helped you and really can help anyone that is interested in going into business?
I love to travel. So that's like my thing, right? My husband, he loves to travel to so our family, that's what we do. But when you travel, you get to learn that you have to trust people in like, very odd situations. Sometimes when you get off the plane you have to find the right taxi driver or you have the right person is going to take you to the hotel. Even in those small instances, you can learn so much about the culture, the area, and how to position yourself, because, in every business, you really want to focus on your audience. Who are you selling to? Who are you speaking to? I think when you learn a little bit more about where you are, like where you're going, when you're traveling, I think it's so important to learn a little bit about the culture from people that live there because you'll learn important things from locals. Then when you do that, you're going to be able to speak to other people that you meet around and not generalizing culture or a population, but just you'll have more of a background to really communicate more effectively with. So that's almost like creating any kind of avatar brand, you want to make sure that you are really speaking to your audience, or they would be more receptive to whatever you're selling. I think traveling is so incredibly inspiring, not just because you see new things, you learn new things because everyone has their own filter, right? So always going to this new place with, you know, their background, their experiences, but because it's near to them, they might notice things that if they live there for a long time, they wouldn't see them the same way. So it's always really interesting when you first go and you place and get to know the people. And then if you have like a language barrier it's funny to just look back and see like what you did to communicate well. Then when you get to learn more about the people, then you know, hey, I probably shouldn't use this as body language. I think that's really helpful when you're starting any business, is to make sure that you really learn a little bit more about the people that you're serving first, and then you start to build the message.
So can you share with our listeners, maybe one of your most successful or favorite networking stories that you've had?
In high school, I was a swim teacher, and one day, one of my fellow swim coaches said, "Hey, that lady might ask you to babysit, but I live on her street, don't babysit no matter what." Maybe it was just because we were in the water and I didn't hear her, but I took the job because she did ask me. I eventually started babysitting for her a lot more often and the other coach was never a babysitter again. Then the neighbor next door actually started to use my services as well. Then I was in college, and one of the neighbors asked me, "Hey, would you like to come to a networking event?" I had never been to a networking event and I didn't really know what it was all about, but I knew I had to dress up. I didn't even know what he did, but I knew he worked at a pharmaceutical company that I eventually wanted to go to work for. So I went to the event, and he met me there and said, "Hey, okay, I need you to take your sunglasses off your head, put your full name on your name tag." I walked in, and I kid you not everyone looks like Barbie, and Ken, everyone was gorgeous. I had no idea what was really happening. I was still too young to apply for a real job there, but he invited me to go. When everyone sat down, he was the main speaker, I had no idea! But it was a great experience and I'm glad that I went because it showed me what kind of competition is out there. So when you're going to be looking for a job, you have to find a way to stand out. Even though all these people are so gorgeous you know, they have all the things that you want on the resume, you still have to find a way to stand out. I think that was the most awesome experience that I remembered going to and even when I got my first job out of college, I remember calling him to say, thank you so much for inviting me to that of that because it made such a difference in even the job that I had, they didn't have a position open but because they saw that I was a hard worker, I was interning there. So they didn't have a budget for a full-time worker and they moved money and created a job for me and it was not making pennies, like a lot of my friends at a college. So it was really great experience to go to because then I saw Hey, I'm not just another kid in college, you know, thinking I'm just gonna get out and be rich, right? There's lots of competition that's more qualified than me and so I always kept that experience in my mind thinking, you know, there's always going to be someone better. But if I stand out and I really work hard, it's fine to make a difference.
Regardless of the size of your network, or the community that you're building, it's extremely important to stay in front of those individuals. How do you best nurture your network?
Staying connected through social media, I think is really important. I know, I like to help my clients focus on social media in their businesses. But I think for me, definitely social media, keeping people current. I would like to say this too that I don't usually show my children on social, on my personal Facebook, but they are on there sometime and I do share what we're doing. That's so people still feel like they're getting a glimpse. I think it's still important to know that you can be social on social media without sharing your whole life story. I think that's really important, even for your personal accounts, that you have a goal and a purpose. It's still possible to be totally social without feeling like your privacy is being invaded. So I know, there are lots of people who are afraid to network, but you can network through social media without sharing everything, if you have a plan of Here are a few things that I might not share, but here are things that I'm willing to share and keep people interested in what I'm doing and, you know, commenting on what they're doing and being helpful when people ask for recommendations or for help if you're able to help in any way, definitely do it.
So let's talk about giving advice to anyone that's really looking to grow their network, what do you have to offer?
If they're trying to be active on social just focus on, three key things like industry myths that they can debunk. So if everyone's telling you to do this, this is what you have found to be the goal, the one thing that worked. Hot tips, so like anything that you see that your competitors are doing, they're making, and they're making mistakes, here's a tip for you to do it the right way. Or even really basic things that you may not even think like who could know this, right? Those are very easy to share and be helpful. So that's like the authenticity and the value the people are always talking about. People always, "Be authentic, provide value," but people don't know what kind of value to share. So I'd really stick with like Hot Tips, mistakes people are making that you can help them with, and industry myths debunked so like anything the big competitors are doing that you're they're not addressing, just talk to people and help them with that. If you focus on those, you'll get a nice following.
I would tell myself to just enjoy every moment. I really would say that, enjoy every moment, because really, every connection has led to something else. Even if it wasn't a position for me, it was a position for like a family member or a friend. So really, keeping those connections close is really important. I think I would put something that my dad told me, that I still think about all the time is, you know, find one nice thing about someone., and that's always a conversation starter. Even if you can't find anything nice on a surface just look harder, and you'll find one nice thing about someone and that totally changes the perspective. So the to my 20-year-old self, one thing it would be to always find one nice thing about someone and it'll go even further.
Do you have any final words of advice for our listeners with regard to growing and supporting your network?
I would say the same thing. We've been kind of mentioning this whole podcast, being helpful. The follow up is so key to not only starting relationships but building relationships and really branding who you are as a person. Regardless of what business you choose, I think following up with people is not only courteous but essential to let people know who you really are. When people refer you, others know to contact this person and they will get right back to you. So whether you accept or decline, whatever it may be, that's coming your way, if you respond, and it's something that you're known for, that's saying something great about you.
Connect with Kirby:
The Impact Kind Website: https://www.impactkind.com/
Ruthie is a US Army veteran, wife, and mother to four young children. She currently runs a small content marketing agency called Defy The Status Quo, where they focus on bringing stellar content to their client’s marketing channels, specifically focusing on B2B Consulting and service companies in industries like supply chain and business development.
To start, why don't you explain to our listeners, what is authority marketing.
So authority marketing, at least the way that we execute it at DTSQ is a blend of content marketing and online PR. So in a lot of cases, what I typically see across the very wide span of the internet, is that you have people who do PR, they connect with people like you and they want to be on your podcast, they may do speaking engagements, they might also look at more traditional PR media, radio shows, and things. But then perhaps their own content spaces, things like their website, their social media channels don't quite match up with the person that they're presenting in all of these opportunities. So I perceive this as a gap in the marketplace. That's what we do, yes, we look at the different types of expertise showcasing opportunities, which are in abundance right now, because so many of them are virtual, which means location is no longer a barrier for speaking, for example. But also making sure that when somebody is intrigued by you from a podcast interview, or a speaking engagement, when they go look, research, and check out your website, and now they see your videos, and they see that you're really active on LinkedIn, or Instagram or wherever it is, all of those things now match instead of you presenting as a very strong and knowledgeable professional but having limited content yourself. Then the same goes vice versa, you have some people who create wonderful content, and would actually appreciate getting out there and kind of getting in the spotlight and using their personal brand to grow their business. But maybe they're not sure how they're not sure where to start. They don't want to figure it out themselves and so we help from both ends.
Let's talk about increasing our marketability for guest opportunities. How can we do that?
Well, that really boils down to leaning into what makes you unique. So that's something I talk about a lot like on LinkedIn is I talk a lot about authenticity, and especially in the b2b space. We talk about authenticity, but when you look at a lot of the brands, and whether it's b2b products, b2b services, or whatever it is, we're kind of stripped of what we would consider an authentic personality, a personality that a real person would have. That's not to say that big brands can't still embody that type of brand. It's just that too often we dilute our brands down to professional, friendly, and competent. When you look to your left, and you see professional, friendly, and competent, and you look to your right, and you see professional, friendly, and competent, how do you market it? So what that means is leaning into what makes you unique. For us as people, it's our stories, and it's our experiences. As a consultant, I have a vast amount of experiences that I can tap as it relates to my story, but also my authority, and therefore, my marketability. So for example, I've done two podcast interviews that related to my military service, one of them specifically related to my military service, as it's helped me as an entrepreneur. Now, that's not a story that everyone has, but you have stories that I don't have. But if I hadn't been able to talk to that specific podcast host about that story, that I was willing to share in its highs and lows, and therefore provide a great experience for his audience, I wouldn't have had that opportunity on his podcast. So leaning into the different stories, and one of my buzzwords for this year is intersectionalities, which I've picked up from working with some DENI folks on their content. But your intersectionalities, as you know, a woman business owner in my case, a minority business owner, a Veteran Business Owner, a mom, and I've done podcasts about the fact that I'm a mom, and how that's impacted me as an entrepreneur. So there are a lot of ways to kind of lean in and use the niche audiences that are presented with all of the various groups that we can talk to in all of the interviews that we can do to increase your marketability, and provide a better experience, not just for the host, but also for their audience. And that I think is paramount. I love that everything that you said there and, and you taught me a new word here.
Why did you decide to focus on authenticity as your pillar of work?
I had always talked about authenticity, but it was more of something that I had done in a more intuitive fashion because I just kind of the way I am kind of hard on the sleeve and it's pretty empathetic. So I'm really good at reading a crowd or even, you know, just reading people, whether it's virtual or not. I was sitting in a webinar, and it was just chock full of what felt like to me toxic positivity, it was April, and that almost everybody in there in this webinar was talking about how they were gonna, you know, take this COVID energy and just use it to transform their businesses. Everyone was just really hyped up and that wasn't me that day. From the outside looking in, I basically had, you know, nothing to worry about, which I was incredibly grateful for. But at the same time, I had all four of my kids home, my husband was now also home since he was not normally there, just like my children were not normally here which made things completely different and it was very stressful. So these people being super amped up, I was like, "No, this is not for me. I don't know what you guys drink in your coffee this morning, but I didn't get that in my coffee." I went on LinkedIn right after, I recorded a video, I hadn't really done any videos on LinkedIn, not the talking head kind, I just got on there. I didn't do makeup, I didn't do anything extra, Because what I wanted was for people to really understand if they were out there like me, who just was struggling, even if they had no apparent reason that other people could perceive that they were struggling from a mental health perspective. And I just said if you're not okay right now, that's okay, and if you are feeling really good right now, just try and understand that there are people around you who might not be doing okay, so make sure you're doing some extra check-ins, but I just wanted to talk for like five minutes, and created some space where people could be honest about how okay or not they were. The post just took off, it took off, people in my network and outside my network, were just like, "I thought I was the only one everybody just seems so positive, I thought it was just me." That was when something clicked right there because I was intentionally authentic. I was like, "You know what, I'm gonna just show up the way that I am so they can see me and understand that I'm really trying to connect here and just create this space." Since it took off in the response that I got, I realized that we weren't seeing enough of that. That was why it became such a pillar and what I do.
Can you share with our listeners, one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
So I went through a lull where I didn't really do too much, I got a bit zoomed out. Now I've been more intentional with the groups that I've been going to. One of my absolute favorite things that happen in networking groups, my favorite thing is the breakout rooms that some of the hosts have been doing, where you'll get five minutes one to one or five minutes small group talk where they'll give us a topic to discuss or whatever, and we can all just go back and forth and get to know each other a little bit better. Most of the events that I go to a reoccurring, so it gives you an opportunity to build good relationships in a very low-pressure way. Having those smaller groups or even the one to ones is a huge thing for me because it's an element that we're missing in networking right now. Because if you were hosting an event and we were all able to show up, I would be able to walk around the room, and just chit chat with people. But we can't do that anymore so people are doing all these events and one of the big reasons I attended events in person before everything was because I had an opportunity to talk to people. Yes, I wanted to go learn something or, experience something new, but I also got to talk about that and bond with people over that experience. So the breakout room thing is huge, and if anybody's running a networking event where they're not doing that, they should definitely consider adding it into the timeframe that they have for their event.
How do you stay in front of and nurture your network in your community that you've been building?
So LinkedIn is huge for me and I find that out of all social media platforms, I really hit my stride with LinkedIn. I think as soon as LinkedIn, really beefs up their group features, I would probably spend a lot less time on Facebook, it's just Facebook groups, really blow it out of the water. I even have my own small Facebook group, which allows me to stay engaged with a kind of core audience if you will. But I probably spend the most time going back and forth between Facebook groups and LinkedIn for sure. That's because I approach it in a very intentional way because when I see the same people commenting and reacting, and engaging with my posts. Maybe I don't know why they're doing it, but it's definitely a basis for conversation. Just today, I had a conversation with somebody, we had met in person at an event and we had kind of kept the relationship going, but obviously, I'm seeing that person in a while. I was like, "Hey, I noticed you were really showing the support of my post, and I really appreciate it, can we schedule a call, so I can see how I might be able to help you?" If the person is interacting and engaging in my content, I think it's pretty hard to turn down that type of conversation. Not every conversations like a client conversation and so that's the other thing I think that a lot of people miss in terms of social media, networking, and social media marketing is not every person you talk to as a client. But when you go in thinking relationship first, you will nurture those relationships. You never know what type of fruit those relationships will bear, but it's always something. It may or may not be tomorrow, but it's always something when you're able to nurture those relationships along in an intentional way.
What advice would you offer the business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
I would say hands down right now is to find those really good events, the virtual ones to attend and network. If you're practiced at speaking, a lot of those events are looking for speakers. So it's a great opportunity to attend an event and kind of get a feel for it. Then if you develop an idea that you can talk to the event organizer about then pitch that idea, and then you put yourself in a position of authority there. Also attending new events and getting out of your comfort zone of seeing the same faces in that zoom checkerboard there will do so much to grow your network. Then because we're all connecting on social media, now, instead of handing out business cards anyway, it gives you that opportunity to nurture them on whatever social media channel that you're on. One of the big reasons I love events is that they are typically organized by one person or two people, or maybe a company is a driving force behind it. Event organizers, and then podcast hosts like yourself, I consider them power nodes in my network because the more I get to know them, the more I know how I can offer to help them out whether it's recommending their event, recommending podcast, or sharing their content. The more they get to know me, they may come to realize that there are people in their network who are a good fit. If they continue to get to know me then they may be willing to connect me with those people.
Hmm, that is a hard one. Only because my 20-year-old self was still in the army. At that time, I thought I was gonna retire from the army do like 20 or 30 years, I wanted to be the first woman Sergeant Major of the Army. That's where I was aiming, there is no higher enlisted position in terms of being up there. Just from professional development, and probably even some personal development, I would tell 20 year old me to care a lot less about how I was, quote, unquote, supposed to be, and who I was, quote, unquote, supposed to be. Really examining my actions and being like, "Was this an authentic move, or did I decide to do this because I thought something about somebody else's perception of me?" That has brought me a lot of self-awareness, but also a lot of happiness. I've gotten to know me so much better and I'm grateful that it happened now versus never. I'm getting to know me so well, and I like what I'm finding. I think that that is important to be happy in your own skin. 20 year old me was probably wrapped up and concerned with how she was perceived.
Do you have any final word or advice for our listeners with regard to growing and supporting your network?
Ask on a consistent basis. Somebody asked me earlier, what was one of the big reasons I've been able to continue doing speaking events and podcast interviews. They're like, I feel like you're posting about something like every other day that you've done. Well, when people ask me what they can do for me or how they can support me, I let them know. I'd reach out to say that I'm just still on the lookout for any types of speaking opportunities, or opportunity to share my story and experiences with people to help them and you know, start more educated conversations around the variety of topics that I talk about. Because I keep saying it, when people see things when they're scrolling on LinkedIn or Facebook, and they see opportunities pop up, I am one of the first people that they tag. A PR friend of mine tags me on stuff. She tagged me on something the other day that is going to result in me interviewing with the person whose posts she tagged me on. But I got to other people that I'm going to be doing interviews with because she tagged me once. If I had never asked, though she wouldn't have known that it was something I was truly interested in doing. So it's something that I say, and I ask consistently, I mentioned it consistently. So now I've got eyes where I normally wouldn't have them and that's helped me so much.
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Chad is a Believer, Husband, Father of two teenagers, and lifelong rebel and rule-breaker. He empowers sales professionals to become the best version of themselves by focusing on their mindset, skillset, and toolkit. Before launching ScaleX.ai and Salesclass.ai, Chad believed that sales were fundamentally “a numbers” game. Although he still believes frequency matters, he is now convinced that Revenue = Frequency X Competency. Chad is passionate about creating systems that empower people from all walks of life and these days you’ll find him hosting the AI for Sales Webinar and Podcast on The Sales Experts Channel and C-Suite Radio.
Let's talk about sales a little bit, specifically AI for sales. What is it and how does it help or hurt that relationship when it comes to conducting business?
Yeah, it's an accelerator. So AI for sales stands for artificial intelligence. I, in fact, wrote the book called AI For Sales, How Artificial Intelligence is Changing Sales. I put that out at the end of 2019 and there have already been more than 5000 copies sold. So it's a hot topic, as you know, as people use their Alexa device to order food and groceries. Then all kinds of AI are coming out. I think a lot of people don't realize they're using AI in a lot of cases, but it's becoming more and more prevalent. So it can help or hurt your relationships, I'll give you an example: If you use an AI bot, let's say to connect with people on LinkedIn and social media if you program that bot to be extremely cheesy, non-heartfelt, and all you care about is yourself and let's say you move from five or six requests a day to connect with people up to 50 a day. Well, now you're at 10x the amount of insincerity. Whereas if you're someone like Nick Kabuto, who I've partnered with, on the marketing side, he sends out a message that starts with a clapping emoji and it says, "Hey, I've looked at your profile, you look like a really interesting person. I'd love to truly and sincerely get to know you." And that's it. Then when he gets a reply, he'll go in on his LinkedIn, and he'll do a video and go, "Hey, I'm Nick, I'm sitting at the fire pit," or, "I'm up in the mountains skiing," or whatever it is he's doing, he'll reply back. So it can accelerate trust and social capital, or it can completely rip it apart. You just have to be careful and learn from other people who use the technology in an effective and efficient way.
What are some ways that you use AI to connect more deeply with others?
Well, revenue equals frequency times competency is what a mentor of mine taught me 20 years ago, Skip Miller, who's been training sales and sales leaders for so long. So the frequency part is easy: Do More. More emails, more voicemails, more calls, etc. The competency part takes a while. So for me early in my sales career 25 years ago, I didn't have the competency yet. I'd never been through any sales training and so AI can accelerate the pace at which you connect with people through all the different channels. It's important that as you go, that you're investing an equal amount of time in understanding what it is you're saying and how you're connecting with people. So I think what happens is that AI puts more stress on the human to human relationship, then has typically been there from a sales capacity perspective. So interesting times that we're entering in today's day and age.
So the automated connections on LinkedIn, at least the ones that I can tell, I find really annoying. But what you're saying really is you have to have a strong message that's extremely personal, or at least looks like it.
Big time. It's at the end of the day, whether I physically type a message one to one, or I do one too many, it's still a string of zeros and ones, right? It's an email, it's a LinkedIn connection request, it's a LinkedIn follow up. If you have a high EQ (emotional intelligence), I think EQ starts to beat IQ in today's day and age. Hmm. So would you rather have someone with high EQ write the message or someone fresh out of college that's never really had experience communicating on a b2b type of platform? We're finding it's better to leverage someone who has the EQ piece of the equation to help you write the email message, the social connection. And where it's going is there are tools like codebreaker technologies, which is they have a thing called bank code. They can log into your LinkedIn account, click a button, and in under three seconds, tell you what your DNA makeup is and what your communication and buying style is. Are you very action-oriented, are you knowledge, are you blueprint? There's a different letter stand for each different word in the end what we're talking about. So imagine a world where you send an email to a list of people and depending on that list, it'll change the message based on who the buyer is, and their buyer personality type. It'd be very hard for humans to actually get their arms around the different variations of people where AI can actually start to do those human to human connections in a much better way at scale.
What's the vision for your life heading into the future?
Yeah, um, you know, the first I feel like I'm on hole nine on the golf course. So the good news is, I've got another nine to go. , and the great news is the first nine were amazing! So now it's, what do you do next and how do you impact the greatest number of people? My grandparents were big in the church, and they did a lot of one on one meetings with people and they would give, give, give, all the way up to the end, and I so respected and appreciated that. I've been given the gift of running a business and motivating and leading very large teams. So what came to me over the course of the last just couple of months, we're gonna write a book called God-Centered Selling, and then God-Centered Company, and God-Centered Leadership. It's not a book on how to sell, and it's not a book on necessarily how to be a good follower of God. It's how do you put those two things together, and make ethical, good person decisions when it comes to all aspects. So we want to put the book together first, and then hold executive retreats at a mountain house. We want to start bringing ethics and spirituality into companies where traditionally, I feel like until the year 2020, that was kind of a faux pas. Nowadays that's what we're working on, how to be good people and influence others in a positive way.
Can you share with our listeners, one of your favorite networking experiences that you've had?
Yeah, you know, when we talk about leveraging social outreach and social automation, that's how we got connected. I have a virtual assistant that reaches out to about, I actually had to peel it back because I was reaching out to 50 people a day at first. About 50% of everyone I reached out to said, "Yeah, your podcast looked good," or, "You look like a good guest." So, you know, typically, I invite people to be on my show called AI For Sales and I was getting six to eight people a week who wanted to be on the show. So we're recorded all the way through January now. So, Nick, my marketer said, "You know, you're good at talking to people, why don't you just reach out to podcast hosts and, and have a conversation?" So I literally just started this effort, maybe six weeks ago, and I've already been on at least two dozen different podcasts. So talk about a way to network!
So let's talk about nurturing your network. It's definitely important to maintain connections and doing that from an AI perspective versus the manual process, how do you stay in front of and best nurture your community?
Yeah, that's, that's always been important to me and it's been one of my strengths. So I'll have connections from five companies ago, and I'll still stay in touch with them. Before this pandemic hit, I was on the road quite a bit, at least one week a month, if not, sometimes two. One of the practices that I'll use is if I'm on a bus, or a train going from place to place or an airplane, airplanes a little harder make a phone call, but you get my drift. In the Avis rent a car, for example, I'll scroll through the phone, and I'll go A down, and then sometimes I'll go Z up. This is the manual approach and I'll just click, click, click, and I'll go, "I haven't talked to Stephen a long time," and I'll just call him to leave a message. I think a lot of people don't necessarily proactively reach out to their network unless they need something. I don't like to be that guy, I like to keep tabs on what people are doing and stay in touch. From an automation perspective, our company has been primarily focused on top of funnel demand gen for almost three years. We're just starting to get some customers who say, "Hey, you know, what, you've automated email and phone and social, but how can you help us automate more of our client success function, especially for our high velocity, or high volume, low yielding customers?" Right, so if you think 80-20 rule, 80%, your customers make up 20% of your revenue, and vice versa. So how do you handle the bottom 80? Well, imagine if you could set it up and have an automated voicemail drop 90 days before renewal, you could you can automate that. Where it gets really interesting is you can actually do videos in an automated fashion. So imagine a video art video or loom are the two big ones, and you record 90% of it the same across customers. So let's say it's a renewal of this one product, and all they bought is that one product, yet your company offers six products. So you could send out an email in an automated fashion and then you could drop in their name at the beginning or even a company name. You can almost merge video segments into this video clip. We've seen b2c companies do it, and we're starting to dabble in bringing that over into the b2b world.
What advice would you offer the business professionals looking to grow their network?
LinkedIn is huge, but I would say it depends. There's a woman named Katie, who spoke at the event I mentioned in Winter Park two weeks ago, she talked about Instagram, and she helps mothers and women who have kids and work at home to allow them to work fewer hours, and then make between six and seven figures. So she showed us how to do a proper Instagram post, where she literally walked around the living room, she recorded herself in a selfie-and Instagram was able to chunk it down into a 15-second bite. Then she typed over the top of it the speech to text. She did all this in under 10 minutes, and I was like, wow, just the way you do the message, the network. That's available on LinkedIn, they have a new thing called stories, or Instagram has their approach. Obviously, Facebook has a different set of followers, but use social tools and understand who you are as a person. Don't be afraid to be authentic and vulnerable, you have to dig deep inside to figure out where your weak points are, and then don't be afraid to expose them because guess what? Everybody in the world is not perfect. So be vulnerable, be authentic, and use the platforms to get your message out.
I would have hired a coach earlier because it took me until about a year and a half ago to realize that a coach was essential. It was when I was driving around a racetrack in a Ferrari in Southern California and there was a coach, or a professional driver in the front seat, who was speaking in my ear Tell me when to speed up when to shift. I was like wait a second! If you know how to drive a car, think of the types of people that could help you with your finances, or how to grow, or how to do marketing or, anything you can even think of you can bring someone in that's an expert in that field. So now I have nine coaches a year and a half after I did that Ferrari racetrack drive.
Do you have any final word or advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Well, I would say to give an offer. So what I would say the offer to you, if you're listening to this podcast, and someone said they need to reach out to more people, I really feel compelled to help entrepreneurs and solopreneurs make it through these hard times. Traditionally, we work with $7,000 to $10,000 a month customers, and with our social tool, it's $500 a month. So it's much more attainable for me and you and anyone. The offer would be a three-month trial program. It's $2000, $500 setup, $500 a month, and if I don't get you 100 replies from people that you want to be interacting with, then you get all your money back because I've just seen it work. So if you want to get on podcasts, perfect, we have a way we can help you get your word out and get on podcasts. If you want to get new customers and they are a certain target market, you build a report and LinkedIn, you build a message, you click the Go button, set it and forget it and you get a lot of inbound leads. That’s really me giving back to the community and that would be my offer to anybody.
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Download Chad’s books: https://www.scalex.ai/ebooks
Paul is the CEO and president of Griffin living a company that develops and operates Senior Living communities. Paul's career has been marked with awards, including habitat for humanity's builder of the year, the building industry associations builder of the year, the National Association of homebuilders, and the Pacific Coast builders conference for design. Paul has overseen a wide variety of real estate projects amassing a career total of over $4.5 billion.
Can you share a little bit about what your passion is and how it drives your success?
So for business, I've found through my career that individuals in business approach it in different ways. I think there is a very important aspect of business, which is, what do I really think beyond the pro formas, beyond the budgets, the market studies, and the information that we can get to make a decision about whether we're buying into a company, or in our case investing in a project that's being developed. I think the part of a passion that is really using all of the information through every source that I have into my conscious of my subconscious and saying, “I don't want to make just emotional decisions, but what's the full scope of everything that I know, to this point?” Then I ask how does that match with the pro forma, and the project opportunity that's been put in front of me? I think that if you take our passions and deeper understandings, and you pair them together with the facts that are in front of us, they will help us with the sensitivity analysis. That’s because no business, or venture ever finishes out with exactly the same cost and the same income and the same timing that you expect. There'll be problems that come up in between that you have to solve and there'll be opportunities that present themselves that you need to take advantage of. I think all of that and pulling together, you know, the rational part of us and the emotional part together and analyzing business every day. I think it’s important to pull together the rational part of us, and the emotional part of us to analyze business every day. I think that the passion that I have, is more, an acknowledgment that I like to use all of the information I have and all of the experience I have to in our case, look at development ventures.
Why is it important to be a servant leader in both business and networking situations?
When we think about effective management in business in the 20th century, we had a great understanding of the efficiency of the military model since we had just been through multiple wars. This type of leadership was similar to the military as in the thinking was done at the top and the people at the bottom followed orders. That was the way that American business really was approached all the way through the 1980s. In my mind, people that were born of my era and later who came of age in the 1980s started thinking that there are more opportunities, there are better ways we saw people around us at work, and there are better ways to get them motivated, wherever they are in business. I think that the way that business was approached successfully in companies, you know, we've seen turn on turn around backward from the top-down approach. Now businesses are much better run by starting at the lowest level that you can make the best decision with the most information. Then from the top, working with every level in a company to really understand what the goals and issues are to get a commonality of what we're trying to accomplish in a longer plan and a shorter plan. Then let the person at the lowest level tell us how they would think they can best solve the problems for today which allows them to be more passionate because they’re involved in picking the solution. They also get fulfillment when they solve whatever problems in front of them that day at the level they're at, and they're participating more so businesses are more effective. For instance, in real estate developments, we go into a community and we start talking about this development and in our masterplan community days. There’s a conversation that has to have with the community so we can feel good about where we were taking their community in our development so they would be comfortable, and so we would understand some of their worries and then work with the community so that they trust that we are working on their problems and concerns. It’s also important to know what good can come out of a community and getting to know them and work with them. I think servant leadership is really the core of business because the methodology of running a business is really seeing what other people need, whether it be an employee, a customer, or a constituent.
So can you share with our listeners, one of your favorite stories or experiences that you've had around networking?
When you start to talk about networking, there's always a little bit of social anxiety when you walk in and don't know anybody. I have always found that taking a deep breath and just realizing it's just your mind gearing up to have conversations that are giving you anxiety. Then start to look at people in the room, not as a room full of people, but individuals. Then look at each person and say, I wonder about that person, I wonder what they're doing here, I wonder who they are, I wonder where they’re from, and go over an interview in your head with them. Just start to ask questions because people like to talk about themselves and the anxiety of networking always falls. I think that's the most basic part of social networking that has never changed. With the advent of our internet and electronic networking, which is so much more efficient, and we can enjoy even more networking, but again, the root of it still has to be the same. In the case of business, one of the business networking groups that I've always been involved with is Young Presidents Organization which is a bunch of guys that are presidents of their companies and the idea of YPO is presidents being able to talk to each other, network and understand each other and their issues. What I really learned in my experience with those guys, when showing up with a bunch of other presidents of companies was that when people talk about how great they are, our natural inclination is to put a barrier up. None of us really like that sort of bragging and people come in since it puts us off a bit and we’d rather have a conversation to get to know people. So from YPO, I learned in networking not to put my resume in front of people and instead let them ask or let them say, “Oh, you're in real estate, I know somebody would you like to meet,” and use that as an introduction as opposed to pushing myself in networking situations which I don’t like.
It sounds like you have a pretty extensive network, how do you nurture your network in your community?
I tried just to tell people you know about myself and I'd like to do business with you, but it sounds like bragging, and it is kind of bragging. I wish I could tell you I always did it right, but a smart person looks at this and says, “I didn’t do that very well, that doesn't work,” and they learn from their mistakes. So my advice is to let people learn about you, let people be interested in you, and the results will come out much better. I think it’s important to just understand what kind of social network we’re talking about. Ask questions such as, Is it social? Is it about business? what segment of business? Then you need to appropriately relate to those networks without overburdening people.
Any final word of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Be interested in individual people rather than the specific network that you are involved with. I think we will always find that we're more successful however we're introduced to people in whichever network we are apart of. Look around for where the conversations are happening in each part of your life and then look to join the conversation, those are the networks, and you have to put energy in, in order to even be involved in the conversation. When you're invited into the conversation, then jump into looking at the individuals that we're thinking of and talking to, because they are human beings and you know, they have a history of where they've come in their life, they had parents they know they have spouses, possibly children, grandparents, you know? I have found that I've made much better project progress myself when I approach it that way.
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Let's face it in the 21st century, everything rises and falls on leadership in our ability to motivate and inspire others to peak performance. Corey brings a one of a kind approach to driving employee engagement and customer relationships to unheard of levels. Corey's unique program will not only get your organization focused and fired up, but he will generate amazing levels of excitement, optimism, and enthusiasm throughout your company that will last for years to come.
So what is the fastest way to build trust based on relationships with other people?
The big thing that most people are afraid to do today is to actually trust other people. That's a great question you asked me because the thing about it is Lori, you're not going to trust me until I show you that I trust you first. We're all built with mirror neurons and mirror reactions so when I come up to you, and I show you that, hey, you know what, I trust you not just as a worker, not just as a family member, but as a fellow human being, I'm doing two things. Number one is I'm giving you a space where you can feel comfortable and appreciated. Then number two, what I'm doing is I'm building my own confidence, because what I'm saying is that you know what, Lori, if you're one of my employees, and I give you a really important task, and I trust you to complete it, and I don't get my fingers all involved in it, and I don't mess with your agenda. What I'm also saying is that I trust myself so that if you do happen to screw it up, then I know that I can fix it. When you do that, what you're doing is you're actually creating a space for people to feel trust. Trust isn't something that you lend to somebody, trust is an environment that you create. You can walk through life in one of two ways. You can say, you know what, people are gonna rip me off, people are looking to take advantage of me. Or you can say, you know, I believe that everyone is my friend. And if people don't perform the way I think they should, or if people don't act the way I should, I need to step into their space and feel what it is like, and feels like to be them.
How can the Successful Thinker help us build lasting relationships with our families, co-workers, and customers?
So the Successful Thinker is a story that I wrote, based on what I was seeing in the corporations that I work with. As a pharmacist, I have been doing this for 30 years working in a small pharmacy inside of large buildings like Walmart, and Kmart. What you would see is that the pressures from above from the company would grow and grow and grow. We want you to do more and more and more, and we want to give you fewer resources, fewer people, less authority, and so what would happen is that People literally would get sick with stress within these organizations. In fact, in 2008, I wanted to jump off a bridge, it was so stressful. What happened on this night in 2008, where I didn't care if I lived or died, I just happened to stumble into my son's room at about 2 am. He's five years old, and I just didn't know what to do because I didn't want to live anymore. Then I had a coming to Jesus moment where I said, “Do you really want this beautiful five year old to grow up without a father over some stupid job?” So I recognized if I was going to fix that problem, what I had to do was figure out not how to do more with less, but learn how to do more by becoming more. So how do you become more? The answer to that is you grow your influence, you expand what you're able to do through using other people. What I found was that for everything I hated to do, and everything that I sucked at, there was somebody that loved to do it and was great at it. So I just started lending authority to other people. What I found was that when you lend authority to other people, and you trust them, all of a sudden, you exponentially grow your impact, you exponentially grow your influence, and you become much bigger than just yourself. I can only do one, two, maybe three things well, I can wait on customers and make them feel super important, I can grow and empower employees, and I can network with the major players like the doctors and nurses in my pharmacy market. However, I can't write a schedule to save my soul and I can't negotiate with insurances. So I started giving this to people, and what I found was that when I started doing that, they started responding in amazing ways. So what we did with a successful thinker is we wanted to take that and then give this recipe to other people so they could get the results that I got. In the Successful Thinker we came up with seven simple things that you can do anyone could do to make their life impactful, important, and survivable and what we did is we wrote into this story the seven laws of 21st-century leadership, and those seven laws anyone can put into place right now today, and become successful and become fulfilled.
As you said, it's empowering, and a fantastic leadership trait, to just let your team know that you appreciate them and their hard work and efforts are definitely contributing to the bigger picture in the success of everything.
Right, because as leaders, oftentimes, unfortunately, because it's such a stressful position, we make it about us. How am I going to achieve all my goals? Well, once you recognize it, as soon as you make anything about you, and no one else, that's a recipe for disaster. But when you look at your team, and you say, you know what, we're in this together, I need your help, people will respond and they'll respond bigger than you could possibly ever imagine. So here's for instance, most people think that passing along the direction is the same thing as leadership. The main character in our books, Cynthia is a district manager who's basically starting out the book with a really low employee satisfaction rate, and her boss is thinking about firing her. Instead what he does is he hooked her up with a mentor in hopes that he's giving her a chance to raise that employee approval rating. But Cynthia thinks that, like I said, passing along direction is the same thing as leadership, but it’s not. When all you do is give direction and orders, you’re only creating burnout and fear within your employees. But if you look at your team, and you say, “Guess what, guys, we've been given a goal that we have to accomplish. What do you think are the best possible solutions for us to make that happen as a team?” All of a sudden people start inputting, people start sharing their ideas, people start sharing their advice and people start brainstorming because people will always support whatever they co-create. But if I tell you what you're going to do, and I tell you by when you need to do it, you develop an instant resistance to that.
Can you share with our listeners, one of your favorite networking experiences that you've had?
So when I got out of pharmacy school, I was 23 years old, and quite frankly, I was extremely cocky, I was way overconfident and I really wanted to just hit the world like a battering ram. So I went to work my very first day and they said, “You know what, we're really busy here, we don't have time to train you, so you just counsel customers.” So I stood there for the first day and just told customers things like, “take this medicine with food,” or, “take this on an empty stomach.” On the walk home, I recognized that if I had to do that for 45 years, I just didn't think I could take it. I was thinking maybe I should go back to school, but then I had an idea and I said, What if I took a different approach to create a competitive advantage and had fun at work?” I started being really social with people that would come into the pharmacy, asking them about themselves, or saying something like, “Hey I really like your shirt where did you get it?” Then what I found was that people started calling the pharmacy asking for me if they had a medicine question. We weren't talking about medicine at all at the window when they were there to pick it up because they had been at the doctor's office forever, and I quite frankly found medicine boring. So then I started asking them better and better questions, like asking them what’s made them so successful, or if it looks like they’ve had a down day I’d ask them what’s got them down and then we would talk and I might share a solution. All of a sudden, what I started recognizing is that there are similarities between people who are successful, and what they do, and vice-versa. I also noticed that everyone goes through problems, everyone goes through trials and tribulations and there are similarities between ways to make things better. What I wanted to do was take it from the people who were killing it and give it to the people who are getting killed. So I started what we would have called today, relationship marketing back in 1990 when I first got out of pharmacy school, and what I recognized is that every one of us is a human being and want to be treated as such. All too often we go into networking situations, networking events, and we treat people like a client when they aren’t a client until they say they’d like to be a client. That's why you'll never hear me refer to a pharmacy patient as a patient, you will hear me call them a customer because the customer is someone who's walking into your store with the ability to try out your service and they don't become a patient until they say they become a patient. What I'm finding is that if you can treat each and every person with those seven laws of 21st-century leadership, that's what's real networking in my opinion.
As you continue to grow and expand your network, how do you stay in front of and best nurture these relationships?
I actually do two things, I use some of the systems that are what we call CRM systems, where you can actually put people's names and information into your system and keep track of them on a database and actually reach out to them. But I also do something that few people want to do today where I use a notebook and a piece of paper and I make notes about people. I write things that people are interested in, or what they think is important in life, and if I see an opportunity, I reach out. I think one of the things that have happened in our society is we get overly impressed with the idea that it's possible to act like a weirdo, it's possible to stand out by being I don't want to say too friendly. If you say to somebody, “you know what, that's a really cool shirt, man, where did you get it?” Sometimes people are afraid that that's being too forward or too aggressive. But what I find is that if you think it's a cool shirt, and you're just coming from a genuine space of man, that's a cool shirt, I find that it's a worthwhile thing to say that I don't think has ever backfired on me in my life. Obviously, you need to be appropriate, obviously, you need to make sure that the things you're doing and the things that you're complimenting people on or the things that you may be sending people are actually from a genuine space of concern. Part of my bio is I'm a Go-Giver Coach and the Go-Giver is a business book written by Bob Burg and John David Mann. One of the things that they talked about was losing the scorekeeping mentality and just be a really kind person, and just be somebody who's really genuine and affords people a space to where they want to do business with you. What you'll find is that people will always do business with people they know, like, and trust.
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?
One of the things I didn't take into account was that all of a sudden before you know it, you're in your 50s. And you may not have the health or the opportunities that you do in your 20s. So if I could give myself advice, it would be to save more money, focus more on your health, focus on developing those relationships earlier, and strengthen those relationships that give yourself an opportunity. If I could sum all of that up into one sentence, Brian Tracy, who's written 50 or 60 books, on leadership and personal development and so forth, said this: “the business of life is to give yourself options.” So I would offer to your audience that whatever they do, they should always be looking down the road at their next career, their next situation, making sure that they're constantly developing their skills, especially their leadership and people skills because even in 2020, even with everything that's going on, people skills are the one set of skills that has not gone away in terms of opportunity.
Do you have any final words of advice for our listeners with regard to growing and supporting your network?
Yes, I really think that one of the things you want to do is rethink the way you use your life in terms of, we've made a lot of shortcuts in this world with social media and with texting, and with voicemail, and I just want to really offer you an opportunity that exists now that didn't really exist 20 or 25 years ago. Nowadays, we really need people who specialize in emotional intelligence and specialize in seeing people as full people. I believe that it's a real opportunity because so many people have lost a lot of their interpersonal skills because of social media. So it's an opportunity for you to read books like The Go-Giver, or The Successful Thinker and say, “You know what, maybe I really need to recognize that if I want the people in my life, to know how important they are to me, I have to treat them that way.” John C. Maxwell who has written a ton of leadership books said it this way where he said, “You don't have to have a lot of money to create an amazing event for someone else. What you have to do is pay attention and really focus on that person when you're in the room with them and be all there and save everything else for later because everything else is away.”
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