Ellen is The Founder and President of White Knight Productions and is the Founder of The Boardroom, an online community for entrepreneurs to connect network, and grow their businesses. Her first book Ready, Set, Grit, Three Steps To Success In Life, Business, and The Pursuit of Happiness comes out this spring.
Why don't you tell me a little bit about how White Knight Productions has adapted to work with clients nationwide?
So when we started, we are a 12-year-old company, we've been around for a while. We make videos and animations and help people with marketing. That's not the only thing we do, but we do a lot of marketing work. The vast majority of what we do is visual. When we started the company 12 years ago, we were focusing on local clients, regional clients, the whole traditional way of doing video production. Over the years, that has really changed dramatically, where now we do work with clients all over the country. I as the principal in the agency, I've worked very hard to foster relationships with videographers around the country, and relationships with our clients throughout the country, and have found a kind of innovative ways to service them without necessarily being there on site. Sometimes especially pre COVID we would fly out and attend a shoot, or other meetings in different locations. But these days, we do so much via remote video capture. We do so many meetings via zoom and that but it's interesting how we've really been able to expand our reach. First by changing our mindset and then by looking for solutions to manifest what we were looking to make happen.
Let's talk about some misconceptions that people have when working with a video production company.
Well, a lot of people think it's got to be super expensive when they hire a video company. I feel like a lot of people feel concerned that their brand won't be well reflected, or that they're going to be giving up control over the messaging or the project. Also just that it's inconvenient and a little bit scary. But you put a camera in front of people, many people who just aren't used to it and it's super intimidating, and you throw up some lights and add a few people in the mix and it can be very scary to step up there and be in the spotlight. It can be scary even if you're used to speaking, even people that are used to public speaking, or we've had experiences with CEOs of large medical groups, for example, that have been super intimidated by the camera. So one of the things that we do as a video company, is we work very hard to make sure everybody's comfortable, and kind of forgets that the cameras there. Eventually, it takes a little work and a little soothing sometimes. But it's always our goal to make people enjoy the experience and also to realize that there are different ways to work with a video team. Sometimes traditional video can be pricey because there's a lot that goes into it. People forget all the planning that goes into it, all the scripting, and all that stuff. But for us, I can't speak for every video company, but I'm sure this is the same for others as well. We always try to work with our clients to make the whole process very collaborative, and also to find solutions that work within their budget, and that help them reach their goals.
So you're extremely driven in supporting other entrepreneurs and building community, why is that and what is your vision, ultimately?
That's a huge part of what I'm so passionate about. Me as a small business owner, I know firsthand how challenging it can be and how lonely it can be sometimes, especially when you're going through something challenging. In my company, 2015 was a really tough year for us, and as I said, we've been around for 12 years. We grew very quickly the first few years and 2015 was our come to Jesus moment. It was really hard and at that time I didn't really have the right people who I could talk to. I was a member of networking groups, but you typically don't go to networking groups and just spill all your problems. Of course, I have friends, but a lot of my friends didn't understand the nuances of running a business and my family was supportive, but they didn't really get it. After I survived that time and rebuilt the company, I really got driven on this community-building thing, because I started hearing similar stories from other people, and it's really important to me to try to support other small or medium-sized business owners who might not have that support network. Also just to try to help other people grow their businesses. Over the years, I have had great mentors, I've had great coaches, and learned a whole heck of a lot from making some big mistakes. I just think, when we have the opportunity to help others and give somebody a hand or build a community that's supportive, we should take that opportunity. It's something I love doing and it's my passion project. So you mentioned I had built The Boardroom, which is an online community for entrepreneurs and I've been doing these talks every Friday for years. This is our fourth year of hosting free webinars really for anyone, but they're targeted to entrepreneurs. I'm scheduled to talk and one soon, I'm so excited. Oh, all your listeners come and join us!
Can you help me do that by sharing with our listeners one of your favorite or most successful networking experiences that you've had?
I think maybe I would like to share some thoughts about networking, rather than a specific experience, although I also will share an experience with you in just a moment. I think that one of the big keys to successful networking is to shift your mindset away from your own personal goals like, "Oh, I really want to get one new client at this networking event," or, "I really want to close a new deal." That is the wrong way to go into networking, in my view, it much more so should be about service and connection, and relationship building that's so important. I think that is my biggest tip for going into networking events. Then also, if you have the opportunity to stand up and introduce yourself, to try to be memorable and I'm thinking back and this will segue into my experience that I'd like to share. So thinking back to a guy who was my mentor for a while, he's a sales coach. He used to work at a very large corporation, he was very high up at this corporation, and then he went up by himself. But he's just full of knowledge and he's just one of these people that you just want to listen to you all day long. He was a big proponent of being memorable, you know, just like break the mold, if you have to get up and introduce yourself. He always would only bring three business cards to a networking event, which is interesting. So you had to like earn the right to get one of his business cards and I think that learning from him, is probably part of my success story with networking is just to be very intentional about who you're connecting with. Of course, he would take other people's business cards, but like to give it was different. That's just his philosophy, I'm not saying it's the right way, but it's interesting to follow somebody like that and watch how they expertly make connections and build relationships in a very intentional way. There was another one where I was hosting one of my Friday talks that I had mentioned where I was talking to a new connection, someone had introduced me to this woman, because she actually is looking for a videographer, but not for a few months. So we just started the conversation and I invited her to this event and she had shared it with me, she's also looking for someone to help with web and SEO, but she was too busy to come to the event. She's like, "I think it's just not a good fit for me, I'm too busy," and it's funny because I met the person there who was perfect for her web SEO and I thought of her and I connected them. But I was like, "If you could have just come on here by yourself, you could have met this person firsthand." I think it's never a waste of time to go out and meet people and get a chance to talk about what you do and what you're looking for.
What advice would you offer to business professionals really looking to grow their network?
I think right now in a time where much of what we're doing is online. I think LinkedIn is a great place to grow your network and a good strategy for LinkedIn is going in and finding people you want to connect with. Please do not connect with them and start selling them things right away, that's super annoying, please don't do that. I even started saying to people, when they try to do that, I just write a message to them saying that it's my pet peeve and asking them not to do that. What I do recommend is finding people that you would like to connect to maybe like to do business with, and start following them, start commenting on their posts. Give thoughtful comments, thoughtful feedback, and start conversations that way because then you begin to build a relationship, and you begin to have something to talk about. Then perhaps you have a better opportunity, a better chance that they might accept your invitation to have a further conversation and that can be an exploratory conversation. I don't think anybody enjoys a sales pitch, it's a lot better to approach things with curiosity, and a place of service. I don't think you can go wrong with either of those.
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 would definitely tell myself to chill out. I was so worried about so many things that I had no control over and everything has a funny way of working out. So I think I would just have tried to worry less and enjoy the moment more just knowing it was all going to be perfect. I try to tell my kids that because now they're in their early 20s and it's a hard thing to hear. Maybe we just have to live it for ourselves. But I do feel like that's a truth, just believe that things are working out for you.
Do you have any final word or advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I think I would just say do not underestimate the importance of doing this. It's probably your most valuable asset or one of your most valuable assets. I really didn't realize this fully myself until COVID shut everything down and we still had quite a bit of work and when I looked at it and analyze it, it was all from my network, it was all from people who we'd been introduced to or referred to or worked with or someone told somebody about us and suddenly we had work. I just never could have accomplished any of that with a straight-up advertising campaign. It would have been a lot more expensive and probably not as effective. So nurturing that network is something I now intentionally prioritize all the time, it's super important
Connect with Elin:
Kurt Anderson founded an e-commerce company in 1995 that was ranked three times on the Internet Retailer Magazine's Top 1000 E-Commerce Companies. Since selling that company, Kurt has served as an e-commerce consultant serving manufacturers. He is the author of Stop Being The Best Kept Secret, and founder of b2btail.com an e-commerce resource guide for manufacturers.
How does a custom manufacturer enter the e-commerce market?
Certainly, as we all know, in this world that we're living in today, everything has drastically changed. So a little different dynamic, prior to 2020 and now there's a tremendous sense of urgency. So with e-commerce, as I'm looking out my window, the UPS man just left and dropped off an Amazon package. So Amazon most manufacturers, especially that custom side where they don't have a proprietary product or a finished good, you're like, "Well, hey, I'm left out of that e-commerce party." Original equipment manufacturers that had those finished goods are an easier slide-in for them and it's much more challenging for the custom manufacturer. So the custom manufacturer, they bend metal, they cut steel, fabricate something, injection, mold, printed circuit boards, you know, they're always making something for somebody else. So the preach that I have is how do you scale your proprietary process? Because what these custom manufacturers have over the years, they've perfected a proprietary process, and it's just trying to walk them through the steps of how do we convert that proprietary process into a proprietary good?
How would you answer that question?
A big thing with e-commerce, and again, if you look at your company, your website like you guys do an amazing job helping your clients with pay per click, SEO, trying to be found, trying to help them stop being the best-kept secret, right? And you're an expert at that lead generation so I think one myth to dispel is so many of those custom manufacturers that well e-commerce is Amazon at my door. No, it's actually Lori coming in and her team and helping you with that lead gen and driving that traffic to their website. Now if they're going after again, I'd been metal I cut steel. You know this, you know, you're a keyword expert. If you go really broad, man, you're still gonna be the best-kept secret. It's so hard to be found for CNC machining, or fabricating metal but if you do CNC machining for turbine engines because I'm in the northwest and I'm in the supply chain of aerospace or I bend metal for tractors and I'm trying to find and target Caterpillar or something. So I think like going after those long-tail keywords and for you and I speak in the SEO language, we're trying to help them with that keyword strategy by going deep in what you and I call those longtail keywords. That longtail keyword is the opportunity for the e-commerce opportunity. So it's actually it's that 80-20 rule where they're like, "Hey, tell me about your business," And we're like, "We crank out these little trinkets and our 80-20 rule, 80% comes from the 20%." Where is that 20% and can we start creating an e-commerce opportunity? Could we put those products actually, on your website? Could we take those products and put them on an online marketplace? That's kind of the process of getting into that e-commerce opportunity here.
So you've mentioned Amazon and a couple of other marketplaces. Do you recommend that manufacturers use those?
I'm super bullish on the online marketplaces for manufacturers and again, from the OEM side, that original equipment manufacturer, absolutely. So you've got Digi key, which if you're in the electrical field in any capacity, they have a great marketplace. We've talked about Zorro, you have like McMaster car. And then of course the big granddaddy of them all Amazon. Here's a scary thing, so we do a lot of webinars with the manufacturing extension partnerships, if you're familiar with those, the MEP, so they're all over the country. So I do a lot of webinars at a lot of different MEPs. So actually today, we're in the midst of doing a 12 part webinar series at IMAC, which is the Illinois MEP. And our speaker today was Brian Beck who is just a phenomenal Amazon guru. He wrote a book called Billion Dollar b2b E-Commerce so he spoke today at Illinois, he shared that 70% of product search is now started on Amazon. So even if you're a custom manufacturer and you're like, "Oh, well, you know what, that's not for me, or I don't need to be on Amazon." If there's an ideal client out there that's looking for the product that you make every day and you're denying yourself by not being on Amazon, you've just lost basically a 70% opportunity of being found for that product. So that's scary.
Do you have manufacturers using any sort of configurators to allow customers to really customize offerings that they have?
I'm a big baseball fan so I'll use a baseball analogy. So configurators or rate, my strike zone. I am so bullish on configurators for manufacturers and what this does, and again, with like the services that you and your team provide what you do, this is what I always preach, and I'm sure you love it, and this is what you do with your clients. I'm always preaching to them how do you help that ideal client? That buyer at Boeing, the buyer at Caterpillar, maybe it's just another small custom job shop. How do we get our soul mates to make a buying decision on a Friday night at midnight, without having to wait for us to open up our doors on a Monday morning? So with that strategy, that configurator is just such a powerful example. In my book, I go through a step-by-step how a small custom manufacturer uses a configurator and they're connecting with Virgin Hyperloop, Boeing, Halliburton, just again, allowing buyers to come on their website, configure and create their product 24/7. It was super easy, it was super cheap. This was a manufacturer he's a digital immigrant, very resistant to technology, very resistant to change and we put up a configurator and he's just blown away by the opportunities that this configurator has created. When your custom job shop, you're almost like, "Hey, let's just take everything that walks in the door." But when you narrow that down, we talked about that long-tail key strategy, what are your true core strengths? If you can apply it with a configurator and there's a lot of companies that are doing amazing work with configurators your neighbors right in Wisconsin.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking stories or experiences that you've had?
So you and I do a lot of educating, a lot of webinars and what have you, and what I love when you open up your podcasts, you talk about who you know. So I do a lot of LinkedIn workshops at MEPs (manufacturing extension partnerships) and different trade groups. I have a slide and I say we grew up hearing "Hey, it's not what, you know, it's who you know." With LinkedIn, I like to take it one step further. It's not what you know, it's not who you know, it's what you know about who you know. So, Lori and I were just talking earlier, and Lori has volunteered and offered to be on our weekly webinar series. Lori and I connected and immediately we're both bouncing back and forth. One of the first people that came to mind was Harry Moser, and Harry if you're manufacturing Boy, you know, Harry. He is the official cheerleader of US manufacturing. And so I know he was just on your podcast, he's coming up on our webinar. Just a lot of people love his mission, what he's pushing out and he's a delight to know. So that's a great example of networking. I could share dozens of others, but I was just thrilled when I saw that he was on your podcast, and how we're building this community to help support manufacturers together.
How do you stay in front of and nurture the network that you've created?
I think we both have a hunger for that education piece of sharing. I never ever claim myself self to be an expert, I've just been in e-commerce since 1995. So that means two things, it means I'm an old dude and I have a lot of war wounds and scars and tons of mistakes that I've made that I love to share with folks of what not to do as much as things of what to do. So, again, jumping on podcasts with great people like you, a lot of webinars. You know, as I mentioned, with the manufacturing, extension partnerships, I work with a lot of the MEPs around the country, we do our Friday webinar series, it's free every single Friday. So just really beating that drum pretty heavy of helping manufacturers. A big initiative that we're doing, we started this Co-Op it's, it's called E-Commerce Management and the big drum that we're beating is how do you help manufacturers? How can we teach them to fish? So many people have been burnt with bad marketing, and I've had examples where a manufacturer will hire a PPC firm for 50 grand a year and have zero results because of bad keywords and I'll do an audit on what they're doing and it's just sad. So what we've been really preaching is with the MEPs that we're working with, we're starting a do it with you model of how can we help the manufacturers that have a marketing team, and teach them how to fish and even some of the marketing folks that are at manufacturers are a little bit more sophisticated, and they're like, "Well, you know what, I don't necessarily need someone to teach me how to fish but boy, I could learn some new fishing spots, or some new fishing strategies," if you will. So they feel alone in a silo and then what the great thing is, is building them up, and then handing them off to a firm like yourself to get that high-level professional nurturing that they need for the folks that need a firm like yours, but they're just hesitant because they're hearing these horror stories. Well, if you can teach them a little bit and do it with them, then they're like, "Okay, this is like trying to build my bathroom or my kitchen on my own. It's fun, it sounded great on paper, but now I need the professional to come in and help me."
What advice do you have for that business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
If you're in a b2b space, and because I'm an older dude, I'm a LinkedIn junkie. That's how I make a living, that's where my connections are, there are just amazing people of high integrity. The thing is, it's just like in person, you know, Lori, you're super active on your profile with nonprofit groups in your community, and you gravitate towards certain people pre COVID when we could go out and play and socialize. You gravitate towards certain people that have the same values and people that you respect or admire, or even people that are at a place where you're like, "You know what? I want to get to where they are," and you gravitate towards those people. On LinkedIn, you can do the exact same thing you can weed out through some of the clutter, or some of the folks. I tell everybody, I'm not for everyone, I know that. But for the manufacturer that wants to be e-commerce, I hope I'm your guy. How can we resonate and connect and help lift each other up? So my long-winded answer is I'm a big LinkedIn guy. I think it's a great place for b2b connections.
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?
I try to live in the present so I try not to dwell on the past too much. Maybe I'll be cliche and say don't sweat the small stuff, don't do this, don't do that. But I think if I were to go back to my 20-year-old self, I would tell myself to have a sense of urgency on a daily basis because it doesn't cost you anything. It doesn't have to add anxiety or stress. You're a great athlete, you're super involved with your community with hockey and I haven't seen you play, but I'm assuming that you're probably pretty aggressive. I always have the saying, "Hey, you know, can we leave it all in a field?" For you, can you leave it on the ice? So for us as professionals, if I were to go back to my 20-year-old Kurt, I'd be like, "Dude, just give everything you've got every day, it doesn't cost you a penny to work harder." Of course, work smarter, I'm not saying working longer hours or seven days a week, but just come in an unapologetic enthusiasm for what you do. So that would be my advice.
Do you have any final words of advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Kudos to you for listening to this podcast so you're looking to grow you're looking to improve. This digital sprint that we're in right now is not going to slow down anytime soon. So you know link up with these experts such as Lori, catch a webinar, catch these podcasts, team up with her firm and really you just have to stop be the best-kept secret.
Connect with Kurt
Kurt’s Website: https://b2btail.com/
Elisa has been practicing law for over 20 years specializing in business and corporate law. Elisa helps you with all aspects of your business from forming an entity, starting a business, buying or selling a business, drafting, reviewing, and negotiating all types of contracts. Are you starting a new franchise or buying or selling a franchise? Definitely connect with Elisa. Assisting with real estate transactions involving leasing, buying, and selling, she's got you covered.
When is it important to find an attorney when starting or buying a business?
I think as soon as you know that you want to start, you just want to form your entity or you're looking to buy a business or start a business. There's a lot of steps, there's a lot of information on the internet, and it's all valuable. But you really need to hook up with someone who can make sure that you're protected in terms of making sure that your structure is right, that you filed all the correct forms, that you have everything you need so that you're not scrambling at a later date for documents or for what you need. So the sooner the better is always what I tell people.
What do you say to people that just say they're going to Google for the templates for these contracts?
It's a great resource, but there are two drawbacks. The biggest one came up for people during PPP, I had a lot of lenders calling me because they had people that started their own business, and they went ahead and filed their articles online. They might have gotten the EIM because they had an accountant or CPA, but they didn't have their operating agreement or their shareholders agreement and you needed that to get some of the PPP money. So I drafted a lot of those for people, a lot of times people follow the instructions, but they don't think it's necessary, or they'll use a template for an operating agreement or a contract and it doesn't always fit their situation. The biggest issue comes up when people are doing a lot of research and they're cutting and pasting from different sources. Then you have a contract that at the end of the day conflicts within itself. That does not help anyone if an issue arises between partners, members, or if you're sued. So Google is a great resource, but you've got to know where you're inserting it, how it's used, and how it relates to other provisions within a contract.
Do you recommend getting an attorney up front and not just when you're actually ready to sign a contract?
There's a lot of different aspects to it when you're looking to buy. First of all, there's a lot of people you need that are involved, that need to look at things. So when people come to me, one of the greatest benefits with my network in the last few years it's the best of the best that I get to work with. So if you come to me at the beginning, when you're starting to look, we can get you with the right lender, we can get you with a CPA, there are other people to look at the documents. So when you take us first, we might do a letter of intent, we might do an asset purchase agreement or stock purchase agreement, but you want to make sure that everything's in there, so that you can do your due diligence, and that we're bringing other people on. CPAs are great at looking at the financials. So the sooner you bring an attorney on or someone in your network on like a CPA, that will hook you up with the other people like the insurance people, the lenders, the better because you can waste a lot of time and money, a lot of time too just trying to see where you're at. Whereas once you get the attorney or you get somebody that's going to work with you, you're able to move forward on it and see whether or not it's actually a viable purchase for you.
Word on the street is you're literally available 24 seven, why are you so accessible?
I am. With what I do, no one's going to die, and no one's going to jail. Now my firm partner does criminal so yes, some people do go to jail. But most of the time when people are calling me at unusual hours, meaning it's 11 o'clock on a Friday night, it's because they're up and they're worried about something. I always think that I'm up, and my phone rings, and I can pick it up, I might as well pick it up and see what's bothering you. Chances are, it's not that serious. I understand that at the moment it is for you, but we can resolve it. So I just feel as if there's no need for people to have to wait till eight o'clock on a Monday to call me. Sometimes if you just call me I explain to you why you should be worried or you shouldn't be worried, or what we're doing to make sure that nothing negative happens. A lot of times I have clients where we’re working on matters for them and it is forefront in their mind. They're not going to lose their house, they won’t lose their job, but it's all-encompassing. So if I can help you for just a moment remember that nothing bad is going to happen it helps people feel better. So I am pretty much 24/7. There are a couple of other attorneys on LinkedIn that I've gotten to know and other states that are the same way, so I'm not the only one. My firm partner does the same thing, mostly because he does criminal law and we have to be able to respond to those people right away.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking stories that you had?
So I just started networking about two and a half years ago and it is amazing. You get to reach out and meet the most incredible people that can help your clients. It isn't so much about gathering leads for yourself, it's more who can I meet that I that can help my clients? My best networking story is a LinkedIn one about a year and a half ago. It was Labor Day and I was at work and heavy hitter at the time on LinkedIn posted a picture of himself about a business and he had cotton candy. I realized it was Labor Day and I had not had any cotton candy all summer. I commented, "I haven't had cotton candy all summer, I've been in my office," and within five or six minutes, he responded and said, "Somebody get this girl cotton candy!" Within another four or five minutes, I'm one of the top producers of organic cotton candy, who actually supplies to Disney, called me and messaged on LinkedIn that he was sending me a case of his cotton candy, and he did. I was just blown away. There were a bunch of attorneys out in New York that caught onto that because they knew who he was and they thought it was kind of amazing situation because it's little Elisa from Wisconsin, and all these big-time attorneys and these people out in New York, and one of the attorneys works in Miami, and I am licensed in Florida as well as Wisconsin and he and I have been doing business now. So to me, that's just amazing.
How do you stay in front of and nurture these relationships that you're creating?
I think a lot of it is just continuously showing up for the networking events. This is a personal statement, I'm better in person, I find zoom more exhausting than when you're in person. But I think that you have to stay on it even if you're you know your desk is covered with work and you think, "Well, I still need to show up to this event because other people may need something that I have or may need a contact that I have." The other part of it that I feel very strongly about and I've been very fortunate because a lot of the networking groups that I'm in feel the same way that when we get a referral from someone. Obviously, I treat everyone with the same amount of respect and I'm grateful my phone is ringing, but at the same time, if you refer someone to me, you are really putting yourself out there because if I don't take care of them, that's a poor reflection on you. So I think one of the joint feelings that all the people in a couple of my networking groups have is that when we get a referral, we are so grateful that we realize what we do impacts, not just the person that needs the assistance, but the person that gave the referral. So we all treat each other that way and so there's this mutual respect with these groups of people. I think it just betters all of our clients and it betters ourselves in our own work.
What advice would you offer the business professionals looking to grow their network?
You have to take chances, you have to be willing to step into some networks that you're not sure if you belong there or not. You also have to know when to leave, there are some networking groups I've been in where I am not a good fit for them, I just know it. So you have to be able to say, alright, this isn't working for me, or it's not working for them so I need to move to another group and find another group that works better for you, in terms of what you can bring to the table for other people, and then what they can bring to you for your client base. But I don't think there's any shame in moving around and trying different groups and then saying, sometimes people outgrow groups, I've heard people say that. I'm in one group I love and I've been in it for almost two and a half years now since I started networking. Some people say I've outgrown it, and that's fine for them. I obviously haven't outgrown it, I think it's a great group so you have to accept that sometimes maybe you do outgrow things, maybe you don't.
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 that I would definitely tell myself I needed to network earlier on. I think the biggest thing I would have told myself is well, one is technology. I've never ever been a big technology person I've only really gotten into it in the last five to six years and I love it now. So I probably wouldn't tell myself to take a little more interest in technology. There isn't anything I wouldn't have done. I got out of undergrad, I've always worked, and going to school full time I got my master's degree. Then when I had enough money, I could go to law school. So there isn't anything that I would do differently because it gave me experiences that I had and I met people that have played into my life all along. I think the one thing that's interesting that I do share with a lot of people is one of the largest transitions that I had was a year and a half ago and I didn't have anything to do with it. I was working with another attorney who is now my firm partner. He does criminal law and we met through a mutual client and he said we should merge and I'm like, "I'm not merging, I'm better by myself, but I'll refer to you." He's a great litigator and I was referring to him and he said we really should merge. This is after about a year and a half and I'm like I really don't want to merge my practice, I'm used to just it running on my own, it's easier. One Saturday, I was sitting at my desk at work, and I got an email and I'm looking to the left at it as I'm drafting a document, I'll never forget it and he merged us without telling me. I don't really think you're supposed to do that. Then he called me three minutes later and said, "I'm at Chase Bank, could you come down?" And I'm like, "What are you doing?" He says, "I just merged us, I don't care what you think we're merging, come down here we’re opening up business accounts." It's a great story and it's funny, but the truth is it's taken us a year and a half to get our act together, but it's actually working. It was probably one of the best decisions I didn't make that someone else made for me.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who is the one person that you'd love to connect with and do you think you can do it within the sixth degree?
There are so many people that I would like to connect with. I think that there have been few people that have wanted to connect with that I've been able to. There's one attorney that's on LinkedIn that posts a lot, and I've met other people around him and I really would like to reach out to him. I could do it directly within one degree, but I'm just afraid to. It's sort of like one of those where the person so high up that you think you just don't want to do that. But at the same time, I'm only one degree away. So I think I have a better chance I just have to get brave and do it.
Do you have any final words of advice to offer listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I think that you just have to always remember that your clients and your customers are very important. And when you're in your networking groups, you have to look at all the people that you're with, that they're your customers, your clients as well, and that you're both going to work together to help each other's clients and customers so that their businesses do better. Because when my clients succeed, I succeed. So I just feel like that's the best way to stay in front of your network and just remember what the purpose is.
Connect with Elisa:
Visit Elisa’s Website: https://www.praktesslaw.com/
Suzanne notices a variety of creative ways people are branding themselves, both consciously and unconsciously, but is a successful business brand that results from powerful marketing. When the hype subsides, what keeps a good brand going strong? What is the real secret to consistent brand growth and advocacy? With over two and a half decades of strategic communication, employee brand engagement, and internal brand development, Suzanne's inside-out brand-building strategy creates the clarity and actions necessary for her clients to drive consistency, distinction, and advocacy long term.
In your terms, what is your definition of a personal brand?
So a personal brand is really just a perception. It lives in the minds of the owner and eventually to its market. So it lives in my mind and your mind and all of our audience's minds. It's based on experience, and emotion and then the products and services of that experience. So it's really all about perception and when people realize that in the first seven seconds of contact with somebody else, others are forming 11 impressions of you through their sensory perceptions. So what do you want those perceptions to be?
Could you tell us more about the 11 impressions that you’re speaking about?
We're all human beings. So our ability to perceive and begin to judge and perceive things based on our own filters kicks in gear the moment we meet people. Social Capital is all about networking so we can dig into what that means when you're out there networking. That's really powerful to know and to get super clear on your personal brand value position in what you want others to begin perceiving from you right off the bat.
Let's talk a little bit about the difference between marketing and branding. Can you bring some clarity to that?
This is my favorite topic because this is why I'm in business. When I do a lot of my workshops and pieces of training, that this is the big "Aha" moment. One of my pet peeves as a brand expert is knowing that oftentimes marketing and branding are used in the same sentence for the same reasons and depicting the same meaning. If I could just explain that you market a brand. So marketing is this verb, it's this thing, you go out and you disseminate and communicate information or the message of the brand. If you haven't yet fully defined the brand, and you're out there spending, money marketing, what are you actually marketing? So the brand is actually that perception. Have I stopped and defined those pieces and parts that helped create the value position perception that I want others to have of what it is that I do and who I am? So the effort for branding is really about the effort in assigning meaning. Assigning meaning to what that brand stands for and that's what the book is all about. That's what my whole last, basically 30 years, of being in this industry has been to help the client identify, define, and then align themselves into that value position so that they can become what they want to be known for. Alignment is a big piece and that's about the experience, the delivery, the follow-through, the vernacular you use, your messaging. All of that is walking the talk basically.
How do you brand multiple sub-brand companies under a bigger corporate brand?
That's a great question and I've had the opportunity to do that several times. It seems really complicated, but when you understand that there's this mothership brand that should espouse a set of core values that all the other sub-brands should operate under. So it's this section of the brand DNA process where we uncover those core values. That set of core values should be fluid and infused throughout all of the other brands to be a part of that mothership. But the caveat here is each of those sub-brands can then have values or have a set of personality attributes, a collective set of personality attributes. So that means that you may have a really fun, maybe it's outdoorsy, love the environment personality of a sub-brand. Maybe it's a product or a company within this, bigger mothership and then you might have something that's a bit more luxurious or high end that's still under that same company. Those two sub-brands will have different personalities, but they will all espouse the same values of the mothership brands so to speak. So there's that connection, there's that link, there still that resonance from the value position of the buyer, knowing that this mothership brand is this named company. You can look at Apple and all the different sub-brands that they have right now including electric vehicles. Google also, they've got their fingers in so many different things, but the value construct of the mothership company is really the glue or the coherence that keeps them all in alignment with that particular brand promise.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking experiences that you've had?
Well, I was invited to go to a small group of women who supported the franchise industry so to speak. Because I was new, I was able to get like two more minutes in what I call my brand identity statement which is basically your elevator pitch. This was on the fly, I had no idea that they were going to ask me to do this, but within that two minutes, I got one of my biggest clients from just being super clear on what it is that I delivered to that particular market. At the time I was very conscious that I was in a room full of women who ran franchises and that was the topic or the theme. So I had to on the fly adjust what my value position was to the franchise market. When you know your stuff and you're crystal clear on who you are, you can do that in a heartbeat and within two minutes, you can land big-time clients. It's a really powerful thing to spend time on, and get clear on.
How do you stay in front of them best nurture the relationships that you've been creating?
Well, I am quite the networker. I love getting out there and meeting people and I love speaking so I do a lot of that to networking groups. I also have a newsletter that I send out. I'm on social media and almost every day in terms of posting something in some social media realm. I also have a YouTube channel and I have a series now I started called 90 Seconds of Personal Brand Clarity and the videos are short snippets and tips and techniques to help you get more top of mind with your brand and ways to do that, from my books, specifically my personal brand clarity book. I also have a series called Brand Bites which I started several years ago. These are about three minutes and it digs in a little bit deeper with some examples of branding tips and techniques that I run. So people who subscribe to that it's called Personal Brand Clarity on YouTube, then they'll get all the new notices. So that's nurturing a little bit, but I just like to be out there.
What advice would you offer that professional who's really looking to grow their network?
I think that from the inside out, which is always where I start, it's never about the doing, it's always about the being first. Until you get super clear on who you are as a brand and personal brand and get consistent in building that trust in your value position. So once you figure out what your value position is, and you talk about it on a regular basis, you may sound like a broken record to yourself, but it's reinforcement to your market when you do that. Even when you're out there networking in person, constantly say the same things so that people get to know you, they carve out that superpower that you have that you're super good at and that you are the go-to expert in your industry for that. So it's really about staying consistent. The second thing is being authentic and this is about being authentic to who you are. I always say in my workshops, you cannot be authentic when you don't know who you are yet. Who are you authentic to? When you do the work, then you have something to step into and stay aligned with. Then, of course, there's always distinction. What is it that makes you different than your closest competitor? Maybe localize it and see what your closest competitor is in your area.
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 would probably tell myself to start asking for the sale sooner. Really just get in that confidence space that you can solve that problem and ask for the sale. 20 years go by before you really get the feel for your level of expertise and feeling comfortable, but I probably should have done that earlier. But now I do it all the time.
Do you have any final words of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I would just go back to knowing your value position and live it consistently. And the way to do that is find that process find that way to flush that out, and which is you know, why I wrote the book, Personal Brand Clarity so that when you get more confident in that space, you can conquer anything and sales become so easy.
Connect with Suzanne:
William has over 10 years of consulting, coaching, sales, leadership, and workforce development experience. His calling is to help individuals and businesses awaken their hidden potential by educating them on the mental success principles that have been articulated by all major cultures over the past 5000 years. He has infused these universal truths into his educational materials and personal philosophy because we must learn from our history.
How do you define success?
My definition of success is becoming the best version of yourself. For me, I believe that in life, we don't have problems or challenges, we have opportunities, and being successful is simply meeting every single challenge and making it an opportunity to learn and to grow. As opposed to seeing it as an impediment or barrier, seeing it as an opportunity to catapult us or to be a leg up, to go to the next level in our lives and whatever endeavor that we're going after. So success is deeply personal and it can only be defined by self, but a small still voice will always lead you on the road to success.
How does mindset impact our ability to network effectively?
Yes, so I think when it comes to mindset, and networking, one thing that I've heard so much because I was in workforce development for about three years before my most recent role. The biggest challenge that I saw with our interns in this workforce development firm that I also faced early in my career was the fear of saying something wrong, the fear of not being good enough. I think when it comes to the mindset component of this networking game, it's really about making sure that before you walk through the door, or turn on the zoom chat, that you have it within your mind that you are good enough to do anything and any question that you're going to be asked, you can be able to answer it articulately. A lot of times when you're meeting someone, you have to ask and answer questions. So asking questions isn't necessarily that hard, but answering them if you get nervous, and your mind shuts down can be tough. So overall, what that boils down to is having an unshakable belief in yourself. Do you believe that you are worthy of the best because life has to offer? And if so, when you go into a networking event, you bring that confidence in with you, and you have the ability and the courage to simply let it flow. Let that confidence, let that knowledge, let that wisdom flow, let the personality flow. The biggest thing that we tend to do in our personal lives, networking or otherwise, is that we tend to stop the flow of our own what I like to call divine intelligence which is the ability to create something from nothing, the ability to have answers when you didn't even understand what the question was. There's something deeper within us that allows us to be to tap into that. We have to trust ourselves to access it. We're putting our foot on the holes of the Divine or the energetic flow in our lives when we operate in fear and doubt.
Why do we operate in fear and doubt? Why is that our natural behavior?
So I think overall, this may be a very esoteric answer. But I think when it comes to fear and doubt, I think it's been embedded into our culture worldwide, for hundreds, if not thousands of years. If you look back in history, there was always to whatever degree some kind of mythology or religion or whatever else around, something that is fear-based, an entity or energy that will affect you and hurt you and cause you to do things that you don't want to do. What I would say is what I've learned, as I've gotten deeper in my spiritual and faith journey, is that I realize that the only enemy we have is the inner meat. So take the word, enemy, and the "e-n-e" and enemy just replace it with inner, "i-n-n-e-r". The inner me, the unresolved issues, doubts, and feelings of unworthiness and unforgiveness within ourselves cause all the problems in our lives. It's not something on the outside of us to start to get us, it's our negative subconscious programming, which is our habitual behaviors and beliefs. Many times that are not our own, because the subconscious mind is programmed and put into default mode within the first seven years of life because that's our default settings that allow us to survive in our environment. But if we're around negative fearful people, then chances are more than 50%, that we're going to be negative and fearful. Not because we want to, not because we made that decision, but because it was taught, it was trained to us. So that's the nature versus nurture thing and it's so true. But as adults, we have the responsibility to begin to review and assess, why do I think that way? Why do I feel that way about myself or other people or the opportunities in my life? It's not giving me anything, it's not making me feel good, it's not making me feel empowered, or worthy, you’re loved, but I'm constantly thinking and feeling this way. I just encourage people, if you don't like the results that you're getting, you need to do something different. The question is, what is that, and that's why I teach on the subconscious mind. Because that goes into root cause analysis that you can do on your own. I'm not saying you shouldn't seek therapy if you need it. I'm not saying that. I'm all for that as well. But we have the ability to go into our own deeper mind, identify the negative thoughts, feelings, and ideas, and then be able to say, wait a minute, 95% of these things, is crap that I picked up growing up, that I don't really like the way that my influencers believed and thought, it doesn't make me feel good. Now, it's tough for me to do something different. I no longer think that I have to work twice as hard because I'm a minority, quote, unquote, in this country. Because the idea and the etymology when you think about working twice as hard, what does that tell your subconscious mind? What is that informing your life energy? Give me more struggle, because I must work twice as hard. As opposed to saying I can do whatever I want. I can be whomever I want to be in this life and I demand success. The universe tends to give you what you believe to be true for yourself in your life.
Can you go a little bit deeper into how the subconscious ties into what you do and why it’s so important to you?
I will say, first and foremost, the reason why I concluded after years and years of study, is this: In my personal life I had many challenges to that face, like everyone else. So when I thought of difficult things, it was just my challenges that I thought were hard and tough and difficult and all that stuff. As I began to come through those and begin to learn from our mistakes, and to grow personally and professionally, the one promise I made to myself is that once I get to the deepest root cause understanding of why this needed to happen in my life, I will never go through this again. These things wouldn't happen again. I felt the pain and the frustration and the fear long enough. Once I get this stuff figured out within myself, I will never let this happen again because I've already learned my lesson. I don't have to do it again, right? So from a subconscious perspective, the reason why that is a core teaching of mine is, first of all, I learned what is called a psychologically The Law of Mind. Many great thinkers have talked about this in different ways, but The Law of Mind can be summarized in this phrase: What you think you feel, what you feel you imagine, and what you imagine you become. So what it does is give you a roadmap to how manifestation occurs in your life. First and foremost is thought. Second is your feelings or your emotions, your emotional nature and we all know if you cannot control your emotions. You can't be successful without having control of your emotions, being able to be patient, and be able not to respond to every negative thing that people quote, unquote, try to bring at you. The last piece is imagination. Albert Einstein, one of his most famous quotes, and I'd never heard until about two years ago, states, "Imagination is more important, the knowledge, knowledge is limited but imagination circles the globe." What he was blatantly saying was that when he could not find the answers, he had to go and tap into the infinite ocean of possibility, which is his imagination, that can create something from nothing. To go and pull something from this invisible place, and bring it into his awareness, write it down on paper, work it out in his lab and create something that never existed before. So I want to go back to thought quickly, thought is so important, because thought, as Dr. Joseph Murphy stated, his first cause in our lives, meaning. If we want to see the root cause of any issue in our lives, based on who we perceive it to be, check your thoughts. It's a guarantee that if you check your thoughts, your thoughts have been in the equivalent, negative or fearful or doubtful. Because you thought it and went into your emotional nature, which began to impact your vision for the future, or your regrets of the past, in your mind's eye, your visual faculty, and that is causing the results in your life to perpetuate you doing positive outcomes or negative outcomes. So when we know that, then we can become conscious creators. That is why people need to know how not why. If you have some negative subconscious programming, those negative words are going to say, yes, that's exactly it, you're not good enough. But the truth is, once you understand how our mind works, thoughts, feelings, imagination, follow the trail, identify these areas in your life, and you will get the answers to almost every problem. It's so important because once you know, then it takes away fear. You don't have to be afraid of the things that aren't working out. Check your emotions, get them under control, stop being so impatient, stop being so scared, being afraid, is never giving you anything. When you calm your emotion, now you can think clearly and then you can begin to say, I'm going to control my imagination on what I see. I now decide to see myself in a better place than I am because I'm calm and now I can hear the intuition and now I'm beginning to get that insight. Then you get that Albert Einstein effect where imagination is more important knowledge and that you are creating or manifesting what you want. It's not magic, it's science.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking experiences that you've had?
Yeah, I would say one of the best networking experiences that I ever had was when I was still living in Houston, Texas, where I grew up. I was at a networking event, while I was in a program that was offered through the Greater Houston African American Chamber called the Houston Black Leadership Institute. So they always had great business leaders come in to talk to us at all kinds of events, like black state senators from this from the state would be there. I just remember my first networking event, I walked in there, and I saw at the time was state representative Sylvester Turner. I saw Sheila Jackson Lee there, I saw senator Boris Miles. People that I've seen on TV only and I even knew who they were already especially the ones that I named others had no research, we were researching all these photos. I was like, "I've learned all these things about who they are, but I don't know what to ask them." What I wanted to ask them was how they were so successful, but of course, I had to kind of synthesize that and figure out how to ask that to them and have a good conversation. So I did okay the first time around, but what it showed me is, is that no matter who is in the room, the networking event, either I believe in myself, and I believe that I deserve to be in that room or not. If I believe I deserve to be in that room, virtually or in person, I'm going to go in there and make some great connections, and have some follow-ups. If I don't go in there with the inner belief and confidence, then I'm not going to go in there and be my best version and make as many connections as I could. So that experience taught me that fear could not be a part of my networking experience, or it would be a waste of my time, or simply just not as effective as it could have been. Not just to get something out of it, but I could be connecting with people who I can help, or who could help me learn and grow. That's what it's all about, relationships are king. Your network will always be very closely aligned with your net worth. If you are friends and associated with highly successful people who are multimillionaires, over time, you will naturally flow into that because you have an energetic connection with those kinds of people who think in a certain kind of way, which results in financial success, peace of mind, harmonious relationships. You have to get your energetic connection or harmony with the state of being or reality that you want in order to get it. Networking is a great way to do it because there tend to be people who are further ahead than you, that are closer to where you want to be or where you want to be, and if you can connect with them, you're also connecting with your future vision, because it's an opportunity to learn what it is to be in their operation You see how they're calm or how they're kind of fitting in or whatever else, and you begin to mimic that which is retraining your subconscious mind. So networking is not just to meet people, networking is harmonizing towards your future vision, especially when there are individuals that are in alignment with that. Make sure that when you're networking that you have at least five people that you are making your business connect with before you leave there. You may not get all five, but if you get three of them, and they're in alignment with where you want to go, and what you need to learn, wow, what could that mean for you? You do that five times in a full year, that's 15 new connections that are going to help you go directly towards where you want to go, or at least point you in the right direction. What could that mean for you in a year's time? That could be a promotion, starting a business, start investing in real estate, you'd have no idea, there's infinite potential out there. Remember what Albert Einstein said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." So you don't have to know everything, just believe that is possible and go in there with that intention, and let it flow. You'll be in good shape.
How do you best stay in front of and nurture this community in your network that you create?
For me, it's been interesting since COVID. Before I was just having coffees and or breakfast meetings, I'll just say connected with people that have become friends, or that I want to cultivate relationships with. What I would say what I've had to do is to create one on one zoom chats. So LinkedIn has been key to just reach out to people because it's for business purposes and it's for business setup. If you don't have their contact information, LinkedIn is great, but if you do, of course, you can reach out to them directly and set up coffee meet-ups. A lot of times what I've noticed that there have been mastermind groups and things like that, which are just groups of people who are like-minded, who truly jam out on growth mindset type of ideas, or, or investments or business or whatever. As you connect with those individuals, you will find out over time, I can promise you that mastermind groups and other little small groups that are meeting stay connected. Once you get invited into those circles, once again, it would be the equivalent that was happening in person. So that's a way to kind of stay in front of people.
Can you look back at your 20-year-old self right now and let me know what would you tell yourself if you do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I would probably be telling myself to keep your head up and to trust yourself more. I would say around 20 years old was when a lot of the tumultuous learnings began to happen in my life. That time of my life showed me that who I truly was was formless and I had no limitation. It just took me a while to see that, as I would simply just tell myself to relax, and trust yourself. Things are not just going to be fine, but they're going to be amazing. I probably would have also written down the Law of Mind. What you think you feel, what you feel you imagine, what you imagine you become, and say, "I want you to read this five times a day, for the next two months, every single day, read it and continue to meditate on it, and continue to let that phrase resonate with you. What does that really mean for you?" And I won't even give them the answer. Let that resonate because that once again, who was the key to seeing the path to peace of mind, and mental and emotional freedom which is unlocked so much greater success in other areas of my life, relationally and professionally. Now I can believe in myself and I can check myself when I need to get back in gear as opposed to having to blame other people to argue other people down or point the finger at other people. No, it is me that needs to change, not anybody else, because I can't control them, but I can control me.
Do you have any final words of advice for our listeners?
I would just say final words around networking in general, put yourself out there, take the risk. It's a risk to get out of bed, you can roll your ankle, it's a risk to go outside and hop in the car, you can get into a car wreck. But once again, you're not thinking about that, you're living your life. You're doing the best you can with what you have and you'll continue to expand your knowledge and experience to be able to be better and better and better. Put yourself out there, nothing bad is going to happen. The best thing that will happen quote-unquote or the worst thing that will happen is that you learn. Good, better, and different, you will learn. These are opportunities so the more you put yourself out there, the more opportunities you have to learn from the good and the quote-unquote bad. But remember, look at those as opportunities to get better and before you know it, you will begin to master that practice and the more authentic self that you bring to the table each and every time that your network, the more you will connect with the right people who have the right context, who will take you to the right places to get the right results. And you'll be able to do the same thing for other people. That is when what they call serendipity or being in flow happens is when you stop thinking about it and just trust yourself and let it happen. Take action consistently towards your goal to what you want and you will see such a drastic change in your life, you will think that either it's magic, or you got lucky. It's not luck though, it's operating under universal law and that starts first and foremost with trusting yourself. Networking is just an extension of who you are becoming so let that be a part of the amazing powerful being in result.
Connect with William
Jamila is a personal branding strategist and coach from Trinidad and Tobago. She works with entrepreneurs who want to market their businesses by leading from the front with thought leadership and personal branding. She focuses on helping people create strong personal brands by improving three big C's. They are shifting mindsets and creating a strategy so they can be more confident about their next move.
I'm curious about your three big C's, can you talk about that a bit?
So my three big C's in terms of personal branding. It's confidence, content, and communication. The reason I narrowed down to these three C's is that personal branding, first of all, is so broad. I find it important to focus on these three areas because the people I work with tend to lack these three things the most. So the first thing is people feeling more confident to declare themselves as the expert that they are. So they may be doing their thing, they may have been serving their clients or selling or whatever the case may be. But now they've gone to a space where they have to be a lot more open and out there with that message. So it's helping them do the things prepare themselves in such a way so that they can actually be more confident about stepping out into the market and owning their position. The second thing is having people being smarter with content, and leveraging the things that they would have learned already foresee, which would include more strategic thoughts and direction, etc. to inform the content that they're putting out there so that they can use it to position themselves as the expert, like the goto person in the industry. The third is helping people become better communicators. So if you don't understand things like inbox etiquette, you know, how do you actually engage people with direct messaging in a way that is not creepy or gross? How to look for potential partners because of course, with personal branding, a huge part of that is networking and expanding your work or your quote-unquote Rolodex. But expanding that as much as possible, not just with people who you can sell to, but people with who you can partner with. So I help people and I also help them leverage media to be able to get themselves onto shows like this. So podcasts and web shows on any other form of media. The main thing is to be able to increase their credibility and put them in a position to be seen as the go-to person in their field so they can own a space and own that position in the market.
Do you think branding is more valuable now than it was 20 years ago before social media?
Yes, I think it is more valuable. I think it's just as valuable as it used to be, but I just think that more people are catching on though I do recognize that. Technology has in a sense flattened the media landscape. So before where there were like a lot of gatekeepers to be the ones to decide who would get on TV, who would get coverage in a newspaper or in a magazine or get on a radio show. Now we don't have to rely on media anymore to give us a chance we can't actually create our own space. So it has now become more imperative for individuals or people or companies to know who they are and how they stand out in the market. It's no longer enough to rely on just word of mouth because you're dealing with so many amazing people who are now coming out onto the market and stepping into this space. Even if you are great where you are, being where you are only is not enough. So recognizing the need for branding and personal branding has become supercritical in our very flattened media landscape.
What type of person is typically more successful at using personal branding as a marketing strategy for their business?
So the type of person who is committed to the cause, the type of person who is ready to step off into the audience and understand the power of influence, so they believe, and they understand the power of already engaging people and they know the power of relationships. So there are some people who may be less inclined to do things like that, and they're more quick kind of want to be in and out, or there are some people who may be more of the introverted type and they may not necessarily want to leverage something like personal branding in the traditional way. But the person who would really enjoy this type of marketing, because I don't want anybody to necessarily do something that they don't like, right. So the person who would enjoy it is somebody who understands the power of influence, somebody who is ready to step out and find somebody who is about service because this type of marketing strategy really is rooted in you understanding the need to serve others first, and then being able to reap the benefits of it on your business. Second, so you're ready, but they have to put in your time. It's almost like you're planting seeds and we're given that those seeds time to mature into trees, and then they give you the fruit. So those are the type of people who would really benefit from that. You've got to be willing to put in the work, you've got to be willing to serve first, you have to be willing to go out there and meet people and you really must understand the power of influence and how it can actually create momentum and a very long-standing and solid foundation for your brand.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking stories or experiences that you've had?
I think some of my favorites definitely are the ones prior to COVID when I would actually go out and leave my house. Those things tend to make conversations a lot more easily because people would have met me, or they would have come across my content somewhere maybe on social media or maybe on the TV. One of the things that happened recently is last year, I wrote a book, and one of the local newspapers here did a story on me and I was on the cover of the magazine. They used my picture, or the cover the issue I was on to advertise for the newspaper. Every time at a certain time of day, they would run this particular ad. I didn't have a TV at the time so I never actually saw the ad. Then I would go to places and people look at me like "You were in this ad!" and I would be like, "What are these people talking about?" This guy actually messaged me on LinkedIn and he said, "I felt I had a divine moment," I was like, "What do you mean?" And he said, "Well, I saw your picture come up on LinkedIn, and other suggested contact and I thought you looked interesting so I added you and then I go and sit in for my TV and I see you on my TV and same exact dress and I felt like it was a divine sign from above to add and talk to you on LinkedIn." So I wound up agreeing to talk and so that's actually one of my favorite stories.
How do you best nurture these relationships that you've created?
Most of my nurturing kind of happens online now. Before I when I go to events where people would be so practical. We had LinkedIn Local which was very active here in Trinidad and Tobago. But now that we are basically digital, I mentioned, I engage with people's content online, I reach out every so often and send them private messages. Just like if I have friends, or if I have close contact, I would definitely reach out to them from time to time. For those I really want to be able to engage with I might send them a personalized email, maybe give them a call, or send them a WhatsApp message, or I definitely like to send voice notes as well. So I think it's important to personalize messages and to connect with people from time to time to let them know that you remember them, particularly if you see that they have achieved something significant. So we have these congratulatory notes that you could actually send the people when they would have gotten a promotion and so on. But instead of sending a generic note, I will actually call them or I will send them a personalized video congratulating them or something like that. That tends to be almost like a surprise to them so that's when I keep my relationships alive. I also partner with people as much as possible for them to create different pieces of content.
What advice would you have for that business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
I'd say be open-minded. Be open to meeting people from all walks of life as you will meet people from all walks of life. I'd also say to be proactive. Don't wait for somebody to reach out to you or think that your content may be quote-unquote selling itself or speaking for itself. Your job is always to take the bull by the horns, and be proactive in seeking out people. So every day making sure to do something to engage with new people and show up in a personable way. Don't try to shortcut the process. Don't try to automate things. Please don't try to automate relationships, it doesn't work like that. Put in the effort, be proactive and I guarantee you you have seen the fruits of your labor come before you.
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 personal career?
I'd tell myself to manage your money better so that you can do more things in the future. You don't have to buy every new pair of shoes you see. I'd tell myself in terms of my personal brand, just be more proud and be more brave. I think I tell myself that too because I think in our 20s a lot of us second guess ourselves. I would say be more brave and, pursue more opportunities. Talk to people that you want to talk to, don't assume that they may not want to speak to you or don't assume that it may be an unpleasant experience. Be less afraid and be more brave and score your opportunities.
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?
There's a guy called Paul Carrack Brunson who was somebody who worked with Oprah. I really love her style of content, I love the things that he advocates for. I know he's not very far away in terms of degrees of separation, but I don't know what it is. I probably need to be more aggressive and take my own advice to be more brave in order to connect with him.
Do you have any final words of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I'd say as I said before, just be proactive and take it one day at a time. Plant your seeds, allow them to bear fruit, don't be that person who's constantly staring at the dirt, hoping that some sort of food comes out. Other than that, look for ways and if you can come up with new ways to establish a relationship because after all, it is about building relationships. Everything wouldn't start in the same way, but the better you are at initiating that contact, and the more times you do it, the better you become, the more you'd find that your network expands and you'll be connected with people who are not just valuable from the point of view, who can buy from you but really good people who are just great people to know and potentially partner with and you may even find yourself with a few new friends as well. So I'd say go for it, just keep at it and you'll definitely see the fruits of your labor!
Connect with Jamila
Jamila’s website: https://jbannisterbranding.com/
He is the founder of The Reshoring Initiative after being president of GF Machining Solutions for 22 years. Awards include Industry Week's Manufacturing Hall of Fame, he's participated actively in President Obama's January 11, 2012, Insourcing Forum, member of the Department of Commerce Investment Advisory Council. He's frequently been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, New York Times, New Yorker, and USA Today and seen on Fox Business Market Watch and other programs. Harry has a BS and MS in Engineering from MIT and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Harry, welcome to the show.
Can you share a little bit about what the mission of The Reshoring Initiative is?
So we're a nonprofit and our mission is to bring 5 million manufacturing jobs to the US from offshore by a combination of reshoring by US companies, and FDI, foreign direct investment by foreign companies. We picked 5 million because that's the amount it would take to balance the trade deficit, the goods trade deficit so that then our imports and exports would be about equal so to our mission is to increase our manufacturing by about 40%. So to recover what we've lost from the increasing trade deficit over the last 40 years.
Has the current state with the pandemic been a positive or negative impact on your mission?
For our work, our revenue has quadrupled, because companies now realize that it's too dangerous, too risky to be so dependent on offshore, especially China. What we do is show them that they can make products here in many cases and be at least equally profitable. So so we overcome that. "Well, I'd love to make it here, but I can't afford to", we overcome that issue.
So I want to talk a little bit about this trade deficit. Why does the US have a trade deficit problem?
Your trade balance is the difference between your exports and your imports. So we import $800 billion a year more than we export and that's because our costs, our prices are too high here. We have a method to compare pricing in the US and other countries and our price leaving the factory is about 20% higher than Europe, and about 40% higher than China, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, and consumer wants to buy something inexpensively, the company goes work and get at least expensively and as a result, we have a trade deficit. In classical economics, that should go away quickly because the currency should adjust. If you have a big trade deficit, your currency should go down in value versus other currencies and that would make you more competitive or competitive once again, and the trade deficit would go away. But the US is the reserve currency, and having the banks and institutions where foreigners want to store their money for safety, all those trillions of dollars flowing in forces the dollar up instead of having the goods trade deficit adjust. So one of the things we recommend is to have the US Government Act reduce the value of the dollar by 20, or 30% so that our companies would once again be competitive.
How can our listeners help you achieve these goals here?
If they work for a manufacturing company of any kind, or distributor of goods, or retailer, they could suggest to the company producing or sourcing more in the country. Our tools are helpful, for that we have the TCL estimator that helps the company do the math correctly on the costs associated with importing or exporting, and therefore that would be helpful for their companies also useful for selling. So for the small company to convince this customer to buy from them instead of importing, for example. But also, as consumers, when they're out looking to buy something, they should at least look a little bit, spend a little time looking for the Made in USA product. One of the things I wrote recently is, a lot of people are out buying things just because it's fun to buy things. If you're buying something, not because you need it, but just for the pleasure of buying it, then wait until you can find something made in the USA that you could buy that you don't need instead of something made in China that you don't need.
Can you share with our listeners your most successful or favorite networking experience that you've had?
I've got a couple. First I was at a Hawaii located annual convention of the National Tooling and Machining Association and I'm standing there at the reception one night, I'm talking to bill and Dwayne comes over and Dwayne says, "Bill, don't let Harry take you to dinner," and Bill said, "Why not? He's a nice enough guy," and then Dwayne say, "Well, about four years ago, Harry took Shirly and me to dinner and since then, we've bought $4 million worth of his machines." In the last case, I was at a wedding. Like a nice, fancy Country Club, very nice. I went over to her mother and said, "Anybody here in manufacturing? "I'm tired of talking to lawyers and doctors." Someone named John said they were in manufacturing. I talked to john learned about his company and they were planning to get an EDM machine, that's like, $150,000. I said, "Okay, we'll be in touch," and so in our newsletter that month, I talked about the wedding lead, and then about two months later, I talked about the wedding order that we had got because of the lead I got at the wedding. I said, "For all the salesmen out there, I'm selling at the wedding, make sure you're at least selling 40 hours a week out in your job."
Let's talk about nurturing your network. Regardless of the size, small or large, it's extremely important to stay in front of that community that you've created. How do you do that?
Traditionally, I did it in person, because when I was president of the company, I spent a third of my time visiting customers and prospective customers, going to trade shows, etc. so I met 1000s and 1000s of people. Since then, still a lot of conferences until COVID. Last year, I did 60 podcasts and webinars and this year, I've already got 23 signed up for 2021. So getting in front of them that way and then I get interviewed maybe once a week by the media, we put out an article of some kind every week that gets published. Then everything that we put out, and everything that gets written about us when we get interviewed we post on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, what have you. Sometimes we'll post an article and get 3000 views, something like that.
What advice would you offer to business professionals looking to grow their network?
Once we get back to in person, you know, the physical being with them with each other, work for the crowd, what I call continuously but gently. So when I'm at a conference and there's a reception, people will come over to me and say, "Harry, you're the best networker we've ever seen." So I have a methodology of coming up to people saying, hello, introducing myself, and then I focus first on them. I get them to tell me what they do, all that kind of stuff. It doesn't take long takes it two minutes, three minutes to learn enough. So then I can offer them some advice, offer them a lead, offer them an introduction, offer them something of value. Then when I get around to telling them what I do, I've earned their trust and their interest. Therefore, we've established a relationship. Seek to give before you receive maybe would be sort of a biblical way of looking at it.
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 got the engineering degrees at MIT. In some ways, I'd have been better off if I like done an apprenticeship first because I'm not very hands-on. People say you're an MIT engineer, fix my bicycle and I don't know. So if I'd had two years or four years of hands-on making things I think I'd have been a better engineer because of that. On the other hand, it would have been quite a detour in my career and I probably wouldn't have achieved everything I've achieved. So it would have been different, but that's one of the things I have thought about.
Let's talk about the six degrees of separation. If there's any person that specifically that you'd love to connect with, and how do you think you'd go about doing that?
At the moment, President Biden. So anybody out there that knows him, I'd appreciate the introduction or someone who knows someone who's on his staff. I did an article for Industry Week recently critiquing Trump's results and Biden's proposals from the viewpoint of reshoring, what will bring the manufacturing jobs back best to the country. I agreed with some of Biden's plans and disagreed with others and I'm convinced that his team does not fully understand the underlying root cause problems and we'd love to help them with that. I did meet with Obama, in a meeting at the White House. I tried to get to Trump but I never succeeded, even though he said he wanted the things that we want, but it never happened. So I'm reaching out to Biden through sort of peripheral contacts that have sought our advice for the campaign and say, "Okay, I gave you the advice now, this time to give us some access." We'll see what happens.
Do you have any final word or advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
My advice would be to read the book I’m currently reading. It's called The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov and it's based 1000s of years into the future, and there's the human humanity has spread out over the galaxy. There's one world that's the world where the Emperor lives and the whole world covered with steel and 100 billion people live there, but the infrastructure and the organization is starting to decline and they're worried about eventually the whole thing coming apart and riots and rebellion and looting and everything else. But the main character, Harry Selden, has developed psychohistory in which he forecasts what will happen in the future of mankind, and how to adjust that so that it comes out more favorably. So it's a great mind-expanding series for anybody that that would find science fiction to be worth reading.
Connect with Harry:
Email Harry and include “Social Capital” in the subject line if you have any questions!
Growing tired of the corporate grind, Mike and his co-founder Kevin started their digital marketing agency, Prime Digital. Four and a half years later, Prime Digital helps small businesses all over the US and Canada attract more customers through search engine optimization, and web design, among other things. Going into 2021 they focused on making business owners aware of ADA compliance and how it can protect their business and help them save money.
What is website accessibility and ADA compliance?
So website accessibility has to do with making your website accessible to everybody, whether they have some form of disability or not, whether they're blind, colorblind, some kind of motor impairment. ADA compliance is basically making sure that your website complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. If somebody's using a screen reader, or if they need to adjust the size of the font on your website, or change the color contrast, whatever makes it easier for them to read it and navigate it, and clearly understand the information on your website, is really what it comes down to. That's what we're trying to spread awareness on nowadays, I would say around 20% of America has some form of disability like that. So we don't want to exclude a fifth of the country from the internet and websites and access to everyday needs, everybody uses the internet. So we want to make sure that it's accessible to everyone.
Why is ADA compliance beneficial to the small business owner?
So it's beneficial to them because if you decide to take some actions in making your website's ADA compliant, the government will give you half of what you spend up to $10,250 back in the form of a tax credit at the end of the year. You do have to be eligible for it so as a small business, you can qualify in one of two ways. You can either have less than 30 full-time employees or be doing under a million dollars a year in annual revenue. If you meet either one of those and if you spend five grand, eight grand, whatever it is, you'll receive half of that spend back in tax credit and you can get that every year that you're eligible for it.
What can business owners do to be compliant?
So I would reach out to a web design agency that can support this, make sure that they understand some of the laws, there's a lot of resources out there. You can use accessibility.com as a good one to catch up and learn a little bit more about what it entails and that's really the first place to start.
I've seen a number of widgets and plugins, to support some of that. Is that what you recommend or is it more of a custom-coded experience to be accessible?
Yeah, so there are a lot of those out there. Unfortunately, there really aren't any shortcuts to compliance. There's a lot of big companies, you'd be surprised that might throw in a plugin, or use one of these overlay tools, but it's not enough to get you in 100% compliance. There are going to be things that people could still poke at and find that might be an issue. There are some evaluation tools that we use to uncover some of those areas of opportunity to clean up the website a little bit. We want to avoid plugins and things like that. It's building a website, it might be a little bit of code, but for the most part, it's just a regular web builder that we can use and making sure that we're following the checklist and making sure that everything that you want on your website is going to be compliant.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking stories or experiences that you've had?
So I belong to a CrossFit gym which is a little bit different than Planet Fitness, or like LA Fitness or something like that, where you go to the gym and you don't talk to anybody, you just kind of workout in. CrossFit is a little bit more personable and I've been going to that same gym for probably seven to eight years now with the same people and working out with them every day. So you obviously get to know these people, they're friends, and I had an opportunity probably four or five years ago. One of the coaches there had a boot camp workout type of class, and I had an opportunity to build a website for her. Once I did that I was able to build rebuild a new design for my gym’s website. Then when people started to get wind of who did these websites, people had no idea what I was doing, they would just see me at the gym, they were asking about work. So once I started to find out that I was the guy for web design, or SEO, or marketing, it just brought me some opportunities to network with people that are in my gym because are business professionals that go there. Myself and a few others that were doing business together, and we worked out together, we ended up starting our own networking group that was a little bit more laid back, not so uptight, just more getting people that we knew could benefit from networking with each other. We had relationships with other people and we started to organically build our own networking group. We all had our own relationships so we would go out and support each other as fundraisers or other networking events that they belong to, stuff for their own companies. We would just kind of be a team and put ourselves in positions of meeting people that we knew each other and wanted to be business with. So it was just an easier way to network. I enjoyed networking in that way, where you weren't pressured to, like, show up at an event and create a relationship out of thin air. You had people that you knew, you're going to these events with your friends, basically. So it was a little bit more organic, and it was just a nice way to develop relationships that way.
How do you nurture these relationships that you've created?
I guess it's a combination of things. I think the go-to for everybody's pretty much social media, especially now with not being able to network as often and especially in person you try to post a little bit more, you know, maybe on Facebook, or Instagram. So on the social media site, I tried to do a mix of that. I'll record a video, post it on LinkedIn, post it in some groups, maybe post some case studies. Probably my best networking tip, in general, is just giving a lot more than you take. It's a back and forth relationship, but you really are in the business of helping people that's just going to be natural and you're just going to naturally want to help people and just give as much as you can, and that's eventually going to come back around to you. It's a lot more than just doing the posting and just hoping the content gets out there. Go out on LinkedIn, see what other people are posting. Can you leave a comment? Can you chime in or engage with their content? Can you share it? Little things like that go a long way for people, especially on a platform like LinkedIn where organic reach is so much more powerful than a Facebook where you're not really reaching as much of your followers as you would think. Even just a few likes and comments and shares, could really spread to a few 100 people, so you never know who that's going to be put in front of. So when it comes to that, I try to just see what other people are doing and repost their content or leave a comment with advice or answer a question. I think that's the best way to nurture your network. Going back to the organic thing, you're not actively looking for business. Just helping people is going to lead to those opportunities to get there.
What advice would you have for those professionals that want to grow their network?
So advice like that, I would say don't beat around the bush. If you're trying to get something out of networking, or you're having conversations with people, you want to be upfront. You don't want to schmooze them too much, you want to build a genuine relationship and you want to say, "Hey, here's what I do, these are the types of people like to do business with," and really, just make them a friend. People like to do business with people they already know that they know, like, and trust. So you want to check off each one of those boxes before even mentioning like, "Hey, let's hop on a call," or offer some kind of business. It's so much easier to get behind a friend than it is a total stranger so if you can genuinely make that type of relationship happen and support each other that way then the networking and business aspect is going to go a lot farther than it would when you just try to jam up instead of thin air like I was talking about earlier. The other thing I would advise is to go to who has your customers. Who already has your client base that you can speak with and benefit from a relationship with and see how you guys can help each other out?
If I was 20 again, I would tell myself to just be a little smarter, invest a little bit more in myself, take better care of myself, too. Because at that age you can get away with, you know, running yourself into the ground. You've got a ton of energy, but you forget the developing skills par that's definitely super important. I would tell myself to spend more time on developing my computer skills, my personal skills, getting better at just building rapport, and developing relationships. Those are obviously some important things that if you're able to do early on in your career, it's just going to make you look like a professional. If you develop those skills early on, it's gonna make you seen a little bit more mature, and people are going to want to do business with you. But just being smart and taking care of your body. Maybe reading more, developing little habits like that, that is absolutely going to set yourself apart from everybody else. At that age, everyone is probably partying and not taking school seriously are things like that. I know that was me and if I had even just tweaked a couple of little things like getting out of bed earlier, something like that. I think would impact where you're at 10 years later.
Let's talk about the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you love to connect with and do you think you could do it within the sixth degree?
I had trouble narrowing it down to one person, I did get it down to two. They kind of overlap a little bit. So I'm actually, I'm still in mourning, but I'm a big Kansas City Chiefs fan even though I'm in New York. I've been a fan my whole life, and we just got destroyed in Super Bowl. I would love to meet or have a conversation with Patrick Mahomes. But I would probably narrow it down between him or Paul Rudd. He's hilarious and is probably my favorite actor. I think if I like to ask around, I could probably connect with somebody in the NFL somewhere around here, that could probably connect to another guy that's played with somebody that's played with someone on the Chiefs maybe that I can even get in touch with maybe Mahomes. Or even get in touch with somebody on the Chiefs that knows Paul Rudd. I think that could be done in six degrees, I'd really have to figure out who the best resource that would be, but I think it is possible.
Any final words of advice offer listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Yeah, it's pretty simple. You don't get we don't ask for so don't be afraid to comment on some of these posts, or share it, or ask them if they know somebody. You're there to help people and if you can do that, they're going to help you right back because it's a cyclical thing. There's so much stuff going on that the more positivity that you can put out there, I think it just works exponentially. You spread it here and there, and people are going to do the same for others. So don't be afraid to put yourself out there, and you never know what you're gonna get back.
Connect with Mike:
Phone Number: 516-500-1080
Mike is the CEO of People Building Incorporated and the powerhouse behind the What Are You Made of Movement. He is a performance coach, author, dynamic public speaker, visionary, and thought leader. He has been featured by Yahoo Finance as one of the top business leaders to follow in 2020 and is on a mission to build people. He is driven to inspire others and he measures his success on how he is able to help others achieve greatness. C-Roc had a fire lit in him at an early age, that fire has ignited him with a fierce desire to compel people to see the greatness inside themselves using past life events to fuel their fire.
I'm really curious about everything that you've got around this, what are you made of movement, so let me just ask you, what are you made of?
People ask me that all the time so I'm gonna do my best with this. I'm made of rocket fuel. I'm a go, go, go kind of guy, I have a saying, thrust is a must, go forward fast. So that also leads me into times where I need to focus on taking a step back and breathing sometimes so I just recently got into meditation. But the reason I made a rocket fuel is that I came up with this concept. I'll tell you a quick story, coming from a broken home and not remembering my parents together, I went through a lot of conflict as a child with this. For three years I lived with my dad and during that period of time, my dad got remarried, and anytime you have Child Support, custody battle things, Stepparents involved, other agendas, you know, there's conflict. As a kid, you're the main link between your parents, for them to even have to talk anymore, and sometimes that can carry a heavy burden. During that time I went through a lot of mental abuse, psychological abuse, threats, and things that no kid should ever deal with. I'm not telling you this to feel sorry for me to play victim, I just want to share with you where this rocket fuel law came from. But when I'd had enough at one point, when I turned about 10, and a half or 11 years old, and I was coming home from my mom's house one weekend, and I said, "I'm not feeling right," and she goes, "What's the matter? You seem anxious." We were going over these hills on these really hilly roads in southeastern Pennsylvania and I was afraid to tell her actually. When you go through abuse, it's a tough situation to come out about it, because you're afraid of what may happen, what might happen, or if anybody's gonna believe you. So I ended up telling her and she said, "That's not normal, Mikey, you don't need to go through that, that's not something you should be dealing with." She ended up filing court papers, she told me at that time that you need to stick to your guns if I do this because she didn't want to go through all that and have me change my mind. But she also told me that in life, you need to stick to your guns when you believe in something because if you don't, then what's going to happen is people will try to change your mind or beliefs based on their own agenda or to justify their position in life. So it was a lesson I carry to this day about sticking to my guns and being stubborn. So when my dad finally got the court papers served to him I was coming home from school one day and it's a day that I dreaded waited for a long time didn't know when it was coming. My dad, who was my hero had a masonry business, big forearms, rough hands. I always looked up to him for how hard of a worker he was, he always carried $100 bills in his pocket with a rubber band around it and I thought that was the coolest thing because he used to flash it and show us what we got with money. It wasn't about greed or anything, it was just cool, you know. So when I confirmed he asked me if I really wanted to move back with my mom, and I remember her telling me to stick to my guns. He said, your mom doesn't have it that well, like, why would you want to go there? They don't have any money, you have everything you need here, and that I must be must have been blinded to the fact of what was going on. I said, "No I made my decision up." He said, "Okay," so he takes that $100 bills out of his pocket, peel one-off, crumple it up, and throw it at me and said, "You're going to need this then when you're living on the streets with your mother." So the reason I tell you that story is because at that moment, the stubbornness kicked in, and I'm like, there's no way I'm gonna need that I got this. I'm 11 years old thinking I'm gonna take over the world, where that came from, that's another story. But I just knew that no, I'm not gonna need that you're wrong. This is not the way somebody should live and so that sparked the fire in me, though, that sparks something. So for 30, some years, I've been living off of this thing where I'm going to prove him wrong, I'm going to show him. So everything I did, I always tried to be the best of my graph. If you're looking at a line graph, you want to gradually uptick in your graph. That's a healthy graph of production or relationship, worth or, taking care of yourself. I looked at my graphs and they were always going up. Two years ago, I assessed this. I'm like, what makes me different than anyone else? Why are some people struggling all the time and on a rollercoaster ride, and here, my graphs always keep going up? I gotta figure this out because if I can bottle it, and reverse engineer it, I can teach people this, and I can change the world. So I basically looked back and said, it's this fire, this fuel. I'm turning everything that comes my way that would stop most people or slow them down and I would store it in my tank instead of my trunk, where it would weigh me down. I was stored in my tank, where I could convert it to rocket fuel for my future. I've come up with this thing where, I call it a law now because it's a proactive approach to handling setbacks, difficulties, let downs, disappointments. If you can prepare yourself properly to be able to handle anything that comes your way that would normally stop and slow you down and converted into rocket fuel, you can become unstoppable. So that's where the rocket fuel thing came from, when you asked me what I'm made of, that's where it comes from. I'm living a living demonstration of this, I don't just talk about it, I live it. If anybody's around me, they know, I'm an animal when it comes to getting things done. I go forward, fast, thrust is a must. Anything that comes my way, I don't get upset about it, I see it as an opportunity. As long as I'm living and I want to live, every experience is worth going through and so I use it as training or fuel to move forward.
I go fast, hard, but then at some point, like the fuel is burnt out. So you believe that you have an endless supply of fuel?
Well, yeah, because my stepdad George, stepped in when I was 11. He showed me what it meant to be a man and, George wasn't really good with money, getting money. He was good with stretching money for a long way. He lived off a little bit of money. But for my whole life, he was really hard on us, not physically, but making sure we understood right from wrong and the lessons we're going to need to learn in life. AHe passed away in January 2019 suddenly have a heart attack and at that moment, I wasn't ready for my mentor to go I was 40 something but still was wanting a mentor. But it was time for us to move to another mentor and at that moment where he passed about two weeks later, I felt his energy come inside of me. My brother Casey, we talked about this because see, George was a really passionate guy. George would sit on a couch at a party and be real quiet, but then if you got talking about football, baseball, hunting, fishing, whatever, crabbing, which we do in Maryland, he would jump off the couch like a madman and I get in your face and it was in a brutal, deep voice and everybody would be thrown back by but he's so passionate. I felt this passion somewhere around two weeks after he passed come into me and now it feels like I really don't get burnt out. I sleep seven to eight hours a day so when I go to bed like I lay down to watch a show with my wife, I don't make it to the show, I go out and then I wake up early, ready to go and once I'm up, I'm going. My mission is so powerful. Some days are better than others, of course, but I just don't have an energy limit. I don't believe in limits. I believe that you can have all the energy you want as long as you get your seven to eight hours of sleep, eat well, take care of your body, meditate. I really think that meditating is a good thing that I needed. I started to look at areas where I needed to prove and that was one area I thought I could benefit from so I spent some time with a guy that taught me how to meditate.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking experiences or stories that you've had?
I do a lot of outreach via social media, whether it's Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram. I have a DM campaign where I direct messaged people that I would want to connect with. I throw a big net, actually. It's targeted in a way, but I throw a pretty big net and the reason I do that is because I know there's somebody out there that I can help make a difference too. And of course, vice versa, there's somebody out there that can help me through challenges or problems, or have a big impact together. So one day, I got an Instagram message back from a guy named Jared. So I sent him a DM he answers, we end up doing an Instagram Live. His name's Jared Yellin, we did this live and we connected right away, and we're like, what the heck, this is cool. So I told him my purpose, he told me what he does, and come to find out we're now partners in a tech company that could be sold for billions. By the way, I'm not a tech person. Now I am, but I wasn't. There are so many ideas out there that go to die in a grave because people don't know how to act on them. I don't believe in coincidences, I believe that all of your decisions and actions are going towards things that happen at some point. But we just kept connected and now here we are, and we're getting ready to come out with a minimal viable product of a truly, truly distributable product that's going to change, self help personal development, entrepreneurship. It's a phenomenal product, it's called Blueprinted. Basically, it's going to take people that are successful, and allow them to reverse engineer their success in a project management forum, rather than videos, rather than a lecture. What I found is I found that people want to accomplish things but they don't know the first step. They don't know the second step or the third, or fourth, or they don't know how long something should take if they're on the right track, if they're doing it right. They don't know the big picture and they're mostly individually focused, they're just focused on what they have in front of them and what they can see, rather than being Omni focus, which is seeing the whole playing field. This platform is going to allow people to see the whole playing field of what they want to accomplish, from successful people that they can choose because people that are successful are going to upload their blueprints into the system. Then people are going to go buy those blueprints and it's going to allow the blueprinters to be able to support anybody that buys their blueprint via one on one coaching, group coaching calls, to guide them through the step-by-step process to become successful.
How do you best stay in front of and nurture these relationships in this community that you've created?
Well, you know, I find that to be a challenge because I do have a large network. Ever since I started the movement, the podcast, the book, my network has grown exponentially. So I was talking to my coach about that recently and I said, "Man, how do I nourish the network that I have the relationships that I have because I feel like I might be missing out or leaving some people behind?" I think that you need to make sure that people understand you genuinely want to know when you can help them. So anytime you're communicating with someone, don't just say "Hey, see you later it was great seeing you." Don't say that, disrupt their pattern a little bit. We go through things in life automatically. We're on autopilot a lot and there are patterns that we have. It's like if somebody hands a business card to you, and you just take the business card and then you look at it real quick and then you put it in your pocket or your purse. But what if I handed you a business card and you went to grab it, I'm I pulled back? You would look up to me and you would say "What's next?" Then I can say, "I really love helping people and before I give this to you, I want you to know that if you ever need anything that I have that is of value, please, please reach out to me." That pattern interruption right away would make a difference. I think it's very important to break people's patterns and do things differently than most people do so that they remember you. The other thing is when you need something, there's nothing wrong with reaching out to people in your network and saying, "Hey, I have a problem, I need to help with a solution, do you mind if I pick your brain a little bit?" I think that also for me, what I do is I just keep pushing energy out in the world. I'm connected with people on all platforms so that I just keep pushing stuff out so they're constantly seeing me. That way, if they need something, they know where to reach me and if I need something I just can reach out. I try not taking until I've given quite a bit though.
What advice would you offer that professional who's looking to grow their network?
Intentionally spend a dedicated time every single day reaching out to people. Obviously, with everything that's going on, you don't see as many in person so what are you going to do about that? To me, I think if you set a target for yourself every single day of reach out to people to let them know you're thinking about them, or whatever the case is, that's, that's the way I do it now. I have a mortgage company, by the way, that I've run a division for with three of my best friends and my little brother. We're always coaching and building our people in our organization. In doing that, we're talking to them all the time, too about targets like, "What are your targets today for reaching out to people?" You can't just sit in your office wait for the phone to ring, it's not gonna ring. So what are you doing to control and develop and create your own economy?
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self what would you tell yourself to do more or less of her differently with regards to your professional career?
In regards to my professional career, I would get really clear on what I wanted. Now, obviously what you want can change as you get older. Here's what I did: I started chasing girls, and drinking and partying like a dummy. The reason I say that is I was 18 until I drank a beer for the first time. I was so focused on what I wanted out of life. In school, I was a football player and I was so dedicated and lived a clean life and then when I got to college for some reason, being exposed to alcohol and parties and girls, got me screwed up and I lost my intentional focus and purpose. When you do that, and you shift your focus on things that don't really serve that purpose, they serve an unhealthy purpose, things go downhill real quick, your health, your finances, your relationships, the way you think about yourself, how you feel about yourself. So what I would go back and tell my 20-year-old self would be to stay on your purpose. I would probably go back to myself as an 18-year-old and talk to that person and say, "Listen, serve yourself to your purpose that you designed originally for yourself. You can let it adapt, but don't go down the road where you're just drifting, and chasing things that don't serve you." Every decision we make thought in our head, word we speak, and action we take is either going towards an ideal life or away from it.
Let's talk about your book for a minute. What can you share about that?
The book was gonna be called What Are You Made Of? But the people I'm working with on the book said, "You talk about fuel a lot and rockets and this and that." I said, "Well, there's already a book called rocket fuel out there, but that's an entrepreneurial book so I can name mine Rocket Fuel, mine's gonna be I'm gonna market it harder." So I named it Rocket Fuel, Convert Setbacks, Become Unstoppable. It's all about stories in my life anecdotes from my journey of being mentored by super successful people. It's showing you how to proactively prepare yourself to take setbacks and convert them into rocket fuel. It's got to be proactive, too, because in the closer proximity you are to adversity or setback, there's more chaos, there's more emotion, and it's very hard to think clearly and see hope. There's very little light at the end of the tunnel. So we proactively work on this and the book talks about that, and it talks about how you can prepare yourself physically, spiritually, mentally, relationships, financially, professionally, how to prepare yourself to be able to handle anything comes that comes your way, and react quickly to look for opportunity, rather than sulking in a setback. Grant Cardone, if you've heard of him, he wrote the foreword for the book. He talks about what rocket fuels meant to him in his life and business, which is very powerful validation for my law. Just like John Maxwell has leadership laws, I created this rocket fuel law. It's coming out in March!
What's your final word of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I think that we all have an obligation, a duty to live a certain standard because you can't tell people to do things or say you're going to do things for people if you're not living it every day to the best of your abilities. So in order to help people and be able to really provide value to your network, you have to live a certain standard based on your purpose that you've developed. I would say that and also just go be unstoppable. Nothing can stop you if you take everything that's designed to stop you or appears that it's going to stop you and convert it into rocket fuel for your future. So go be unstoppable!
Connect with Mike:
Join Mike’s Weekly Coaching Community: https://mikecroc.com/coaching
Learn More About Mike’s Book: https://www.mikecroc.com/book