Matan is the founder of Fit Hit, an Inc. 5000 fastest growing company in the US. As a former special-ops Krav Maga Warfare Officer, and after training 1000s of special ops pro athletes World Champs and regular folks, Matan recognized that empowerment to training is key to success, not just in violent situations, but in general. Fit Hit helps people tap into their potential, develop a healthy lifestyle, increase mental fortitude, and learn how to handle themselves.
What would you say to entrepreneurs who simply can't find the time to invest in their own well-being?
That's a great question. A lot of my students are entrepreneurs and high-level managers, creators, people that rely on their creativity to succeed. So we actually have a little in-house joke that we say and it's called more abs, more money! We're basically connecting your personal well-being and fitness level, to your levels of income and how much money you make. Now, most people can't see the direct line between the two. But I can tell you, there have been several researchers on the subject that have looked at over 1500 CEOs, and what they found was that CEOs that take the time to train, hold themselves up to higher standards when it comes to their nutrition level and their well being overall tend to have more successful companies, better returns to their investments, and more profit. It's not that hard to figure out why right? It's because really, how you do anything is how you do everything. So when you start putting your own well-being as not as important as something else, you don't actually show up in their business as the best version of yourself. If you're an entrepreneur, your capacity to create is what's gonna make or break you, how much drive do you have? Do you think that you'll be able to do more when your health is on point when you have energy that lasts through the entire day, and you're not bogged down by 6 pm or 7 pm, when you just bounce out of bed right in the morning, right? Because your body can carry you like that and you're gonna spending the first 30-45 minutes doing morning scrolling in your bed because you don't have the energy to get up. So what we tell entrepreneurs is that if they're not putting their own physical well-being first, their business is taking the hit, not just their own physic. I recommend to a lot of entrepreneurs to do it that once you get into the process of actually taking care of your body and being aware of what your fat percentage is and so on, I've actually mapped out my fat percentage put it in a graph over time because I keep track of it and my bank account, and what I've noticed is that the two moves kind of like in the same pattern. When I'm at my fittest, my company does really well and if I let go, I can see the changes in the company. If I can show for myself, that means that I can also show up for my business and for my employees. But if I don't even show up for myself, are you really giving the people who depend on you, your team, your staff, the best version of you, or a run-down version of you?
What can entrepreneurs do to beat the stress eating and some of these other bad habits that we've all picked up over the last year?
I can tell you that one of the reasons that so many have gained weight during COVID, and I'm looking at entrepreneurs, specifically, is that we are a breed that is driven by control. We have our own business because for better or worse, we like to control the outcome of things. Some are more successful than others, but even when you talk to people that are not that successful in business, and they're business owners, they'll tell you, I'd rather be here than get a job, right? They like the ability to control their successes and even if they fail, it’s still something that keeps them motivated keeps them going and they're very much connected to it. Then COVID happens and what happened when COVID happened is we lost a significant amount of control of what we can do in our lives. So in the first few months of COVID, with lockdowns, and all this other stuff, if you are any type of retail business, you couldn't operate it all, the way that you used to. We lost control of who we can meet, we lost control of where we can go we lost control of our late we can stay at night, whether I can get food from this place or that place. What happens to people when they lose control? What happens to anybody that loses control? There are direct emotions that go right with it like anger, sadness, and fear which are all the result of loss of control. So what we've seen, because we interview everybody that trained with us, is that when people lost control of things, it made it easy for them to just give up control on everything else, even on things that could be under their control. So even though you have full control of your nutrition because you lost control over everything else, it feels comfortable to just flush down to drain your habits, and then you talk to people. Now for entrepreneurs, if you are sad, and afraid, anxious, and angry, that doesn't work for the business, you have to mitigate those emotions if you're going to show up for the business. So what I recommend to entrepreneurs that are finding themselves in this emotional roller coaster that 2020 has brought in is that anytime there is a lack of control, which is to become very aggressive with taking control where you can. There are actually four aspects that every entrepreneur must take control of all the time. The first one is nutrition. What you put in your body has a huge effect on how you feel and if you're not feeling at your best, you're not gonna show up as your best, you're not going to have the best ideas, you're not going to have the best execution and you're not going to have the energy. So where most people basically turned to junk food and fast food, alcohol, we recommended to our community to go even more hardcore on clean nutrition during this time. You're not going to find comfort in bad food because that just leads to a whole other can of worms with your body and your mind. So the first thing that you want to control these your nutrition, the second thing you want to control is your fitness level. Now gyms got closed down. So what? "Well, if the gym is closed, I can't do anything." No, there was a lot that you can do. You can train at home, you can train outside, you can be active, there are a million things that you can do. But you have to first admit to yourself that you need to take control of your physical fitness. When you do that, you're already starting to make movement in the right direction. Then the third thing is that this is an opportunity for you to gain control of your knowledge base. So you can spend the time just aimlessly scrolling and getting angry at everything that's happening in this country, or you can start seeking out advantages. Seek out the knowledge that would make you better at what you are, that will inspire you, that will move you forward. Then the fourth element is I always recommend people to also take control of hobbies of things that are not directly related to their business and just grow in other directions. So when you force yourself to take control of these things that you can, you are no longer a victim to those horrible emotions that come with the initial loss of control because you continue having control over the things that you can. So your nutrition can be up to par you don't have to go to junk food and alcohol, you don't have to sit on your sofa all day even in lockdown, right? You don't have to be immobile just because the gym shut down. There are options, take control over that! You don't have to be a mindless zombie even though all your friends may be mindless zombies right now, and people around you are mindless zombies right now. If you take this time to get better, create better offerings, become more professional, find a new market, find a new niche, the whole experience of loss of control becomes way easier.
How did you take Krav Maga, this kind of aggressive approach, and make it something that is accessible to women?
That was the challenge when I set out to create Fit Hit. I come from the military world and when I started training, my clients were for the most part, within that world. Police officers, security companies, special ops, and government agencies, were the clients. But when I was in New York, even within the very first year, I started getting more familiar with violence against women, and how prevalent it is in the United States. It was much worse than I thought it would be, like one in every six women is going to get sexually assaulted in her lifetime. That's like one roll of the dice. You start talking to women, and everybody either has been assaulted or knows somebody that has been assaulted. I was just thinking to myself that I have all this knowledge and I have this skill set that is completely transferable. The beauty of Krav Maga is that you don't have to be the strongest person to be able to do it, they're teaching it to kids straight out of high school in the military because that's what Israel is. So how do you turn these 18-19-year-old kids to be very efficient with a striking, you have to give them a system that is not reliant on size or strength. So if you give women a system to defend themselves, not relying on size and strength, you're actually giving them a power that they can then use to not be a part of that horrible statistic that just kept creeping up. So for me to be able to create an environment to attract these women, I couldn't just come out and say, "Hey, ladies, I'm about to teach you the most aggressive self-defense system in the world, it's only being taught at special ops and law enforcement these days, so let's go," because most women, right off the bat, are not attracted to that concept. I know it because that's how I started, that was my first Google ad! I created a great school for Krav Maga, but women were only maybe 15% or 20%. From day one, I wanted to attract women, but I just didn't know what was the right message, what was the right way to put it all together. But I knew what problem I wanted to solve in the world and it was the problem of victimization especially for women because there was nothing like that. So most women, even though the solutions are out there just don't do that. So I had to bend their reality in order to make it happen and the way that I did that is that I didn't come out with so we create a new product. It is an upscale fitness experience that has nutrition built in, community, mental fortitude, it is one of the most beautiful spaces you would ever go into in New York City right now. We put on music and lights, and we build a whole fashion line to go along with it and we put females in the forefront of it so the women that are teaching the classes are all these badass women and they're also beautiful and feminine at the same time. But they're also very strong and very accomplished, very powerful, and they have conviction in what they do. We put all of that together and on the way, you're going to learn a little Krav Maga! We didn't lead with Krav Maga, we lead with, “You’re going to lose 25 pounds, let me show you how.” That became the draw for the female population and the beauty of it is that it didn't take long because women fell in love with this type of training. See, the problem was it's not that this training is not for women, it's just that women have been falsely convinced over the years that they're not supposed to be a fighter, they're not supposed to be aggressive, they're not supposed to say no and are not supposed to hit back, and all it takes is one hour for us to break all of that. What we did is we created these human-like punching bags so instead of hitting other people, they're hitting a thing that looks like a person. Within like 10 seconds, they feel that they have an impact behind her punches. Fighting is in our DNA, fighting is not a male or female thing, it's literally in everybody's DNA. It's part of our survival mechanism, but because we don't need to survive that much these days it just stays dormant. So all we did is we gave a more attractive offer and then when we exposed women to what we knew that they would in their core being would be attracted to you because we all have an aggressive side. No matter how quiet it is, no matter how silent it is, no matter how many years other people have tried to squash it, it's there. The end results are instantaneous, we probably have the highest retention rate of any gym in the country, because once they try it, they don't want to go sit on a bicycle to nowhere! What if you even burn more calories, but you also learn some new skills your body moves in us in a different way and when you leave the class, that information stays with you? You leave the class you go out into an NYC street and some guy looks at you weird. You're no longer paralyzed, which was the case for most women before they started this training.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking stories that you've had?
This was a long time ago when I didn't even have a location yet, I was just like a hired gun and I would just be hired to train for certain things. I wanted to open up a facility so I was looking for investors, partners, anything that can give me a leg up. So I was talking to somebody who is a poker player and she just mentioned she knew I was looking for investors and that there was this illegal poker game that was going to happen that night at some random location in New York City. She gave me the name of one person to look for and if I got him on your side, he will find you. So I was like, "Okay, great," and I to my girlfriend I was like, "Hey, listen, dear, we are going to an illegal poker game, I've never played poker in my life, I don't know how to play, we are just going to be social and nice and see what's what." We get to this building and there's this guard, his security guard standing out there and he's like, "Can I help you?" I told him I was here for the game, he asked for my name, and when I told him my name he said I wasn't on the list. Then I give him that one guy's name and they let me in. So we go in there and there's like, this social gathering, which was very small with everybody sitting around the poker table. We're just sitting like a sofa and I don't know who that person is that I'm looking for, but I figured by being there, I'll be able to see what's going on. So for like, 30 minutes, I'm just sitting there, not even talking to anybody. Then at some point, this guy raises his head and he's like, "Hey, you're Matan?" I said yeah and he was like "Oh yeah, this woman told me that you're gonna be here. Hey guys, this is Matan, he's like the baddest Krav Maga fighter ever so if anybody wants to train, we'd like a super commando guy, that's your guy!" I was like, "Great, man I thought you and I will be able to talk later on," and he's like, "No, I don't have any time for that, but thanks for coming." But then there was another guy at that table and he was like, "Oh, you teach Krav Maga, give me your card, I'm doing this charity event if you want to donate a couple of classes that might open you up." That little social gathering and social conversation that guy didn't just put me in this huge charity event that gave me huge exposure and huge opportunity to go over it, he became my client. Later on, he also became my first investor. So just taking advantage of the fact that I could get into a room with a bunch of people, be able to get the conversation even though the original guy that I came there for, didn't even want to have a conversation with me. Just being exposed to other people that could make a difference in your life got me, my first investor. From there, it was pretty easy to open up my first location.
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 say if I could go back to my 20s, I would work way harder on getting access to mentors, and getting mentorship from people who have walked the walk. The interesting thing is that super-successful entrepreneurs are more likely to take on a younger person to mentor than an older person or mentor because there's a certain sense of pride when you take somebody who doesn't know much and you start giving them tools and then they go out and kill it. I started looking for mentorship way later in life. I was in my mid-30s and I ended up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to get the mentorship and it always paid back and dividends. Paying for mentorship is great, but when you're super young, a lot of times you have access that you don't even know that you have just because you're young, you're hungry, and you're ambitious, and you don't have all the answers and nobody expects you to have all the answers. So I would say if anybody is that super early age, work on connecting with mentors. You never know when you're going to run into them so you have to make yourself available to run into these people. I would tell myself and there anybody that may be in the position that I was is you want to recognize success when you see it early and get close to it because it gives you shortcuts. It can save you years of trial and error, not to mention money.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with and do you think you can do it within the sixth degree?
I would say a person that I've been completely fascinated with over the past five years, Elan Musk. He doesn't build businesses, he creates industries. Most people would be lucky to be very successful in just one aspect, but he seems to innovate in completely different industries. I heard him say something and I think as an entrepreneur you need to hear it. There are two things that he said that really stuck with me and I'm happy that he said it because it makes a lot of the emotions that you may feel as an entrepreneur and during hard times, that's really kind of find their place. He said, "Being asked for nor is like chewing glass and staring into the abyss: You have to be prepared for long periods of difficulty before you make it on the other side," and then the second thing that he said which was in reply, somebody asked him, "What can you tell young entrepreneurs that need to be motivated?" He said, "If you need somebody to motivate, you should probably not want to be an entrepreneur." I just love the idea that you have to find the motivation from within all the time as an entrepreneur. There's not going to be anybody there, that's going to push you to be the best that you can be in your business unless you hire them to do it. But our voice will always tell them to look deeper, listen to that part of you wants to push forward. So I would say that without a doubt if I had stronger social skills and networking skills than I do, that would push hard to get on the circle with Elon Musk.
Connect with Matan
LeTeisha was born in Richmond, Virginia, she graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in 1994. She is a serial entrepreneur and has been self-employed for over 17 years. LeTeisha uses her life experiences to motivate and to find ways to help others. She's the Founder and CEO of A Better Day Than Yesterday Initiative Program, where they help families rebuild their relationships during and after incarceration, divorce, and deployment. She specializes in re-entry and family reunification.
How did you get started in the work that you do?
I was invited to a five-day event to speak on a panel for entrepreneurs about entrepreneurship and it was a Father's Day event. On that panel, it was me, other invites, government agencies, and returning citizens. So the guy asked me, "How do you rebuild a relationship with someone that's been incarcerated?" When he asked me that, it took everything out of me. On that ride home, God said, that's your purpose because two weeks prior to that I asked him, "What is my purpose? What am I here?" I know I'm here to be an entrepreneur, I know I'm here to help people, but I'm not being fulfilled, I'm not feeling successful in any of it. After that event, he let me know that was it because my dad and I weren’t talking at the time and he had been home at that point for 16 years. We had a terrible disconnect when he came home, trying to rebuild our relationship. So that's how I got started and I've been affected by incarceration since I was five years old so it actually started way before I realized I was here for this purpose.
What keeps you motivated to keep doing what you're doing?
I know there's a need for it and I'm surrounded by it. My son just came home which made it more personal other than my father, my brother, my aunt, my uncle, and my mother. So my son came on July 13, 2020, last year during a pandemic, and he was incarcerated for 18 months. Just being around the kids that are in our programs, and how they talk about their relationship with their father or their mother who are incarcerated, it touches your heart. So, you know you have work to do, and you just have to keep doing it so I just feel that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
Do you work with the families that are anticipating the re-entry on how to best prepare, or what does that relationship look like?
So the idea of it is to get with the family before the person is actually going to be serving the time so that we can navigate the family through the system throughout their journey. Before the pandemic we were going into the institutions, bringing awareness to the unintentional victim, and the father wound. So now during the pandemic and we're reconstructing our program, we're waiting right now on IRB approval for a study to do on six families to help them navigate after incarceration, how to start rebuilding that relationship and that's the 12-week program. During that pro 12 week program, they were there in life skill every week. Every Monday they will do a debriefing with a social worker and an intern, and then every four weeks, they will do a family engagement activity. Then on the 12th week, they will do a weekend retreat from Friday to that Sunday. So right now, this is the first time we're ever doing the family as a whole because before we were doing it as pieces, like we were talking to the parent and do something with the parent, but it would not be their child that's in the program. So now we're doing it while we're selecting the whole family that was affected to participate in this 12-week program.
How many years has it been since you started this work, and does your program serve across the US, or mainly locally?
This is the fourth year now. You have to find your niche, but when it all boils down to I never strayed away from the point of the family. The only thing that we added on that just became part of our initiative is called Operation Freedom Package which is open to anyone that's been incarcerated, regardless of conviction other than sex offenders. Now that we are going virtually we're able to assist all across the world. That's the best part about it, because we were just limited to Virginia and now we have a family in Delaware, and we have that Father’s house in Petersburg. So I can't wait to make that connection when visitation opens back up and we're able to make that connection happen between the children and their parents.
Can you share with our listeners some of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
One of my favorite networking experiences was when I was looking for a motivational speaker to speak for our Build a Dad workshop and it was through word of mouth and I was meeting everybody on the phone. Just so happen I came across this guy named Vincent White, and he was busy that weekend that we were having the event. I had met the guy that gave me Vincent's number at a networking event, and I just so happened to talk to Vince and he gave me another person's number whose name was Mr. White and his wife actually sent him the flyer earlier that day and asked him if he knew me and he was like, "No, I don't know anything about it," So when I called him, I had known that his wife had forwarded him that flyer and he said, "Hey my wife just showed me your flyer," and then we laughed about it and we and he's been my mentor to this day.
How do you stay in front of and nurture the relationships you have created?
So I attend networking events, virtually or in-person by just keeping people in the loop of what I'm doing, forming groups where we can share our information on what we're doing so that we can stay connected. Also, just by partnering and doing events and things, which helps to keep the relationship going, especially if they have turned out good events and everybody's taking a group interest in what we're doing and growing their business as well as mine.
What advice would you offer that business professional is really looking to grow their network?
I would suggest they join different networking groups, social groups. Then somebody is dependent on what that professional is, there's always a Facebook group, there's always a group that's going to be doing free workshops that you find on Eventbrite. You can always look for hashtags to find a networking group in your city or state. I just think, drawing in different groups is what helped me and then once I started joining these different groups, I got to see what type of person I needed to connect with, and then I got to know who to connect with.
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 say that I would have wanted to party more! I mean, I party, don't get me wrong. I would just say, I am glad that I did party when I did, I'm glad I had my kids when I did because now I have grown a lot more and I'm more mature and more focused now. So back then, when you're growing up without guidance, and if you're not that focused person, you will tend to not think about the things you should think about and I'm glad it happened how it happened, and I'm glad it's happening now. Because now my kids are grown and now I'm able to put my focus on my mission and I'm happy about the journey. So I really wouldn't change anything, I just think I would have partied a bit more!
Connect with Lateisha
A Better Day Than Yesterday’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abetterdaythanyesterday
LeTeisha’s email: email@example.com
David launched his first web business in the year 2000 and his first podcast in 2006. Since then, he's worked on the agency side as a Head of SEO, in-house as Head of Digital Marketing, and for a trading company as a Digital Marketing Course Producer. He's built his own podcast, Digital Marketing Radio up to 20,000 downloads a month, and in 2019 he founded his own podcast production agency for b2b brands called Casting Cred. You can find David over at castingcred.com!
So you were way ahead of the whole podcasting trend, weren't you?
I was! It was only a bit of fun for me back then around 2006 or so. I published a few shows then and got quite a few listeners and didn't really think too much of it. I just thought of it as a bit of fun rather than actually a serious marketing channel, which I probably should have done.
What mistakes do you see big brands making with their podcasts in 2021?
Oh, there are a lot of big mistakes. There's just horrific quality that you actually hear. There's just not a lot of thought that goes into podcasts by many b2b brands. I compare it back to how brands used to actually think of their websites back in about 2004, 2005, 2006 because back then, brands used to get the intern or a junior person within the business to design the website for their brand and this is a multi-million dollar brand you're talking about here. They just didn't appreciate that digital presence can actually relate to how your brand is perceived in its entirety and actually switch people off from using that brand. So as I said, back then, about 15 years ago or so, brands used to get these lowly paid people to design their websites for them and think nothing for it and the senior people didn't even look at the websites. Exactly the same thing is happening with podcasts nowadays, in 2021. Even in the upcoming years, what brands are doing is they're getting these people who are interested in podcasts, junior in the business, but probably don't know that much about producing professional quality audio, probably don't know that much about brand identity, what needs to be said, what doesn't need to be said to produce the shows in their behalf and they're producing amateurish sounding shows. These reflect how their audience perceived these brands and it's just not a good idea.
What are some of the equipment that you recommend for podcasting?
Sure, and for many big brands out there this probably the biggest mistake, to begin with, is that they just go with the microphone that they've already got kicking around the office or in someone's home. In general, if a business does webinars, then they've got a big condenser microphone sitting in front of them in the middle of a boardroom table and a condenser microphone is good in that it picks up the full frequency of a human voice. However, it also picks up everything else that's going on around the room. It picks up the air conditioner unit, it picks up a computer fan noise, it picks up someone shutting the door two rooms away from where you are it's not an ideal microphone to use for a podcast. Condenser microphones are wonderful if you're in a professional studio environment if you really have a decent soundproof room that you're operating in. Otherwise, I highly recommend the use of a dynamic microphone. So a dynamic microphone is less sensitive and it means that it needs to be closer to your mouth, it needs to be roughly three or four inches away from your mouth and 45 degrees away from your mouth so you're speaking over it just to get the best quality from that microphone. But if you do that is not gonna pick up all the rest of the noise from around the room. So then the question after that becomes, okay, what type of dynamic microphone that you use? There are very few dynamic microphones available that have both what's called an XLR and a USB out. So if you are looking for your dynamic microphone to easily connect to your computer, you're looking for a USB out from the dynamic microphone. So if that's the case, then you're looking for either a Samsung Q2U or an Audio-Technica ATR-2100x. So those are the two main microphones, there are a couple of small up-and-coming brands that are just in the process of launching similar microphones. But those are the two main microphones that I would highly recommend. In addition to that, you need a windscreen. So something to go on top of the microphone to stop sudden bursts of air going into the microphone just to make your sound a little bit more pleasant for the user and you want a boom arm. So something to hold the microphone right next to your face, rather than actually you having to duck down, or have the microphone too far away from your mouth.
Let's switch a little bit here to talk about the six steps of publishing a podcast to publishing a book. So I'm really curious about what you've got to say about this?
So several times, I've been crazy enough to host an eight-hour live stream, and have 100 plus guests on there at the same time, and a lot of other people say, "Well, how on earth do you do that? Do you think I should do something similar for my brand?" And my immediate answer is no! You don't want to do that, it's just too much hassle. Another reason that I say no, is that it's actually too difficult or you're juggling too many balls when you haven't done audio podcasting, videos, live streaming, and steps like that beforehand. You really want to work up towards being able to host multiple people at the same time, be on there for a very long time, look into the camera, or deal with the audience at the same time. So I recommend working up towards doing that. And obviously, you talked about publishing a book. So one of the last big live streams I did I published a book, as a result of doing that. I figured out having an eight-hour live stream, you end up being able to produce roughly 60,000 words of transcripts, and then you can turn that into a book. It's just about as much work turning out a 60,000-word transcript into a book by rewriting it because obviously, people don't write in the same way that they actually articulate things verbally. So it's not necessarily easier, but it's just a path that is a relatively slightly more convenient way to publish a book. But in terms of the steps towards doing that, I highly recommend starting off with an audio-only podcast and starting off with a fairly basic podcast equipment-wise using the microphones that are recommended. Then when you're started, focus on the audio podcast, get comfortable with using the microphone, get comfortable with what your show structure is going to be like, and then you'll hone that naturally over the first 10 to 20 episodes or so. Then when you get comfortable with doing that, you can start to do things like you do Lori, which is to record the whole show as a one-off, have your intro, have your outro, have your midsection recorded as part of the whole show. That way, you're doing less editing afterward so it's easier to produce. You don't have much editing to do afterward at all. Then move on to video after that, and move on to pre-recorded video. Don't do live video straight away if you're doing your show, do it pre-recorded so you don't have to think of an audience and if you make mistakes, you can restart and you don't get so nervous in front of guests. Step four is live streaming while you record a podcast. The whole additional challenging element to that is, of course, the audience. If you've got people watching live, if you've got questions coming in. Ideally, you can listen to what the person that you're interviewing is saying, but at the same time, see what the audience is saying. Bring their questions into the mix at the appropriate time, engage with him at the same time, or perhaps even type back to them at the same time. You don't want to be doing that if you're not comfortable using a microphone, if you're not comfortable with podcasting, or if you're not comfortable even with looking into the camera, to begin with just to do the intros and the outros and to acknowledge people at the very beginning of your video. Then simply you get to that big summit that I was talking about, that's like 12 live streams all in one take. So once you're comfortable with the live streams, it's bringing everything together, it's doing it for a longer time, it's having 100 plus guests involved in a single project. So it's just a case of making those relationships which is obviously what this show is all about and the wonderful thing about doing a podcast, apart from the fact that you get people listening to your content is the quality of the relationships that you make with the guests that you end up talking to. You can ideally maintain those relationships by doing things like hosting a virtual summit and getting people back on with you perhaps on an annual basis.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
I think networking is all about the quality rather than the quantity. You can talk about some articles that have been written like 1000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly, and similar advice has been shared by Seth Godin. If you get to that number of people that engage with you and like your content on a regular basis, then you're going to be successful. But in my experience, the number is even less if you put in the effort to really ensure that the relationships that you build are of high quality. That's why I love podcasting because it's such a wonderful way to build a relationship, to begin with, and then it gives you that opportunity to maintain the relationship because if you go to networking events, I know we're talking in COVID times it's a little bit more challenging to meet face to face, and perhaps even meet new people. But if you imagine a conventional face-to-face networking event, you'd do really well to have five minutes uninterrupted with anyone. It's challenging sometimes just to discover what someone else does, and make them aware of what you do, and then remember them afterward and then get back to them and really build any kind of meaningful relationship. The internet, podcasting, or just online discussions that aren't even necessarily broadcasted online give us a wonderful opportunity to have a higher quality conversation or lengthier conversation. So I think if you can aim to have 10 of those conversations a month on a regular basis, and then maintain the relationships with people that you think would be beneficial to you and your business in the future and you could be beneficial to them, then that would be probably a wonderful use of podcasting as a wonderful way to network and build maintain those relationships.
How do you best nurture your network and stay in front of these individuals?
I used to think in the past that what you had to do was published on a regular basis. But to a certain degree, that's just one-way communication so it's good to try and maintain those relationships. I've been very fortunate to as well as host bowl and podcast, host podcasts for other people, and produce podcasts for other people so it gives me a reason to get back in contact with these people. So the people that have been probably the best guests or the people that have been the most valuable in terms of potential relationships have been the ones that I've kept in touch with. I think initially going back to about 2015 when I did my first big online live stream, and I had about 60 people join me for that one. I just went back into people who have been guests before and I viewed it as a great piece of content to produce. But then thinking about it afterward, I suddenly realized it's not about the content, it's about relationships, it's about the network, it's about maintaining that. So that's why I try and do an annual basis, I give myself a reason to get back in touch with people and I encourage people to do the same. To think of a reason to reach back to who you've had conversations with in the past, and help them. So not necessarily even to produce something of value to what you're trying to do, but just to see if there's anything else you can do to assist them. I think you need to be really aware of what they're currently doing, and maybe suggests something specific that you could do to help them or a reason to have a follow-up conversation. I liken that to messages that I receive on LinkedIn, and probably 1 in 50, I reckon have actually really looked at me and my business and what I do, and crafted message based on that. The messages that I get saying something like, "Oh, it would be great to find out more about Casting Cred and what you do, shall we arrange a call?" No, I ignore those messages because it's so blatantly obvious that they've just taken my company name from some automatic script and added it to a standard intro message. I'm not interested in having a conversation if you haven't taken the opportunity to check out what I do. Check out what I do and demonstrate that you've actually looked at what I do and then we'll have a conversation.
What advice would you offer that business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
It doesn't happen overnight so you've got to accept that it's a long-term game. It's easy to reach out to people and get disappointed if they don't engage with you, but have you actually published anything and demonstrated that you are likely to be of genuine interest to the person that you're trying to reach out to? I go back to podcasting because I'm a podcaster and I think podcasting is a wonderful way to do it. I would quite often publish a podcast based upon the quality of conversations that I have with someone and be willing to publish a podcast, even if it didn't have any listeners, because of the quality of conversations that I'm having with people. I know people that I'm interviewing wouldn't necessarily be happy to have the conversation published to no one, but I think that's a good way to approach podcasting. I would encourage anyone listening to consider starting a webinar series or a podcast or some kind of content series that gives them an opportunity or reason to reach out to people. Maybe an initial starting point even before that is a blog because most people have a blog associated with a website. Put together an article about a particular topic and ask 10 moderately successful people within certain niches about their opinion on the particular subject. I say moderately successful because you're never likely to get someone like, let's give Seth Gordon as an example to actually contribute. But if you have someone who's moderately successful in a very niche industry, then they're really happy to contribute. So you can probably get 10 people to contribute to blog posts, you don't even have to speak to them, you can have a contact form for them to fill in and share their advice. Then you can promote what they do afterward, you can connect with them on LinkedIn, you can maintain that relationship. That's probably a great starting point to building a decent network.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of us have or differently with regards to your professional career?
It's very easy to look back with hindsight saying you should do this, you shouldn't do this. I've done lots of different jobs in my time. I'm in my 40s now so I was probably too old to just work in digital marketing or in the digital world. So as a first career, I actually managed restaurants and pubs, and hotels. It was a great experience to have because as a 20-year-old I was managing teams of people. So I got great managerial experience to do that. Perhaps maybe I treated life a little bit too seriously. I would say just to relax a little bit as well and try more things. I think that back then I felt that you had to try and have a career and I think that I grew up as part of the generation that was still told you go through school, you try to go through university, and then you try to get yourself a profession, and you stay with that profession for life. Life's not really like that nowadays. I would certainly tell myself to try different things, don't take life too seriously, work hard, but also play hard at the same time.
Any final word of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Success and building a big network is really a long time coming. Don't measure what you're doing with short-term measurements, like how many followers have I gained in the last week or a month or even year? It's all about the quality of relationships that you make 10 years down the line. So if you're not bothered by time, what would you do differently now if you knew that the numbers don't matter and it's all about quality?
Connect with David
David’s website: https://castingcred.com/
David’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidbain/
Gina is a leader in the women in sales movement. Gina's career in sales started very early in life when she would pitch your parents on important issues like her version of how grandma's vase ended up on the floor in a million pieces! She would routinely beat out her competition (aka her six siblings) for best storytelling in a dramatic role. Throughout her 20 plus years in sales and marketing in the US, Europe, and emerging economies, Gina has continued to employ those same storytelling skills in selling and other persuasive arguments.
So talking about women in general, what are some of the things that you think are holding back women from getting into leadership positions?
Well, it's not for lack of trying and it's not even for lack of perceived opportunities on the part of the companies. Many well-meaning corporations want to bring women up through leadership, and really give them opportunities. What they are kind of unaware of is that they're still environmental issues and cultural issues within companies that don't promote the same kind of allegiance to opportunities. For instance, there's like this disconnect, companies will tell me that they want to elevate women into leadership, but the women just don't speak up in meetings, they don't share their ideas. So it's hard to get sponsorship opportunities for them to give them big promotions and things. Whereas the women will tell you that they don't feel heard or seen, or they try to speak up in meetings, and they try to share their ideas and they get blank stares and then Bob will say the same thing five minutes ago and they're like, "Oh, yeah, way to go, Bob!" My apologies to all Bob's listening, that's just the name I use. It's just these kinds of underlying cultural anomalies that happen, and they keep women from actually feeling like they are heard and seen. It's really a problem because it stops them from asking for what they want, asking for the positions they want, or letting their employers know that they want those positions. Whereas a guy will say, "I am going after that VP role," and he will make it known to everybody that he wants it. So that's where the disconnect is. Companies feel like they're giving opportunities to women, and they're not taking them, but women don't feel the same way. They don't feel that they are given the same visibility and the same opportunities to share ideas and that's really holding women back.
Let's talk about actions that can be taken to help women in the workplace. How can women help themselves achieve their career goals?
Well, there's a lot of things and this is where it sounds easy, right? So if you're not getting hurt in meetings, just speak up more? Well, if you don't perceive that there is support for your ideas, or if you have tried to speak up in meetings, and you're shut down or ignored, or dismissed almost which I have heard from many women, then it's harder to go ahead and just speak up. So that's where mentors, coaches, sponsors come in and we can talk a little bit about the difference between mentors and sponsors. But where these things come in, because once you get someone who you can be as your sounding board, and you can talk through how you can handle this. Also, women can help women. If you see something happening in a meeting, if you see that Bob said something that Mary just said a few minutes ago, and Bob's getting the attaboys say, "Wow, Bob, that was great and you know? Mary was just talking about that five minutes ago." Have your sisters back! Do these things that really can help both you and her get heard better because it puts people on call that you were aware of what just happened, and you're not going to just sit there. So that takes getting used to, it takes practice. It's not something that comes all the time. But I would say one of the biggest ways that women can help themselves is to get a mentor and be honest about what it is you want to achieve, what your career goals are, where your aspirations lie. Do you want to go after a leadership position? And if so, how might you do it? How might you get around these things that you see as holding you back?
On the other hand, how can employers help women on their team?
That is one of the places that I try to coach employers on a little bit. Be aware of these things. It's not enough to say that women aren't speaking up, why aren't these speaking up? What's actually happening in those meetings? If you stop and look around, and really start to appreciate the dynamics that are happening, if women are getting elbowed out of the conversation, or one person is always dominating, you are the person to put a stop to that. That's kind of a trickle-down thing, if you're the CEO of a company, and you aren't meeting your equity and inclusion goals, then you need to start having meetings with your managers and your directors and ask what's going on? Why aren't we recruiting more women? Why what's happening in meetings? And if you're the person running those meetings, make sure you give women not just a moment where you suddenly say, "Barb, what do you think?" Because if the environment has never really been supportive, or open, to just turn the spotlight might leave them frozen in their tracks. So I would say, think about what's going on in your office in your meetings, and make sure that there is an open and inviting opportunity to speak, and that the follow on isn't just kind of, "Are you done? Is that it? Okay? So Bob, what do you think about this?" That doesn't do it, so really work on those things. Then one of the things that I preach all the time is to make sure that they have professional development opportunities because that is such a crucial piece of one; letting them know that you actually are behind their career development. It's a vote of confidence, it will buy you some allegiance too and it will help strengthen your succession plan. So doing those few things, which is just a little bit of time and a little bit of investment can make a world of difference.
Can you share with my listeners one of your favorite networking experiences that you've had?
I will say honestly and like everybody else I so miss being in person and it's unfortunate that you are not in the DC area, but one of my favorite networking events is The Institute for Excellence in Sales. They have had and will have again monthly programs and the great thing is the networking is awesome. You meet other salespeople in this instance, but they're from all kinds of companies, tech companies, government contracting companies and you meet really interesting people. Then you get treated to a phenomenal speaker who presents on the art and science of selling and I have met some of the most wonderful people through that program. Now, of course, we're expanding who we network with because of COVID in this virtual world and it's really opened up a lot of things. One; we are really leaning on platforms like Linkedin and through LinkedIn, I have done some exceptional networking and I probably would not have given it that much time if we weren't in this situation. I have found great organizations and networking opportunities in that way and I have people reaching out to me all the time too and there are just so many ways to network these days that are a heck of a lot less frightening than walking up to somebody at an in-person networking event which I know can be scary, especially when you're new, straight out of college, or new to a new industry or something because you have to go up and make small talk and do all those things that maybe don't come easily to you. So it's a brave new world when it comes to networking if you haven't tried it before, but it is such a crucial piece of your career growth and in sales.
How do you best stay in front of and nurture your network?
This is an interesting question because content is king as they say and people put so much time and energy into their content now. I have to wonder sometimes if the return on investment is actually there in terms of how much time it takes. Now, if you have a whole team making content then it might be. I like to do a lot of commenting on what interests them. I will do content too but I feel, at least for myself that the thing that works best for me so I can stay in front of people that I want to do business with and that I admire is to really engage in a conversation over the content that matters to them. So I will put my own content out there but I make sure that their content is seen and heard and shared and liked so that we have an engaging conversation around things that really are of interest to them.
What advice would you offer that business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
In this virtual time, I would see who's doing business with the companies you want to do business with, and connect with them, and then connect with those companies and businesses. It's a multi-step process and then look for associations and organizations that are in the field of business that you are selling to, and make sure you join them and get in those conversations. When we can do things back in person, go to those events, muster up the courage to speak to people. After you do it a few 100 times it's easy. But really professional organizations, not just in your particular line of business, but in adjacent ones. Think a little broadly and then find those organizations and get involved and build your network with a wider base. Try not to be too narrow.
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?
It's interesting that you asked that because, as you know, I run The Women in Sales Leadership Forum. I bring in all these amazing women to talk to all the amazing women that go through it and they talk about mentors and sponsors and programs. One, I think to myself that I wish there was more of this for women when I started my professional career, which there wasn't. Two, I have always been a little bit of an adrenaline junkie, I get off on new and exciting, and I like to do things that are super challenging and I get bored kind of easily. It's gotten a little better as I've gotten older, but I would get bored with the situation, or I would get frustrated for many of the reasons that we talked about earlier of how I was treated, or how all women were treated in a company and so I would leave, rather than figuring out a way to fight the fight. I realize now that there were some really great opportunities that I walked away from so that I would not walk away from those interests. If you have a job you love, but you're not crazy about the company, find that mentor, and figure out if there are things that you could be doing differently, or how you can ask for what you need, what you want, and what you deserve instead of getting fed up and walking away. So that would be my advice and is the thing I wish I could change.
Any final word of advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Really think about ways to help support other women. What can you be doing? What do they need? And make sure you never let something get said or done and wish you had said or done something about it because it's those micro situations that kind of build and they take the wind out of people’s sails. So just make sure you have somebody back all the time, and then someone will have yours.
Connect with Gina:
Visit Gina’s Website: https://i4esbd.com/
Connect with Gina on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ginastracuzzi/