Jacob first found his passion for global development in Peace Corps Ghana. He worked on projects focused on food waste elimination, value addition, and gender empowerment. Afterward, he created a grain distribution business in northern Ghana and has developed over a dozen global supply chains of specialty ingredients. As Agricycle's COO, he oversees a network of 40,000 farmers upcycling natural fruit abundance into value-added income for their families.
Let's start with the Peace Corps, tell me a little bit about your time there.
So I started really straight out of college, went to Peace Corps in northern Ghana, and was an agricultural volunteer. So I probably wouldn't even have been able to keep a plant alive for a week, it was kind of half of my cohort, and then here we are in northern Ghana, finding ourselves involved in a community develop their agricultural scene. So it was a huge learning curve and it definitely brought me out of my comfort zone in every regard from the actual task at hand, as well as the cultural language, barriers, differences, things like that, and total geographic isolation compared to suburban, Minnesota. So then I got my hands wet in education. So I went to schools and would teach whatever classes were needed that semester, and I went to the health center and the clinic they had there and helped out where I could with babies taking nutritional panels, even some metrics, and things like that for the doctors. Then some of my favorite initiatives were besides just dancing and playing with the kids and boot camps and things like that were just the economic stimulating business discussions and initiatives that took place mainly with the women of the community. Typically any initiative that comes into men gets the opportunity. So one of my favorite ones was a jewelry making business and I just never would have thought in high school or college that I'd be sitting in a tiny village in northern Ghana for making jewelry with women and trying to create value-added income for them through means of creation. There is some time dye batik fabric making all sorts of initiatives like that. And then those cultural ones, creating farming groups and subsidized inputs, things like that for increased outputs, a whole lot of different initiatives that was just life-changing experience.
So why don't you tell us a little bit about your supply chain development experience across Sub Saharan Africa?
During Peace Corps, I started seeing a demand for a need that was not met in my village and in the northern part of Ghana itself. There's very poor infrastructure to store and transport grains and so one of the main problems that occur in northern Ghana is in boarding schools. So kids come from all over the country and then food is shipped to the kitchens that cooks can provide food for the boarding students. In southern Ghana, it's really no problem, they can start right away, but in northern Ghana, there's a lack of up to maybe a month or two before the food reaches the northern half of the country. So some of the students are unable to go to school, or at least they're at school but unable to go to classes because they're they can't eat and after two months, some go home, it's really just a difficult situation. So one of the things we tried to do was create this business, a distribution company for grains and create that supply chain that can get to the schools. All that's really needed is just an initial capital investment and then proper storage techniques to buy low at market saturation and then distribute later throughout the year. So that was kind of the initial idea for getting my feet wet in the industry. I got an opportunity to work with a friend who I met in Botswana in Peace Corps as well to develop about a dozen supply chains across Sub Saharan Africa and connecting smallholder farmers and some larger farmers processing fonio was the main one and other specialty ingredients to larger buying markets in America and the largest wholesale distributors of specialty ingredients and grains in America. So making that connection was something I didn't really have experienced too much beforehand. But then after a year of just being thrown in the ground and having to figure it all out, you become able to navigate the terrain pretty well.
So you've talked a lot about what you've been doing on a global level. I know you're in Milwaukee here, what community initiatives are you currently working on?
So one that we had just finished up working on was a fundraiser for Secure Bridges, which is a nonprofit in Milwaukee, combating human trafficking. It turns out Milwaukee and the Midwest, in general, is actually a pretty big hub for it. So we did a virtual month of fitness fundraiser for people across America and anywhere really. You just log on to this app and then do different fitness challenges, things like that. For all the proceeds, we donated to Secure Bridges to help them fight their aim. Then another one we're working on currently is a 10,000 smiles campaign with our Jolly Fruit Co. our sun-dried fruit. We are donating 1000s of bags to companies in the Milwaukee area, we stood in line with voters and distributed some bags to kind of put cheer in people's face and help them if they're out in line voting in the cold for hours on end to give them a little boost and nutritious snack that hopefully will put a smile on their face. And it tells all about the story of where it came from. And then so partners, individuals, and people throughout the Milwaukee area, giving away these bags to hopefully put a brighter end to the year that wasn't one of the greatest we've had in a while.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
Yeah, so it's, it's got to be how I got a job at Agricycler. So I was coming back from one of my trips to sub-Saharan Africa, and I went to school in Madison, Wisconsin. So I came through going to Chicago to see some college buddies on the way back home to visit my family in Minneapolis. I had one day for the kind of like a speed dating session to all my friends from back in the college days and just see them again, catch up, have a good time, and see what everyone's up to. So pretty much like every hour, I had someone scheduled or a group of people or something. It was just such a fun day for me and then it was one of the later times around dinnertime, I had dinner with a buddy and then I had one person in like an hour. So I was like, "Oh my goodness, I actually have an hour off, who's left in the city, I gotta call somebody up!" So it turned out being a friend of mine from club basketball and it turns out they were an entrepreneur, creating this great startup who was distributing solar energy and solar lights for charging and phone use and electricity in the Congo. They were in an incubator and accelerator with its other startup who is doing global development in Sub Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, who needed some supply chain logistical support. So we were just doing sharing stories on development, Sub Saharan Africa just kind of catching up and then the conversation turned to you know, you really should connect with this guy, I think you guys would have so much in common and he's just as passionate about the same things you are, I think it would really work out. So I continued the night and saw my friends and stuff and went back to Minnesota a couple of days later, I called up this guy who was Josh and shot him an email to say, "Can we can we talk, Aaron introduced us." Then we had like a two-hour conversation right away, we just hit it off really well, exactly what he needed. I had experience in exactly what I was wanting to do kind of without even knowing it is what he was creating. And so he is the founder and CEO of Agricycle now, and I'm the CEO now. So it's just a very interesting way that's a random networking opportunity, just seeing friends led to my career path, and then my biggest passion right now.
I imagine in your role with Agricycle you've had some global travel, and you've probably met some amazing people. How do you best stay in front of and nurture these relationships in this community that you've created?
Yeah, it's so important to do so and it's something I need to do better at. I work at it and try to keep up with my network, but it's so important to do so. And some of the things that I've learned, I'll shares a list of them. So one of them is starting with when you go into meetings, and then you create a list, you have a document wherever you want to store it of this person, the title, or the fit, and then little details about it. So you just grow this huge list and then every once in a while, you reach out to them. Even maybe it's not even having to do with a specific request. It's just "Hey, how you doing checking in that was really great meeting you, what are you up to?" Something like that, just very simple. And even a personal angle, it can go to personal or professional, which is very important to reach back out. It could be a one minute email, you send out no problem. But sometimes, these are the ones I've sent, where I say "Hey, how's it going," have led to really great things, or vice versa, someone does that to me, and then we ended up creating a partnership that we didn't see coming. But that's one I would say. Get into communities. With COVID and ever-increasing digital platforms that were on slack channels, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, I'm in a couple of different slack channels, they upcycle food associations, a great one, startup CPG, another great one, then some Facebook groups too. Just be in there and try to be active here and there and say who you are, what you're doing, and maybe an ask or what you can offer something like that. But even just passively listening to see what's going on. And you can interject here and there and say, Oh, I can meet that need or something like that. Being in as many of those groups as possible, take some time to seek those out, and then the connections that it might lead to are well worth the time.
What advice do you have for that business professional who is looking to grow their network?
You never know what a reach out could lead to. I tell people all the time and talking to them that a no change is nothing but a yes can change everything. You send out 10 messages and 9 come back no, you're literally in the same place that you started. Nothing has changed your career, life is no different. But that one yes that you might get could lead to so many greater opportunities, you never know. So just being fearless than that and not worrying about a couple of no's here and there because you're never gonna get all yeses. But all those yeses are so important. Don't be intimidated, don't have the fear to get out of your comfort zone. If you're comfortable, you're probably not doing enough, like comfort is good in a sense. But you have to be a little uncomfortable if you're going to grow. Once you get out of your comfort zone and you become comfortable in that task, that's a great sign of growth, and then reach out to a different subgroup of that task or something like that and become uncomfortable again. Then repeat that cycle and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
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?
Yeah, I think this one might not be terribly popular with parents, but for grades, just past. I spent so much time having to get the perfect grades. And it's good, it's great to do. But I think no, you know, after graduating college and all the years of school that I go through, I think it's much more important that you have the drive to get those grades than to actually getting those grades in the first place. Work to do the best at everything you can do, but if I had that option of getting all A's, or go working two part-time jobs, or an internship or starting a company or something, I would much rather have my 20-year-old self, try and even fail at starting a company than spend 60 hours a week studying or whatever people are doing. There's never been an interview that where there are two people absolutely equal, at least in my experience, and one person has done amazing stuff, started their own company, and the other person has a 4.0 versus the other person who started the company and all these community initiatives and has 3.0 or something. Look at that number, it just doesn't really matter. So get grades, pass, it's great. But do the extracurriculars, put yourself out there. You're trained that comfort is getting good grades, like push yourself to get good grades. Don't put yourself outside the box because it's risky, it's not as important, the ROI isn't as good. I completely disagree.
So 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?
So I'd say definitely, on the sixth-degree question, I think you can get to anyone and like in half that like three or four. I'm so confident in that, especially without digital The world is today and the globalized nature of society. It's not easy to just snap your fingers and get there, but if you have the connections lined up, you can I think six is even overshooting it. The Dream person for me is Serena Williams. She's just such a role model in every regard. Especially since I started working with Agricycle, empowering rural women farmers in Sub Saharan Africa, and Serena is such a symbol of female empowerment, especially women of color empowerment. I would love to even just have a conversation with her. But if we could take a step further and get like a brand ambassador, like the face of one of our brands, oh my goodness, Serena, where are you at? I feel like some connections we have with startups and next-gen is connected with NFL play 60 and I made a connection through that because Serena is actually invested in Miami Dolphins, so going through that route. She also has her own fund and she invested in Impossible Foods and some other brands but Impossible Foods, a plant-based protein are the ingredients. So I go through Impossible Foods' CEO or someone their company reaches her, I feel like in three to four connections arise.
What final advice do you have to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
It's definitely tied to the theme of not worrying about no’s, not being afraid. Definitely just seek opportunities, you might think it's a silly networking event. Just try it! If if the silly networking event takes an hour of your time, and you haven't gotten a connection, and that stinks, that's unfortunate. But hopefully, you learned something, you have to take something away from it, if not some good connections. If you're in an event, don't just sit and think that the connections will come to you. Maybe they will, but go be your own advocate. If you're scared to go talk to someone, someone else probably scared to go talk to you. So just put yourself out there, don't worry about being scared. I always think that probably won't ever see these people again and that's like the worst case, so again, nothing changes. But if you do see them again, that's probably because you had a connection that you created. So the worst thing that could happen is nothing, no difference, and then the best thing is great connections. If you're on a webinar or listening to speakers, try to remember a couple of key points and what they're saying and if it resonates with you, shoot a message with those key points to show them you're listening and show them you're engaged and then use that to kind of springboard whatever conversation you'd want to get out of it. Then just say yes to opportunities, even if it's more of a mentorship opportunity. You never know what those connections could lead to. You never know you're gonna learn from teaching others. I'm just all about taking as many opportunities as you can so just take opportunities when they come or create them, and then take them.
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Olympia radically three x's income, fun, and freedom for six and seven-figure business owners who are overworked and want more. Olympia loves working and playing in the realms of millions and billions. She's an award-winning business consultant and speaker, a fortune 500 company partner, and a leader of the highest national security programs. By the age of 33. She was a corporate executive leading multi-billion dollar programs, making more than $50 million in sales and facilitating sales of more than $10 billion.
Why is collaborative lead generation the best way to get lots of high-quality leads that are easy to convert to sales?
That is a great question. Doing collaborative lead generation is the best way because you get to accelerate your sales and your success. You do that by getting access to your perfect clients through other people who already have them in their client database in their target market. When you do that, you're also elevated in status, and your credibility is also elevated because that person who you're collaborating with is basically recommending and endorsing you. So you really get to what I like to call have OPA which is other people's audience, and OPR other people's resources, you get to leverage those. I just came up with this metaphor today. So it's like, you want to see wild animals. You decide first, which ones you want to see, then you determine where are they located and who has them. Are they in a zoo? Are they in Africa or Asia? And then how will you get there? And do you want to explore on your own, or do you want to take a safari that guarantees that you're going to see these animals that you want to see and that you get the whole experience? So that is all about collaborative lead generation because you want to go where the wild animals are that you want to see and you want to get access to them by people who already have access and knowledge to them.
So I know that you're an advocate for the gamification of marketing. What exactly is that and how can it help businesses and entrepreneurs grow income, fun, and freedom?
Okay, gamification marketing is the latest and greatest in how to market your products and services, but then also how to amplify your actual products and services. So I'll talk about the marketing part first. Gamification really is about play and it's about triggering those four centers in your brain that are wired for happiness, fun, and play. Those four centers are dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin, and serotonin. So basically, you can think of these as your feel-good chemicals. The metaphor here is Pavlov's dog, you've probably heard the story where this guy, Pavlov had a dog, and he trained the dog to expect a treat when the bell rang, so every time the bell rings the dog gets super excited because he's going to get a treat. Well, that's basically what gamification is. In our application, we're putting it into marketing. So you can put it into your emails, in your website, on your landing pages, you can use it when you're speaking to people, whether it's in a networking situation, or online. So when you do that, you will get at least a 30% increase in your response rate and in the retention rate, retention of information. So, for example, when you use gamification marketing, it's going to increase how many clients you attract, it's going to keep their attention longer, it's going to increase sales conversion. And your sales will be much easier, by the way, they'll be easier and faster and funner for you, so you get a side effect of the fun aspect of gamification. If you have it in a, say a course or program, your students will retain more, they will be 80% more likely to complete that program. Then they will have the success and the results that you promised from your program and they will be the Pied Piper singing your tune and referring their friends and family to you.
How does one get their perfect clients to say, "Oh, my gosh, I need you now, how can I start working with you?"?
I love this one. So we have to back up the bus a little bit because to get them to say that and feel that there need to be some things in place. So we're going to go back to the beginning of this chain of events that lead up to that. Step number one is you got to make sure that you are in fact focusing on your perfect clients, the ones that really light you up and the ones that can benefit from what you're offering in your product or your service. So you need to define them and if you don't do that, you're going to suffer from any number of business problems. I'll give you some examples that are like symptoms of not having a honed target market. Things like not enough clients, or typical clients, or bad spitting clients, or poor profitability and if you're not loving your work, you also don't have perfect clients. So that's kind of step one, you've got to get the perfect clients and you need to know what are their pain problems, the ones that they both have the ability to pay to solve and are hungry to solve. That's because if they don't have both of those, you are lost in the wind, my friend. It doesn't work if you have just one, they need to have both. Then step two is, okay, so you've identified who they are, you've identified their problem that you can solve and now you need to give them the solution in the form of your product or service. That is the dog whistle that they can hear and then they're gonna respond with, "Oh, my gosh, she gets me, she understands my problem and where I am, she's been there, and you're the obvious one for me, and how can I work with you?"
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
One of my favorites is one of my collaborative lead generation partners, her name is Ann Bennett. She and I work very closely together now, referring people to each other, but also, we give each other speaking opportunities, we make introductions for each other, we share our clients with each other, if we see that the other person has a service that could help a client then we do that. So I met Ann at two different places, I met her at an IAW meeting, it's a networking meeting called the International Association of Women and I also met her at eWomenNetwork. She and I were both on the board of the IAW chapter here in Southern California. So we met, and we just started really getting to know each other first before doing any type of business together. And I think that's a key thing for people to know is that when you're networking, it's so rarely the case that you meet someone, and instantaneously they become their client. It's more the case that you're building that trust factor, you're getting to know the person, and then deciding whether or not you want to actually do business with them, or you want to be more of a power partner. However, sometimes, and this has happened to me, but it is not the majority of the time when all the stars align, and you meet someone, and there is the person you're meeting, who's first of all aware of the problem that you have the solution for, and they have already been looking for a solution. That's only 3% of people, 3% meet that criterion. Then that's when they can move quickly into being a client. But what about that other 97%? That's where the majority of your business and your relationships are going to be made so we need to have a whole strategy and system for that.
How do you stay in front of and best nurture your relationships?
Well, I do a variety of things, it really depends on the other person and how our relationship is set up. So for some people, I actually send them handwritten cards and I do that regularly. And you want to talk about a Pavlov's dog response, they love it, and if they don't get their card, you know, whatever it is once a month or once every two weeks, I hear about it. They're like, "Where's my card, were you not thinking about me this week?" Other examples are things like doing Facebook Lives together, where maybe I'll go on the other person's Facebook Live and have a conversation about what I do and how that could help that audience and vice versa, they could come on my Facebook groups, and we do a Facebook Live. It's really about sharing information that's going to elevate everyone. So when we work in collaboration, which really is a lot about networking, it's co elevating and co-creating, so that everyone is being lifted at the same time.
What advice would you offer that business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
I think the best one would be, and I know we've already talked about it, but really to do it in collaboration with other people. Because when you're growing your network, you really want to give yourself the best opportunity to do that. The best opportunity is going to be with other people so that you don't have to be alone, you don't have so much hard work and drudgery to do. When you do it with someone else, you also get the added benefit of being in a community and those good feelings of having support from somebody else, being able to share wins, and just having somebody else who has your back. So all of those can be felt and they are all somewhat intangible though you can't just put a number like 20% of people who have done this or that and have had support from somebody do better. There's really not the numbers, but it's the feeling and it is the actual application and the results. You will get results so much faster if you do it in collaboration.
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 one of the things that I would do, or tell myself would be to follow up more. Don't be shy about following up, because I used to have a lot of blocks, and sometimes they still show up in different forms and I'll talk myself out of following up. I'll say, "Oh that person went really wasn't that interested," or "They're not going to remember me," or "I don't really know what to say," or, "I don't want to feel rejected," you know, all of this mind chatter would be going on. Meanwhile, the days keep ticking by and then I get to whatever point a week, two weeks out, or two months out, and I'm like, "Oh, well now it's too late to follow up, they're really not going to remember me." So I would give myself the advice to just be bold, and have the confidence to follow up because nowadays, how I look at it is those people who I would follow up with, they have actually expressed some kind of interest when we were together. Also, they have a need, and if I don't help them solve that problem that they have, who's going to help them? It's like not giving food to somebody who's starving, and you got plenty of food? Right? Really you are doing yourself and the other person a huge disservice by not following up with them, connecting with them, letting them know what solutions you have for them. Then they get to decide if the timing is right and if it aligns with their value in terms of the price, but then it also if it aligns with what specifically they feel like they need and how confident and what kind of a rapport they have with you to give them that solution.
Do you have any final advice to offer our listeners about how to grow and support your network?
Well, I think the best advice is to just get out there. You can't win the game if you're not in the game. So just get out there and do the best you can. A lot of people are self-confident about going forward and networking, but you know what? The people you meet are probably going to be in a similar boat if that's you. These days, especially now more than ever, people are having a lot of compassion for other people's situations and if you don't say exactly the right thing, people are very forgiving and understanding and people just basically want to connect, and they want to know you. Of course, they want to know about your business, but people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.
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Bob is a sought after speaker at company leadership and sales conferences, sharing the platform with everyone from today's business leaders and broadcast personalities, to even a former US president. Bob is the author of a number of books on sales, marketing, and influence, with total book sales of well over a million copies. His book The Go-Giver, coauthored with John David Mann itself has sold over 975,000 copies and has been translated into 29 languages. His and John's newest parable and the Go-Giver Series is the Go-Giver influencer. Bob is an advocate, supporter, and defender of the free enterprise system, believing that the amount of money one makes is directly proportional to how many people they serve. He is also an unapologetic animal fanatic and is a past member of the board of directors of Furry Friends Adoption Clinic and Ranch in his town of Jupiter, Florida.
Can you share with our listeners that may not be familiar with the Go-Giver? What is the premise of the book, what it's all about?
It's a parable co-authored with John David Mann, who is just a fantastic writer. I'm kind of the How to person and he's the storyteller of the team, although he's a great entrepreneur himself. But the premise is really, that shifting your focus, and this is really where it begins shifting your focus, from getting to giving and when we say giving in this context, we simply mean constantly and consistently providing immense value to others. Understanding that doing so is not only a more pleasant way of conducting business, it's actually the most financially profitable way as well. And not for some way out there woo-woo type of magical mystical reasons, not at all it's actually very logical when you think about it. When you're that person who is able to take your focus off yourself and place it on others, making their lives better, helping them solve their problems, discovering what they want, need, desire, and helping them to get it well, you know, obviously people feel good about you. They want to get to know you, they like you, they trust you, they want to be a part of your life, your business. They're more likely to want to be your personal walking ambassadors.
So you've got the five laws. Can you share a little bit more about that give us a high-level overview of what exactly that is?
Sure, the laws themselves are the laws of value, compensation, influence, authenticity, and receptivity. The law of value is really all about making the buying experience so extraordinary for that other person that they feel as though they receive much more than what they paid for, which they did in terms of the actual value which is different from price right? Price is a dollar figure, value is the sort of relative worth or desirability of a thing of something to the end-user or beholder. What is it about this thing, this product, service, concept that brings so much worth or value to you that you will willingly exchange your money for it and feel great about it. It's like going to a restaurant and maybe it's a high price restaurant, and the bill is a high bill but the deliciousness of the food, the presentation, the exquisite service, the ambiance, the way the wait staff takes care of you, and makes you feel, every single thing about that restaurant is just wow. So you may have paid $150 or $200, but you come away feeling like a couple $1,000! So you got more than what you paid for and yet the restaurant owner, obviously, their costs are less than what they charge for the food. So they made a very nice profit themselves. So the law of value is all about providing that exquisite experience so the other person feels great about it, and you make a great profit as well. The law of value says that your income is determined by how many people you serve, and how well you serve them. So it's not enough for the restaurant owner to have, you know, one customer, right? They obviously need to serve or impact the lives of many, many, many diners, in order to make a very healthy income and it's the same with all of us. Law number three, the law of influence says your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people's interests first. This one's sort of important to go into a little bit only because it can easily be misconstrued. When we say, place the other person's interests first, we do not mean that you should be anyone's doormat, right? It's simply understanding as Joe the protege and the story learned from several of the mentors. The Golden Rule of business is that all things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like, and trust. There's no faster, more powerful, or more effective way to elicit those feelings toward you, in others, than by genuinely moving from that "I" focus or "me" focus to that "other" focus, making your win all about their win. Law number four, the law of authenticity says the most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself. In the story, one of the mentors, Deborah shared a very important lesson that all the skills in the world, the sales skills, technical skills, people skills, as important as they are, and they are very important. They're also all for not if you don't come at it from your true authentic core. But when you do when you show up as yourself day after day, week, after week, month after month, you inspire trust in people, people feel very comfortable with you, they feel very safe with you, they begin to know, like, love, and trust you and want to be in relationship with you. Law number five, the law of receptivity says that the key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving and this really means nothing more than, you know you breathe out, but you also have to breathe in. It's not one or the other, it's both. You breathe out carbon dioxide, breathe in oxygen, breathe out which is giving, breathe in which is receiving. Unfortunately, we learn so many negative messages from the world around us regarding money, prosperity, business, and so forth, that it really gets into the subconscious, the unconscious, and it's very easy to kind of put unconscious roadblocks in terms of money just because of the horrible messages. So what we'd like people to know is that giving and receiving are not opposite concepts. Giving and receiving are simply two sides of the very same coin and they work in tandem. It's not are you a giver or a receiver. You're a giver and a receiver. But what you know is that in life, the giving comes first right the giving value. As long as that's your focus, and then you allow yourself to receive, now you're in a position of real strength, prosperity, and abundance.
What's the best way to find a mentor and what recommendations would you have to someone that is trying to find one overall?
Well, I think finding a mentor is a great idea because the right mentor can cut your learning curve time by years. It's not always necessarily easy to find one, but it's certainly absolutely doable. What I would suggest, first of all, is if you can find someone who has been successful in that business already, that's a plus so long as this person also has similar values as you and the style that you would want to emulate. But it's not necessary in terms of mentorship that this person necessarily is in, or has been in the business that you're in. It could be a mentor in terms of life, principles, and strategies, and so forth. So again, it really depends on the situation, but in terms of seeking out a mentor, my feeling is that you want to go about it in a way that you understand that a mentor-protege relationship is just that it's a relationship and it takes time to develop. I see so many people who will approach someone who they respect and who they'd like to mentor them and say something like, "Hey, I really need a mentor, would you be my mentor?" And I think when doing that, it doesn't create the environment where that person really wants to, because first of all if you're asking them, there's a good chance lots of other people are asking them. They're busy people, and they've got lots of people who want their time, who basically want their free advice is what it comes down to. When you just ask someone to be your mentor, you don't distinguish yourself as anyone's special, so I wouldn't approach it that way. I'd be more inclined to approach it more humbly and in a way that creates an environment where that person wants to take their time with you. So you can really approach anyone like that who you admire, and simply say, "Listen, I know you're very busy, and if this is not something you have the time to do, or even the desire to do totally, totally understandable, but I'm wondering if I might ask you one or two very specific questions?" Now, when you approach the person, that way, you're doing a few different things. One, you're acknowledging the fact that this is very special and that you're making a big ask. So you're approaching with respect, you're giving this person in or out or back door, you're letting know right away that if this is just something they don't have time to do, or just would rather not, you totally understand. When you do this, it doesn't come across as untitled, it comes across more as someone who understands what you're asking, and that person is much more likely to want to do this for you. But here's the other thing. You didn't ask, you know, "Will you be my mentor?" What you instead said was, "May I ask you one or two very specific questions." What this tells the person is that you are someone who has your act together, you have a plan, you have an agenda. When I say agenda, in this case, I mean that in a good way, you know, you're not just going to come in to try to pick his brain or pick her brain, no, you actually have very specific questions. So they're much more likely to take you seriously and be willing to either sit down with you, or Skype, or zoom or, be on the phone with you, or whatever it is. First of all, what I'd suggest is to make sure you have totally researched this person. So you, first of all, you don't ask them anything the answer to which you could have easily looked up which of course, that will be very counterproductive to the relationship. But so you asked you know a couple of questions, you don't take much of their time, you thank them for their time, and let them know how much you appreciate it and you look forward to applying their wisdom, and that very day I would write a handwritten, personalized thank you note. Then also that day, I would make a small donation to their favorite charitable cause, which again, you should be able to find just by researching them. Let's say they're very big on animals with their local animal shelter or something and so you make a small donation in their name, it will get back to them. Now you're not doing it to kiss up to the person, you're simply doing it too, again, communicate that you take this seriously, and how thankful you are for their time. So between the handwritten thank, you note and the donation, you've just made a good impression with this person. You can follow up a few weeks later or whatever with an email or maybe a text if that's how they want to be contacted, or a call and ask another question. Eventually, if a mentor-protege ongoing relationship is supposed to occur, it will. If not, it won't. Don't be emotionally attached to that happening, you might have a whole bunch of one-time meeting many mentors until you find one that's going to be your eventual mentor, but you never know.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
Well, I think the best networking experience is simply when you successfully establish a potential relationship. Networking is really the cultivating of mutually beneficial give and take or give and receive win-win relationships with the emphasis obviously on the give. So when you go to a networking event, let's say and you meet someone, your entire plan should be to give value in terms of just making that person feel good about themselves. So when you can focus on their business and on what they do, and you ask them questions, and they're not salesy questions, prospecting questions, they're not intrusive, they're not invasive. But when you ask them what they do, and they tell you and you ask them how they got started in their business, that's such a great question, because nobody gets asked that question. And yet, you're asking them that question, and they appreciate that so much. Another great question to ask them what they enjoy most about what they do. Again, it's just a question that feels good to answer, and then don't worry about them not knowing what you do. They don't care right now. Your only goal at this networking function is to take the pressure off of yourself by taking the focus off of yourself, and instead focus on them. A wonderful question to ask, what I call the one key question that will separate you from the rest is to simply say, "How can I know if someone I'm speaking with would be a good client for you?" Again, you're totally communicating and creating value for them. You might set that up by saying to someone, "I always love connecting good people with other good people, tell me how can I know if someone I'm speaking with is a good potential customer for you?" Now, think about the impression you're making on that person when you do that. That's a good networking experience. When you come out when this person was happy to meet you and you can tell you really uplifted them and made their day. Now you want to make sure to get their contact information, just ask them for their business card at the end, they'll give it to you, and they'll ask you for yours and you give it to them. But really the big thing is you get theirs because then you're going to start the follow-up and follow-through process and send them that personalized handwritten note and you start from there. So a great networking experience isn't that you make a sale, that's hardly ever going to happen. The greatest networking experience is to just make a good connection.
So you started, you just touched on this a little bit, but how do one best nurture that network and that community that they have?
The first thing is I would send a personalized handwritten note to that person that day. Also if they're on LinkedIn or Facebook, you can always connect there as well and so forth. But what you really want to do over that next period of time is to, as you said, nurture that relationship. So when you can send information to them that they would find interesting not about your business, but you might know this person graduated from Notre Dame right and so you may look on the Notre Dame website, see what's happening, see if there's some information about Notre Dame that you can print out and send to them with a little note that just says, "Hey, I remember you saying you're you know, Fighting Irish fan and I saw this that you might be interested." Or you find something about their business that you might think would be a good prospect for them and you make a call and you do some research and find out who the contact person is and then you let them know. There's just there are so many ways, you can retweet a tweet of theirs, or repost a LinkedIn comment, so there are all sorts of ways that you can find to add value to another human being and develop that know like and trust relationship.
What advice would you offer that business professional who is really looking to grow their network?
I think to start now and begin making connections. Again, don't try to do it with everybody, but pick and choose and be open to everyone. Just get started I mean, it's really as simple as that.
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?
That's probably easy. I would tell 20 year old me, I'd say, "Young Bob Berg, shut up, talk less, listen much more, realize that pretty much everything you think you know that you're absolutely positively sure you know, just is not true." Because I really thought I knew it all back then.
Do you have any final words of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I think it's all you know, it all comes down to where your focus is. I always say, Be internally motivated, but outwardly focused. So when your focus can always be on bringing value to others, you're really always facing in the right direction. Because people respond to that, and so long as it comes from an authentic place, I think you really begin to develop those know like, and trust relationships, pretty big time.
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With three decades as a life coach and self-made millionaire, Rock Thomas inspires people to live a life on their terms. From humble beginnings that started out on a farm just off the island of Montreal, Rock Thomas rode to the top to become a self-made millionaire, best-selling author, and host of the top-rated podcast, Rock your Money, Rock your Life. For years, Rock traveled the world to study with Deepak Chopra, Anthony Robbins, Jack Canfield, Robert Kiyosaki, and more. With over 42 streams of income, Rock's mission is to teach others how to become financially free and live an epic life on their terms.
How does one scale a business to get to 42 different levels of income?
Well, one at a time. You just do them kind of every six months, I guess for 21 years. But the reality is once you figure out what the system and processes are to do things, you're basically looking for talent. So I'm actually working on my 43rd stream right now, which is the solar business and I have a current small organization that does $10 million a year of sales. We're going to scale that in 2021 to $100 million, using the system and processes that I have done in my past businesses. So it's really about finding talent, creating a manual for training because most people stumble in the training area, they don't know how to do it, and then making sure you have the Empire builders and the Empire protectors. The protectors are the finance people, the systems, the processes and guarding the money and the builders are the marketing and salespeople. So you're probably wearing hats on both ends which is frustrating because there's not one person I've met that flows in both of those dynamics. We were all meant for something and that's why we do assessments, the disk model, you may have heard of things like that, figure out which team you're on. Are you in the offense team or the defense team? Let's put you in the right place and let you flourish and then the offense doesn't have to worry about defense and vice versa.
Let's circle back to the training and creating a manual for training. Where do you see entrepreneurs failing in that area?
So when you get to be 58 like I am, you have gone through every trial and error and eventually, I decided to invest money in getting the experience from other people. I tried everything myself, but I got exhausted. So you know, you buy a book for 20 bucks, you get somebody with 20 or 30 years of experience, you take a course you get the same thing. What I learned is that a process called me, we, they. The biggest mistake that small entrepreneurs do is they work until they're working 60-70 hours a week, and then they can't take it anymore. They find somebody like their unemployed cousin or their neighbor's daughter or whatever, and they go help me out with some admin stuff. But they're so busy, that they don't train them properly. They do a poor job because they weren't trained properly, and then the solopreneur goes, "Nobody can do it like me." They Pat themselves on the back, they tell their spouse, their family how awesome they are and everybody else in the world just doesn't get them. Understand that business model, and that they have to do everything on their own. They play a little bit the martyr sometimes and then eventually they get burnt out over time. The solution is a step by step process of training called me, we, they.
What is me, we, they?
So you do your own sales? And can you do it? Like are you making a living? Yes. Right. So what you would do in that sales process, whatever it is, on the phones, are you sending emails or you're talking to people at networking events or you're on Zoom call. Whatever it is, you need to have the person you're going to hire that either has great sales experience, ideally, already, six-figure income earner, because you don't want to necessarily start from the bottom, because that will be a long cycle, they need to witness you doing it. So in one of my businesses, we do zoom calls, and we call them directors of opportunity. They speak to people for about half an hour, and we have a script that they follow. But before they even get a chance to talk to one of our leads, is they have to watch multiple recordings of me doing the call and enrolling people. Then we do role-playing with them and then they jump on a call with one of our directors of opportunity, and they just sit there quietly and watch. That's the me part. They watch me do it, they will watch you do it. Then you will do something called a CSI, Creative Suggestions for Improvement, which is after the call you're going to ask them, "So what did you think I did that was great.? What did you think I could do that needed improvement? And how could I have made it better?" Once you go through that process over and over and over again, the person starts to become highly aware of how it works, then you shift to the not the me but to the we and that's where you say, "Hey, why don't you do that segment on product service, or on refunds, or on whatever it is you break it down into pieces?" Then you do the CSI with them. So you're like, "Hey, what did you think you did really well?" And then you give them feedback, you discuss it until they get to a place where they can do it to the part where they can do it at the standard that you have set for your organization.
Sounds like you offer a lot around mentorship, coaching, and training. Can you talk a little bit about what you do to help businesses overcome these hurdles?
20 years ago, I did my first Tony Robbins event and I fell in love with the power and impact that it had on me that I kept going back and I hired him as a coach, I paid him $100,000. I did 19 events in 19 months, and I watched people's lives change. But when I started to do this for the last 20 years and 75 events later, I realized that it's about 5-8% of the population that can implement what they learn. Everybody else goes home and their environment supersedes their ability to apply what they learned. So you've got to really protect your environment, like an ecosystem, and find people that are hard-charging like you want to be or you are, and then it's easier to maintain a new normal. So I created a group eight years ago, a tribe of healthy wealthy, generous people that choose to lead epic lives and don't apologize for grabbing like big. We gather people like yourself, or other people that all want this dream life where they don't have to work all the time, they want to add value, they want to make an impact, they want to leave their mark or legacy. Then we help refine each other because steel sharpens steel and we have a culture of support, encourage and challenge. So if you are in the group, and you're like, "Hey, I'm trying to scale my business, here's my challenge," you're going to get feedback from, you know, what is 350 people now. Not from all of them, but from some of them will comment and go, "Hey, have you tried this?" or, "Hey, this is what I did when I was at your stage, here's a resource or talk to this person." So when you put yourself in that environment, it's a bit like if you're part of a country club, like a golf or tennis or chess club or something, everybody has a mindfulness toward getting better at that particular craft. Ours just happens to be entrepreneurship, and a strong mindset because the chains of habit are too weak to feel until they're too strong to break. Sadly, most people don't realize this until they're down the road. And then they now have to try to break these habits and they tell themselves this story that holds them back. Or if you're somebody like yourself, you're incredibly driven, you're going to push through and get things done, but it starts to drain you because it's not your sweet spot. So we got to get people into their sweet spot where they thrive, where they feel great about what they're doing. And they have enough leadership skills to add people to do the stuff they don't like.
You mentioned the whole life millionaire. Can you share with our listeners what exactly it is or define that for us?
Yeah, so again I'm in my late 50s. So I have a bit of experience and what I noticed is that a lot of people, you know, Maslow's hierarchy of needs is food, shelter, clothing, and they struggle to win the money game. We are a consumer society, we're not taught to earn to save, we're taught to earn to spend. So most people are living paycheck to paycheck, the average American makes $44,000 a year. Even if you're a solopreneur and you're making 150 or 200, the net is what counts and for most people, it's not very much. So people struggle, they don't put money away so they never can really retire. For the few people that have said, "You know what, I am going to become a millionaire," most of them have given up on their relationships or their health to get there because they have to go all in. I don't have time to work out, I don't have time to take the kids to soccer, etc, etc. So I said to myself, there's got to be a way that you can be healthy, have great relationships in your family, your friends, and your significant other, and be financially free. So I created a model for that and we tested it and 66 people later, it's not a million people. But I think it's pretty good creating 66 millionaires, I don't know anybody else that can say they've done that. It's kind of like, we're popping now like popcorn, one or two a month, because we have the system and the methodology. So it's really about this whole life having it all.
Can you share with our listeners, one of your favorite or most successful networking experiences that you've had?
Yeah, sure, by the way, I really believe that your net worth will only grow to the extent of your network. So I think if you look at your network as a place where you come to add value, you don't have to be fearful around Oh, I'm coming to get something. I think that's partially what creates fear for some people. But I was at an event seven or eight years ago, and there was a speaker who was very dynamic. I went up to him after the end of the event as I do, and a lot of situations when I see somebody that I can learn from, and I said, "You live in Austin, Texas, I'm going to be there in a couple of weeks for a training, I'd love to spend some time with you and hang out." He kind of looks me up and down, like who the hell are you, and he goes, "Do you golf?" And I said, "Yeah," and he goes, "Okay, come a day early, and we'll golf." So we golfed and became fast friends and now we started two or three businesses together. He's in real estate, I'm in real estate, we started one of our mastermind groups together, we've done investments in multifamily. I'm very fortunate he has gone on to become really wealthy. So as an example, on the 21st and 22nd of this month, he's flying in with his jet. I know it sounds pretentious. He's picking me up and we're going to Pebble Beach to go golfing for two days, and then come back here in Scottsdale and spend some time together, masterminding on our next business project. We've shared some stock tips together and one of the reasons he's coming to pick me up is he says, "That last stock take you tip you gave me made me $48,000 so I think I owe you a trip." So this is the type of thing that can happen when you hang around people that are intentional around wealth and playing big and having fun. But you know what, since those 7-8 years ago, we've grown together we've contributed to each other's lives. So networking to me is you know, often call them up and I'll ask them, How can they add value? Who you want to meet? I just did one of my podcasts and met somebody's really cool. Would you like to learn more about them? Here's somebody you should be on their podcast. So I think the networking thing starts first with adding value. I think people forget that because they usually come to get because we're trying to build something come to serve and to give and you usually find that things will come back to you.
With quite a vast network and community, how do you stay in front of invest, nurture the relationships that you've created?
I think that that's a tough one because sometimes I go through my portals, you know, Facebook, text, Instagram, and DMs and I feel like I could just circle through the over endlessly to create and keep relationships. So I have a couple of personal assistants now that manage a lot of the relationships up to a certain period of time. And eventually, people understand that if you're going to have a conversation with me, it's going to have to pass certain levels of problem-solving. Because it is impossible to talk to everybody on every level for everything. So you just kind of grow to that place and then people understand it.
Yeah, that makes sense and this is obviously what you preach and teach a lot is finding the right people to handle certain jobs and tasks.
Yeah, talent is probably the biggest problem that successful people have and it's the biggest thing that struggling upcoming people fail to recognize. So when I talk with my different buddies that are running big companies, their whole thing all about always looking for talent. I used to be proud that I paid people the least amount possible. Today, and I learned this story from one of my mentors is you can judge your success by how much you pay your people. So here's the example. Maybe you pay, the person that works for you minimum wage, they cut your grass or whatever, great, you got a couple of people working for you, somebody cleans your house, or you have a COO that you pay $280,000 a year to run one of your companies. That's pretty cool because they are generating a lot of value for you. So if you can afford to have two or three or four people at that level, then you're probably doing a lot of the work still.
What advice would you offer the business professionals looking to grow their network?
Your one good hire from the next level in your company, you need to decide who that is, is it going to be an admin person? Is it going to be an operations person or a salesperson or a marketing person? You may have to sub some people out and you can do that more and more today. So you can hire somebody remotely from the Philippines or what have you. But if you're going to grow, you got to take off another hat or two. But I would say the hat that you need to keep on is you need to be aware. This is how I divide my businesses up into four areas: traffic or leads, nurturing of those leads or the funnel online, sales which is creating relationships with the leads, and then identifying and giving them the right product or service, and then the fulfillment. What most entrepreneurs are really good at is the fulfillment part. So they teach people how to dance or they will have a restaurant and they are good at cooking the food. But they're not good at the other three parts. So decide what you're really good at and even if you're not good at sales, you've got to keep a relationship with sales, because sales is the lifeblood of your entire organization. Without sales, nothing happens so you can't just delegate sales completely. If you do you're going to give them a lot of money because most people suck at sales and if you're going to hire somebody, you're going to give up 20 to 50% of what comes in.
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?
Hang out with smarter people. I mean, I grew up as a farm boy in a town and I had very low self-esteem. My brothers and sisters called me pizza face and told me I was ugly and so I was really introverted. So all I did was like a taxi and I built decks, anything that really didn't have to do with having to be that much out there. But what I would have learned differently is that, as humans, we have seasons. There are seasons where you're going to be awesome and seasons where you're not going to be awesome. You're going to go through a stage, if you're married, where maybe you have young children, and you're going to feel not as important in a relationship. I was not as patient as I could have been in relationships. I played sports and lead the team, and if somebody dropped the ball two or three times, I want to kick them off the team, like I was a little bit ruthless for standards, because that's what I experienced growing up. So I would be a little bit more I guess, compassionate, and empathetic with the people in my life at a younger stage of my life, and I've learned that in my later years.
What triggered your, your shift in your professional career?
You know, I just started to notice that I had a lot of broken relationships. For a while, I was like, "Oh, that person's unreliable or that person's lazy." Then I kept on going, "Hmm, there's one common denominator in this whole thing and that's me." So I started to realize, okay, well, what part am I taking in this process of broken relationships. I started to realize that I had, you know, stupid high levels of expectations and it was creating a lot of broken relationships. So I started to realize that just because somebody has a bad day or a bad week, you can't just fire them, you realize we're all variable, and life happens, where's a little bit of flexibility. So that took a long time too because, you know, I was raised on a farm. The horses want to be fed, whether it rains or it's sunny, or it's Christmas, or your birthday, or you're sick. So we learn to create a result every day on the farm, whether you feel like it or not. Those drilled into me so I ran my businesses that way, which created incredible growth. But it also created some alienation with people that had a life. Over time, I started to increase my awareness, meditate more, do more yoga, and go, okay, there's another way to look at this life.
Do you have any final words, or advice for our listeners with regards to growing and support your network?
I think to look for the people that excite you when you talk to them or see them, and go up and try to either add value or be part of their ecosystem, you've got to invest in yourself. We teach 10% of whatever you earn needs to be reinvested in education, mentorship, products, services, learning about how to do your job better in a fast-paced, changing world, like we have today. If you can't afford to invest in that, then you need to invest in adding value. Do a hang out with somebody, add value, pick up their dry cleaning, bring them a coffee, offer to hang out with them and do things, and learn from just being in their environment. So one or the other, but get around people that have the result that you want, learn from them, and turn decades into days.
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Amanda is an award-winning international speaker and trainer who is passionate about supporting vision and mission-driven entrepreneurs learn how to communicate more effectively and deepen relationships in their network. She combines her unique experience from over 20 years in corporate education and direct selling spaces to deliver and facilitate powerful and transformative training and coaching to her clients. The loves of her life, or her husband, three boys, and three dogs.
What experiences in your past ultimately led you to do what you're doing today?
For me, it really started back when I was in high school. My middle school and high school years were a bit tumultuous, I didn't have a great time at home. We had a couple of moves and I just never really felt like I fit in anywhere, except for my ceramics teacher's classroom. When I would go into that classroom, he just created this safe space and it was like I could take off my energetic armor and just be me. He helped me feel seen and heard and helped me gain confidence at a time that I didn't have any. It was that experience, that I realized the importance of relationships, the importance of quality communication. Sadly, it took me a couple of years after high school to realize what an impact he had on my life. I remember the day that I realized that and thought, "You know what, I'm gonna go back to high school and visit him and thank him and just let him know that he made a difference in my life." I kid you not hours later, I found out that he had died in a car accident, I never had the chance to thank him. He was just a major reason why I went into teaching and in doing that, I realized I have this love of facilitating connections, whether it be a person to person connection, a connection to some new content outside of you, that makes a difference, or a connection to something within. So that really was the driver in the start to why I do what I do today.
How does marketing coordinate with sales and how are they different? And when you look at traditional prospecting and sales versus really building a relationship with someone. Speak to that a little bit if you can.
Absolutely, I started off my sales experience when I got involved in a direct sales company and I started my direct sales company like I'm sure many other people do. I loved the product, and I wanted to make a difference and share it with other people and did not necessarily have a great experience with sales and you know, it was to share your message next, next, next, and eventually, you'll get it Yes. It just didn't feel good to me and I didn't like the way that I felt, I didn't like the way that other people responded and it just never felt authentic to me. So when I discovered this concept called relational marketing, it really resonated with me. When we deal with traditional sales, and it's all about learning a little bit about the person, spending a lot of time talking about what you can give them, and then spending even more time overcoming objections. It seems like more of a convincing type of experience. With relational marketing and prospecting, it's spending a lot of time, in the beginning, developing a relationship, building trust, and then through that, discovering and uncovering a need. By that point, that trust is there and the relationship is built, so it's a very easy transition into the sales conversation. It's more authentic, it's more service-based and for me, that was what really mattered in making the difference.
So let's talk about referrals. If a business owner isn't getting the referrals that they want, what would you recommend they do?
Yeah, so I spent a lot of time networking, and one of the things that I teach is actually building more of a referral base for your business, because the act of getting a referral from somebody, you're borrowing somebody's trust, right? Like if you've got this interesting connection and somebody recommends a product or a service to you from somebody, you've got this trust in your existing relationship, so then inherently, you have a trust in that person. So getting referrals for your business are so much more lucrative and your customer will be more willing to buy more from you, stay with you longer and refer business to you so referrals are extremely important. One of the things that I hear a lot in networking situations is, "I go, I show up every week, and I'm not getting any referrals." Really, there are like five steps to the referral process and I think a lot of us were not taught that when we go into business. The first step in the referral process is trust. It's a big step, it takes time, and it takes getting to know each other, doing what you say you're going to do, showing up consistently, adding value, and really coming to be a valuable member of that community. After that is business knowledge, like, do people in your network understand what you do for your business, how you do it, any intricacies. One of the common things, I was talking to an insurance broker, and he was like, "I get all these referrals for life insurance and different forums and I deal with cybersecurity insurance." Well, members in his network simply didn't have the business knowledge. So making sure that your networking partners have knowledge of your business. And then from there, it's like making sure that that person has a need. I think we so often want to help people in our network and a common example I give is on Facebook where if you see somebody post a picture with their cup of coffee saying, "Oh my gosh, I'm so exhausted," and I say, "Oh, my gosh, they need this health and wellness product, I know it, I'm going to connect to them and refer them." Well, the person with a cup of coffee may not realize or have a desire or interest in that. So there really isn't this process in uncovering a need. Then the fourth step is actually edifying your referrer. It's a big difference to say, "I met Sam last week at a networking event and he does insurance and, maybe you guys will connect," versus, "Wow, Sam has been in the insurance industry for 10 years. And he's had all of these awards and he's very, very passionate about making sure his customers do this. He's just this great guy, I think he would be a great connection for you." Do they know how to edify you and do they know how to introduce you? Finally, the final step would be making that referral. So while a lot of us think making a referral is just this easy process, there's a lot more that goes into that process, and being able to teach people in your network how to refer to you will give you more quality referrals, as well as grow their confidence and being able to refer to you.
Can you share with our listeners, one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
Absolutely. I was thinking about this and it actually came to fruition very recently and started last year, and I think that goes into the value of networking, and that it is a long game and it is about building those relationships and building that trust. So for me, I created quite a community, a network participating in the direct selling space that I was in. I really make sure that I showed up and added value and built those relationships. I shifted into becoming a trainer for a sales methodology a couple of years ago, and had let some people in my network know and that I was excited about it. One of the leaders for the network marketing company up in Canada caught wind of it and said, "Oh, my gosh, we need a trainer for our international conference, would you come up and, you know, train on stage?" She had learned through the grapevine and the network that I was doing that and had reached out for that connection. So I went up and had the opportunity to train in front of 1200 people, which I gotta tell you was terrifying but very exciting. However, one of the participants in that audience had watched the training and was interested and never really did anything about it. Then about three months later reached out to somebody in the network and found my name, and we ended up connecting. That was back in January of this year. I never met her in person, but we started collaborating over zoom once a week, and then she brought in three other women that were in her various network that she had made connections with. Then through the course of this year, we collaborated and just launched the Women's Impact Academy several weeks ago, which I'm so excited about and all of that started with networking and building those relationships and connections. It's just fun to see where they go because you just never know.
What do you do to continue to nurture your network and your community?
I think one of the biggest things is consistency and showing up. If it's a networking group that meets every week, showing up week after week and being there. To nurture those connections, I've heard this rule called the Platinum Rule as opposed to the Golden Rule, right? The Golden Rule is to treat others the way that you want to be treated. The Platinum Rule is to treat others the way that they want to be treated. So I always make sure that I go to those networking events with this kind of givers gain mentality, like, What can I do for them? Who can I connect them to? Who's in my network? What value can I add? Just always showing up with that mindset, and making those connections as they come about. Doing things like if I see something, an article or a piece of information that would benefit them in their business, reaching out. There are all sorts of little relationship-building activities that you can do. Send them a little postcard or something, to commemorate something, or thank them for a referral, those types of things. So really, it is about looking at that relationship, as I don't want to say a friendship, but it is, it's a business relationship that does need to be nurtured. So it's going above and beyond and doing those special things as they come up.
What advice would you offer the business professional who is looking to grow their network?
I'm definitely a believer in the one to one connections. With the relationship marketing training that I have, we talk about this concept of a complementary business owner. So what are industries that are complementary to what you do? So they may have the same target market, however, if your ideal customer buys something from them, that's not taking money out of their pocket to buy something from you. So an easy example of this would be a realtor and a mortgage broker, something like that they're complementary businesses. So making those connections, and setting up those one to one, conversations is where I have found the most quality connections. Second, periodically taking a look at your networking opportunities. What networks you are a part of, and making sure you've got some variety there. So kind of doing this little analysis on a networking group. How big is it? How often do they meet? Do they have people there that have access to my target market? Within there showing up consistently, and again, it is time-consuming, but again, it's that long game. Once that connection is there, it's a lot easier to keep them Top of Mind and grow from there.
I'm going to make you think about your 20-year-old self here for a moment. What would you tell yourself to do more or less of, or differently with regards to your professional career?
If you were paying attention to my bio introduction, I've had quite the journey. I started off in the corporate world and I quickly decided I didn't like the politics and went into education, became a classroom teacher, and then stayed home. Then it was, "What am I going to do now?" And that's kind of my step into entrepreneurship. Even that I started in direct sales, and then I went in, you know, to do a different couple different training methodologies. I would say I've had a very winding journey and I'm grateful for every step along the way, because being able to look back and connect the dots for these meaningful experiences, is the value that I can offer to my clients, that's the value that I can offer to my networking partners, all of these different experiences. So I think I would tell myself to worry less about the changes and embrace the changes and just have confidence in the journey. And we never grow up, I just realized a few months ago. I think COVID has shaken up a lot of us and made us reevaluate things and, either confirm and affirm what we're doing, or maybe shift gears and kind of pivot a little bit. Sorry, that's an overused word this year. But it's a journey and I think we're so fortunate and that's the fun part about entrepreneurship and, being business owners and being able to adapt, create and show up how we want to have that freedom and that flexibility. Change is not always comfortable, but I have found in my life, while there's been a lot of painful moments, good has always come from it. Embrace the journey!
So we've all heard of the six degrees of separation if you could connect with one person. Who is it and do you think you can do it within the sixth degree?
So my person who jumped to mind right away would be Jen Sincero. She's the author of You Are a Badass. I read her book maybe four years ago now and it completely changed my life and it's just her tone of voice, her presence, her authenticity. I will say I have her book on Audible as well, and I cannot listen to it in the car with my boys, I keep having to say ear muffs. So if profanity bothers you, maybe choose somebody else's book. But for me, it just resonated with who I am and her authenticity and her sense of humor. It really had a huge impact on my confidence, on my vision, waking me up and saying, "You know what, I want to do something bigger in this world, I want to make a difference, and I can, why not?" So Jen Sincero would be that woman, and I absolutely believe that in the six degrees of separation will have a meal with her. Maybe it's virtual at this point, but I will meet her and have a conversation with her one day.
Do you have any final words of advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
It's kind of cliche, but one of my favorite things that I hear is your network is your net worth. It really is and while developing those relationships can sometimes feel time-consuming, and there's not a lot of reward, they can really pan out. It may not be months, but even years, you know, just continually growing your network, adding, putting the good out there, and being able to make connections between people. That's my favorite thing to do.
Connect with Amanda:
This week, I've got no guest, it's a solo cast. I'm going to be talking to you about building a blog that provides real value.
The Importance of having a blog?
I want to dive into the importance of writing a blog. I mean, what is a blog at the end of the day? What I want to share is that a blog is literally fuel for the search engine fire. It's giving you more content to share on social media, it's providing and proving your expertise. Studies have indicated that businesses that are actively blogging acquire more customers because they have a stronger brand presence online. It ultimately allows you to level the playing field and helps you to get to know your target audience and it helps your target audience to get to know you.
The Keystone Click Blog:
I look at our Google Analytics, I often will break it up into the different segments of the site and figure out what kind of elements of our site are driving the most traffic. Historically, there is a blog post that continues to show up as one of the top-visited pages on our website. Now, what's fascinating is that this post was written in 2014. So this blog post was written by one of my team members. It likely took her maybe about three hours, that's on average, what we budget per blog post, to do a little research and writes and then published it, and now today, it still drives traffic to our site.
What Should you Write About?
First and foremost, start with the top questions that are asked of you, from your customer base when you're in that discovery phase when you're getting to know someone from a networking standpoint, even established clients that you have. Anytime someone is asking you a question, just write it down. Do that exercise for a week and it will give you a ton of ideas for what to write about. The reason you want to do this is that oftentimes, questions are what is being entered into search engines, people often are searching a question to find an answer or solution. So if you're writing questions, or answering questions as a form of your blog content, is going to help elevate your opportunity to be found in the search engines.
It's no different than a podcast but you could do a written interview, like if you were interviewing someone for a written publication of sorts. The beauty of doing this is one it gives you a lot of content that you don't need to really polish up because you can simply transcribe the conversation. Also if you have a guest that you are interviewing or you're highlighting someone else's expertise, they're likely going to share that content with their audience, which extends the reach of your blog, on your site.
The 80-20 Rule:
80% of the content that you create should be considered evergreen content. What that means is, it is a value to your audience today and tomorrow, and it was valuable yesterday. So it has a longer shelf life. Referencing that blog post that I talked about when I opened up, it was written in 2014, it is still relevant content today, therefore it is still providing value, it is still bringing visitors to our website. So identifying information, that is your expertise that will work for a long time, as opposed to saying, "Hey, we've got a special going on that ends on Friday," that is considered time-sensitive content.
Leveraging your Team and Partners:
If it's more than just you or even if you have resources, partners that you work with, they all have different areas of expertise. Ask them what types of questions they're being asked, and understand their expertise a little bit. Maybe you take the approach of answering the questions that are being asked, but taking the interview approach and interviewing your team and partners to get the solid answers
Identify what your Core Offering is:
Identify what your core offering is, and then make a list of the eight types of questions that people could potentially ask related to that offering. So, for example, we offer website design services, website design, and development. So that would be my core offering that I'd put here and then I'm going to look at the who question. Who am I going to be working with? Who's my main point of contact? Who's actually designing the site? Who on my team needs to be involved in this project? Then you look at the what questions. What kind of features am I going to have on my website? What kind of training Am I going to get with my website? What kind of materials do you need from me? Then look at the why questions. Why should we use WordPress content management system? Why should we have our site on Squarespace? Why should I renew my domain name for 10 years? Next up are the when questions. When is my site can be done? When do you need me to learn to sign off on things? Then come the where questions. We'll look at how questions. How do I make edits to my sites? How do I know that the site is safe and secure? Next up are the which questions. Which image is going to be better? Which color palettes? Which fines should I be using? Which content management system should I have? Which hosting provider? Then the last question is a yes or no question. So you identify that core offering product service, whatever it is, you look at the eight questions types of questions, then you just kind of brainstorm and map out what types of questions that people ask related to this offering. Every one of those 8 questions could be made into a blog post.
5 Best Practices:
Have any questions about blogging? Reach out and I’d be happy to help!
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Cheale is the CEO and visionary rabbit of Visual Caffeine and for 25 years has stayed true to her authentic self and worked exclusively through her branding agency to help clients magnify and broadcast their message. Currently, visual caffeine continues to bring companies and communities’ goals to fruition, not only by building messages and magnifying voices but by building and magnifying a relationship.
Let's talk about Instagram a little bit. What is one of the biggest mistakes that people are making on Instagram?
Honestly, it's amazing to me, it seems to be the same mistake people have been making since Instagram started. It's the over promoting! People tend to stay really imbalanced with the amount that they're driving really quality-driven content that feeds their credibility, feeds their brand, and instead, they make their channel about sales.
What are a few ways for a company to put their brand out there to exemplify their brand in social media?
I honestly think it's two C's, it's content and consistency. Being consistent about who you say you are and who you are trying to be out there in the world and being perceived in an authentic way. But then also putting out quality content that you know your target market would be interested in and freely give it, don't hold back.
So let's talk about the websites a little bit. What mistakes do companies make with their website that affects the user experience?
First off, people approached the website, a lot of times as just kind of this online brochure, that is how the website started. I was in the midst of the web boom, that's when I started my company and it was all about making your website this online brochure like it was so great to even have a website. But now and for a long time, your website needs to be this fluid, organic space that you're nurturing your users that are coming in, because that glimmering back button is always there, and you have a very short period of time that you have to pull them in. Once they get there, they want to be pulled into a culture that is your brand, want to find what they are seeking and why they're there. So they want to be understood, they want to find what they were looking for when they found you. If you don't quickly give that to them, you are going to lose them as fast as they came in. Part of that is making things as easily communicated as well. I like the term "frictionless as possible", meaning that they have the least amount of steps to get what they want, and also for you to get a sale with them.
Well gosh, I've had so many! I basically built my business on networking and relationship and I would say, it is one of the best ways to grow your business organically. I mean, yes, we would love our businesses to grow at an exponential speed. But to have relationships to build loyalty amongst groups of people, and to nurture that over time, and as well as that adds the circle is just an amazing thing, and I've been that is how I've grown for over over 25 years. But I would say my best networking experiences have been recently when I got involved with Highbury. It's an organization that was actually a co-working space in San Francisco. I read about Grace, who had started the organization several years ago, but when the pandemic happened, it was solely in San Francisco. When the pandemic happened, I was like, "Oh, I wonder if they have created a virtual space," and she has successfully created such a community of women and trust in her circle with everyone who is a member, and she did open it up into a virtual space. Ever since I've joined that community, I've just had these amazing connections with very like-minded women and I've actually even pulled some other people in my own network over there because I thought that they would love the experience as well. Of course, it gives me the feeling of obviously, a West Coast culture is very much in there, but it's in a great and fantastic way. To me, it all has to do with Grace's leadership as to why that has happened. Even our zooms are just very engaging, and where we've seen a lot of tiredness with doing zooms, she has successfully continued to implement zooms that are engaging, and you feel like you're always coming away with inspiration. It's just been truly incredible.
I love that you've identified a community with like-minded individuals, that can be so powerful. I'm sure it's helped to maintain a positive mindset to be around some like-minded individuals, but I would imagine there's been some growth to your business from that as well.
Oh, absolutely. I feel like one of the key things that I have done through my years of networking is diversification. So always diversifying the circles you're in because one of the values you deliver relationships is having relationships that they don't have. Well, the only way you can have that is to be always diversifying the circles and relationships you're building. By doing that our virtual sense has allowed us to expand our circles globally, which is really one of the best ways to help connect your existing contacts with new contacts that could be across the ocean, but they still would be great opportunities for them. That's something that I've always sought to do in my relationships. It's never about what I'm going to get out of it, it's about what I can do to serve others. I feel like when we approach relationships with a self-serving mentality, we're really no different than that sales guy at the carwash, you know, it's kind of putting a relationship face on while I'm just trying to sell you.
So regardless of the size of your network and your community, how do you stay in front of and best nurture these relationships?
That would be taking the extra time to connect and check-in. Even if it's just an email, or if it's a DM on social media, or it's sharing something they have going on in social media, there are ways that you can continue to nurture those relationships and keep that connection alive. It doesn't always mean that you have to be taking 30 minutes aside or an hour aside to have a coffee meet up or something. There are always ways that we can show that we support and we are trying to serve them in our relationships.
What advice would you offer to business professionals looking to grow their network?
First, I would say to think about what type of relationships are you really wanting to build. Some people's goals are to obviously grow their business, get more clients, then you need to look in areas where are those potential clients. Then start looking at those places to start networking, to start nurturing. I mean that's even the wisdom of you know when we are in social media. Where should we be having and starting conversations? Well, it's where our target is. But if you're looking to, I don't know, get into a publication or something like that, then you're going to want to start building relationships with journalists and people of that nature. So really to me, the choices, you may have to do with the goals you have. I have always wanted to make sure that where I'm building relationships has a lot to do also with community give back and where we can best serve the community as a whole because that's where we always should start is supporting our local community. Sometimes the best people you can meet are also ones with that community-minded service and you find your people there. If you're minded that way, you're going to find your tribe that way and then expand out from there.
Let's 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 first would tell myself to trust my instincts. There are many times where I ignore my instincts, because I heard something that influenced me differently, or I allowed someone to sway me differently. My gut has always been the center in which I have best-made decisions and moved forward. By trusting that those were always where I look back at my history, and that's always where I was on the right path. The things that I would tell my 20-year-old self to avoid doing is making sure that you are always continuing to lead in a heart and service and never veer away from that road as well.
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?
Sophia Amoruso from Girl Boss. I actually looked her up on LinkedIn and I am three degrees away from her. That was really cool because she is someone who would really be an amazing coffee chat with.
What would you ask?
I would ask about her soul and the passion that drives her. Digging Deeper into what has driven her all of this time and also about her tenacity to keep herself always shifting and doing what she needs to keep moving forward. I have a lot of admiration for her. I think she's an amazing woman, and she's someone I feel like, has even more wisdom than she has put out there that a really deep conversation would reveal.
Do you have any final word or advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I would say, just continue to be authentic, transparent, be of service, always think with a service mind. This is how we best serve our clients, this is how we best can show love to everybody that we engage with a meet. And never treat someone with your preconceived judgments, always treat everybody like they're Oprah Winfrey. Because when you make preconceived notions about people, it does affect how you will treat them and you always should treat everyone as if they are a superstar.
Connect with Cheale:
Visual Caffeine’s website: https://visualcaffeine.com/
Simon is the CEO of Strategy Sprints, Europe's leading remote growth agency. His global team of certified strategy sprint coaches do only one thing: they double the revenue of service-based businesses in 90 days. Simon also teaches growth strategy and select business schools and hosts The Strategy Show podcast.
Can you just tell us a little bit about what certified strategy sprint coaches is?
Sure, so we coach business owners, small business owners into having more freedom, more impact, and more revenue. Our goal is in 90 days of coaching to have them double their revenue or at least significantly move forward to fast track their growth goals. In this funky year, it's quite a challenge, but we are doing really well.
Let's talk a little bit about goals. Your statement is that goals are a bad thing, why is that?
You know, today in my city, Vienna, we just had a terror attack in the middle of the night out of nowhere. So the first thing is you check if your family is safe and if your friends save, etc. Whatever goals I had for these months are not helping me at all in this real-life situation. But the systems that I have in place limit how far we are going to fall down. So you never raise to your high goals, but you only fall as low as your systems are. For example, your systems can be your morning routine, who picks up the kids, your communication systems, your decision-making system. So my wife and I, we had to decide how do we do that, kids in school kids not in school? Which meetings do we delete? etc. So all the goals that we have are just for sunny times, and entrepreneurship is not about sunny times, it's an all-weather sport. So you need systems that help you especially cope with the bad weather and this year has taught us a lot about that. You need systems much more than you need goals. Having said that I just posted today my goals on LinkedIn publicly, so I like to have goals. But even that it's a system of telling the public what my goals are, because it will keep me accountable, and it will keep me rolling. It will also create some emerging properties that are super nice. For example, today in the morning, I posted that one of my goals is to hire a video editor. Two hours later, somebody wrote to me "Hey, I know somebody can I introduce you?" So even the goals I have, I use them as a system. The system of setting up the goals at the beginning of the month, of communicating them, of delivering them, and at the end of reviewing the amount and setting up the new ones and again communicating the new ones, because it creates more connection and a better and more truthful relationship. But in hard times you need systems more than goals.
So let's look at 2020, which is the year of disruption. How can businesses survive and thrive throughout this year?
This is a special year, we've never had a year like this. So the only thing that we all have in common is that nobody knows what's going on. So markets are shifting, and of course, cash crunch everywhere. Everybody has some form of cash crunch, but also massive opportunities are arising. We have this coaching program for business owners and the dozens of people I hear about because every Monday there's a coach meeting, and they tell me how business owners are doing. So I am out of fulfillment, I am the CEO now, and I don't do the coaching myself. But every Monday I coach the coaches so we go through every single business owner in our programs, and check the main three numbers: the revenue, the customer satisfaction score, and the retainment rate. So every Monday I see these numbers, I see the challenges, I see the problems, and I see the solutions. There is a way to grow even now, but it means re-shifting. It means you cannot just go on as if nothing happened, you have to embrace the current reality around you really think from the customer about how is their word right now changing and what do they need now. And you really need to change your website accordingly and your offer accordingly to pick them up at their bus stop right now because everything else is just not relevant to them. So if you can refine your offer in a way that speaks to their current needs, then there is a chance for growth and there are enormous opportunities if you can do it in a digitized way. One of my joint ventures that we have right now is with Google. So Strategy Sprints and Google had a press conference together in Zurich. Google showed some numbers about small businesses, and how can we help small businesses grow. They showed that 99% of small business customers start their sales journey online. So 99% of every small business customer journey starts online. That means restaurants and when you say, "Hey, go to that restaurant," the first thing that your friends do is they will check for reviews. So everybody now is an online business if they want it or not. This is something to embrace.
I agree with that 100%, the numbers simply skyrocketed. We've had a little spike in our business because people are realizing their website is out of date and they're missing out on opportunities because everyone is online right now.
Absolutely. There is one thing I love, it's simple, and you can do it and it will boost your website. So if you go right now on your own website and check these five things, and then after you hear this, just implement this, it takes half an hour and your website will be much more relevant. First thing, you go onto your website and you check who is the hero. Who is it for? Are you really clearly describing who this is for? The first hero section, it's called the hero section for a reason. The first picture that I see, is that about your client in the way that you can impact them? If in the first five seconds, you don't see this, then implement this. Who is it for and where can you bring them? The next thing is, what do you help them avoid? Because 80% of the people prefer not to lose $100 than to win $100. So if you can clearly state what you help them avoid, for example, I help you grow your business without spending on ads. 80% percent of the people resonate more with them without spending part and 20% resonate with the growing part. So is it clear what you help them avoid? Then the rest is just details. Now, what's the plan? How can I start working with you? What's my next clear action? That's the call to action button. Do you know what to do now? and repeats that button three, four times. And then what's the plan? Do you have a plan? Can I trust you? Do you have a plan? Just put in three testimonials. Three, that's enough, then I know if I can trust you. If you put 17 testimonials or 25, then you're doing a hero reversal. Now you are the hero, not them. And when a hero sees a hero to say, "Oh, yeah, nice to see you, but I don't have time I have to rescue a princess, bye-bye, see you later!" You have five seconds to make really clear who this is for, where you can bring them, what you help them avoid, what the next call to action is, and why they should trust you. So that's my tip for your audience. Just do this, and you massively improve the relevance of your message.
Is growth possible in quarter four here?
Oh yes! So we have right now a number of clients that were struggling, of course, when they started and some that are starting right now. These are challenging times, but what I see every week is that there is a blueprint for growth. For example, when they start with our coaching, 10 minutes later they get into the program, and then in the first week, we define three numbers with them. What are the three numbers that will tell us 80% of the story you need to know? And usually, it's are your clients happy, are the markets resonating, and are we losing a very small amount of reselling potentials? So the first week, define two-three numbers that will tell you this, and now set up the system that will measure these three numbers every seven days. In the second week, we free up the business owner from the weeds because small businesses have the problem that the CEO or the executive team is doing too many activities. So they need to get out of the weeds and start working on the system, but to work on the system you need time. So we free up 10 to 14 hours of their time per week in week two. Then from week three on, we do this brand sprint which is this exercise that I told you about making the message simple, relevant, and repeatable. Then we go to the equalizer, how they can become incomparable so that the pricing problem is not the problem anymore after being incomparable after doing the equalizer, which takes two days after that they can double the price, because now they are not comparable. And then we go to the sale system, setting it up in a way that is repeatable and reliable. We bring it all together in the CRM system where they know right now, with every person they speak to, in which relationship stage they are with them, and what's the next thing to move them from one stage to the next stage in their relationship sequence. This can be attract, nurture, prepare for closing, close, fulfill, retain, for example. You have to know exactly where you're speaking with somebody, where they are. Are they mildly engaged, highly engaged, or are they ready to buy? That's the CRM system. At the very end, in the last week, we do the marketing system, which finds the numbers that are really important and what are the three that you will track every seven days because most people do too much marketing.
I want to go a little deeper into the statement that most people are doing too much marketing. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?
So business owners really struggle, especially if they have kids or if they have a funky year, like this year 2020. Then you are doing everything, you are the fulfillment team, you are the legal team, you are the IT team, and now you also should do LinkedIn and, and Instagram and Tiktok and what have you. So it's too many activities and usually, they don't build up on each other. So what I really recommend to do is to stop doing marketing. Usually, when somebody starts working with us, we stop all marketing activities, especially the marketing spending because it's leading to nowhere. If you don't do the 11 steps that I was telling you before, you don't have a well-oiled machine that can convert attention into clients. So 99% of the businesses, didn't build the whole machine and so when you spend $1 on marketing, they basically waste it. If you do these 11 things, now you have a well-oiled machine, now you spend $1, you can do 1.2 dollars or 1.5 dollars on that dollar. But first, you have to build the machine and most people don't have the machine, but they do post on LinkedIn on Instagram, etc. You are wasting time. If you enjoy it, okay, then do it, but do not expect any business impact
Let's talk a little bit about networking. Can you share with our listeners, one of your favorite networking experiences that you've had?
So I think I mentioned the Google one. So what happened is, especially in this year, which was so funky, and it was kind of reinventing how we network and how we cooperate. I made a list of the 100 firms I want to work with and I started proactively sharing my journey with them and our journey and where we want to go and asking, "Hey, what are you trying to bring into this world, and what do you want to solve next?" We started some really nice conversations and one of them became a joint venture. The joint venture was Google, asking us to be the execution engine for their program in Europe. What we did is we asked them, "What does your audience really need in this year (small businesses) in order to survive and thrive in this funky year?" And so you know that Google has data because they take that really seriously. So I gave them 15 topics and asked them to check that with their data. What is really relevant? What do people really need? So around these topics, we created a series of webinars. So okay, people, we know that you need this. Now, this is free webinar number one, free webinar number two, free webinar number three, we were just giving, giving, giving, giving. This created wonderful win-win situations for small businesses, for Google, and for my company, because we had real needs, and basically free value around that which created wonderful conversations. So this is my favorite networking way is to talk to people about what are you going to solve next. Tell them what you are struggling with, what you want to solve, and what you have found out that works, and share this. This is how collaboration possibilities can emerge even in relations where you didn't think that that could be possible. But it can because everybody is trying to solve some problems and maybe the problems that you're solving work for theirs, and then collaborate. So my way of networking is really just collaborating. I also run a podcast where I meet new people. So I also increase the number of people I can collaborate with. But then the way I do it is really just say, "Hey, let's talk, what are you bringing into this world? What are we bringing into this world? How can we find synergies?"
So how do you stay in front of and best nurture your network and your community?
So what I do is every day I try to share the journey. I do not just share the solutions, let's say once a month when they're polished. But really, every day I share the journey. Like right now I'm speaking on a podcast of somebody, then later I will have somebody on my podcast and I will do the same thing I will ask them, "Hey, what are you doing?" and these will be directly live in our Facebook community, which is called Entrepreneurship in Sprints so our own exploration is always public, we try to work in public. So whatever we are trying to find out to solve, to make better, to digest, to understand, that's our exploratory path of today. I try to make that as public as possible and that's the nurturing piece. At the end of the week, we put that all together. So at the end of the week, we have produced five podcasts, three interviews, two templates, maybe three video guides. So in the end, we just collect it and send it to the people who have asked us via subscribing, that they want to have that and every Friday it goes to everybody and that's how we nurture.
What advice would you offer those business professionals really looking to grow their network?
I think it's just about true conversations, deep, real conversations. What's not working, what's working. I really prefer the new one on ones. I'm actually liking the lockdowns, my city right now, Vienna is in the second lockdown starting today. I actually like the lockdown, because now I can finally say, "No, I'm not coming to your networking event," so I always hated networking events. I was a speaker at many conferences, but I would get there and go away as quickly as possible because I hate wasting time. For me, every form of networking event in the traditional way is time wasted because I just want to have one conversation with one person. I prefer to have three really deep real conversations per day than to meet 25 people.
Do you have any final word or advice for our listeners with regard to growing and supporting your network?
We have put together something because nowadays everybody needs to make this Q4 a winning one. So we have put together a 15 minutes exercise if you want that you can go through and you will analyze your current sales funnel and find two points to improve during that 15 minutes. That 15 minutes might help you get along with this funky Q4.
Connect with Simon
Take his 15-minute sales audit: https://www.strategysprints.com/sales
Check out Simon’s podcast: https://www.strategysprints.com/podcast
Facebook Group: Entrepreneurship in Sprints
Adam is a managing director and MGA, a specialized commercial real estate firm structured to support the growing needs and concerns of occupiers of commercial real estate. Adam provides expert consultation and analyzing and executing solutions aimed to reduce their client's overall facility expenses while maximizing workplace efficiency and productivity. Never representing institutional landlords, MGA is one of the few firms that eliminates any conflict of interest from representing tenants and landlords.
So you are in Washington, DC. What makes that region special to you?
I think a lot actually. So my family has been in this area, we actually just found a newspaper article from earlier this year about my great great grandfather. It's just a story about him when he came to Alexandria, Virginia, in 1875. So we've been here for such a long time. I've got a lot of history and a couple of different stories. My great grandmother has a post off is named after her, we've got schools named after her family. We're not from a whole lot of money or anything like that, but it was just community involvement with both the civil rights movement and just general activity in mentoring younger people. So it's been a great region and area for me and it's been my second home for a long time. About eight to nine years ago, I moved here permanently.
So let's talk about commercial real estate right now. What has the pandemic done and what does it mean for commercial real estate in the future?
Yeah, I think that it's no secret, a lot of people are having success working remotely. Now, whether or not that means more business, they're going to go 100% remote, I don't think from the executives I'm speaking with, I don't see that happening, especially to those businesses that have a good number of employees. They're still going to have an office presence for the most part. You might have the four people per thousand square feet now, I mean, does that drop down to two or three people? How many people are going to fit into your office and how much is it going to be utilized? Still, the question that I think a lot of executives are wondering is, what does that mean for their footprint and what does that mean for their operations? So I think most executives are still asking those questions amongst their employees, and we're helping them create a strategy to offer their real estate based on some of those answers to the questions.
So let's circle back to relationships here a little bit. How do you manage the new relationships as well as the old ones?
Yeah, my life is based on relationships, and cultivating relationships. What I do is I keep a bit of a tracker, in terms of understanding the relationships that I'm building every year, and I'm adding on to it. I'm a member of a couple of different network marketing organizations. As you know, when we used to go out and shake hands, meet people and collect business cards, instead of just simply putting in the pile, and then you know, maybe in a few years, you ring them up and say, "I need some help with something," I try to create a system to where it's more intentional. I've got a top 100 list of people that I like to keep in touch with who aren't prospective clients of mine, but they're just referral partners. They're people that can help grow my business and then I can also help grow their business or they're your trusted advisors to where, if my client needs a referral, they're on that list. Then throughout the year, I'm making sure that I'm reaching out to those people, once a quarter, in different ways. Sometimes it's an email, sometimes it’s a call, sometimes it's a handwritten note or some sort of physical mailing to those people, just to make sure that we're staying in touch, and I'm staying Top of Mind with them. Also to really take that networking meeting that generally a lot of people don't get a lot of value from, and make sure that you extract all the value from that by building lasting, incredible relationships.
Can you share with our listeners, one of your most successful or favorite networking stories or experiences that you've had?
One of them was about four or five years ago. I went to this event, and I met a really nice set of brothers. It was a whiskey and cigar event that I had been invited to through somebody in my network and he said, "Hey, there's gonna be some business owners here, why don't you come in just enjoy the night," and so I did. Then I met these three brothers and we just got to talking and they mentioned they were interested in buying a property for their business or possibly even buying an investment property. So, you know, continue to carry on the relationship and at least once a quarter doing something of value to them to inform them on the real estate market, because I knew that at some point in time, but this is going to be, you know, four or five years away from when they're ready to purchase. At least once a quarter keeping in touch with them, whether that be a personal connection, or sending them something in about the real estate market that's of value until they're ready to buy. Then finally, this summer, they did end up purchasing a property, about three and a half million dollars or so. Looking back on having developed that relationship for five years, it worth it, and I still consider them to be friends of mine, even if they weren't clients.
What's great about that was you were just going to meet some new people and get to know them. But then you fostered a relationship and there was a positive outcome for you. But your goal when you attended that event was not to sell three and a half million dollar property, right?
Exactly. Sometimes networking events, you know, historically, outside of COVID get to be exhausted, right? If you've already done two or three that month, and that's kind of it. If you're the kind of person that just needs to sit back and relax, it doesn't seem like the most fun thing to do. But if you do go out to that event that you do, try and form at least one valuable relationship, whether that be with somebody that is going to be a prospect or a client of yours, or somebody that you can help in either direction, whether they're helping them grow their business, or you're helping them grow your business. To form that meaningful connection with somebody does pay off because what I found is, the more advocates you can have, the better you'll be. You'll never know where that next referral is coming from and the fact that I've been able to build up kind of like an army of advocates across the region, that I can say, "Hey, do you know this CFO? and the person says, "Oh, yeah, of course," and then next thing I know, I've got a glowing email introduction to the exact person I'm trying to meet. I've just been able to cultivate the relationship to where they do trust me. So when the time comes, they're more than happy to make that referral.
So what advice would you offer that business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
I would say that it's not always about quantity. A lot of times, like I've been saying, it's about the quality. So you don't have to go to every single Chamber of Commerce event. Here, in the D.C. area, we've got maybe a dozen different little chambers of commerce throughout our metro area. You don't have to go to every single one, but when you go, or if you go into a BNI group, or if you're going to be a part of any sort of networking group is to get involved in it and some sort of level that's deeper than just being a member. Really trying to find out, can I be on the membership committee, or can I be, you know, on the Events Planning Committee? How do I get more involved in this organization to form a deeper relationship with the five or six of the people on that committee, because that's going to pay off in my experience a lot more than simply going and handing out business cards to everybody.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old cell phone, would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I would tell myself to be more focused. Early on in my career in real estate, there was a lot of different interesting opportunities, and you kind of run around, chasing a dollar. Just like, I can close this deal, or I can do this or that, you know? But I think that over the long run, it certainly pays off to be hyper-focused. For me, I'm hyper-focused on office space tenant representation or representing the occupiers of real estate, even though there's a lot of different facets to commercial real estate that I could veer off into or step into. Being focused really does pay off in the long run, it increases your income, save you a lot of time, wasted energy, and heartache, I think as well.
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?
The person that I would love to connect with is not necessarily a business person, it's my hero is Peyton Manning. He's just been my hero since he started playing for the Colts in 98. So that would be my dream connection. I'm a firm believer in six degrees of separation. I think that if I were to try hard enough and dedicate enough time, I'm sure that I could find a route to Mr. Manning, but I don't know that I've got the time or energy at this very point in time.
Do you know where you’d start?
Where would I start? That's a good question. I actually did play high school football with a couple of people who made it to the NFL. So I'd probably start there and then look at who they know. I'm sure that might be one of the quickest routes to it. Where else would I start? Actually, I know the route. It's a friend that played for the Giants and Eli Manning played for the giants. So he'd be more than happy to introduce me to Eli Manning and obviously if I can get to Eli, I can get to Peyton.
Do you have any final words of advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I just think don't be picky or choosy about who you're connecting with. Everybody's got different job titles, and everybody wants to first say of what do you do for a living and how can you help me. But especially in this world of entrepreneurship, or real estate, or whatever it is you might be doing, it's not always the person that you think that's going to lead to a great introduction or meaningful relationship. So go out there and connect with people and build genuine relationships and the money will follow.
Connect with Adam:
Kate Paine works with executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals to develop their brand and share their stories which differentiate them from their competition in the marketplace. She's an expert on using LinkedIn as a powerful personal branding tool and discovering an individual's story which makes her expertise unique in the world of online promotion. Kay volunteers her time training members of the US Special Forces on how to use LinkedIn as they transition out of their military career.
So personal branding is a space that you support on LinkedIn. When when you discuss or talk about identifying your personal brand, what does that look like? And why is it so important to know what your personal brand is?
Well, the personal brand piece is really something that you sort of need to self identify with. I think a lot of people when they hear the term "personal brand" or "personal branding," I think they have this notion that they're going to go around and sort of like shake someone's hand and say, "Hi, I'm Kate Payne, and my personal brand is," and you fill in the blank. That's not what it is at all. The personal brand is really similar to that other marketing term we love, it's like your unique selling proposition or unique value proposition. Except I prefer the person the term personal brand because I think that when you're thinking of a platform like LinkedIn, a lot of people see LinkedIn as a quote-unquote, personal branding platform. So it's a way for you to kind of consider your expertise. Your personal brand is essentially your reputation, and your reputation is made up of your values and your integrity, certainly your professional expertise. So really understanding your personal brand and how you're going to message that via your personal LinkedIn profile is really important. Then I add a component to that, which is a personal story, which helps make your personal brand more personalized, and really true to who you are, and helps you sort of creating that unforgettable feeling in someone's mind when they meet you because they know your brand and they know your story. You're now more unforgettable, so they'll remember you going forward.
I'm the type of person that's like, "Here are all the facts." That's my storytelling and it's not that I don't want to, I feel awkward telling the world my story. How do you help people overcome that?
So that's, that's sort of my niche that's sort of my superpower is I pull from my journalism, marketing, and PR background. When I interview a person I'm working with, I really kind of go back to, "Alright, so how did you get it, why did you want to become a realtor?" or, "Why did you go into the military, and then decide to get out of the military and go into being a financial advisor?" So there's this little nugget and I call it a nugget of your personal story that you can kind of identify and write about in like a short paragraph. So it's not the story from the standpoint of this long bio, you know, dirty laundry kind of thing. It's like you're taking this little slice of a life story or that story nugget. For example, when I have people kind of identify what that might be, is when you literally look at your LinkedIn profile, I want that to really stand out in the about section which used to be the summary and that's the most read section of one's profile. So for example, on my profile, I start out with like, the first line is I was an avid news junkie in eighth grade. Then I go into like my internship at CBS News and then I kind of say, I learned how to become a storyteller, and now I help people find their own. So it's like, I've taken that nugget and I've also made it relevant to what I do now. so that then sort of tying it all together and it's not like this all about my story thing, it's just a little slice of life. A lot of people when they start their about section in their LinkedIn profile, they don't really know what to do. So some people either ignore it don't have one there at all, which is not good. Or they start off with like, "I've been in the digital marketing world for 15 years doing blah, blah, blah." You know, and there's nothing wrong with that, but it's sort of formulaic, and it's what everybody else does. So if you figure out what that little story nugget is, if yours, you know, you can really use that as an introduction and really hook your reader and want to learn more about you.
Let's talk about some of the new features that LinkedIn has rolled out. What do you think is one of the best features that they’ve come out with recently?
Well, their whole user interface has changed, and it didn't change drastically, but it's very white. It's looking very much like Facebook and Twitter so I'm not real thrilled about that. I liked that LinkedIn had a little bit of an aesthetic structure. But some of the new things I like, their privacy and settings is probably one of the biggest changes and it's so you can make your user experience much more the way you want it to be. Because a lot of people when they're on LinkedIn, especially if they don't use it a lot, they're like, "All I do is get these annoying notifications." Now you can go in and really create the user experience you want. So they created more privacy and settings, which makes that user experience much more the way you want it to be. They also came out with stories and some people are finding really great engagement with stories. I still haven't wrapped my head around stories on LinkedIn, because I barely wrap my head around it on Instagram and Facebook. I mean, it's funny, I know, you're asked me like, what's my favorite and now I'm telling you kind of the opposite. To me, stories are really something that just belongs on Facebook and Instagram. I mean, what are you going to do in the course of your business day, that's going to be so particularly exciting that you want to throw it out there for 24 hours. So I haven't wrapped my head around that, I've tested it, and it's kind of gotten average engagement. But you know what? Just because LinkedIn or any platform creates a new feature doesn't mean you have to use it. Again, you should always be utilizing these features if they're aligned with your personal brand and your efforts on social media. The one thing I love the most on LinkedIn right now is the Featured Block and I think it's completely rolled out to everybody. It's on your personal profile page and you don't see it there if you haven't taken any kind of online asset and made it a featured link. So if you want to feature a post you just wrote in the feed if you wanted to feature a LinkedIn article that you've done on the publishing platform, if you wanted to link to anything on a website, anywhere on the internet, or if you wanted to upload an infographic or a PDF, you now have this really great Featured Block and it creates this really big visual block in the middle of your otherwise text-heavy profile page. You can put up as many links as you want, some people have put up like 60, but it's like this side-scrolling thing, so I don't advise that. So I put in four to six things in that featured section and you can change them as you go. But it's a way to get targeted eyes on something and it's finally something LinkedIn did, where you can literally click on that piece of content in the featured block, and it will take you directly to that online asset. Whereas before, you could have up to three websites in your contact information, and you still can. But when you click there, it’s a two-click process to get to the final thing. It's just a way to really get targeted eyes on something you really want people to see on your profile page.
So can you share with our listeners, one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you’ve had?
I just had one today, actually. So you know, we all know what influencers are right? And LinkedIn, actually, long before they opened up publishing to the average user, there were a lot of quote-unquote, LinkedIn influencers out there like the Richard Bransons and the Arianna Huffingtons of the world. So now anybody can be a so-called influencer on LinkedIn. They're rolling out newsletters, which is a subscription thing. They're certainly still in beta with LinkedIn live, you do have to apply for it. But there are all kinds of ways that you can now become an influencer. So anyway, I'm part of a virtual summit that's going on this week called the LinkedIn Lead Generation Summit, and the woman that's putting it on is a woman from Australia, Kate Hore-Lacey is her name. So she got 21 speakers to share some lead generation tips of which I'm one of the speakers. One of the speakers, the primary sort of keynote, if you will, is a New York Times bestselling author, Dave Kirpan. He's written the Art of People, and he's written some other books about social media in general. Anyway, he did his video today and I was watching the recording this morning and I thought, "Well, I'll go in and see if I can connect with him," you know, somebody who's got almost a million followers, it's really hard to have a meaningful networking conversation. He was actually sharing some of his best practices and so I actually took his advice, went into LinkedIn, I followed him on his profile, and then I found a way to send him an inmail and I very rarely do that. I sent him a very nice message saying, you're the keynote, I'm one of the speakers. I've read your book, I would really love to be connected here and I just kind of gave a little blurb, about, you know, what my talk will be about. I didn't try to sell him or pitch him, and within five minutes, he accepted my request and wrote me a really nice note. So you just never know, and you've got to try and find ways to kind of do some work around some time.
So regardless of the size of our network, and how many people are in our community, it's extremely important to nurture these relationships. How do you best stay in front of or nurture these relationships?
I'm so glad you brought that up because I've been doing this now for nearly six years and LinkedIn is really like my platform of choice. Even though I work with the foundational work on personal branding, LinkedIn is my tool of choice. I do not have a lot of connections and that's totally by design. I'm actually one of those people that truly wants to make connections with people on LinkedIn where I feel like when I'm serving them and connecting with them and nurturing them, that I want to feel like that the circle is not small, but just more intimate. So I'm not one of these people that connects with every single person just to build up my numbers. I care more about my numbers, if you will, on Facebook and Instagram. Even then, I don't worry about it as much. But on LinkedIn, I really want those connections to be just more intimate and I feel like even though I don't have multiple thousands of followers, I'll get there at some point. But I also feel like I'm walking the talk because I teach the people I work with the same thing. You know, don't just accept an invitation because you want to get your numbers up and there's a lot of people that are using LinkedIn who are spamming, and I don't want those people in my network, either.
So let's talk about building your network. What advice would you offer the business professional who is looking to grow there, there are a number of relationships that they have?
Well, certainly and this is true on every platform and I know you would agree with me 100% on this is you need to have a Service mindset first. So when you are putting out content, you need to think of yourself as an up other LinkedIn is to not think of yourself as a resume, but instead, think of yourself as a resource. When you are positioning yourself from the LinkedIn platform, you need to be seen as a resource. So whatever content you're putting out, put out everything you know about that topic, whatever world you're in. Share that stuff, share other people's content, reshare other's content as well if something aligns with you, put out videos, put out some of your own promotional stuff, too. But back to that good old fashioned 80-20 rule, 80% service, and 20% of your own stuff, here and there. That's the best way you're going to serve your people to build relationships, and then lead to either a connection on LinkedIn, which then may lead to a transaction at some point. But always go into it with wanting to build the relationship and build the network first and nurture it by giving them really great content and serving them.
Let's go back to your 20-year-old self. What would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regard to your great career?
My 20-year-old self would have been a junior in college. I think I would have told myself to step forward more. At the time that I was 20, I was actually in college in New York City and I'm from Vermont so that was a major culture shock. I was interning at the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, so I was in a pretty cool internship. A lot of the people I had admired from journalists we're literally walking through the building all the time, and I had to get away from being starstruck and really do the job. But I think I was a little too shy and didn't speak up enough or ask questions enough. So I think what I would have told myself back then is to lean in, step up, raise your hand, wherever you want to call it. I certainly do that now and that's why I've gotten where I am and doing what I do in my business. I mean, it's been a major characteristic of what I need to do in my business.
So we've all heard of the six degrees of separation, who would be the one person that you would love to connect with? And do you think you could do it within the sixth degree?
This is going to sound so trite, but I would absolutely love to meet Ellen DeGeneres. I followed her since she was on Carson, like when she was brand new. Actually from the degrees of separation, years ago in the late 90s, I worked at one of our state colleges here in Vermont at Johnson State College and Ellen DeGeneres;, his mother was on a speaking tour, and she came and spoke at our campus. So I met her mother and the reason she was speaking out, was it was at the time that Ellen was coming out as a gay woman. Her mom went around and told the story about how it was hard for her when she first learned but how she came to be very accepting and loving of that. So I always felt like I had this little hint of closeness to maybe someday meeting or and if I ever did, I could say, "Oh, I Met Your Mother." Not many people could say that, not that her mother would remember who the heck I was.
Do you have any final word or advice offer listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
You know, I keep it real. I think that's why that my use of personal story really resonates with people is, I think a lot of people when it comes to LinkedIn, think they just need to show their professional side, and you absolutely do. But also, don't be afraid to let people peek behind the curtain a little bit and see who you are as a whole person. When you write in your LinkedIn profile, speak and present yourself in the first person in a conversational tone. Some people still using like, the third person, in their bio, speaking about themselves in the third person in their profile. That's not a way to try to connect with people, you know. Be that on LinkedIn as you would be in real life, so that get the real you so keep it real. You don't have to go into the nitty-gritty, but be authentic and be relatable.
Connect with Kate:
Kate’s Website: https://www.standingoutonline.com/
Nicole started her first entrepreneurial journey in 2007 with her husband. They decided to start an organic farm & micro-brewery in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest. During the seven years that they ran Acadian Farms & Brewery, she was in charge of all things marketing- everything from events to social media to website design. Learning + doing everything on her own, Nicole created an SEO-friendly website that reached #1 on Google and utilized the power of social media and influencer outreach to get featured in prominent publications like The Oregonian, Portland Monthly, and The Seattle Times, as well as popular craft beer blogs.
So let's talk about marketing because this is obviously your world. I know that you do a lot with marketing plans as we do as well. But how would you recommend that small business owner get started with a marketing plan?
So that's like, the biggest kind of problem I see when I work with a lot of different business owners. They have ideas, and they have a little bit of a plan, and then maybe they have some people kind of helping them, but there's no overall cohesive strategy. So that's where we start and it kind of starts with your foundation, like, what are your goals? Who are your potential customers? Where are they hanging out? What are their struggles? It doesn't have to be like super overwhelming, once you kind of even just start writing everything down, pulling all of that information out of your head, looking at a calendar, and again, knowing who your customers are, and where they're hanging out online, or what their hobbies are. Just really starting to brainstorm all those ideas helps create a plan and an effective plan, and they leave feeling so less stressed. I was working with someone last week and she goes, "I am just so excited to finally have a marketing plan!" So that's what I love doing, and a little bit of planning really, really goes a long way.
One of the things that I've learned is, even though you have a plan, it may not work out the way that you want it to, it's a lot easier to adjust when you have a plan versus trying to make changes when you have nothing fleshed out.
Yes, totally. A lot of them will work out their strategies and just put their notes down all that and like a Google Drive folder, which is super easy, or you know, people can use Dropbox or whatever. But being able to refer back to that, as you said and be like and look like okay, maybe we need to shift like this isn't working or like, you know, we all just went into lockdown again, like how can we adjust where necessary, but having a place to look and kind of keep track really just really helps.
So what are some of the most common things that you're coaching your clients on right now?
So a lot of it is this planning that I've been talking about. Some are a little bit further along and then so it's just really trying to figure out which channels are best for them. Then we start exploring different ways to reach their ideal customers, whether it's, one of my clients just had a big challenge within a Facebook group, and it went really well, she got so many sales, and then another one is planning to expand her YouTube channel because that's where her potential clients are and spend a lot of time. So it's really just getting that plan, and then getting even more granular about where we're gonna execute this and then going into best practices with that, and their schedule, and then just kind of holding them accountable as well. We have so many things when we're running a business so just having that little bit of accountability is super helpful.
Your LinkedIn profile says you offer simple marketing strategies. So can you elaborate on the use of the word simple and what are some simple ways that other small businesses can market themselves?
Yeah, totally. So yeah, in my bio, you know, it mentioned that my husband and I ran a small business for seven years. It was a farm, so not like, huge profits. So we had to figure out simple, easy, and pretty low budget ways to market our business. So I used a lot of what I did in that in what I do now in helping clients. But so it's a lot of social media and I know, some people like, "Ugh, I hate social media." But when you are able to understand the different nuances of the different platforms, and why you're doing it, and then like some stats of like, so many people are on social media. Then just sharing all of these different things and how to do it, then it is simple because we don't know what we don't know, you know what I mean. So, I just like to provide all these different ways and I really come with the approach of teaching them how to do it, even if I'm going to be doing it for them, I want them to know why we're doing, what we're doing, or where we're doing it. So even a simple one, for example, when we had the farm, we had beer, and we're in a very, like craft beer world here in the northwest, it's huge. So I would hold an open house event for all of the craft beer bloggers, and they would come and taste all our beer and then they would go back and write on their blogs and put it on their social media. So we were able to like really grow and gain brand awareness. That kind of like, evolved into like, a lot of the newspapers and publications, even from Seattle coming in and reaching out to us because they saw us on other blogs. There are so many ways, like once you kind of get these small business owners talking, and they get into the strategy, they hit so many great ideas. Once I get past that overwhelm, and not quite kind of like understanding why it's happening, then it just opens up the floodgates, which is awesome.
So this podcast is all about networking and relationships. Obviously, that's something that you're doing and you shared some great examples of fostering those relationships from a grassroots marketing level. Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking stories that you've had?
I can't think of a favorite story, but when you say networking I just think that there are so many things that popped into my mind of so many people that I've met through networking, I'm just a huge advocate of it. I'm an ambassador for our local chamber here in Hood River, I'm a chamber member because we live on the Columbia River. So it's like Oregon, and Washington right next to each other, so I'm in another chamber, but it's like, two minutes away. Also, I do a lot of online networking, and this podcast too was really started with that in mind to create a community because being an entrepreneur can be hard and lonely and I have met people from around the world. I just got an email last week from a gal that had been on my podcast last year, introducing me to someone that needs what I do. So that was almost a year ago, and I was still top of mind enough for her to think of me and reached out and now I have a meeting with her next week. Networking is essential and I just love having that community of having people that know what it's like trying to grow a business, maybe you don't necessarily own it, but, you know, just that whole community.
How do you stay in front of and best nurture your network in your community?
Usually, it's a good bit of social media of just really reaching out and making those connections a lot. Whether I work with them, or they're on the podcast, or people that have been on the podcast will introduce me to other people on social media. So just trying to stay in there because it is meant to be social, you know, that was first and foremost. So just really going back and forth and meeting these people and having a genuine interest in just getting to know people. I introduced two ladies today that both have podcasting interests and they both live in Boise, Idaho. So I was like, "Hey ladies, y'all need to meet," and now they're going to meet for a social distance coffee soon. So really trying to stay in touch with people and follow up and see how their lives are going. Lately, it's been social media, more so, than any other channels.
What advice would you offer that business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
I know, it's kind of hard right now because we don't have any of the in-person meetups or networking occasions, but there are so many opportunities online. There are so many Facebook groups, there are so many LinkedIn groups. I've met so many people those ways, and have been referred business and just met people and had zoom chats and ended up working together. Even local chapters like ours are having online coffee networking meetups. BNI, I know I think they've moved to an online platform as well, so there are opportunities. It's not the same as being in person but I would start researching those and just getting involved in joining those groups and just kind of observing and getting involved and introducing yourself just like you would at in-person meetings.
So if you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
So this is something I've just recently figured out so I would definitely, I guess, tell my 20-year-old self. Just say yes and just start. I've watched so many opportunities go by me just because I was kind of scared to put myself in that position of being out of my comfort zone, or just to try it. I probably wouldn't have gotten past that had I not started my podcast, because that really put me out of my comfort zone a lot. Now, I love it and I can't imagine it not being in my life. I probably wouldn't have gone into coaching, either, because I'm pretty introverted. So those two have really forced me out of my comfort zone. So at 20 I know, I was not doing things that put me out of my comfort zone. So I would say just get started and just go because who cares!
So we've all heard of the six degrees of separation, who is one person that you'd love to connect with, and do you think you can do it within the six degrees?
I'm gonna say Mel Robbins, or Shonda Rhimes because I read both of their books this year, and they were amazing. It changed my life. Yeah, I don't know, though. There's gonna be somebody that knows somebody. I guess so with both of them it kind of ties back to maybe that is why it did have such a big impact on my life this past year. You know, Mel Robbins, like breaking into the psychology of why we do or don't do things, I thought that was really fascinating. Also, she talks about you're not ever really going to feel like doing some of these things, so you just count backward and go. I was like, "Oh my god, she's right," don't get so emotionally attached and just do it. Then I really, really enjoyed Shonda's book, The Year of Yes. Again, just starting saying yes and finding out what happens. The way she writes is awesome and just seeing her transformation was just really eye-opening. So I would talk to them about their books and dig deeper.
Do you have any final word or advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I would just say that having a plan for networking and reaching out to these people should be part of your marketing plan. But you know, really just taking a little bit of time, even if it's 30 minutes or an hour. This is a great time of the year to do it before we go into the new year. So just, you know, taking a little bit of time, like, how can I reach out to more people? I have one client that I help with, who is an attorney, and she wants to grow her network. So we've come up with the list, and she's gonna send $5 Starbucks digital cards, and ask two attorneys a month to go on coffee dates, virtually. I thought that was a really fun and creative yet simple way to really open up our network. So yeah, just kind of pulling all of those ideas, but putting them down on paper will really help you not get so overwhelmed.
Connect with Nicole:
Rocky is a certified profit first professional who was shocked to learn most business owners don't look at their financial reports. Most business owners are not accountants and don't want to be. When he realized how much of a problem this was, he knew his purpose was to help business owners be profitable.
Why do business owners struggle to create profitable businesses?
First of all, accountants don't even know how to create profitable businesses, right? They know how to do taxes, they know how to put all the transactions where they belong, according to a formula that says, this is how we do things, this is generally accepted accounting principles. So there's really nobody focused on teaching or helping business owners to understand profitability. That's why I think so many of them struggle, the system I use is from Mike Michalowicz, he wrote the book Profit First. He is a serial entrepreneur, he thought he did it right, sold his companies walked away with a lot of money, and then lost it all, you know, the quintessential thing and it's because he struggled with this just as much as everyone else did. Then he came up with this idea of when we look at things, we're given the wrong formula and if you use the wrong formula, you're going to have the wrong results. So the formula your accountant will tell you is sales minus expenses equals profit. Where is profit in that formula? At the end, it's a leftover, it's something you find out at tax time. You go to your account, he goes, "Congratulations, you're profitable, here's your tax bill!" And the first question is, "Where is that cash?" Then they just laugh at you and they go, "You spent it." Mike said that's broken let's fix that. Let's do sales minus profit equals expenses. So we change the whole way we think about business, because we take our profit first, upfront because your business plan said you were going to be profitable. Well, why not take the profit upfront, remove it, and then learn to spend less. I think too often business owners, are told you got to spend money to make money and that's not necessarily true.
Why is the bottom line far more important than the top line?
So you've heard this so many times where people who've made millions upon millions of dollars and gone bankrupt. The saying we have is, "The top line is vanity, the bottom line is sanity, and cash flow is reality." What that basically means is, I don't care how much money is coming in. If more money is going out than is coming in, you're never going to win the game. You can't grow your way to profit if it's costing you more than what you're selling it for and that's why the bottom line is so important. The problem is, and it's kind of where we started this, if I wanted to know your top line, you can go look at your bank account and go, "Hey, I had a bunch of sales, look at all the money that came in." But if I said to you, "What's your bottom line?" It's very hard to figure that number out, you don't really know. All you know is I have money in my bank, or I don't have money in my bank, and if you don't have money in the bank, you run out and you get more sales, or you do collections. But it's really a struggle if you don't know what that bottom line is. As we talked about before, most business owners may not know until their accountant tells them four months after the year is over. That's a problem and that's why you've got to create systems and processes, and go in and figure out how much is my bottom line really? And am I appropriately charging for my products? And where is my profit coming from? That's something that even large companies don't have the answer to, is where is profit coming from? So if a big company with a CFO and all these big systems can't figure it out easily, it's really hard for the little guy.
What exactly does a certified profit first professional do?
So basically, what I do is, I serve with one simple goal to help you be profitable. The system that might create it as a cash flow system. So you get your money in your paycheck, and you put your money where you're going to spend it for rent, for groceries, for utilities, and when that money is used up, then you stop spending, and you figure out a better way to do it. That principle works all the time, so what Mike did was use the same principle for businesses. You set up multiple bank accounts, which I know is a little scary upfront, but as soon as your revenue comes in, the first thing you do, is you put money in your profit account because you're supposed to be profitable. The second thing you do is you put money in your owner's pay account, because you deserve to be compensated for your work, and the efforts and the risk you've taken. Then we put money in the tax account, because it's not your money, it's the governments. Some businesses may have some other accounts for special purposes and then the rest ends up in your operating expense account. But what's happened is because you've covered your big nuts first, when you look at your bank account, and that operating account, you know how much you truly have to spend. So it forces you to be more resourceful. This whole thing is built on Parkinson's Law. What Parkinson's Law says is that whatever resources you're given, you'll use them up. So if you have three months to do a project, it'll take you three months. If you've got three hours to do a project, you'll find a way to get it done in three hours. If you've got a $100,000 budget to do something within your business, you'll spend 100,000. But if you've got a $10,000 budget to do something, you'll figure out a way to get it for $10,000. By separating the money and giving it a job and putting it in smaller piles, you learn to be more resourceful, you don't spend as much, and what I do is I kind of create accountability. I help by looking at the actual financial reports and then bringing to light where revenue is coming from whether it's properly priced. In other words, I have customers and you go down and you look into their accounts and you're like, "You didn't realize just put that item on sale, and you discounted it and you sold it for less than what your actual costs are, you actually lost money this weekend by doing that sale. I know you needed to get revenue in but this is a problem." So somebody's got to go in and figure that out and that's basically what I do. Sometimes it's easy to see, sometimes it's more difficult. So for example, I have one customer that I looked at who has two different service lines. His one service line is good, provides a reasonable living, a lot of work. He has another service line that's seasonal. That seasonal service line just put so much money to his profit, it's incredible because he's got so much margin in that business. I said to him, "Stop focusing on this service line that's doing okay, put your efforts where most of your money is coming from, you can work a fraction of the time and make a lot more money by redirecting your efforts."
Do you work alongside bookkeepers and accountants? Are you kind of in competition with them? How does that play out?
I'm not in competition with anybody. I work with whoever your bookkeeper is, and whoever your accountant is because your bookkeepers are putting the transactions in. One of the things I do is provide a second set of eyes on your bookkeeper to help make sure that they're doing things appropriately. The accountants are mostly doing taxes and so that's fine. What I'll do is I will help you put money aside for taxes. So I'll tell you the story of Mike because this is a phenomenal story. Mike was in the recruiting business and he had a blowout year, he had so many placements that year and his revenue went through the roof. Well, the tax accountant based his quarterlies on the previous year. So tax time comes around, and she's hesitant to call them because there's this massive tax bill. She finally calls him and says, "Hey, I've been dreading this call, you owe a lot of money." He said, "I know my sales have been up, I expected this, how bad is it?" She said it's almost six figures, and he said, "Oh, alright, I'll drop off checks tomorrow," and she's like, "I've never ever had anyone tell me that in over 20 years." He was using profit first, so he was putting his tax money aside, and it was ready for him. I've heard that story from practically every person that implements profit first. Tax time is no longer a season of angst and worry. They're like, "I hate taxes, but whatever that bill is, I know I'm ready for it, and I can strike a check."
Let's talk about networking because business is all about relationships. Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking experiences that you've had?
So you know how you felt about money? This is how I feel about networking. But I will tell you this because I realized the importance of it. I've probably spent the last eight, nine years working on this skill, from taking courses on social capital, to reading books about networking to learn how to do this. So I just want to encourage the people listening if this isn't something you enjoy doing, it's just a matter of practice. Now I've come to learn how to do that. I think one of the things that COVID did for me is overnight, is I was doing all this in-person networking, and overnight, all my in-person networking got canceled. Essentially, we went to the online world and I've got to tell you, I have found online networking to be much easier, much more enjoyable, and a much more diverse group of people that I get to meet than I was meeting in my local networking meetups. There are so many online groups that I have found and one gets me to the next, gets me to the next, and that's how we met, Right? We met through a networking group that you had started in the middle of COVID. I don't think in a non-COVID world that we would have ever met. Also, the quickness that the group came together and was willing to help. I think that was the other thing that I've noticed is in online networking, the speed of networking, and the building, the Trust has gotten faster and faster.
So Rocky, as you continue to build and grow your network, how do you stay in front of and nurture these individuals that you're connecting with?
So that's been another struggle for me because I have one of these CRMs and it gets overwhelming, there are all these people in there and I can't find the people that I want. So I've learned a couple of things. Number one, I've learned to take much better notes. I use Evernote and what I do is I have a whole folder that's called "Meetups" and whenever I go to a meetup, as people are talking and networking, I'm just putting my names and notes as I'm listening. That's searchable, so if somebody emails me three weeks from now, I go to my Evernote, I search, I find the note and then I go, "Now I remember everything." I'm kind of just basic, you know, I'm a spreadsheet geek, and so I have found it's just easier for me to create a spreadsheet of the people that I want to kind of nurture and keep track of. So I just put Date, Name, some really basic stuff, and maybe a follow-up date to it. The other thing I do is if I know that I need to specifically follow up, so let's just say that we met and, and you said to me, "Hey let's chat in three weeks." What I will do I will do is I'll go right into my calendar immediately and I will create a task three weeks out, that says, email Lori, and I might put one sentence there about to remind myself. So it's kind of different levels for different people, but I'm still struggling with how to do a better job of nurturing all the relationships. I think what I need to do is probably to create a bigger block of time for me to sit once a week, and just go through the list and at least pick a handful of people and send an email. Some of it I'm good, like if they're good on LinkedIn, then I tend to be more social on LinkedIn. The other thing I find is if there are people who are at events that are somewhat regular, then that creates that natural rhythm as well. If I meet somebody, maybe three events over three months, and we haven't connected for one on one, I'll just reach out and say, "Hey, let's do a one on one." I find having an automated calendar is a godsend. When I left corporate and I was able to turn on my automated calendar, it made my life 10 x easier.
What advice would you offer the business professional who's looking to grow their network?
So I have been told that the purpose of networking is to serve, and just go out and serve. If you want to grow your network, go out and see how you can help people. Of course, you've got to do it in an appropriate way so that you can manage your time. But I think that's a big part of it is to go out and serve and help others, because if you help them achieve their goals, they're going to help you achieve yours.
So that's a long way back. The world has changed quite dramatically since then. I think there were a lot of things that I just didn't understand back then. So one was this whole networking and relationship thing. It was not something that I understood and it wasn't something that I worked on. It was also a different world in the sense that there was no internet so it was hard to keep in touch with people, you'd actually have to pick up the phone and call them. Then if they move, they got a new phone number and if nobody sent you a letter in the mail, you lost connection, right? Yeah. So I think just going back and telling myself to understand that. The other thing is I didn't understand what my super skills were like I didn't know what my superpowers were. I've been playing with spreadsheets since I was in high school, so back then it was VisiCalc. I was going into fortune 500 companies going, "Hey, accountants, here's how you get off of a paper ledger and you use an electronic spreadsheet." I always thought I was going to create a business around spreadsheets, but I didn't know how. The power of spreadsheets now, I mean, it's a billion/trillion dollar business because nobody can figure out the numbers. If you understand spreadsheets, and you can see the stories that the numbers are telling you, that's very valuable. Now I'm finally in the place where I figured that out, and that's why I do what I do. So those are probably the two things, figure out your super skills, and then learn how to network and build social capital. It's okay, if you don't know how to do stuff, go ask people who will help you. I grew up in the area of you never ask for help, you do it all, you know, it was the lone gun kind of timeframe. So it took a lot of personal development to move out of that and get a little bit smarter.
So we've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with and do you think you can do it within the sixth degree?
I would love to interview Tim Ferriss because he's an interesting guy, he's a little nuts. But I love to learn how to do things and he's also kind of a thinker like that. I've met people who are friends with Tim Ferriss. So I know, I'm not that far away. I've got multiple people that I'm probably one degree of separation away. Whether or not they listen to him, or he'd entertain my ideas, is a whole nother reality, but I do know people in the circle.
Any final words of advice to our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Just go out, and remember, you have two ears and one mouth so listen more than you speak.
Connect with Rocky:
Listen to Rocky’s podcast: http://profitcomesfirst.com/podcast/
Ann is the owner of reCollect2 Company and creator of the reCollect2recycler, a recycling receptacle used in hospitality and corporate office settings. Manufactured in Wisconsin, you can find her products, specifically in hotel guest rooms and various businesses and organizations in 49 states throughout the US. She's had the privilege of working alongside some of hospitality's most recognizable brands. But her goal has always been to offer a product that's functional, motivational, and impactful.
So why don't we start a little bit about talking about being in the hospitality space and how this year has affected your business?
Well, dramatically, like any business and travel, and tourism and attractions. So yes, I mean, the industry is hurting as a whole right now. But it's really important to notice that there are some markets right now, throughout the US that are seeing an uptick, they're getting busier, and they're doing better. Right now the overall goal is to restore that confidence in travel again, and I know that we will get there. But I would say the immediate need right now is to focus on just keeping hotels open, like literally keeping their doors open, because it's really a hard time especially coincidentally, today is the election and a lot of things are actually surrounded around what will transpire there. So our industry has been in a holding pattern, it's been hurting, but I just feel confident that we will see a light at the end of the tunnel here. It's also cool to kind of put out there that even though all of these hotels that we might see in like our backyard, or our surrounding communities, they have these globally recognized brands, but we need to remember that several of these properties are actually owned by small businesses, like ours. I mean, many are family-owned. So yes, we are hurting, but I do see that we will see some things moving here, hopefully, in the near future.
Your business has a big emphasis on sustainability. Why should this topic be important to businesses and organizations in general?
Yeah, that's a good question. I think that there's immense value within businesses that really choose to incorporate sustainability. And that's it any length or level big or small, whether it's environmental or social. I think that most of us have this inner voice that wants to contribute to a greater good and find ways to give back to something other than just ourselves. So I think that it's important that we can embrace small, incremental, and actionable steps that we can take and conquer larger issues. So this carries over into business. And yes, we definitely see how businesses want to operate more efficiently. Whether that's reducing waste or other operational tactics that they're putting in place. But it's also important not to overlook the people aspect as well. I think now more than ever, we're connecting the dots and we're recognizing how this mindset and social sustainability, their commitments are directly and positively impacting and serving the well-being of the people that make up our communities.
Speaking of people, you've been compelled to bring awareness to human trafficking within your business, can you talk about that a little bit?
Yeah it's a big issue, and I'll be honest, especially lately, it seems like there's been more conversation about it, which there are pros and cons to that, for sure. But I'll kind of start back up a little bit that I first heard about human trafficking, probably five or six years ago. Long story short, I was very triggered about the staggering statistics that I was hearing and seeing just from a global aspect, but nationally, and then even here in Wisconsin. So that was really my first glimpse into hearing about human trafficking. At first, I'll be honest, it's really easy to become overwhelmed by just the sheer magnitude of this crime, and I'm talking about just the number of people that we're finding out are actually enslaved. This includes children and adults, and also the aspect of the money that's involved, the billions of dollars that make up the industry, and all the moving parts that kind of allow this industry to grow. So as I became more aware, and hearing more about all of those aspects, it's hard to, it's hard to ignore, really, and as a mother, and as an individual who strongly believes that people should live in freedom, I felt that it was kind of my responsibility to help be a voice in anti-trafficking efforts and try to support the local causes here that we have in Milwaukee, that who are really the real experts in this field, especially in aftercare. I felt like it was important to help get their voice out there, and just increase that awareness. But that's really like how I became involved in it and hearing about it, I just felt like if I was that angry about it, and felt that compelled that I couldn't really stay silent. So overall I believe it's our calling to respectfully care for each other and speak up for those who can't speak for themselves. And little by little, I think that we can make a change and being in the hospitality space, because our product is literally in this space, and many of our customers are also trying to bring awareness and training to their own properties. It just seemed right to try to join forces, hopefully, sparks of dialogues and conversations, if we can provide resources, and I just thought it was an opportunity for us to unite.
So a number of people have this fear when they hear the word networking, and my goal is really to eliminate that fear and bring some hope and encouragement to our listeners. So can you help me do that by sharing one of your favorite networking experiences that you've had?
Yeah well actually, it was a couple of years ago. I'm kind of laughing about it because we just were talking about this on a separate project. But it was a couple of years ago that I had met someone by chance at a networking event, here locally, and how that connection has just led into education and training on my part and other opportunities, and then introductions into other networking communities and how those communities kind of overlap. It's been kind of incredible how that whole journey how that actually began in that trajectory. Honestly, part of that connection actually led to you as well. So it's kind of neat how that all transpired. I think that you never know who you're going to meet. But I'm also a firm believer and things kind of working behind the scenes, too. I think that things are orchestrated, people are met and connected for a reason and it's pretty neat to see when that transpires.
So as you've got contacts, and you've been networking nationally, and potentially even globally, how do you best nurture and maintain these relationships with your network in your community?
Well, technology has obviously made this more accessible. There's more group dialogue, webinars, workshops, and events that we can take part in. And I think that those opportunities lead to conversations where you really get to meet other people and grow into more of a trusting relationship. Technology specifically, has allowed these educational trainings to happen and I think that this time that we've been living through that we shouldn't underestimate that. I think that being involved, participating, and taking that time to kind of invest in these connections is important. And it's really neat to hear people's stories and I think when you hear people's stories, and you learn their passions and their expertise, and you're just willing to see what they have to offer. I mean, I think that those relationships are reciprocated and I think that participating and hearing all these different areas and stories is something that I try to take part in as often as I can because I think you learn a lot about the person and in those particular avenues and those ways of community and networking.
What advice would you offer that business professional who's looking to grow their network?
I would say to step outside of your comfort zone. I think that we need to embrace and enjoy the journey of taking some risks. This year, more than ever can show us to be bold, to be a voice, to not apologize for taking on something new, learning something new, and I think that taking those steps would be my advice. Because I think sometimes we can kind of stay in our area of what we know or how we've normally done things. But let's be bold, let's break through some barriers, and let's try something new. That would be my advice, and it’s advice to myself because it's been a different curve for all of us. That vulnerability, I think there can connect you to other people as well. So that comes and goes, I think to be bold, enjoy it, take the risk!
All right, so let me just say that, before I answer that I'm kind of an odd duck. I was married to my husband at 20, we had our son at 22 and I jumped right into my quote-unquote career not long after, because I was like this planner. I had this kind of all set out what was going to be my timeline, I was adamant about staying on that, and I wasn't going to deviate from that. Quite honestly, I remember specifically telling myself I am never going to be an entrepreneur, I have no desire to be an entrepreneur, this I'm going in this direction because this is more predictable for me. So I think what I've learned for sure is don't count anything out. Because here I am doing something I never ever imagined but really had no desire to do in my mid-20s at all. So I think that's something that I can look back on often and just be like, "You know what? You can't count anything out." I think also, as professionals we can just get extremely immersed in our work which is great, right? But I think my 20-year-old self, I was definitely immersed in my work, I think for the wrong reasons. I think that I had different goals and intentions of where my plans were going. I look back and you know what? I think those weren't the right intentions for me, I think I was able to recognize the time that I was putting in and knowing that I also had a family, and what I was missing out from, you know, the family aspect. Also the bigger picture and doing more and giving back, and how can we affect other people and things like that.
Let's talk about the six degrees of separation. If you could connect with anybody, who would it be, and do you think you do it within the sixth degree?
So recently, I am just very fascinated with Tim Tebow right now and not only from the football aspect, because our family is in the sports world, football was kind of in our blood for a while. There's that aspect, but right now what he's doing with his nonprofit and the anti-trafficking arena, and just legislation, and how he is connecting, how he's getting his message out there. I'm very intrigued by that. So I think recently, that's really been catching my eye a lot and I would love to sit down and have a conversation with him because I think his passion is burning brightly, and I just love the direction that he's going. The other person would probably be Joanna Gaines because I'm not very handy. So I don't know if it's just because I am attracted to the fact that she can fix anything. But she literally, you know, took Shiplap to a whole new level. She's now going to be starting a network. I mean, hello, I'd want to sit down and have a conversation with her because that is taking things to a completely new level. I just find the way that she just delivers her message and all the different projects that she's in and she has family, and she's got this design aspect and now she's you know, getting in again to this network. I just think holy cow! I feel like we could talk for days on just how that has transpired and all the different steps along the way to allow that vision to come to life.
Connect with Ann:
Instagram: @annieriphenburg reCollect2 website: https://www.recollect2recycler.com/
After spending too many years in corporate America, Lorraine said goodbye to the bureaucracy, glass ceilings, and bad coffee. Today you can find her at Round Peg, a digital agency located in Carmel, Indiana building smart marketing strategies for businesses who want to use internet marketing tools to grow Laureen is also the host of More than a Few Words, a weekly marketing conversation for business owners. In her spare time, she loves to travel and take photos.
So you actually started your agency in more of the traditional sense but migrated to digital. How and when did you know it was time to make that transition?
I would love to tell you that I strategically planned that out that I saw this whole digital thing coming and I anticipated it, but no. Actually what happened was, we were doing small business marketing and I hired a couple of young professionals who were like, you know, you need to take a look at this Facebook thing. This is going back 2007 or whenever, you know, right in that time frame. We started looking at it and what we realized, as we were looking at it is we were working with small businesses who didn't have a lot of money. We saw this, wild west where there weren't a lot of rules and there were a lot of opportunities to make a big splash on a small investment. That’s what really intrigued me so much about the early days of digital marketing. It's gotten a lot more static since then, but in the beginning, it was a great place to try out so many different things. One morning, I woke up and realized that that was most of my business and I've never looked back, I really enjoy it.
Why don't you share a little bit about some of the lessons that you learned during this transition?
I think the biggest lesson that I learned it took me a little while to figure this out was that the basics of good marketing, knowing who your customer is, knowing what their pain points are, knowing what your objective is when you have a conversation with them. A conversation can be a television ad, it can be a direct mail piece, or it can be a social share on Instagram. Starting with who your customer is, and applying all the same strategies of traditional marketing to digital marketing makes your campaigns much more effective. I said earlier that it was kind of the Wild West, but as digital marketing has matured, understanding that I have to go back to my roots as a classic marketer and apply that same strategy makes the content much more effective, makes it drive the results, and makes everybody a lot more satisfied with the content we're putting out and the results that we're getting back.
So can you help our listeners remove any fear that they have around networking by sharing one of your most successful or favorite networking stories?
So I love networking, I have to admit that when I first started the business, I was a bit of a networking junkie. I didn't have a lot of customers and didn't have a lot else to do so I was running around any, any, and all networking events until I kind of create a little strategy there. But one of my favorite stories is I was at BNI when I first got started. And I thought that was a great way to learn the basics of networking. One of the rules and BNI is that if you can't attend an event, you have to invite someone to take your place. I called a friend of mine who was a marketer. So I thought she'd be a perfect replacement and she couldn't come. But she said, "You know, I got this friend, Eric and he is trying to get around to all the BNI chapters in the city. I'll hook you up, he'll take your place. And so I was like, great. And we chatted on the phone, and Eric took my place." So I wrote him a thank you note and we went off on our merry way. Two months later, I'm at a different networking event and I'm walking through a doorway. Coming through the doorway exactly the same moment is this very large gentleman. I mean, he's built like a football player. S I do what I always did at a networking event, we almost bump into each other a step back, and I said, "Hi, I'm Lorraine," to which he replies, "I'm you." And I'm looking at this guy, and I'm thinking In what world does a God who's built like a football player think he's me? So I take a step back because I'm not quite sure he's all there and I asked him, "So why do you think you are me?" And he explained, he's Eric, he's the guy that attended the networking event in my place. So I started to laugh and I told him what I was thinking. Eric was a contractor, his customers were homeowners, I was running an agency, my customers were businesses, there was no reason for us to really do a follow-up networking event. Except he made me laugh. So when he suggested that we grab a cup of coffee, I thought, you know what, every now and then you just have to spend half an hour with somebody who makes you laugh. Well, we had coffee, and we had coffee again, and we became friends. What we discovered was, even though our markets were completely different, he would run into people who needed me and I would run into people who needed his services. We had a great referral partnership, we ultimately started looking for office space, we decided that we were going to buy a building. We bought a building that we could house both of our businesses in. Eventually, I bought him out and he's gone on to other things, but all of that I would never have had the courage to move out of my home and buy a building. I can't tell you how many different customers I have relationships with today because of that, and it all started because he made me laugh and because we recognized that as people we really liked being around each other. So that's my favorite networking story is that you know, being willing to have a conversation, even if you're not quite sure there's a business reason to do it.
Now, can you share a little bit about how you nurture these relationships? Because regardless of the size of your network, it's extremely important to maintain and nurture your community in your relationships.
So one of my favorite strategies is every now and then I particularly do this when business slows down. I go through my online address book, but whatever and I make random phone calls and I'm not doing it to sell anything. I will call people who I've met in networking events, maybe we've collaborated, and I haven't heard from them in a while. And I just randomly say, "Hey, I was just calling to touch base." Now, pre all the COVID stuff, I'd be like, "You got time for a cup of coffee?" What I found is, if I would make five of those calls a week, they don't take long, every one of them makes me smile, because these are people I genuinely like and all sorts of things come out of those conversations. Number one, in some cases, it just reinforces the connections. In other cases, I'll get a, "You know? I was just talking to someone and I didn't think about you, but I'm going to hook you up." Or someone mentions maybe, "Hey, I'm going to this event or this conference." One of my favorites was I called somebody I'd known for a long time and she said, "I'm so glad you called, I'm moving to Florida and this will be a great opportunity to say goodbye." Then as we connected, she said she was selling the business and that she would introduce me to the person buying it. Had I not picked up the phone at that moment, she might already be in Florida. I might never have had a chance to say goodbye, but also I might not have had a chance to build that relationship with the person who was taking over.
What advice would you offer that business professional who is really looking to grow their network?
I think that you have to kiss a lot of frogs and I think you have to be particularly in the beginning, willing to kiss a lot of frogs and just go to a lot of events and meet a lot of people. But don't go with the intention of shoving your business card in everybody's face and talking about yourself. What you really want to do when you walk in the door at any networking event, is meet people and look for those people you want to have a longer conversation with. Because it is that follow up conversation that will tell you whether this is a connection that's going to go somewhere. If you approach each conversation with more of your detective hat on, who are you what do you do, who are your customers, is there a place where we overlap? A question I like to ask is to ask them about one of their favorite projects. That's because if somebody starts talking and they light up because they're excited about their customers, that's somebody I probably want to hang out with. If they immediately start with, you know, "I'd love my job if it wasn't for my customers," that's not necessarily somebody who approaches business the way I do. Then one of my other really favorite networking questions is, "Hey, have you been to any other events that you think I might like?" I've asked that question twice in my life and both times, I ended up in organizations that had dramatic impacts on my business, that maybe I would have found eventually. But I found it exactly the right moment because somebody said, "You know, I think you'll like this group," and I went.
I think the first thing I would say is to be braver sooner. I don't want to say the older I get, the more experienced I am. But the more comfortable I am with my gut instincts and my ideas, the more comfortable I am speaking up, and the less likely I am to sort of second guess myself. I might not have had a depth of experience, but I definitely was smart and I think I spent a lot of time in the early years, hiding that a little bit by couching my suggestions or taking a backseat to someone else. Particularly I was a woman in a lot of male-oriented industries so there's certainly a lot of that in play. But I think I would, even when I started my business, I had some male peers, who basically said, "You've got to raise your price, you're worth more than this," and just being braver sooner and being willing to just say no, this is what I think and it's okay if you don't get that.
Any final word or advice offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I think that I would suggest that you never stop building. Often I think business owners get into this. It's almost a high school attitude where they say, "These are the people who were in business when I started, we've grown up together, this is this is my network." It's kind of like my graduating class. But you know what, when I was a junior in high school, I had some friends who were seniors and some friends who were freshmen, and my senior friends graduated and they went off somewhere else. So those younger people coming up were or newer people coming up were bringing in filling in gaps. That I think, is also very, very true of your network. You may have that core, but always make time to bring some new people in for some fresh ideas, because also some of those other folks may roll away from one reason or another. It's not like you have to have that same sort of high level of thinking you have to build out an entire network. But after several years of doing it, and you have that solid core, you always want to be on the lookout for those one or two new people who are going to just add that extra spark which helps you grow a little further.
Connect with Lorraine:
Round Peg Website: https://roundpeg.biz/
Lorraine’s Podcast: https://morethanafewwords.com/
Lorraine’s Website: https://lorraineball.com/
She is the founder of a PR and digital media firm The Impact Kind, based in Michigan whose clients had been featured in Business Insider, Parents Magazine, Thrive Global, and other mediums to increase lead sales and brand awareness. She's got some amazing tips and resources on her website at www.impactkind.com
Let's talk a little bit about what you did before starting your own firm, and how networking has impacted your life in corporate America.
I worked in sales at SME Society of Manufacturing Engineers, which focuses on conferences and events for the manufacturing community. But we were starting lots of new products and new industries like getting into aerospace and defense. So I was kind of the new product girl, I sold everything that was new there. Building relationships was a key component of how I got my job, and then how I made relationships in order to grow all the new products that we were creating. So it was lots and lots of fun and it was a great experience. Because I was really the only woman in that area, but it was awesome. So I made a lot of cool connections. That led to the next products that we were creating so we had speakers, and we had exhibitors based on meeting those initial contacts. So it was a great segue into what I do now.
How did living abroad ultimately inspire entrepreneurial growth?
I had a great opportunity to move to Shanghai, China. I was able to see so many different kinds of pop-ups and different ex-pats from different countries, start new businesses. For me, at the time, I was having my babies raising my family. But being surrounded by entrepreneurs that were really making it like, we have a friend who was a fellow coworker, at Ford Motor Company, an American company, so that's what took us out there. But he stopped working at Ford, he started Mobike and he's like a billionaire. He's got different slip stations all over the world now and he's still breaking into industries. It sounds simple, you have bikes that you can rent and it's kind of like the American version of the Zipcar. It's really just finding where can you solve a problem. He saw that lots of people can't really get on the metro, and there are lots and lots of them in China, and take your bike and everything else you need. So he created different stations where you can rent bikes and put them back. Just because we were surrounded by so many kinds of successful entrepreneurs and successful business owners that did leave corporate and decided to try something different, it gave me that inspiration that hey, you know, I can do that, too.
Can you share how making friends all over the world has helped you and really can help anyone that is interested in going into business?
I love to travel. So that's like my thing, right? My husband, he loves to travel to so our family, that's what we do. But when you travel, you get to learn that you have to trust people in like, very odd situations. Sometimes when you get off the plane you have to find the right taxi driver or you have the right person is going to take you to the hotel. Even in those small instances, you can learn so much about the culture, the area, and how to position yourself, because, in every business, you really want to focus on your audience. Who are you selling to? Who are you speaking to? I think when you learn a little bit more about where you are, like where you're going, when you're traveling, I think it's so important to learn a little bit about the culture from people that live there because you'll learn important things from locals. Then when you do that, you're going to be able to speak to other people that you meet around and not generalizing culture or a population, but just you'll have more of a background to really communicate more effectively with. So that's almost like creating any kind of avatar brand, you want to make sure that you are really speaking to your audience, or they would be more receptive to whatever you're selling. I think traveling is so incredibly inspiring, not just because you see new things, you learn new things because everyone has their own filter, right? So always going to this new place with, you know, their background, their experiences, but because it's near to them, they might notice things that if they live there for a long time, they wouldn't see them the same way. So it's always really interesting when you first go and you place and get to know the people. And then if you have like a language barrier it's funny to just look back and see like what you did to communicate well. Then when you get to learn more about the people, then you know, hey, I probably shouldn't use this as body language. I think that's really helpful when you're starting any business, is to make sure that you really learn a little bit more about the people that you're serving first, and then you start to build the message.
So can you share with our listeners, maybe one of your most successful or favorite networking stories that you've had?
In high school, I was a swim teacher, and one day, one of my fellow swim coaches said, "Hey, that lady might ask you to babysit, but I live on her street, don't babysit no matter what." Maybe it was just because we were in the water and I didn't hear her, but I took the job because she did ask me. I eventually started babysitting for her a lot more often and the other coach was never a babysitter again. Then the neighbor next door actually started to use my services as well. Then I was in college, and one of the neighbors asked me, "Hey, would you like to come to a networking event?" I had never been to a networking event and I didn't really know what it was all about, but I knew I had to dress up. I didn't even know what he did, but I knew he worked at a pharmaceutical company that I eventually wanted to go to work for. So I went to the event, and he met me there and said, "Hey, okay, I need you to take your sunglasses off your head, put your full name on your name tag." I walked in, and I kid you not everyone looks like Barbie, and Ken, everyone was gorgeous. I had no idea what was really happening. I was still too young to apply for a real job there, but he invited me to go. When everyone sat down, he was the main speaker, I had no idea! But it was a great experience and I'm glad that I went because it showed me what kind of competition is out there. So when you're going to be looking for a job, you have to find a way to stand out. Even though all these people are so gorgeous you know, they have all the things that you want on the resume, you still have to find a way to stand out. I think that was the most awesome experience that I remembered going to and even when I got my first job out of college, I remember calling him to say, thank you so much for inviting me to that of that because it made such a difference in even the job that I had, they didn't have a position open but because they saw that I was a hard worker, I was interning there. So they didn't have a budget for a full-time worker and they moved money and created a job for me and it was not making pennies, like a lot of my friends at a college. So it was really great experience to go to because then I saw Hey, I'm not just another kid in college, you know, thinking I'm just gonna get out and be rich, right? There's lots of competition that's more qualified than me and so I always kept that experience in my mind thinking, you know, there's always going to be someone better. But if I stand out and I really work hard, it's fine to make a difference.
Regardless of the size of your network, or the community that you're building, it's extremely important to stay in front of those individuals. How do you best nurture your network?
Staying connected through social media, I think is really important. I know, I like to help my clients focus on social media in their businesses. But I think for me, definitely social media, keeping people current. I would like to say this too that I don't usually show my children on social, on my personal Facebook, but they are on there sometime and I do share what we're doing. That's so people still feel like they're getting a glimpse. I think it's still important to know that you can be social on social media without sharing your whole life story. I think that's really important, even for your personal accounts, that you have a goal and a purpose. It's still possible to be totally social without feeling like your privacy is being invaded. So I know, there are lots of people who are afraid to network, but you can network through social media without sharing everything, if you have a plan of Here are a few things that I might not share, but here are things that I'm willing to share and keep people interested in what I'm doing and, you know, commenting on what they're doing and being helpful when people ask for recommendations or for help if you're able to help in any way, definitely do it.
So let's talk about giving advice to anyone that's really looking to grow their network, what do you have to offer?
If they're trying to be active on social just focus on, three key things like industry myths that they can debunk. So if everyone's telling you to do this, this is what you have found to be the goal, the one thing that worked. Hot tips, so like anything that you see that your competitors are doing, they're making, and they're making mistakes, here's a tip for you to do it the right way. Or even really basic things that you may not even think like who could know this, right? Those are very easy to share and be helpful. So that's like the authenticity and the value the people are always talking about. People always, "Be authentic, provide value," but people don't know what kind of value to share. So I'd really stick with like Hot Tips, mistakes people are making that you can help them with, and industry myths debunked so like anything the big competitors are doing that you're they're not addressing, just talk to people and help them with that. If you focus on those, you'll get a nice following.
I would tell myself to just enjoy every moment. I really would say that, enjoy every moment, because really, every connection has led to something else. Even if it wasn't a position for me, it was a position for like a family member or a friend. So really, keeping those connections close is really important. I think I would put something that my dad told me, that I still think about all the time is, you know, find one nice thing about someone., and that's always a conversation starter. Even if you can't find anything nice on a surface just look harder, and you'll find one nice thing about someone and that totally changes the perspective. So the to my 20-year-old self, one thing it would be to always find one nice thing about someone and it'll go even further.
Do you have any final words of advice for our listeners with regard to growing and supporting your network?
I would say the same thing. We've been kind of mentioning this whole podcast, being helpful. The follow up is so key to not only starting relationships but building relationships and really branding who you are as a person. Regardless of what business you choose, I think following up with people is not only courteous but essential to let people know who you really are. When people refer you, others know to contact this person and they will get right back to you. So whether you accept or decline, whatever it may be, that's coming your way, if you respond, and it's something that you're known for, that's saying something great about you.
Connect with Kirby:
The Impact Kind Website: https://www.impactkind.com/
Ruthie is a US Army veteran, wife, and mother to four young children. She currently runs a small content marketing agency called Defy The Status Quo, where they focus on bringing stellar content to their client’s marketing channels, specifically focusing on B2B Consulting and service companies in industries like supply chain and business development.
To start, why don't you explain to our listeners, what is authority marketing.
So authority marketing, at least the way that we execute it at DTSQ is a blend of content marketing and online PR. So in a lot of cases, what I typically see across the very wide span of the internet, is that you have people who do PR, they connect with people like you and they want to be on your podcast, they may do speaking engagements, they might also look at more traditional PR media, radio shows, and things. But then perhaps their own content spaces, things like their website, their social media channels don't quite match up with the person that they're presenting in all of these opportunities. So I perceive this as a gap in the marketplace. That's what we do, yes, we look at the different types of expertise showcasing opportunities, which are in abundance right now, because so many of them are virtual, which means location is no longer a barrier for speaking, for example. But also making sure that when somebody is intrigued by you from a podcast interview, or a speaking engagement, when they go look, research, and check out your website, and now they see your videos, and they see that you're really active on LinkedIn, or Instagram or wherever it is, all of those things now match instead of you presenting as a very strong and knowledgeable professional but having limited content yourself. Then the same goes vice versa, you have some people who create wonderful content, and would actually appreciate getting out there and kind of getting in the spotlight and using their personal brand to grow their business. But maybe they're not sure how they're not sure where to start. They don't want to figure it out themselves and so we help from both ends.
Let's talk about increasing our marketability for guest opportunities. How can we do that?
Well, that really boils down to leaning into what makes you unique. So that's something I talk about a lot like on LinkedIn is I talk a lot about authenticity, and especially in the b2b space. We talk about authenticity, but when you look at a lot of the brands, and whether it's b2b products, b2b services, or whatever it is, we're kind of stripped of what we would consider an authentic personality, a personality that a real person would have. That's not to say that big brands can't still embody that type of brand. It's just that too often we dilute our brands down to professional, friendly, and competent. When you look to your left, and you see professional, friendly, and competent, and you look to your right, and you see professional, friendly, and competent, how do you market it? So what that means is leaning into what makes you unique. For us as people, it's our stories, and it's our experiences. As a consultant, I have a vast amount of experiences that I can tap as it relates to my story, but also my authority, and therefore, my marketability. So for example, I've done two podcast interviews that related to my military service, one of them specifically related to my military service, as it's helped me as an entrepreneur. Now, that's not a story that everyone has, but you have stories that I don't have. But if I hadn't been able to talk to that specific podcast host about that story, that I was willing to share in its highs and lows, and therefore provide a great experience for his audience, I wouldn't have had that opportunity on his podcast. So leaning into the different stories, and one of my buzzwords for this year is intersectionalities, which I've picked up from working with some DENI folks on their content. But your intersectionalities, as you know, a woman business owner in my case, a minority business owner, a Veteran Business Owner, a mom, and I've done podcasts about the fact that I'm a mom, and how that's impacted me as an entrepreneur. So there are a lot of ways to kind of lean in and use the niche audiences that are presented with all of the various groups that we can talk to in all of the interviews that we can do to increase your marketability, and provide a better experience, not just for the host, but also for their audience. And that I think is paramount. I love that everything that you said there and, and you taught me a new word here.
Why did you decide to focus on authenticity as your pillar of work?
I had always talked about authenticity, but it was more of something that I had done in a more intuitive fashion because I just kind of the way I am kind of hard on the sleeve and it's pretty empathetic. So I'm really good at reading a crowd or even, you know, just reading people, whether it's virtual or not. I was sitting in a webinar, and it was just chock full of what felt like to me toxic positivity, it was April, and that almost everybody in there in this webinar was talking about how they were gonna, you know, take this COVID energy and just use it to transform their businesses. Everyone was just really hyped up and that wasn't me that day. From the outside looking in, I basically had, you know, nothing to worry about, which I was incredibly grateful for. But at the same time, I had all four of my kids home, my husband was now also home since he was not normally there, just like my children were not normally here which made things completely different and it was very stressful. So these people being super amped up, I was like, "No, this is not for me. I don't know what you guys drink in your coffee this morning, but I didn't get that in my coffee." I went on LinkedIn right after, I recorded a video, I hadn't really done any videos on LinkedIn, not the talking head kind, I just got on there. I didn't do makeup, I didn't do anything extra, Because what I wanted was for people to really understand if they were out there like me, who just was struggling, even if they had no apparent reason that other people could perceive that they were struggling from a mental health perspective. And I just said if you're not okay right now, that's okay, and if you are feeling really good right now, just try and understand that there are people around you who might not be doing okay, so make sure you're doing some extra check-ins, but I just wanted to talk for like five minutes, and created some space where people could be honest about how okay or not they were. The post just took off, it took off, people in my network and outside my network, were just like, "I thought I was the only one everybody just seems so positive, I thought it was just me." That was when something clicked right there because I was intentionally authentic. I was like, "You know what, I'm gonna just show up the way that I am so they can see me and understand that I'm really trying to connect here and just create this space." Since it took off in the response that I got, I realized that we weren't seeing enough of that. That was why it became such a pillar and what I do.
Can you share with our listeners, one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
So I went through a lull where I didn't really do too much, I got a bit zoomed out. Now I've been more intentional with the groups that I've been going to. One of my absolute favorite things that happen in networking groups, my favorite thing is the breakout rooms that some of the hosts have been doing, where you'll get five minutes one to one or five minutes small group talk where they'll give us a topic to discuss or whatever, and we can all just go back and forth and get to know each other a little bit better. Most of the events that I go to a reoccurring, so it gives you an opportunity to build good relationships in a very low-pressure way. Having those smaller groups or even the one to ones is a huge thing for me because it's an element that we're missing in networking right now. Because if you were hosting an event and we were all able to show up, I would be able to walk around the room, and just chit chat with people. But we can't do that anymore so people are doing all these events and one of the big reasons I attended events in person before everything was because I had an opportunity to talk to people. Yes, I wanted to go learn something or, experience something new, but I also got to talk about that and bond with people over that experience. So the breakout room thing is huge, and if anybody's running a networking event where they're not doing that, they should definitely consider adding it into the timeframe that they have for their event.
How do you stay in front of and nurture your network in your community that you've been building?
So LinkedIn is huge for me and I find that out of all social media platforms, I really hit my stride with LinkedIn. I think as soon as LinkedIn, really beefs up their group features, I would probably spend a lot less time on Facebook, it's just Facebook groups, really blow it out of the water. I even have my own small Facebook group, which allows me to stay engaged with a kind of core audience if you will. But I probably spend the most time going back and forth between Facebook groups and LinkedIn for sure. That's because I approach it in a very intentional way because when I see the same people commenting and reacting, and engaging with my posts. Maybe I don't know why they're doing it, but it's definitely a basis for conversation. Just today, I had a conversation with somebody, we had met in person at an event and we had kind of kept the relationship going, but obviously, I'm seeing that person in a while. I was like, "Hey, I noticed you were really showing the support of my post, and I really appreciate it, can we schedule a call, so I can see how I might be able to help you?" If the person is interacting and engaging in my content, I think it's pretty hard to turn down that type of conversation. Not every conversations like a client conversation and so that's the other thing I think that a lot of people miss in terms of social media, networking, and social media marketing is not every person you talk to as a client. But when you go in thinking relationship first, you will nurture those relationships. You never know what type of fruit those relationships will bear, but it's always something. It may or may not be tomorrow, but it's always something when you're able to nurture those relationships along in an intentional way.
What advice would you offer the business professional who's really looking to grow their network?
I would say hands down right now is to find those really good events, the virtual ones to attend and network. If you're practiced at speaking, a lot of those events are looking for speakers. So it's a great opportunity to attend an event and kind of get a feel for it. Then if you develop an idea that you can talk to the event organizer about then pitch that idea, and then you put yourself in a position of authority there. Also attending new events and getting out of your comfort zone of seeing the same faces in that zoom checkerboard there will do so much to grow your network. Then because we're all connecting on social media, now, instead of handing out business cards anyway, it gives you that opportunity to nurture them on whatever social media channel that you're on. One of the big reasons I love events is that they are typically organized by one person or two people, or maybe a company is a driving force behind it. Event organizers, and then podcast hosts like yourself, I consider them power nodes in my network because the more I get to know them, the more I know how I can offer to help them out whether it's recommending their event, recommending podcast, or sharing their content. The more they get to know me, they may come to realize that there are people in their network who are a good fit. If they continue to get to know me then they may be willing to connect me with those people.
Hmm, that is a hard one. Only because my 20-year-old self was still in the army. At that time, I thought I was gonna retire from the army do like 20 or 30 years, I wanted to be the first woman Sergeant Major of the Army. That's where I was aiming, there is no higher enlisted position in terms of being up there. Just from professional development, and probably even some personal development, I would tell 20 year old me to care a lot less about how I was, quote, unquote, supposed to be, and who I was, quote, unquote, supposed to be. Really examining my actions and being like, "Was this an authentic move, or did I decide to do this because I thought something about somebody else's perception of me?" That has brought me a lot of self-awareness, but also a lot of happiness. I've gotten to know me so much better and I'm grateful that it happened now versus never. I'm getting to know me so well, and I like what I'm finding. I think that that is important to be happy in your own skin. 20 year old me was probably wrapped up and concerned with how she was perceived.
Do you have any final word or advice for our listeners with regard to growing and supporting your network?
Ask on a consistent basis. Somebody asked me earlier, what was one of the big reasons I've been able to continue doing speaking events and podcast interviews. They're like, I feel like you're posting about something like every other day that you've done. Well, when people ask me what they can do for me or how they can support me, I let them know. I'd reach out to say that I'm just still on the lookout for any types of speaking opportunities, or opportunity to share my story and experiences with people to help them and you know, start more educated conversations around the variety of topics that I talk about. Because I keep saying it, when people see things when they're scrolling on LinkedIn or Facebook, and they see opportunities pop up, I am one of the first people that they tag. A PR friend of mine tags me on stuff. She tagged me on something the other day that is going to result in me interviewing with the person whose posts she tagged me on. But I got to other people that I'm going to be doing interviews with because she tagged me once. If I had never asked, though she wouldn't have known that it was something I was truly interested in doing. So it's something that I say, and I ask consistently, I mentioned it consistently. So now I've got eyes where I normally wouldn't have them and that's helped me so much.
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Chad is a Believer, Husband, Father of two teenagers, and lifelong rebel and rule-breaker. He empowers sales professionals to become the best version of themselves by focusing on their mindset, skillset, and toolkit. Before launching ScaleX.ai and Salesclass.ai, Chad believed that sales were fundamentally “a numbers” game. Although he still believes frequency matters, he is now convinced that Revenue = Frequency X Competency. Chad is passionate about creating systems that empower people from all walks of life and these days you’ll find him hosting the AI for Sales Webinar and Podcast on The Sales Experts Channel and C-Suite Radio.
Let's talk about sales a little bit, specifically AI for sales. What is it and how does it help or hurt that relationship when it comes to conducting business?
Yeah, it's an accelerator. So AI for sales stands for artificial intelligence. I, in fact, wrote the book called AI For Sales, How Artificial Intelligence is Changing Sales. I put that out at the end of 2019 and there have already been more than 5000 copies sold. So it's a hot topic, as you know, as people use their Alexa device to order food and groceries. Then all kinds of AI are coming out. I think a lot of people don't realize they're using AI in a lot of cases, but it's becoming more and more prevalent. So it can help or hurt your relationships, I'll give you an example: If you use an AI bot, let's say to connect with people on LinkedIn and social media if you program that bot to be extremely cheesy, non-heartfelt, and all you care about is yourself and let's say you move from five or six requests a day to connect with people up to 50 a day. Well, now you're at 10x the amount of insincerity. Whereas if you're someone like Nick Kabuto, who I've partnered with, on the marketing side, he sends out a message that starts with a clapping emoji and it says, "Hey, I've looked at your profile, you look like a really interesting person. I'd love to truly and sincerely get to know you." And that's it. Then when he gets a reply, he'll go in on his LinkedIn, and he'll do a video and go, "Hey, I'm Nick, I'm sitting at the fire pit," or, "I'm up in the mountains skiing," or whatever it is he's doing, he'll reply back. So it can accelerate trust and social capital, or it can completely rip it apart. You just have to be careful and learn from other people who use the technology in an effective and efficient way.
What are some ways that you use AI to connect more deeply with others?
Well, revenue equals frequency times competency is what a mentor of mine taught me 20 years ago, Skip Miller, who's been training sales and sales leaders for so long. So the frequency part is easy: Do More. More emails, more voicemails, more calls, etc. The competency part takes a while. So for me early in my sales career 25 years ago, I didn't have the competency yet. I'd never been through any sales training and so AI can accelerate the pace at which you connect with people through all the different channels. It's important that as you go, that you're investing an equal amount of time in understanding what it is you're saying and how you're connecting with people. So I think what happens is that AI puts more stress on the human to human relationship, then has typically been there from a sales capacity perspective. So interesting times that we're entering in today's day and age.
So the automated connections on LinkedIn, at least the ones that I can tell, I find really annoying. But what you're saying really is you have to have a strong message that's extremely personal, or at least looks like it.
Big time. It's at the end of the day, whether I physically type a message one to one, or I do one too many, it's still a string of zeros and ones, right? It's an email, it's a LinkedIn connection request, it's a LinkedIn follow up. If you have a high EQ (emotional intelligence), I think EQ starts to beat IQ in today's day and age. Hmm. So would you rather have someone with high EQ write the message or someone fresh out of college that's never really had experience communicating on a b2b type of platform? We're finding it's better to leverage someone who has the EQ piece of the equation to help you write the email message, the social connection. And where it's going is there are tools like codebreaker technologies, which is they have a thing called bank code. They can log into your LinkedIn account, click a button, and in under three seconds, tell you what your DNA makeup is and what your communication and buying style is. Are you very action-oriented, are you knowledge, are you blueprint? There's a different letter stand for each different word in the end what we're talking about. So imagine a world where you send an email to a list of people and depending on that list, it'll change the message based on who the buyer is, and their buyer personality type. It'd be very hard for humans to actually get their arms around the different variations of people where AI can actually start to do those human to human connections in a much better way at scale.
What's the vision for your life heading into the future?
Yeah, um, you know, the first I feel like I'm on hole nine on the golf course. So the good news is, I've got another nine to go. , and the great news is the first nine were amazing! So now it's, what do you do next and how do you impact the greatest number of people? My grandparents were big in the church, and they did a lot of one on one meetings with people and they would give, give, give, all the way up to the end, and I so respected and appreciated that. I've been given the gift of running a business and motivating and leading very large teams. So what came to me over the course of the last just couple of months, we're gonna write a book called God-Centered Selling, and then God-Centered Company, and God-Centered Leadership. It's not a book on how to sell, and it's not a book on necessarily how to be a good follower of God. It's how do you put those two things together, and make ethical, good person decisions when it comes to all aspects. So we want to put the book together first, and then hold executive retreats at a mountain house. We want to start bringing ethics and spirituality into companies where traditionally, I feel like until the year 2020, that was kind of a faux pas. Nowadays that's what we're working on, how to be good people and influence others in a positive way.
Can you share with our listeners, one of your favorite networking experiences that you've had?
Yeah, you know, when we talk about leveraging social outreach and social automation, that's how we got connected. I have a virtual assistant that reaches out to about, I actually had to peel it back because I was reaching out to 50 people a day at first. About 50% of everyone I reached out to said, "Yeah, your podcast looked good," or, "You look like a good guest." So, you know, typically, I invite people to be on my show called AI For Sales and I was getting six to eight people a week who wanted to be on the show. So we're recorded all the way through January now. So, Nick, my marketer said, "You know, you're good at talking to people, why don't you just reach out to podcast hosts and, and have a conversation?" So I literally just started this effort, maybe six weeks ago, and I've already been on at least two dozen different podcasts. So talk about a way to network!
So let's talk about nurturing your network. It's definitely important to maintain connections and doing that from an AI perspective versus the manual process, how do you stay in front of and best nurture your community?
Yeah, that's, that's always been important to me and it's been one of my strengths. So I'll have connections from five companies ago, and I'll still stay in touch with them. Before this pandemic hit, I was on the road quite a bit, at least one week a month, if not, sometimes two. One of the practices that I'll use is if I'm on a bus, or a train going from place to place or an airplane, airplanes a little harder make a phone call, but you get my drift. In the Avis rent a car, for example, I'll scroll through the phone, and I'll go A down, and then sometimes I'll go Z up. This is the manual approach and I'll just click, click, click, and I'll go, "I haven't talked to Stephen a long time," and I'll just call him to leave a message. I think a lot of people don't necessarily proactively reach out to their network unless they need something. I don't like to be that guy, I like to keep tabs on what people are doing and stay in touch. From an automation perspective, our company has been primarily focused on top of funnel demand gen for almost three years. We're just starting to get some customers who say, "Hey, you know, what, you've automated email and phone and social, but how can you help us automate more of our client success function, especially for our high velocity, or high volume, low yielding customers?" Right, so if you think 80-20 rule, 80%, your customers make up 20% of your revenue, and vice versa. So how do you handle the bottom 80? Well, imagine if you could set it up and have an automated voicemail drop 90 days before renewal, you could you can automate that. Where it gets really interesting is you can actually do videos in an automated fashion. So imagine a video art video or loom are the two big ones, and you record 90% of it the same across customers. So let's say it's a renewal of this one product, and all they bought is that one product, yet your company offers six products. So you could send out an email in an automated fashion and then you could drop in their name at the beginning or even a company name. You can almost merge video segments into this video clip. We've seen b2c companies do it, and we're starting to dabble in bringing that over into the b2b world.
What advice would you offer the business professionals looking to grow their network?
LinkedIn is huge, but I would say it depends. There's a woman named Katie, who spoke at the event I mentioned in Winter Park two weeks ago, she talked about Instagram, and she helps mothers and women who have kids and work at home to allow them to work fewer hours, and then make between six and seven figures. So she showed us how to do a proper Instagram post, where she literally walked around the living room, she recorded herself in a selfie-and Instagram was able to chunk it down into a 15-second bite. Then she typed over the top of it the speech to text. She did all this in under 10 minutes, and I was like, wow, just the way you do the message, the network. That's available on LinkedIn, they have a new thing called stories, or Instagram has their approach. Obviously, Facebook has a different set of followers, but use social tools and understand who you are as a person. Don't be afraid to be authentic and vulnerable, you have to dig deep inside to figure out where your weak points are, and then don't be afraid to expose them because guess what? Everybody in the world is not perfect. So be vulnerable, be authentic, and use the platforms to get your message out.
I would have hired a coach earlier because it took me until about a year and a half ago to realize that a coach was essential. It was when I was driving around a racetrack in a Ferrari in Southern California and there was a coach, or a professional driver in the front seat, who was speaking in my ear Tell me when to speed up when to shift. I was like wait a second! If you know how to drive a car, think of the types of people that could help you with your finances, or how to grow, or how to do marketing or, anything you can even think of you can bring someone in that's an expert in that field. So now I have nine coaches a year and a half after I did that Ferrari racetrack drive.
Do you have any final word or advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Well, I would say to give an offer. So what I would say the offer to you, if you're listening to this podcast, and someone said they need to reach out to more people, I really feel compelled to help entrepreneurs and solopreneurs make it through these hard times. Traditionally, we work with $7,000 to $10,000 a month customers, and with our social tool, it's $500 a month. So it's much more attainable for me and you and anyone. The offer would be a three-month trial program. It's $2000, $500 setup, $500 a month, and if I don't get you 100 replies from people that you want to be interacting with, then you get all your money back because I've just seen it work. So if you want to get on podcasts, perfect, we have a way we can help you get your word out and get on podcasts. If you want to get new customers and they are a certain target market, you build a report and LinkedIn, you build a message, you click the Go button, set it and forget it and you get a lot of inbound leads. That’s really me giving back to the community and that would be my offer to anybody.
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Download Chad’s books: https://www.scalex.ai/ebooks
Paul is the CEO and president of Griffin living a company that develops and operates Senior Living communities. Paul's career has been marked with awards, including habitat for humanity's builder of the year, the building industry associations builder of the year, the National Association of homebuilders, and the Pacific Coast builders conference for design. Paul has overseen a wide variety of real estate projects amassing a career total of over $4.5 billion.
Can you share a little bit about what your passion is and how it drives your success?
So for business, I've found through my career that individuals in business approach it in different ways. I think there is a very important aspect of business, which is, what do I really think beyond the pro formas, beyond the budgets, the market studies, and the information that we can get to make a decision about whether we're buying into a company, or in our case investing in a project that's being developed. I think the part of a passion that is really using all of the information through every source that I have into my conscious of my subconscious and saying, “I don't want to make just emotional decisions, but what's the full scope of everything that I know, to this point?” Then I ask how does that match with the pro forma, and the project opportunity that's been put in front of me? I think that if you take our passions and deeper understandings, and you pair them together with the facts that are in front of us, they will help us with the sensitivity analysis. That’s because no business, or venture ever finishes out with exactly the same cost and the same income and the same timing that you expect. There'll be problems that come up in between that you have to solve and there'll be opportunities that present themselves that you need to take advantage of. I think all of that and pulling together, you know, the rational part of us and the emotional part together and analyzing business every day. I think it’s important to pull together the rational part of us, and the emotional part of us to analyze business every day. I think that the passion that I have, is more, an acknowledgment that I like to use all of the information I have and all of the experience I have to in our case, look at development ventures.
Why is it important to be a servant leader in both business and networking situations?
When we think about effective management in business in the 20th century, we had a great understanding of the efficiency of the military model since we had just been through multiple wars. This type of leadership was similar to the military as in the thinking was done at the top and the people at the bottom followed orders. That was the way that American business really was approached all the way through the 1980s. In my mind, people that were born of my era and later who came of age in the 1980s started thinking that there are more opportunities, there are better ways we saw people around us at work, and there are better ways to get them motivated, wherever they are in business. I think that the way that business was approached successfully in companies, you know, we've seen turn on turn around backward from the top-down approach. Now businesses are much better run by starting at the lowest level that you can make the best decision with the most information. Then from the top, working with every level in a company to really understand what the goals and issues are to get a commonality of what we're trying to accomplish in a longer plan and a shorter plan. Then let the person at the lowest level tell us how they would think they can best solve the problems for today which allows them to be more passionate because they’re involved in picking the solution. They also get fulfillment when they solve whatever problems in front of them that day at the level they're at, and they're participating more so businesses are more effective. For instance, in real estate developments, we go into a community and we start talking about this development and in our masterplan community days. There’s a conversation that has to have with the community so we can feel good about where we were taking their community in our development so they would be comfortable, and so we would understand some of their worries and then work with the community so that they trust that we are working on their problems and concerns. It’s also important to know what good can come out of a community and getting to know them and work with them. I think servant leadership is really the core of business because the methodology of running a business is really seeing what other people need, whether it be an employee, a customer, or a constituent.
So can you share with our listeners, one of your favorite stories or experiences that you've had around networking?
When you start to talk about networking, there's always a little bit of social anxiety when you walk in and don't know anybody. I have always found that taking a deep breath and just realizing it's just your mind gearing up to have conversations that are giving you anxiety. Then start to look at people in the room, not as a room full of people, but individuals. Then look at each person and say, I wonder about that person, I wonder what they're doing here, I wonder who they are, I wonder where they’re from, and go over an interview in your head with them. Just start to ask questions because people like to talk about themselves and the anxiety of networking always falls. I think that's the most basic part of social networking that has never changed. With the advent of our internet and electronic networking, which is so much more efficient, and we can enjoy even more networking, but again, the root of it still has to be the same. In the case of business, one of the business networking groups that I've always been involved with is Young Presidents Organization which is a bunch of guys that are presidents of their companies and the idea of YPO is presidents being able to talk to each other, network and understand each other and their issues. What I really learned in my experience with those guys, when showing up with a bunch of other presidents of companies was that when people talk about how great they are, our natural inclination is to put a barrier up. None of us really like that sort of bragging and people come in since it puts us off a bit and we’d rather have a conversation to get to know people. So from YPO, I learned in networking not to put my resume in front of people and instead let them ask or let them say, “Oh, you're in real estate, I know somebody would you like to meet,” and use that as an introduction as opposed to pushing myself in networking situations which I don’t like.
It sounds like you have a pretty extensive network, how do you nurture your network in your community?
I tried just to tell people you know about myself and I'd like to do business with you, but it sounds like bragging, and it is kind of bragging. I wish I could tell you I always did it right, but a smart person looks at this and says, “I didn’t do that very well, that doesn't work,” and they learn from their mistakes. So my advice is to let people learn about you, let people be interested in you, and the results will come out much better. I think it’s important to just understand what kind of social network we’re talking about. Ask questions such as, Is it social? Is it about business? what segment of business? Then you need to appropriately relate to those networks without overburdening people.
Any final word of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Be interested in individual people rather than the specific network that you are involved with. I think we will always find that we're more successful however we're introduced to people in whichever network we are apart of. Look around for where the conversations are happening in each part of your life and then look to join the conversation, those are the networks, and you have to put energy in, in order to even be involved in the conversation. When you're invited into the conversation, then jump into looking at the individuals that we're thinking of and talking to, because they are human beings and you know, they have a history of where they've come in their life, they had parents they know they have spouses, possibly children, grandparents, you know? I have found that I've made much better project progress myself when I approach it that way.
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Let's face it in the 21st century, everything rises and falls on leadership in our ability to motivate and inspire others to peak performance. Corey brings a one of a kind approach to driving employee engagement and customer relationships to unheard of levels. Corey's unique program will not only get your organization focused and fired up, but he will generate amazing levels of excitement, optimism, and enthusiasm throughout your company that will last for years to come.
So what is the fastest way to build trust based on relationships with other people?
The big thing that most people are afraid to do today is to actually trust other people. That's a great question you asked me because the thing about it is Lori, you're not going to trust me until I show you that I trust you first. We're all built with mirror neurons and mirror reactions so when I come up to you, and I show you that, hey, you know what, I trust you not just as a worker, not just as a family member, but as a fellow human being, I'm doing two things. Number one is I'm giving you a space where you can feel comfortable and appreciated. Then number two, what I'm doing is I'm building my own confidence, because what I'm saying is that you know what, Lori, if you're one of my employees, and I give you a really important task, and I trust you to complete it, and I don't get my fingers all involved in it, and I don't mess with your agenda. What I'm also saying is that I trust myself so that if you do happen to screw it up, then I know that I can fix it. When you do that, what you're doing is you're actually creating a space for people to feel trust. Trust isn't something that you lend to somebody, trust is an environment that you create. You can walk through life in one of two ways. You can say, you know what, people are gonna rip me off, people are looking to take advantage of me. Or you can say, you know, I believe that everyone is my friend. And if people don't perform the way I think they should, or if people don't act the way I should, I need to step into their space and feel what it is like, and feels like to be them.
How can the Successful Thinker help us build lasting relationships with our families, co-workers, and customers?
So the Successful Thinker is a story that I wrote, based on what I was seeing in the corporations that I work with. As a pharmacist, I have been doing this for 30 years working in a small pharmacy inside of large buildings like Walmart, and Kmart. What you would see is that the pressures from above from the company would grow and grow and grow. We want you to do more and more and more, and we want to give you fewer resources, fewer people, less authority, and so what would happen is that People literally would get sick with stress within these organizations. In fact, in 2008, I wanted to jump off a bridge, it was so stressful. What happened on this night in 2008, where I didn't care if I lived or died, I just happened to stumble into my son's room at about 2 am. He's five years old, and I just didn't know what to do because I didn't want to live anymore. Then I had a coming to Jesus moment where I said, “Do you really want this beautiful five year old to grow up without a father over some stupid job?” So I recognized if I was going to fix that problem, what I had to do was figure out not how to do more with less, but learn how to do more by becoming more. So how do you become more? The answer to that is you grow your influence, you expand what you're able to do through using other people. What I found was that for everything I hated to do, and everything that I sucked at, there was somebody that loved to do it and was great at it. So I just started lending authority to other people. What I found was that when you lend authority to other people, and you trust them, all of a sudden, you exponentially grow your impact, you exponentially grow your influence, and you become much bigger than just yourself. I can only do one, two, maybe three things well, I can wait on customers and make them feel super important, I can grow and empower employees, and I can network with the major players like the doctors and nurses in my pharmacy market. However, I can't write a schedule to save my soul and I can't negotiate with insurances. So I started giving this to people, and what I found was that when I started doing that, they started responding in amazing ways. So what we did with a successful thinker is we wanted to take that and then give this recipe to other people so they could get the results that I got. In the Successful Thinker we came up with seven simple things that you can do anyone could do to make their life impactful, important, and survivable and what we did is we wrote into this story the seven laws of 21st-century leadership, and those seven laws anyone can put into place right now today, and become successful and become fulfilled.
As you said, it's empowering, and a fantastic leadership trait, to just let your team know that you appreciate them and their hard work and efforts are definitely contributing to the bigger picture in the success of everything.
Right, because as leaders, oftentimes, unfortunately, because it's such a stressful position, we make it about us. How am I going to achieve all my goals? Well, once you recognize it, as soon as you make anything about you, and no one else, that's a recipe for disaster. But when you look at your team, and you say, you know what, we're in this together, I need your help, people will respond and they'll respond bigger than you could possibly ever imagine. So here's for instance, most people think that passing along the direction is the same thing as leadership. The main character in our books, Cynthia is a district manager who's basically starting out the book with a really low employee satisfaction rate, and her boss is thinking about firing her. Instead what he does is he hooked her up with a mentor in hopes that he's giving her a chance to raise that employee approval rating. But Cynthia thinks that, like I said, passing along direction is the same thing as leadership, but it’s not. When all you do is give direction and orders, you’re only creating burnout and fear within your employees. But if you look at your team, and you say, “Guess what, guys, we've been given a goal that we have to accomplish. What do you think are the best possible solutions for us to make that happen as a team?” All of a sudden people start inputting, people start sharing their ideas, people start sharing their advice and people start brainstorming because people will always support whatever they co-create. But if I tell you what you're going to do, and I tell you by when you need to do it, you develop an instant resistance to that.
Can you share with our listeners, one of your favorite networking experiences that you've had?
So when I got out of pharmacy school, I was 23 years old, and quite frankly, I was extremely cocky, I was way overconfident and I really wanted to just hit the world like a battering ram. So I went to work my very first day and they said, “You know what, we're really busy here, we don't have time to train you, so you just counsel customers.” So I stood there for the first day and just told customers things like, “take this medicine with food,” or, “take this on an empty stomach.” On the walk home, I recognized that if I had to do that for 45 years, I just didn't think I could take it. I was thinking maybe I should go back to school, but then I had an idea and I said, What if I took a different approach to create a competitive advantage and had fun at work?” I started being really social with people that would come into the pharmacy, asking them about themselves, or saying something like, “Hey I really like your shirt where did you get it?” Then what I found was that people started calling the pharmacy asking for me if they had a medicine question. We weren't talking about medicine at all at the window when they were there to pick it up because they had been at the doctor's office forever, and I quite frankly found medicine boring. So then I started asking them better and better questions, like asking them what’s made them so successful, or if it looks like they’ve had a down day I’d ask them what’s got them down and then we would talk and I might share a solution. All of a sudden, what I started recognizing is that there are similarities between people who are successful, and what they do, and vice-versa. I also noticed that everyone goes through problems, everyone goes through trials and tribulations and there are similarities between ways to make things better. What I wanted to do was take it from the people who were killing it and give it to the people who are getting killed. So I started what we would have called today, relationship marketing back in 1990 when I first got out of pharmacy school, and what I recognized is that every one of us is a human being and want to be treated as such. All too often we go into networking situations, networking events, and we treat people like a client when they aren’t a client until they say they’d like to be a client. That's why you'll never hear me refer to a pharmacy patient as a patient, you will hear me call them a customer because the customer is someone who's walking into your store with the ability to try out your service and they don't become a patient until they say they become a patient. What I'm finding is that if you can treat each and every person with those seven laws of 21st-century leadership, that's what's real networking in my opinion.
As you continue to grow and expand your network, how do you stay in front of and best nurture these relationships?
I actually do two things, I use some of the systems that are what we call CRM systems, where you can actually put people's names and information into your system and keep track of them on a database and actually reach out to them. But I also do something that few people want to do today where I use a notebook and a piece of paper and I make notes about people. I write things that people are interested in, or what they think is important in life, and if I see an opportunity, I reach out. I think one of the things that have happened in our society is we get overly impressed with the idea that it's possible to act like a weirdo, it's possible to stand out by being I don't want to say too friendly. If you say to somebody, “you know what, that's a really cool shirt, man, where did you get it?” Sometimes people are afraid that that's being too forward or too aggressive. But what I find is that if you think it's a cool shirt, and you're just coming from a genuine space of man, that's a cool shirt, I find that it's a worthwhile thing to say that I don't think has ever backfired on me in my life. Obviously, you need to be appropriate, obviously, you need to make sure that the things you're doing and the things that you're complimenting people on or the things that you may be sending people are actually from a genuine space of concern. Part of my bio is I'm a Go-Giver Coach and the Go-Giver is a business book written by Bob Burg and John David Mann. One of the things that they talked about was losing the scorekeeping mentality and just be a really kind person, and just be somebody who's really genuine and affords people a space to where they want to do business with you. What you'll find is that people will always do business with people they know, like, and trust.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of, less of, or differently with regards to your professional career?
One of the things I didn't take into account was that all of a sudden before you know it, you're in your 50s. And you may not have the health or the opportunities that you do in your 20s. So if I could give myself advice, it would be to save more money, focus more on your health, focus on developing those relationships earlier, and strengthen those relationships that give yourself an opportunity. If I could sum all of that up into one sentence, Brian Tracy, who's written 50 or 60 books, on leadership and personal development and so forth, said this: “the business of life is to give yourself options.” So I would offer to your audience that whatever they do, they should always be looking down the road at their next career, their next situation, making sure that they're constantly developing their skills, especially their leadership and people skills because even in 2020, even with everything that's going on, people skills are the one set of skills that has not gone away in terms of opportunity.
Do you have any final words of advice for our listeners with regard to growing and supporting your network?
Yes, I really think that one of the things you want to do is rethink the way you use your life in terms of, we've made a lot of shortcuts in this world with social media and with texting, and with voicemail, and I just want to really offer you an opportunity that exists now that didn't really exist 20 or 25 years ago. Nowadays, we really need people who specialize in emotional intelligence and specialize in seeing people as full people. I believe that it's a real opportunity because so many people have lost a lot of their interpersonal skills because of social media. So it's an opportunity for you to read books like The Go-Giver, or The Successful Thinker and say, “You know what, maybe I really need to recognize that if I want the people in my life, to know how important they are to me, I have to treat them that way.” John C. Maxwell who has written a ton of leadership books said it this way where he said, “You don't have to have a lot of money to create an amazing event for someone else. What you have to do is pay attention and really focus on that person when you're in the room with them and be all there and save everything else for later because everything else is away.”
Connect with Corey:
Corey’s Website: https://thesuccessfulthinker.com/
Reach out by clicking “Contact Me” in the “About Me” tab to ask Corey a leadership question.
Download a free copy of Corey’s book, The Successful Thinker
Meet David Belman:
David is a second generation home builder, a real estate broker realtor. He served as past president of the Metropolitan Builders Association and past president of the Wisconsin Builders Association, as well as a director at the National Association of homebuilders. David has won numerous industry awards, including the 2020 Emerging Leader Waukesha County, 2017 Waukesha Freeman Citizen of the Year and his firm has won the Top Choice Award for Best Home Builder for six years in a row.
I keep hearing about Operation Finally Home, could you tell us a bit about it?
Sure, I basically was at a builder Show in Las Vegas of all places. One of my suppliers offered to take me to a concert which was a benefit concert for veterans and I learned about a veteran that lost his legs in the war. His vehicle ran over an IED and his legs were crushed inside the vehicle and he had to pull his mangled legs from the wreckage. The vehicle was on fire, and the ammunition inside the vehicle was gonna blow up the whole vehicle so he used mangled legs to put the fire out which saved his whole battalion. He had just enough strength to pull himself out of the vehicle before he passed out and of course, he had to have his legs amputated. This is a guy who was going to serve his entire life in the military and that was taken away from them. So you've got a guy that's 30 or whatever that now is handicapped, has no career option at this point, dealing with depression, all sorts of things. This organization came along, found him and gave him a brand new, completely free home which totally changed his life. I just thought that was the most incredible thing. He was there at the event and I got to meet them. I was like, "man, I want to be a part of this, I want to be able to do this kind of thing." So I got involved and brought it to Wisconsin almost seven years ago. I was the first builder to commit to doing one here in Wisconsin, and I've done six homes already and I'm planning on doing my seventh one. It's been super gratifying and these are all great people. I never realized how difficult it is for veterans to return back, especially if they have injuries so this is one way to really help in a big way and make a big difference.
What new things are you working on right now?
I'm actually in the process of writing a book all about leadership which will come out into February. So it's leadership growth hacks for developing professionals and anyone that wants to improve their leadership skills. I've held a lot of leadership positions over the years and I've been compiling ideas and notes which I'm excited to get out there and share with people some of the tips that I've created and lessons that I've learned over the years.
Obviously Young Guns is something major on the horizon as well, do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Young guns is something that was an opportunity that was given, partly because of the operation Finally Home stuff. I had met Paul Neuberger who had seen some of the things I was doing, and we had a conversation because they do some charitable work. I was explaining how our charity works and then then his insurance company did some things for our cause. Later he reached out to me a couple months later and said, "Hey, I've got this really big idea and I would like you to be a part of it." The idea was to put on a really killer business development conference and he wanted me to speak. So we had some conversations, and it evolved into the Young Guns brand which we became business partners for along with Andy Wines. It went from being a conference to now, we've got an online show, we have quarterly events and some other things in the works. We have our first summit November 12th and we have 2 really great keynote speakers. The first speaker is Ryan Campbell who was the youngest gentleman to fly around the world. Unfortunately, after that completed he was flying and he actually crashed on a takeoff and he became paralyzed. He worked very hard in rehab, and he actually willed himself to be able to walk again. So that's an amazing and inspirational story that we can't wait to have him share. Then we have Brandy Holloway who has another interesting story where she created own business which in her words flamed out. She basically rose from the ashes which is her motto of being a Phoenix. We have some panels that we will be doing as well including one that's talking about businesses that are crushing it during COVID which will be talking about different models and things that people are doing that are succeeding right now, when a lot of companies are having a hard time.
Yeah, I think I think my best one ties in with my Operation Finally Home Story at the conference in Vegas. For the first decade of my career I was in sales, and I sold a lot of homes, but I didn't really do a lot of networking. I started to get more involved in organizations especially when I went to that builder show out of state I decided to meet people and learn as much as I can. That was one of those opportunities where it wasn't something I would normally do is kind of outside of my comfort zone. I went and did it and it's completely changed my life. They always say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but not this. This definitely came back and it was a good thing. I think that's probably my most successful networking story because it's created so many new friendships, new opportunities, and connections not only locally here, but even around the country. It's great to have those connections and those friends that you can work together on a common goal and help each other out.
How do you stay in front of and best nurture relationships in your network?
I think it's a combination of using the tools that are out there like social media platforms and sharing what you're doing to let your network know what you're involved in and what you're working on. People like to do business with people they know, like, and trust so letting them know who you are, and being there for them is important. I also think it's important still to have that in person connection, and they kind of go hand in hand. Maybe there's somebody you're intrigued by because of what they're posting or their content. I encourage people to reach out to those folks and try to get to know them a little bit. Sometimes it works the other way where you meet somebody in person, connect online, learn more about them online, and grow the relationship that way. So I see it as a 2 way street.
Do you find more value in digital networking or traditional networking?
I guess I'm a little old school that I still like face to face. My closest connections are people that I've actually met so I think at the end of the day I still prefer that. However, you definitely have to be able to supplement that with social media and you should be connecting on social media with everybody that you come across and work with. But there's just nothing quite like looking someone in the eye and shaking your hand and getting to know him, or having a common experience with them. That creates a bond that's stronger than anything you can do on social media.
If you could go back to your 20 year old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of, less of, or differently with regards to your professional career?
When I did the Young Guns speech, I talked a little bit about this and I think this is when my career really changed. I always worked hard, I was putting a lot of hours, but didn't seem like I was going the direction I wanted to. I met a speaker at an event that I was at, and he talked about his legacy and it really got me thinking. He said, "You've got to think about your legacy." I took it to the next step and I said, "what would somebody say about me when I'm gone?" I thought about it and didn't know if I liked the answer at the time which really made me shift my thinking about a bigger picture. When I started to use that mindset, I started making decisions very differently. That's kind of how I started getting involved with Operation Finally Home and how I started giving back into the industry. Now I'm changing people's lives and building a roof over their head which is the largest investment they're gonna make in their life. It took our higher level of importance and it allowed me to see more opportunities that I didn't see before. It really changed my perspective from just saying, "do this" or "do that" to instead looking at the bigger picture and understanding that you only get one life. So do what you want to do and don't be afraid to try something or do something.
Who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with?
I've got to think big and it would be really cool to meet somebody like a Tony Robbins, or a Simon Sinek. I think those guys are just really deep, interesting people and I think given this day and age there's definitely a way I could do that. I look at some of the stuff we're doing with Young Guns, and maybe that'll grow and give us that opportunity to work with one of those folks. There's always a way to meet somebody and I've had some kind of cool opportunities. I actually sat in the room with Paul Ryan once and ran a meeting when he was speaker of the house. So you never know who you will connect with and what's going to happen. The only way to make it happen is to be intentional and go for it!
Do you have any final word or advice off for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Always be learning is a big one. As far as growing your network, always be willing to put yourself out there and ask questions. Also be willing to give and be willing to help others first so when you do need something it becomes a lot easier to ask.
Connect with David:
Sign up for the Young Guns Fall Summit:
Meet Cierra Lueck:
You know how so many Facebook groups are spammy, dead, or only the admin posts get high engagement. All that changes, when Cierra steps in with the C5 strategy. She helps business coaches build a highly engaged Facebook group community where people are excited to be sold to, and refer others by turning their brand into a movement. The C5 strategy: To transform businesses to transform lives.
How can we use the algorithm to market our business better on Facebook?
So the biggest thing to keep in mind with the algorithm is that it is an absolute beast. If you think about Google search and how you type something into the search field, and then it auto populates what's going to be typed next, and it gives you all these suggestions and half the time it's right. Facebook is right on the tails of the Google algorithm. With the Facebook algorithm, anything that you put in terms of what you're wording in your post or any kind of images, it actually has a smart capability where it knows what the images are. If your words do not line up with the images that you're posting, that's that's just one thing to keep in mind. A lot of people want to post images because of Instagram or other social platforms where images help boost it, but that can actually be a detriment when it comes to Facebook if the image has nothing to do with the information that you're sharing. So on Facebook, you want to make sure that you are very targeted and very direct with the kind of words that you're using so that you can actually reach your audience better.
How do you use Facebook for business sales?
Facebook ads are probably some of the most strategically placed out there. But that's only one area that you can actually utilize on Facebook to market your business. So when you're a new business owner going out into the market, trying to do lead gen, if you immediately jump to ads, but you haven't actually validated the messaging that you're putting out and you haven't actually validated the offer that you have with your market and you immediately jump to ads, you're going to end up spending a lot more in ad spend, than if you will validate that organically. Through organic marketing obviously, there's your personal profile and there's a lot of people who are in the conundrum of, "should I use one or should I use the other?" So they're thinking should I use my profile for business if I have a bunch of friends and family? Obviously if you're going to only keep it friends and family, the answer is no. But at the same time if you don't announce what you're doing in your business, how will anyone ever know to refer anybody to you so you definitely can utilize your Facebook profile. There's also Facebook pages which you can use to run ads or utilize organically. On your Facebook page, you can share information with your audience on there. The way that you would want to do that is you want to provide, either news or kind of entertaining information based around what your offer is so that people have a reason to come back and look at your page.
Let's dive into groups a little bit more, it sounds like you've got some really strong strategies around how to use Facebook groups for business.
The idea is that there are five Facebook group types for businesses that are actually profitable. So the first one is for paying clients only, where you become a paying client then you are put into a Facebook group. It's got some really great pros, it's also got a few cons like obviously a paid clients only group doesn't generate new leads for you. So you have to be going out there and you have to have a really great way to get new leads. But it is a great way to get people to connect around your business and around the offer. The second type that I coach people on is a free community which is the lead generating group. This type of group is great because when the community is built around your offer, and what you do, it actually helps to sell your business for you. The third type of group is the Evergreen Launch Membership where people are actually thrown into a group with the idea of launching a new product. The benefit of these groups is that it allows members to try small before the part where the person upsells you. Number four is the Pop Up Group for Course Launch which are pretty much groups created for one specific event such as a course launch and after it is launched, the group dies. The idea is that they're actually launching some kind of high ticket product, or even some kind of low ticket products, where they're just going to be making thousands and thousands of dollars at once. So this is great if you already have some notoriety built up, but one of the downfalls of it would be that if you don't have the notoriety and you don't get enough people in, you're probably not gonna have very high sales, and then it dies almost immediately after. The member benefit is typically the freebies that are offered inside of the group. The 5th part is building a group as a part of a funnel. I know some other guys in the market who help people with their Facebook groups and what they use their group for is instead of having to pay for a webinar platform, they use the group for that so the group is part of their funnel. As a result, there's always people being added in, but one of the downfalls is they're not really building up the community inside the free group as nobody really gets to be part of the community until they've actually paid.
This last year, I joined a coaching mentorship program which was actually one of the biggest expenses I've ever done in investing in myself. I invested in a mentorship program, and during my time in the program I decided I wanted an accountability partner. At first I networked with these two guys that were in the program. We were checking in almost daily, but it was actually almost a struggle bus trying to get them to actually be as driven as I was. About a month later, I connected with somebody else in the group. Through that effect, we have actually been accountability partners now for six months. Both of our businesses started launching a new thing in our business and we both started from zero with the new things that we were doing. We have both grown to multiple figures in our business in such a short amount of time and it's just been crazy. Now this person is one of my best friends and we're both growing our businesses together.
When it comes to building your network, how do you stay in front of and best nurture those relationships?
I've learned over the years that consistency doesn't mean doing the same thing every single day. Consistency means that you show up periodically, consistently . So if somebody were to be a family member who was checking in on me once a month and they were just seeing how I was, I would consider that somebody who's consistently in my life. The same thing goes for when you're nurturing your market online as well where you don't have to touch base with them every single day. You don't have to be in someone's life every single day to nurture them and you don't have to be having that constant communication for them to want to buy from you. You just need to be there consistently, which doesn't mean every day.
If you could go back to your 20 year old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of, less of, or differently with regards to your professional career?
Knowing who I am now and what I've gone through to become who I am, I honestly don't think that I would change anything. I've really come to terms that the lessons that I've learned in my life have made me who I am, whether that came from a good situation, or a bad situation. I've had a lot of negativity happen in my life in the past, but it's grown me as a person, and it's grown my character. I came to that realization that every single day like today, is the best day of my life because today is the accumulation, or the culmination of every single lesson that I've ever learned and every single good thing that's ever happened to me.
Any final word or advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
One of the biggest things that you can ever do is to create real relationships. I've had a lot of people ask me lately, they feel or they're afraid that they're going to approach people and they're going to come off as spammy if they talk about their business or if they offer the sale. The thing is if you come at it from trying not to be spammy, the thing that you were most focused on is being spammy so it will sound spammy whether you like it or not. So I encourage you to think about what you want and what you want to be when you're in that conversation, and the kind of person that you're wanting to show up as, the kind of leader that you're wanting to be in your industry. Then just be that person whenever you're networking, and whenever you're growing those relationships.
How to connect with Cierra:
Facebook: Cierra Lueck
Meet Cynthia Kane
Cynthia Kane helps people enhance their lives and relationships by teaching them how to speak to themselves, others and their environment in a kind, honest and helpful way. She has taught over 50,000 people how to change the way they communicate through her best selling books, How to Communicate Like a Buddhist, Talk to Yourself Like a Buddhist, How to Meditate Like a Buddhist, her daily home courses and the intentional communication training program.
You can begin to change the way that you communicate by starting to listen to yourself. So starting to pay attention to the way that you're communicating with yourself and others in ways that are making you feel more fearful or anxious, and starting to pay attention to that. Then really, the practice begins from there to pay attention to the language that you're using, and then seeing in that moment, if you can shift to start speaking in a more kind, honest and helpful way. So looking at it through a lens of suffering. I know that sounds kind of like an intense word, but really suffering in this instance means any discomfort or, lack, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, anything of those sorts. So the idea is really to help yourself and others suffer less with your communication. So if you can start to see through that lens, then most of your interactions will change.
It is, it really is because the phenomenal thing that you begin to see is that when you start interacting differently, others have no option, but to interact differently with you because you're no longer connecting in the same way. So they no longer know how to engage. You end up changing the conversation simply by coming to the interaction through a different lens or coming to it with this one to be kind, honest and helpful.
In the sense that when I talk about mirroring, it's more like acknowledging where the person is emotionally. It's not so much repeating what has been heard, but more acknowledging where the person is. So if somebody is sharing that they're really frustrated because they've turned in a project, and it didn't go well at work. Instead of trying to fix the situation or trying to push the person to feel differently, the mirroring aspect here is more just saying, "gosh, I can completely see how frustrating that is, I know that you've, you've been working really hard on that."
So it really is about understanding and knowing that it's possible to change your interactions and really start having types of conversations that you want to be having, and understanding that your words are powerful. So paying attention to the words that you're choosing will really change how everything unfolds for you because the way that we talk with ourselves really dictates how we communicate with others, and how we see the world. If you just imagine beginning there and starting to think of connecting with yourself in a way that's more intentional with your language, moving yourself more in the direction of what feels better for you as opposed to language that can have you feeling less than, or down. You really begin to create more intention throughout your day with your language, because then you have more of an anchor.
I have to say that I used to fear networking, I would raise my hand at that. What I have found is that this one experience that I had really changed that for me. I went to an event here when I first moved to Washington DC, and I decided on a whim to go to this event that was happening at a gallery down the street. I didn't know anyone there, I just showed up with this feeling. I had this intuition that this was where I needed to be. It was an all female event, and it was about crave like this idea of what you crave and what you desire. I showed up not knowing anyone, was seated at a table with these phenomenal women, and I heard this woman begin to speak and her name was Angela Lauria. She gave this incredible story about a foreign exchange experience that she had and it turned out that she ran a publishing company here in DC. At that time, I was doing a lot of freelance editing for different publishing houses. It was then that I, after hearing her really, I went over, and I just started talking to her and striking up a conversation. It turns out that she was looking for editors to come on to her team and so that meeting, just that one meeting led to lots of freelance projects with her which was incredible.
For me, it's really around connection. I mean, within the work that I do now, I really consider those who are on my email list, or students of mine to be my community that is really a network for me. So being in touch with them a few times a week through my newsletter and sharing with them, I feel is really important. Sharing what's happening in my life in regard to communication, what's coming up for me and how the practice that I use is really helping me in certain moments, or it's reminding me to be more patient in my communication and things of that sort. So connecting with my network in that way is really big for me. Being able to share and also to create spaces to have open dialogue so that others are able to share as well. Whether that's through workshops, or forums or discussions, that's really important to open that space too.
Just being authentic and really being yourself and also being able to find what that looks like for you. I think it's really easy to try other people's way of connecting and I think that so much of this is really knowing that the person that you are is the person that your network is looking for.
How to connect with Cynthia:
Meet Ariel Kopac
Ariel Kopac is a podcaster, professional speaker and business coach who focuses on mindset and limiting beliefs. As a Certified Myers-Briggs Practitioner, Certified Coach, and Certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner, Ariel is equipped to dig in and help her clients to identify the mental and emotional roadblocks that are hindering their success. Her coaching practice (and her coaching philosophy) is Harness Your Hindrance.
Why don't you share with us the meaning or philosophy behind the name of your coaching business Harness Your Hindrance?
So Harness Your Hindrance is really the philosophy. The meaning is in the name. If you find the definitions of each of those words, what it really means is to take control and make use of whatever is holding you back. And that's really at the core of what I believe. That you can't always remove the barrier or the obstacle. You can't always eliminate it. But you can always take control and make use of it. Sometimes your greatest hindrance can become your greatest strength if you learn how to harness it.
What are some key practices that help people with shifting their mindset?
Oftentimes it starts with just awareness of what your mindset currently is, and what you want your mindset to be, you're going to be different. Honestly, it's the little things that make the biggest difference. Simply identifying, where's my mind? Where's my focus, right now, what is my mindset, and I recommend it using what I call triggers. So having a key word, or even a movement, a phrase, a sound, something that when you are recognizing you're going down a negative mental pattern, or you're losing focus, or your mindset is in a less than empowering state, you might say, using a trigger, to just say, okay, we're gonna shift, I'm gonna shift out of this.
Is there a mindset or mindset shift that is important to have when it comes to networking?
I'll explain this one with a story. I was working in Newport Beach, California. And I was in charge of the training and development of financial advisors for a firm out there. And one of my advisors would come into the training classes, and I led a lot of training classes. And he would say to the new advisors, if you want to learn how to network, go with Ariel. I'm not a financial advisor, why are you telling them that and he said, you may not be a financial advisor, but you’re the best networker I've ever seen. And I said, well, thank you for the compliment. But I don't know how to teach that. So what do you mean? Networking isn't something that I strategize or think through. I was looking for potential great recruits that I would want in my training class but I was going in with an openness and enjoyment. I would find excuses to go networking. And I said, there's certain things I can teach people. But the part that I don't know how to teach is a spirit of curiosity. So that's the part that I go into every networking event with is just pure curiosity. And that's when I think you really find the opportunities and the unexpected wins, and those powerful connections. So when I think about a mindset when it comes to networking, it's a mindset of curiosity and a mindset of exploration, trusting that there's going to be something fun, exciting, new and intriguing that you're going to discover, and you don't know who you're going to discover it from or where you're going to find it, but it’s there.
Can you share with our listeners, your most successful or favorite networking experiences you that you've had?
I would say one of my favorite or most successful networking stories was actually from a group involving Toastmasters. We can think about networking groups or networking meetings, but when I think about networking, I'm just thinking about expanding my network. And so you don't have to go to a networking meeting, or be a part of a networking group per se, those are great ways, but not the only way to network, right. One of the groups that I would say I've utilized to expand my network is Toastmasters, which is a group for professional development and public speaking. When I was in California, I actually went to, I think, eight different clubs trying to find the right club, the right fit the, the group that I wanted to become a member with and continually develop my public speaking, skill set. So I actually started to get a little bit worn out from exploring all these different clubs. And I wanted to start to be more intentional with my time. So I discovered there was one club that met during lunch, and I wanted to explore that club, because I thought, that's probably fellow professionals, networkers, those who can take a lunch break, and I just started my own business. So I reached out to the vice president of membership for that club, and said, I'm interested potentially in your group, but I'm trying to be really selective with my time because I just started my own business, would you be open to meeting one on one and letting me know more about the group so that I can know if it'd be worthwhile engagement? She said, yes, we met and ended up becoming a great connection, great friends and I became part of that Toastmasters group. She was actually the head of the HR department for her company. And over time with that initial engagement, she said, I'm really intrigued by what you do, I think our we could use your services from an HR perspective. And that led to me being part of that Toastmasters group, but then also coming in and doing training and seminars for her company.
Can you share how you stay in front of and invest, nurture your network in your community?
I'll be transparent. I joke that I am terrible representation of a millennial because I don't enjoy social media. And I'm not actively engaged online, as many of my peers and fellow network connections. Familiarity is a key aspect for building those relationships and people wanting to connect with you, build a friendship with you, have a business connection with you. So I realized that not being visually, in front of clients, my network, my connections, was my own hindrance, I was not taking control of that opportunity. So the way I did that was I know that I communicate best actually, through speaking rather than through typing or writing. And I think you should use your strengths. So I started a podcast, that I can promote on social media, that I can offer value in content just like you do, Lori. And it's a way to connect with people, add value, and stay front of mind and present.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of less of or differently with regards to your professional career.
Now I love and understand the power of relationships. But when I started my professional career, I'm not sure that I did. When I was at work, I loved relationships. But I didn't understand the power and the value of relationships, I kind of had this mental separation of those powerful relationships are for outside of work, and the work relationships, you got to work the relationship a little bit, but you didn't see it as an investment. Now I understand that the greatest movement, the greatest results, I guess you could say come from relationships. And I wish I had understood that at the beginning of my career. Because I think I would have invested in some other relationships that I saw as a distraction from the task, I saw as a pull away from the productivity. And if I had used relationships as an investment that you don't ever know when it's going to pay off and you don't know which investment is going to work. But relationships are a very important thing to invest in.
Do you have any final word or advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I think when I talked about investing in relationships, you never know when it's gonna come back to you or when someone may need you as well. So just as you said Lori, stay open, stay curious. You never know what seed is going to sprout. So nurture them as best as you can, stay front of mind. And as being the mindset coach that I am, stay focused on what you can control stay focus on your mindset and your focus. And then trust it that the results will come as long as you continue to invest in those relationships. and nurture your network.
How to connect with Ariel:
Meet David Splitgerber
David is a franchise business owner who assists people in business ownership exploration through a discovery and education-based method, to help people to discover opportunities that are ideally suited for what they are seeking. David is on the Advisory board for PONG, an advisor for 40 Plus, and guest lectures at Marquette University on franchising. He is married and has coached their 2 boys in their sports for the last 15 years and is now retired from that endeavor.
You're no longer the coach of sports, but you are a career ownership coach, what exactly is that?
Something that most people don't, don't know exists. What I do is, I help people to explore, quite simply business ownership, and I specialize in the franchise and owners alliance end of things. And what I do is help people to explore. And what that means is first helping an individual get to know themselves. So it's a lot of conversations and meetings and assessments that I have individuals complete that we talk about to learn about the individuals. In other words, who am I? And what is my career bend? So it has some elements that kind of look like in an interview to some degree. The ultimate goal is to both have us on the same page, who am I? What am I about? What's my career been about? What do I like and dislike, and then helping them to also see the future. Helping them try to figure out what do I want my life to look like a year from now personally and professionally?
Sounds like you do spend a lot of time in the franchise business a little bit. Can you talk a little bit about what types of businesses are franchise businesses?
I think that's a great question because I think there's the a lot of people who have that kind of assumption or belief that it's food and that it's well you know, I don't want to be in the restaurant industry. But honestly, there's probably 50 or 60 to 80 different business industries. I mean, it's everything that you probably have walked past but never even noticed or considered or thought about that were businesses that are franchise. So I mean, there's things that are in everything from like travel, sports and recreation, home improvement, senior care services, children's products, children's services, automotive, employment and staffing, recruiting - there's franchises in that arena. Distributor ships, web or internet or it based businesses, pet related businesses for pet services, there's mobile businesses. So those just a few off the top of my head are some of the industries that are enfranchisement.
Let's say I'm someone that's already in a job and I like what I'm doing, I want to keep it but is there anything that you can do to help on that side hustle type of things?
Absolutely. That's a great point. And that's probably about 30% or so of the individuals that I talk with are that exact individual saying, I've got a job, I really like it. But I want additional income or something on the side. Or maybe eventually I'd like to go and do something. But is there a way for me to start something and then grow into it? So depends on what the individual is trying to accomplish. So bottom line, it's called semi absentee and there's some that are closer to absentee. And there's some that are kind of absentee, what I mean by that is less than five hours per week, where it's more of an investment, there's less opportunities in that arena. And those are, I'm going to say quite honestly, quite a bit higher investment, because obviously, you're hiring a lot of people to do all the tasks of the business. But yes, there are some where you can work anywhere from five to 10 to 15. At most, there's a few out there, that would be maybe 20 hours a week. So someone can absolutely keep their job in these franchises are set up that way.
Can you share with our listeners, one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
So first, I'll say I'm right there with everyone else. When I first started networking previously, in my career, I did not really have to network, just because of the businesses that I was in, it was not necessitated or needed to help grow business. So it was new for me. And it was kind of scary, right? I'm more introverted. One of my favorite networking stories is this was about two years ago. And I met an individual at a networking event. And we continue to have conversation after. Through his connection, it didn't help my business directly, which networking doesn't always and shouldn't always be about that. If you're looking at networking, just to grow yourself and your own business, you're probably not going to do because if it's just about me, me, me, people see through that. So anyway, this individual, we sat down, and I actually helped him, I gave him two different referrals that he followed up with me within a few months later saying, you know what, I picked up both of those as clients, and that just almost doubled my business. So it was great for me to help someone like that, and know that the more you help others, the more good comes around to everyone else.
How do you stay in front of or best nurture your network and your community?
It takes time. And you have to be open to say yes, once in a while. It's important to say yes, when you can and as much as you can. So my goal is, if someone calls me or emails me and says, hey, do you have five minutes or 10 minutes? Yes, I'm going to try and find time, let's find time to chat. Attending some of these network meetings where I'm part of a group that attendance, once a month, or once every two weeks, whatever it might be, is making sure I attend and not miss meetings, they're blocked off on my calendar, and I don't schedule client appointments during those. It's important to continue growing those relationships to help others who have actually helped you.
What advice can you offer to the business professionals that are looking to grow their network, any key tips or pointers that you want to share?
I'd say be willing to talk. And I know that sounds really simplistic, but I got into some different networking groups that I never knew about that I didn't find online. It was the one when I had conversations with people and actually asked the question, hey, are you part of any other really good networking groups that you would think would be a value. Are there any other good groups and from there, I was able to find some other groups that I'm still part of today that are valuable, made some good friendships made some good business connections on top of that, of course. So I think that's one of the most important things is be open to trying and talking and asking about different networking groups. And don't be afraid to walk away from one if you're not seeing the value of it. But be open to trying new ones and finding the ones that fit for you, your personality, your style, your business, and for the others around you that it's a good fit and a good match for you.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
If I go back, I'd say, take more chances, keep putting your head up, look around more and look at some of the opportunities that are around you. And if someone says, hey, what about this? Be willing to say yes. Be willing to put yourself out there and try different things, do different things, say yes to things and be willing to be uncomfortable. And that a level of un-comfort is going to give you comfort over time because you get used to it more. And where you were uncomfortable before becomes now the new normal.
How to connect with David
Meet Tommy Thompson
Tommy Thompson is an accomplished entrepreneur, executive coach, and passionate teacher whose heart is to impact people for good and for God. After more than thirty years of owning and leading a wide variety of companies, Tommy is now an active blogger, executive coach, and consultant, while also leading a mentoring ministry at his church.
You talk and write a lot about margin, can you tell us a little about what you mean about margin and why it's important?
This is kind of become a cornerstone of almost how the lens that I look at all of life through these days and really for the last 30 years, and came out of a time in my life when I was completely overloaded running four businesses, volunteering at church on about five different angles, raising a family. And I was completely exhausted and overloaded and came across a book by Richard Swenson called “Margin”. And it began to just change my life. And he defines margin as the gap between our load and our limits. And my whole mind frame in life had been we always run all the way to our capacity or over our capacity. And I never realized until I read that book, that life is better when we have margin just like a margin in a book, I would never consider taking the words all the way to the very edge of the page, it would make it terrible reading if you did that. So margin became the way I looked at relationships that became the way I looked at business, became the way I framed faith, all different areas of life. So in all of these areas, margin, creating some space, where we can breathe, becomes a critical way of looking at life. And I think it can even impact organizations and even the concept of networking.
So how does the presence or absence of margin affect relationships?
This is probably one of the biggest areas that it impacts. And all we have to do is to kind of think of how we act. And when we're exhausted, when we're completely overloaded, when we're stressed out, the first victim of us operating that way is our relationships. Most particularly our close relationships, we’re usually terrible with our spouse when we're overloaded and stressed out. And so beginning to create margin in the various places and spheres of our life. The first benefit of it is our relationships begin to breathe. And we begin to have better relationships at home, with our spouse, with our children, with our best friends. And then it even leaks into our relationships at work, when we become better people and everybody benefits from it. So relationships are kind of a key place. And also a key victim of the fact that our culture just operates in absolute high speed with no margin, overloaded, and thinking that's the best way of operating and our relationships are suffering because of that.
What difference does creating space make in organizations?
I don't think creating space is just so that we have a nice, easy life. I think part of the reason for this is so that we can be purposeful and more effective in the things that we do. And so I coach and consult with some decent size operations, as well as having run a half dozen companies over 30 years. And what I've found is, as I create space, in my own life margin, that I reflect better, I plan better, the organization's run more smoothly, than if we are always in this hyper productivity mode. It feels important on the surface, but it's not the way organizations run the best. So taking the extra time to create a good strategic plan, taking the extra time to plan, a marketing campaign. Those things are things that have gone by the wayside because we think we're supposed to move fast. So I've learned that helping organizations and the leaders of organizations live a more spacious life actually improves the performance of those organizations.
I thrive off of that constant demand. Does that change when you've established space?
It changes, but not immediately. I mean, the problem, one of the reasons I think that so many people operate with no margin and over capacity is because it feeds their ego, and it feeds their identity. And so it takes a little while to let go of some of that and to actually operate with a different paradigm, and to say, it's okay, for me to not always look like I'm busy. It's okay, even for me as a CEO, or as a leader to be reading a book during working hours. That's not a bad thing to do, or to be sitting quietly in my office planning where the company's going to go. But our insecurities get in the way. And so it takes a while to push against that. And to begin to create a little bit of a different culture in our companies that doesn't always reward this artificial sense of busyness.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking experiences that you've had?
I may not be your typical guest on this because I could put on a persona of being an extrovert. But at core, I'm an introvert, and initiating is something that's uncomfortable to me. So over the years of being in business, I've had to figure out how can I do this networking thing, which I completely believe in and know is critical, but do it in a way that works with who I am personally. So for me, interestingly enough, I've used writing, which I like doing both by blogging and writing a book and in a variety of ways, as a networking tool. One of my early kind of successes was taking the uncomfortable step of taking the blog that I write, and starting to post it on LinkedIn and Instagram and just put it out into thin air, and nobody's paying any attention to it. But after about a month or two of that, I had someone reach out to me that I knew distantly, and say, well, I'm kind of interested in some of the things that you're writing about, could we get together and talk about how you might be able to help my company, both coaching, consulting, and that connection has created two of the most meaningful engagements that I have both in terms of executive coaching and consulting for two significantly growing companies. And it's not your typical way of doing networking. But for an introvert that hates to reach out and initiate doing that type of networking is consistent with me. And I found that it still creates that kind of net benefit that we look for in networking.
How do you nurture your network?
I would answer that two ways. The first is I find that I can nurture my network, if I'm honest about genuinely caring about the people that I'm reaching out to. If I'm dealing with the internal tension of thinking that I'm really only doing this, to create sales, or to create coaching engagements or consulting engagements, then that's going to come through. But if I choose to kind of approach my networking from the perspective of genuinely caring about people, then all of a sudden, everything starts to come through naturally. And that is where it also helps me to say, I'm going to be able to nurture my community, by writing, by sharing things that I'm learning, whether it's book reviews, or different things that I'm learning in my blogging, so it all kind of comes through in a consistent way, and a consistent way with my personality and my values, and that helps my community.
What advice would you offer the business professional who's looking to grow their network?
I think, for me, and maybe again, I'm kind of coloring all of this from my introverted personality, it's to network according to your personality and according to your values. If you can begin to build a framework for networking, that is comfortable for you, whether you're an introvert or extrovert, whether you're really funny or whether you're really serious, and you can be authentic to who you are, and create a framework around that, then I think networking works for virtually anyone.
Let's go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of, less of, or differently with regards to your professional career?
I love thinking about that. I think what I would tell myself is to discipline my networking. I think for too many years, I took the easy path of saying, I'm an introvert, I'm not good at networking. And I kind of pawned it off and didn't do this. And interestingly my son taught me something about this. He's an introvert too. And when he was just entering college, I told him kind of, as we were just sitting around talking one night, I said, Chris, if you could just make the practice, the discipline, when you go back to college of networking, with one of your professors, one time each week, it would change your path. Little did I know is that he would take me seriously. And he went back to school. And he began meeting with his professors. And the benefits to him were huge in terms of the networking that he did, and the connections and where that led him to in terms of some of his past. But I didn't take that advice myself when I was 20 years old. I took the easy path. So I would have loved to have told myself, look, I know this is uncomfortable, but set up one lunch a week with someone you want to get together with. And that would have catapulted me in ways that took a lot longer.
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 then the six degree?
I had to think about who it is that I would want to connect to and as soon as I did that, I realized It's probably only a couple degrees off in terms of separation. So one of my favorite communicators, that I know of, in business or in any venue is Andy Stanley, who is the pastor of North Point Community Church. But he's also this amazing leadership guru, he has several massive podcasts. And he's just a phenomenal communicator. And I've loved listening to him and reading his books and learning from him. And I realized, kind of by your question on this, that he's only a couple steps away from getting to meet him, and getting to know him a little bit. He's a Pastor out of Atlanta, and I have some connections in LA and Atlanta, that are connected with his church, and so probably not too far down the road.
Do you have any final words or advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I would just really encourage people to take a few minutes away from kind of the busyness and think about out the ways they might go about networking that are in sync with who they are. I've just been strong believer in that we do far too little reflecting. And because of that, we end up with shallow answers. As you know and feel that networking is too important for shallow answers. So I think taking a little time to step back and say, how do I really want to do this in a way that's consistent and authentic with me, is a worthwhile use of a few minutes.
How to connect with Tommy