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Transcript of The Secrets to Impactful Speaking

Transcript of The Secrets to Impactful Speaking written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: Choosing the right domain name is critical to ensuring the success of your small business, but it’s gotten a little harder. Now you can choose a .us domain to help your business stand out. Reserve your .us web address today. Go to, and use my promo code, PODCAST, for my special offer.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Allison Shapira. She’s the CEO, and founder of Global Public Speaking, Communication Training Farm, and she’s also the author of Speak With Impact, How to Command The Room, and Influence Others. So Allison, thanks for joining me.

Allison Shapira: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

John Jantsch: So, I’m going to ask you a seemingly silly question, but I’d like to hear you frame this. Who needs to speak with Impact?

Allison Shapira: Everyone, in one word. My idea in the book is that every single day you have an opportunity to speak with Impact, whether you’re at a parent teacher conference, or whether you are sitting next to someone on an airplane who might potentially fund your next venture. We never know who we’re talking to, and every day we have this opportunity to make an impact.

John Jantsch: So, I’m sure in some of your work, particularly when it comes around to say working with you, and that’s going to cost somebody a fee, and there’s trying to judge the ROI on this. I mean, how do you first get somebody to realize maybe what not speaking with Impact is costing them?

Allison Shapira: Usually someone comes to me, because something has happened that is not good. Let’s say they [inaudible] presentation, or they didn’t win business that they were hoping to win, and they realize that it’s their communication that’s the problem. Or perhaps that because of their communication skills, the real value of what they do is not coming through. And so, usually by the time they get to me, they’ve already realized there’s a problem, and they’re taking steps to fix that problem.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I guess that’s usually the case, right? We have to admit there’s a problem for wherever we’re going to seek a solution to it, isn’t it? Because, I suspect there’re a heck of a lot of people out there that have risen to CEO ranks, or leadership ranks in big companies, and they are really holding themselves back, or holding the impact back, because they either assume they don’t need this help, or they just don’t bother to get it.

Allison Shapira: Right. And, my business model is based on finding the people who already realized they have a problem as opposed to going up to someone, and trying to convince them there’s a problem that they don’t see. That’s a much harder sell. And luckily, there are plenty of people who recognize they need help. And that’s kind of inward looking leader that I want to work with.

John Jantsch: Yeah. So one of the challenges I’m sure for a lot of folks that are… They’d realize that, and they’re coming for help is public speaking makes people nervous. And frankly, I do a fair amount of public speaking, and I can’t say I certainly suffer from getting nervous the same way I used to. But I think one of the real tricks is probably getting over looking nervous when you’re trying to have impact. How do you help people through that whole fear component?

Allison Shapira: Everybody feels nervous before they speak in public, and this could be having an important job interview with one or two other people, or it could be standing on stage addressing a huge crowd. Regardless, everyone gets some degree of nervousness, or feel some degree of nervousness. The goal is not to completely eradicate that fear. That’s nearly impossible, and unproductive. The goal is to help you overcome that fear, and harness it to create a positive energy that you have when you give the speech, or go in for that interview, or for that presentation or pitch. So, the techniques that I use start with trying to find the source of that nervousness.

Allison Shapira: What are the variables that you can control? Are you’re nervous, because you don’t know who’s going to be in the room? Walk to the room early, and start to meet people. Are you nervous you’re going to forget what you’re going to say? Well, prepare a particular type of bullet points that you can bring with you, and easily use if you lose your place. So, the more you can control the variables, the more comfortable you feel. And then, when you add to that reading techniques, relaxation techniques that I learned as an opera singer, then you can start to use those to calm the nerves to some extent. And then again, harness that energy in a positive way.

John Jantsch: You know, I’ve done this show for almost 15 years now, and you’re only the second former opera singer I’ve had on the show.

Allison Shapira: I’m not the first?

John Jantsch: Oh, maybe you are actually. I’d have to rack my brain, but I think you may indeed be the first former opera singer that I’ve had in my show. So, I know the quality of our connection, even though it is pretty good. It’s still analog, and digital, and whatnot all right? I’d have you sing something.

Allison Shapira: Yeah, like the credit, the sound is not optimal for an operatic performance right now. Nor have I warmed up for such a performance. So, maybe we can provide a link to a video of me performing.

John Jantsch: We will, I promise listeners, go to our show notes, and you’re going to find a link to that, among other things that we discuss today. So in your work, I’m curious how you fall down on this. Obviously in creating a speech, or speaking with Impact. There certainly is the content, and there is delivery. So how much of it is that? How much is the content, how much is the delivery?

Allison Shapira: There is no specific breakdown in terms of which is more important than the other. There are figures that are often cited. Those figures are usually wrong. And so, it really depends on who the audience is that you’re speaking to. And are they going to resonate more with the content, or the delivery of that content. As a general rule, we need both. The lack of one cannot be made up for by an abundance of the other. So, if you have really powerful content that you’ve crafted in a way that’s clear, concise and compelling, and you deliver it in a way that’s engaging, and authentic and confident, that’s when you have an impact, a positive impact on others, and you can’t compromise on either one. You need both.

John Jantsch: Okay, so let me ask that a different way. In your experience, what do people generally need more help with? Content or delivery?

Allison Shapira: Both. It’s really both. There are people who need help with the messaging. They ramble, they can’t get to the point. They are unable to clearly articulate what they do, or the value of what they do. And then there are others who have a clear value proposition, but they mumble it to the floor instead of looking in the eyes of their audience, or their voice is so scratchy because they don’t know how to project, and they don’t know how to protect their faults that it sounds like their words are falling into the back of their throat. And so, we don’t get the full power of those words. At people need both. Some people need more than, more than… one than the other, but it’s such a solid breakdown of both.

John Jantsch: All right. So, if I’m trying to create this clear and concise speech, is there a roadmap? Is there a template for what needs to be in it, or what boxes need to be checked? If I’m trying to figure out, “Okay, how do I do this?”

Allison Shapira: Yes. And in the book I outline a particular roadmap that you can use in a short amount of time. That starts with asking yourself a series of three questions. Who’s your audience? What’s your goal? And most fundamentally, why you? And by why you, I don’t mean why are you qualified? Where did you go to school? What PhD do you have? By why you? I mean, why do you care? What gives you a sense of purpose in your work? What are you proud of in your work? And when you can respond to that question, and answer into your speech, or presentation, or into the introduction of your pitch, then all of a sudden you connect with people on a much more personal, much more authentic level. And no matter how professional the situation we’re in, we’re human beings connecting with other human beings, and we have to bring our authentic self to that relationship.

John Jantsch: And, I think you just went a long way towards answering the fear question too, because I find that a lot of speakers just getting started. The fear is based in, they’re looking at me, you know? I have to perform. And, I think that where you really get over that is when you… Just what you mentioned there is, how am I here to serve? What do they need to hear that’s going to help them? And so, when you turn the focus on kind of serving the audience, whoever the audience is, or how big it is, I think that, I think a lot of individuals that really kind of takes away the fear because it changes the dynamic completely.

Allison Shapira: Exactly. It reduces the fear because it reminds you that you’re not just getting up to look good, or show off or show how many, how much you know. You’re getting up in the service of others, in the service of a mission that has others in mind, and not trust yourself. And, we may not like to be the center of attention, or we’re not. Our idea is the center of attention. Our audience is the center of attention. And once we reframe the purpose of speaking as not to show off but to serve others, then all of a sudden that sense of mission overrides our fear, and makes us stand tall, and animates our body and our language in a way that engages the audience. So, what we find is the right content, and the right mindset drive the right delivery.

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John Jantsch: So when it comes to the performance, or delivery aspects of it, what are some of the really common things that you see so many people do that they need to clean up?

Allison Shapira: I see a lot of people who don’t recognize the power of their voice, and this is something I’m particularly sensitive to as a singer. And by voice, I mean the physical voice. They don’t take care of their voice, they’re at a loud networking event the night before, they their voice, and then they wake up early on chug coffee, and the caffeine is drying out their throat. So, I don’t see enough people recognize the power of their voice, and the fact that their voice is an instrument that needs care, and nurturing. And a lot of… What I write about in the book, and a lot of what I teach is about how to care for that voice. And then how to use breathing, and breath support to project your voice so that it reaches every single person in the audience. And it’s not about creating a false performers voice that’s different than your day to day speaking voice. It’s about finding your most powerful natural voice, and making sure it’s the natural voice that goes on stage, not the nervous second guessing voice, which is what we hear instead.

John Jantsch: When I network with a lot of professional speakers, and professional speakers that are getting paid 10, 15, $25,000 for a performance. Quite often, we’ll actually hire and employ a vocal coach, just for many of the reasons you’re talking about.

Allison Shapira: Exactly, but it’s not only professional speakers who need this. When we think of the fact that every single day we have an opportunity to have an impact through our voice, whether on a conference call, a phone call, a pitch, a difficult conversation, because of that, because we use our voice every day, then we have to care for it every day. And, more and more of us regardless of what industry we’re in, are flying on airplanes, we’re taking the train, we are always on the road, and that takes a toll on our physical body, which takes a toll on our abilities than to speak, and to have an impact. And so, we all need to recognize it, whether or not we get paid for speaking, we all need to take care of our voice.

John Jantsch: How much, and I know that this is sort of reliant on how high the stakes are, but for a presentation that you’ve got a lot riding on it, let’s say, how much is rehearsal a part of that?

Allison Shapira: Rehearsal is a significant part of it, and there are different ways of rehearsing. In fact, I talk about six different ways of rehearsing in the book. It’s not simply about reading the speech over, and over, and over again, and memorizing it. That’s not what I want people to do. There’s the process of reading it out loud to make sure it sounds good to your ear, and you can pronounce it comfortably. And then, there’s reducing it to bullet points so that you don’t have a script in front of you. You have bullet points that you can clearly refer to if you need to. There’s practicing in front of other people to make sure it has the intended effect, and you see other people’s reactions.

Allison Shapira: And then, there are unique methods that I recommend such as mental rehearsal where you sit down, close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and then visualize the presentation word for word in your mind, and visualize it going well. And that’s such a powerful way of practicing, because it tricks your mind into feeling like you’ve already given the speech successfully. So you’re building up repetition, which builds your confidence. So there are different ways of rehearsal, and I recommend people choose at least three methods of rehearsing according to the speech, and the audience.

John Jantsch: So, you are in the DC area, so I’m guessing you work with maybe more politicians than some speech coaches. Am I wrong on that?

Allison Shapira: You’re wrong. I actually don’t work [crosstalk 00:15:30].

John Jantsch: You don’t. Oh, okay. I thought you just might because of your-

Allison Shapira: It’s a fair assumption, but actually I’m not passionate about politics, more passionate about individual businesses having an ability to make impact in their own way. And so, I love working with business, and with the nonprofit sector, and all different sectors, but I don’t work as much in politics unless, I know people running for office, and they ask for my counsel.

John Jantsch: Well, the point of my starting down that track was, I was going to just get your opinion. Is there something that really good polished politician who speaks a lot, typically can have a lot of impact, and a lot of influence? Is there anything that you see that the business owner could learn from sort of the eye that’s on politicians so often? That was the point of my question, but you may not have an opinion on that.

Allison Shapira: I do actually based on why I do, or don’t work in politics. What politicians do really well is, they focus in on core messages, and they repeat those messages, and they stay on message. And that’s something that a business owner of any size business needs to keep in mind. What are the three main messages that I want to keep repeating? Because, whatever I say becomes the talking points of my company that my employees will use, that will determine what our clients say. So this idea of having clear, concise messaging, and staying on point is very important for business owners. Where I don’t want them to sound like your stereotypical politician is in this sense of overly polished, inauthentic delivery style, which is something that politicians are challenged by.

Allison Shapira: How do you come across as genuine and authentic and not overly perfect and polished. And so, for the business owner I want them to know it’s okay to make a few mistakes while you’re speaking to have a few ums, and uhs. It’s okay to lose your place as long as you bring your authentic self to the speech or presentation, which is what the question, why you helps you achieve. And that’s something that we don’t see as much of, but I wish we could in politicians.

John Jantsch: So, you mentioned ums and uhs. There’s an App for that, I understand.

Allison Shapira: There are several. There’s one in particular, there’re a couple actually that I really like. There’s one particular app called Orai, that you can use to practice your fillers, and get feedback, and they have great interactive exercises that will help you reduce the use of ums, and uhs and other fillers like Kinda, and sorta, or minimizers like just, or I think. That’s a great practice tool. There’s another app called Like So, that also helps you connect with your, or identify your fillers and start to remove them. Those are two that I really like, and use personally with my… for myself, and that my clients will use as well.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I really didn’t think that I’d use them that much until I started getting recorded. And then I was like, “Holy Mackerel.” I use those a lot more than I thought I did. And so, I think a lot of people probably suffer from that, watch yourself videoed, and all of a sudden you will maybe be horrified but, I’ve realized that there’s things that you do instinctively.

Allison Shapira: That’s right. And there’s nothing wrong with one or two fillers here or there. They’re genuine, they happen. Nothing wrong with that. The challenge is when you have [inaudible] of them, that they undermine your credibility and your authority. So, if every other word is um or so, it looks like you’re making up your message as you go. The content could be perfectly credible, but too many fillers will make you appear unprepared. And so, that’s why we want to be aware of them. We don’t often hear them when we’re doing… when we’re speaking them, which is why you hearing yourself on a recording is what it takes to prompt your awareness of them.

John Jantsch: So, you mentioned breathing as well. And, a lot of people probably don’t consider that an aspect of speaking, because I mean we all breath, right? But again, going back to my experience, I remember when I first started, that was a serious issue. I’d get about three force the way through making a point and go, “Oh my God, I have to get a breath. Breath in here somehow I’m going to pass out.” And, I think a lot of people underestimate how important that aspect is. How do you start recognizing that and working on that?

Allison Shapira: Breathing is critical. And as you said, it’s something that we all know is important and we do instinctively, which is a good thing. The challenge is, when we get nervous, the first thing that goes is our breathing. We stop breathing, or we constrict our breathing, which means we’re holding ourselves back from getting the nourishment that we need to relax ourselves, and to keep going. So the breathing techniques that I use are [inaudible] to help you use breathing in a very intentional way to relax, to calm down, to center yourself before a speech or presentation. And, the phrase I use with people all the time is called Pause and Breathe.

Allison Shapira: Pause and breathe is what you do before you’ve given a presentation. When you have 40 other things on your mind, and all these unanswered emails, and employees asking you questions that you don’t have the answers to, pause and breathe. And then, that’s what you do in the moment when somebody asks you a question you didn’t anticipate, or you lose your place, pause and breathe, and then keep going. And that’s also what you do before you let all the fillers come out, pause and breathe, and then you’ll reduce the use of fillers.

John Jantsch: Sounds like good life advice anyway.

Allison Shapira: Exactly. It is.

John Jantsch: So, Allison, do you have a great number of resources related to the book on your website, and it is, and we’ll have links to the resources, but do you want to tell people where they can find out more about your coaching work, and obviously about Speak With Impact?

Allison Shapira: Absolutely. The website I’m sharing with people is,, and that takes you to a very specific page on the website where people can sign up for a free download of a chapter of the book, watch a video about the book and also learn more about all of the ancillary services.

John Jantsch:  Allison thanks for joining us, and hopefully I’ll see you someday out there on the road soon.

Allison Shapira: Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure talking to you, John.

The Secrets to Impactful Speaking

The Secrets to Impactful Speaking written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Allison Shapira
Podcast Transcript

Allison ShapiraOn today’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I speak with founder and CEO of Global Public Speaking, Allison Shapira.

As a former opera singer, Shapira brings a unique perspective to public speaking. She helps business owners harness their voice as an instrument to most effectively communicate their message.

Shapira works with global brands as a speaker, trainer, and executive communication coach. Additionally, she provides coaching and support to women leaders through the Vital Voices Global Partnership, an organization that empowers women in the worlds of business, government, and the nonprofit sector.

She is the author of the book Speak with Impact: How to Command the Room and Influence Others. In this episode, Shapira shares the secrets to giving a great speech, crafting your messaging, banishing nerves, and making a lasting impact on your audience.

Questions I ask Allison Shapira:

  • How do you make someone see the costs of not speaking with impact?
  • How much of giving a great speech is about content and how much is about delivery?
  • What role does rehearsal play in preparing for a presentation?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How to conquer your public speaking nerves.
  • What the basic building blocks are for a great speech.
  • The importance of recognizing your voice as an instrument.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Allison Shapira:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!


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5 Unique Ways to Engage With Your Fans on Social Media

5 Unique Ways to Engage With Your Fans on Social Media written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Social media provides you with a unique opportunity to engage with your fans and followers. For most businesses, the amount of face-to-face time you get with your customers in limited, and for some companies that operate entirely online, they never meet their customers in real life.

Engaging with prospects and customers online is a way to showcase your brand’s unique identity and personality and to build the kind of meaningful connection that will lead customers to repeat and refer your business, rather than drifting off to the competition.

But in a crowded online space, what can you do to stand out? It’s time to get creative about your social media engagement. Here are five ways to raise your social profile and engage with fans effectively.

1. Go Live

The results are in: Video is the way that people want to consume their content nowadays. There are mountains of surveys and statistics that show video is a highly effective tool for reaching people and holding their attention.

Lots of marketers are getting in on the video trend, but why not take it a step further and take advantage of live video on your social channels? Live video is great for a number of reasons. Because it’s something that’s happening in real time, you generate excitement around the content—catch it now before it’s over! It also allows you the opportunity to interact with fans in real time. You can give shout-outs to those who are watching, and they can ask questions and leave comments, which you can respond to on the spot.

Some business owners are a little nervous about going live. Having an unscripted conversation on the internet can be intimidating! But when you go in with a plan, it’s easy to make it a success. Hosting a Q&A on a specific topic is a great place to start. This is the kind of video that makes sense in a live format (you’re there to answer questions and engage with viewers), and when you pick a topic within your area of expertise, you don’t have to be worried that you’ll run out of things to say.

Send an email out to your mailing list inviting them to participate, and promote the session on your social channels in advance. Think about having a few friends or colleagues join for the first few sessions, until things really take off, so that you’ll be guaranteed some questions from friendly faces.

2. Create Friendly Competition

Online contests are a great way to generate buzz around your business. Contests allow you the opportunity to get creative and have fun, and that positive energy is contagious.

Take some time to develop a contest that makes sense for your business. If you’re launching a new product, ask fans to submit ideas for the product’s name. A photo or video challenge can work in a variety of scenarios. You might also create a challenge around a national day related to your business. If you own a bakery, run a competition on June 7 in honor of National Donut Day or on Pi(e) Day (March 14, of course!).

These contests work best when you encourage your fans to take an active role. You also want to establish a hashtag for the contest. This not only allows you to track entries, but it also helps to generate interest among those who might not know about your business but keep seeing the hashtag pop up online. They’ll likely click on it to see what it’s all about, and then you’ve grabbed the attention of a new potential fan!

And of course, you want to announce the winners of your challenge, give them a fabulous prize, and share the results and photos of the victors on your social channels.

3. Stage a Social Takeover

Social media is all about building that one-on-one connection, so why not use it as an opportunity to introduce your fans to your team? Arrange a series of social media takeover days, where various members of your team helm one of your social accounts for the day and give followers a behind-the-scenes look at a day in the life at your company.

Not only is this a fun way to get your wider team involved in marketing efforts, it also builds a personal connection between your brand and your fans. It allows your fans to put a face to the company name, and gives them an opportunity to see the level of care and attention your entire team puts into their job. It’s that individualized attention consumers can get from a small business that leads them to pick you over some large national company, so why not help to foster that sense of connection by allowing your team to speak for themselves on your business’s social channels?

4. Get in on Fun Fads

Your website is the place for you to show off your professional side, but social media is an opportunity for you to let your hair down and show you brand’s personality a bit more.

This will of course mean different things for different businesses—a CPA can’t post the same kind of content as a music store. But that doesn’t mean the CPA can’t have a little bit of fun! Who doesn’t need a little levity from their CPA in the throes of tax season?

Incorporating memes, gifs, and emojis is an easy way to show that your business has a more lighthearted side. You might also get in on the latest viral challenge (think mannequin or ice bucket). Of course, whenever you’re dabbling with pop culture references and challenges online, you want to make sure that you fully understand what you’re sharing and that it’s work- and brand-appropriate.

5. Open the Door to a Conversation

When you have someone who’s already engaged with your content, you want to keep them talking. Replying with a “Thanks!” or simply a thumbs up will mean the end of communication. Instead, why not respond by asking a question? That’s a great way to get a back-and-forth going.

Let’s say you own an antiques store. You share a blog post about proper care and maintenance for old wood furniture and one of your followers responds, “Great tips!” Rather than a simple thumbs up, follow up with a question. Ask them about the furniture they’re trying to care for and offer specific tips for the care of that piece.

Not only does this technique allow you to hold onto your follower’s attention for a little longer, it also helps to establish your business as an authority on the subject at hand. The next time that person has a question about an antique, maybe they’ll send you a message on Facebook or stop by your shop rather than typing a search term into Google. They’d much rather get advice from someone they already trust than risk taking the word of a stranger on the internet.

Social Media engagement is the best way to begin to build a personal connection with your prospects and customers. When you create content that showcases your brand’s personality and take the time to respond meaningfully to comments and reactions from your followers, you can help your business stand out in a crowded online field.

Weekend Favs May 18

Weekend Favs May 18 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one that I took out there on the road.

  • Zen Flowcharts – Create flowcharts in a simple interface.
  • Calendly – Schedule meetings without having to plan over email.
  • Find Better Questions – Answer the questions on Quora that will get you the greatest amount of traffic.

These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape

Transcript of Creating Customers Who Are Loyal for Life

Transcript of Creating Customers Who Are Loyal for Life written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Back to Podcast


John Jantsch: Hey, this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is brought to you by We do all of our transcriptions here on the Duct Tape Marketing podcast using and I’m going to give you a special offer in just a bit.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Sandy Rogers. He’s the leader of the Franklin Covey loyalty practice and also a co-author Leading Loyalty: Cracking the Code to Customer Devotion. So Sandy, welcome.

Sandy Rogers: John, thank you. I’m thrilled to be here.

John Jantsch: So customer loyalty is one of those things that seems to have maybe gone out of the buyer behavior vernacular. I know my grandfather would about every three years go buy a Chevy Caprice because he was a Chevy person, but now I look at my kids and not so loyal to the companies and the brands that they buy from. Is that part of buying behavior gone?

Sandy Rogers: Well, it’s interesting. Some people argue that loyalty is dead. It’s easier to switch, right? Gas stations, restaurants, you can buy the same clothes from all these different places. But we find loyalty is alive and thriving in so many organizations. And it comes down to the behavior of the people and how they treat us.

John Jantsch: And I think that’s a great point because it was actually harder to leave. You had to go to that one place a lot of times because you didn’t have all the opportunities or the ways to find. So I don’t think that people are less loyal. They just put up with less, right?

Sandy Rogers: Well that’s right. And the competition for our business is definitely greater. Technology is playing a bigger role. But I think good old fashioned how we’re treated can really differentiate organizations today. But it’s all about putting their people into a position to do the things that we describe in the book Leading Loyalty.

John Jantsch: These loyalty programs have been around for a long time. In fact, you spent some time with a rental car company and they, airlines, rental car companies have these loyalty programs. Do those still work to foster loyalty or are they just kind of a holdover from the past?

Sandy Rogers: Well they certainly can help. But they’re easily copied by competitors and everybody’s got these loyalty programs, reward points, discounts and so on and what we’re talking about is not the loyalty that you get with inertia or momentum. We’re talking about the fierce loyalty that is [inaudible] in the heart. The kind of loyalty that gets people to go out and tell their friends about an experience, or about a brand. It’s… they describe these companies and these people as, “I love these guys!” And that doesn’t come from a rewards program. That’s from a personal interaction.

John Jantsch: Yeah, my favorite promotion is the promotion for new customers, right? I’m loyal and I’ve been with you for 10 years and the new person gets the discount, I don’t get anything. I almost think those are disloyalty programs. So since you kind of opened up this idea of the heart being at the center of loyalty in some ways, what role then does company culture really play in customer loyalty?

Sandy Rogers: Well I went to business school years ago and we learned a lot about strategy, right? A brilliant strategy to beat your competitors and be different in the marketplace and I love years later reading Peter Drucker’s comment that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” And you know been at Apple and at Proctor & Gamble and at Enterprise Rent-A-Car and now Franklin Covey I just can’t agree more. And also seeing the impact of culture across so many organizations. Companies that do the same stuff, but they deliver such different results because of their cultures. Take Southwest Airlines or Chick-fil-A or Enterprise or American Express or Zappos, there are tons of examples of businesses that are one on the surface because yeah, that’s a commodity business and yet the outcome for customers is very different as a result of culture.

John Jantsch: I wrote a book called Referral Engine was one of my books as a lot of my listeners know and I wrote a line in there about referability and I think I said something like, “Your employees are probably treating your customers exactly like they’re being treated.” And I think that kind of goes to… I mean it makes total sense, doesn’t it? I mean the front line people are going to go out of their way… some of them are just going to go out of their way because they’re nice people, but most of them are going to go out of their way because they really believe in the mission.

Sandy Rogers: Well exactly. My friend Shep Hyken who’s written a number of books about customer service, and he says that, “The customer experience rarely exceeds the employee experience.” And Jack Taylor, the founder of Enterprise Rent-A-Car understood that so well. We were out visiting branches one day. I ran the branches in our [inaudible] operation. He was asking people, “Are you having fun?” And I said, “Jack, ask these people about their sales numbers. Ask them about their customer service scores.” And he kept introducing himself and saying, “Oh my gosh, are you having fun here?” And I said, “Why are you asking if they’re having fun?” He said, “Because Sport, if they’re not having fun, nothing else really matters. We’ve got to first earn the loyalty of our employees which then leads to the loyalty of our customers and then sales growth and then profit. And it has to happen in that order.”

John Jantsch: So the title of the book is Leading Loyalty so how does… I mean clearly the leader sets the tone for that. So how does a leader create loyalty?

Sandy Rogers: A leader creates loyalty by first adopting what we call a loyalty leader mindset. And our mindset, the way we think about the world, affects our behavior. And our behavior has to adhere to these three core loyalty principles that we talk about in Leading Loyalty. These are empathy, responsibility, and generosity. And principles are these things that you can’t ignore. If you ignore or violate these things, you’re not going to earn the loyalty of the important people in your life.

John Jantsch: So the principles are a great starting point. Unfortunately that’s where a lot of books end. One of the things that I like about this book is you also have a pretty detailed process. You want to kind of give us the high level view of what the process for earning loyalty of your customers is?

Sandy Rogers: Well it is. So we teach in the book the three core loyalty principles, empathy, responsibility, and generosity, but we teach how to bring those to life through two practices. So for example, the way that I have empathy for someone is that I need to understand their story so I’m feeling what they’re feeling. I accomplish this by first making a genuine human connection and then listening to learn their story. So those are the two practices that go with empathy. With responsibility, I’ve got to discover the real job to be done and then follow up to strengthen the relationship. And with generosity I’ve got to share insights openly in a generous way and surprise people in unexpected ways. And so you’ve got to do all of these things. The process we describe in the book is a series of 11 huddles, you and your team carve out 15 minutes a week to talk about these principles and practices and most importantly celebrate the people who are doing what you talked about last week in your 15 minute huddle.

John Jantsch: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is brought to you by There are so many ridiculously valuable reasons to order transcriptions. You can write entire blog posts, heck you could write an entire book by just speaking it and having Rev put together a transcript that you can then just bring on home. I mean if you want to record a meeting so that you have notes, again over and over there are so many good reasons. If you just want to take notes when you’re listening to something and you just want to record those notes and get it… it’s amazing what the reasons you can find for doing this. And Rev gets those transcripts, as I said they do our podcasts, they get those transcripts back to you lightning fast and I’m going to give you a free trial offer. If you go to and that’ll be in the show notes too but you’re going to get a $100 coupon to try them out and I suggest you do it.

John Jantsch: So one of the things I see all the time is that a lot of times customers don’t remain loyal because nobody asks them to. I can’t tell you how many small businesses I’ve gone into and they’ve got a list of 1,500 customers that they haven’t contacted in two years. So what role does just simple follow up play in loyalty.

Sandy Rogers: Chapter Seven and Huddle Seven, so each of the chapters has a huddle at the end, is about following up to strengthen the relationship. And that’s what responsible organizations do and certainly ones that want to earn loyalty. One of the reasons John that I think people avoid following up is that they’re afraid of hearing about problems. And this is not something to be afraid of. In fact this is one of our best opportunities to turn a customer who may be a detractor into a fierce promoter. And so we talk about for example, if you come across a problem, use the five A’s in effective follow up and we borrowed these from the Apple Store. The five A’s are one, assume the other person has good intent. Assume they’re not trying to rip you off. They’re the 99 out of a hundred that are good people. Align with the person’s emotions. You don’t have to agree with them, but at least get on the same side of the table as they are. Apologize with no defensiveness. Ask how can I make this thing right? And assure the person that you’re going to follow through and do it. And so in Chapter Seven in the huddle you learn about these things, you practice. I mean these scenarios are great. It’s mostly fun to be the angry customer but then the other person uses the five A’s, make the person happy.

John Jantsch: So you mention two concepts that I want to go a little deeper in. The one is make a genuine human connection. I think that in some cases the online world we live in, social media we live in, in some ways we’ve lost that art a bit I think maybe just a touch. I mean you can run businesses today without actually ever meeting a customer. So how do we bring that back. I mean you actually have a process that you train people on, but how do we maybe bring that back into the business.

Sandy Rogers: Well we… You’re right. Many businesses that we are loyal to, we don’t talk to people. I’ve bought lots and lots of stuff from Amazon. I do lots of things with Southwest Airlines, and I might do it myself. I do a lot of things with my bank by myself. But when there’s a problem, even Amazon, I had a problem last year, and I found the phone number I needed to talk to a human being, and I was blown away by how well they took care of it, which gave me tremendous confidence to continue to serve myself and use the wonderful app they designed. But this idea of making a human connection happens in the products that we design. We decide when we use the app for the first time whether their designer was doing so with the principles that we talk about. Do they have empathy for me? Are they taking responsibility for what I’m really trying to get done, which is quickly change my flight to a different day. Are they being generous with my time or are they asking me for things they should already know because of my 10 year history with them. And in real life when we’re interacting with customers, that genuine connection is as simple as eye contact. It’s smiling and it’s acknowledging people.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Do you… I know you do a lot of training and I’m sure that organizations bring their teams, their retails staffs to you. Do you find that… I’m going to make all my younger listeners mad here, but do you find that that’s a generational thing that those basic things that maybe we were taught are not taught and expected as much in a younger generation?

Sandy Rogers: Well we know that Generation Z and Millennials have a lot of confidence interacting online with their thumbs and we through this book, one of our goals is to make sure everybody’s equally comfortable face-to-face and not picking on one group over another but it certainly helps to address what you’re describing. And just a little [inaudible 00:12:39], you could be the third person in line and I could be working the host stand and just with my eye contact and a smile and an expression I can let you know I see you, I’m so sorry you’re having to wait, I’m going to take care of you. And you know what? That’s going to make you feel okay. You’re going to be like, “All right. Good. The guy’s acknowledged me.” What is crazy is when people pretend like they can’t see us, like we’re invisible or something.

John Jantsch: One other thing that you mentioned that I want to go back to because I’ve heard this term before and I’d like you to maybe define it a little deeper. Understand the real job to be done.

Sandy Rogers: Well now an example I frequently give, a man comes into a hardware store, “I’m looking for a wrench.”

Sandy Rogers: “Oh, they’re right over in Aisle 14.”

Sandy Rogers: That’s not taking responsibility for anything. So instead, “Come with me. You’re looking for a wrench. What are you working on?”

Sandy Rogers: “Well, I’ve got this old fence in my backyard and I’ve got to pull these rusty nuts off these bolts so I can get rid of the fence.”

Sandy Rogers: “Well sir, do the nuts and bolts look like any of these?”

Sandy Rogers: “They look just like those hexagonal ones there.”

Sandy Rogers: “Ah, to grip the rusty edges of those nuts so you can pull the bolts out and get rid of your fence, you’re going to need a set of box wrenches and this should do the trick.”

Sandy Rogers: And so that’s the real job to be done is to help the guy get rid of his fence, not to sell him a wrench. And so many businesses miss that opportunity to ask a question that would allow their customer who they want to be loyal to explain what job they’re actually trying to do.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I’m almost laughing because particularly you go to your local neighborhood Ace Hardware, and that’s the approach that those old guys have always taken. But today you go to the sort of box store and let’s face it, they’re having trouble actually getting folks. Maybe that person’s been there a week and so how do you… I mean it really… it’s very difficult I think to… well here I’m answering your question instead of asking a question. Does it become difficult for an organization that maybe has high turnover because of the nature of their business to kind of keep that vibe and that culture alive?

Sandy Rogers: Well, you’re right. I mean why should I get in my car and go to some store if I’m not going to do any better than just buying it online and having it delivered to the comforts of home? So what’s going to differentiate that in-store experience are the people. And front line people have notoriously high turnover. They’re the least trained. They’re the lowest paid. They’re the least engaged according to Gallup. And yet they’re the most critical for defining that different between a good and a great experience, right? So it’s all about people and the behavior. So the first thing we’ve got to do is treat our people with the same principles that need to be applied to the customers. We’ve got to earn their fierce loyalty first and the secret to that is to put them into a position to enrich the lives of their customers. Rather than tying them down with scripts and policies they hate, instead encourage them to say, “Hey look, this is the mission.” Jack Taylor for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, founder of the largest car rental company said years ago, “It’s real simple. When people walk out that door they should feel like wow, that was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.” And so that’s what we got to get more retail stores to be doing with their folks.

John Jantsch: So at FranklinCovey you do leadership, or I’m sorry customer loyalty training. What does that look like?

Sandy Rogers: We help organizations that want to dramatically improve their customer loyalty. And it’s built off the work I did at Enterprise years ago where we measured customer service across all of our branches and then we held people accountable for improving and over the next 10 years we went from delighting 66% of our customers to 80% of our customers across thousands of branches and we reduced the variation which is always the biggest problem in a chain from 28 points down to less than 12 points. We tripled the sales in this 10 year period from two to $7 billion. And this story got Fred Reichheld at Bain & Company to create the Net Promoters Score. It inspired the creation of NPS. And so our work at Franklin Covey in the loyalty practice is to help organizations do what we did at Enterprise. Measure their customer service accurately so they know who on their front line needs to get better at customer service and then give them a training process which we describe in the book so that everybody does these loyalty principles more often.

John Jantsch: Visiting with Sandy Rogers, author of Leading Loyalty: Cracking the Code to Customer Devotion. You want to tell people where they can find out more about the book itself and certainly about your training practices.

Sandy Rogers:  They can learn about the book at their favorite bookseller, certainly at Amazon, Leading Loyalty: Cracking the Code to Customer Devotion. They can go to our FranklinCovey website and learn about what we offer in the area of loyalty and certainly find me on LinkedIn.

John Jantsch: Well Sandy thanks for joining us and hopefully we will run into you someday out there on the road.

Sandy Rogers: Thank you so much.

Creating Customers Who Are Loyal for Life

Creating Customers Who Are Loyal for Life written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Sandy Rogers
Podcast Transcript

Sandy RogersToday’s guest on the Duct Tape Marketing podcast, is Sandy Rogers. He is managing director of FranklinCovey’s loyalty practice, where he guides businesses in the retail, healthcare, food service, financial services and lodging spaces through the process of creating lifelong customer loyalty. He is also the co-author of the book Leading Loyalty: Cracking the Code to Customer Devotion.

On today’s episode, we talk all things customer loyalty. How do you create loyalty from your own customers? What does employee engagement have to do with customer loyalty? And how do you imbue each interaction with the empathy, responsibility, and generosity that will keep people coming back to your business?

Questions I ask Sandy Rogers:

  • Is customer loyalty a thing of the past?
  • Do loyalty programs still work?
  • How does a leader create loyalty?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why company culture plays a critical role in customer loyalty.
  • How to establish a process for earning loyalty.
  • Why following up allows you to address concerns and build even greater loyalty.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Sandy Rogers:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Rev.

Rev offers quick and accurate transcription services. Whether you’re looking to transcribe a video or podcast episode, want to record a meeting, hope to dictate a blog post or even a book, Rev can help you get it done.

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Transcript of Getting Salespeople and Prospects on the Same Side

Transcript of Getting Salespeople and Prospects on the Same Side written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Back to Podcast


John Jantsch: Hey, this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is brought to you by We do all of our transcriptions here on the Duct Tape Marketing podcast using And I’m going to give you a special offer in just a bit.

John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Ian Altman. He is a leading authority on accelerating business growth and sales. He’s also the co-author of the best selling book, Same Side Selling: How Integrity and Collaboration Drive Extraordinary Results for Sellers and Buyers. So, Ian, welcome to the show.

Ian Altman: John, thanks for having me back.

John Jantsch: So, let’s just get the title out there, there are a lot of sales books, lots of sales methodologies, what does Same Side Selling kind of bring that’s new to the world of sales?

Ian Altman: Well, it’s really a modern approach. If you think about it, almost every sales book that’s ever been written either uses a game metaphor or a battle metaphor. And in a game, you have a winner and a loser. And in a battle, the loser dies. And then we wonder why we end up in this adversarial position between buyer and seller. And the model that we put forth in Same Side Selling is a puzzle metaphor that says, “Look, with your client, you have a bag with puzzle pieces in it. They have a bag with puzzle pieces in it.

Ian Altman: Unless we sit down side-by-side at a table and put our pieces on the table, we don’t whether or not we have a fit. So it’s not about persuasion or coercion. You can’t coerce somebody if they’re puzzle pieces don’t fit your puzzle.” And so, it’s much more even-handed. It’s not a beauty pageant, “Pick me, pick me.” It’s more, “Do I have something that’s of value for you? And can I help you better than somebody else?” And if so, we have something to talk about. And if not, may not be worth our time.

John Jantsch: So, I’m picturing the person who just got their quota for this quarter who is listening to the show saying, “Yeah, but … Yeah but … I …” Right?

Ian Altman: Sure.

John Jantsch: I mean, so how do you get that person to think … Because this is probably a long-term approach, right? I mean, you’re saying there are times when you have to say, “We shouldn’t be together. We shouldn’t play together.” So, how do you get that person who’s being driven to make a number?

Ian Altman: Well, so here’s the interesting part. We have all these case studies in the second edition of Same Side Selling that profile companies that achieved extraordinary growth, while actually pursuing fewer opportunities. So, old school was a sales and numbers game. You just have to make so many phone calls. And our approach is, it’s not about … If you recognize that it’s not about persuasion or coercion, it’s about finding the best fit, then instead of just saying, “I want to speak to anybody with a pulse.” You say, “You know what? These are the three problems that a business … as a business, we are really good at solving.”

Ian Altman: And if I can find people who are facing those challenges. I’ve got a pretty good chance of capturing their attention. And these are problems that are significant enough, they’re likely to spend money to solve them. As opposed to the old school was, “Let me get anybody with a pulse. And now that I’ve got them with a pulse, let’s hope that maybe I can get them to slip into a coma and they’ll accidentally sign a contract.” And it’s just a futile way to go about trying to grow your business. So, in many cases, it’s about narrowing your focus, rather than broadening your focus.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I’ve been saying for years that I think a lot of times the company that can explain or communicate the problem the best, is probably the one that’s going to get invited. But what about … I mean, I do also know … Like I get calls all the time, “I have a broken website, come out and fix it.” Well, that’s sort of the problem, but it’s not the real problem. You know?

Ian Altman: Yeah.

John Jantsch: And a lot of times our clients don’t know what the real problem is. They just know where it hurts.

Ian Altman: Yep.

John Jantsch: So, how do we define where it hurts in a way that ties back to what we can do to bring value?

Ian Altman: Well, so for example, let’s say that somebody offers IT services to law firms. So, they could say, “Well, we help businesses that have problems with their IT services.” And the problem is, everybody who does IT service is going to say the same thing. But what’s actually going to move the needle for the law firm? Well, what’s really going to move the needle for the law firm is once they recognize that they’re losing billable time, once they realize that their technology issues are impacting their ability to attract and retain younger associates who they want and need to grow and have succession planning.

Ian Altman: It’s understanding that they might be impacting their firm’s reputation when things don’t go well. So, I wouldn’t say, “Oh, I fix IT issues.” If I was them, I would say, “Well, our clients come to us.” And this is something we refer to in the books as a Same Side pitch. “Our clients come to us when they’re facing one of two or three major problems as a law firm.” One is that they’re having IT issues that’s causing them to lose billable work and billable time. So, they’re partners and associates are getting frustrated because they’re spending time on something. And then it gets lost. They have to recreate it.

Ian Altman: The second thing that causes is, all of the sudden they now miss deadlines. They potentially could lose those clients longer term. And the third thing is that man … because they have all these IT issues, the newer and younger associates they’re trying to attract say, “Man, you guys aren’t relevant. How come I can’t just access this stuff from anywhere, anytime? That’s what we’re looking for?” So, for the right firms, they tell us that we’ve got a solution that streamlines all that, so those problems go away.

Ian Altman: But the way we approach it, “Man, it’s not the right fit for every firm. So, I don’t yet know if we can help you. But if that’s something you’re facing, I’m happy to learn more to see if we might be able to help.” And the whole idea is that at no point am I really talking about the technology.

John Jantsch: Yeah. The fact it’s almost still relevant, right? I mean, if you could fix those problems, I don’t really care how you do it.

Ian Altman: Exactly. If my solution was, I have 1500 gerbils in a back room. You’d have two questions. One is show me 20 other firms that are getting results from that. And the second is, is it legal? Right? And if both of those pass muster, you’d be like, “Dude, you don’t even want to know how we solved it. But our IT is humming.”

John Jantsch: So, one of the kind of core foundational elements of this book or your approach. Is this idea of finding impact together. So, you want to unpack that idea?

Ian Altman: Yes. So, the idea of finding impact is that we used to have this notion of always be closing your ABC, made famous by Alec Baldwin and Glengarry Glen Ross. So, always be closing. And instead, we want to think about finding impact together. Meaning, if let’s say, and using the same example, if someone at a law firm said, “Oh, we have IT issues.” “Well, yeah, but is that really causing enough angst in your firm to make it worth solving this?” So, what we’re trying to do is uncover, is that issue driving enough impact?

Ian Altman: Is it important enough to solve, to make it worth our time to help them find a solution? Because there are some things that people face that are kind of a nuisance, but they’re never going to spend money to try and fix them. And the most frustrating thing in a business is when somebody appears to be interested, and you spend weeks or months working with them. And you lose to a non-decision. And they just say, “Nah, we’re going to stick with what we have.” And you think, “Why did I waste my time with these people?” So, finding impact together is a series of questions that we ask to figure out, is this problem likely something that they’ll spend money to solve?

John Jantsch: So, I can hear Alec Baldwin, “Sit down, coffee is for people who find impact together.”

Ian Altman: Yeah. That’s right.

John Jantsch: Something like that. Anyway. So, one of the … As a fact, you dedicate an entire chapter to this, this idea of finding people that are sufficiently motivated to invest in a solution. Because I think they’re … It’s really easy to find people that are leaking oil. That part’s actually pretty easy. But how do we find the difference between those people that clearly need us to help them and the ones that are motivated to invest in a solution?

Ian Altman: Well, so it’s simple questions. It’s things like … So, someone says, “Yes, we’re having this IT issue.” And you say, “So, what happens if you don’t solve that?” And what you’re trying to do is be curious to see if they can convince you that the problem is really worth solving. So too often what happens is someone says, “Oh, I’d like to solve our IT issues.” And people come back and they forecast it at 90% because someone said, “Oh, they contacted us about IT issues.” But if you ask the question, “Well, so what happens if you don’t solve it?” “Oh nothing, it’s been going on for years. And no big deal.” “Huh, okay.”

Ian Altman: So, that’s a big challenge that if you don’t have these sorts of questions, you can be chasing rainbows all day long. So, you were talking before about, what does the person who’s got a quota, deal with? Well, the reality is, that that person who’s got a quota, needs to recognize that you can … What if they could double their growth rate while pursuing 40% fewer opportunities? And we have case studies of companies who have done that. So it’s just about narrowing your focus to the people who matter the most. And having a method for doing it. Because candidly, the way most people evaluate a good business meeting today, doesn’t really give you good insight. And it’s kind of funny how people do it.

John Jantsch: Well, it’s funny. Again, I go back to my example that happens to me every day, is you know, people will call us and say, “Yeah, we need a new website because the old one’s really outdated. But we’re not probably going to pay that much for it because we don’t really get any leads from it anyway.” You just want to like go, “Well, I know why you don’t get any leads from it.” But you know, that’s one of those cases where I’d rather not even pursue that person. Because even if we … because I think the …

John Jantsch: Of course, a lot of the folks you’re dealing with are sales folks and sometimes they … you know, once the contract’s signed, they walk out the door. But in my world, where maybe we are going to actually deliver as well, the worst thing we can do is sign a client who doesn’t have the proper motivation. Because they’re going to be a pain in the butt.

Ian Altman: Yep. Well, and keep in mind, what you could do is when that person calls up you can say, “So when people call us, they’re usually looking for a solution at one of three levels. At the basic level is ‘Hey look, we know exactly what we want with our new website, we just want someone to be able to execute exactly what we want.’ And that’s what we call the Effective Level. The next level, we call this The Enhanced Level. The Enhanced Level is someone who’s going to introduce some new ideas to you, some new concepts and maybe some new technologies to bring your website to the next level. At the highest level, is what we call The Engaged Level. This is where somebody is tied in with your business goals and objectives. And will recommend digital marketing strategies that can help achieve those results that are measurable and repeatable. So, which level are you looking for?”

John Jantsch: We call those in my world, Build, Grow, and Ignite.

Ian Altman: Yeah.

John Jantsch: Exactly what you just described.

Ian Altman: Yeah. So the idea is that then what you’re doing is say, “Well, so what are you looking for?” Because guess what? The person who just wants billed, probably doesn’t matter. Right? The person who just wants effective, may not be your ideal client, but they may be great for somebody else, just not for you.

John Jantsch: The episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is brought to you by There are so many ridiculously valuable reasons to order transcriptions. You can write entire blog posts, heck, you could write an entire book by just speaking it and having Rev put together a transcript that you can then just bring on home. I mean, if you want to record a meeting so that you have notes. Again, over and over, there are so many good reasons.

John Jantsch: If you just want to take notes when you’re listening to something and you just want to record those notes and get it. It’s amazing what the reasons you can find for doing this. And Rev gets those transcripts, as I’ve said, they do our podcast. They get those transcripts back to you lightning fast. And I’m going to give you a free trial offer. If you go to And that’ll be in the show notes too. But, you’re going to get a $100 coupon to try them out. And I suggest you do it.

John Jantsch: So, another significant change I think in the world of selling is that because the buyer, in a lot of cases, has access to a lot of information. Some of it’s really good. Some of it’s misleading. But nonetheless, they feel like, in a lot of cases, they’re pretty educated. So, how does a salesperson now, bring their value up by teaching?

Ian Altman: Well, so there’s a couple concepts behind this. A lot of it comes down to helping the client understand, not only, what the other impacts could be to their business of not solving this. But also, how other people may be seeing results that may or may not resonate with them. And so, if we can give people a structure for these meetings, it works really well. Like I said, what happens historically is, somebody comes out of a meeting, and we’ve all heard the sales rep who’s excited about a meeting they go, “Oh, John, I had the best meeting. We had scheduled to talk for only 15 minutes and the meeting lasted for an hour. And oh my god, man, the two of us, man, we got together and we just clicked. We connected. It was amazing. It was magical. And we’ve already agreed that next week, we’ve already set up a time to meet again.”

Ian Altman: And the problem with that is that it would be a fantastic way to summarize a good meeting if it had been set up on an online dating site. But it’s not a good way to evaluate a good business meeting. And so, one of the things we added to Same Side Selling is this notion of something we call the Same Side Quadrants. And in the Same Side Quadrants, the idea is that it’s a method for taking notes in a meeting so we can have mutual understanding with our client about what might be important.

Ian Altman: And the idea is, on a blank sheet of paper we draw a vertical line down the center of a page, horizontal line across it, creating four quadrants. In the upper left, we take notes about the issue that they were interested in talking with us about. And that might start by just saying, “Hey, what inspired you to meet with us today?” “Oh, you know what, Johnny, we’re just thinking about getting a new website.” “Okay.” And you might ask questions like, “How long’s this been going on? What have you tried in the past? What’s working? What isn’t? Great.” And then we ask this great question that says, “So, what happens if you don’t solve that?”

Ian Altman: And now we move from taking notes in the upper left quadrant of issue, now we move over to impact and importance, which is the upper right quadrant. And that’s where we’re trying to quantify the impact of their organization of not solving the problem. And also try, and discover how important is this compared to other things on their plate? So, we’ll get information about that. Then, we have to acknowledge, and I know that you speak about this as well, that just because you pass money, doesn’t mean it’s successful.

Ian Altman: So, what can we measure together? What are the tangible results that would be meaningful? So, that we know we’re successful. Because gee, if at the end of the project I want to have a high-five moment with you. I want to make sure that you and I both agree that it’s high-five worthy. So what does that look like? And that’s in the lower left quadrant. And then the lower right quadrant, we take notes about who else might need to be involved. And of course, sales people have been taught to ask the worst questions on the planet about who else needs to be involved.

Ian Altman: Because they ask a question like, “Well, who’s the decision maker?” When you ask that question, it’s kind of like saying, “So, John, I realize the company wouldn’t possibly entrust that this to you. So, who is the decision maker?” And it creates this instant adversarial tension. Instead of … But what if instead, they said, “So, John, who else would have an opinion about the impact of the organization? Who else is most directly impacted by this problem? And who else would have an opinion about how we measure this? And who might think we’re totally crazy for measuring the things you and I already discussed? Who might chime in at the 11th hour, we haven’t heard from before?”

John Jantsch: Yeah, because a lot of times there are people in companies that maybe don’t have to approve a deal, but they can sure kill it, right?

Ian Altman: Exactly. So, those people, to know who they are. And then ask a simple question which says, “So, what’s the best way for us to include those people in a way that’s comfortable for you?” And so now what we have is we have this sheet of paper that … We actually produce these journals that people can use, these Same Side Quadrant Journals. And the idea is that people can take notes in all these quadrants and at the end you have what amounts to a concise business case for that client that determines whether this makes sense to move forward or not.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And I’m guessing you also advise. I know that I’m sitting here thinking, if I was going to go through that process, I would make sure that that was in a proposal as well. That we agreed on these things. And that’s why …

Ian Altman: Absolutely. Yeah. It’s what we call a concise business case. There’s a whole template and a format for it that we tell people. So this is what you send to the client afterwards, which is all their words. So, it talks very little about your solution. It talks, almost exclusively about here’s what you shared with me. And the funny part is, that the client will often say, “You know, we had never thought about it that way before. But, man, you guys totally get us. This is awesome. We can’t wait to move forward.”

John Jantsch: So, you’ve already provided value, maybe more so than anybody else that’s tried to sell them anything?

Ian Altman: Exactly. So, in terms of educating them, you’ve now helped them understand why this problem is worth solving. Now, keep in mind, you educated them using their own information. But now, they walk away, because here’s the thing, they’ve just convinced you that this is a really serious issue. And guess who else they convinced? They convinced themselves.

John Jantsch: You know, and what’s interesting when you talk about that impact, you know, sometimes you get somebody to see that the impact of growth revenue and profit and whatnot. But we work with a lot of small business owners that are getting the life sucked out of them and if they could solve a marketing problem, maybe they could actually sleep better at night. And I think we could … Sometimes we underestimate the value of those intangible things that have impact.

Ian Altman: Absolutely. I mean, people who are wealth managers, for example, most of their message, because they can’t guarantee a return for people. I mean they’re precluded form even talking about returns. But what they can do is say, “Look, people come to us because they’re just … today they don’t feel like they have a plan.” So, it gives them a lot of angst. They’re looking for peace of mind.

Ian Altman: They want to know that they have a plan laid out that they can count on and rely on. And, “Gee, so zero to 10, how well do you feel you’re positioned for that today?” And it’s like, “Oh, I don’t know, like a five.” ” Okay. Why five?” “Well …” Right? And now the waterworks start. “Well, because I can’t do this. I can’t do that. I’m not sure if my kids are going to be able to go to college. And blah, blah, blah.” “Okay” Now, we got a real conversation.

John Jantsch: So, one of the things that I’ve certainly discovered over time doing this, you know, I have no problem asking hard questions now. Because the opposite is terrible. But somebody starting out, sometimes they may not feel the posture to be able to get in a conversation about impact with somebody because “Hey, I’m just theoretically here to sell you XYZ. Do I have permission to ask about impact?” I’m just suggesting that that’s probably a problem that people feel. Is that?

Ian Altman: Well, so here’s the thing, if I tell somebody your job is to go out there and sell this stuff, whether people need it or not. Then, I’ve just created my own problem. If I say, “Your job is to determine first and foremost if these people have a problem worth solving.” And you can be totally transparent with the clients and say, “Look, we just don’t know whether or not this is going to have enough of an impact for you to make it worthwhile. And if this problem is significant enough to make it worth solving, so, I just want to ask you some questions. Because the last thing we want you to do is spend money and buy something that isn’t worthwhile for you.”

John Jantsch: Yeah. And that should right off the bat, let somebody put their, sort of, salesperson shield up, down, right?

Ian Altman: Exactly. Yeah, because it’s something we refer to as … So, the Same Side Pitch follows the model of Entice, Disarm, and Discover. So, in that example before, when I said, “Well, gee, our clients, these law firms come to us when they’re facing these issues.” Notice that after I describe the problems that we solve with great results, I said, “But, not everyone we talk to is the right fit for how we solve that.” And allows someone to say, “Oh, so you’re not like all those sales people who just swear that ‘Oh yes, we have the perfect solution for you. What’s your problem again?’”

Ian Altman: It’s kind of like if a surgeon came to you and said, “Hey, John. Listen, I can get you a great deal. I can get you in next Tuesday for this tennis elbow surgery.” You know, like, “Well, I don’t think I have tennis elbow.” “Okay, what if I discounted it? What if I can get you in on Monday instead of Tuesday?” And I mean, it’s like, “But I don’t think I have tennis elbow.” “What if we did both arms for the same price?” And it’s like, “Dude, I don’t think I have the condition that you treat.” “What if I got your spouse involved too?” It’s like, you know, just … That’s what it feels like. It’s awesome.

John Jantsch: But I think one of the things that you’re saying and I’m not saying it’s implied. But I think it’s worth reminding people. Is I think we have to have a good handle on what it is that we’re actually good at. What problem we solve, the right situation. I know, again, after years and years and years of doing this, you know within … Excuse me. Five minutes or so I can sort of say, “Yeah, this is going to be a good fit or it’s not. Or we can really help this person. Or we can’t.” And I think that comes over time. But I think that that’s something that people really have to spend some time wrapping their head around. You know, a client that’s not a good fit is probably not going to be profitable, it’s probably going to turn into a detractor at some point.

Ian Altman: Sure.

John Jantsch: So, how do people … This is a simple question but I think, you know, how do you advise that people get a real handle on what they’re good at solving?

Ian Altman: Well, it’s funny you say that. It’s one of the most challenging questions that I ask people. So, I’ll say this to one, “So, give me one of the problems that you solve?” And most often, their response is the description of their service. So for example, if I said to someone, and it wouldn’t be on your team because your team understands this. But if I said to somebody who did digital marketing, “So, what problems do you solve?” “Well, we build websites and social media campaigns.” “Okay. I don’t think that’s a problem. That sounds like a service that you offer. But what problem does that solve?”

Ian Altman: And so the example that I give people is using a term that a buddy of mine Bob London coined called an Elevator Rant. So, the idea of the elevator rant being the upside down version of the elevator pitch. Is that you get on an elevator, the doors are about to close. Right before they close someone sticks their arm in, the doors spring open. Two people representing your ideal client get on the elevator with you. The doors close. What would they be complaining to one another about something that when you hear it, you think, “Man, we can solve that better than anybody else. In fact, they’re lucky to be on the elevator with us. Because we can really help them.”

Ian Altman: And so, if you put yourself in that context, they’re not going to say, “Oh, you know, I need a digital marketing firm because I google digital marketing and nothing came up.” Right? That’s not going to happen. But the might say, “Man, I’m sick and tired of spending all this money on advertising and marketing. But it’s not affecting how many people walk through the door and how many people buy our products.” Or, “I’m tired of spending money on stuff. But I’m not sure which stuff is working, which stuff isn’t. So, I feel like we may be spending money in areas that don’t matter and not spending enough in areas that do make a difference.”

John Jantsch: So, Ian, tell people where they can find out more about your work and Same Side Selling. And you’ve mentioned a couple tools and I think you have those on your website as well.

Ian Altman: Absolutely. So, if you visit you’ll hear all about the book. And there’s the bonus material and case studies and the like. And then, I’m impossible not to find on social and online @IanAltman. So it’s And on just about every social media platform it’s Ian Altman.

John Jantsch: Well, Ian, thanks for joining us. And hopefully, we’ll see you out there on the road. Or maybe, somewhere in the Midwest even, soon enough.

Ian Altman: Oh, let’s hope so, John. Take care.

Getting Salespeople and Prospects on the Same Side

Getting Salespeople and Prospects on the Same Side written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Ian Altman
Podcast Transcript

Ian AltmanOn today’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast, I visit with B2B strategic consultant and sales expert Ian Altman.

Altman created, built, and sold his own business-services and technology companies over two decades. Since then, he’s turned his attention to researching how customers make decisions.

His revolutionary approach to sales is outlined in the book Same Side Selling, which he co-authored with Jack Quarles. In this episode Altman and I discuss a new approach to sales: one where you position yourself as being on the same side as your prospective customers, rather than framing it as an adversarial relationship.

Questions I ask Ian Altman:

  • What does same side selling bring to the world of sales?
  • What is the concept of finding impact together?
  • How do companies get a handle on what they’re good at solving for their clients?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How to identify prospects that are motivated to find a solution to the problem you solve.
  • What the connection is between selling and teaching.
  • How to use your prospect’s own words to sell them on your solution.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Ian Altman:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Rev.

Rev offers quick and accurate transcription services. Whether you’re looking to transcribe a video or podcast episode, want to record a meeting, hope to dictate a blog post or even a book, Rev can help you get it done.

We at Duct Tape Marketing use Rev for transcription of all our podcast episodes, and we have a special offer for you. Go to to secure a $100 coupon for new users.

Transcript of How to Become a Digital Minimalist

Transcript of How to Become a Digital Minimalist written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Back to Podcast



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John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Cal Newport. He is an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University and the author of six books, including the one we’re going to talk about today, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. Cal, thanks for joining me.

Cal Newport: John, it’s my pleasure to be back.

John Jantsch: Writing a book with the title minimalism in it makes you have to say that word a lot, and, I don’t know about you, but that word’s hard to say sometimes.

Cal Newport: I didn’t realize that until the press tour started because when you’re writing it, hey, it looks nice on the page, but then when you have to say it a hundred times at interviews you realize it’s a bit of a mouthful.

John Jantsch: I know the answer to this, but I’m sure you’ve been asked, is there any irony in the fact that a computer science professor is talking about minimizing your digital footprint?

Cal Newport: I actually think there’s a lot of logic to it. I mean obviously technologies play a massive role in our daily experience and the way our culture unfolds. It seems to me that one of the voices we need in this conversation are the people who actually work on those technologies themselves. To me it was natural that as a computer scientist I’m one of the people that’s involved in discussing what role should tech play, how do we get the value out of it, how do we sidestep the negatives as well.

John Jantsch: Essentially the book is about reducing the time we spend online, focusing on a small number of activities to support the things we deeply value. When did we lose that?

Cal Newport: Well, that’s a good question. We’ve always struggled with technologies, but I think we’re in a particular state of unease that’s really emerged, let’s say, in the last few years when people begin to notice it. I think the core of this unease is about the amount of time so many of us are spending looking at these little screens in our hands. If you talk to people, the issue is not utility. It’s not necessarily what they’re doing when they look at their screen is in itself worthless or bad. That’s not really the grounds on which discussion is happening.

Cal Newport: The thing that seems to be making people uneasy is autonomy, the idea that they’re looking down at these screens way more than they know is useful, way more than they know is healthy to the exclusion of things they know are more important. It’s their sense of I’m losing control over what I’m doing with my time and attention, and as a result my actual humanity is diminished or the enjoyment of my life is going down. I think that’s the crisis that I’m trying to respond to with this book.

John Jantsch: I’m like a lot of people, I mean the book resonates with me tremendously. That’s my job is to be online sort of, and so I find myself like a lot of people really drawn to it. I also find myself sometimes going, “No. Put that thing down. What are you doing?” It’s almost become a chemical reaction.

Cal Newport: That’s the issue that’s going on is that these services have utility. There’s a reason why we signed up for it. The reason why we’re upset is because especially in the case of, let’s say, social media and other attention economy conglomerates, the experience was subtly re-engineered, after most people actually signed up for it, to try to get us to look at these screens way more than we actually were before, and way more than we need to be looking at them, so that the revenue numbers could go up.

Cal Newport: I think that’s the thing that’s getting to people. It’s also why this conversation is so complicated is that we’re used to these type of things being cut and dry, like with cigarettes, where people say, “I don’t want to smoke cigarettes. There’s no benefit to smoking cigarettes. I will do whatever it takes to stop smoking cigarettes.” Cut and dry. Much more complicated now.

Cal Newport: What we have here is network technologies that have deep innovations underlying them and real utility, and yet at the same time our relationship with them has really mutated over time to be something that’s unhealthy. It’s a more complicated net that we have to untangle here.

John Jantsch: For example, I mean it’s easy to say you’re scrolling through Facebook, that serves no purpose usually. I could get on Medium all day long and read stuff that’s really good and maybe useful. It’s still consuming my day.

Cal Newport: Exactly. These are the type of dynamics that are out there. It’s this mix of usefulness with compulsive behavior patterns that go beyond what’s useful and begin to take away from other values. To me this is why what we need is not just a little bit more self-awareness. This is why we need more than just tips or tricks. We really need a coherent philosophy. How do we make sense of all this tech and integrate them into a life well-lived, because if we just allow it to be out there and floating in this world, and just approach it in an ad hoc manner, we tend to get overwhelmed and the net cost-benefit ratio starts to skew too heavily towards the cost size.

Cal Newport: Digital minimalism is basically an attempt to outline a philosophy of technology use, a way to approach these tools with some care so that you can get big value out of it but avoid big losses at the same time.

John Jantsch: I’m sure you have statistics on this. In fact, I’m going to get to that part where you had your volunteers do an experiment. Does this behavior correlate with us just working more, period?

Cal Newport: Well, there’s two things going on here. When it comes to these unintentional consequences of technology, we have two areas we should care about. One is our work life, one is our personal life. I like to think that digital minimalism tries to focus a little bit more on what’s happening in our life outside of work. There’s huge issues about what’s happening in work in terms of the way technology, the role technology plays. They’re interesting. They’re also pretty complicated, and some of them are pretty unrelated to why we’re looking at our phone so much outside of work.

Cal Newport: Now, of course this all overlaps. The way I like to think about it is that digital minimalism is really about the amount of time you spend looking at your phone even when it’s not necessarily for work, even when it’s not about, “I’m trying to talk to a client or post something about my business,” but just you’re at home. You’re with your kids. You’re at the ballgame. You’re in bed, all these other times in which a life well-lived are crafted. The fact that we’re spending so much of that time voluntarily looking at a screen for even non-professional reasons, that’s the area in which I’m seeing a lot of concern, and I’m trying to address with the book.

John Jantsch: You had an army of volunteers, some 1,600 I think I read. Did I get that right?

Cal Newport: Yeah.

John Jantsch: That you put in an experiment. Explain that experiment or what you were trying to find there.

Cal Newport: The experiment was to step away from these type of technologies, these optional technologies in your personal life, so things like social media and online news and streaming media and YouTube, even podcasts, basically everything digital in your personal life. So, stuff you didn’t have to do for work, or it’s not vital to your day-to-day experience, to step away from it for 30 days. Then during these 30 days, more so than just like a detox. I have negative things to say about digital detoxes as being a standalone thing that are somehow useful. I have some real issues with that.

Cal Newport: During this 30 days, it’s about a lot more than just this detox experience of breaking your habit of compulsively using your phone. It also is about having some space to reflect and experiment and figure out what really is important to me. How do I really want to spend my time outside of work? Figuring out those values, figuring out what’s important to you, so that when the 30 days are over you can then rebuild your digital life from scratch, but now do it with a minimalist mindset of, “I want to selectively choose online behaviors and tools that are going to help these things that I really care about, and ignore everything else.”

Cal Newport: I had this idea that this 30-day process was probably an effective way to become a minimalist. I put the call out to my readers to say, “Hey, does anyone want to try this out?” I thought a couple of dozen people would sign up, but I was surprised when over 1,600 people said, “Yeah. I’m ready for that.”

John Jantsch: Everybody I mention this book’s title to says, “I need some of that.” Yet, we’re still having trouble breaking free. One of the things that I love, a topic in the book is that it’s not a matter of just taking more time. It’s high quality leisure. What does high quality leisure look like, that’s obviously lacking?

Cal Newport: Well, these are activities outside of work that you do and enjoy just for the sake of their intrinsic quality. If you get into cooking and you cook something really nice, and you do it just because you enjoy the process of building, cooking and eating good food. If you get really into woodworking, just you’re enjoying working on a piece of wood just because of the intrinsic quality of what you’re trying to do. If you’re into playing an instrument or listening to a certain type of music, that really you’re getting enjoyment.

Cal Newport: It’s not instrumental. It’s not to help you do something else, to help you accomplish something else or get something else. It’s just enjoying the activity for the sake of the activity. These type of activities are crucial. High quality leisure activities are crucial to a good life, a life that can be buffered against the unavoidable ups and downs and different turns of fortune. It’s what allows us to have some sort of meaning and gratitude even when other things are out of our control or spiraling in ways that maybe doesn’t make us happy.

Cal Newport: We know this from the ancients, that this type of activity is crucial. In an age of this really cheap, hyper-powered digital distraction, one of the huge casualties is people have pushed high quality leisure out of their life, because it has a high barrier to entry. It requires effort. It’s not necessarily an easy thing to do.

Cal Newport: Typically boredom, the feeling of boredom would push us to actually make those effort and do these activities, because it was better than being bored. We’re now hijacking that deeply human instinct, because as soon as you feel bored you can just look at this screen. A really powerful algorithm that’s reduced you to 10,000 data points knows exactly what to show you so that you can be a little bit interested in the moment.

Cal Newport: This is one of the huge unexpected casualties of this huge attention economy that we’ve formed, is that people are filling their time with the low-quality digital leisure. It’s a little bit easier than the high quality analog leisure. By doing so, they’re actually leaving a big hole in their soul in some sense. They’re missing from their life something that’s crucial to a thriving human existence.

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John Jantsch: I just finished a great book called A Gentleman in Moscow. It’s actually been out for a while. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the book. The main character talks about something he calls idle hour. Essential his idle hour idea was that you should pretty much have anything that’s going to be serious done by noon and pretty much the rest of the day should just unfold as it unfolds.

John Jantsch: I think another thing that happens to us is, and I’m sure that these digital tools are somewhat to blame, but even when we have that time for leisure we’re packing it. The idea of just maybe taking the space to reflect has gone away.

Cal Newport: That’s why I say 30 days for my declutter process. If you think about it, it’s not self-evident that you need something like 30 days to do, let’s say, reset your digital life, because you might imagine you might approach revamping your digital life, minimizing your digital life, like Marie Kondo approaches minimizing your closet, you do it in a weekend. Put aside some time and make changes.

Cal Newport: I say you need 30 days. A big reason why is exactly what you just pointed out there, which is it actually just takes a while. It takes a while just having some time and having some space to really get back in touch with yourself and the world around you and to figure out, “Well, what do you really care about? What do I really want to do?” That’s not something you can schedule in for 4:00 to 5:00 today, I’m going to put in time and figure out what I care about and what do I want to do with my life. You actually need time and space.

Cal Newport: That’s why I have people spend a non-trivial amount of time away from these tools, because I think without a non-trivial amount of time it’s hard to come up with non-trivial insight.

John Jantsch: Sometimes the way to get rid of a bad habit, which I think some of this is, bad habits, sometimes you replace it with a good habit. Are there perhaps more positive habits that you recommend, or is it highly personal?

Cal Newport: Well, I think ultimately what tends to work with people who are feeling overwhelmed by the role of tech in their life is actually the rip-off-the-band-aid 30-day process we were talking about, where you really go down to nothing. You empty out the proverbial closet, take some time, and then rebuild it carefully. This tends to work a lot better than trying to work from the top down and just maybe tweak this habit there or that habit there, or maybe change your notifications or make your phone gray scale, or put on some tracking software.

Cal Newport: When you work from the top down trying to change things you don’t like bit by bit, it’s really hard to get sustainable change. If you actually empty out that closet, say, “Let’s start from scratch,” everything now has to re-earn its way back into my life and for a purpose, for something I really care about this tends to be really effective. Which is why I really push this 30-day process.

Cal Newport: Now, there’s a couple of things you can do just to get ready for that so it’s not as jarring. A simple habit that helps you get ready for something like that is just take off your phone any app in which someone makes money from your attention when you click on it. I’m not asking you at this point to quit these things. Whatever storyline you have about “I need it for X, Y, Z” is fine. You can still use them, just use it on your laptop or your desktop computer.

Cal Newport: That alone is going to help get your mind in shape for the bigger decluttering, because it’s going to just force you to be in situations commonly where you’re out and about and can’t easily look at your phone for a distraction. That’s helpful. Also, another helpful thing before you try the rip-the-band-aid-off approach is maybe try to get back into your life one or two of these high quality analog leisure type activities.

Cal Newport: Just reengage your taste for things that require more effort but return more reward in exchange, so that when you actually get to the 30 days, when you get to that first morning and there’s nothing on your phone, and you can’t look at the screen for distraction that you’re not just staring into the existential void. That you’re used to this. You’re used to being a little bit bored and you already have some options in mind for what you could do to fill the time.

John Jantsch: I read a lot of books, so correct me if I got this wrong, that it wasn’t in your book, but when you mentioned that idea of bringing in some high quality leisure, I think you wrote about replacing networking, like the typical chamber of commerce networking, with actually people you want to hang out with. Maybe they are work related, but go do something, volunteer together, go play golf together, go climb a mountain together. Am I making that up or was that part of your work?

Cal Newport: I think that was in there. There’s two related points there. First of all, I talk about the value we get out of just joining things and doing things with people. It’s just fundamentally different than talking with people digitally, and abstract virtual groups, to actually in my town I am getting together with these four people and we are doing this project together. It’s physical and I’m with people and I’m interacting with people.

Cal Newport: We crave that, makes us happy. Putting that in your life is really good. Then there was also a specific networking example where I was talking about the cost in time of various activities. I think I gave the example in there that some people talk about their Twitter use as a key way in which they meet interesting people. If you actually do the calculus, they’re losing something like 10 hours a week on Twitter.

Cal Newport: Where, on the other hand, if they just took two hours a month, let’s say, to go to some really interesting event or three hours a month and meet 10 people at this event, they would probably get similar benefit, but they’d have given up much less of their time. I use that example as a exposition on just actually Henry David Thoreau’s concept of don’t just look at the benefits a thing gets you, you always have to ask what’s the cost of those benefits in terms of hours of my life.

John Jantsch: Speaking of Thoreau, one of my favorite activities when I want to, in fact, I just make it a part of my life, is solitude. Once I’d like to say a month, it probably doesn’t happen once a month, I try to get a whole weekend all by myself. I do know that that has tremendous benefits, but also when I talk to other people, it scares them to death the thought of being alone with nothing but their thoughts. Why do you suppose that is?

Cal Newport: Well, we’re in this unique point in, I think, human history where finally with hundreds of billions of dollars of investment and some of the smartest minds in the world working on it, we figured out how to banish every last moment of solitude from our lives. It’s incredibly unnatural and incredibly hard to do. We had to build a worldwide, wireless, high-speed internet network. We had to build these devices you could bring with you every single place, and that at any moment powerful algorithms running on massive data centers could deliver to you perfectly timed content that’s going to capture your attention. I mean it’s a miracle. It’s also pretty radical.

Cal Newport: It’s become problematic, because it turns out we actually need on a regular basis time alone with our thoughts. We don’t need to be in a cave for months at a time. That’s going to make us lonely and unhappy.

Cal Newport: If in the course of a normal day you don’t have at least a few occasions where it’s just you and your thoughts, and you’re not processing input from some other minds, you’re not looking at social media, you’re not looking at your mentions, you’re not looking at news, you’re just there looking at the world around you and thinking, if we don’t have this on a regular basis even 10 or 15 minutes at a time we get anxious, and we get unhappy. We have a hard time generating business insights or self-reflection which all requires this sort of unstructured thought.

Cal Newport: I’ve become a big proponent, you got to get some of the solitude back into your life. You got to have some every day. It doesn’t have to be for a long time, but you cannot exist in a state of complete solitude deprivation. That’s just incredibly unnatural and causes unpredictable consequences.

John Jantsch: I don’t know if you’ve seen this or experienced this, but I hear people talking about it’s like quitting smoking for some people, if they hadn’t had that in their life. 20 minutes alone and they’re starting to go crazy.

Cal Newport: Could be terrifying for people, especially young people who really starting in their early adolescence have never been free from being bathed in algorithmically optimized input generated by other minds. It is incredibly scary, but it’s crucial. I think it’s just crucial for human thriving. You can do it baby steps at first. If it’s really scary, I mean you can do on 10 minutes at a time, “I’m going to go into the drugstore to get the prescription I’m picking up and come back to my car. I’ll leave my phone in the car while I do it.”

Cal Newport: Start small if you have to. It doesn’t have to be, “I’ve rented the cabin and I’ll be back in three weeks.” It can be smaller, “I’m walking the dog, I’m not bringing the phone.” You have to get used to it. That’s why I spend a lot of time in the book talking about solitude is because it’s completely underappreciated right now.

John Jantsch: Of these 1,600 volunteers, I’m sure, because you are a trained scientist, that you had some closure. Did you get some after the declutter 30-day feedback, and what did people experience?

Cal Newport: I got a lot of interesting reports. One thing I noticed that is interesting is that the people who succeeded with the whole 30 days and having lasting change after the 30 days, they really embraced the idea that this 30 days is about self-reflection, experimentation. That they were actively going out there and trying to figure out, “What do I really want to do with my time? What is the things I care about?”

Cal Newport: They were much more likely to end up with sustainable change. The group that had a much harder time was the group that just saw this as a “detox.” Like, “I just want to get a break from my technology. I’m just going to white knuckle it for 30 days. I’m really bored but this is good. I needed to take a break.” They had a really hard time even sticking with it for 30 days.

John Jantsch: I suspect that the first group saw it as an investment, as the second group saw it as a cost.

Cal Newport: Exactly. When you’re just white knuckling it, you’re like, “I’m trying to get away from this thing that is bad.” The problem is that’s not a strong enough motivation, that when you’re really bored and have nothing to do, to keep you away from it. You eventually say, “Nuts to this. I’m going to check Facebook.” If you’re coming at it from the perspective of positivity, “I am trying to rebuild my life to something much better,” you’re rebuilding your life on top of your values, then you’re much more likely to be successful.

Cal Newport: The other interesting thing I noticed from these reports is that maybe half of the people who sent me reports ended up after doing this process deciding they needed essentially no social media in their life. Half of the people decided, “I still need some social media in my life. It connects to things I really value.” Of that 50% that kept some social media in their life, almost none of them ended up keeping it on their phone. That was one of the biggest takeaways is that social media, it plays really interesting and complicated roles in people’s lives.

Cal Newport: Probably its importance is way overstated. There’s probably way too many people using it than really need to be. There’s also millions for which it’s useful. The need for it to be on your phone, and the need for it to be something that is a constant source of distraction, it came across clear as a bell in my studies that that tends to serve only a very small number of people, namely the major stockholders of a social media company. That there’s almost no reason for anyone to need to look at these things on their phone all the time. That struck me as interesting.

Cal Newport: Social media is not completely worthless. Social media on your phone is something that almost no one needs.

John Jantsch: Great point. Cal, where can people find more about the book and the movement, can we call them a movement, of …

Cal Newport: Fine by me.

John Jantsch: …digital minimalism, and anything else, anywhere else you want to send people?

Cal Newport: Well, you won’t be able to find me on social media, because in true digital minimalist fashion I’ve never had a social media account, which turns out that’s allowed. You can find out about me and the book at I’ve been blogging there for over a decade, so there’s a lot to read. I also have a place where you can find all sorts of interviews and articles and videos I’ve done as part of the press tour for the book. You can also find the book itself in any of the normal places that you would buy books.

John Jantsch: Well, Cal, thanks for joining us. Great book, great message, and hopefully we’ll run into you out there on the road soon.

Cal Newport: Hopefully out there in the real world, participating in some high quality analog activities.

John Jantsch: Amen.