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From Generalist to Specialist: The Blueprint for Vertical Market Domination

From Generalist to Specialist: The Blueprint for Vertical Market Domination written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Corey Quinn, former CMO of Scorpion and now a dedicated agency coach, Corey specializes in guiding agency founders to scale with vertical market specialization. At Scorpion, he played a pivotal role in growing the agency’s revenue 8x in 5 years to a remarkable $150M. Corey is also the author of ‘Anyone, Not Everyone,’ a comprehensive guide for agency founders looking to move beyond founder-led sales. He is currently on a mission to empower 1,000 agencies to become vertical-market specialists, leveraging his extensive experience and insights.

In this episode Corey provides a comprehensive blueprint for agency founders looking to transition from being generalists to specialists in their field, paving the way for vertical market domination and sustained growth.

Key Takeaways

Corey Quinn underscores the significance of vertical market specialization in transitioning from founder-led sales to scalable growth for agencies. By honing in on a specific vertical, founders can position themselves as experts, differentiate their services, and attract ideal clients. Corey outlines actionable steps for identifying the right market, validating its potential, and building relationships with key influencers. With a focus on long-term success, agencies can leverage vertical market specialization to achieve sustainable growth and dominance within their niche.

Questions I ask Corey Quinn:

[00:57] Explain the concept of anyone, not everyone

[02:52] What is vertical market specialization and how is it different from picking a niche and getting specialized?

[05:45] How does one position themselves as the go-to agency for a specific market?

[10:00] Tell us about the strategic gifting outbound approach

[12:58] What are your favorite platforms or tools for building the ultimate list of who to target?

[15:57] How important is it to network with big names in the target industry and how is it done?

[19:24] Is it advisable to repeat the approach with other markets or stick to one?

[20:37] Where can people connect with you and grab a copy of your book

More About Corey Quinn:


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

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by ActiveCampaign

Try ActiveCampaign free for 14 days with our special offer. Sign up for a 15% discount on annual plans until Mar 31,2024. Exclusive to new customers—upgrade and grow your business with ActiveCampaign today!


John (00:08): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Corey Quinn. He’s a former CEO of Scorpion and now a dedicated agency coach. He specializes in guiding agency founders to scale with vertical market specialization. At Scorpion, he played a pivotal role in growing the agency’s revenue eight x in five years to a remarkable $150 million. He’s also the author of a book we’re going to talk about today, anyone, not everyone, A comprehensive guide for agency founders looking to move beyond founder-led sales. So Corey, welcome to the show.

Corey (00:47): John, it is a real treat to be here.

John (00:51): So let’s start with the title. I find myself always doing that because authors picked every word of a title so carefully. What’s the big picture you’re trying to imply with this idea of anyone? Not everyone.

Corey (01:03): So the big promise or the transformation that I wrote the bill to really help agency founders with is this idea of escaping founder-led sales, which is a challenge that many agency founders will go through in the sort of the lifecycle of their agency. And the way that I’ve personally seen this happen, both in the work that I do as well as in dozens of other agency owners I’ve interviewed, is one way to become sort of independent of sales and also to help scale your agency is to get really clear on who you’re targeting. Not only just get clear but specialized in serving a specific vertical market. And the funny thing is that title did not come day one. It was a much different title, and it wasn’t until I was working back and forth with my editor and I was saying we were using the term, it’s like something around you could do anything but not everything type of thing. And that’s where it was born from.

John (02:07): Well, if you don’t nail this getting out of founder led sales, I mean you’ll never be able to sell the business. I mean, to me, that’s kind of job number one, isn’t it?

Corey (02:16): Correct, absolutely. And there’s a saying that I love somewhere that I think is super interesting, which is that you want to build a business that everyone wants to buy that you don’t want to sell, right? And that’s a business that probably creates the freedoms in your life as a business owners that you want to have. So a hundred percent if an acquirer is looking at your agency and you are instrumental to the growth of it, that is not as interesting of a value proposition versus otherwise.

John (02:48): So I know you go very deep into this idea of you actually, I think I read it in your vertical market specialization. How is that different from the sort of well-worn advice of pick a niche and get specialized?

Corey (03:02): Yeah, I think it’s a good question. The idea of niching down is very common. There’s a great saying, the riches are in the niches, and I think there’s a lot of truth to that. I think the challenge is that it’s today it’s a very vague idea of what does that mean exactly? Does that mean I’m targeting females between 35 and 50, who like donuts or am I targeting flight attendants or what does that exactly mean? It’s very vague. And so what I wanted to do is be much more literal and specific about when you want to scale an agency. One of the great ways to do it, it’s not the only way, but one of the great ways to do it is to specialize in a vertical market. So in a way, vertical specialization is a type of niching down by the way, you can specialize in what you do, like SEO, that’s another type of specialization. But I personally like to help agencies and I’m really obsessed with this idea of taking a vertical market approach and I really care about helping people get there.

John (04:04): So one of the challenges I think is I think a lot of people hear that advice and they’re like, okay, where’s the opportunity lawyers or dentists? And having never worked with those markets, they just charge into ’em. And sometimes it works. Sometimes they realize, I hate working with Dennis. No offense, Dennis, but how do you make sure that you’re making the right sort of decision because it is a decision to send your business down a track

Corey (04:30): A hundred percent John. And there are situations where it makes sense as an agency founder to start down that road on day one, but generally that does not the way it works usually it is an agency owner who opens their doors and does business with their family and their distant family in the local chamber of commerce, and they say yes to a lot of different businesses. And I think that makes a lot of sense. As you’re launching your new business, you want to have revenue and you want to get it off the ground, but it is only until they realize that they can’t get beyond a certain point because they’re serving a wide variety of clients. They’re a jack of all trades, and they lack expertise in any one area, which has a direct impact in their ability to do things like operationally scale, but also their positioning becomes very watered down. The market doesn’t see their true value for what they are. They compete on price and they lose deals to lesser firms. And that all of that results in slow and inconsistent sales and all of those aspects bring the founder right back into sales because when the sales isn’t happening, that’s the founder’s responsibility at the end of the day. Right?

John (05:40): Yeah. So what are some of the key steps? If I’ve decided maybe I’ve been out there, I’ve had some success, I have some ideas about markets that I like, I’ve been able to serve, I’ve been able to add value. What are some of the key steps to really kind of positioning myself as the go-to

Corey (05:55): Absolutely. So in that case of that generalist who’s been around for a while, you have a lot of sets and reps. It’s important as you’re going through this process of verticalizing your agency to look at your current book of business and see who do I like working with? If I was going to fill my business with dentists as your example, what kind of life would I be enjoying at that point? Right? The whole outcome you’re trying to create is you want to fill your practice with a whole bunch of this type of business. And so first thing you want to do is you want to look at your experience. You want to look at, like I said, who you like working with, what problems are you really good at solving for them, and are they willing to pay for those problems? That’s number one. You want to look at your current business.

(06:38): Number two, you want to look at the market because you don’t want to target an audience that is too small or maybe too big. If you’re targeting an audience that says that, let’s say that has a small budget inherently then, and you charge $10,000 a month, and on average the average business owner in that industry makes a hundred thousand dollars a year, you’re going to have a hard time finding clients. And so there’s an aspect of it where number one, you have to feel like you’re good at it and you want to do want to work with these folks. But then number two, that the market that you’re going after is what I call, you have to validate it. You have to validate it’s not only large enough, but that it is a good fit for the kind of business you want to create.

John (07:22): I have people come to me all the time and say that I want to work with X, and I’m like, well, they don’t spend money on marketing at all. That might be a slog for you.

Corey (07:31): Yeah. The number I like to use as sort of a benchmark is when you’re doing the market research, does the average business in this vertical make a million dollars a year? This is specifically in the context of marketing agencies, and the math is if they make a million dollars a year and they spend 10% of that revenue on marketing per year, which is a hundred thousand dollars, you divide that by 12 months, that’s $8,333 per month. And you think about marketing today, you have to have a website, SEO content, PPC book, reputation management, do a podcast. All of a sudden you’re stretching that $8,000 pretty thin. And so depending on the type of service you have and the type of revenue you want to generate per client, a million dollars is a good barometer to make sure that they actually do make enough money for you to justify targeting them.

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(09:32): Now, this offer is limited to new active campaign customers only. So what are you waiting for? Fuel your growth, boost revenue and save precious time by upgrading to active campaign. Today, we have worked for years with various agents or various industries and certain industries, certain verticals are just getting hammered by people that have taken this approach. Remodeling contractors, for example. I mean, get 10 pitches a day from somebody that says they’re an expert in their industry. You have an outbound approach that uses gifting as a kind of unique approach to really stand out, right? They get the 10 emails. How are you different? Yeah, talk about that approach.

Corey (10:13): Yeah, absolutely. So the prerequisite is number one, you have a vertical market that you specialize in, that you position your agency around, and then what you do is you want to, and this is based on my direct experience of working at an agency where we sent literally millions of dollars of cookies to attorneys. Another one of these markets that is oversaturated that you could argue, but the way that I teach my clients, what you do is, number one, you build up a 20% lead list. And what I mean by that is out of all the attorneys in the us, let’s say you are targeting personal injury attorneys, you want to take that list and then you want to qualify it to identify what’s the top 20% of this list that if I can get them on the phone, then I have a very high likelihood that they’re going to be a great fit.

(10:59): They’re going to want to work with us. And so you create that list that becomes your lead list for this gift based outbound. The next thing you want to do is you want to identify a gift that would be unique, it would be striking, and it would leave a positive impression. You don’t want to send a ballpoint pen with your logo on it because that’s too easy to ignore. And as a result of this 20% list, it’s not very much of a spray and pray approach. It’s much more of a quality over quantity. I’ve done things, everything from sending gourmet cookies to sending alcohol to attorneys, to sending flowers to dentist office, you name it, video brochures. We’ve sent books. We’ve written books. Lemme share with you the impact of this. When we sent cookies to attorneys, this is again an industry where there are gatekeepers whose primary job is to prevent me from getting in touch, talking to the attorney.

(11:57): So that’s their job is to weed me out, screen me out. And so what we would do is we would send the cookies into the law firm, and these are again, not generic cookies. These are amazing mouthwatering cookies. They would be put in the FedEx box, sent to the law firm, addressed to the lead attorney. Of course it would go right past the mail room. It’s a FedEx box, it’d go right to the attorney’s desk, it’d be sitting there. The attorney would open it up, be this amazing presentation of cookies which would end up in the break room. And then people would be eating these cookies and everyone’s saying, gosh, who brought these amazing cookies? And it was like, oh, this company’s scorpion. And everyone’s like, well, who’s scorpion? There’s this buzz all of a sudden about this company that sent this amazing gift. By the time a salesperson called, which was right after the gift arrived, the gatekeeper would, the energy would be shifted from who are you and who do you want to talk to? Oh, you’re from Scorpion. Let me put you through, he wants to talk to you.

John (12:51): So this may be a little in the weeds, but your research piece, like the list targeting the top 20, and do you have some favorite kind of go-to list sources or platforms or tools?

Corey (13:04): Bring up a really great point, which is that the list is typically thought of as a check the box, go do Apollo or go to ZoomInfo and download a list or just use their interface. The list is the strategy, meaning you have to spend some additional time on the list than you otherwise would. And so what I recommend doing what I teach people to do is to source a list from these third party list vendors like a ZoomInfo or Apollo download leads into your own software like Excel or Google Sheets, and then you want to qualify those leads even further from what they gave you. You want to look for things like what are some objective signals that I could see that would indicate that these businesses can afford my services, that they actually have the pain point that I saw? And you need to go through these on a very manual basis.

(13:59): Unfortunately, I know we all like to go super fast, but if you’re planning on sending cookies, and by the way, it’s not just sending one gift, it’s sending gifts for three years. It’s not a one and done. It’s an ongoing event. Every quarter you send ’em a gift. So that’s even more reason why you want to just slow way down on the list on list build. So that’s kind of how I do it. Another place where you can find a high quality list is every vertical market has associations. They have conferences. And as you begin to target these folks, you’ll be going to these events and you’ll begin to build lists from those experiences where you tend to get really high quality leads from.

John (14:38): And I tell a lot of people, there are a lot of agencies out there, like 10 more clients, good clients that would move the needle significantly, but they’re trying to a list of 5,000 as opposed to that’s list of a hundred. Let’s spend 500 bucks on each of them as opposed to $5 on spray and pray approach. Approach. And

Corey (14:58): That focus, and I think the focus is kind of the thing that helps you to stand out. The fact that you are sending a thoughtful gift, it can be a personalized gift to them. As I said, it’s not just once. They may ghost you on the first gift and that’s okay, but then the next quarter comes, you send ’em a second one and the next quarter comes, you send ’em another one. Eventually you’ve built up all this reciprocity and they’re going to at some point say, okay, I got to talk to John over there at Duct Tape Marketing, because clearly they want to talk to us and they’re being very persistent in a meaningful way. And we also know that people, every attorney, every dentist, they’re going to shop for a new agency once every three years, let’s just call it that. And that’s why the time horizon behind this strategy is it’s a three year program. By the time that every single person on your list has been gifted over a three year period, all of them had an opportunity to go back to market, and you want to be on that list.

John (15:57): So every industry has key people. Everybody knows maybe their authors, they’re big consultants, they’re advisors or accountants or something in the industry. First off, how important is it to get into some relationships with those folks and then second part of how do you do it?

Corey (16:17): Yeah, great question. So the part of the strategy, once you become a vertical market specialist, the benefit of targeting a vertical or one of the unique benefits is every vertical is kind of like a village and everyone kind of knows everybody else. There’s definitely a gossip train and so on and so forth. And in any one of these type of social circles of a vertical, there are going to be people that Malcolm Gladwell calls Mavens, and these mavens are people that everyone else looks to make a decision on who to hire. And so as a vertical market specialist, as you’re trying to build your reputation and visibility in that market, it makes sense to try and build a direct relationship with these mavens versus just going out to market and talking to anyone. I’ll give you an example. One of my clients was focused on the chain restaurant industry, the industry of restaurants that had multiple chains, and there was a maven in that industry.

(17:15): He’s the editor of a magazine called QSR, and he is prolific on LinkedIn and he’s at the keynoting, the conferences on the stages and whatnot. He’s everywhere. Well, as a result of identifying this person as really a maven that people look to as a tastemaker, we made a decision to try and find ways, genuine ways to build a relationship with that person. Of course, we did that over time, and that resulted in a lot of opportunities for my client. That’s number one. And then number two is what I call influential brands. And influential brands are effectively the same as a Maven, but it is sort of a big brand in that vertical that everyone else looks to. If it’s good enough, if this company’s going to hire this agency, well, they’re probably good enough for us. And I saw this firsthand at my last company when we were getting into the franchise world, multi-location businesses, and we landed the biggest, the most well-respected, multi-location franchise business in the industry as really our first client. It was through a relationship. And as a result of that, that led to a lot of really almost frictionless introductions in the franchise space, which ended up being a big growth engine for us.

John (18:29): It’s funny, over the years, I’ve targeted manufacturers that have distribution networks, and the same thing is bring them something, build a relationship, provide value, and they’re very motivated to help their distributors. And so all of a sudden it’s like you’re the person. And as you mentioned, it’s a layup to get the business because in some cases they even had co-op dollars to give them.

Corey (18:53): Yes, yes, exactly. The reason why these things are important is you need to focus first. Once you get clear on who you’re targeting, marketing becomes a whole lot easier. Which keywords to target, which conferences to go to, what associations to get involved in all these things become super clear. It’s those agencies that haven’t made this decision to narrow their focus on this vertical market that are challenged with this things I said, the water down positioning, the ineffective marketing.

John (19:23): So is it safe to say once you get good at one market, you can actually repeat this approach, or should you just stay narrow?

Corey (19:32): It completely depends on the founder and their ambitions. I’ll give you an example. The last agency I worked with where we ran this play, we started off with attorneys, and then it was home services and then franchise. And I think the way that I coach agencies on how to approach this is, number one, you want to get to about 3% of the total addressable market. So if there are a thousand businesses in this market, once you get to 30, that’s a signal that you probably have enough momentum in that vertical that you as the founder, could lift your head and go find another adjacent vertical. What I mean by adjacent is it’s a business that has the same problem that you’re already solving, or it’s a vertical that has the same problem but is not well-served. So the example, my last company was attorneys, local service businesses, and then home services, local service businesses, both depended on Google for new leads, both needed a great website, reputation management, all of those things. That’s what I mean by adjacent.

John (20:32): Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Well, Corey, it was great having you stop by the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. Is there someplace you want to invite people to connect with you and obviously find a copy of anyone? Not everyone.

Corey (20:43): Gosh, John. I appreciate that. So the best place to get plugged into more of this type of content is my book, which is called, as you mentioned, anyone, not everyone. I have the website, anyone, not, where you can go and learn more about the book. So I invite you to go there.

John (20:59): Awesome. Well, again, appreciate you taking a few moments, and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

Boss Beauty Unveiled: Empowering Women Through Inspiring Stories & Strategies

Boss Beauty Unveiled: Empowering Women Through Inspiring Stories & Strategies written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Lisa Mayer, an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and co-founder and CEO of Boss Beauties, a media and entertainment brand with roots in digital collectibles that inspires women and girls to be everything they want to be through impact programs, content, and consumer products.

With a mission to inspire women and girls worldwide, Lisa shares insights into the power of women’s empowerment and the strategies for fostering it in today’s world.

Key Takeaways

Lisa Mayer, CEO of Boss Beauties, shares actionable strategies for women’s empowerment in this episode. Drawing from her book: Boss Beauty: Inspiration to Be Everything You Want, we uncover embracing the fearless pursuit to cultivating confidence and kindness. In this girl powered episode listeners gain insights into the Boss Beauty mindset. Through mentorship and taking proactive steps towards empowerment, women and men can make a meaningful impact in their lives and communities. Join us on this transformative journey towards a brighter, and equal future for all.

Questions I ask Lisa Mayer:

[00:51] Describe this very visual book in your own words?

[03:09] Would you say that men can learn a lot from this book as well?

[03:40] With this book what does Boss Beauty hope to accomplish and bring into the world?

[05:29] What are digital collectibles, how and why are they featured in this book?

[08:14] What was the selection process like for the inspirational women that feature in this book ?

[14:30] Would you say that overcoming adversity is a common characteristic the women featured in this book share?

[16:54] Do you have some advice and strategies for the particular kinds of challenges women face in business as opposed to men?

[18:38] Would you say you have a superpower?

[20:33] How would you define boss beauty?

[22:05] Where can people connect with you and grab a copy of your book?



More About Lisa Mayer:


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

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by ActiveCampaign

Try ActiveCampaign free for 14 days with our special offer. Sign up for a 15% discount on annual plans until Mar 31,2024. Exclusive to new customers—upgrade and grow your business with ActiveCampaign today!


John (00:08): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Lisa Mayer. She’s an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and co-founder and CEO of Boss Beauties, a media and entertainment brand with roots in digital collectibles that inspires women and girls to be everything they want to be through impact programs, content and consumer products. We’re going to talk about her recently released Book Boss Beauty Inspiration to Be Everything You Want. So Lisa, welcome to the show.

Lisa (00:43): Thank you so much for having me, John. I’m excited to be here.

John (00:46): So the book, obviously we do video snippets, but most people are listening to this. So describe the book because it’s obviously a very visual book, more so than a lot of books. So describe the book.

Lisa (00:59): Yeah, absolutely, and I’ll show it on screen a little bit. I know you do some clips and so you can see it as well. So Boss Beauty, inspiration to Be Everything you Want. It officially launches on March 12th, just in time for Women’s History Month. We thought if we’re going to have the book launch at a special time, make it happen in Women’s History Month, which is exciting. But the book features inspiration advice, real world wisdom and quotes and inspiration from Incredible Boss Beauties that I’ve met along the way. Just many different role models from a lot of different industries. So we have Olympian, Allison Felix, who has some inspiration and a quote in the book. We have one of our board members, Randy Zuckerberg, so she’s featured in the book. We have a NASCAR race car driver, Julia Landor, who I attended actually one of her races a little over a year ago.

(02:05): And to be a female NASCAR race driver in that industry, it’s very competitive, so we wanted to feature her, but basically the book features a lot of wisdom and advice from incredible women role models in all different industries. The book also features the artwork from our Boss Beauties digital collectible collection. So we have 10,000 unique portraits, our Boss Beauties, and the book artwork is really bold and vibrant and bright, and so the book actually can live on coffee tables, desks, bookshelves, you name it, schools in boardrooms of women and girls of all ages. And I hope that it really inspires them when they’re going into a big meeting or maybe a big pitch or something that they’re a little nervous for. We want that book to be like, it’s cheering them on during those situations.

John (03:09): What about us guys? Don’t you think some men should actually acquire this book as well?

Lisa (03:14): A hundred percent I do. Yeah. And we have a lot of people in the Boss Beauties community that have gotten the book for their daughters, or maybe a woman they mentor, someone that they work with. So a hundred percent we’re building a community of women and men all over the world.

John (03:36): It’s probably self-evident somewhat, but I always like to ask a lot of authors, what would be a perfect accomplishment for this book? What do you want it to actually help bring to the world or do?

Lisa (03:48): Yeah, for me, the book is something where it’s really special to me that this book is getting our digital collectibles artwork that started in the digital realm out there into the world in a physical format. So I love that our digital collectibles will now live in this book and can be in bookstores, on desks all over where women and girls can pick it up physically. So just the fact that we’re getting this book out there is really special and meaningful to me. But my dream is to get this book out there to millions of women and girls all over the world. I dream really big. You never know if you put that dream out there, but I’d love it to be in schools, in businesses, colleges, all over the world and really to reach millions of women and girls. But the stories that I hear even about Boss Beauties reaching various girls in the community, it’s always really special. So even when we reach one woman or girl or motivate them, I love hearing those stories too. So of course any way we can make an impact at a grassroots level too that’s really meaningful,

John (05:13): Just need to get it in the hands of Taylor Swift at this point. I think that’s hundred percent.

Lisa (05:18): Yeah, that’s true. That’s a good point. They called it the Taylor Swift Effect, I think. Right?

John (05:27): It’s the new Oprah Effect. You’ve mentioned digital collectibles a few times. I know what they are, but maybe some people in the audience don’t really understand what that concept is, so maybe talk a little bit about what that actually is, and of course then how and why it’s featured in the book.

Lisa (05:43): Yeah, of course. Absolutely. So Boss Beauties, the way our company originally started, and right now we’re really building a media and entertainment brand. So we’ve branched out of where our roots were in Web3, but for anyone who’s listening that’s not familiar, boss Beauties initially started in the fall of 2021 and my son was about three months old. I’m going to share a little of the story too. That’s perfect. So my son was about three months old. It was not actually the most ideal time at that moment to start a new company, launch a new venture, but I had followed John, I’m sure you saw it’s super interesting to follow what was happening in the Web3 space with NFTs. We are now calling them digital collectibles, but just seeing the rise of digital assets with digital artwork. I mean, people were really buying digital assets. And so at that time, we launched Boss Beauties.

(06:48): We launched 10,000 Digital Collectibles again at that time known as NFTs, and we sold them and we built this global community. And what that really means is that people were able to acquire a digital asset. I mean, we all understand when we’d go to the store or buy something on Amazon maybe, or to buy new clothing, or maybe we buy a new phone or we all understand and really grasp what it means to buy and purchase a physical product that we can hold in our hand. That’s not something that any of us need explaining, right? But digital assets, that has been something that’s been growing over the last few years. And so consumers started to buy digital assets in the form of digital collectibles. And it’s really interesting because you can actually track who owns a particular digital asset on the blockchain. So if you’re looking and if you’re listening and you don’t see this, I’m showing it to John, but I’m showing him one NFT if we can actually see who owns these particular boss beauties because there’s a certificate of ownership, which is really cool.

John (08:14): How did you go about selecting, you mentioned some of the people that were going to meet in the book. Did you have a criteria or a process, or did you just want a lot of diversity in who was represented, or did you have a process because there’s obviously a fair number in the book.

Lisa (08:34): Yeah, the way I first started is thinking about some of the real life Boss beauties in my own life and people that mentored me and just people that I really looked up to. So I had been reading a lot about Allison Felix, who’s actually the most, Alison holds the most medals of any track and field athlete that has competed in the Olympics, I believe of all time. I’d have to look up that stat. But Alison really inspired me with her journey, and Allison in particular, she actually had to hide her pregnancy while she was competing and training for the Olympics, and I just thought there’s a lot to her story that was really inspiring and how she’s spoken out for athletes that are also moms. I mean, anyone who’s listening, you can look up Alison, but just read her story. It’s really inspiring, but that’s just one example. I really wanted to feature Real Life Boss beauties and different role models that have a story to tell and that inspire me personally and a lot of different careers too. I wanted this book to inspire women and girls from all different industries and careers. So even if you don’t want to be a NASCAR race car driver or be an Olympic athlete, you can still learn a lot from the stories of the women that are featured as well.

John (10:09): It’s my pleasure to welcome a new sponsor to the podcast. Our friends at ActiveCampaign. ActiveCampaign helps small teams power big businesses with the must have platform for intelligent marketing automation. We’ve been using ActiveCampaign for years here at Duct Tape Marketing to power our subscription forms, email newsletters and sales funnel drip campaigns. ActiveCampaign is that rare platform that’s affordable, easy to use, and capable of handling even the most complex marketing automation needs, and they make it easy to switch. They provide every new customer with one-on-one personal training and free migrations from your current marketing automation or email marketing provider. You can try ActiveCampaign for free for 14 days and there’s no credit card required. Just visit tape. That’s right. Duct Tape Marketing podcast listeners who sign up via that link. We’ll also receive 15% off an annual plan if purchased by March 31st, 2024. That’s tape. Now, this offer is limited to new active campaign customers only. So what are you waiting for? Fuel your growth, boost revenue, and save precious time by upgrading to active campaign today. You have mentioned mentorship a number of times. I’m guessing you’re a big fan of the practice. Do you believe that that’s an essential development tool for, I mean for anyone, obviously you’re talking about women and girls, but really do you feel like mentorship is something everybody ought to pursue, really from both being mentee and mentored?

Lisa (11:50): A hundred percent. Yeah. I think, and mentorship is something that’s really helped me in my own career and just reaching out to different role models and asking them their advice and asking them for their feedback, and really getting into those rooms where I could meet with mentors that have been further along in my own journey. But I think one of the things I would mention in addition to mentorship is actually just getting access to people in these professions. So let me give you an example. Our company, boss Beauties, recently hosted internship. It was a paid internship for five students that are studying computer science, and it’s actually called the Sprint internship. It’s like a sprint internship. We hosted it in partnership with this nonprofit Breakthrough Tech, which has an incredible mission. But in that internship, what we tried to do is set up ways for those students to get access to people from all different industries and careers.

(13:00): One of our investors, he actually was on the founding team at founding Macintosh team. He was a longtime advisor to Steve Jobs building, iTunes, and a lot of the technologies that Apple launched. So that’s just one example, but we set up those interns to have a mentorship chat or conversation with that investor of ours, James, who’s just a phenomenal role model. And we like those types of things to be set up in a lot of the things we do because they’re then getting access to incredible people from different industries, getting to learn from them, even just getting to meet them and ask them questions or spend time with them. We’ve brought students down to the New York Stock Exchange to meet women in the finance industry, and sometimes not just the mentorship side, but getting to go into those buildings and see themselves in the New York Stock Exchange or in Apple or in these boardrooms and the companies that they want to work at. We also think that goes a long way as well as paying them paid internships, opportunities like that, that also compensate them for their work and their talents.

John (14:28): Did you find that of the women represented in the book, did you find that there are common traits, common characteristics, grit, overcoming adversity? Are there a handful that show up a lot?

Lisa (14:40): I love this question because I would absolutely say that’s true, John. What’s really interesting is that some of the women featured in this book, their actual, their expertise is very different, like their technical expertise, right? Right. Alison Felix is this Olympic athlete that clearly can run a lot faster than I can. And then you have someone like Julia who is this competitive NASCAR race car driver. Her skill sets are very different than Allison’s. And then you look at some of the others that are in the book, there’s Olympic softball player, there are CEOs, women in technology, but there is a common thread of what I’ve observed in all of these boss beauties and women, and I a hundred percent agree and go into your question and saying, I would say that grit and resilience, those are the two things that I notice that’s common in everybody in this book. And just the fact that they don’t give up, and they might have different technical skill sets and different knowledge and things they’re actually doing in their industry, but they all have those common traits of having that resilience and not giving up and continuing to keep going.

John (16:11): Yeah, I mean, I think you could mark those as just success traits in general for people who overcome, because you start a business, you have to have a lot of grit. You’re going to have a lot of resistance, you’ve got to get up. Again, people, everyone starts in a different place. Some people have great advantages to be able to get to where they are. Some people really have to overcome things that are unimaginable and sometimes in some cases. So do you ever coach people on strategies in particular women, because unfortunately, as you’ve noted, women have to in business even still today in 2024, still have to overcome a lot of things that men don’t. Do you ever give any advice or strategies for how to overcome those types of challenges as women, particularly in the business arena?

Lisa (17:03): Yeah, I do actually. And I’ve talked a lot to different women that are entrepreneurs and founding companies specifically, but not just for entrepreneurs. I think one of the things that I’ve coached them on is showing up with confidence. So I learned a lot about confidence early on in my entrepreneurial journey because as an entrepreneur, you’re not going into a big meeting with an established company name behind you. You’re not going into that pitch with saying, I worked with Apple, or I work with Disney or Barbie, or whatever the brand is. As an entrepreneur, you’re going in without that recognizable name. That’s an established brand or corporation that someone already knows. And so a lot of it is the confidence that you have and the conviction that you have in your ideas and in yourself. So that is one of the things that I’ve coached other entrepreneurs on as well as other women in business. And I think that’s a big part. Of course, knowing, having the expertise, there’s a lot of technical expertise and knowledge about finance and business that comes into play. Clearly can’t just be confidence, you need to back it up. But I would say that’s one of the things that I’ve coached women that I’ve mentored on along the way.

John (18:38): Would you say you have a superpower?

Lisa (18:41): That’s a great question. I have to think about that. Oh my goodness. I think all of us have a superpower, right, John?

John (18:49): That’s where I was headed because a lot of, when I heard you talk about you have to have that confidence, well, a lot of that confidence comes from knowing your unique ability or your unique strength that you bring. And so a lot of people do characterize that as a superpower. So that’s where I was headed with that.

Lisa (19:06): Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think, you know what one of my superpowers is goes back to that last question because one of my superpowers is being able to envision something that’s not happening today, and maybe it seems almost impossible that you could achieve it at the stage you’re at right now. But I do really put those things on my vision board. A few years ago, I put it on my vision board that Boss Beauties, which was a brand new company which partner with Mattel and Barbie. And clearly Barbie was a much larger company. Mattel is a much larger company than Boss Beauties was. But I wrote that down and a lot of people said I was a little crazy. I write down some of these big dreams and goals, and then I don’t see it as impossible. I truly feel like nothing’s impossible if you really keep going and don’t give up and find the right way to achieve those dreams.

John (20:15): And I mean, it’s improbable if you don’t at least start with that thought, right?

Lisa (20:21): Yeah, definitely.

John (20:23): So tell people where, well, one of the questions I probably should have asked you in the very beginning was even just this idea of Boss Beauty. What is a boss beauty? How do you define that? How does somebody become their own boss? Beauty? Is there a true definition or is that up to me to define?

Lisa (20:48): So two answers. I’ll share with you how we’ve defined Boss Beauty in our book, but I don’t want it to stop there. I really want people to form their own definition of what that means to them. So I’m going to show you the book. Here’s one of the pages and some of the artwork definition of a Boss Beauty. And again, this is just how we’ve defined it, but we said Boss Beauty is a woman who is in fearless pursuit of her dreams, one who is kind. I added the kind. I thought that was important, kind, confident, bold, brave, has grit and never gives up. She is pursuing her many passions and knows her worth. So that’s how we’ve defined it. But again, I want it to feel personal to anybody. What do you believe being a boss beauty means to you?

John (21:49): Yeah. So it’s really, rather than a definition, it’s more of an attitude probably. Right. Would be a way to look at it. That’s

Lisa (21:55): A great, yeah, I’m going to start using that. I’ll credit you though, John. Don’t worry. That’s

John (22:01): Quite all right. So Lisa, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. You want to invite people where they can find the book and maybe connect with you and learn more about your work?

Lisa (22:10): Yeah, absolutely. So you can find Boss Beauties online at boss beauties com, and then from the Boss Beauties website, you’ll find links to pre-order the book. You can find us on social. Our handle is Boss Beauties, and then my handle is Lisa Mayer. And then finally, I want to share one really cool thing that I’m passionate about and excited about for the book is that we are going to be hosting different book chats. We’re calling them Book Boss Beauties. Book bashes, kind of like a Boss Beauties book party. But we’re bringing together different women in business, different industries where they can bring their daughters, they can bring women and girls they mentor or maybe a mentee at their company, bring together and gather the boss beauties in their world. So we’re going to be setting these up virtually and even in person. So if anyone who’s listening is interested or wants to be a part of what we’re building here, would love for you to reach out. There will be parts of our website where you can sign up to get involved as well. Right.

John (23:26): Awesome. Well, again, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by the podcast, and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

How To Produce Better Content With Collaborative AI

How To Produce Better Content With Collaborative AI written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Kate Bradley Chernis, former rock and roll DJ turned founder and CEO of a revolutionary AI tool reshaping the landscape of content marketing today, Lately AI. With over two decades of experience in media and marketing, Kate brings a unique perspective to the table and shares invaluable insights on the evolution of content marketing and the intersection of aesthetic versus functional answers.

Embark on a transformative journey as we discuss the evolution of content marketing and the role of AI in shaping its future. Discover how Kate’s background in radio and storytelling paved the way for her innovative approach to crafting personalized social media messaging.

Key Takeaways

In this episode, you’ll gain actionable strategies for cutting through the content clutter, leveraging AI to boost engagement, and understanding the symbiotic relationship between humans and machines in content creation.

Learn how to harness the power of collaborative AI to enhance your marketing efforts, navigate the challenges of data privacy, and stay ahead of the curve in an ever-changing digital landscape. Kate’s expertise provides a roadmap for marketers to adapt, evolve, and thrive in the dynamic world of content marketing.

Stay tuned as we uncover the secrets to crafting compelling content, driving meaningful engagement, and achieving sustainable growth in today’s competitive marketplace.


Questions I ask Kate Bradley Chernis:

[00:57] Exactly how did you go from DJ to business founder?

[06:06] What’s your take on, how AI is changing the whole landscape of content marketing?

[11:53] As a social selling platform that uses AI what is Lately’s key differentiator from other brands?

[15:39] How much does the market currently understand the difference between public data vs privacy?

[18:59] How do you best describe what Lately does?

[20:15] Do you think that working in an industry that is evolving so quickly, makes it even harder to evolve as a business?

[21:52] Where can people connect with you?


More About Kate Bradley Chernis:

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

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by ActiveCampaign

Try ActiveCampaign free for 14 days with our special offer. Sign up for a 15% discount on annual plans until Mar 31,2024. Exclusive to new customers—upgrade and grow your business with ActiveCampaign today!


John (00:08): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Kate Bradley Chernis, former rock and roll, DJ, turn founder and CEO of lately, AI tool that uses proprietary language models to craft personalized social media messaging. Lately, AI ensures data privacy by not relying on public data sets. Kate’s also been a guest speaker at numerous industry events and organizations including Walmart, Ericsson, and Harvard University, and I don’t know, maybe third time back here on the Duct Tape Marketing podcast as well. Welcome back, Kate.

Kate (00:45): Hey, John. So great to lay eyes on you. I feel like it’s been a little while.

John (00:50): It’s been

Kate (00:51): So,

John (00:52): I know you get tired of telling this story because it’s the first thing everybody always asks you, but I know people are going, wait a minute, rock and roll, DJ now founder of a company. How do you do that?

Kate (01:01): I’ve gotten better at telling the story too, which is important I think. And my co-founder teases me. I do often bury the lead. So yes, guilty is charged. I was broadcasting to 20 million listeners a day with XM Satellite Radio. I was the first music director for a channel called The Loft. But what was interesting to me about radio was the Theater of the Mind, which a lot about being in podcasting, but to clarify for everybody else. So the theater of the mind is the act of the imagination playing a role either when you’re listening or reading, not when you’re watching tv, for example. And what you’re doing is your imagination is filling in the blanks that you can’t see, right? You’re imagining what the characters look like or what they’re doing. It’s why the reason when you see a movie and you’ve already read the book, you’re kind of mad because it’s never as good as what you’d imagined, right?

John (01:55): Well, or a lot of people, I love to listen to baseball as opposed to watch it because baseball announcers are so much better at describing what’s going on because they have to.

Kate (02:04): They have to. And they’re so crafty. I mean, that’s a real sport in itself. Exactly. Great point. And when I was in radio, I’m old enough so that there wasn’t social media when I first started or the internet and you couldn’t look people up. And so we would kind of mess around and play tricks on the listeners and make up these scenarios. It was fun. And I had written hundreds of commercials because I learned quickly that was how you made money in radio. And I was a fiction writing major, and I saw these parallels between wielding the mic and wielding the pen and listening and reading. And my boss, I was number one in our format, which was very rare because it was called AAA or Adult Album Alternative. There’s only a handful of stations in the country, but

John (02:53): We were, and even fewer women.

Kate (02:55): And even fewer women. Yeah. It was just totally random thing I fell into. But country and rock, those stations are number one. And so my bosses were like, what are you doing? And I’m like, well, I did know what I was doing. I threw out their playlists and I was running the whole show because all the content was produced by me, all the commercials, all the drops, everything during my time, but I looked into it more. This is a long story. I hope it’s interesting, and I read this book called This Is Your Brain on Music. You guys remember, I think Daniel Leviton did that hard read. It’s a F read, but it’s about the neuroscience of music and music listening. And I learned something interesting about the parallel of music listening and theater of the mind. All of this relates to lately somehow, but I’ll share it. So when your brain listens to a new song, John, what songs do you like, by the way? Are you classic rock guy like I am?

John (03:48): Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I listened to The Loft and occasionally jump over and listen to Earl Bailey.

Kate (03:53): That was my station. Yeah, I love Earl. He’s so great. Yeah, so great. Oh my God, you’re making me reminisce. So great quality music, rock and roll. That’s for I’d say intelligent rock and roll. Let’s say what I was learning from Daniel was that when your brain listens to a new song, it must instantly access every other song you’ve ever heard before. And it’s trying to index that new song in the library of the memory of your brain. This is happening in a moment, right?

John (04:22): Makes sense. And of

Kate (04:22): Course, in order to access all that memory, it’s pulling on nostalgia and emotion, obviously memory, all those things that create trust and trust is why we buy now. Guess what? The theater of the mind kicks in. Same thing happens, nostalgia, memory, emotion, trust. And when you’re doing a good job on the mic, John, you actually make your listeners feel as though they’re talking. You’re to them directly that this one way street is a two way street and they have ownership in the conversation and writing is the same thing, and it’s a complicated feat to do it well because you’re talking to nobody but also somebody specific. That’s the magic. So I took these ideas to a little company called Walmart and I got them 130% ROI year over year for three years with what became the prototype for lately.

John (05:19): Screw it. We’re not going to talk about lately. Let’s just talk about the Jay Hawks latest

Kate (05:24): Novels talk. Oh my God, you’re so funny. I took out their last, well, I dunno if it was their last record, but the one with cloud something cloud, it was their last really poppy record from the nineties. And I had that in my, I still have a CD player in my car and I was rocking to that record. I love it so much. Any other Jayhawks fans listening to us, I wonder

John (05:47): Of a certain age

Kate (05:49): Of a certain age. Yeah, for sure. But I love that record and it got panned for being too poppy, but I think it’s a real lot of gold in there.

John (05:57): Absolutely. So let’s talk about content marketing. AI seems like daily is changing. I mean, content marketing has changed dramatically over the last decade or so, but certainly AI seems to be changing it every day. What’s your take on how it’s changing really the whole landscape of content marketing?

Kate (06:14): Well, I mean, thanks a lot chat GBT, because now everybody can make more garbage than ever before. They made our jobs a lot harder. The task for marketers, the challenge has always been how do we cut through the noise? And now there’s just so that certainly has changed the landscape. One thing that I’m seeing, and I wonder if you are, which is astonishing to me, the laziness is not changing. So it’s specifically regenerative AI and text generative ai, which is where I live. People still hate writing. They don’t want to do it. But also their value behind it is save time as opposed to be more effective. That’s shocking. And honestly, I’ll ask our own clients this question all the time and the CEO or the CRO, they want to make more money, but the actual users are thinking of save time and getting them to be aligned is a challenge.

John (07:11): My take on this a little bit, I agree with you, at least we’re in this phase right now of more noise, but I think eventually all things people are going to go, it’s pretty easy to separate noise from signal, maybe even more so now, right? Because writing quality content still takes strategic thinking. That’s right. And I think it makes people who do strategic thinking even more valued, even though right now there a lot of ’em are feeling sort of undervalued.

Kate (07:39): So on parallel with that, so there’s this symbiotic relationship between AI and humans who can think strategically and analytically and they rely upon each other and it’s called collaborative ai. This is the year of collaborative ai, in my opinion. We built collaborative AI into lately from the beginning, which, but it’s the idea of a human analyzing and course correcting what the AI generates so that it can boost the learning. Fascinating about what you said, which is the number one vacuum of skills across the globe is guess what? The ability to analyze. And the reason that is is because we have, this is back to laziness too. We’ve become a culture unable to identify problems because for so long, especially in corporate life, it was like, don’t bring me a problem, bring me a solution. So even when I have a friend who has some teenage daughters and when they need to go, they know they can Google the answer to anything, but they don’t know what to type in, right?

John (08:49): Well, and that’s so many things brought up there. What I tell people all the time is what we’re left to provide is context. That context cannot be provided by chat GPT. And so to your point of the search, I mean a lot of it is the right context produces the right answer, but these machines are basically just going into a database and saying, here’s what I think the answer is. Whereas we are saying, well no, here’s the real problems the customer is telling us they’re struggling with and why our solution or whatever it is we’re selling is the answer for them. And I think short of having that understanding, it’s a crap shoot what you’re going to get back.

Kate (09:29): Yeah, I mean that, thank you. I’m going to steal the context because it is so true. Someone was just asking me the other day, well, should I second guess everything that lately generates for me? And I said, yes, you are still the king, the humans. We are still the king of the food chains. Of course. And he’s like, well, won’t AI know better than me? And I’m like, never. No. All AI is good at doing is now is synthesizing scale really,

John (09:56): Right? Yeah. In fact, I’ve been for a long time because I don’t really think it’s AI yet to be truthful. It’s not really artificial intelligence, turn it around. It’s more informed assistance is kind of how I talk about it. It’s my pleasure to welcome a new sponsor to the podcast. Our friends at ActiveCampaign. ActiveCampaign helps small teams power big businesses with the must have platform for intelligent marketing automation. We’ve been using ActiveCampaign for years here at Duct Tape Marketing to power our subscription forms, email newsletters and sales funnel drip campaigns. ActiveCampaign is that rare platform that’s affordable, easy to use, and capable of handling even the most complex marketing automation needs. And they make it easy to switch. They provide every new customer with one-on-one personal training and free migrations from your current marketing automation or email marketing provider. You can try ActiveCampaign for free for 14 days and there’s no credit card required.

(10:57): Just visit active tape. That’s right. Duct Tape Marketing podcast listeners who sign up via that link will also receive 15% off an annual plan if purchased by March 31st, 2024. That’s tape. Now this offer is limited to new active campaign customers only. So what are you waiting for? Fuel your growth, boost revenue and save precious time by upgrading to active campaign today. Alright, so I’m going to ask you a really hard lately question. You and I started talking about lately three or four years ago at least, and at that 0.3 or four years ago, what lately was doing was very cutting edge. People didn’t necessarily understand it, but it definitely produced a result that was very cutting edge. Fast forward to today, everything you buy now has AI in it, supposedly like your detergent now has AI in it. I think if you buy it, so what’s the differentiator or what’s your stay ahead cutting edge play.

Kate (11:59): Yeah, yeah. So I told you it was going to be a hard question. Great question. Well, a couple of things. Yeah, it’s a hard one and there’s functional answers and then there’s kind of aesthetic answers I’m going to call them. But so functionally we’re the only generative AI that I know of where we have a continuous performance learning loop plugged in so that the results that we generate for you are always tied to your personal analytics or the analytics of your company, which is to say it’s never out of thin air. All other generative AI doesn’t know you in any way and can never give you results that are essentially really meaningful. The other component there is the collaborative ai. So because we built that into the product, the whole product originally we have kind of pole vaulted over everybody else. Harvard Business Review just released an article about collaborative AI citing lately as a leader and one of the studies they did show that collaborative AI outperforms AI alone two to seven X every time.

(13:02): But on the sort of aesthetic side, again, what’s really interesting to me is that the save time piece. So of course we save time everywhere else, but that is not our cutting edge leg up. The leg up is we show you why it’s effective, what’s the DNA of the messaging that will get you the highest response. And I think what we’ve done a poor job of is actually leveraging how well we do that and what that value is. So I’ve called upon my engineering team for this year to actually do a better job of getting people to understand this information and how to use it. Fascinating to me is I can show you these words, John. I can show you the ideas, the send, the structures, all the things that will get you the most engagement, but people then don’t know what to do with it, which is like to me, duh.

(13:58): But that is the crux, right? The last answer to your question is going even deeper here. So I’m planning an integration with my friend David Allison, who owns the value graphics database and value graphics are identifying how to group people by what they care about as opposed to demographics, which is more insightful, radically more insightful, and they consult the United Nations. And so some characteristics would be like if I care about the environment and you’re selling me lipstick, you want to sell me lipstick that talks about how great it is for the environment, or if you’re selling me lipstick and I care about family, you want to mention that the family company has been around for a hundred years passed on by daughter, whatever. And so we’re working on a way of integrating these values inside lately, so you can get more of that why and understand who your target audience is and why are they responding to the content we’re generating for you? Kind of nerdy, I don’t know. I’m excited about

John (15:02): This. No, but I think you’re absolutely right. I mean, I’ve been saying for years, I mean my target market is based on behavior, not on how old somebody is. It’s what they value. It’s do they invest in the community? I mean do they invest in their industry? Those are how we actually identify some of those behaviors. And I feel like that’s a way to actually niche down is to focus on behaviors. So having obviously tools that, and I’m guessing that you’re going to go into personalization at some point with that level of segmentation as well. Let me ask you, I said in the intro, in your bio I mentioned the idea of data privacy. I know it’s a big deal. How much has the market perceived this idea of public data sets versus privacy versus, I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Kate (15:46): Yeah, pretty huge. And it’s another arena of AI where everybody thinks they know all about it but they don’t, which is kind of the whole trend of the last year. So some companies come to us with an AI task force and that has to be part of one of the initial calls where we’re checking the boxes for them, the safety boxes with their legal and IT teams, which we check a lot of those boxes. Then there’s other companies like PWC who’ve gone full on into AI and they don’t seem to really care, which is, and then there’s a lot of companies where they know people are using it even though there’s maybe a ban on Chachi PT throughout the company, but people are using it anyways. So there’s nothing consistent for sure. My husband actually just bought Chachi PT for his phone because he didn’t want to put on his work computer, but he wants to be able to use it for work to help him do things faster, smarter, better. Of course, I think there’s a lot of that going on. What I understand,

John (16:52): I mean it’s stupid. It’s stupid. I mean it is like I can write a formula in Excel or I can just dump all this in and say give me the answer. So I use it all the time for stuff like that. But maybe we better back up just a minute because I asked that question assuming a lot and assuming that people knew what that really meant. So when I go to chat, GPT, everything that’s being put in there is helping teach the entire language model and everything from my statistics to my Google analytics that I’m getting analyzed. I mean that’s all just being fed. And then theoretically in some fashion, anybody has access to it that, I mean not specifically to it, but it’s feeding the machine that then is going to produce something. Whereas the private data set that is if I come to lately and I put that same kind of information in there, it’s only going to be used to build my personal model. Is that the way to sort of explain it? That’s

Kate (17:46): Right. That’s correct. Yeah. We don’t take any of your information and muddy it with anybody. And the one thing we can see is the patterns that if things are working well for you and they’re working well for another customer, we can see those patterns but we don’t share them with you individually. We would take the knowledge and share it at large. And so that’s been a real win for us by the way, because I’ve been asked to actually give courses on AI to educate companies on why that exact thing matters. I think David, not David Allison, David Meerman Scott who was investor and friend, he put it succinctly where to help people understand, he was like, listen, there’s only two questions that matter whose data and whose math with chat CBT, it’s the world’s, it’s your data, it’s the world’s data, everybody’s data and general math like a general generic math with lately it’s your private data and then our math on top of it.

John (18:49): So I need two more questions. I’m going to ask you the first one just because we haven’t, you and I have talked a number of times, it’s that idea of like, oh yeah, we have listeners too. If somebody came to you and said, lately I kind of heard of that, what does lately do? How would you describe what lately does?

Kate (19:05): Oh, I’m so bad at this. It’s like the shoemaker has no shoes, but I’m evolving. So lately learns the patterns of when you write well, what helps you do that. And it also learns the patterns of what your unique audience will actually reply to on social media. And then we help you evolve that model by repurposing long form content and identifying what part of that content will actually get you the highest possible engagement on social. Awesome. How did that go? That was

John (19:35): Great. So the output could be a blog. No, that was very good. It was still maybe a little philosophical. It’s long.

Kate (19:42): I know.

John (19:43): So the output, the end output is a blog post or is a LinkedIn post or is a X post, right?

Kate (19:49): Yeah, the output is a social media post and so much more. I mean it’s really the insights to know this is why we have investors like you and David Merman, Scott and others, is like there’s so much potential in what we’ve identified. How can we evolve the product to really give you more

John (20:07): So an entrepreneurial question to send us out. Do you think, I know you haven’t done this a hundred times, do you think that working in an industry that is evolving so quickly makes it even harder to evolve a business?

Kate (20:24): Oh, I mean the challenges are, yes, for sure, but there’s so many other smaller challenges that I didn’t expect that seem to me to eclipse that some of it’s being a female entrepreneur, let’s be honest. Some of it’s working through a pandemic. I think the way that we come at this from radio, from this totally unfathomable background gives us a huge insight as a company, not just me at how we go at AI and we go at it very humanly. That’s just how we did it from the beginning. So I love that what we’re able to see about the benefits of it our often inside out of what everybody else is seeing. And I feel really proud about that.

John (21:10): Yeah, that’s really interesting because I do think a lot of people approach this as what can the machine do? And I think that you’re actually saying our point of view is how do we get the output that’s going to have the most impact from a neuroscience point of view? And I think that’s a harder one to explain probably, but it’s certainly more impactful than a machine view for sure.

Kate (21:33): I just got a Kennedy chill, so not what can machine do for you, but what can you do for your machine?

John (21:40): I like it. I like it. Okay. T-shirts. Start printing right now. We have to. Alright, Kate, it’s great catching up with you. Obviously we’ve mentioned lately do AI numerous times. Is there anywhere else somebody should connect with you?

Kate (21:55): They can find me in all the places LinkedIn. I’m just playing Kate Bradley and tell me that you met me with John and that we can be friends.

John (22:03): Okay, awesome. Well it was great catch up with you again. Hopefully we’ll run into you soon out there on the road.

Strategic Fitness: Elevate Your Acumen, Allocation and Action

Strategic Fitness: Elevate Your Acumen, Allocation and Action written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Rich Howarth, a renowned business strategist, and CEO, known for his groundbreaking work in strategic thinking and leadership. Rich Horwath is founder and CEO of the Strategic Thinking Institute He is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of eight books on strategic thinking, including his most recent work, STRATEGIC: The Skill to Set Direction, Create Advantage, and Achieve Executive Excellence. Rich reveals his game-changing 3A Method to elevate your business acumen, resource allocation, and strategic action. Join us as we explore the intricacies of strategic fitness and how it can revolutionize your approach to business success.


Key Takeaways

In this episode, Rich and I discuss the transformative 3A Method, emphasizing the mastery of business acumen, strategic resource allocation, and purposeful strategic action. Learn the importance of consistently evolving your business acumen, reallocate resources strategically throughout the year, and prioritize actions aligned with your strategic goals. Rich introduces the concept of the Strategic Quotient (SQ) as a tool to measure and enhance strategic thinking skills. Whether you’re a seasoned executive or an aspiring entrepreneur, these insights provide a roadmap to elevate your strategic fitness and navigate your business towards unparalleled success.


Questions I ask Rich Horwath:

[00:51] What’s your definition of strategic thinking?

[01:52] Periodic or Lifetime practice, how often does a leader think strategically?

[03:37] How do you balance the reality of long term and short term planning?

[04:53] How would you differentiate between strategic thinking and strategic planning?

[06:31] Why use fitness as a metaphor when describing strategic thinking?

[07:34] What are the 4 fitness arenas of strategic thinking?

[10:38] What areas would you suggest strategic thinkers focus on?

[12:23] What are some practical examples of organizational fitness?

[15:19] What are some practical examples of communication fitness?

[17:19] How do you begin consulting a beginner in strategic thinking?

[20:40] Where can people connect with you and obtain a copy of your book?



More About Rich Horwath:


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

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by ActiveCampaign

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John (00:08): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Rich Howarth. He’s the founder and CEO of the Strategic Thinking Institute, where he is a strategy facilitator, speaker, advisor, and coach to executive leadership teams. He’s a New York Times and Wall Street Journal, bestselling author of eight books on strategic thinking, including the most recent work we’re going to talk a little bit about today, strategic, the skill to set direction, create advantage, and achieve executive excellence. So Rich, welcome to the show.

Rich (00:42): John, great to be with you. Thanks so much for having me.

John (00:46): So I’m just going to start with this because if I ask 10 people, I’ll get 10 different answers. What’s your definition of strategy or strategic thinking?

Rich (00:55): Yeah, so strategy for me is the intelligent allocation of resources through unique system of activity to achieve a goal. So simply put, strategy is how you plan to achieve your goal. And as I’ve read your books in the past, going back to Duct Tape Marketing, you talk about strategy before tactics, and I love in there you always talked about the how, not the what. And I think I’m a big believer in that as well. I think too often, as you talk about in your books, and I share a little bit as well in my books, we sometimes see people mistaking their mission, their vision, their goals, their objectives for strategy, trying to be number one in the market, trying to be the premier provider of X, and instead we really need about think about how are we going to get there. That’s really the strategy. So again, I’ve appreciated all the insights you’ve shared over the years on this. I think it’s really helped a lot of us in the field.

John (01:46): Well, I appreciate that. So let’s get into a few more kind of logistic aspects. Is this something that you do once a year, once every three years? I mean, is there a rhythm? Does it never end? I’d love to hear your thoughts on kind of the how often question.

Rich (02:03): Yeah, John, and you hit it on the head initially. You talked about strategy and strategic thinking. So to me, strategy is something that you set and really, if you’ve done your thinking, it should be something that stays in place for a long period of time. Where I think a lot of people could use a jumpstart is the strategic thinking part. So just because we have our strategic direction doesn’t mean that we want to take our eyes off the road. And I know in one of your last books you talk about the importance. You’ve got a great five step process, map, and uncover are two of the first steps in your process. And I think those are great starting points. When we think about strategy, when we think about mapping, as you talk about, you’ve got to understand what’s my situation around me. And I think too often we get our head buried in the internal stuff or we’re so reactive to fire drills with customers that we fail to remember what is the long-term strategy that we’ve got in place. And so strategic thinking for me is really our ability to generate new insights or new learnings on a regular basis that help us keep and achieve that competitive advantage. So I think it’s a great point that you bring up to me strategy, something that we set, but strategic thinking is something we should be doing day in and day out. We need to stay hungry on how we’re going to get better and learn.

John (03:23): It is funny, there are some models out there that talk about strategic planning. I think there’s one very popular one that talks about what’s 10 years from now look like. I’ve had a lot of small business owners, they don’t know what next quarter looks like. How do you balance long-term and reality of short-term? Right,

Rich (03:42): Right. Yeah, it’s interesting you bring up, there was just a study by pwc, they surveyed 4,700 CEOs and it was interesting, 45%. So nearly half of the CEOs said that they did not think they would be in business in 10 years unless they significantly evolved the way that they do business. So one of the things that we’ve got to be thinking about is how are we evolving in, what I like to think is the business model, but it’s really simple. It’s how do we create value, how do we deliver value and how do we capture value? So what I like to do is really create that strategy tuneup. So just like we get our car tuned up on a regular basis, what I recommend is quarterly get together with your team, take a couple hours, maybe it’s over lunch and go through just some of the basic fundamentals of the business. Have the customers thinking and actions changed? Has the competitive landscape changed at all? What’s going on within our company? What’s working, what’s not? That takes a couple hours, but that’s a great way to tune up the strategy, to understand should we be doing things differently, especially when it comes to creating and delivering value to our customers.

John (04:55): And I guess that’s probably as good a description of strategic thinking as opposed to strategic planning. You might have a strategic plan, but the strategic thinking is something, it’s the flexibility, it’s the adaptability, it’s the need to have to evolve and mature, isn’t it?

Rich (05:12): Yeah. I love the words you used there, flexibility, adaptability, that’s something too. It’s that catch 22, as we get older, as we get more experience, we tend to lose that adaptability and that flexibility. And so one of the things I recommend to people is get some perspective outside of your industry. So read a journal in architecture or science or technology if you’re not in those fields, and think about how are those people assessing their problems, their challenges. I’m a big believer too in studying nature, this whole idea of biomimicry, how can we take the challenges that we face? So getting more customers, creating a better sales funnel, closing more leads. When we think about nature, how has nature accomplish some of those things? How does nature, how does a species, how does a duck go from the winter to the summer? What do they do? Do they drop feathers, do they get faster? All of those things can teach us if we take the time to step back and think about how other people are doing some things as well. So I think that’s a big thing. Like you said, adaptability and versatility are really important, but we need to remember as we gain more experience, we have to continue to push ourselves out of that comfort zone.

John (06:26): You use the fitness metaphor quite a bit. I want to talk about the way you’ve broken the book up a little bit. Is there any particular reason why the fitness metaphor works in strategic thinking in your mind?

Rich (06:38): Well, one of the reasons is, again, we think about CEOs and you work a lot of CEOs. I work with some as well. What’s interesting is the average CEO exercises for 45 minutes a day, which I found was pretty impressive. I mean, that’s a good chunk of time each day to be exercising. But what we find is that when it comes to practicing or building our business fitness, and you’ve seen this, John, I’m sure in your world, people, we don’t tend to practice. We tend to play all the time. So you’ve got football playoffs or baseball playoffs, they’re practicing 90% of the time and they’re in competition 10% of the time. But in business, we’re on that activity treadmill all the time. And what I’ve found is the best leaders, they jump off that treadmill, they take their team with them and they think about how are some ways that we can get better? And they devote some time to training, to development, to a lot of the things that you’ve talked about and you’ve helped people with over the years as well.

John (07:34): Taking that a step further, you’ve actually broken up into four arenas. And so maybe I’ll let you walk us through those. Obviously picking up a copy of strategic is how you’re going to get the full compliment, but walk us through those four fitness arenas.

Rich (07:50): Sure, John, and the reason I came up with these four areas, and I use a compass to represent the four areas, is I’ve looked at my coaching notes over the years. The one word that popped up again and again was the word navigate. A lot of folks that I was talking to said, we’re having trouble navigating our competition, we’re having trouble navigating these new market changes. And so I tried to come up with this compass based on the folks that I was working with in the four areas of strategy, leadership, organization, and communication. Because the reality is, even though strategies, my passion, if we’re just good at strategy, we’re going to be a failure. Long-term, we’ve got to be good at communicating, executing, we got to be great at marketing, we got to be great at sales. So there’s so many things to be a well-rounded, strong leader. So I created those four areas to help people almost create a checklist to say, as a leader, am I checking off these areas? Do I have a strategy in place? Am I building leadership capabilities for myself and my team? Do we have a good culture? What’s my emotional intelligence? Do we have our value chain figured out? So all of those things are important, so I try to simplify it, give people a checklist so that they can kind of walk through that.

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(10:08): Now, this offer is limited to new active campaign customers only. So what are you waiting for? Fuel your growth, boost revenue and save precious time by upgrading to active campaign today. So maybe without, again, I know there are a lot of elements in here that rather than just reading a list, but give us a sense of, so you mentioned strategy, leadership, organization and communication. What are some of the elements in each of those buckets? So beginning with strategy, fitness, what are the areas that we would focus on if we were going to maybe make an assessment in that area?

Rich (10:43): So yeah, let’s think about strategy. The one thing that comes to mind, especially when we think about marketing and sales as well, is this idea of resource allocation. So we all know we’ve got resources, we’ve got time, we’ve got budget, we’ve got people, we need to move those around. What’s interesting though, John, is the research shows that 92% of companies allocate their resources once a year when they do their plan. But the best companies, the research shows they reallocate resources, time people, budget programs, projects throughout the year. So that’s one key element that I talk a little bit about in the book is just this idea that look, we need on a monthly basis to think about where are we spending our time, our money, and our programs, and how can we change that so that we’re putting more fuel on the things that are working and less fuel on the things that are not working.

(11:34): And then the other piece on strategy I would mention is I talk about competitive advantage. And again, kudos to you from Duct Tape Marketing. You talk a lot about being different and the importance of differentiation, and I’ve done some research on that following in your footsteps as well. And again, even going back to science, this idea of the principle of competitive exclusion, meaning no two species can coexist that make their living the identical way. So you think about two male lions in the same area in Africa, after a while, one of the male lions isn’t going to be there because trying to do the same thing in the same way. So one of the things we talk about in the book is this really importance of idea of differentiation, which obviously not a new idea, you’ve talked about it 10, 15 years ago, but it is still something that we need to remind ourselves of, how are we different in ways that customers value?

John (12:22): Awesome. So in leadership, fitness, what are some practical examples of ways somebody might, I mean you talk about mental training and emotional quotient and time management even. What are some practical ways that we can be looking into that bucket,

Rich (12:39): Especially for the small to midsize business leader? One of the things to think about is your time allocation. And obviously there’s lots of stuff on time management, but when you look at the best CEOs that have run multiple companies at the same time, people like Elon Musk with SpaceX and Tesla, Jack Dorsey who runs Twitter and Square, one of the things they’re really big on is batching their time. So they’ll pick a couple things and they’ll work on those things for 2, 3, 4, 5 hours out of the day. And I know what people are saying, geez, rich, I’ve got a million things to handle. But the most effective leaders say, look, if I’ve got to do one-on-one meetings with my team, I’m not going to spread ’em out over the week. I’m going to do those all on Monday morning from eight to 11. Because what that does, John, is it reduces the number of mental transitions that we have to make. And what the research shows is that the mental transitions jumping from one topic to the next, that’s the thing that burns people out that causes the fatigue that we feel at the end of the day. So if you can say, Hey, I’m going to do email five times a day in these 15 minute chunks, I’m going to do my performance reviews here, that’s going to simplify your life a lot. So that just that idea of batching our time can be helpful.

John (13:54): Alright, organizational fitness, I’m guessing culture goes squarely into that, developing your people, processes, talent planning for what’s next, innovating. So give us some practical examples of what we might focus on in organizational fitness.

Rich (14:12): Yeah, you’re right on the money, John culture is a big one. And the thing I think we miss a lot of times is we will take the time to do our values, we’ll do our mission statement, our vision statement, but what we really need to be aware of as a small to mid-size business leader is what are the three or four behaviors that you’re seeing the most from your team? Either things that are productive or not productive. Because at the end of the day, behaviors are, so if you want a better culture, you’ve got to pick out two or three behaviors that you as a leadership team really believe in are going to best serve your customers. And then you’ve got to find ways to build those behaviors within your team. Let’s say customer centricity, that’s a popular one. It’s all about the customer. Okay, well we can say that on paper, but what does that behavior look like? That might mean we’re going to answer a phone call, we’re going to return a phone call within one hour. We’re going to return an email within three hours and we’re going to return a text message within four hours, whatever it might be. But putting some specific parameters around what do those behaviors look like?

John (15:20): Alright. And then the last one, communication fitness. So I’ll let you kind of pick out a practical example there.

Rich (15:26): Yeah. So communication, fitness, it’s funny, I never used to talk about meetings at all, but ever since we’ve come out of the hybrid and the remote work the last few years, people still have meetings stacked one upon the other. And so one of the things I found is just taking a strategic approach to our meetings. And what we mean by that is when you have a meeting, there should be three things in mind. Number one, what’s the intent? So what’s the purpose of this meeting that should be shared with people two days, three days before? And I recommend giving one or two key questions that you want people to think about so that when you get together, it’s a true dialogue. It’s not a monologue. Too often I sit in on meetings and one person’s talking for 30 or 40 minutes, that’s not a meeting, that’s a monologue for a late night talk show.

(16:13): So we need to make sure that we’re really creating that interactive dialogue and meetings. And then the other big part is having insights. So when we finish up the meeting, you got to ask yourself, what was my takeaway? What did I learn from that meeting? And if we’re not walking away from meetings with learnings, then we’re wasting our time. We’ve got to either change that meeting or get rid of the meeting. So I’m a big believer as a leader out there, create a meeting inventory. So take an inventory of all the meetings you have on your calendar and for one week score those meetings on their value. Zero is no value, three is high value. And at the end of the week, total those up. If you’ve got meetings that are around a zero or one average, get rid of those.

John (16:58): Yeah, that’s an interesting point because I think there are people that have gotten into this meeting rhythm where they’re just like, no, it’s Tuesday at noon. We do this meeting every week. And it’s gotten to the point where it’s of no value to anyone attending fact mag might actually be negative, but the idea of just canceling and I think really kind of freaks people out, doesn’t it? Alright, so in your work, your coaching work, if somebody said, gosh, I’m listening to this, and there’s some stuff making sense here, but there’s also a lot that we’ve just hit the surface of when somebody says, can you come in and talk to us, rich, do you have a process that you walk everybody through on where do you start?

Rich (17:42): Yeah, so the one thing I’d recommend is to keep it simple, and you made a great point earlier about the difference between strategy and strategic thinking. So when we’re trying to create strategic thinkers in the organization at all levels, I would keep it simple like three a’s acumen, allocation and action. So that’s where I would start. As acumen always be asking yourself, what’s the new value in this situation? So if you’re talking with a customer, if you’re having a staff meeting, what’s the new value here that you can either create or deliver or capture? So always be thinking about what’s the new value here? The reason a lot of businesses wind up failing in the long run is because they started with a good strategy, but then everybody else started to catch up and they didn’t create any more new value. So why don’t we think about that new value?

(18:31): And then the second a allocation, I’m a big believer, and I know you’ve talked about this in the past, John, this idea of the not to-do list. What are you not going to do? Who are you not going to service? Who are you not going to focus on? Too many of us are trying to serve everybody and we’re minimizing the real value we can bring to that select few that are going to find the most mutual value. So big believer, we got to be really selective in who we’re focusing on, where we’re focusing to be as valuable as possible. And the third A is action. We just got to think about what are we prioritizing today? If we’ve got a list of 17 priorities, we’ve got nothing prioritized. So just really thinking about what’s my priority, the one or two things, and then am I matching my time spend to those priorities? If you look at the end of the day and a good exercise for folks to do, track your time for one week in 30 minute increments, add it up at the end of the week, graph it out, and then look at that graph and see if that matches up with your priorities. Too often I’m seeing people say, 50% of my time is spent on stuff. That’s not really my priority. So take the time to assess your time where you’re spending it, and that will really help I think with priorities.

John (19:46): Now you have, and I can’t remember if it’s in the book or if I just saw it on your website, you have an assessment, people can go through and measure some of where they are on some of these things.

Rich (19:56): Yeah, absolutely. So the strategic quotient, we’ve all heard of IQ forever, measuring intelligence, eq, emotional intelligence. So what I’ve tried to create this strategic quotient SQ really measures how people think, plan and act strategically. So it’s an assessment of your behaviors and your mindset, and it’s a good starting point for people to say, yeah, I’m doing a pretty good job here, but maybe I could be doing a little bit differently there. So it really matches up too with those three a’s acumen allocation action that we’ve talked about. So again, just a simple way takes about five to seven minutes, but can start to shed some light on areas that you as a leader might want to spend a little bit more time on as you develop.

John (20:37): Awesome. Well, rich, I appreciate you stopping by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Is there someplace you’d invite people to connect with you, find out more about your work, and obviously about your books?

Rich (20:45): Yeah, John, thanks for asking that. I appreciate it. So there are a lot of free resources, articles, white papers,, so strategy, lots of free resources there.

John (20:57): Awesome. Well, again, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by and share with my listeners, and hopefully we’ll run into you only these days soon out there on the road.