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How to Eliminate the Headaches of Outsourcing

How to Eliminate the Headaches of Outsourcing written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Jeremy Kenerson

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed ​​Jeremy Kenerson. Jeremy’s journey in internet marketing began in 2009 when he assumed leadership of the sales team at Infusionsoft (now Keap). In 2013, he founded his own digital agency, specializing in the complete customer lifecycle.

Over the last decade, Jeremy mastered the art of outsourcing, investing over $1 million in overseas teams, making him a true authority in remote team delegation. He has revolutionized outsourcing with his “Insourcing” methodology, as the founder of DeskTeam360 – a long time partner of the Duct Tape Marketing Agency Network.

Key Takeaway:

During this podcast, we discussed the importance of effective outsourcing and insourcing in marketing, emphasizing the value of communication and collaboration with remote teams to achieve successful outcomes. Additionally, we highlight the significance of strategic partnerships in expanding one’s marketing reach without forgetting the need for quality, consistency, and professional expertise while outsourcing.

Questions I ask

  • {01:00} How do you define insourcing?
  • {01:50} What kind of issues have you encountered, in trying to get to where you are today?
  • {02:43} What do you say to folks that want to start outsourcing but think they won’t be able to accomplish it?
  • {06:26} Please, provide us with an overview of Desk360, your company
  • {10:46} What has been your best method of generating leads in new business for your own organization?
  • {13:18} Where do you see the future of insourcing going?
  • {18:34} What’s on the horizon for you?

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John (00:09): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Janstch. My guest today is Jeremy Kenerson. His journey in internet marketing began in 2009 when he assumed leadership of the sales team at Infusionsoft, better, now known now as Keap. In 2013, he found his own digital agency specializing in the complete customer lifecycle, and over the last decade, he has mastered the art of outsourcing, investing over 1 million in overseas teams, making him a true authority and remote team delegation. He’s revolutionized outsourcing with his insourcing methodology as the founder of Desk Team 360 and is a longtime partner of Duct Tape Marketing and the Duct Tape Marketing Agency Network. So Jeremy, welcome to the show.

Jeremy (00:58): Thank you, John. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

John (01:00): Let’s start with that first term. How do you define insourcing? That’s a term you I think are spending some time trying to give some space around. So in a nutshell, what is insourcing?

Jeremy (01:11): Yeah, as quickly as possible. So outsourcing is your sourcing folks that are outside of your office. They could be in the United States, they could be overseas, whatever you’re outsourcing and insourcing is where we bring everybody overseas into an actual office. And we found that, well, we found when I ran my own digital agency and I was outsourcing, I came across all the same excuses and frustrations everybody else has dealt with. The work didn’t get done because of this, that and the other thing. And I eliminated all of that by bringing everybody into an office. We control all the internet providers, the electricity, the computers, and having managers, so bringing everybody in house,

John (01:50): So kind of one direct cable to the in-sourced office. So you set out, I think in, I don’t know if this was the original plan, but right now what you’re trying to do with Desk Team 360 is to change the industry a little bit. What kind of issues have you encountered in trying to get to where you are today?

Jeremy (02:09): I think the biggest thing, just going back to the beginning, it was funny. I met somebody that was at Infusionsoft years ago. His name was Brett, and he said, Hey, how’s it going? I was like, oh, great. He is like, what have you been up to since you left in Infusionsoft? And I started telling him all these things and he’s like, ah, you had the entrepreneurial, I’m like, what’s that? He’s like, you just went after every single idea you possibly could that you thought would make you money. And so that was the first hurdle to overcome was actually closing down all these smaller businesses that were making a little bit amounts of money here and there. So being able to focus, I think was the first hurdle we overcame.

John (02:43): Yeah, I’d say a lot of listeners probably share that part of their journey if hopefully they’ve figured it out. Our model in the agency world is really a lot of outsourcing or a lot of delegation of work rather than the business or certainly the owner of the business doing the actual work of fulfillment. But a heck of a lot of people I talk to have said, yeah, I’ve tried to do this and put this thing together and that thing together and it’s more work than it’s worth. I mean, what do you say to folks that kind of talk about outsourcing is just not being able to do

Jeremy (03:16): It? Yeah, I find a lot of people deal with that same issue and it comes down to outsourcing. And not just outsourcing, I’d say delegation. It doesn’t matter where they are. If you’re delegating something that’s a skillset that you need, not just in business, but as a parent in life, I need to delegate these things. And a lot of times people jump into it, they jump into a lot of things that it’s just going to be sunshine and rainbows. It’s going to be super easy. I need to get this thing off my plate so I have more time to do this. And we get so impatient as entrepreneurs that we look at those things and go, oh, it wasn’t worth it. It didn’t work out. Something happened when in reality, if we take the time to actually learn this skillset, it’ll save us so much time in the long run. But you have that awkward phase when you hire anybody, whether it’s hiring an in-house employee, they’re in an awkward phase of one to two months before they’re able to actually take time off your plate because before then they’re coming to you asking you all these questions and everything. And the same thing with outsourcing overseas. It’s not something that’s just going to happen right away. You have to learn how to communicate and work with people outside of the office and key. That’s what I teach my clients when they first come on board.

John (04:24): I mean, if I had a whiteboard here, we could draw this little graph that would show kind of like, because I do think a lot of people think that it is like, oh yeah, I’m hiring this people that’s off my plate now. And it’s really actually more on your plate than it ever was because now you have to actually document it and get what’s in your head out of your head so somebody else can do it. So I think people underestimate that there’s kind of a period of more work as opposed to fantasy land isn’t there? Yeah,

Jeremy (04:51): That’s a good way to say it. Fantasy land, because that’s what it is. It’s a fantasy to think that you could just hire a person, give them all these things as if they’ve worked with you for the last five years and know what’s in your head and know how you like things done. It’s just not realistic. So whether you’re doing an in-house or outsourcing, it’s the same thing. You just got to take the time. And I like what you said, it’s like getting the ideas out of your head and creating an actual s o p so that next time you hire someone, it doesn’t become a pain in the rear. You’re able to use that to help the onboarding process a lot

John (05:21): Faster. Yeah, and I’m sure you have a lot to say about this as well, but I’ve certainly found one of the pitfalls is lack of communication that it’s like, oh yeah, I’ll use one of the things you do for a lot of your clients. I need a website and think, okay, that’s going to get a website built. And so we’ve found actually you can’t over-communicate enough in several formats, and especially if you know what you want, getting that communicated takes some time, doesn’t it?

Jeremy (05:51): Oh, it does. And that’s what I spend a lot of my time working with my clients, training them how to communicate the requests site’s a little bit bigger. That definitely isn’t something that you just send to an email and say, Hey, I want a website, and then it’s done. So what I always tell our clients is schedule a call with your account manager when you have a bigger project, like a website project. Let the US based account manager know the 30,000 foot view of the project so they can help quarterback that project as it’s getting done. I think that really helps a lot with those type of bigger projects, having that US base account manager to talk to and outline the project.

John (06:26): So we’ve mentioned Desk Team 360 a number of times. It’s probably a good point in the show to say what Desk Team 360 is and does, I mean, I think people have probably figured out you provide some outsourced services, but let’s kind of give an overview.

Jeremy (06:40): Sure. Over the years, I kind of call it outsourced marketing implementation. So we work a lot with your clients and different agencies, a lot of different entrepreneurs, but really no matter what business you’re running, whether you’re doing marketing for another company as a consultant or an agency or an entrepreneur doing your own marketing, there’s a lot of things that take place. First is the strategy, and you got to know what your strategy is, and then you need to be able to write that content for that strategy. So if you’ve got a marketing funnel, well, you need the sales copy, the sales page copy, you need the thank you page copy, you need the email copy. If you handle the strategy and the email and all the content writing, our clients will send us over projects, and then we’d get all the graphic design, all the tech set up. So creating the landing pages and ClickFunnels, connecting it to your website, connecting it to the emails and your C R M and using Zapier and getting everything integrated and tested and working. We handle all of the graphic design and all the tech work.

John (07:38): And I think that’s a great point to go a little deeper in because I think a lot of times people underestimate, we use the example of a webpage or a landing page or a website that to actually make that function as a marketing tool, there’s probably some other integrations that have to happen into your C R M so that you can create follow-up sequences. So over and above design, you’re actually hooking all those parts together for people too, aren’t you?

Jeremy (08:04): Correct, yeah. All the finer details. I’d say if there’s a software that you use for your marketing, then give us the login and we can get it working for

John (08:13): You. So I’m sure there are other people that do this, but you have a particular financial model as well, a subscription based model you want kind of as well?

Jeremy (08:21): Yeah, sure. So right now we have three different packages. One is unlimited graphic design. The next one is just the tech, so just handling the logins and the emails, the websites and all that stuff. And then there’s the pro, which is the combination of both. You got unlimited graphic design and unlimited tech help all for one low monthly fee of 9 97 a

John (08:41): Month. Well, I’ll tell you selfishly, we use Desk Team 360 before our clients, but we promote it to all the consultants in our network to use for their clients as well, because having that fixed, or at least an idea of that fixed a lot of times one-off things come up or you need to redesign something here. And so you really can predict your costs that you’re going to have. And I know that’s one of the things we really love. I’ll tell you the other thing for agencies, even if you don’t have, we have a lot of folks that are getting started, maybe have two or three clients, a subscription feels scary to ’em. They’re not working on their own websites. And so actually having somebody there to be able to go, oh, let’s get these four pages done that we’ve been talking about for six months. I tell you that I tell people that and they’re like, oh yeah, I guess I could use it for that.

Jeremy (09:30): Yeah, a lot of people will have their own website as a low priority task that when no priority, they’re submitting stuff to us, we’re able to get to work on that.

John (09:38): Yeah, exactly. Yeah. No, that’s great. Talk about some of the results that you’ve seen or maybe some of your favorite projects or anything that you’ve worked with somebody.

Jeremy (09:47): Yeah, so I mean people are just saving tons of time. Some people are saving 20 hours a week, 30 hours a week, 40 hours a week, just a ton. One of our clients is an agency and he’s been with us for about four years, and he started off just like you guys did. It was like, oh, let me test you guys out with one. Okay, cool. You guys work great. This is awesome. I love working with you. Let’s up it to three. And then he just kept increasing and growing his agency to where now he’s up to about 20 tasks at a time. So he actually has his own dedicated teams with us now, and it’s just really cool to see someone go from just starting off with their agency and being able to grow. Because when I did my agency, I don’t do my agency anymore. Why? Because it evolved. But if I knew then what I know now, I probably would still have my agency because I started off hiring all in-house people and it’s just super expensive. I got to the point where as we were making more money as the business owner was making less money, and that’s not a good business model to be in. So outsourcing helps a lot.

John (10:46): Sorry to chuckle, but I’ve heard that exact statement before. So let’s talk a little bit about the business itself. What has been your best method of say, generating leads and new business for your own organization?

Jeremy (11:01): So this is something where a few years ago I went to an event and when you go to an event and you hear the same thing over and over again, but every once in a while you hear something and you’re like, I do that. Why didn’t I do that? I wasn’t doing it. And it was just talking about joint venture partnerships. So especially with dealing with agencies, there’s people, like right now I have a relationship with someone in the esthetician business, so she has a huge following and she’s now using us and has used us and now is referring us, and now she’s promoting Destin 360 to her list. But same thing with agencies. You can connect with somebody that has a big influence in a particular niche. And I hear a lot of people, they’re scared to niche down because they feel like they are committed to that for the rest of their life.

(11:48): They can’t take on any other clients unless they’re in that niche. And I tell people, no, you can still service other people, but your marketing campaign is geared towards that one niche, but then get another niche and then get another niche. And if you can continue to build relationships like that, that has helped desk team faster, grow faster than anything else besides that, as Facebook ads have become more expensive, we went into the realm of cold outreach, so I’m still doing a lot of the traditional stuff, but just playing with as many things as possible. But that joint venture partnership really got the needle moving the most.

John (12:25): Hey, have you ever tried to hire freelancers and found that the quality of work was lacking or you got all the outsourcing excuses as to why the work didn’t get done on time? Well, desk Team 360 has revolutionized the outsourcing game with their insourcing program that eliminates all those frustrations and excuses. You get unlimited graphic designs, website funnels, C R M, email automation integrations, automations, really anything that requires you to log into software. Imagine all the time and frustrations you can save from trying to get your tech work done properly. We use Desk Team 360 every day in our business, and so I’ve negotiated you a 10% deal. That’s right. Just go to a desk, team 360 info, book a discovery call, and you’ll receive the special duct tape marketing 10% off because hey, your pal John always takes care of you. So that’s it.

(13:18): Go to desk team three and book your call today. I get asked this question all the time. Somebody’s either just getting started or they want that one thing. What’s one thing I could do that would really make a difference? I always point ’em to that. Strategic partners are really a great way to go. I mean, they may have prospects they could introduce you to where a client might have two or three referrals they could give you. So it’s really the best bang for your buck. Sometimes it takes a while to get going. It’s not an overnight thing, but great bang for your buck. So we have gone, let me look, 13 minutes and 58 seconds. I’m going to mention AI for the first time. How is AI impacting the design business as you see it? I know there’s a lot of hype and there’s a lot of misinformation about the ways people are using, but certainly it’s here at a point and then maybe it’s a follow-up question to that is where do you think it’s going?

Jeremy (14:15): Yeah, so right now with design, I have not had a lot of luck getting the heat, the AI to create a good design. I’ve tasked my team to play with it and just not a lot of good results. It is similar to kind of like chat G P T when that first came out, everybody was like, shouldn’t say everybody, but a lot of people were like, oh, this is garbage. And it’s like, yeah, well, if you put in one question and you get back your answer, how about you drill that question down five different times or 10 different times and you can get some pretty good content that way, but I just have not able to nail it down with the actual design functionality because it just gives a lot of weird images.

John (14:59): Well, so moving away from Dolly and things that are creating images, I’m seeing some services cropping up that are you put in your business where it’s located the industry and you push a button and it’s going to pull in stock photos and things and design a website or at least design a homepage. We can debate whether or not that that is valuable at all, but how are you fighting that sort of, oh, it’s free almost to do this kind of stuff. I mean, when somebody comes to you and says, oh, it’s going to be X amount a month for me to have web design versus getting the stuff that they say is free, what do you tell somebody that might have that argument in their mind?

Jeremy (15:41): You get what you pay for. I mean, I remember when Wix first, not Wix, what was the We Bleed, do you remember? We leave that website design. It was like, oh, you could set one up for free. And then I was like, cool, I’m going to set one up for my dad. And at the time I had no experience with setting up websites, but I set one up for my dad and it looked absolutely terrible, not a designer. So I sure I could try to get it done. Same thing with the ai, and same thing with the graphics, same thing with the website. It’s like you get it done and you look at it and you go, is this what I want my brand to look like? And there’s just something to be said when you have a human being researching and looking into your business and creating designs, creating multiple designs, and then being able to do revisions and go back to get it honed into something you love compared to trying to get something for free and spending a lot of time, a lot of your time and a lot of your energy to create something you’re not happy with anyway.

(16:34): Where a lot of people that try those things, by the time they come to us, they’ve already tried Weebly and Wix and they tried to create a blog on WordPress, but it just ends up being the same result. They’re like, I’d just rather pay somebody at this point, but they’ve wasted three months in the process trying to, yeah,

John (16:49): I think certainly a lot of business owners don’t give enough, I don’t think, give enough value to the impact of design, of good design of consistent design of design that at least to the viewer represents what they think that it should feel like, right? We’ve all gone to a website of an industry that construction or something and it was a templated thing, and you’re kind of like, is that really what I want? Or I expect a construction site to look like? Probably not. And so I think that’s obviously the value of having at least one team work on your things. You really get that consistency or at least have the ability. Do you ever find, I kind of already talked about this idea of over-communicating, we’re pretty opinionated about what we think a website should do and function and not as much about what it should look like, but certainly what should be there, what the journey should look like. Do you ever feel like people like me would run the risk of overcom commuting to the point where you’re just trying to give me what I want as opposed to, Hey, here’s actually a creative design that we think would serve you better?

Jeremy (17:56): Yeah, I think that there’s no way you can over communicate. There’s just no way, and the team’s not going to get annoyed by it. I hear that a lot from people. They’re like, Hey, I don’t mean to bug you, but can you please like dude, you’re not bugging us. Please. The more information the better. And because we don’t, with us, there’s no consequence of doing unlimited revisions. So yeah, give your feedback, give your feedback, refine it until it’s something that you fall in love with. And for you guys, it’s a little bit different because you’re creating the websites for your clients. So instead of being in love with it, you look at it and go, is this good enough to come from us to our client?

John (18:34): Yeah, great point. I love to ask entrepreneurs this. What’s like on the horizon for you? Any new areas or you just really want to keep Oring this boat in the straight direction?

Jeremy (18:45): Yeah, so for the immediate future, yes, we’re directing it. We’re trying to keep it as simple as possible and what our offerings are down the pipe in the future. In the near future, I already have this in beta, is offering like a legit US-based project manager because some of our clients that are a little bit larger, you guys have your own in-house people that are managing all your tickets and everything, but there’s a lot of entrepreneurs that are managing a lot of tickets. They don’t have the infrastructure to go, Hey Billy, this is on your plate now. You take care of this forever. So being able to offer that account or that project manager role where you can meet with somebody weekly or even daily to go through what it is that you need done, what your tasks are and have them organize it and have them communicate with the team, I think will be pretty big for some of our larger clients where they don’t have to, because another position, another hat that they have to wear is managing all the tickets and everything.

(19:42): So that’s more in the immediate future. And then I’m also looking at adding on different services in regards to marketing and also I just forgot that I swear John, ever since I hit 40, things just pop right out of my brain and I’m like, where’d it go? It was right there. Some other services in regards to actual marketing. So being able to do more things with s e o, doing more things with social media, doing more things with cold outreach and having that as part of an offering, especially as we are entering into these different niches. Then being able to set up for estheticians like local SSS e o, like great, we can systematize that template that and push that out to all those clients. We have different clients like you that are niched into something. So being able to systematize that and even white label the services so that our clients can make money off of our services at the same time has been pretty helpful.

John (20:32): Awesome. Well, Jeremy, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. If you want to invite people to obviously connect with you, but then I’ll find out more about Dust Team 360 and the various ways you might be able to help.

Jeremy (20:44): Yeah, if you go to 360 dot, that’ll actually take you to a Duct Tape marketing page of ours where you can get a 10% discount and you can check out all of our case studies and see how everybody’s using it and how and why they love it.

John (20:57): Awesome. Well, again, I appreciate you stopping by and hopefully we’ll run into you out there on the road. In fact, I know I’m going to run into you out there on the road pretty soon in Salt Lake City. Yeah,

Jeremy (21:07): Yeah, I’ll see you next month.

John (21:09): Alright, thanks Chairman.

Jeremy (21:10): Thanks John. Take care.


This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the Desk team 360

Desk team 360 is the #1, flat-rate, digital marketing integration team, that helps small businesses and marketing agencies with graphic, web design, and on-page marketing services.

How to Master Clarity in Communication

How to Master Clarity in Communication written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Steve Woodruff

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Steve Woodruff, whom has spent the past thirty-seven years in the front lines of sales, marketing, consulting, and entrepreneurship, which has uniquely equipped him to guide others in the principles and practices of clear and effective communication.

Steve is the also author of the business book Clarity Wins, and his new book The Point: How to Win with Clarity-Fueled Communications; coming out in October 2023.

His latest book unveils how the overloaded human brain wants information packaged, and how to craft brain-friendly messages that break through the noise. From email to sales pitches, from workshops to resumes, Steve Woodruff’s Clarity Fuel Formula is the universal recipe for communications success.


Key Takeaway:

In this podcast episode, Steve Woodruff, known as the King of Clarity, discusses the importance of clear and effective communication. He shares valuable insights into the principles of clarity-fueled communication, emphasizing the need to have a clear point, get to the point, get the point across, and get on the same page. By simplifying messages and using vivid language, communicators can engage their audience’s brains and create memorable experiences. Steve’s new book, “The Point: How to Win with Clarity-Fueled Communication,” provides further guidance on mastering this essential skill.

Questions I ask Steve Woodruff

  • [00:52] How would how would you define clarity fueled community communication?
  • [01:35] Is it harder to write with clarity and simplicity?
  • [02:39] Would you agree there’s some science in naming things?
  • [05:01] Talk to us more about the four rules your framework is based on?
  • [08:25] What’s the length necessary for writing?
  • [11:12] How do we make sure that everybody across the board is using consistent language in their writing?
  • [13:46] Can you elaborate more on your definition of focus?
  • [16:51] What’s the power of simplicity?
  • [21:07] Talk to us about your upcoming book

More About Steve Woodruff:

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John (00:10): Hello, welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Janstch. My guest today is Steve Woodruff. He is known as the King of Clarity. 37 years in the frontline of sales, marketing, consulting, and entrepreneurship has equipped Steve to guide others in the principles and practices of clear and effective communication. Long time listeners will remember that Steve also wrote a book called Clarity Wins, and we’re going to talk about his new book today, the Point How to Win with Clarity Fueled Communication, which is available probably by the time you listen to this October of 2023 and beyond. So Steve, welcome back to the show.

Steve (00:50): Always a pleasure to talk to you, John. Well,

John (00:52): Let’s start by with a definition how when somebody says, huh, clarity fueled communication, what the heck is that? How would you define that?

Steve (01:01): That’s very interesting. I had been using the term clarity as my sort of key word for many years, and I realized a couple months ago if I ever actually defined this thing, really defined it. And so I wrote a blog post defining what I mean by clarity. But essentially what I’m talking about is communicating in a way that is so simple and easy for the brain to process that instead of pushing people away and shutting their brains down, you’re turning the light on. And that means using vivid, memorable brief words.

John (01:35): So the key word probably in there for me is simplicity, but that does not imply like dumbing it down. I mean, in some ways it’s kind the obvious, right? It’s actually harder to write with clarity and simplicity sometimes, isn’t it

Steve (01:47): Much, much harder. In fact, the big default that I’m up against is t m i. Too much information and we are all tempted to try to say too much. And it’s really a matter of brain science that has convinced me why that is bad. I mean, I think we instinctively know it’s bad, but the fact is that the human brain is processing 7 million bits of information per second from all five senses, and that when you and I are talking to one another, John, it’s 60 bits of focus. We can only focus on 60 bits. And what that means is if we’re going to win in communication, we’ve got to win the 60 bit battle against 11 million bits of competitors. How do we do? Well, we’ve got to be clear, simple, and get right to the point.

John (02:39): So I don’t want to ruin any of your tools and exercises that we are going to talk about, but I have noticed over the years, what’s worked very, very effectively for me is to name things, give things a simple name that somebody can at least go, oh, I think I know what that means, or I want to know what that means. And I’m guessing that there’s something science-based to that, just that tactic isn’t there?

Steve (03:04): Yeah, there is. It’s funny, I call it a memory dart, and a memory dart is a memory dart. So it’s a way of phrasing something that is suggestive and has a hook in somebody’s mind. So when I tell people I don’t like the term elevator pitch for two reasons. Number one, nobody likes to talk in the elevator. And number two, nobody likes to be pitched. I talk about replacing that with a memory dart, a way of taking your compressed message and sticking it in people’s minds. And when you can call something as you did with duct tape marketing, that’s vivid, you have a much better chance of sticking than if you keep it generic and technical.

John (03:45): Yeah, and there have been times over the years where I’ve tried to explain to somebody all the things that something did or even all the benefits of it, and it’s almost overwhelming, whereas if you say No, it’s like this for this, it seems like all of a sudden they can process it.

Steve (04:01): Yes, I am a big believer in symbolic language and in side-by-sides, and those are two of the tactics I talk about of brain-friendly shortcuts. When we use side-by-side, we’re saying, here’s something you know about, well, this is like, or not like. That’s a shortcut to processing and to recognition. And symbolic language is also incredibly important. So if I say, well, John Jan is the Mercedes of marketers, I’ve encapsulated in one symbolic word a ton of information, and it’s memorable and it’s suggestive, and it’s so much better than saying, here are 45 bullet points about John, and nobody’s going to remember 45 bullet points.

John (04:46): If you don’t mind, Steve, I’d rather be the mini Cooper of marketing. It’s

Steve (04:50): Fine. That’s okay. I called my editor Josh Bernoff, I called him the Mercedes of business editors, and he said, I’d rather be the Tesla. I said, fine, whatever floats your boat, man.

John (05:01): Josh was on a recent show. He has a new book ad that puts out some of his teachings on riding. So your framework has four rules. And so maybe let’s go there because I really do think that’s the basis of at least getting people to start to wrap their head around, how do I do this clarity thing,

Steve (05:20): Right? Well, the first thing that I lead with typically, because everybody understands the need, is you have to get to the point. And we have all experienced the frustration of listening to someone who can’t get to the point. Getting to the point means we’ve got to get to the relevant, interesting thing right away. But that’s actually rule number two. Rule number one is you have to have a point probably, oh, whoops. So many meetings, presentations, discussions. You don’t know if the person actually knows what they’re talking about, why they’re even bringing this up. So you have to have a clear purpose and destination. You can articulate yourself in a very short, I figure if you can’t define your point in one sentence, you need to do some work before you start communicating. Because unless you know the point, you can’t get to the point. So you got to have a point, which is the shift that you’re seeking to create in your audience’s mind. You’ve got to get to the point. The third thing is you have to get the point across, which means that even if we’re using the same language and using words that we both know somehow know these words, we might not define them the same way. So if I use the term marketing, I’m going to have a whole bunch of meanings strategies.

John (06:40): That’s my favorite.

Steve (06:41): Oh, strategy is another beauty. There will be a whole list of meanings, thoughts, definitions, ideas and experiences. And you and I can use these words back and forth and not really in our, so we’ve got to make sure we simplify and define and illustrate. That’s getting the point across. And then the goal, especially in business, is we want to get on the same page. So we’re trying to reach alignment and agreement and action and summarize that in writing. So if you look at that sequence, have a point, get to the point, point across and get on the same page, that’s essentially the recipe for every form of communication. You can use that for emails, presentations, books, podcasts, everything has those four rules and it respects the way the human brain wants information.

John (07:34): So would you say, obviously the best part would be to have those four rules in mind as you’re starting to write a draft, maybe even. But would you say that you could also go back and take any piece of content that’s been written and say, does it have a point? Did it get to the point? Yeah, I mean it kind of almost do that same sort of filtering.

Steve (07:51): That’s one of the fun exercises I do in my workshops with my corporate clients is we’ll take a block of stuff, texts, ideas, whatever, and say, alright, let’s dig into this and find the point. How would you actually bring out the point? Because if we present unstructured information to people, if we give them the haystack and not the needle, we’re going to shut them down. So we’ve got to say, here’s the needle, here’s what we’re talking about. Now we can progress to a greater level of detail once we know what we’re talking about.

John (08:25): So let’s talk about length, because I’m guessing that the default or maybe the assumption in somebody writing is, oh, that means my writing needs to be very short. But that’s not exactly what you’re saying, is it?

Steve (08:38): No, there’s some level of detail that’s necessary. So what am my most important strategies in the book is what I call stratification. If you have a block of information, and if you envision a pyramid with three levels at the very top of the pyramid is the distilled the point, the most important thing we’re shooting for here, you got to start with that. And then once people know the point, they will be receptive to hearing a little bit more, some background or some context or some stories. Then they’ll be receptive to details as much as they need. So it’s not that we’re throwing all the information out, but we have to sequence it in a way that makes it palatable. So if you go to a restaurant and you order five courses and they just bring out everything at once, the dessert, the wine, the appetizer, the soup, all great food, I wanted it, but this is not the sequence I was looking for.

John (09:36): Well, in some ways that’s the classic sort of copywriting is spend 80% of your time on the headline. And I mean, in some ways it’s like that’s the ad for whether or not you should invest your time to go any farther, because there’ve been times I’ve read, I don’t know, 3000 word emails or sales pages because I said, this is worth me investing my time in. There’s also been times when I’ve gone, so in a lot of ways that’s what you’re saying is the point may not necessarily be the hook per se, but it’s the thing that’s going to bring me in is it,

Steve (10:09): It’s the thing that appeals to you on the level of personal relevance. It’s the what’s in it for me as an audience, the W I I F M. So salespeople know about the W I I F M because you’ve got to talk about the benefit. Well, in fact, for every communication with every person, we have to lead with the W I I F M, the what’s in it for you. So email, John is one of the areas where I encourage the most immediate change, which is the visual real estate of the subject line in the first sentence is where you’re going to win or lose on emails in an inbox that’s full of stuff and always growing and the person that’s receiving email is going to skimm, delete, put off, maybe read. Well, if I don’t get the point right up there in the subject line, the first sentence, I run the risk of never being seen. And so that’s where you’ve got to say, here’s the call to action. Here’s the deadline, here’s what I’m looking for. And then the details can be later, but you got to hook ’em first.

John (11:12): Yeah, and it’s funny in email because in a lot of email programs, of course that first sentence is, I can see half of that before you even open the email. So you might, you might be talking about a couple hundred characters, you better hook them because they’re going to decide to not even open it. Let’s talk about consistency. A lot of organizations, everybody in the organization’s creating content today, right? Because what we do, how do we make sure that we are all, once clarity is found, how do we make sure that everybody across the board is using that consistent language, how people are, I mean, they just, here’s my style, but from a brand promise standpoint, once we find that message, boy, sticking with it is important. Hey, you ever tried to hire freelancers and found that the quality of work was lacking? Or you got all the outsourcing excuses as to why the work didn’t get done on time?

(12:07): Well, desk Team 360 has revolutionized the outsourcing game with their insourcing program that eliminates all those frustrations and excuses. You get unlimited graphic designs, website funnels since automations, really anything that requires you to log into software, imagine all the time and frustrations you can save from trying to get your tech work done properly. We use Desk Team 360 every day in our business, and so I’ve negotiated you a 10% deal. That’s right. Just go to a desk, team 360 info, book a discovery call, and you’ll receive the special duct tape marketing 10% off because hey, your pal John always takes care of you. So that’s it. Go to desk team three and book your call today.

Steve (12:53): That’s one of my biggest burdens with this book is that I’ve worked with a lot of corporate clients and they all have a set of all these different formulas. Here’s our selling formula, here’s our marketing formula, here’s our blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, 15 different acronyms, recipes, whatever, no consistency. And that means that there is no clear communication consistency in the organization because it’s all fragmented. So in coming up with this formula that’s in the book, I wanted to see if there could be one formula that fit everybody, every human being in an organization. And so the four rules and the eight tools are completely universal, and they provide the framework of a language that a team or an entire organization can standardize on so that people can reinforce best practices instead of all be fragmented with their own thing.

John (13:46): So there’s a point in the book, and I think this is a point you’re making, correct me if I’m wrong, I think that a lot of people will get to the point where their clear messaging is helping the organization focus. However, I think you took the leap to say, really that’s our job is to actually help the reader focus. Now, did I misinterpret that? But I really love that point, and I hope that’s the point you were making.

Steve (14:08): Sounds like a good one follow up book

John (14:10): If not addition to, right?

Steve (14:12): That’s right. No, the idea of focus is for everyone in the organization and especially leaders, leaders in an organization have got to have clear focus and put it into clear words so that their people can have clear expectations of what they’re to do. And this is one of the big gaps I find as far as clarity is you might have somebody that could make a good sales message or make a good marketing message, but they’re not clear in the way that they discuss things with the people they’re coaching or managing and leading. And so you want clarity to percolate through everything, whatever you write, whatever, say every meeting you have. And that means it’s an ongoing pursuit. It’s not a one and done deal. I’m still struggling with it every single day.

John (15:00): I want to push a little bit on that because then you may have not have said this directly, but I got this from the, I think great communication actually helps the reader focus because in marketing, a lot of times the most effective marketing helps a reader understand the problem they couldn’t articulate or the symptom of what’s wrong in their business that they couldn’t put a name to. And that’s where I went with focus, because I think that the best writing actually does that for the reader.

Steve (15:29): Yeah, the best writing is going to create mental pictures in the reader’s mind and give them, as you said, the labels that they’ve been looking for, maybe they didn’t even know they didn’t have. And so when you have good creative vivid language that somebody reads and the light bulb goes on, oh, that’s what I’m looking for, that’s what I’m needing. Oh man, it’s wonderful. And so what I often do is I say, look, there’s two levels of writing. One is the technically accurate explanation and you want to start there, then you got to have the really cool way of saying it that’s going to turn the light on and be memorable. You can’t just leave it at technically accurate. You’ve got to be able to say it in a way that the human brain loves. And that’s the eight shortcuts that I talk about in the book that I’ll start with SS stories, snippets, statements, side-by-side, symbolic language. That’s what all that is meant to do, is to give that aha to the reader.

John (16:28): So step one, really define it as you say, as you call it technically accurate, but certainly don’t stop there. I mean, that’s half the job. And when somebody’s come in to say, okay, how’s this going to work for me? At that point, they need the technically accurate definition, but before they’re even going to, I was going to say waste of time, spend the time to find out. It’s got to have the cool thing.

Steve (16:51): Yeah, it’s got to be appealing and simple, and we underestimate the power of simplicity, but I don’t care how smart somebody is, I don’t care how many degrees they have, simple language works, brevity works, vividness works. And that’s how if we’re going to be great marketers and great authors and great consultants, that’s how we’ve got a front load with interesting, relevant stuff. If people are going to engage. Otherwise, there’s too many options. I mean, every one of us has a smartphone, and if you’re presenting and in the first minute or two, you’re not getting to the point, it doesn’t matter how valuable your stuff is, you’re done. Everybody’s going to be tuned out.

John (17:34): And I read a lot of fiction as well as nonfiction and fiction writers I think are a good fiction writer, very good at dragging you in. And you’re going, I want to know. It’s almost like the narrative makes you want to know what, so now you’ll slog through the 200 pages of character development because they drug you in. I want to push back on one idea. I mean, I’m 100% agree with you, but I just want to hear, I know where some people might lead, and I’m going to use an example that you used in yours. I think there’s, you can run the risk of oversimplifying, I believe. And you used the idea of the Hippocratic Oath in the book, and that’s a brilliant example of where people have not only oversimplified, they’ve butchered it. First do no harm is what everybody says, but the actual document says, I will abstain from all intentional wrongdoing and harm, which is much different than first do no harm.

(18:29): If a doctor first did no harm, they wouldn’t cut you open to save your heart. And I think that the point I’m making here is that I think it’s abstained, abstained from all intended wrongdoing and harm is a very different meaning than what sort of the simplification over the years has turned that idea in. And we all use it. Everybody’s used it, I mean uses that, but it’s technically not accurate. So maybe I’ve butchered this example of what I was trying to get to, but I think sometimes in a rush to be cute, almost sometimes we can actually really send the wrong message or oversimplify so badly that people don’t really have the right expectations.

Steve (19:13): Well, I think in the example there, my point in the book was don’t overwhelm the human brain. Yeah.

(19:21): Here’s what you just don’t want to do In any instance, you do not want to overwhelm the brain because that is going to defeat the purpose. That is not what you’re to do as a communicator. What you’re trying to do is turn the light on, not turn it off. So the verbal shorthand of the Hippocratic Oath, yeah, I mean there’s some work that could be done there, but it’s a familiar term and it’s a side by side that people can relate to. But the point of the thing is that we can’t commit malpractice as communicators by just defeating the purpose of, if I’ve got this person on the table when I’ve got a scalp and I say, let’s just cut ’em open and bleed ’em all out and see what happens, well that’s really not so good, whether I intended it or not.

John (20:11): And the overcomplicated thing too, I mean, I’ve done it over the years and every 100% of the time, if I send out something and say, Hey, I’ve got three options for you. You can do this or this or this, nothing. But if I send out something that says, here’s what you must do and why, way better response. Even though I think, well, gosh, I’m giving them options. They can pick good, better, best, but it’s like now they can’t pick as

Steve (20:35): It’s complicated. There’s some science behind that. The more options people have, the more they delay, the harder it is to make a decision. I’ve made major changes in the last three years to the way I email. I used to have emails that were more comprehensive, maybe have multiple themes, and I realized nobody wants to respond to that. So I typically make every single email one theme only with maybe one call to action. And it’s like, you can do something right now with this. It’s way, way better.

John (21:07): Yeah. I know my most effective emails over the year are me just saying, here’s something that happened to me the other day and I’m wondering what you think about and just get into this story. And people are like, huh, I felt like I was talking to you as opposed to the whole, this here’s new idea of the week. So Steve, I appreciate you shopping by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. You want to tell people where they can pick up a copy of the point or connect with you in any way that you think makes sense.

Steve (21:33): Sure. So I can be found, I do a lot of my work on LinkedIn, and that’s where I share a lot of information, write a lot of posts, have a newsletter. So if you looked at LinkedIn and do Steve Woodruff for King of Clarity, or either both, you’ll find me, I’m That website’s in the middle of a rebrand and refresh, but by the time this reaches the audience, it should be done and then the books can be seen on Amazon. The point is there due out October 17th, but it can be pre-ordered before that Clarity wins is there on Amazon. Clarity Wins was self-published on the Amazon platform, so it’s only available there. The point is through Morgan James publisher, so it’s going to be in bookstores. It’s at Barnes and Noble. It’ll be at other online ventures as well.

John (22:15): Awesome. Well, again, I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and hopefully we’ll see you again one these days out there on the road, Steve.

Steve (22:22): Sounds good, John. Thanks.

To Niche or Not to Niche: The Pitfalls of Over-Specialization

To Niche or Not to Niche: The Pitfalls of Over-Specialization written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Janstch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I decided to go solo and talk about a topic that’s been on my mind for a while: the evolution of niche marketing. In the dynamic world of marketing, strategies are ever-evolving, and staying ahead of the curve is crucial for success.

Join us on this journey as we unravel the future of niche marketing and discover how adapting to the changing tides can lead to greater success for businesses and marketing professionals alike.

Key Takeaway:

In the world of marketing, focusing on a niche can be both advantageous and limiting. While specialization can bring efficiencies and higher value to clients, it also leads to increased competition and the risk of being overshadowed by template-driven solutions. Learn how to transition from being tacticians to orchestrators, and leverage your strategic skills to serving your niche. This approach will provide a unique value proposition for your business in an increasingly competitive landscape.

Topics I cover

  • [00:14] The evolution of niche marketing
  • [01:14] The cons of niche marketing
  • [02:08] Tactics for niche marketing
  • [03:40] Drawbacks of niche marketing
  • [05:22] How to become an orchestrator
  • [07:26] Develop strategic vision
  • [08:38] Learn about our methodology


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John (00:14): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch and no guest today. I’m going to do a solo show, so it’s just me. Well, I guess it’s just me and you, right? Alright, so here’s what I’m going to talk about. The [00:00:30] evolution of niche marketing, or is it niche? I don’t know. I mean, it depends on who you’re talking to, right? So you’ve probably heard this countless times. The riches are in the niches. So I think this is rung true. This idea is rung true. I don’t know, probably like a decade or so. And I think a lot of businesses have found success narrowing their focus to a specific industry. And I think there are a lot of pros to this. I think some of the pros are undeniable. I mean, if you imagine if you’re a [00:01:00] marketing agency and you have developed Google ad campaigns for dentists in Cleveland, I’m pretty sure those same campaigns and keywords and ads even will be successful in, I don’t know, Detroit.

(01:14): And so there’s a lot of efficiencies, frankly, in this model. And ironic thing is it’s a lot cheaper for you once you get all these efficiencies down. You’ve got content, you’ve got campaigns, you’ve got emails all working in various [00:01:30] markets. You don’t have to write them over and over again. So it’s a lot cheaper for you to provide that service. And the flip side of that is typically people will pay more because, well, my industry, you specialize in working with my industry. So there’s a belief at least that you can provide more value for doing that. So I mean, the pros are obvious, I think, for a lot of people that have gone down that road. But I believe that there are some negatives that are evolving that I think present actually a great opportunity. I mean, if you are [00:02:00] niched down in that industry or you’re thinking about trying to go after a specific industry, I think the market’s flooded.

(02:08): I think that you might have some real competitive challenges, but personally, just as a side note, probably this is probably a topic for another day, but I’ll cram it in here. I’ve always found that the idea of narrowing down to a single industry was a tadd limiting and maybe even potentially boring, at least for me. Again, this is maybe my personal opinion, but to me it’s [00:02:30] never really been about an industry, but about an ideal client. So I’ve always enjoyed a focus on client behavior, their problems, the way they invest in solving those problems. To me, that is a greater driver of fit. So you can actually have a narrow focus. It doesn’t have to necessarily be on an industry. It can be on who you like to serve, a type of client you like to serve. I mean, we lead with strategy before tactics.

(02:56): You’ve certainly heard me say that before, and frankly [00:03:00] is actually limiting by itself because there are a lot of people that just want tactics. They just want this thing they heard about this week from somebody. So there are lots of ways to think about narrowing. It doesn’t just have to be on a niche, but let me just say this idea about the niche landscape. I think it’s really changing for service providers. Flooded niches. I think competition intensified. I mean, if you go looking right now, if you’re thinking to yourself, I’m an S e O firm and I’m going to specialize in working with H V A C contractors, [00:03:30] for example. I hate to tell you, but there are not just one. There are many, many SS e o firms that are really trying to tackle that industry. In a lot of cases. They’ve really mastered it.

(03:40): I mean, there are SS e o agencies that can get an A to C firm in most cities on page one. Now, I would suggest there’s some other limiting factors. I would suggest that in many cases it’s very expensive, but what I think a lot of people kind of fell prey to in a way was [00:04:00] the easy button. I think another example I used SS e o, but website designers. I mean, almost every industry has some sort of template driven website builder that can push your site live in 48 hours for $199 a month. So really as a marketing agency particularly, I mean, how do you compete with that? Here are the drawbacks of course, that I think people are starting to realize, and in a way, bear with me, what presents, I think the opportunity, there are horror stories [00:04:30] that certainly maybe you’ve heard.

(04:32): I’ve heard maybe if you’re a business owner, maybe you’ve experienced a lot of these niche providers took advantage of the efficiencies, if you will, of serving one market and now all the content that they’re producing is just duplicate. The campaigns are identical. There’s in many cases a lack of ownership over the content or even the strategies. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had people come to us and say, I’m not getting any results from my current provider, but I’m locked into [00:05:00] this contract, or I’m locked into their proprietary tools and they’re telling me that if I went out, I lose everything. My website, my content, my campaign’s all gone. I don’t even own any of those. And I understand how people got into this situation. I mean, it was cheap. It was the easy button. They promised the moon. A lot of business owners don’t really want to pay attention to marketing.

(05:22): So it was very easy to abdicate, if you will, of their marketing. But I think I’m finally getting to the 0.6 minutes in [00:05:30] herein lies the opportunity. I think that as a marketer, as a consultant, as an agency, as a fractional C M O, as a fractional marketing department, as a fractional marketing director, whatever terminology or positioning you want to use, I think businesses are starting to slowly grasp that marketing is not just a bunch of tactics. And so the opportunity is to become the orchestrator. I [00:06:00] mean, competing on tactics alone is a race to the bottom price wise. And so I think you’re kind of dooming your business as a consultant if you are just providing tactics. I’m not saying those tactics aren’t needed and that there aren’t people that won’t pay for them, but it’s a race to the bottom price wise. So if you’re the orchestrator, if you’re the strategic provider, if you’re the person that is actually building the plan, then you can use all of those providers.

(06:27): I think businesses need someone who can weave together the [00:06:30] tactical strengths. So if you want to focus on a very specific industry focus as that industry’s fractional C M O, then take advantage of the fact that there are great content producers and website producers and SS e o folks and paid ad campaign folks that specialize in that industry. Use ’em, use the fact that they have built a robust platform that you can actually use very cheaply, but then you can pass on your strategy and [00:07:00] be the orchestrator for that industry. And that’s again, because so many people have been burned, I think that they’re looking for that trusted advisor who can actually make sense of the various parts, the fact that everybody’s selling a piece of the pie. So somebody who can come in and say, look, I’m going to run this for you. I’m going to actually direct to people in your organization, be your niche’s fractional C M O or marketing director.

(07:26): I mean, start with strategic vision. Assemble the dream [00:07:30] team of experts that are out there and just embrace the pool of skilled tacticians, guide them, leverage their skills for maximum. That’s I think, the future. I think that’s the opportunity. In fact, it might be the only thing left. I mean, AI is making the tactics even cheaper. So I think being the person that is pulling the strings, whatever metaphors we want to use is really the opportunity. So the riches may indeed be in the niches, but I think it’s more about [00:08:00] driving the niche strategy than ever before. So my recommendation, dive deep to the fractional niche marketing, become the trusted orchestrator. Discover one of the most profitable ways to position your business against the price driven tactics providers. So I’m curious your thoughts on niche marketing. I’d love to hear from you as I always do, but I also want to remind you in case you forgot, didn’t know first time listener, that [00:08:30] for the last decade or so, I’ve actually been training marketing agencies on this idea of fractional C M O of being a strategist.

(08:38): We license our methodology and our system for creating strategy first, which we’ve done now thousands of times. It is fall of 2023 when I’m recording this. We’ve run about 60 agencies through our licensing program just this year alone. I think more and more people are waking up to this idea that they have to have a differentiator to compete today. And certainly [00:09:00] tactics is a tough way to compete. So if you want to know more about our fractional CMO system that we will gladly license to you, just check out DTM world slash cmo. So it’s just DTM world slash cmo, and you can find lots of amazing information about our system and how you might acquire this approach to drive your business, to scale your business. I mean, we’ve certainly licensed our [00:09:30] system, but we’ve also been training agencies so long that we also teach on lead generation, lead conversion, fulfillment, bringing in account managers.

(09:39): We have a network of over a hundred agencies that collaborate actively. So tons and tons to really either get you started or to really reposition your business. I would say about a third of the people that join us are just starting a business. They see this as the fast track to really get going. And probably the rest of folks that join us are [00:10:00] often either web designers or somebody that has really realized that selling tactics is tough and they need to sell strategy. And then other businesses that are consultants, they’ve just been doing it all, making it up with every new client that see this as really the fast track to significantly improve their billings as well as their profits. So any rate, thanks for listening. Take care. We love those reviews. Hopefully we’ll see you one of these days out there on the road.

How to Navigate the New Era of Customer Expectations

How to Navigate the New Era of Customer Expectations written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Jay Baer

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Jay Baer, a business growth and customer experience author, researcher, and advisor. Jay is a 7th-generation entrepreneur, who has written 7 best- selling business books, and created 6 multi-million dollar companies.

His newest book, titled “The Time to Win: How to Exceed Your Customers’ Need for Speed,” is based on research focused on speed and responsiveness. It serves as a comprehensive guide for surpassing customers’ expectations for quick service. The book introduces a six-part “Time to Win” framework and provides specific recommendations for optimizing responsiveness within your organization, detailing the how, why, when, and where of the process.

Key Takeaway:

During his research, Jay found that today, two-thirds of customers consider speed to be as important as price. In essence, if you save your customers time, they will reward you with their business. Conversely, if you cost your customers time, you will also pay the price financially.

In today’s business landscape, time and responsiveness are key factors in shaping the customer experience and generating revenue. In this new era, customers are placing an increasing value on speed and quick solutions, a trend that has been amplified especially since the pandemic. Learn how to prioritize responsiveness in your business to secure a competitive edge for both your company and your clients.

Questions I ask Jay Baer:

  • [00:50] You come from five generations of entrepreneurs. What did the first-generation entrepreneur in your family do?
  • [01:38] You claim that time is the heart of the customer experience. What does that mean?
  • [02:46] What are your thoughts on a society that has become so obsessed with speediness?
  • [08:37] Two thirds of customers say that speed is as important as price and some customers are even willing to pay more, would you agree?
  • [10:57] Are there are some cases where consumers don’t want things fast?
  • [16:21] What is your 6-piece framework on what to do in those scenarios where speediness is required and how to get better at responding faster?
  • [17:41] How can our audience connect with you and get your new book, “The Time to Win: How to Exceed Your Customers’ Need for Speed”?
  • [18:26] Are we still giving companies a pass for being late to respond due to the pandemic or has that expectation shifted?

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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 Jay Bayer. He’s a business growth and customer experience author, researcher, and advisor, a seventh generation entrepreneur, and has written seven bestselling books and created six multimillion dollar companies. And we’re going to talk about his newest book, time, the time to win, how to, the Time to Win, how to Exceed Your Customer’s Need for Speed based on the time to win. My intro took longer than it will take you to read the book. Jay, welcome to the show.

Jay (00:45): Hey. Hey, great to be back. Nice to see you as always, John. It’s a pleasure.

John (00:50): You have probably told me the answer to this question, but I don’t remember it, so I’m going to ask you again, what did the first generation Bear entrepreneur Dow

Jay (01:01): Made? Caskets.

John (01:02): Caskets, okay.

Jay (01:03): Casket manufacturing

John (01:05): And maybe sold a little Dr. Feel good on the side or something like that out. Not out of the casket making

Jay (01:12): Wagon, I’m not sure. Possibly. Yeah, we went caskets to furniture, to insurance, to et cetera.

John (01:18): I suspect they all wore a similar jacket to what you’re wearing too.

Jay (01:22): Oh, sure, yeah, yeah. I actually have some pictures of my great, great, great grandfather and it’s the big black woolen coat kind of thing. They’re from Nebraska, right? You got to stay.

John (01:35): So the coat weighed about 80 pounds too then.

Jay (01:37): Exactly.

John (01:38): Alright, so this is straight from you. Straight from the book. Time is the heart of customer experience. Why don’t you just take it from there? What makes you say such?

Jay (01:50): Well, coming out of the pandemic, I had this observation, we were talking about all these business trends you talk about on the show, right? Like great resignation and quite quitting, and people wanting to work from home and be leisure travel. You’re talking about this one, the combination of business and leisure travel where you take your kids to the conference and double dip the trip. Baseball games are 25 minutes a night shorter now because of the pitch clock. All of these trends, John, are the same trend. It’s the same trend, which is that we care about time and how we spend it more than ever. And as always, when I create a book project, I want to validate those assumptions with research. So I put together the most comprehensive research report ever done in this country on the relationship between responsiveness and revenue. And it turned out, my guess was correct, speed is more important than ever. In fact, two thirds of customers say that speed is now as important as time. And I think we all feel that as customers, but not very many businesses are tuned around that fact just yet. So that’s why I wrote the book.

John (02:47): Alright, so we’re going to get into most of what you just said there a little deeper, but let me just throw this out there for conversation. I go to restaurants now and I think people are unreasonable about their need for speed, kind of stupid about it. And it’s like, well, can we not enjoy anything anymore? I mean, have we sort of become so obsessed and entitled about I need it and I need it now that it’s maybe ruining the experience?

Jay (03:15): Probably, yeah, probably nowhere in this book do I suggest that this is a net positive. I’m just suggesting that’s a net fact, right? So all I’m trying to do is make you money in your business. I’m not suggesting that we’re all necessarily going to be better as a species because of this continuum, but look, we’ve been doing this for a long time. You and I know you agree with me. Customer expectations always go up. They never retreat. And even within that pantheon, the one that really never goes backwards are expectations around speed. What was considered to be fast five years ago is now slow. And nobody ever ever says, I’ve been thinking, and next time, why don’t you just do that more slowly? That just doesn’t happen, right? So yeah, it’s probably ultimately going to be a road to ruin, but I want to make some money on that road before we get there.

John (04:06): Well, and I think your point is that a lot of us get trained because I’ll throw it out, we can Amazon. I mean, it’s so easy to buy and so fast to buy on Amazon that now if I go to any other shopping experience, I’m like, oh God, I got to put in my name.

Jay (04:22): Yeah, it’s absolutely true. It colors all of our decision making. One of the examples I use on stage a lot is you and I are old enough to remember when you couldn’t, couldn’t get transportation with your app, you had to call a taxi. Literally call a taxi, and you would just call up and they’d be like, okay, he’ll be by to get you. And you didn’t know when he was coming. You didn’t know who. You had no idea how long it would take. You had literally no idea what it would cost. No idea. No idea. Okay, fine. And now of course you can watch the car come with a little animated graphic and the guy’s blood type. I mean, it’s a much different age now. And the reality is customers are making buying decisions every second based on responsiveness. One of the most important findings in this research that’s in the book is that half of all customers will hire whomever contacts them first. Regardless of price. Regardless of price. And so if you know that to be true as a business, why don’t you just organize your stuff so that you’re the first one to respond? It’s such a smart play.

John (05:27): Yeah, I’m thinking of the home services businesses. It’s kind of the joke. It was like, I’m going to call three, the first one that calls me back. I’m not even going to bother with the other two. I just

Jay (05:36): Don’t want him to call me back. I literally did it. I got this house painted not long ago called three Painters as you do. First guy gets back to me in four hours and says, I can’t paint it today, obviously can’t even give you a quote today, but based on what you told me in your voicemail, here’s kind of what I think it’s going to cost, and here’s kind of when I think I can do the job. Second painter called me in two days. Third painter called me in 11 days, at which point I’d already painted the house. So too slow. And so I hired the first one of course, and was not the least expensive. Was the most expensive, but I didn’t care. We interpret speed as caring.

John (06:09): Yeah, yeah, yeah. So this has been a few years back. I’m sure they’ve improved the speed now, but I was in a little town in Mexico when I was just walking down the street and there was a sign that was a bus stop and it said the next bus is sometime between 8:00 AM and 3:00 PM today. I think we were having a freezing moment there.

Jay (06:42): Yeah, I was having a freezing moment there.

John (06:44): We’ll edit that out. I close a few things, we’ll work on that. But did you hear my joke? It was really funny. I was in Mexico a few years ago and walking down the street in this little town and there was a bus stop and said, the next bus is sometime between eight and 3:00 PM 8:00 AM and 3:00 PM

Jay (07:00): It’s like

John (07:02): Maybe this isn’t an American problem. I don’t know.

Jay (07:04): Well, it partially is an American problem, but it’s actually one of the key tenets in the book. This idea that you have to do a better job than you are today probably of setting expectations amongst your customers because in a vacuum of expectations, customers will anticipate that it will be instant because they’ve been trained that that is possible in many ways. And so if it’s not possible for you for whatever reason, you can probably get away with it as long as they know what the deal is and why the bus only comes every seven hours and we’re not sure when the bigger fault is not necessarily being slow. The bigger fault is what I call the uncertainty gap. When you know way more about your operations and the customer knows, the bigger that gap is, the more customer anxiety grows and the more anxiety grows, the more frustration builds and the more frustration builds, they’re less likely to give you money. So if you think you’re over informing the customer, you’re probably informing them just right.

John (08:03): And then of course you set up the opportunity to exceed expectations. Right? I was on a chat today and it said, our typical response today is eight and a half minutes or something like that. The person came on right away. I was like, well, this rocks, I was prepared to wait eight minutes.

Jay (08:19): I talk about this on stage all the time. We learn this in the very first day of business, the first day that you’re supposed to under promise and

John (08:29): Over deliver,

Jay (08:30): But yet in the bright light of day, so often we do the exact opposite, which is mind blowing to me. It’s like we know the rule yet we do the opposite. And so that’s why I was really happy to put this book together, and it is really short. I mean that you can read the book in less than an hour, which is the whole idea. I didn’t set out to do it this way. I was like, okay, I’ve written six regular books. I should write another full length business book about this. And I started writing it and I was like, this is ridiculous. I can’t make you spend six hours reading a business book about speed. This invalidates the entire premise. So it’s a very short book. People love it. You can put it in your pocket, you can knock it out in an hour, but it is jam packed full of info, that’s for sure. There’s no flow.

John (09:11): So there’s another finding that I think people will find interesting, useful. Two thirds of customers say that speed is as important as price. So we will pay more. We,

Jay (09:22): Oh, one of the top six pieces of the framework that I have in the book is that you should offer a fast pass. And every business can and should do this. Disney does it. I think they call it lightning lane now, John, where you pay more and you get to get on the rides faster. Oh,

John (09:43): They’ve got it down so much. There’s like a plus plus. Yeah. Like fast pass isn’t fast enough. We had another one.

Jay (09:49): Yeah. I mean, TSA pre is a fast pass, right? You pay more, you wait less, right? We have fast passes around us, but we think that somehow it only applies to big companies. It doesn’t matter what small business you’re running, you’ve got customers who would love to not wait. Maybe they forgot or maybe it’s urgent or whatever the circumstances are, you should give them that opportunity. So the research that we conducted found one in four customers will pay as much as 50% more than not. Wait. So you should let them do that. You don’t have to change your product or service at all you’re doing is changing your customer sequencing and reaping the financial rewards accordingly.

John (10:33): So I’m trying to think of an example. I mean, could you have conferences do a lot of levels of passes? So is it you get in earlier, you get, I mean, is it different than just perks? How do flip it Flip? How do you make it work for somebody that’s just been doing perks and bonuses?

Jay (10:52): Yeah. Think about conference is a great example. So the conference world is sort of beholden this idea of the early bird. If you register early, we’ll give you a special deal because you want to make sure you’ve got revenue to pay for stuff along the way. Keep the float. I get it. Well, if I was running a conference, I would have early bird, but I’d also have late bird. I would hold some seats back to have late bird and late bird pricing is a 20% surcharge on the most expensive ticket because you didn’t know you could go or you forgot or you didn’t hear about it until too late. So those kind of things can really,

John (11:25): But you knew you were going to be able to make a decision at the end rather than potentially wasting it by buying the early bird. Yeah. Yeah. So are there some cases where I don’t want fast? Yeah, heart transplant and under an hour we guarantee it. I mean,

Jay (11:41): Right. No, you can be too fast. And I’m glad you brought this up because I really want to make sure that A, I want you guys to read the book and it’s really inexpensive. It’s so short. But I want you to read the book, but I also want you to make sure that you don’t think that My advice is, Jay says we should be as fast as possible all the time. It’s true that you should probably be faster than you are much of the time. That’s true. And the data, bear that out. But speed at all costs actually costs your business speed at all costs. Costs. You can be too fast. And what happens is when you’re too fast, it diminishes trust. So the story I like to tell is I went to a Mexican food restaurant here in Indiana, which is a questionable call to begin with because it’s not really home of authentic Latino cuisine in Indiana. But I am like, Hey, roll the dice. And I got chicken enchiladas and they brought me enchiladas in 90 seconds. It was so fast. I’m like, do they have an enchilada machine? Is there a psychic that knew what I was going to get? It didn’t make, it threw me. It really threw me.

John (12:46): It was somebody sent effect. You know that

Jay (12:48): For sure somebody wanted the beef and they had it on the hot window. I know it, but that’s it. I was like, I distrust the veracity of the evangels because they’re too fast. And the same is true in any business. If it’s too fast, you don’t want to go to the fastest tattoo artist either. And actually the company drift the chatbot company, right?

(13:08): Sure. So Drift is one of the largest providers of chatbot software in the world. John. They actually program in an intentional delay in their chatbot responses because it’s all AI is second, the second you hit submit, bam, they could spit out the response in an eye blink, but they don’t do that because if they do it fast that people are like, wait a second, that’s a robot. I don’t know about that. So they put in the three second fake ellipsis like thinking, thinking, thinking, and then give you the same answer anyway because then people trust it. So you don’t want to be too fast.

John (13:47): And I think it’s easy for people to say fast literally means speed, but it also can mean removing friction. And absolutely great example is every time I go to the doctor and I’ve already filled out the pre ahead paperwork and I get there and they make me fill out the same paperwork, and it’s like not only do you not need that step, it’s a terrible experience. So I mean in some ways it would be faster. I doubt it. I mean, I sometimes think they make me fill it out because they figure I won’t be as bored waiting. But could be

Jay (14:19): Actually.

John (14:20): It could be. But again, that’s an example of really what you’re talking about as well, isn’t it? I mean, it all comes under the heading of better experience.

Jay (14:31): Absolutely. And even giving people what they need before they have to ask for it, sort of predictive provision of information is critical. It’s not necessarily faster, it’s just the perception of speed goes up, goes up a lot. And I’ll tell you, one of the techniques that I talk about is this idea of replying without answers. And I’ve been doing this now for about two and a half years in my business and also in my personal life. And it’s had such a big impact on my life, not just with my business colleagues, but with my wife and my kids and my friends and my mailman. So when somebody asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, what do we typically do? Well, we go find out, we go procure the information necessary to respond, and we got to look it up. Or we got to ask Julie in accounting, or we got to wait for my wife to come home to see if we’re free that night or whatever. That’s how we do it. And then once we’ve get the information, then we reply, stop doing that. Stop doing that. The better way to do it, trust me, is somebody asks you a question. If you don’t know the answer immediately you say, John, thanks for the question. Great one. So good. In fact, I got to look it up. I’m going to do that and then I’ll get back to you. So does this mean that you’ve got to respond to everybody twice?

John (15:48): Yes.

Jay (15:49): But the first response, all you’re saying is, I got it. And as soon as you say I got it, it goes off of their mental to-do list and they put it on your mental to-do list. And the psychological change in the mind of the customer at that point is massive. How they perceive your responsiveness goes up dramatically and it actually buys you more time to actually provide whatever the solution is. It’s a great technique.

John (16:17): That’s interesting because I know I’ve done that before, and then after a day goes by, I’m like, oh, crap, I’m going to ask somebody else.

Jay (16:22): Yep. Yeah, because if I send you an email, I mean, you and I respond to emails amongst one another pretty quickly, but if I send you an email and I don’t hear back for a couple of days, you start playing all these games, right? Like, okay, is he on vacation but he doesn’t have out of office. Did he go to spam? Did he change his email address? Is John mad at me? You start playing all these games, right? You don’t know. And that kind of angst in the mind of anybody is not probably a desirable business construct. So you can solve for that pretty easily.

John (16:55): So we have certainly hammered the point home that this is an important topic, but in the three minutes we have left, can you unpack the framework of, okay, what to do? Obviously you’re going to encounter this in the book, but maybe you can give us the shorthand.

Jay (17:09): Yeah, the book’s got facts. Yeah. Six piece framework, some of ’em we talked about reply without answers is one of ’em. Offer a Fast Pass is one of ’em. The first one though, the first thing you got to do is perform what we call a got it audit, which is to figure out how long does it take your customers and clients now to get whatever they need? How long does it take a customer to get an invoice or pay a bill or get a question answered? And when I ask business leaders this, John, because it sounds obvious, they’re like, well, it usually takes two days, but sometimes it’s three, and if it’s a weekend, it might be four. If Bob’s out of town, it could be five. I’m like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. That’s not numbers. That’s a collection of stories that you’ve told yourself.

(17:45): If you’re going to figure out how to outperform your competition with responsiveness, and trust me, that’s why it’s called the time to win. Because this is the time that you can use time to win if you’re going to do that. And you should because you’re going to make a ton of money at it. You got to know how long these things take. If you’re going to optimize around responsiveness, you have to know what the average and the media and the mean is for what you’re doing today and almost nobody does know. And so that’s the first step is to figure that stuff out.

John (18:15): Yeah. Awesome. So you have a number of ways that people obviously can connect with you, but get the book. I know Amazon has an ebook version or Kindle version, but tell us about all the other myriad ways that somebody can acquire this.

Jay (18:29): Yeah, the books on Kindle right now on Amazon, as John said, there is a limited edition, three pack of books, one for you, one for a colleague, and one to give to a business when they disappoint you, which I love. Three books, limited edition, special slip case, and I’m going to do this once. You can get those at,, special price on the three pack. And if you go to the time to, you can get all the research that this book is based on for nothing. I won’t even ask you for your email address. Just happy to have you have it. Awesome.

John (19:01): So last question is Pandemic Passover. We’re no longer giving people a pass for,

Jay (19:09): And it was actually kind of a nice ride there for a bit. Customers and companies were kind of on the same page for a bit, right? Where customers would say, ah, I understand supply chain challenges and you’re short on labor and I know you’ve cut your hours, but hey man, I’m just glad you guys are still open. We’re all in this together. Just get it to me whenever you can, right? And that was a lovely, lovely microcosm, but ain’t that anymore? 83%. Here’s the number. We did the research on this. 83% of customers expect you to be as fast or faster than you were pre pandemic. So this idea that they’re going to give you a pandemic pass, sadly, is over.

John (19:48): Yeah, because pandemic caught a lot of people off guard. We should know better now, right? We should have tightened the ship and got a better strategy and no better now. That’s it. Totally agree. Jay, always great to see you. Appreciate you. So Duct Tape Marketing podcast. Hopefully we’ll see you out there on the road again soon. One of these days.

How to Translate Your Passion Into Your Purpose

How to Translate Your Passion Into Your Purpose written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Liz Elting

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Liz Elting, the co-founder and CEO of the award-winning TransPerfect. TransPerfect is the world’s largest provider of language and business solutions, boasting over $1.1 billion in revenue and offices in over 100 cities around the globe. Additionally, she is the founder of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, a non-profit organization created to break down systemic barriers and foster systemic change for women and other underserved communities.

She has been named one of Forbes’ Richest Self-Made Women every year since the list’s inception. Currently, she is the author of the upcoming book, DREAM BIG AND WIN: Translating Passion into Purpose and Creating a Billion-Dollar Business, and is a contributor at Forbes and SWAAY.

Key Takeaway:

Almost any dream can become a reality with the right mindset and strategies. Learn how setting goals with deadlines, embracing constant innovation, and empowering women can lead to billion-dollar success. Liz’s journey from starting TransPerfect to her philanthropic endeavors serves as an inspiring roadmap for aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders. Dream big, take action, and win!

Questions I ask Liz Elting:

  • (01:12): What motivated you to establish TransPerfect, and how does that tie into the reason you wrote your book?
  • (04:05): What were some of the most challenging lessons you had to learn as you grew your company?
  • (08:17): How would someone take it beyond just the dream into reality?
  • (10:20): How do you balance or weigh the importance of taking risks?
  • (11:26): What advice do your have for those aspiring to launch the next Google? Where can they find big ideas?
  • (12:50): How have you adapted TransPerfect to meet changing global trends? How can others do this?
  • (15:03): Was philanthropy a goal or a happy side effect of your success?
  • (17:40): Do you see being a woman in your field as an advantage or disadvantage? How has it shaped your experience?

More About Liz Elting:

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John (00:00): Hey, this is John, and before we get started, I have a gift for you for being such an amazing listener. Everyone’s talking about AI these days, but most of it’s about tactics. We’ve created a series of prompts we use to create strategy, and you can have them for free. Just go to and grab yours. Now. Let’s get started.

(00:29): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Liz Elting. She’s the founder and c e o of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation is an entrepreneur, business leader. I didn’t know they threw this word in there for me. Lingo, file, philanthropist and feminist. Liz is the founder of TransPerfect World’s largest language solution company with over $1 billion in revenue and offices in more than 100 cities worldwide. We’re going to talk about her latest book, dream Big and Win, translating Passion Into Purpose and Creating a Billion Dollar Business. So Liz, welcome to the show.

Liz (01:08): Thank you so much, John. I’m so excited to be here.

John (01:12): So we’re going to get into the book, but I want to go back in time a little bit because it’s relevant, I think, to you writing the book. What led you to start TransPerfect?

Liz (01:21): Well, I had always loved language. I mean the English language and then languages. I had the opportunity to live in a number of foreign countries, Portugal when I was little, then Canada when I was 10 until college, and then I did my junior year in Spain and I worked in Venezuela, and I was able to study four languages, so Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Latin loved languages. Went to school, decided to major in languages and didn’t know what on earth I would do with it. That was the concern because I was very practical. But I ended up getting a job shortly after my internship in Venezuela, which was shortly after graduating from college. But I got a job at a translation company in the late eighties, and it at the time was the world’s largest. It was about 90 people, and I realized, wow, what a beautiful way to combine language and business and what a perfect way to do.

(02:13): So I was there for three years. First I was in production, and then I moved over to sales, and I thought, what a wonderful industry and what a necessary industry, but I think it can be done better. I saw a real gap between what clients needed and what was available in the industry. So went back to school, got my M B A from N Y U and had a very brief stint in finance. Felt like I had to try out finance just because I had my M B A from N Y U, and that’s what people from Y U did. 70% of majors went into were finance majors, and I tried it, tried it out. So briefly after six weeks I left and I thought, wow, I loved the translation industry, and I had a thought on how it could be done better and this finance is not for me. So with that, that’s kind of the moment I decided, okay, I’m going to start TransPerfect. And really with the goal being to build the world’s largest language solutions company. At the time, there were about 10,000 other companies. That’s what I did. But they were tiny. They were mom and pop.

John (03:15): Well, I was going to ask you that. You halfway answered it anyway, so I’ll let you really tee it up, but did you really started thinking, I can do this big giant thing, or was it just like, Hey, I can do this better?

Liz (03:26): Yeah, no, it is a great question because you never know how big you can make it. But I think what I thought was, as I said, there were 10,000 translation companies out there in 1992 when we started, but they were really companies that were started and run by translators who were enormously talented, but they were busy doing the translation work, so they couldn’t scale their companies. So I thought, if I’m going to do this, I want it to be different and better. And the biggest, I just figured if I’m going to not use that M B A and take the risk, I’m going to go for broke. And so that was certainly the goal.

John (04:05): I always love to ask entrepreneurs this question. A lot of times it’s because they can look in the rear view mirror now to answer this, but what were some of the hardest lessons that you learned or had to learn in growing? Obviously many people don’t get past a million dollars, let alone another zero on there. What were some of the hardest lessons?

Liz (04:23): So learned a lot of things. Did many, many things wrong. In the early days. We worked so hard on selling and just realized we had to sell. We needed to bring in revenue as quickly as possible. We didn’t have funding. So to some degree we were able to do that, and that was wonderful. We brought in business, so we needed to hire quickly, and we brought in some people who were excellent, and actually some who were amazing, and then some who weren’t so good. But what happened was we were working so hard on selling that we had too much work because we could only find people so quickly. Back then, in the early nineties or even the mid nineties, people didn’t want to work for a startup. We didn’t have the big name. We were this tiny company with a lot of work, crazy hours, and we were asking a lot of people and we thought, okay, well, we’ll just pay them a bonus.

(05:12): We’ll just pay them more money and they’ll pull that all nighter. But we had a lot of turnover in those days. We lost a lot of people because you can’t do that to people no matter how much you pay them. They need their life. And we learned quickly that we needed to scale carefully, make sure we were trying to grow, but we also needed to make sure we brought in the right people and then we gave them a reasonable situation. So we learned from that to basically set up shifts. We had what we called T one, T two and T three different shifts so that people were not working through the night. We also opened other offices in different time zones, and we had those time zones cover for the other time zone, and then finally comp days. But we found ways around it, but we had a lot of turnover in the early days because of the situation.

John (06:03): I think most businesses, especially if you grow rapidly, I mean you had never run a company of that size mean, so you were learning on the job. And I think that that’s an area that sinks a lot of businesses. I mean, the people management part is probably the hardest part when you grow rapidly, isn’t it?

Liz (06:20): Yeah. And I think it’s the hardest part no matter what, right? I mean, yes, when you grow rapidly, because in the end, I mean, we grew pretty quickly, but we did this for 26 years, or actually, I did this for 26. It didn’t feel so rapid at the time, but we couldn’t bring in good people. We couldn’t bring in people quickly enough who, and we didn’t figure out how to manage their hours. But you’re right. You’re right. When you’re growing quickly, it’s hard. But I think finding, developing and retaining great people is the hardest part of every business. I’m sure you hear that and you know that we hear it all the time. That is the hardest.

John (07:00): Well, and you were kind of pre-internet, a pre global economy mean, so you needed people all over the world, and they were not as easy to find as they are today. You didn’t have the marketplaces where you could find ’em. I’m curious, Wiley is your publisher on this book, right? Is that right? They

Liz (07:15): Are. Did

John (07:15): I remember? Yeah. So was there any wrestling over the title? And the reason I ask that is there’s some people that the thought of creating a billion dollar business just doesn’t even seem on the table. Did you have any, I’m just curious if you had any discussion with your editor on that title?

Liz (07:33): Yes, we did. Because I think you’re right. A lot of people think, well, that’s just out of the realm of possibility. Why would I even bother? And this book, certainly it’s for everybody. It’s for people who want to create million companies and 5 million companies and 10 million companies. So we did, but I think we put it on there ultimately because we wanted to show, you can do this. You can dream big, and I mean, dream very big, and you can create a billion dollar company. And I tried to share lessons I learned from what I did and the many things I did wrong, and you can get there. And it was to inspire people to realize they can reach for the stars and they could well make it. So that

John (08:17): Was idea, dream big and win and maybe make more money than you’re making today is probably not as inspirational, right? Right. So there are a lot of books that talk about dreaming big. I think one of the things I really like about your book is so few of them have the and win component because to some extent, it’s easy to dream big, isn’t it? So how do you take it beyond just the dream?

Liz (08:43): Right? And I’m so glad you said that because some people feel like they don’t want to talk about winning. Winning is a bad word, but for a lot of us, we’re very competitive, and if we’re doing it, we’re playing to win, and that’s who this is for. But the answer is it’s easy to dream. A dream without goals, with deadlines is just a wish, right? I mean, it’s all about goals with deadlines. And I talk a lot about that in the book about the daily goals. We had things like make 300 phone calls a day and send out 300 letters, and maybe now it would be emails, but every day and not letting the day pass without doing those things for an extended period of time. And I did it when I started the company and we had all of our salespeople doing it and held them to it.

(09:34): So that’s an example of goals with deadlines that we really had to adhere to. Another example is when we thought, okay, we’ve got to scale this to the next level. Basically we set out quarterly goals for when we’re going to open offices, and we said, okay, Q one, San Francisco, Q two Atlanta, Q three, Washington, DC Q four Chicago. And then we forced ourselves to do it. We didn’t give ourselves an out. And that sounds like that might be actually quite difficult, especially without funding, but we basically hired one person at a time. They needed to achieve certain sales goals, and then they could add a person and so on. But yes, I think goals with deadlines is the key, and that’s what a lot of people don’t want to do. But if you do that, I think it’s so key.

John (10:20): I think there’s a misconception out there with people who aren’t entrepreneurs that every entrepreneur is just this massive risk taker. I’d make the case that it’s actually riskier staying in a nine to five job for somebody. But talk a little bit about, I mean, because you took some big risks, talk a little bit about what you think the role or the balance or the importance of risk is.

Liz (10:43): Yes. No, you’re right. And I agree with you. It can be more of a risk if you’re working for someone else, because then you’re at their mercy. That’s right. Which boss you’re going to get. You don’t know what the boss is going to ask of you. You don’t know what’s going to happen going to happen to the company. Plenty of companies go out of business, they lay people off, whatever it is. So yes, whereas you can control your own destiny if you take what some people might consider the risk, and I agree with you, it’s not a risk. If by chance it doesn’t work out, you learned a lot along the way and then you can go start something new. Or if you really don’t want to, you can go back to corporate life. But I agree with you. I think it’s more of a risk not to.

John (11:26): I’m sure people that will read this book will say, okay, I should dream big, but what do I need to start the next Google? Or where do I find the idea for my big?

Liz (11:37): Yeah. And I love that question or that, yes, because I feel like you should not confuse being an inventor with being an entrepreneur or being an entrepreneur with being an inventor. Basically, you can be wildly successful creating something entirely new. And certainly that was what we did. As I mentioned, 10,000 other companies were already doing it, but the idea was to do it better and differently. And there are all kinds of ways to do that, whether it’s with more urgency slash faster, whether it’s with more of a service orientation, really spoiling the client, whether it’s with having a global presence, whether it’s creating a one-stop shop. I mean, there’s so many ways to do it. And I always think about how Steve Jobs did it with the iPhone. It was originally the Blackberry, which had some issues. The screen wasn’t too big. I mean, there were a number of issues, and he wanted it to be able to do a lot more than just have its email usage. So the point is, yes, I think it’s the better way to go because there’s so many things out there that are being done, but they’re not being done as well as they could. And it’s finding that hole, finding that problem to solve.

John (12:50): So every new wave of technology potentially presents challenges for established businesses. I would venture to say that the translation business is going through a bit of an evolution because of ai. So how would you advise people, in some cases, it’s going to gut their profit. In other cases, it’s going to make them have to pivot altogether. I mean, how did you look at that kind of changing world to pivot or think about how you had to change the company?

Liz (13:25): Just to mean, and you probably know this, but I did sell five years ago, but still,

John (13:31): Yeah, I was using that as an example. Oh,

Liz (13:33): Yes. No, no, absolutely. Because machine translation became a part of things during my time in the industry, and you’re absolutely right. So what we did is we tried to incorporate it in any way that it could be helpful. And it was whether it was machine translation, cat tools, and now it’s ai, and I’m sure they’re using it to their advantage and making it so that it is helpful. But the other piece of it that we did, and I recommend doing it, is constantly innovating. And sure, we did it with starting as a company that had almost no technology because in 1992, you could barely mode something. I mean, there was no technology. It was crazy. But then along the way, we really incorporated technology. But as far as other things, we started a litigation solutions division. We started a staffing solutions division. We created technology solutions.

(14:27): And I think the point there is you get the client base and you work with these big companies and you see what else they need, and then you see what the needs are out there as time goes on, and you just keep innovating for your client base. So we kept working with the same clients. I mean huge global companies, but they needed other things. And it’s anticipating the client’s needs before they know they have them. It’s constant innovation. And I think that’s what we did during those 26 years that I was with the company. But I think I’m sure that’s what they’re doing now and what every great entrepreneur and every great C e O is doing.

John (15:03): Yeah, I mean, no question. Easier to sell more to people who already trust you than to go out and find new companies or new business. Absolutely. As people might’ve noted in the intro, in your intro, the first part talks about your foundation. So was philanthropy always a hope, a goal or kind of a happy side effect of what happened in your mind?

Liz (15:26): I think it always was a goal. I learned early on that I wanted to help people. I liked helping people. I mean, I did volunteer work, a lot of us did. But during my years as an entrepreneur, I didn’t have time like any entrepreneur that you barely have time for your company and your family, and that’s it. So I did figure eventually when I had more time, I would focus on the issues and I saw issues. I saw issues with women and how they were treated, how marginalized populations were treated, or people from marginalized communities were treated, and then all kinds of other issues. And the longer I’ve been doing it, the more issues I’m seeing everything from heart disease to cancer to hunger to gun safety. So now I did think, okay, I had a plan early on, and I’ll tell you partly why I had a plan.

(16:22): One thing that happened to me when I was 14, it was kind of the big event of my life. It was life changing. I was hit by a car. I was walking across the street in Vermont, and I flipped over, had a fractured skull, was unconscious for three days. My parents didn’t think I was going to wake up. And then they were thinking, okay, well if she wakes up, she’s probably going to have severe brain damage. Not being able to be able to talk or not be able to walk or something or both. Anyway, after three days, I was fortunate I did come out of this coma, but there was someone else with the exact same injury. So I realized, oh my gosh, I’m the lucky one. I need to do something important here. I could have just as easily lost my life. And then of course, I was lucky with having parents who encouraged education and supported me through it, and being able to be an entrepreneur who hired amazing people. I mean, we in the end had an amazing team that really built our company. So I was one of the lucky ones. So now here I am trying to help people who don’t come from situations where they can get the education. So work a lot on financial aid or try to encourage people to be entrepreneurs or I’m trying to help in all the areas that I just am more good fortune with, and some people don’t have it. So that’s the idea.

John (17:40): So talk a little bit about, you started to mention this a little bit, but did you see being a woman doing what you did as an advantage or a disadvantage?

Liz (17:51): I think

John (17:51): I have four daughters, so that’s maybe why I posed the question that way, because I’d love your take. No,

Liz (17:57): Absolutely. I think the reason actually what prompted me to start the company that I left out, I was trying to move along my answer. I know people don’t have all day, but when I was at the other company, shortly after getting my M B A where I was trying out finance, I was the only woman. And first thing that happened is whenever the phone rang, all the guys would yell Liz phone, because I was the woman. And I quickly realized, okay, that atmosphere was not for me. It felt sexist there, it did. Now, that was many years ago, going through the years as an entrepreneur and as a C E O or Co c e O, yeah, it was tough in a lot of ways, being a woman, people assumed that my partner was the c e o when they first met us, when we just walked in, and I was his assistant because I was the woman.

(18:48): And then I felt like as we grew the company, I think it can be harder for women because when women are tough, they’re considered mean. Whereas when men are tough, they’re considered great leaders. I definitely felt some of that. And then I guess the other issue I saw is not so much that it affected me over time because I was in that leadership role, but other women that I saw at other companies, sometimes in our company, I think they weren’t always treated the way they should be. So I thought, okay, when I’m finished with this, I’m going to help them and support them because in many companies and in many parts of the world and in politics and throughout, it can be tougher for women. And so that’s why I’m focusing on it. And the wonderful thing for your daughters is this. In the nineties, we didn’t have a lot of groups, women’s group support.

(19:40): Now at companies, we ultimately had a women’s group at our company, we started one. There are so many amazing networking groups outside where women are supporting women and some wonderful men are supporting women too. And it’s much better, but we still have a ways to go. And I think as far as your daughters, one last thing is obviously they may find a terrific situation. There are wonderful companies out there, but I also think it’s great when women go and start their own companies and they can create their dream environment. And so I’m a huge proponent of that as well.

John (20:11): Well, I’ll brag a little bit. One of them has started and sold a company already, and then the other one is, one of my other ones is actually runs my company. So Oh

Liz (20:20): My gosh. Oh wow. So they’re entrepreneurs already

John (20:24): And very

Liz (20:24): Successful ones.

John (20:26): I love that

Liz (20:27): They don’t have to deal with these issues, or

John (20:30): Hopefully not, but Liz,

Liz (20:32): Wow, thank you. I said you had kids. I wasn’t imagining they were old enough to do that. You’re much two young

John (20:38): For them. I’ve got seven grandkids, so Oh my gosh.

Liz (20:41): You’ve accomplished a lot. Pretty more than I have.

John (20:43): Well, I wouldn’t go there, but, well, Liz, I appreciate you stopping by the show today. You want to tell people where they can maybe connect with you or find out more about your work, especially the foundation, and then clearly pick up a copy of Dream Big and Win.

Liz (20:57): Oh, thank you. Thank you so much, John. Yes, so my website is, and my website is . And then the book, dream Big and Win can be bought on Amazon. So dream Big and Win. Liz Elting, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or whatever your preferred retailer is. But yes, thank you so much, John. This was wonderful.

John (21:21): Well, I appreciate you taking a moment, and hopefully we’ll run into one of these days out there on the road.

Liz (21:26): Oh, that would be amazing. So great talking to you. And so great talking to everybody.

Navigating the Nonfiction Author Journey

Navigating the Nonfiction Author Journey written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Honorée Corder

In today’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, we’re joined by Honorée Corder, an accomplished author, publishing consultant, and the founder of Indy Author University. With over 50 books to her name and a passion for turning aspiring nonfiction authors into best-selling and best-earning authors, Honoree brings an unparalleled perspective to the table. We discuss her recent book, Write Your First Nonfiction: A Primer for Aspiring Authors, and delve into the intricacies of authorship, focusing on the business benefits of publishing your own book.

Key Takeaway:

The decision to write a book shouldn’t be taken lightly, but it can be a powerful tool for business owners looking to boost their credibility and brand. Honorée emphasizes the need to start with clear goals and intentions, asking what you want the book to accomplish for you and your business. By answering key questions about the book’s purpose, target audience, and desired outcomes, aspiring authors can ensure that their book serves as a valuable asset for years to come. Whether you’re looking to clarify your message, attract clients, or establish expertise, a well-crafted book can set you apart in a competitive marketplace. .

Questions I ask Honorée Corder:

  • (01:59): What’s the first question someone should ask themselves if they’re contemplating writing a book?
  • (02:29): How do you approach the task of making a topic understandable to people?
  • (03:43): For aspiring authors, would you advise that writing a book could positively impact their business?
  • (04:36): Have your own publications contributed to the creation of your Author University and securing TEDx speaking opportunities?
  • (06:00): So if somebody came to you and said, I’m the best estate planning attorney and I want to write a book, where do you start with them?
  • (08:26): How do you guide someone in determining the appropriate length for their book?
  • (10:16): How do you assist in crafting a book structure that not only meets the author’s objectives but also keeps the audience engaged?
  • (14:11): Would you say that the more condensed you can make your first draft the better?

More About Honoree Corder:

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John Jantsch (00:05): Hey, this is John, and before we get started, I have a gift for you for being such an amazing listener. Everyone’s talking about AI these days, but most of it’s about tactics. We’ve created a series of prompts we use to create strategy, and you can have them for free. Just go to and grab yours. Now, let’s get started.

(00:37): Welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Honoree Corder. She’s author of more than 50 books, a publishing consultant, TEDx speaker, and the founder of Indie Author University Honoree Passionately Turns aspiring non-fiction authors into bestselling and best earning authors. I like that. Second part, she’s also runs the Empire Builder’s Mastermind, and we’re going to talk about her most recent book, write Your First Nonfiction, A Primer for Aspiring Authors. So welcome to the show.

Honoree Corder (01:13): I’m delighted to be with you. Thank you for having me.

John Jantsch (01:16): Awesome. So 50 books. Sometimes I tell people I’ve written seven in There’re so impressed, but 50 is crazy. When did you write your first book?

Honoree Corder (01:24): 2004.

John Jantsch (01:26): 2004. Do you remember the title?

Honoree Corder (01:28): Yes. Tall Order? I do. Yes. You never forget your first one, right?

John Jantsch (01:32): That’s right. That’s absolutely true. It’s funny, and I don’t know if you’ve experienced this on yours, but some of my books from writing, turning in a manuscript to publishing and being out there in the world and doing interviews like this might’ve been 18 months and somebody would ask me very specifically about something on page 27. I was like, I don’t know.

Honoree Corder (01:50): That does happen. Someone will say, what are the seven things? And I think, well, I don’t know what they were when I wrote the book, but I’ll give you seven things right now and let’s see how it goes.

John Jantsch (01:59): So let’s dive into, I mean there definitely are, as the title or subtitle mentions, there are many aspiring authors. What’s the first question somebody should ask themselves if they’re thinking I should write a book?

Honoree Corder (02:11): What’s in it for me? Really? Not me but them.

John Jantsch (02:14): Okay, yeah. Okay.

Honoree Corder (02:16): What’s in it for me? For them to write a book? Nothing. What is in it for them to become an author? What do they want the book to do for them, for their business, for their life, for their brand? So that’s the very first question.

John Jantsch (02:29): So there would be some people, and again, I know you have a little different take because the fact that you actually even said best earning authors, because I think there’s a lot of people that would suggest, oh, you have to have something important to say before you should write a book. What’s your take on helping people understand a topic?

Honoree Corder (02:45): Well, that’s such a great question. The reason I start with what’s in it for them is because sometimes it’s helping them to clarify their message or clarify their thoughts or crystallize what their places in the world about a particular topic.

John Jantsch (03:00): And I think it is probably healthy to have a conversation. I think a lot of people probably, I’m guessing people that come to you sometimes have a misconception about how hard the process is, how many books they could possibly sell. And so really tying that to what’s the end game? I mean, because a lot of work and so having an end game that seems appealing is probably a really good idea, isn’t it?

Honoree Corder (03:21): Yes. Start with why, and then understanding what the book will do for them, but then also understanding the job of the book because the book is an asset. It’s supposed to be an asset in one way or another, either it is something that gives you credibility, boosts your brand, or helps people to understand your process, how you think, and whether you’re the right person for them to hire.

John Jantsch (03:43): To that point, most nonfiction books are written by business owners who have something at stake in what they’re writing about. How do you help them? I mean, anybody walking down the street who fits that qualification, would you say to them, you should have a book because it can help your business?

Honoree Corder (03:59): So the offhanded answer that I give all the time when someone says, who should write a book? I say, if you perceive yourself as an expert and you would like others to perceive you as an expert, and there is anyone else out there who says, well, I do that. I’m an estate planning attorney. I’m the best c p a in the world. The one thing that will differentiate you more than anything else is having a book. So if there’s anyone else who does what you do and you want to be perceived as an expert and you have the miles and the hair, the silver and the credentials to back it up, then having a book is going to be the thing that will leave no doubt in their minds.

John Jantsch (04:36): Yeah, it’s interesting. Over the years I’ve had people that I’m absolutely certain did not read my book, but the fact that it was out there and it was on lists of things where that’s all that mattered, but certainly I’ve also had people that have said, I read your book and it makes total sense. When can we start working together? It really can lead to many avenues. Would you say your books that you’ve written have played a role in your developing your author university and your TEDx invitations?

Honoree Corder (05:05): I think all of the opportunities that have come to me in the past 19 years are in one way or another tied to a book that I have written

(05:14): And make anything that I attempt to do easier up to and including here’s what I do for a living. And someone will say, oh, I’d like to talk to you about that. Do you have a business card? And I say, well, I don’t actually now have a business card. I stop printing them. But I used to say, well, I do have a business card, but I also have a book, and I know you know this as being an author. When you tell someone you have a book, their face lights up, you become the coolest kid in the room and you go from being an introvert who wishes they stayed home to having the topic of a conversation built in and some common ground with someone because they will generally say, oh, I’d love to read your book because I want to know more about this topic. Or what’s it like to be an author? How do I become an author? Right. There’s some sort of instant connection that you have with someone when you are an author and it’s

John Jantsch (06:00): Great. No question. Let’s maybe get into what you teach in this particular book. And I guess I’ll start by saying if somebody came to you and because essentially this book is a little bit of a consulting roadmap for how to do their own book. So if somebody came to you and said, I’m the best estate planning attorney and I want to write a book, where do you start with them? Do you give them an assignment or I’m guessing most of ’em don’t come to you with a manuscript.

Honoree Corder (06:24): Most people do not come to me with a manuscript. They come to me with the knowing that they are author bound and they’re not sure. Do they take the train, the plane or the automobile to get there and what are the first steps? So I start them with initial questions, the first one you got, which is what’s in it for them? The second one is, what is the job of the book? And then we get into everything else. Question number three is, what do you want the reader to do as a result of reading your book? If they have no communication or conversation with you, this is not if they hire you, this is what’s their takeaway. In other words, don’t waste people’s time. In my humble opinion, don’t waste someone’s time just giving them a sales pitch for your estate planning, planning services. Tell them why they need an estate plan.

(07:07): Tell them how it’s going to protect them in their wealth and their heirs and give them some things they can do. If they never talk to you, how can they do some estate planning attorney’s going to send me an email and say, no, don’t have them Google how to write an estate plan, but what actions can they take on their own without you, there should be something in your book that allows someone to have their own transformation without the author involvement. Question number four is what do you want your reader to not do for this book? For write your first nonfiction book. I want aspiring authors to not write their book. I want them to write their book. I want them to fail to procrastinate. I want them to actually write their book. And then ultimately the fifth question is, what do you want the right reader to do? What do you want The person who reads your book and likes your message and likes what you have to say and likes your area of expertise? What’s the next step in their journey? What do you want them to do next? So those are the first five questions that I give them, and then I ask them to write down some of the common questions that they are asked as professionals.

John Jantsch (08:10): Do you immediately get into, because a book that like you just described, where maybe the ultimate goal is I want them to hire me as their estate planner since we started down that path. Yeah, let’s go. There probably doesn’t have to be a 400 page book, does it?

Honoree Corder (08:24): It does not, no.

John Jantsch (08:26): So how do you get them to start thinking about length, for example?

Honoree Corder (08:29): Well, I have the lawyer answer. So we’re talking about estate planning attorneys, right? So I’ll do the lawyer answer and the answer is, how long should a book be? Let depend, right? It depends on how long is it going to take you to fulfill the job that you’ve given the book, tell them what they need to be told, nothing more, nothing less. You don’t need to add in all sorts of things to make people feel good about reading a 300 page book because they won’t. As a matter of fact, this is only a hundred pages. It’s 15. I think this one is 21,000 words. It’s a fast read designed to empower someone to take action, to get out of procrastination and into action. If I wrote a 300 page book, I’m writing your first nonfiction book, probably it would just sit there. People would say, oh, I want to write a book. I’ll get that book and then I’m going to lovingly place it on my bedside table where it will sit and collect dust and I will lovingly move it to the long-term bookshelf, and then the next time I move, I will lovingly donate it to the library having never read it. And so that factors in to how long should the book be? The book should be long enough so that the person solves their problem, feels empowered to take action and is ready to move on to the next step. Once they’ve read

John Jantsch (09:38): The book. Don’t most attorneys need about 125 pages to talk about who they are. I’m just kidding. Sorry. That was unfair.

Honoree Corder (09:45): I’m not an attorney. I’m not offended at all.

John Jantsch (09:47): In fact, there’s kind of a trend towards smallish books I think with the idea that they’re not so overwhelming. I could read this on one plane ride. I think I’ve heard somebody say it. That’s an ideal length for many books because I do think there is an intimidation factor if somebody looks at a book and goes, oh man, I don’t know when I would ever get through this.

Honoree Corder (10:05): Yes, because time is everyone’s most precious asset. And when you look at a book, I immediately say, how long is this going to take me to read? And when am I going to be able to allocate that

John Jantsch (10:16): Time? I want to ask this question. So your answer isn’t duh, but a book needs to be organized. Well, I’ve worked with many editors that have rearranged things in my writing really with the idea of that’s not everybody’s power skill. How do you work with somebody about getting the right structure for a book that’s going to accomplish their goals and not just drone on about some topic until they bore people to death?

Honoree Corder (10:41): Well, so I think you’re asking, you’re not asking a Doug question. It does need to be well organized. But I think that one of the reasons people who want to write a book don’t write a book is because they get overwhelmed with where does everything go. You start from the perspective of what are the questions that I need to answer in this book? And then you think if I were answering how do I get to the grocery store from my house? I’d say, you go to the end of the driveway, you’d make a right, you’d make another right. And you’d go until you see the grocery store on your right, everything’s on the right. Apparently. That’s the logical way to give directions. There is a logical way to explain to your reader the contents of your book. However, worrying too much about that in the aspiring author in writing can really paralyze someone.

(11:29): And that’s unfortunate. You do not want to publish your book without the aid of your village. You need the people that are going to help you publish it. And if it is your first book, you probably want to developmental editor. You probably might even want a book doctor, someone who’s going to get in there with you and say, but I think chapter two would be better in chapter seven because I’d like you to lay a little bit more groundwork before you dive right into where’s the binder when you die? Let’s get into what goes into the binder first. Right. Let’s have you die at the end of the book with your estate plan as opposed to in the beginning. Right? Yeah.

John Jantsch (12:02): Makes total sense. So

Honoree Corder (12:03): Having people wrap some arms around the process with other people is actually gives you some peace because then you can just say, I feel like writing about this right now. I’m going to worry about where it goes in the book specifically later.

John Jantsch (12:17): Yeah. Do you help people through, because again, I have lots of clients that I’ve asked to write a blog post, 500, 700 words, and they’re paralyzed. And actually even in my own writing over the years, I’m actually, I write from a outline subheads all the way through to where if I do that part, I can write a couple thousand words almost in my sleep because it’s outlined for me already. Is that a process you would recommend for the person who, I mean even 21,000 words, for some people it’s going to sound like a huge mountain.

Honoree Corder (12:49): So first let’s reduce it to the ridiculous and just say 21,000 words was written, 250, 500 and a thousand words at a time. So if you’ve written three emails today, you’ve probably written five words and you didn’t think how many words were in that email. You didn’t get wrapped around the tree about the word count until you were putting it into the perspective of a book. So sometimes a book feels big bigger than what we can wrap our minds around, and so therefore we’re paralyzed. So the first thing is focus on writing that next bullet point. And to your point, when I’m writing a book, I take the questions that I want to answer in my book and I put them in a logical or linear order and then I break it down what are the points that I need to write about in order to answer this question and what’s the next point and what’s the next point and what’s the next point?

(13:39): And I take it one, I write in Pomodoro’s, 25 minute writing sprints. I write in Pomodoro’s. I’m not worried about 21,000 words or 50,000 words or 70,000 words I’m just focused on today and this 25 minutes that I have to write and this Pomodoro. And then I look, how many words did I write? 300, 500, a thousand. Okay, great. I’ll come back tomorrow and write some more. If you can reduce it to the ridiculous and not get so overwhelmed by it’s going to be a book, it’s going to be a big deal. It’s easier to get through it.

John Jantsch (14:11): Again, this is probably going to fall into the depends category because there isn’t any one way, but I could see some people going, oh yeah, I’m going to work on that when I have time here and I have time there. And next thing they know, six months have gone by and they’re still not through the book. Would you say that the most condensed you can make your at least first pass the better?

Honoree Corder (14:31): Yes. Give yourself a deadline and just work on it a little bit every day. You are not ever going to not to get a sabbatical to a beautiful island where I get to just write my manuscript, I have to fit it in. It’s my job, but it is my job to make sure that I carve out that time every day to put words up on the page. That’s the only way I get the books written.

John Jantsch (14:53): And I know a lot of people that give themselves like a thousand words a day and stop, that kind of thing. I wrote my first book, the bulk of my first book over three day weekends. I just locked. In fact, I did actually go to someplace where there was nobody there, a house that my in-laws owned. There was nobody there and locked myself away for three day weekends. But then I wrote the Self-Reliant Entrepreneur over, it’s a whole different type of book, but I would write a couple hundred words a day and I’m not sure which. I think the actual couple hundred words a day was more painful just

Honoree Corder (15:27): By a thousand paper cuts kind of thing.

John Jantsch (15:30): Exactly. As opposed to just go trudge through it. But everybody has to make it work for they. That’s right. So there are obviously many ways to get the book published once it is written. Do you find that going a traditional route is still a legitimate avenue for many people, particularly since self-publishing and hybrid publishing has become so much more flexible and so much more acceptable?

Honoree Corder (15:51): I think that all three paths are fantastic, and it just depends on the author and what their desired outcome is. Some people want to go the traditional route, they want someone else to handle all of the details. They want that validation. They want to know that they have climbed that mountain and someone who has a position at a publishing company and said, give you that stamp of approval. I think it’s becoming more and more challenging as publishing is changing. The hybrid model is not my favorite, so we’ll skip right over that. And I am a hundred percent indie published except I have many foreign translations, and those have all been brokered through traditional agency to other countries because I don’t have a line of sight. I don’t speak Lithuanian or Russian or German or French or Italian. So I’m very grateful that there is someone to handle that side of the business.

(16:40): And just as we record this, I’ve released an audio book traditionally with Podium Publishing, and they are the world’s largest producer of audio books, and they came to me and they published the bestselling book Formula and they’re publishing, write your first nonfiction book in audio, but I have a little traditional experience myself. We’ll see how it goes. I don’t have any objection to any one of those. My hope is that whichever way someone chooses, they think about the book as an asset that could work for them for 10 years and is published as professionally and profoundly as possible so that it does what they want it to do in their head. The most frustrating thing for me is hearing someone who’s bummed out or disappointed in what their book is, either because of how quickly they publish it and they didn’t know which boxes to check or they thought, oh, I’m just going to let an expert handle it. And then the expert didn’t do a great job for them, and so they’re just disappointed in the results of the book or the sales of the book, or the book isn’t doing what they wanted it to do.

John Jantsch (17:40): Yeah, so I’m glad you mentioned audiobook again, it’s become easier to do as well, and I would certainly think that you encourage people to go that route as well.

Honoree Corder (17:48): I do. It’s the fastest growing segment of publishing. It is so easy for someone to find the time to read a book because they can do it while they’re driving to and from work on the treadmill, walking their dog, cleaning their house. When you’re physically reading a book, that’s all you can do. You have to focus. But when you’re reading a book in audio form, the possibilities are endless on how you can consume that content

John Jantsch (18:12): At two times speed even.

Honoree Corder (18:14): Oh yes, two and three times.

John Jantsch (18:16): Some people need speed to sped up actually. It’s not efficiency, it’s just they should read faster. They should read. Enunciation

Honoree Corder (18:23): Is hard at speed.

John Jantsch (18:25): It is. Right. But I know certainly on my older books, there’s more audio books sold than the print books by far now for that edition. Anyway, so honor, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by. Talk about your first nonfiction. You want to tell people where they could connect with you or find your work and your books.

Honoree Corder (18:42): Yeah, so my books are everywhere books are sold and my website is And I’m just delighted to meet you and have a conversation with you about books.

John Jantsch (18:51): Absolute pleasure. Appreciate you taking the time. Hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days out there on the road. I would love it.

How To Create The Life You Want In One Year

How To Create The Life You Want In One Year written by Shawna Salinger read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Lisa McCarthy

Lisa McCarthy, a guest on the Duct Tape Marketing PodcastIn this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Lisa McCarthy, co-founder and CEO of the Fast Forward Group. Lisa has designed a groundbreaking system that’s already changed the lives of over 100,000 professionals across industries, from tech giants like Google and Amazon to financial institutions like JP Morgan Chase.

Her book, “Fast Forward: Five Principles to Create the Life You Want in Just One Year,” lays out the actionable steps for transforming your career and personal life within a year. Today, we dive deep into these power principles and discuss the urgency of a one-year timeline.

Key Takeaway:

The essence of the Fast Forward system lies in its practicality and time-bound nature. A one-year plan, as opposed to more extended timelines, offers a sense of immediacy and accountability. The system challenges you to declare a vivid and specific vision, take immediate actions, and assume control over various facets of your life. With a balance between professional and personal growth, the Fast Forward system underscores the importance of being the driver—not just the passenger—in your life’s journey.

Questions I ask Lisa McCarthy:

  • [01:22] What’s the idea behind creating your life in a year?
  • [02:49] Why a one-year plan instead of a three to five-year plan?
  • [03:52] What is the ‘power principle’?
  • [05:26] What is the reasoning behind having people declare a bold vision for their lives?
  • [10:00] The second principle is to reframe your negative stories. How do people flip the switch on that?
  • [15:17] Can you provide examples of coaching people from their current language to more action-oriented language?
  • [20:58] Where can people connect with you to learn more about your work or pick up a copy of your book?

More About Lisa McCarthy:

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John Jantsch (00:00): Hey, this is John, and before we get started, I have a gift for you for being such an amazing listener. Everyone’s talking about AI these days, but most of it’s about tactics. We’ve created a series of prompts we use to create strategy, and you can have them for free. Just go to and grab yours. Now. Let’s get started.

(00:30): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Lisa McCarthy. She’s the co-founder and CEO of the Fast Forward Group, a professional development and executive coaching company that has transformed the careers and lives of more than 100,000 professionals at leading companies around the world, such as Amazon, TikTok, Google, JP Morgan, Chase, Ford, and more. Lisa is designed a simple and immediately actionable system of power principles to help people achieve success and fulfillment in their whole lives. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today because that is the basis of her book. Fast Forward five Principles to Create the Life you Want in just one year. So Lisa, welcome to the show.

Lisa McCarthy (01:16): Thank you. Great to be here.

John Jantsch (01:19): So I’m sure everybody starts here. I’m going to have to start here. You put a timeline on somebody creating the life they want in one year. So tell me a little bit about the basis of that and where that comes from.

Lisa McCarthy (01:32): Yeah. Well, what we’ve found throughout our lives and careers is that people have a to-do list. They have goals, and it’s challenging, particularly when you’re working in a fast-paced, high pressure, constantly changing company to zoom out. And so we have a lot of ambition dreams that mostly we keep to ourselves, and if we do share them, they occur as a someday. And so our system recommends that people go one year out. And it’s funny because when we first started working and developing the curriculum, Facebook was one of our first clients and they were working on a weekly basis printing money at the time, and they said, we can’t go even a quarter out. We could only think till Friday. And we said, well, in order to get people thinking big and believing and seeing more possible, we have to go out one year. And some people will say, oh, should we go three years? And we say, you know what? One year you really are putting a line in the sand and there’s things to commit to. And even if you don’t get to them by the end of the year, even if you fail, it’s worth playing for versus it’s staying in your head as a someday.

John Jantsch (02:49): And I think that’s a timeline that’s probably, people can think, yeah, okay, a year, I can stick with that. But that’s also some immediacy because there are plenty of books out there that talk about three and five-year planning for businesses, and I’m kind of with you. It’s almost kind of like a wish at that point rather than a goal, isn’t it?

Lisa McCarthy (03:06): Yes, very much. I think a year is viable and it also brings a little pressure, which is a good thing, which is a good thing because when something’s bound in time, people feel more accountable. And in our system, we give a very rigorous approach to designing a vision one year out and stating as if it’s already happened, which is very different from goal setting. And we ask them to be vivid and specific and measurable, not I want to improve something or I want to be a better manager. It’s very specific and measurable. And then ask them, coach them to come back to the present and look at what are the next three steps I could take? So very different from my action or to-do list.

John Jantsch (03:56): Yeah. So you use the term power principle. I think most people understand at least the basic concept of a principle. What are you bringing to the table with this idea of a power principle?

Lisa McCarthy (04:06): Our system. So there’s so much in life that we cannot control. We can’t control the economy, we can’t control the weather, especially now, we can’t control a lot of things that are going to happen in our company that gets sent on down from the top and we can’t control other people, although we’ll keep trying. So the whole book is about where, what can I control? Where do I have the power to improve and change? Where can I take a hundred percent responsibility? So each of the power principles focus on giving people actionable tools and exercises to zoom out and take control of your life. A lot of people are just in the passenger versus the driver’s seat, and we always say, you had the power all along. It’s up to you to exercise it. So declare bold vision, then we move to choosing a new perspective. You can control your mindset, creating an action plan. You can control where you spend your time and energy, and then we move into communication, another thing you can control. So it’s all about control and power in a positive way, in a positive way, and taking responsibility for how your life looks.

John Jantsch (05:26): Let’s talk a little bit about that first one. You mentioned the idea declare a bold vision. I mean, I think, I don’t know, I’ve done several thousand interviews on my podcast over the years, a lot of books on leadership and that idea of a vision for a business is really common idea. You have a specific exercise for that. I’d love it if you could unpack maybe why you, because I think a lot of people accept this idea. A lot of people have trouble actually doing it, so I wonder if you could kind of unpack your exercise for that.

Lisa McCarthy (05:55): Yeah. Well, the exercise is for an individual. So a lot of times people are doing visions for their team or their company, and those can be very compelling. And this is about at an individual level, a year from today, what does extraordinary success look like? Really defining it. So it’s not about wordsmithing, a three page, excuse me, a three sentence essay, which always used to drive me crazy when I took courses like that. This is about, we’re going to give you seven questions, John, and you are going to step off the treadmill and you’re going to answer those questions. And these questions are not just about business goals, these questions are about your whole life. So as an example, the very first question is a year from today, what are you known for? People are typically not conscious of how they’re showing up and who they’re being, not only as a leader or as a professional, but as a sister, as a parent, as a friend, as a colleague.

(07:06): So very early in the book and our program, you’re going to raise your consciousness because most people, they’re not even thinking they’re just going sleeping. Then we have traditional business questions about what would extraordinary look like in terms of growth. We have all disciplines. So for engineers, it’s going to look different from salespeople, it’s going to look different from lawyers. But you really want to define not only outcomes that are predictable. We don’t want to play unpredictable. This whole process is about playing for bold, uncomfortable outcomes that you may not had to achieve. And if you think about corporate America, it’s not designed for that. People want to play it safe under promise, over deliver, get paid, get promoted. This is not that exercise, this is that exercise. Keep it to yourself. We recommend sharing some of the things with your manager because if you’re not letting your manager know a year from today, here’s where I want to be in terms of my career, don’t plan on moving.

(08:09): Your hard work is not going to, excuse me, get you promoted, right? You have to take ownership of your career. So you’re writing down bold, uncomfortable business outcomes. If you don’t feel uncomfortable, you’re not playing big enough but uncomfortable in a way that you’re not up at two in the morning, uncomfortable in a way that I would feel so proud a year from today to have myself and my team accomplish that. And then how do you bring that same level of boldness and rigor and discipline to your personal life and to your relationships? I mean, we’ve had people in the program say, I don’t think about the quality of my relationships. I want to stay married. I want to get together with my friends. But they’re not really thoughtful about who are the people that really matter. And in the end, at our funerals, they’re not going to talk about 25% business growth or market share.

(09:07): I mean, it’s all important. Work is fulfilling. And if you drop out, whether it’s culture, friendships, health, and when we work with people, they’re dropping out a lot of those things. I’ve had people in the program that they’ll sleep when they retire, they’ll spend time with their kids after the I P O. And so this is an opportunity to really believe fundamentally that I can succeed and excel at work and I have enough time to do what’s important. I can take time and invest in my wellbeing. I can make a list of the relationships that matter and pay attention. For most human beings, this is a breakthrough. They’re just not thinking like that. They’re not thinking whole life. And that’s really what sets this book apart from most of the things on the market.

John Jantsch (10:00): I want to dive into number two, choose a new perspective. You talk about reframe negative stories that hold you back. I don’t think anybody would disagree with that, but a lot of those negative stories that hold people back, they’ve had a lifetime of carrying those around. How do you flip the switch on that?

Lisa McCarthy (10:18): Yeah, that is for sure. First off, I’ll state that my partner and I are not therapists. We’re not PhDs in brain science. The book does have a lot of research in it. And what’s made the biggest difference is practicing this model on our own lives and then sharing it with people throughout the last decade. You’re absolutely right, there’s negative. First of all, if you’re walking through life thinking, I just crushed that presentation, I’m going to get promoted. I’m such a great parent, I’ve never looked better, keep going. But that’s not usually what people are saying, right? We’re saying negative. We have negative stories about ourselves, other people and the circumstances, and they really do hold us back. Now, why do people change? They change because they ultimately unpack the negative story and recognize the cost. So step one is, what is my negative perspective or story?

(11:21): What is the cost of that story? And then what’s another story I could choose? So as an example, and I’ll share one of my own, when I was back in corporate America, there was a reorg. There were many, but I got layered under someone that I was not a fan of, and I went home, and this was more temporal. It wasn’t something that I had for decades, and a lot of times people have those too. But I was very upset, very disappointed, and went off about it with my husband, how did this happen? And this is not fair and this is never going to work, and I’m giving you the very short version. But my overall story was like, this is a mistake and it’s never going to work. And then when my husband said, well, are you going to put together your resume? Are you ready to find another job?

(12:14): I said, absolutely not. I love my team, I love this company. I’m paid well. And he said, well, am I going to have to listen to this every night? Which was a fair question. And this was really self-coaching. Self-coaching, using the model, which everybody that reads this book can do. I certainly could have suffered for months and months complaining to my colleagues and complaining to my friends. But given I didn’t want to change the circumstances and leave the company, I brainstorm new perspectives, which is what our model helps you do. And I ultimately took on, I can learn from every manager. Now, did I believe it at the time? It wasn’t authentic, but I then said, okay, so this is my new perspective. What can I do? Well, I can have breakfast with him and get to know him as a human being. I can share in a very proactive way our business vision and strategy and get his coaching on various things.

(13:14): And ultimately, I did. I did. So it was really about completing the past and all this stuff. I had a story about him. I have big collecting evidence. That’s what we do as human beings. And then unfortunately, human beings often choose to be right versus happy. So that’s what the model really helps you with. If you have a negative perspective about other people, we’re so busy being right and righteous, and I always say in the program like, Tom is not getting fired because that’s what they’re hoping. So Tom or that team is not getting eliminated. So if you need Tom or that team to be successful, what’s another perspective you could take on? And then we have people in the program that have collected evidence for years that I’m not good with conflict. I’m not good speaking in large groups. I’m not strategic, whatever it might be.

(14:11): I’m not good with numbers collecting evidence throughout the years. And that’s what stopped them. Because if you believe something to be true, you’re not going to take any actions to change it. So this has been so game changing for people to try on a new perspective about themselves and about other people, even if they don’t believe it at first. It may not be authentic at first, but they’re willing to say, okay, the current lens I’m looking through is disempowering and there’s high cost to me, so let me just go for it. Take on this new perspective. And it’s been massively valued to people we’re constantly hearing back over the last decade, they’ve had a breakthrough in confidence, they’ve had a breakthrough in communication and in relationships, both professional and personal. You’re not quitting your family, this is your family.

John Jantsch (15:04): You do have to admit though, that you kind of wanted to punch your husband a little bit at the time.

Lisa McCarthy (15:09): Probably it wasn’t the best night of our marriage, but I wanted him just to listen, but it didn’t play out that way.

John Jantsch (15:18): Alright, let’s talk about, you talk a lot about, in the book about language and changing your language of action, you actually call it. Can you give me some examples of where you’ve coached people through, here’s the language you’re using today, here’s the language of action that you might consider.

Lisa McCarthy (15:35): Yeah, so one of the biggest pain points our participants face in their companies is meetings. And the reason this is such a pain point is because people are generally going back to back with phone calls and meetings. There’s very little preparation. People are winging it. They may spend more time preparing for a client meeting and they’ve never been trained in. How do you manage a conversation towards a desired outcome? Because if you think about it, most meetings have an agenda. This is what we’re going to cover, which has a lot of what we’d call in the stands we’re going to describe, we’re going to forecast, we’re going to explain all of those things can make a difference. And we’re coaching people to get on the field, okay, what do we do on the field? We start with the finish.

(16:33): How will this meeting be successful at the end? What is our desired outcome from this phone call or this team meeting? We’re not just here to cover and inform. As an example, if it’s an internal meeting, we’re out to, if I’m a manager, I’m out to have my team leave appreciating how their work contributes to the greater vision and leave with ideas that are going to ignite them and inspire them to work in a productive way that week versus covering stuff that’s boring where people are checked out and on their phones. And this really has helped our, for example, our sales teams, because often we get with sales teams and they have a long deck largely about themselves because they’re so excited about their products and they have a lot to say, and you got to reel that back because we always need to stand in the customer’s shoes and say, what do they care about?

(17:30): And why should they care about anything that we have to say? And so that’s a breakthrough for a lot of sales teams. Let’s start with their business, their priorities, their competition. What would be a breakthrough for them? How have we helped other clients address those challenges and how can we help you? So I’m riffing that like, oh, it’s so easy. But people aren’t doing that. They’re going in capability pitches or not going in with a plan at all, particularly with internal meetings. So we’re training people in managing conversations, and we even have a conversation planner in the book. So you can start from the finish and ensure that it is a conversation versus a presentation. A lot of people are getting into a meeting, they’re presenting, they’re trying to get through their slides, and then at the end with four minutes left, they’re saying any questions?

(18:26): And that question, any questions is the death toll. Nobody’s going to say anything. Nobody’s going to say anything. So part of the training is if I really want to get feedback, I need to say, Sam, what are your thoughts on this? Or open up a question. What are you thinking right now? How does this fit in with the rest of your strategy? Does this match up with what you’re seeing your people are saying? So you’re asking open-ended questions. And one of the most powerful plays in managing conversations is you ask the questions and then you stare at people and then they ultimately speak. A lot of people, if they’re so uncomfortable with silence that they just move into the next question and start talking. So part of this breakthrough in communication is listening, is pausing, is giving people a chance to think, but it’s always about starting with the finish.

(19:26): And while mostly in the book we focus on professional application of this, it’s super relevant with coaching, whether it’s at work or at home, right? Because if I want to need to give some constructive feedback, I want to start with the finish and say, how am I going to leave this person empowered to believe that I care and see how changing his or her behavior and mindset will be a value to them? And that’s not usually, we’re really not being thoughtful about what’s happening over there, what’s happening over there, even with your kids. My kids will go on and on about some complaint and then I will have them feel heard. Got it, got it, got it, got it. And even though I’m dying to give advice, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to ask them, well, what do you think you should do? How would you like it to look? And this is all in the book, what are the coaching questions to help people help themselves, which is very hard to do because we’re dying to help everyone.

John Jantsch (20:42): Plus I just want the damn answer.

Lisa McCarthy (20:44): Just tell me what to do, just tell me what to, and that’s a big challenge in management and at home, except for my husband. He doesn’t want to be told what to do. Yeah, he says that he doesn’t work for me.

John Jantsch (20:59): Lisa, I certainly appreciate you just taking some time to come by the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. Why don’t you tell me where you invite people, where they might connect with you, find obviously about your work, and pick up a copy of Fast Forward?

Lisa McCarthy (21:09): Sure. So our website is , and there’s a tab right there where you can tap on the book. We’re in presale right now, and order it at a variety of different places and you’ll get it in September or it will make a massive difference in your career and life, and that’s how to find out more.

John Jantsch (21:31): Well again, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

Lisa McCarthy (21:36): Great. Thank you, John.

Navigating the Performance Paradox

Navigating the Performance Paradox written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Eduardo Briceño

Eduardo Briceño, a guest on the Duct Tape Marketing PodcastIn this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Eduardo Briceño. He is a global keynote speaker and facilitator who guides many of the world’s leading companies in developing cultures of learning and high performance. Earlier in his career, he was the co-founder and CEO of Mindset Works, the first company to offer growth mindset development services. 

His new book, The Performance Paradox: Turning the Power of Mindset into Action, helps you discover how to balance learning and performing to bolster personal and team success.


Key Takeaway:

The performance paradox is based on the constant focus on performing tasks at a high level which can lead to burnout and stagnation rather than improvement. Eduardo highlights the importance of incorporating learning and improvement into daily tasks and goals and he explores the concept of the “learning zone” and the need to balance performance with deliberate efforts to experiment, seek feedback, and continuously grow.

Questions I ask Eduardo Briceño:

  • [01:08] What is the paradox?
  • [01:37] So the paradox is that instead of people getting better, they actually burn out or perform worse?
  • [04:22] You’re suggesting something that’s very structured, right? Is that really the only way to get things done?
  • [06:38] What you’re suggesting is that we can actually empower people to make leadership-type decisions, right?
  • [07:52] The book is broken up into two major sections targeting the individual as well as the organization. One of the tools that you talk about for the individual is the idea of a growth propeller. Can you explain that?
  • [10:48] If you work at a place and you like the place you work at, but your coworker community is not necessarily driving you to meet your goals in the learning capacity. Is that something you should proactively be thinking about building?
  • [12:27] How do I create a learning organization? What are some of the things that an organization can do, especially if they haven’t been seeing themselves as such?
  • [14:29] Should we add learning goals as part of how we would evaluate the effectiveness of a team member?
  • [16:22] What are the characteristics that you think really have to exist for this to work?
  • [18:32] Have you seen incentive packages and recruiting approaches that really are rewarding that growth mentality?

More About Eduardo Briceño:

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John Jantsch (00:00): Hey, this is John, and before we get started, I have a gift for you for being such an amazing listener. Everyone’s talking about AI these days, but most of it’s about tactics. We’ve created a series of prompts we use to create strategy, and you can have them for free. Just go to DTM world slash free prompts and grab yours. Now. Let’s get started.

(00:30): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Eduardo Briceño. He’s a global keynote speaker and facilitator who guides many of the world’s leading companies in developing cultures of learning and high performance. Earlier in his career, he was a co-founder and CEO of Mindset works, the first company to offer growth mindset development services. We’re going to talk about his new book, the Performance Paradox: Turning The Power of Mindset into Action. So Edar, welcome to the show.

Eduardo Briceño (01:04): Thank you, John. Thanks for having me here.

John Jantsch (01:06): You bet. So let’s start with the title. What is the paradox?

Eduardo Briceño (01:10): The performance paradox is the counterintuitive phenomenon that if we’re always performing, our performance suffers. So we actually achieve lower results if we’re only performing. And by performing, I mean focusing on doing things as best as we know how, trying to minimize mistakes, what we’re doing come game time. That’s what I mean by performing.

John Jantsch (01:37): So the paradox of that then is you’re saying that’s actually the counterintuitive thought is instead of just getting better and better, you actually have burnout or people they perform worse? Is that what you’re saying?

Eduardo Briceño (01:48): Yeah, we can have burnout, but at the very least, like you’re saying, we don’t get better. So what happens is to understand the idea. If we take it out of our context, let’s look at, for example, sports. If you take any sport, you’re in the game. Say for example, you’re playing tennis and you’re in a championship, you’re trying to win the game, you’re having trouble with a particular move, you’re going to avoid that move during that match because all you care about is winning and doing things as best as you know how. But then for the great athletes, the people who become fantastic at what they do after the game, they go to their coach and say, coach, I have to work on this thing. This thing that I wasn’t doing during the game, I wasn’t doing. Now I need to work on that. So that’s a very different activity, an area of attention and focus than when we do, when we’re performing and often in work and life, we just get wrapped up in our to-do list, just worried about getting things done, and that keeps us at our current level of effectiveness rather than finding opportunities to be more effective over time and achieve more.

John Jantsch (02:52): It’s interesting, I’ve heard athletes talk about that, particularly athletes that have become entrepreneurs talk about this idea that I only play once a week. I’m only on game time once a week. The rest of the time I’m working on stuff, I’m practicing. Entrepreneurs are like, it’s 24 7, I’m a game time, and it really does make a lot of sense.

Eduardo Briceño (03:12): And so well with athletes, they have kind of the privilege that they can spend a lot of time in practice focused only on performance and then that short amount of time where they’re performing or focused only on improvement most of the time, and then that short amount of time where they’re in game time, they can show us what they have learned, how good they are in our normal jobs and life, we need to be getting things done all the time or most of the time. So the opportunity for most of us is to get things done in a way that’s also going to lead to improvement. So that we have two goals as we do things. One is to get things done, but the other one is to figure out ways to do things better. So that means we have to not be doing the same thing in the same way every day, but we have to be trying new things, experimenting, listening to your podcast to get ideas about what to do differently, reading, soliciting feedback from customers or measuring what we do in terms of marketing to see what works better, doing AP tests all the time.

(04:12): So those are examples of how we can get things done in a way that’s also going to lead to improvement.

John Jantsch (04:19): When I listen to you talk about that, I mean that you’re really suggesting something that’s very structured. I mean, this is not like nap time would be right? It’s like every day at two o’clock we should have nap time, or every day at two o’clock we should have learning time. I mean, is that really the only way it’s going to get done? There’s always more to do in the performance category, right?

Eduardo Briceño (04:40): Yeah. So structures are so powerful and habits, I agree. So for example, a structure that a lot of teams have is a weekly meeting. And so at LinkedIn for example, they have a weekly meeting with their top 100 leaders, and when they started focusing on growth mindset and on improvement, what they did is they tweaked the agenda for the weekly meeting where there’s a section of that meeting where every week they talk about what somebody learned the prior week during that time, anybody is welcome to come and say, Hey, this is what I learned, this is what I’m going to do differently going forward. So their colleagues can benefit from that lesson as well. Or when we’re doing marketing, making sure we have ways to measure the effect of the different campaigns to see what works better and continuing to iterate from there. Absolutely, the structures and habits are critical or individually what we do every morning. And for me, being deliberate about what I’m trying to get better at and reminding myself of what that is every morning, the morning habit becomes effortless. I do it every morning, but then it prompts me to be looking for opportunities to improve in that area throughout the day.

John Jantsch (05:47): So you actually identify a couple zones when people are in their performance zone as when they’re in their learning zone and learning’s not just simply reading a book, is it?

Eduardo Briceño (05:57): No, absolutely. So I mean, it can be right? Learning can be reading a book or watching something or listening to something, but learning can also be integrated with performance. So there’s the learning zone, the performance zone, and then there’s, when we do the two together, often people have talked about that as learning by doing, but the reality is we don’t just learn by doing. If we just do something, it doesn’t actually lead to learning to, but we can learn while doing so that we can do things and get things done in a way that we’re going to be generating ideas, trying new things, measuring what works better and getting better over time as we get things done.

John Jantsch (06:36): So again, thinking about this structure, would you suggest that people actually need to identify, I don’t know if we call it zones, but time for learning and then further that, I mean, sometimes learning by doing means you have to be really bad at something or less productive maybe to find it a better way. So we also have to have permission for that. We

Eduardo Briceño (06:58): Absolutely, when the stakes are high and mistakes are very costly, we switch to our performance zone and that is appropriate and that we need to be doing that when the stakes are high, when there’s a very important customer that we’re meeting with or it’s a championship game, we want to be putting our best foot forward. So to your point, we want to identify what does my performance zone look like? When is that and when do I want to not focus on learning and when and how do I want to focus on learning? What strategies am I going to use? Who is going to help me learn? Well, who am I going to be soliciting feedback from and being deliberate about that and aligning with our colleagues on that. Because if you’re going into a meeting with a customer and you’re not clear on, are we just going to be performing, putting our best foot forward doing what works, which is appropriate sometimes, or are we going to be experimenting in a small way here and just getting on the same page, right? Yeah.

John Jantsch (07:50): Yeah. So the book is broken up into two major sections, targeting the individual as well as then the organization, because those two, especially in the workplace, those two are going to go hand in hand how successful the individual is. Might have something to do with how open the company is to this idea. But one of the tools, I’m a consultant as well, so I love a good metaphor and framework. One of the tools that you talk about for the individual is this idea of a growth propeller. I wonder if you could kind of unpack that one.

Eduardo Briceño (08:19): Yeah. So the growth propeller is something that helps us think about how we want to continue to evolve ourselves to be great learners and great performers, and really it can help us think about how we want to shape ourselves to be successful in any area of our lives. And so at the picture propeller with three blades at the center of it, we have our identity and our purpose. And the three blades are beliefs, habits, and community. So when it comes to our identity, it’s really important for us to see ourselves as a learner, as someone who is continuing to change. And over time, sometimes we want to think of ourselves as naturals, like we are gifted and we have something special around us, and that’s why we can do things very well. And then that doesn’t lead us to continue to want to learn and get even better over time.

(09:09): And when we struggle, we take that as evidence that we’re not good, and so we go do something else. So our identity of being a learner and continuing to change over time, we need a purpose, a reason that we care about for both putting effort into learning and effort into performing. So that’s like we can be tinkering with things that we care about, thinking about the contribution and the effect that we have on our colleagues and our customers so that it gives us a purpose, like the energy to put effort into both zones. And then I unpack some kind of key beliefs, habits, and aspects of our community that help us be more effective in both of those zones. For example, belief about transparency is really important. When we make our thinking visible to other people, then we can learn more because they can give us feedback on our thinking and they can learn more because we’re making our thinking visible to them.

(10:02): So that’s an example of a belief. What do we think about transparency and how do we use it in our lives in terms of habits, how we respond to mistakes is what I call a responsive habit, but how do we practically drive our growth and what are some proactive habits or something to think about? And our community is super important, the people around us, because the people around us, whether they see themselves as learners, whether they act like learners with us and in collaboration with us, that affects us a lot. So who are we working with and living with and how are we continuing to shape ourselves? And the way that we collaborate with each other is something to think about as well.

John Jantsch (10:42): So further on the community aspect, it feels a little bit like you’re saying. I mean if you work at a place and you like the place you work at, but your coworker community is not necessarily going to drive you to meet your goals in the learning capacity, I mean, is that something you should proactively be thinking about building who can I, even if it’s networking or mentors or something, who can I surround myself with? Not necessarily just my coworkers?

Eduardo Briceño (11:09): Absolutely. Yeah, we can think about what can I most influence or control or influence. So the thing that I can most control and influence is myself. So how do I perceive things? How do I behave? And then there’s the people who are close to us and we can try to influence them. We can try to share an idea or a video or an article with them and say, Hey, this resonated with me. What do you think about this? Do we want more of this in our team? And see if you can continue to shape the culture of your team in the way that you want. Sometimes teams will respond to that, sometimes they won’t. And we can work on continuing to get better in our ability to influence others. But to your point, we can look also beyond our team, whether it is our friends or other people in other departments or mentors, and get those relationships that will support us and help us learn and grow over time.

John Jantsch (12:03): Like book clubs, we have a Slack channel that people are constantly dropping in, Hey, here’s something I read, I think everybody would be really interested in. So those little things can actually, I’ve seen them have impact on the culture.

Eduardo Briceño (12:15): Absolutely.

John Jantsch (12:17): Alright, so the second half you talk about this idea of a learning organization. So I’m going to ask you a question that would probably take you 20 minutes to answer, but I guess the short form, I mean, how do I create a learning organization? What are some of the things an organization can do, especially if they haven’t been seeing themselves as such?

Eduardo Briceño (12:37): So one is to start exploring these ideas and thinking about are we a know-it-all organization that values people who behave like know-it-alls or the people who are most respected in a team, people who are sure that they have the right answer, or are they people who might know a lot, but they’re continuing to expand their understanding, they’re asking questions, they’re soliciting other people’s ideas and exploring really, what do we think about this idea of continuous growth and Olympic athletes continue to work even to get even better, even though they’re the best in the world? Do we want that type of culture? So the intention, do we want to create a learning organization? What does that mean? And then depending on where you are in the organization, your next steps might be different. If you’re an executive, you might want to think about your executive team and talk about with the executive team, what are your core values that maybe you want to refresh?

(13:35): How do you give guidance to the organization on what key behaviors those core values entail? Maybe soliciting some feedback from the organization in terms of what are the strengths of the organization and here’s what we’re thinking. What do you think about this? We love your feedback, but even if we’re in the middle of an organization or in the bottom of an organization, we’re just starting out our careers. We can influence our circle, like our team, even within an organization that might be call it a know-it-all organization, there are teams that can be great learning teams, and the culture really is a culture with the people that we have the closest relationships with. So we can create those islands of excellence and of deep relationships and collaboration, even if we work in an organization that has whatever culture,

John Jantsch (14:20): So many organizations pay is based on performance evaluation. Are you suggesting that we should add learning goals as part of how we would evaluate the effectiveness of a team member?

Eduardo Briceño (14:35): Well, so there’s the performance evaluation and it is completely reasonable to have bonuses and performance be based on performance and on outcomes. But we see over and over across organizations and industries that the people who figure out systems and habits to make the learning zone part of their everyday life perform better. So those people achieve higher performance, they achieve higher bonuses because they figure out ways to engage in the learning zone on a daily basis. And so in performance management, it’s an opportunity to have people reflect not only on their performance goals, but also on their learning goals. What do I want to get better at? How am I going to go about it? Who might help me along the way? What resources can I tap and think about, okay, for the last quarter or the last six months, I said I was going to get better at X in these ways. How did that go? Did I actually get better? Is that actually making an impact? And if we share those learning goals with our colleagues, our teams, then that can be very powerful because they can give us feedback that’s relevant to that thing that we’re interested in along the way.

John Jantsch (15:45): What have you seen, what characteristics or traits do you find an organization is either really is abundantly clear that they have those and so they can adopt this? Or the backwards way to ask that is what traits are missing in organizations that try to do this? Because for example, anytime somebody comes and says, oh, here’s our new initiative, we’re going to do X, but there’s no trust because you’ve said that a hundred times and we’ve never done X. It’s pretty tough. So I asked you a question and then I sort of answered it probably, but I’ll tee that up. What are the characteristics you think really have to exist? A learning

Eduardo Briceño (16:24): Organization? People feel that continuous growth is a default, that the organization believes that they can continue to grow and expand their skills and develop throughout the organization. And that there’s resources for them, right? There’s resources for them to grow, whether it’s mentorship or through some organizations might have even role playing or simulation rooms or all kinds of different structures. And so part of that is, and you alluded to this, is that people feel safe to take risks, to try new things, to solicit feedback, to say, Hey, I am not sure that meeting went great. I’m not feeling great about it. I would love your ideas about what I could do better next time. Or in this particular meeting, I’m going to be working on this specific thing. I would love for you to look for that so that after a meeting you can give me feedback on it or I can give you feedback if I saw something that I thought would be an opportunity for greater impact. So where people can have open and honest, transparent conversations, feeling that’s bringing them closer together, getting to know each other better, and they’re contributing to each other’s learning and performance.

John Jantsch (17:36): I suspect there are organizations that the culture is such that people would see that actually as a weakness to be asking for help, to be saying, oh, I want to learn this new thing, or maybe this job, my zone of genius, I’d like to work on this because I’d like to go here. I mean, that takes a level of trust and transparency that maybe doesn’t exist in a lot of organizations.

Eduardo Briceño (17:59): Yeah, I agree. I think it doesn’t exist in a lot of organizations, so we have to build that trust. And what we’re saying is not that people are not competent, and so they need to spend more time learning in these organizations. People are very competent, but they want to get even better. So when we’re hiring somebody, for example, we don’t want to hire somebody who has learned the skills that are needed for the job. And even the better, the skills are better, but then we want to grow from there. We want to go from good to great, from great to greater.

John Jantsch (18:32): Yeah. Have you seen incentive packages and recruiting approaches that really are rewarding that growth mentality?

Eduardo Briceño (18:39): Yeah. So first there’s, in recruiting, there’s the employer brand. When you communicate with the candidates, do you communicate that this is a company that really will support your growth? And once people who want to work hard and continuing to develop themselves in collaboration with others. So there’s that kind of employer branding. Then there’s the onboarding of how do you onboard people and teach them how do we learn in this organization? What resources, habits, and structures do we have to learn? And also using that as an opportunity to get these people with fresh eyes to give you feedback on what they see because we can learn so much from these new people who are just seeing things with fresh eyes. And then in terms of compensation, when we tie monetary rewards to learning, there can be some unintended consequences. So it’s better actually to elevate the purpose of the work and the satisfaction that comes from growth and from the higher performance from growth and leave the compensation tied to actually the performance and the results.

John Jantsch (19:46): Yeah, I’ve actually seen some people kind of gamify it where it might not be compensation, but it’ll be some sort of perks from the company store or something like that, really just to kind of keep it fresh and gamify a little.

Eduardo Briceño (20:00): Totally. One of the companies that I mentioned in the book, many companies, it’s named Clear Choice Dental Implants, and they have some awesome games where people learn with each other through games. They have gamified their learning pathways in the organization. So that, for example, if you are in the middle of a learning progression to continue progressing, you have to help somebody who is earlier in their progression, maybe by giving them feedback or observing them and giving them feedback or something like that. So yeah, those gamifications can be really fun.

John Jantsch (20:33): Awesome. Well, Eduardo, are you want to, again, appreciate you stopping by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. You want to tell people where they can connect with you and obviously find out more about the Performance paradox?

Eduardo Briceño (20:43): Sure. So my website is It’s my last I have a monthly newsletter. I am active on LinkedIn, and the book is available wherever books are sold. It’s the performance Paradox, turning the power of mindset into action. Thanks again, John, for having me today.

John Jantsch (20:59): I appreciate you taking the time, and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days out there on the road in real life.

Eduardo Briceño (21:04): I look forward to it.

The Art Of Modern Leadership

The Art Of Modern Leadership written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Kirstin Ferguson

Kirstin Ferguson, a guest on the Duct Tape Marketing PodcastIn this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Kirstin Ferguson. She is Australia’s most prominent leadership expert and a highly experienced business leader in her own right. Beginning her career as an officer in the Royal Australian Air Force, Kirstin has held roles that have included CEO of an international consulting firm and was appointed acting chair and deputy chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation by the Australian Prime Minister.

Her upcoming best-seller book: HEAD & HEART: The Art of Modern Leadership is a practical guide for every modern leader. Kirstin explains how leadership is simply a series of moments and therefore, every moment offers us the opportunity to leave a positive impact on those we lead.


Key Takeaway:

Modern leadership involves a shift towards combining head and heart attributes. Traditional leadership models of having all the answers and being distant are outdated. Kirstin explains the 8 key attributes of a head and heart leader and provides the tools to measure your own approach. Successful modern leaders lead with curiosity, wisdom, empathy, humility, self-awareness, and more. A key attribute is perspective, which involves understanding the environment, and the people, and making decisions while incorporating others’ input.

Questions I ask Kirstin Ferguson:

  • [01:38] What has changed in modern leadership? Let’s say in the last five years when it comes to leadership.
  • [02:50] What is sort of the practical reason why people need to be looking at a new approach?
  • [04:07] Would you say that this is a generational shift or is this really just culturally every generation demanding?
  • [06:38] What you’re suggesting is that we can actually empower people to make leadership-type decisions, right?
  • [06:25] Besides the cost component, what are some other things that you might suggest that the Fractional CMO model is a good idea for businesses?
  • [07:35] How do you know the core moments?
  • [08:49] Explain a little bit what you mean by head and heart.
  • [13:32] How do you go to work on building these core attributes?
  • [14:26] How do you suggest that people adapt to these ideas in remote environments?
  • [17:15] One of the responsibilities of a modern leader is to see their role as building a family tree of leaders. Talk a little bit about how you address that idea.
  • [19:21] How can entrepreneurs acquire modern leadership practices?

More About Kirstin Ferguson:

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John Jantsch (00:00): Hey, this is John, and before we get started, I have a gift for you for being such an amazing listener. Everyone’s talking about AI these days, but most of it’s about tactics. We’ve created a series of prompts we use to create strategy, and you can have them for free. Just go to and grab yours. Now. Let’s get started.

(00:30): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Dr. Kirstin Ferguson. She’s one of Australia’s most prominent leadership experts and a highly experienced business leader in her own right beginning her career as an officer in the Royal Australian Air Force. Kirstin has held roles that have included c e O of an international consulting firm and was appointed acting chair and deputy chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation by the Australian Prime Minister. We’re going to talk about her latest book, Heart and Head: The Art of Modern Leadership. So Kirstin, welcome to the show.

Kirstin Ferguson (01:13): Hi, lovely to be here. Great to meet you, John.

John Jantsch (01:16): So did you get to fly airplanes?

Kirstin Ferguson (01:20): Well, I did. I wasn’t air crew in the Air Force. I married a fighter pilot and I worked at a squadron, but that wasn’t my core role, but I certainly got to go off and I have a few flights.

John Jantsch (01:32): So with the term modern leadership, I mean, my first question I guess is how modern does leadership need to be? What has changed, let’s say in the last five years when it comes to leadership that it needs modernization?

Kirstin Ferguson (01:46): Oh gosh, how much has the world changed in five years? It’s incredible. And I think this whole idea of what I’ve written about head and heart, the art of modern leadership, it’s really around understanding that those old models that we all grew up with, seeing leaders who felt they needed to have all the answers, and that being a leader meant that you had a solution for problems that you were able to navigate through really difficult situations. All of that remains true, but so too does being prepared to rethink what you thought you knew and being prepared to be vulnerable and not have all the answers. And I think that’s what leading with your head and your heart is all about. And the art of modern leadership is knowing what’s needed and when.

John Jantsch (02:31): So is there a shift that you think has gone on in the workplace that makes this a very practical, I mean, I can see some people saying, okay, we have to change some things, but why? I mean, some people we’re going to get into the head part and the hard part specifically, and I think some people have always been wired that way, but what is sort of the practical reason why people need to be looking at a new approach?

Kirstin Ferguson (02:54): I think expectations have absolutely changed, and we can see that even about the debate with work from home, suddenly you have employees saying, actually, I quite enjoyed working from home. I don’t want to do the commute and I’m productive, and they’re speaking up about it. People are speaking up about social issues, wanting their organizations to be actively campaigning and CEOs being vocal about those kinds of challenges. So I think expectations have changed, and no longer do we want those leaders who are just treating work as something that we have to do. And here it is, and I don’t care what you think about it. And so leaders who don’t incorporate others into their decision-making or put people at the center suddenly look like dinosaurs and they stick out. And I think we’re reading in the press every day about leaders that are still that old school and now shareholders and investors are saying, it doesn’t actually matter how much you might know the industry or your connections or whatever it might be, that technical skill we used to promote on you now equally need to be able to lead people and bring them behind you with a vision and a purpose.

John Jantsch (04:07): Would you say that this is a generational shift or is this really just culturally, every generation or every age, every decade group, whatever you want to call them, is also demanding this?

Kirstin Ferguson (04:20): I think all generations. I mean definitely you’re hearing it loudly from millennials and that generation who frankly aren’t prepared to take it anymore. They’re finding ways to quit the traditional workforce and work in a gig economy or whatever it might be to avoid having to work with these kinds of leaders. So yes, definitely that generation, but I think even older generations who are wanting some flexibility with how they work with people who instead of retiring fully, are saying, well, why can’t I do some work from home a few days a week? So I think there’s a real shift in working to live, not living to work and wanting to find leaders who are able to be flexible with that.

John Jantsch (05:06): One of the things you talk about a lot in this book that, and I think this is growing also, it used to be a leader had to have a title. You were a director, you were this or you were that, and you kind of talk about, Hey, maybe everybody’s a leader.

Kirstin Ferguson (05:22): Yeah, well, I firmly believe they are. Now, don’t get me wrong, not everyone is the c e O or the president. Clearly that would lead to chaos. But I think in our own lives, in our families, we are leaders at our local sporting club, whatever it might be, we are leading. I used the story I saw during the pandemic of a supermarket checkout operator who had to deal with a really difficult customer in that moment. She handled herself brilliantly, and she was leading in that moment, yet under the old models and definitions of leadership, she would’ve been the most junior person in organization. And I think once we start to recognize that we are leading in all aspects of our life, then we realize that every moment is actually an opportunity to leave an impact with others. And if we are formal leaders with those titles, reminding people that we lead that they too are leaders in their life is really important too.

John Jantsch (06:20): And that’s probably a cultural shift inside of a lot of organizations. It used to be kind of the top down approach. And I think that actually making that an expectation, like that person you mentioned as the example in a lot of organizations, they were like, sorry, it’s not my job. And I think that what you’re suggesting is that we can actually empower people to make leadership type decisions, right?

Kirstin Ferguson (06:44): Yeah, exactly. And I think we are having people make decisions, so people make decisions every single day. The way the words we use, the actions we role model, the behaviors we demonstrate, all of those are leadership decisions and moments. And I think for most of us in a really busy lives, we often miss those moments. We miss the opportunity to have an impact. And if you think back, John, to all of the leaders in your life who have had both a positive and negative influence on you, it’s all been moments. You can think back to moments when a leader made you feel really small or undermined you or you don’t forget those moments. But I guess it’s harder to look in the mirror and recognize when we are impacting others on those moments as well.

John Jantsch (07:34): I was going to get to that, but since you mentioned moments, I’ll jump to it. As I read that part, I was thinking as a parent, same thing as a teacher, same thing, right? There are these moments. So there I feel like that puts a heap of responsibility on a leader to think they’re always watching every moment. It’s like, how do you know the core moments? How do you

Kirstin Ferguson (07:56): Deal? Yeah. So whether you like it or not, I mean, I’m a parent as well, whether you like it or not, our kids are always watching. So it’s not as though you can just say to them, Hey, can you just give me a break for a week? I’d like to just not have to be responsible for you and the impact I have on you, none of that is reality. So I think the more we recognize that it’s not so much an overwhelming weight of pressure, it’s simply being aware and being mindful of the fact that those moments matter and they’re happening every day. You may as well be conscious of them.

John Jantsch (08:35): No, I don’t agree with you. It’s exhausting. I’m just teasing.

Kirstin Ferguson (08:40): It sure is.

John Jantsch (08:42): So we’ve gone on for almost half the show and haven’t really talked about Head and Heart, which is the title of the book. So kind of explain a little bit what you mean by head and heart. I think most people have an idea, but I’d love to hear from you,

Kirstin Ferguson (08:56): And I mean, I’m glad most people have an idea because the idea is it’s a metaphor we’ve all heard of and used before. It’s obviously not literal. However, research shows that actually the way you think about your head and your heart impacts your performance. And so what I wanted to do is research, well, what are the attributes of these modern leaders that stand out on the world stage and locally, and those leaders that we all know who just seem so different to who we’ve been led by in the past, but yet who seems so right for now. So I’m an adjunct professor at one of our universities and and researched what those attributes are. And so leading with the head is around curiosity, wisdom, which is around making decisions and gathering data and evidence. It’s around capability, which is growth mindset, which many of your listeners would be aware of, and importantly, perspective.

(09:49): And that was the attribute found to be the most highly correlated with being a modern leader. And it’s in layman’s terms, reading a room and understanding the environment you’re leading in, but importantly also see who’s missing from that room and what’s going on outside of the room as well. So they’re the four attributes of leading with the head. The four of leading with the heart are around humility, self-awareness of the impact we’re having on others, empathy. And so being able to put yourself in other shoes and then courage, speaking up for what you believe in. Now, all eight of those attributes, often at qualities we’ve all got, everyone has those to some degree, but not everyone brings them to work. And so leading with your head is what we’ve been rewarded for at school and at college and in our jobs. We get promoted from being capable and making decisions. Yet I’m arguing that modern leaders are also able to excel at those heart attributes as well, and that it’s those leaders who know what’s needed when that will succeed best in today’s world.

John Jantsch (11:02): Okay, because everybody wants one answer. What’s the most important?

Kirstin Ferguson (11:06): Yeah. Well, as I said, of the data shows that perspective is definitely the one that’s most highly correlated. So if you were to score highly, and I should say for all listeners, go and visit head heart, head heart, totally free. You can go and self-assess your own head heart leadership, and you’ll get a personalized report. But what you want is to score highly in perspective, because that means you’re more likely to score high in the others as well. And perspective was linked most highly or correlated with empathy. So having the two that balance head and heart is really helpful. And it’s all about reading a room.

John Jantsch (11:50): So I will tell you, I did no research, but I’m going to tell you from my perspective, what I think I see in a lot of leaders is without self-awareness, you can’t really pass go. I mean, you’re not going to work on any of this stuff or even realize that you’re deficient in it without that. At least accept bit that I have to Yeah, it is. Yeah, it’s, it’s me.

Kirstin Ferguson (12:12): So how do you,

John Jantsch (12:14): Go ahead.

Kirstin Ferguson (12:15): Yeah, self-awareness is clearly incredibly important. I’m not going to argue it’s more important, but there was one question out of the 24 that people can do if they do their head heart scale, that came from the self-awareness attribute. And that is about knowing your limitations. So of all the questions, if you don’t know your limitations, then you’re likely to think you are the smartest person in the room. You’re likely to think you’re always right. All of those attributes of leaders that we don’t want to see.

John Jantsch (12:48): Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I guess what I was saying is it’s not necessarily the most important in my view, but it definitely, it’s almost like you can’t really start on the others without some level of it. Totally.

Kirstin Ferguson (13:00): And I notice that with people who come and hear me speak and who buy the book, it’s all the people who are already aware that they want to be a better leader. The dinosaurs we’re trying to get to, they don’t tend to think they need it.

John Jantsch (13:12): I don’t need all that happy crap. So how do you suggest, and I know that in addition to the leader scale, you talked about you also have some elements of an action plan, but how do you suggest somebody, I mean, these are great words, but for a lot of people they’re just words. How do you go to work on building these core attributes?

Kirstin Ferguson (13:38): Well, of course, luckily if you buy the book, then we can deal with all of them in detail about the action plan. But the most important thing that people need to do, and it comes back to your comment about self-awareness, is to have a team of people around them who will give them feedback. We are our own worst judges of how we’re actually going. And there’s some data that shows that 95% of us think we’re self-aware. Only 10 to 15% of people we work with would agree. Now that terrifies me, John. So that is reflective that most of us think, but everyone else has a different perspective. So I think being able to give and receive feedback really well and hear it without getting defensive is an incredibly important skill. So if you’re going to start anywhere, that’s where I would start.

John Jantsch (14:27): So particularly, and I could be wrong on this, it’s probably both camps, but particularly in matters of the heart, it feels to me like remote work has made that so much harder and not just work from home, but a lot of people are building entire distributed teams from the start. And it feels like some of the things that seem to translate better in person maybe are lost or much more difficult and remote. How do you suggest that people adapt to that with some of these more, I used to call ’em handshakes and hugs. It’s like the handshake was kind of the head part where the hug part was something that you obviously did more from a heart place, a lot harder to do all of this across video.

Kirstin Ferguson (15:12): So I have a different perspective, John. I think there’s just different ways. Not everyone was getting handshakes or wanted hugs even before Covid. And I think as long as we’ve had multinational corporations and large companies, we haven’t worked in the same offices as everyone that we’ve worked with. I think the onus is on leaders to work a bit harder. I do think you have to find ways to make those moments matter, to be interested and focused on what’s going on in the lives of the people that you’re leading. That might be on the other side of the world, but I think if we say that it has to be a physical co-location, then that’s really quite limiting in thinking about how you connect with people.

John Jantsch (15:59): No, and I would never suggest that frankly, my company’s been distributed for 15 years. Half of my, I have people that our entire relationship is a video

Kirstin Ferguson (16:10): Screen. Exactly.

John Jantsch (16:11): But I would also say that you have to be far more like the moments you talked about. They just don’t happen as often. So you have to be far more,

Kirstin Ferguson (16:21): And that’s exactly what I’m saying. You actually have to work harder. It’s harder work. Yes, it’s, but it’s not impossible. And I think the payoff for those who want to work remote, remembering it’s not for everyone. I know with my husband, he loves going into the office. He loves talking to people and catching up over lunch and doing all those things, and it’s good for him. So that’s how he works. But whereas I’m more than happy to work from home and catch up with people intentionally online. But if you’ve got people like me, then we need to find ways to make those connection times. And it’s really just now this shift we talked about at the beginning of not treating everyone exactly the same. We’ve now really got to understand the people we lead and what motivates them, what drives them, and how they work best.

John Jantsch (17:10): Yeah. You talk about one of the, I don’t know, I’ll call it responsibilities of a modern leader, is to see their role also as building a family tree of leaders. And I love that idea. So talk a little bit about how you address that idea.

Kirstin Ferguson (17:28): Yeah. Well, I mean it’s really being, again, conscious that you are there to develop the next generation of leaders. So if you are so fortunate to be running your own business or at the top of the tree, that formal tree, then really succession and making sure that the people coming up behind you are better than you, and that is not something that you should be fearful of, but C is your main job. And so for me, that’s what building a Family Tree of Leaders is about. It’s all about those opportunities that if you’re in a meeting and you are doing all the talking as a leader and you’re giving all the solutions and coming up with all the answers, then you’re not using that moment as a coaching opportunity to really ask great questions. So every single opportunity to build leaders in others and leadership in others, I think needs to be taken by those of us who have been around a while.

John Jantsch (18:24): Yeah, I think you’re also telling people that you don’t have to use your brain, so I’ll wait and I’ll tell you what to do, which is very disempowering, but it also means you as a leader are going to have to come up with all the ideas.

Kirstin Ferguson (18:37): Exactly.

John Jantsch (18:39): I have worked with many entrepreneurs over the years, so not somebody who’s been hired to do a certain role, who maybe is years of management experience. A lot of times entrepreneurs when they’re building an organization, it is on the fly. I mean, it’s the first time they’ve ever done half of these things. And I think that for them books like this, or really taking time to reflect on building that skill is even more important because in many cases, they’ve never had an example to go by. So how would you suggest somebody like that who is really, everything they’re doing in many ways is just being done on gut? How do they start addressing more what you would probably call normal leadership practices? How do they acquire those?

Kirstin Ferguson (19:32): Well, I don’t know a person that hasn’t worked for a bad leader. So not only have they not seen good leadership, they’ve actually seen actively terrible leadership ideas and traits. And I think we learn as much from that as we do from working with good leaders. So if you are feeling alone and you’re the only one who gets it, my advice is it can be very frustrating trying to change someone else. You can’t do that. You can only look after yourself. And if what you are doing is working in your context and the feedback you’re getting confirms that, then keep going, keep being you and leading in the way that is working for you. I think it’s important to be aware that style, however it works, might not work in the next place. And that’s perspective that’s leading and understanding your environment and adapting. You mentioned at the beginning, I started my career in the military. I then went into law firms with lawyers. I then went and led a group of psychologists, and so every time I had to completely adapt the way that I led, but I brought tools from each of those roles. But understanding and really reading the room is critically important. So my advice would be get feedback. That’s the only way you’re going to know and to recalibrate if you need to.

John Jantsch (20:52): And occasionally listen. I bet.

Kirstin Ferguson (20:55): Always listen, always.

John Jantsch (20:58): Well, Kirstin, I appreciate you taking a moment to drop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Do you want to invite people where they might connect with you or certainly find more about your work and about head and heart?

Kirstin Ferguson (21:08): Absolutely. So if they visit head heart, you can do the scale, get onto Amazon, the books available to order now. It’s out very shortly. Perhaps when you’re listening, it will be out. So jump onto Amazon and my website is Kirstin K I R S T I N Can’t wait to hear from your listeners.

John Jantsch (21:31): Kirstin, don’t call me Kristen Ferguson. Right?

Kirstin Ferguson (21:36): Gets everyone.

John Jantsch (21:37): It does get everyone. So again, thanks for dropping by and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days when I’m in your hemisphere.

Kirstin Ferguson (21:46): Look forward to it. Thanks, John.

Fractional CMOs As Strategy Architects

Fractional CMOs As Strategy Architects written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Angelo Ponzi

Angelo Ponzi, a guest on the Duct Tape Marketing PodcastIn this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Angelo Ponzi. He is a marketing and branding strategist who works with small to middle-market companies as their Fractional CMO. His company, Craft, focuses on three strategic pillars for success: Insights, Brand, and Plan to develop effective and efficient programs for building enduring brands and sustainable business growth.

Key Takeaway:

Fractional CMOs besides being a flexible and cost-effective solution for businesses, contribute to long-term growth through strategy development, messaging refinement, and navigating marketing challenges. Angelo highlights the importance of balancing new business endeavors with client service within the dynamic of operating one’s own agency. Staying actively engaged in networking and marketing efforts is essential to remain present in the Fractional CMO arena to seize potential opportunities.

Questions I ask Angelo Ponzi:

  • [01:12] How do you define the term Fractional CMO?
  • [02:02] What kind of business and what kind of challenges are they facing that you think makes an ideal fit for a fractional strategic marketing hire?
  • [03:34] If somebody hires a CMO, do they feel like they’re also hiring an implement mentor or are they strictly separate functions?
  • [04:57] Is there ever some kind of turf wars, even though you’re brought in to help them orchestrate better?
  • [06:25] Besides the cost component, what are some other things that you might suggest that the Fractional CMO model is a good idea for businesses?
  • [09:52] Are you finding there’s much more recognition of the concept and the term particularly to midsize business owners?
  • [11:04] What are some of the hard lessons you’ve learned being a Fractional CMO?
  • [13:05] How do you scale this model?
  • [18:03] Do you find that you end up focusing on the same thing pretty frequently?

More About Angelo Ponzi:

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John Jantsch (00:00): Hey, this is John, and before we get started, I have a gift for you for being such an amazing listener. Everyone’s talking about AI these days, but most of it’s about tactics. We’ve created a series of prompts we use to create strategy, and you can have them for free. Just go to and grab yours. Now. Let’s get started.

(00:30): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Angelo Ponzi. He’s a marketing and branding strategist that works with small to mid-market companies as their fractional chief marketing officer, fractional CMO. His company Craft focuses on three strategic pillars for success, insights brand and plan to develop effective and efficient programs for building enduring brands and sustainable business growth. So Angela, welcome to the show,

Angelo Ponzi (01:03): John. Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

John Jantsch (01:05): So I still think there’s a lot of confusion around it, like a lot of terms in marketing. So I’m just going to go ahead and say, if somebody says you, you’re a fractional CMO, what is that? How do you describe that? How do you define that term?

Angelo Ponzi (01:17): Yeah. Well, I think simply it’s a part-time outsource contract situation. So for me, fractional being that it’s not a short-term contract, it’s a long-term engagement where I’m going into the organization or depending on my remote client, where I’m engaged on a weekly basis, sometimes daily basis with them. And so think of me as the guy down the hallway, not the guy across the country. Yeah.

John Jantsch (01:48): So I mean, would you describe a business that you think is a typical great fit for that? I mean, most people are familiar with the C-Suite roles, a chief marketing officer inside of an organization, but what kind of business or what kind of challenge are they facing that you think makes an ideal fit for a fractional strategic marketing hire?

Angelo Ponzi (02:10): Sure. In most of the companies that I’ve dealt with, they have some kind of a marketing manager or a team in there. Typically, they tend to be a little more transactional in nature, just tactically oriented. And so I hear things like, our sales aren’t growing, our messaging is not correct. Our competition is eating our lunch. And so looking at those kinds of issues, so they can’t get to that next level with someone who’s more of a tactical transactional person. So they may start to think of a strategic person, however, a full-time CMO doesn’t necessarily come cheap. And so they wrestle with how do I get a senior person without having to have all that expense? And that’s typically what get engaged or when they’ll call me, because again, depending on the client, how much time I’m engaged, but I sit in that C-suite level and helping develop strategies and directions and messaging and competitive differentiators, and then drive those down into the people that actually execute.

John Jantsch (03:21): Do you get yourself in engagements where they’re like, Angelo, this is great, but who’s going to do all this? I mean, is there ever an expectation that you are going to do the work or that any strategic, if somebody hires A CMO, do they feel like they’re also hiring an implement mentor, or is it strictly separate functions?

Angelo Ponzi (03:43): Yeah, well, that’s always the dilemma for me. It’s my nature to tend to go across the line and start facilitating and doing, but I’m pretty clear upfront is what my purpose is. If someone calls me and says, look it, I need a website, I need a social media or digital campaign, my reaction is let’s talk about your messaging, your strategies, and if that’s not correct, I have to start to the left, right? I got to talk to your customers that look at the competition, examine the marketplace and work our way towards execution. So I like to refer to myself sometimes as an architect, I’m building that foundational strategy. And then once the plans are in place, then I will sometimes call myself a general contractor and therefore I’ll bring in outside people to execute or work with the internal teams. But I do cross the fence, but a lot of times they’re like, I’m not going to pay you to frankly write a blog. It’s too expensive.

John Jantsch (04:44): Yeah. So do you find internal teams, I hear this a lot. Do you find that sometimes there’s some turf? Like, wait a minute, I thought that’s what we did. Why are we bringing in this outside person doesn’t know our business? Is there ever some turf wars sometimes, even though you’re brought in maybe to help them orchestrate better?

Angelo Ponzi (05:03): I can honestly say, actually, I can honestly say it’s only happened maybe once or twice where I’ll spend, I’m thinking of a technology company. A couple of years ago they brought me in, the marketing person was out of college for a couple of years. He had his own vision. They brought me in, I revamped everything, redid all their messaging, their plans, and then here’s the plan to implement. And within three months, he was back doing what he wanted to do because they didn’t know how to really manage him. But I would say in most situations, I’m very collaborative, so it’s not my way or the highway. So I find that even after I leave, they’re implementing. I have a company in the streaming space that I helped them when they launched. That was five years ago. When I see him constantly, he’ll be the first to say, I’m still working on the strategies you gave us five years ago. And so that’s really rewarding. But yeah, that is always a challenge, right? Because not invented here, somebody wants to put their own mark on it.

John Jantsch (06:08): Yeah. I’m sure there are some cases, I’m going to assume there’s some cases you’ve run into where they’re considering hiring you versus considering hiring a full-time strategic hire. If you were trying to help somebody work through the pros and cons, besides the cost component, which is obviously a huge selling point on the fractional approach, what are some other things that you might suggest that why the fractional CMO model is a good idea for them?

Angelo Ponzi (06:39): Well, partially too. It’s really what does that strategic leader need to do and what is the long-term play with that leader? Are you going to have somebody who’s who can totally stay engaged throughout the time and do all the things that you need ’em to do, otherwise they start to gravitate into the tactical and then you don’t really need that. I have a current client where we’re looking, I’m filling the strategic leader role, and at the end of the day, they don’t need a full-time me, but they need more worker bees, if you will. And so my recommendation is keep me engaged. Of course, that’s what I would like, but instead of hiring someone like me full-time, take that money and then let’s invest in more people at the real marketing level that the tactical level that needed to get things done. I was brought in last year with a consumer products company that had a CMO.

(07:35): They let him go, and he called me and said, Hey, I’m thinking about hiring. I think I need a fractional. And then about three weeks later, he called me and said, no, you know what? I decided to go. And then three months later, he called me and said, I haven’t found anybody. I think my original idea was great, come in for 90 days, help me. And I was there for eight months before we brought in. I helped bring in my own replacement at that point in time. They really needed somebody there. And there was a situation where I was there three days a week, so I literally was in the office and spending the majority of my time working for that organization.

John Jantsch (08:12): Do you find that to me, one of the benefits I think too, is a lot of times you bring in that CMO, well, they’re going to say, we need to build a team internally. And so they start kind of down the traditional path of hiring, whereas I’m assuming that in many cases you kind of look at this and say, no, we just need this expertise to do this one thing, and then we can rent this to do this one thing. And I mean, you’re really able to put together a much more affordable approach for exactly what they need, aren’t you?

Angelo Ponzi (08:41): Yeah, no, absolutely. It’s current client, they had a digital firm primarily writing blogs, and I analyzed it, and every blog had to be rewritten. And after eight, nine months, you would’ve thought that they understood the business. So I tried to engage with them, and ultimately we ended up parting ways. But instead of hiring another firm just like them, I went out and found a content writer that for a fraction of the cost, I could have twice as many blogs for literally a third of the money that I was paying them already. And so that is one of the things I look at. To me, I always look at any client I work with is my business. I was fortunate to, over the years, I grew a couple of businesses, I was fortunate to sell them, and I understand that a dollar is a dollar, and if I have to watch it for me, I have to watch it for you. So it’s really about maximizing the talent and the dollars that we have.

John Jantsch (09:42): I have been doing this approach probably for 15 years, but didn’t use the term fractional CMO because it didn’t mean anything to a small mid-size business at the time. Are you finding there’s a much more recognition of the concept and the term when you go out and talk to particularly mid-size business owners?

Angelo Ponzi (10:00): Yeah, absolutely. And I’ll go back. I mean, I’m heading into my 10th year, and in those first three or four years, it was like, I don’t understand what a fractional is. Are you contract? Are you outsourced? What are you, right? So there was different terms floating around. I haven’t had anybody really recently say they don’t understand it. I just say, you’re renting my time basically during the course of the week. So I think it’s better understood. I’d even think some of the value of having someone like myself that clients find now versus because it’s a tough decision, do you spend that kind of money? I had a client the other day that, again, looking at bringing in more workers than strategic leaders, and he said to me, well, what if we could hire you? And I suppose my answer was, you can’t. It’s not what I want to do because I knew I would eventually, I would just be pulling my hair out because they don’t need someone full-time like me.

John Jantsch (11:00): So as you’ve grown this and scaled it yourself, are there some hard lessons learned that you might share to say these are some of the landmines that you might look for?

Angelo Ponzi (11:14): Well, I think first of all, for me, and unfortunately it was a very hard lesson. I had an opportunity back in maybe 17, I think it was, to go in as a fractional, but it was like an eight month contract. And I was like, this is great. The money was great. I was excited, and when the contract was over, I was sitting there. I have no business. I wasn’t doing any marketing, I wasn’t keeping the pipeline. So anybody out there listening, if you’re doing what I do or something even similar, having your own agency, I mean, it is a constant balance of doing new business while you’re servicing the clients. I personally now, I would say in the course of the week, I spend a full day throughout the week, but networking, doing my own marketing, doing stuff like this and just making sure that I’m staying ever present, because you just never know.

(12:09): I mean, I have one prospect that I pitched in February. He literally said, you’re hired, but there’s no contract yet. Now it’s August. I still think you’ll come around, but I’m on his time. He’s not on my time. So that’s probably the biggest lesson that I’ve learned and making sure that you have a point of view and you put yourself out there. I mean, I have a blogging program, a newsletter program. I do emails, I do LinkedIn, I do public speaking. I just want to be able to have content. It’s all content to me to refer

John Jantsch (12:44): People too. Absolutely. Yeah. We actually teach people how to start this model, and I tell them, especially when they’re just getting started, I said, the thing nobody tells you is about 50% of this job is selling, but that’s true of really any business. When you start it, that kind of leads to one of the challenges I see a lot of people, how do you scale this model? I mean, in the traditional sense, somebody’s A CMO, they jump out on their own. They go, I’m going to be a fractional CMO, and they end up selling a fourth of their time and basically saying, I’m fully employed. I’m getting paid well for my time, but I can’t really scale a business. Have you run into that? Have you addressed that?

Angelo Ponzi (13:25): Yeah, it’s a really interesting challenge. So before I formed my agency, for example, this was many years ago, I actually, they didn’t call it fractional, but I broke off as a consultant. And so I left an agency, decided to be a strategic planner for agencies, and then eventually I came to the conclusion after about three years, why am I doing this for you? Why don’t I do it for myself? And so I kind of scaled that. So in this particular model for me, I have identified other CMOs, fractional CMOs or VP leaders, if you will, that are out on their own that I can partner with. One of my biggest clients last year is actually a competitor, but I have a background in research. So they don’t do research. They don’t do really branding and messaging and positioning. They’re more kind of internal management. And so we compliment each other.

(14:28): So one of the things that I did to scale is I identified in my trading area who my competitors are. I’ve literally met with every one of ’em trying to figure out are we really competitors or can we work together? And I would say the majority of ’em I can work with. And so I’ve also identified in some of the other key areas. So I have a business analyst that works with me that I pretty much dominate. I have a data scientist that works with me. I have a brand strategist that actually I worked with for years, even in my own agency that happened to, I lost their job during covid and now works for me as kind of a behind the scenes. So I’ve been scaling by putting other people in place, frankly, to do some of the work that allows me to continue to devote some of my time to networking and building the business, but also when I have to be in front of a client,

John Jantsch (15:23): The mistake I see some people make is just like, you get 25% of my time, what do you want? And it’s like they’re dictating. There’s no scope in agencies. We’d scope things out. And I see a lot of people when they do these consulting things, they don’t do that. And so they’re sort of at the whim of a client who doesn’t really know what they need. And I think that’s a key change that I think can allow people to scale this.

Angelo Ponzi (15:51): Yeah, well, one of the things I did to get around that is I created an assessment that I give at the beginning of every engagement just to really try to understand where they think they are, where they really are, where they think they are, but also among the team, I look for alignment, internal alignment. And so that has allowed me to actually through the analysis to say, okay, here’s where we’ve got some real issues and some problems you want to be, I’m just going through this with a client now where when I joined them back in February, they had a $5 million goal for this year increase in revenue. Well, as I started to dig into the data, it’s like, where’d that number come from? Your average growth is only 8% over the last three years. How do you go from 8% frankly to a 37% increase?

(16:39): I don’t see how you’re getting there. So some number was picked out of the air. So trying to bring, creating strategies, now that’s giving me guidance as opposed to, what do you think? If I would’ve just said, okay, I’m going to support a 37% increase, which I did originally, and then eventually I’ve swung them back to say, okay, how are we going to get, maybe it’s 15%, not the eight, but the 15. And I literally just said this to one of my marketing managers today. There’s an endless amount of things to do in marketing. You’ve got a plan and you always go back to the plan and just if you got, you are unsure of your messaging or somebody in sales is pushing back on you, try to understand what’s happening with them. Go talk to them, go listen to a call. So I find that sometimes in that marketing manager role, they tend to go, oh, well, that was my assignment. I did it and now what do I do?

John Jantsch (17:34): Yeah. It’s interesting. I find that we spend as much time, especially early on telling people what not to do as opposed to what to do, because always this temptation to say, oh, there’s a new thing out there. We have to do it. As opposed to doing any of them, right?

Angelo Ponzi (17:51): Yeah, exactly.

John Jantsch (17:52): And that’s what I was going to ask you kind of halfway answered it anyway, but let’s say we get through the assessment. Obviously the assessment’s going to tell you maybe some direction, but do you typically focus on, do you find that you end up focusing on the same thing pretty frequently? What to fix first, so to speak?

Angelo Ponzi (18:10): Actually, no, because they have, it’s like our sales aren’t growing or we’re not achieving, or we think we have an issue. And I have found that if I can execute my assessment in the process that I do, I can uncover things that they’re not thinking about. Good case in point, this was last year working with a manufacturing rep organization, been around for 70 plus years. And so in talking to them and say, our clients love us, they’re mechanical engineers, they know us. We’ve been, we’re a focus. We’re always included, but I got them to agree to let me talk to their customers. Originally it was like, wow, I don’t waste your time. What we found is that they were right. Everybody knows them, everybody includes them. However, their primary customers were about ready to retire. The new generation of engineers had no idea who they were or knew them, but they were now thinking about environmental products and sustainability products, not the gas guzzlers, if you will, that are being put out. And so all of a sudden we identified a potential opportunity that they would’ve never seen until it happened. So now they were able to get ahead of it. So it’s that kind of stuff that we get to uncover, but that wasn’t one, that wasn’t something they told me to go do. That was just something that came, cream of the cop came rising up and we able to tackle it.

John Jantsch (19:41): Yeah, I have had so many insights over the years by talking to people’s customers. I mean, they know very little about why their customers buy from them sometimes. It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? Or they make assumptions that are wrong

Angelo Ponzi (19:53): Or what the salespeople tell ’em. Right? Right. There’s a question I always like to ask is I ask the clients, do you think your clients are buying, are aware of all the products and services you sell? And almost always they say no. And to me it’s like, well then what are you doing to educate them? You could be leaving a lot of money on the table if they just knew more. And then we find out I asked those questions on the flip side, and almost across the board, the client will say, now I don’t really understand all the stuff they sell. I only know this. So right there, there’s a gap, right. So anyway,

John Jantsch (20:30): It’s fine. Yeah, that’s actually some easy money sometimes, isn’t it? Well, Angela, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by. You want to invite people to connect with you anywhere or find out more about your work.

Angelo Ponzi (20:39): Sure. That would be great. The best place, of course, is to go to LinkedIn. You can connect with me there. That’s the easiest. Also, all my contact info is there. As far as my website, I actually encourage people to sign up. I do publish a newsletter through LinkedIn every couple of weeks, and so do that. And that’s the best way to find out more about me.

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

Angelo Ponzi (21:05): Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much. I really appreciate the opportunity.