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Transcript of How Human Connection Elevates Marketing

Transcript of How Human Connection Elevates Marketing written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: You’re never gonna get your message across until you understand the problems and the challenges and you empathize with those people that you’re trying to get the message across to.

In this episode of Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I am visiting with my old friend, Seth Godin. Everybody’s favorite marketer and we’re talking about his new book called, This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See.

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Seth Godin. He is the author of 18 international bestsellers but I better check ’cause it may have changed by the time-

Seth Godin: It’s 19 now, ding, ding, ding.

John Jantsch: I knew I should have checked. And certainly to be translated in many, many languages, many of you listeners know that Seth’s been on when we talked about Unleashing the Ideavirus, maybe even Permission Marketing if we go back that long. Purple Cow Tribes. I’d run out of time if I list them all. But today we’re gonna talk about This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See. So, welcome back, Seth.

Seth Godin: Well, thank you. I think the keyword is, you said, “Another episode.” And your persistent generosity is the secret of marketing. So, bravo.

John Jantsch: Well, thank you very much. And again, I can spend five or six minutes talking about your generosity. But let’s get to the content, shall we? Let’s unpack this first element. Until you learn to see. What does that mean?

Seth Godin: Well, there’s two kinds of marketers. There’s the selfish marketers who are short term, short cutting narcissists. They are the ones who are getting in front of people because they want to market to them. And there’s the other kind of marketer. The long term player, the one who’s making a difference, who’s marketing with people. But you can’t market with them until you see them, until you know who they are, until you have the empathy to want what they want or at least, to help them get what they want. And too often, we’re in such a hurry ’cause we feel like we’re drowning that we forget to offer other people, a life vest.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And I work with lots and lots of very small businesses who, they wanna cut down trees and they wanna repair plumbing and things like that. And marketing is actually sort of a nasty thing that they feel like they have to do sometimes and I think the real challenge for a lot of folks like that is that they kinda just copy what they see so many other people doing even if it is wrong. I mean, how do you take somebody like that, that is essentially not a marketer, who says, “I’ve gotta market” but, you know, all the examples, that are, but, not all, but a lot of the examples that I see are teaching me the wrong things.

Seth Godin: Well, first I’d say, they are marketers. They might not be marketing on purpose but if you’re out in the world trying to make a change happen of any kind, you’re marketing, that’s what marketers do. And they, you know, I got a piece of spam from somebody, a week ago. It said, “Hi, I’m an intern from BYU. Can you please answer this survey for my company?” And there were so many elements of it that were clearly spam. And I had nothing better to do, so I wrote back and I said, “You know, you don’t have to do work you’re not proud of even when you’re an intern.” That it begins a pattern of saying, “Well, I’m just doing my job.” You don’t have to do that. You could do work that matters instead.

And the kid was sort of stunned and wrote me back a nice long note which was gratifying but my point was, if you wanna be a plumber, if you wanna be a tree surgeon, the fact is, you will be judged and you will be judged on how you treated our precious attention and you will be judged by how you kept your promises. And you will always be able to find someone who will go lower than you. Always. You wanna race to the bottom because the problem with racing to the bottom is you might win. The alternative is to say, “I know how I would like to be treated. I know how I would like to be seen and that’s the way I’m gonna treat other people.”

John Jantsch: You make it sound so logical.

Seth Godin: Well, you know, I’m not trying to make it sound easy but we see it everywhere. So, like, for example, the heating and boiling guy, the boiler repair guy came to my house yesterday. And even though we’d been working together for years ’cause stuff breaks, he insisted on putting booties on before he came into the house. And I said, “You don’t have to put booties on. We’re just going straight to the basement.” He said, “No, no. It’s a habit. This is the way I do it and it’s what I ask people to do before they come into my house.” And, so the book is basically a metaphor for, “Put your booties on.”

John Jantsch: So, I’ve believe at least, a great deal of this book is drawn from a project that you’ve been involved in for a few years, The Marketing Seminar.

Seth Godin: That’s right. It’s 6,000 people have taken this online, workshop takes about three months to go through and I had the privilege of watching people do it. Because, you know, you’re sitting like a pharmacist up at the top and you can see everything in the store. And, so I could see where people were getting stuck. I could see what resonated. So, once it came time to write the book, it wasn’t particularly difficult to write because I just built it and lived it for two years.

John Jantsch: And there were a lot of questions, right? And I’m assuming that you learned a great deal from not just where people got stuck but just the questions they asked and their answers.

Seth Godin: That’s right. We saw people have their lives changed and their businesses change because they were putting this into practice. And that’s what I do, I’m a marketer, I make change happen and I’m a teacher. So, seeing the lights go on, that’s what drove me to write the book. As I said, there’s a lot of people who will pay 600 bucks to take a seminar but I bet you, if I can give them this handy package, not only will they read it but they’ll share it with their peers.

John Jantsch: Because I think that’s one of the real challenges. In the last five years, you know, there’s 5000% more courses out there, from people and I think most course makers, seminar makers would agree that the real challenge is getting people to actually do it. And look at the way you structured this project, it really does compel people to complete it, doesn’t it?

Seth Godin: Well, so, yeah, I think it’s really important to distinguish between online courses and online workshops. Online courses are everywhere and I’ve made some. It’s a bunch of videos, it’s a different way to absorb content. And they’re fun to make but in my experience, they don’t lead to profound change. Change comes from when you actually do the work. So, what we do with these various workshops and seminars, you know, the altMBA has a 96% completion rate and that’s because it’s expensive and time gated and there’s a coach who’s watching you all the time. And there’s a peer group and a mastermind group.

So, people would missed if they were gone. And at the other end of the spectrum are self paced, come and go as you please kinda MOOCs. I think the opportunity we have, if we care enough to level up, is to put ourselves into a position where when it gets hard, and education always gets hard, we don’t quit. And so, for some people, that’s just get an audiobook instead of the regular one. ’cause the audiobook keeps turning the pages whether you want it to or not.

And for other people it’s, get a coach or get into a workshop where there are coaches because that is what they need to move forward. But, one thing we know for sure, if you’re over 25, there are no tests and there no grades. So, we need a better incentive than that to learn things.

John Jantsch: So, I’m curious. The etymology of MOOC. I’ve not actually heard that one before.

Seth Godin: Oh, it all started with this idea of the massive online course. What the second ‘O’, open, Massive Open Online Course. So, open because you don’t have to apply to get in. The famous one was the one out of Stanford on artificial intelligence. And a 105,000 people took it. And, what the professor who ran it said was that the 100 people who took it and got an A+ were better than any of the students at Stanford who took it. What he didn’t mention is that, 96,000 people in the course, dropped out.

John Jantsch: Or never started.

Seth Godin: Perhaps.

John Jantsch: So, I get asked this question a lot because I’ve been doing this a long time and you’ve probably been doing it longer than me. What’s changed the most about marketing? I always love people’s answers to this.

Seth Godin: What’s changed is really clear. Which is the marketer used to buy attention, cheap, that marketing was a bargain, that you spend a 100 dollars, you’d make 200. And the big change is attention is not cheap anymore. And as a result, marketers are racing to buy every little shortcut they can find and they’re getting trash attention, they’re getting trash clicks, they’re getting bots and trolls showing up on their doorstep.

So, Procter & Gamble and the big marketers can no longer buy their way to a new brand. It hasn’t been done in 10 years, it’s over. On the other hand, smart marketers are thinking like direct marketers now. They pay a lot for a little bit of attention but they take care of it and as they take care of it, they turn it into something valuable.

John Jantsch: I’ve been a fan of as I know you have as well. Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools.

Seth Godin: Sure.

John Jantsch: That he’s been doing for, probably coming up on 20 years and I know you’ve been a guest on there. And I found, you mentioned this in the book and I found actually an episode where you talk about Penguin Magic and I actually have taken note of the fact that you like magic shops, don’t you?

Seth Godin: Well, I don’t like the old kind anymore. Penguin Magic has spoiled me. But yes, I grew up going to magic shops. I love the tension of, “I just saw something, it’s impossible but of course the laws of physics apply so how could it be impossible? I need to know how it’s done. Oh, here’s some money. Now it’s mine.”

And there aren’t very many things in our life where we can get that cycle with no side effects for ten bucks in five minutes. It’s a thrill.

John Jantsch: And there actually are countless cases throughout history where people have actually killed other magicians and things to find their secret, haven’t they?

Seth Godin: I hope that’s not happening lately. If it is, we should tell Penn & Teller before it’s too late.

John Jantsch: So, there’s a bit in this book, current book about going out of business sales. And what they kinda do to us and maybe how they hurt us as marketers. You, kind of wanna expand on that?

Seth Godin: Well, the challenge that we have as marketers is everything that we would do to make something work in the short run isn’t what we should do in the long run. That is not true for any other profession. That what’s good for a surgeon in the short run is good for a surgeon in the long run. Add it up, keep going. The problem that marketers face is that the stunts and the shortcuts and the hustle, I hate the hustle most of all, is tarring us with this paint, this tar that won’t let go. And that’s why if I could invent a new word for marketing, I would.

Because, the good kinda marketing which is the marketing you talk about and that I talk about and the marketing that works doesn’t involve any of that hustle. But, the internet has brought the hustle to the fore and I think we’ve gotta figure out how to walk away from it as fast as we can.

John Jantsch: One of the words that you, I think are proposing, maybe that takes the place of marketing, is this idea of developing an empathetic posture. How do we do that?

Seth Godin: So, what’s practical empathy? It’s a simple idea which is, “You know something I don’t know. You believe something I don’t believe. You want something I don’t want. And you care about things I don’t care about.” So, if I’m gonna engage with you, sell to you, serve you, do business with you, either, I need to force you to think the way I think or I need to have the humility and the generosity to accept the fact that you think, the way you think and maybe I can help you.

But, too often, particularly small business people insist that they’ve worked very hard to get to where they are and they are right. And they’re not willing to move an inch toward what somebody else wants or believes. Or, it feels manipulative. And I don’t think it’s manipulative. I think that, if for example, you are somebody who sells draperies and blinds and you sell them in the suburbs, an upper income suburb, you might be the kind of person who doesn’t have any drapes and blinds in your house. You might be the kind of person that would just go to Kmart or Home Depot and buy the cheapest thing.

But your customer, she wants something that’s gonna make her feel special. And she’s willing to spend 800 dollars for it. If you can’t go to where she is, then you can’t help her. And if you think that where she is, is she wants to see a spreadsheet, an RFP, a comparison of A versus B, you’re not being very empathic. That what we get to do is to go to where people are and help them see what they wanna see.

John Jantsch: I read an article the other day that said from 2011 to 2017, 5000 marketing technology companies, apps, tools, whatever you wanna describe ’em have come on the scene. Is that phenomenon making this harder to do marketing the right way?

Seth Godin: Wow, I love that stat. I would have guessed it was even more than that. The thing is, the programmatic, the idea that you don’t know where your ads are running and a system is busy buying and selling everything behind the scenes makes a certain kind of of marketer happy because it lets him or her off the hook and it lets you buy a certain kind of demographic scale really fast. It’s hands free, it’s not human.

And particularly for a small organization, we need to run away from this as fast as we can. You cannot outdo Hyatt Hotels. You cannot outdo Google at this game. You just can’t, you have no chance. It’s like trying to win at the stock market by being a day trader. That, the place where you can win, where you have an enormous unfair advantage is that you can look a human being in the eye and you can say, “I made this.” And you can say, “I see you.” And you can say, “How will we together make something work?” That is where 10,000 times more than all this crazy software.

John Jantsch: Yeah, there are lot of small businesses that we work with, you know, that advertising kinda becomes a trap because it kinda works. But the bad part about it is then they don’t build a website that works and they don’t write content that works and they don’t do the things that I think, they long term are going to make or break their business.

Seth Godin: Yeah, let me just do a quick Google math so that people understand why Google is one of the most valuable companies in history. If you buy a Google ad, a Click for six dollars, knowing that it’s worth 20 dollars, that every time someone clicks, you’re gonna, on average, make 20 dollars in profit and you’re paying six, that’s thrilling.

But then your competition comes along and buys that Click for seven. So the question is, should you pay eight? The answer is, probably and an auction ensues until it’s at 19. Now, at 19, should you pay 20? Well, some people will say, “Yes, because I don’t want my competitor to get this person.” Some people will say, “No, that’s crazy.”

But, either way, at 19 dollars, here’s what’s happening. The person that did all the hard work, who makes the product, who does the warranty, who built everything makes a dollar and Google makes 19 dollars. Now, multiply that by every product and service sold by Clicks on Google and now you know what’s going on. They’re clearing the table of all the profit in every industry that touches them.

John Jantsch: And it’s, it’s gotten worse. The local service ads are making them actually be part of the transaction now, not just a click. But, you sold 4000 dollars, great, I get a piece of that. So, yeah, I think that trend’s not going away. So, stories are hot. They’re a big part of this book. People talk about them now. 15 years ago, people thought they were silly but now they talk about them. But I still don’t see many people doing or getting this idea of stories. How do you make storytelling a big part of your marketing?

Seth Godin: Well, this is another word that’s getting in the way, right? Because storytelling doesn’t mean “Once upon a time.” And “Lived happily ever after.” Story could be, what kind of handshake do you have? Story could be, is your office in a strip mall or in a fancy building? Story could be, when I look at the people who work for you on your website, do I see people who look like me?

These are all stories, stories in the sense that they’re symptoms and symbols that we use to guess about further behavior and meaning. And so, we all live stories and we can build those stories on purpose or we can let them happen to us. So, one way to think about the value of a brand or a story is this, if Nike opened a hotel and that’s all you knew, is it Nike has a hotel? I’m guessing, with your eyes closed, you could imagine a whole bunch of things about that hotel and you’d be right.

On the other hand, if Hyatt or Hilton made a pair of sneakers, you’d have no clue what they would be like. None. That’s because Nike has a story and Hilton and Hyatt do not.

John Jantsch: Great example. So, [inaudible]. We’re getting towards the end, so, here’s a softball you can hit out of the park for me. I don’t really think people want what we sell. What do they actually want?

Seth Godin: Right. They don’t want what we sell at all. They want the change and the status that it offers. They want belonging, they want security, they want to feel like they are part of something. If the Grateful Dead had never been invented, they wouldn’t have invented the Grateful Dead. But they would have invented something that made them feel the way the Dead did.

John Jantsch: So, you just gave me an example but my last question was gonna be, is there a company or two that you wanna point to and say, “Hey go check out what these people are doing because they’re doing it right.”?

Seth Godin: Here’s what I would say. Think, right now of a logo that you admire. Let’s say, you’re talking to a designer. Think of a logo. I’m going to bet you, 10 to 1 odds, that the logo you thought of is not a pretty logo but is in fact something that adorns a brand that you care about.

This brand you care about, why do you care about it? Why do you pay extra for it? Why do you cross the street to engage with them? So, you get to pick the example. I don’t need to. Because if there’s a brand you care about, it is a brand you care about because of the ideas that are in this book.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and that’s a great lesson because everybody has a brand or two that they care about so then you can personalize that and turn it into a learning lesson. Great, great advice.

So, Seth, what kind of people are gonna know, that are gonna be able to find This Is Marketing everywhere but is there anything you wanna share in terms of how they would connect with you, how they’d find out, maybe about joining the Marketing Seminar?

Seth Godin: I made a bonus page at which stands for This is Marketing and I’ve got a video there and some bonuses and links to all sorts of juicy stuff as well.

John Jantsch: Well, once again, I really appreciate you stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Another great book. Congratulations and hopefully we’ll run into you soon, out there on the road.

Seth Godin: I hope so. Always a pleasure.

Transcript of Communicating with Empathy in the Digital World

Transcript of Communicating with Empathy in the Digital World written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: Has technology in the virtual world that we live in made it easier to communicate or harder? Sure, in some ways it’s made it easier to have distributed staff and have clients all over the world, but we’ve lost the emotional impact of our communication when we don’t have that face-to-face. Think about our emails that maybe don’t quite get the point across that we were trying to make. We have to learn how to communicate differently in a virtual world. And in this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast, I visit with Dr. Nick Morgan, author of Can You Hear Me?

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is brought to you by CloudPhone. You can get big-time modern virtual phone functionality at a fraction of the cost. In fact, keep listening. I’m going to tell you how to get 50% off.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Dr. Nick Morgan. He is considered one of America’s top communications coaches and he’s the author of a book we’re going to talk about today. Can You Hear Me? How to Connect with People in a Virtual World? So, Nick, thanks for joining me again.

Nick Morgan: John, great to be back with you.

John Jantsch: There are lots of pros to this virtual world. I mean, I’ve been doing this a long time, and I mean, it used to be if somebody wasn’t in your town, and you couldn’t get in the car and go drive to them, you couldn’t have them as a customer. Certainly, you couldn’t have an employee that wasn’t there kind of sitting at a desk. So a lot of pros, but obviously your book suggests that there are some inherent hurdles as well. So you want to kind of map out those hurdles that we maybe haven’t considered that now so many of us are doing a lot of our work virtually.

Nick Morgan: Yeah, absolutely. First I should acknowledge you’re absolutely right, that there are huge advantages to the virtual world. That’s why it’s taken the work world and a lot of our personal lives as well by storm. And the greatest acceleration has been in the last decade with mobile phones; they really transformed our lives. After a decade, it’s just become clear that in spite of what we thought at the beginning, it’s not all good. So on the positive side, we get what they call a reduction in friction out in Silicon Valley. Meaning it’s much easier to send emails and everything else. It’s also virtually free. Your reach extends enormously and as you said, it means that we can do things like work remotely and all that sort of thing. There’re huge amounts of good. It’s not going away. I’m an audiophile myself, an early adapter.

I love gadgets. I have all my Apple gadgets line up. So your listeners should understand, I’m not saying that this is a bad thing or it’s going to go away either one. I’m saying that there are some problems which we’re now slowly beginning to understand that really need to be paid attention to. It was a couple of studies that caught my eye.

First of all, there are two cohorts as the statisticians like to say that have been studied pretty closely and you may find it surprising they are teenage girls and retired people for their usage of virtual media, virtual means of communication. Teenage girls, of course, because mobile phones have transformed their lives perhaps more so than anybody else. They spend more time on mobile phones than any other group as far as we know.

The other group, perhaps surprisingly again, is the retired population, shut-insurance, and folks who are less mobile perhaps. And the whole idea for them was that the virtual would be great because it would enable them to keep in touch with their grandchildren and their kids and enable them to stay connected to a world, which, otherwise might be harder for them if they were less mobile, so on and so forth.

Studying those two populations was really shocking. As I saw the research, there’s a direct correlation between the amount of time those two populations spend on their mobile phones or in virtual media and their likelihood of being depressed. The basic equation or the basic deal that this will enable you to stay connected isn’t working for those two populations and it isn’t working for everybody else. When I saw that I thought I have to understand this a little bit better. So I dove further into the research and I came up with five problems that the virtual world has that we need to address and we need to do our best to fix. So let me pause there for breath.

John Jantsch: I wonder if you know, I don’t think there’s too many teenage girls listening to the show or too many retired folks. What you’re suggesting is that that translates to some percentage of everybody who is doing this, including people who work for companies remotely and distributed. Would it be fair to say that you could also frame these as differences? So in other words, are there not just a problem necessarily? There’s just a different way that we have to communicate given the technology that we’re using?

Nick Morgan: Yes. That’s the nice way to put it, John, and I have no problem with that. The other stat I should throw in there, by the way, is that employee disengagement as the number of virtual workers and the amount of virtual work we do goes up, employee disengagement also increases and it’s currently at an all-time high. It’s roughly two-thirds here in the United States and it’s higher worldwide. It seems to be affecting the work population too, although there is a correlation, we haven’t an established a causation, but there’s a very strong correlation and that’s the caveat here. So yes, we do and that’s exactly the point of the book. We do need to learn a new way of communicating, but first, we have to understand what’s going wrong so that we can communicate better.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Because one of the themes that comes up time, and again. And not just in your book, anytime people have talked about technology. Technology was supposed to make us more connected in study after study shows that we’re now lonelier than ever.

Nick Morgan: Yes, exactly. That’s what starts me off, and I thought, let’s understand why, and it’s because that’ll tell us what we can do about it. So the first big problem is that we’re still communicating as if we were communicating face-to-face. In other words, when I get on the phone, I don’t think consciously I’ve got to do something fundamentally different than when you and I are having a face-to-face conversation. And yet I do because here’s what happens on email and on the phone and even in video conferencing, although to a slightly lesser extent. What happens is this huge wash of emotional information that normally gets exchanged between people easily and unconsciously, most of that gets lost. And I don’t mean to be mysterious about this. Let me give a simple example.

So when you’re sitting there conversing with somebody face-to-face, and you say something a little smart ass, “Your hair’s on fire, John,” you can tell by the expression on my face that I’m kidding. Let’s hope. And I can tell if I say something that hurts your feelings, or it goes a little too far, I can tell right away by the look in your eye or the fact that you winch or something like that. That’s what I mean, those kind of simple human exchanges of intent are profoundly important for us humans. We care enormously about other people’s intent and not just whether they like us or not, but are they on the team, are they enthusiastic about this idea? Are they going to work hard to carry it out or are they just kind of lukewarm, or are we carrying them? Those kinds of day-to-day work-related concerns about other people’s intent, and our own intent are incredibly important to effective working.

John Jantsch: Well, and I suspect we get conditioned too, unconsciously, to take that feedback in. Right? I mean we don’t even know we’re doing it.

Nick Morgan: Yeah, exactly. We’re not even aware of consciously that we’re doing it. We don’t have to think about it, but then we get on the phone and it’s just that much harder and I could go into the technical reasons why that’s the case. It has to do with data compression and the way voices are compressed over the phone, but let’s not worry ourselves in the details. The point is, Justin, that it gets harder to detect that same emotional information. It’s a much narrower bandwidth, is a simple way to think about it And then, of course, you think about email, it’s much, much worse. How many times have you sent an email with a clever little joke in it that you thought was hilarious and the other person for some unbelievable reason got offended? And then you had to spend six or seven emails sorting out the problem that you inadvertently caused because the other person was so dumb. Couldn’t have been me.

John Jantsch: I’ll give you another one example that I remember vividly. The first time I did a webinar, and actually it’s so long ago, Nick, we called it a teleseminar, there was no video involved. People just got on the phone and listened.

Nick Morgan: Fantastic.

John Jantsch: I remember I had been speaking publicly to audiences for a number of years by that point. And I remember the first time I did that, I had trouble breathing because I was getting no feedback at all and I had no idea if what I was saying was landing at all. And I remember how different and odd that was.

Nick Morgan: Yes. And you bring up the further point, which is really important for your audience to get, which is our brains are constantly seeking that emotional feedback and that feedback just about our surroundings and imagine us in the evolutionary state as a beings walking through the African Savanna, looking for shadows because one of them might be a tiger. It’s to our advantage to assume the worst in a situation like that because that’s liable to keep us alive. So you can imagine people evolving to be the ones who survived to be a little more nervous than the folks who got eaten by the tigers.

As a result, when we don’t get that emotional information precisely to your point about your talk, the first time you talked, then what we do is we assume the worst. We assume that those people hate us or they’re disinterested or they’ve checked out or they’re falling on the floor, falling asleep. And so we tend to get more anxious and more panicked and the communication tends to turn negative. At the far end of this, of course, is trolling. And that’s why there’s so much trolling in the virtual world because everybody’s busy unconsciously assuming the worst about each other.

And that’s the first real serious hazard of virtual communications and one that we certainly didn’t intend back when we invented or embraced, I should say, because I didn’t invent it, but it embraced the email world, and then all the other aspects of the virtual world.

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Nick Morgan: Well, and I’m probably jumping around here, but I’ll throw that around to the audience that is listening, I know now because I watch people all the time and you hear anecdotally from people and now that we have this technology, it’ll say how much of your audiences multitasking while you’re talking when you’re on a Webinar or something. I know I don’t attend to a lot of webinars and things myself because it’s extremely hard for me to stay focused.

It is, it’s just there’s less emotional input, throughput if you will, coming through. That leads to the second problem that really, you just described it, which is without the emotional feedback that we’re getting, we don’t stay engaged and we have a lack of empathy. That is, we’re less worried about the other people because we don’t know how they’re feeling, so we assume they’re feeling kind of bad. But our empathy quotient, it really go way, way down. And as a result, again, trolling is the final outcome of that. And that leads to the next problem which is, and this one may surprise people, when you take out the empathy, when you take out the emotional information, then it gets harder to make good decisions. Now, that’s surprising perhaps because we tend to think of decision making as a logical exercise.

For Star Trek fans this is Mr. Spock versus Captain Kirk. Spock is the decision maker. He’s the logical but, in fact, the way we make decisions is what we learned as a child. It’s not logical. It’s imagine that moment when you were two years old and you walk into the kitchen and there’s this pretty red glowing object on the stove and you think, “Oh, that’s cute. I’m going to go touch that.” So you put your finger on it, what happens? You’re suddenly awash and pain and anger and shock and horror and fury, and so you never, ever, ever do that again.

Now, that’s a very simple example of how memory works and how our brains are constructed. We have little experiences it’s like little videos running in our head and we try stuff out and according to how well or badly it works, we attach emotion to it and file it away in our brains. And so most of our decision making is really goes to like the following. So you go, “Okay, so I’m thinking about buying a new car. Well, the other times I bought a new car, it went like this. It was easy. It was hard. I got screwed by the salesman. I didn’t. I got a good deal, good doing this.” So we compare it to past experiences and then we make an emotional decision accordingly depending on how painful or pleasant it was.

Now, if you take out the emotional attachments, it gets harder for us to make decisions. It gets harder for us to measure the importance of what we’re doing because we’re just not that interested. So imagine, for example, a work team on an audio conference that they do every single week and the boss is droning on and everybody’s got it on mute and they’re keeping up with email while they’re talking or not talking while the boss is talking. And then the boss suddenly says, “Okay, so what do you want to do about X?” And it’s very hard for people at that point to make a good decision because they’re not invested in the conversation. They might be bored if they were face-to-face, but chances are it’s a little harder to get away with and the boss would know and, and people would see each other and as a result, they’d calibrate accordingly. So that’s the next problem that happens online and it’s a subtle one and it means we really have to watch ourselves because it’s likely that the decision making, the quality of the decision making in virtual conversations is going to be poor.

John Jantsch: Again, I know we’ve spent more than half the show allotted show telling people what’s wrong, what the problems are. So let’s flip it completely around and say, “Okay, what do we need to be doing?” Because I mean, the reality is we, in some cases, have to work this way. So what do we, what can we do to actually take those inherent challenges and say, “Okay, we need to be aware and so we need to do X.”

Nick Morgan: Great. Yeah, excellent question. And that’s what the book is about. And the bad news, if you will, is that there isn’t one big thing you can do that will cure everything. The good news is there are a lot of fairly simple things you can do to begin to make the situation better and none of them is particularly complicated. What we’re trying to do here is put in the emotional subtext that’s been taken out. What I say is we need to learn a new language, and it has the great advantage of if you start practicing this at home and then you have teenage kids, it’ll make your teenage kids think you’re really, really weird and that’s always good. So this is worth trying.

John Jantsch: Is this going to end with emojis in some fashion?

Nick Morgan: Absolutely, John. Emojis are going to be involved. But the first thing to do and a little more seriously is you need to think about asking yourself the question or asking your team the question and you may even ask it out loud, but the question that really begins to get you thinking along the right lines is, “How did what I just say make you feel?” Now, if I asked that question to myself and I’m in a conversation with you, John, and I realize I don’t know the answer to that question, then I need to slow down and ask it perhaps out loud or ask some related questions that let me know, “How is John really feeling about this? Was this successful or not?” And one of the simple ways I recommend for people, for example, to do this, who have a weekly staff meeting, let’s say a team meeting, that’s virtual and the team is spread out all over the world. It’s in Singapore, in California and Europe or something.

You want to make this easy on yourself because you’re going to be doing it every week. So just start the meeting by saying, “Okay, I want everybody to go around, check-in, like a stoplight, red, yellow or green. And Red means I’m facing a disaster. I shouldn’t even be on this call. Yellow means things are a little tense so there’s something going wrong, but I can cope. I’m here. And Green means everything is great.

And so that’s a very easy thing to do. People have permission to do it. And then whoever the team leader is, or whoever’s convening the conference call, if somebody says red, they can say, “Oh, John, I’m sorry to hear that. Do you want to tell us what’s going on? Or do you want to be led off the call?” It gives them permission to address the issue in a way that’s much, much harder to do if you just say, “Okay, let’s get started. Everybody. How is everybody first?” They’re one of those kinds of things that we tend to do where the person is really upset or really fuming or really got a real disaster is just sort of beginning to try to think, “Ah, how can I say this?” Or, “How could I talk about it? I don’t want to talk about it.” And then by the time he or she has figured out the answer to what they’re going to say, everybody’s already moved on and you just don’t have time to kind of get that inside.

The red, yellow, green allows you the space and the respect of everybody to give an honest answer in that situation. And then you can ask that question again at the end of the meeting just to see how the meeting affected people. But it’s really about slowing down and starting to put in little markers like that, that allow people, give people the room, the space, the respect to be able to say how they’re feeling. We just have to get more conscious of that because we can’t keep communicating as if we were face-to-face.

John Jantsch: I think that, that’s one of the things that, this mind-body connection that is so important. Half of that lost. I think by being virtual but again, I go back to the fact that, that’s the way we work today. And so I think we just need to come up with new habits, new ways to work. And one of the things I remember reading in the book is that, and I think this is what you’re alluding to, this kind of chit-chat period and the beginning. How’s everybody doing? Yeah. But the reality is that we used to do that when we’d walk down the hall from each other. And so we’d know how people were doing or we’d know what was going on in their family. And now that may be the only opportunity we get is that kind of first five minutes in the weekly status call. I struggle with that sometimes. How do you have that moment? Do you need to separate that moment and make that another meeting somehow?

Nick Morgan: Yeah. I recommend a number of strategies, and you can pick the one that works for you. The problem with the beginning of that typical conference call is think how it actually goes. You’ve got a sound that lets you know that somebody else has come on. So here’s how it goes. You sign in. Let’s say you’re the team leader, and you’re responsible, and you sign in a minute beforehand. So you’re all ready to go, and you hear the first boop when somebody else signs, and you go, “Oh, who’s that?” And it says, “John.” “Oh, John a great how you doing?” And we have something that corresponds to a one-on-one conversation. And we start into that for about 15 seconds and then there’s another boop and somebody else goes, “Oh, who’s that?” “Oh, it’s Bill.” “Okay, Bill. Great. Well, Bill, it’s Nick and John on the call. How are you?”

And then Bill, since it’s a three-way conversation, we have a little different response and it kind of a three-way conversation than we do a two-way conversation. And so Bill starts in on how he is, but perhaps not as honestly. Then he’s two seconds in and we hear another boop. Then, “Who’s that?” So you end up with this really idiotic … It’s typically the first five minutes of one of these calls where there’re just endless interruptions and it’s really hard to get a clear conversation going with anybody, let alone the whole group. And so I suggest a couple of things.

The stoplight approach is one. Another is to say, “We’re all going to sign in at such and such a time and the first X minutes are going to be chit-chat. We encourage you to join and then we’ll start the business at such and such a time.” that relies on people being honest and good timekeepers, and we all know in the business world, some are better than others.

Another one is to get people, and this works really well for teams that are in different countries. Is to get people to record little 30-second videos of themselves, of their surroundings, have a conversation they’re having or the look from their desk or just anything about their local culture that matters to them or a fun thing they did on the weekend. You can set the assignment so everybody has permission to do it and you’d be surprised how well that brings people together because everybody gets a chance to see the videos as the meeting starts and laugh at them or celebrate with them or, responded accordingly. That’s another one that works.

And yet another one is to put the, and this one, it depends on having a good team already, a strongly united team, but you can put the chit-chat at the end because that then avoids all the interruptions. That can feel a little more artificial unless the team is really strong. But the point is that you need to separate out the chit-chat as you were calling it, but it’s really the emotional connection. The trust-building, let’s say is a better word for it, better term for it. The trust-building part of a call like that, and then the business transaction part of the call like that because it’s hard in a virtual setting to do both cleanly and well. So it works much better to separate them.

Then, of course, another and even the better way to go about this is to insist on regular face-to-face meetings. The general argument in favor of virtual communication and against face-to-face meetings is expense and time. That’s the great advantage of the virtual world. It’s free. You don’t have to travel, you save enormous amounts on your travel budget. And it’s very convenient. Well, think about how actually rich a face-to-face conversation is in the ways that which we’ve been talking. It’s an actually very efficient way for humans to communicate and so if trust is at all an important part of what your team does, or what you do with your customers, if this is a customer call, then you should be enhancing that virtual conversation with a face-to-face one every now and then and you’ll save yourself enormous amounts of effort online just because when we’re face-to-face, all that communication happens so effortlessly. Even as we move further and further into the virtual world, don’t forget the importance and the ultimate efficiency of a face-to-face conversation.

John Jantsch: One of my daughters worked for a few years for a company, I think they had about 100 employees at the time, and they were all distributed. So there was no office for the company at all. Three times a year or so they would take a week and go somewhere really cool. But they all work for the week. It wasn’t just play. I mean, it was let’s work on, it was a software company, let’s work on code together in the same room and I think that, that really, they, they still had an incredibly strong culture, I think by virtue of taking that money that they might’ve spent on an office building and putting it into what I think was probably a more cultural enriching expenditure.

Nick Morgan: Absolutely. Yeah. That’s the best of both worlds. Something like that is the best way really to handle the virtual aspect and the face-to-face aspect.

John Jantsch: I want to end on one, that I think haunts everyone. That’s if you had a couple of tips for email. I know over the years, as it’s become such an important tool, I know the one thing that I definitely do is I spell everything out as plainly as I possibly can and make no assumptions that they understand what I’m trying to point … I’ll go back and read it and go, “Okay, could that be, should I have used a noun there instead of a pronoun there?” I mean, I really sweat over no important emails that they probably end up a little longer, but I hope that they’re clear.

Nick Morgan: Yeah, you’re doing exactly the right thing. One of the sort of implicit of things that happens as we get more important and rise up through the ranks in an organization is, all the studies show this, our emails tend to get shorter and shorter and there’s kind of, there’s a reason for it as presumably as you go up the ranks, you’re answering more and more email so you’ve just got more to cope with. But it’s also part showing off too, isn’t it? “I’m so busy and important I can afford or I have to respond with a one-word response.” Well, it’s almost better to type out the one-word response on a piece of paper and then set it on fire rather than sending a one-word email because the likelihood that you’re going to be misunderstood, especially as you become more important in the organization, we care more and more about your intent and we care most of all about the CEOs or the president’s intent and so that it’s most incumbent on him or her to be most clear.

And so I recommend in the book a format that sort of ensures that you start with a headline and says what the email is about and then you give the substantive part of it and then you talk about the emotions at the end. And then you ask, you give the other person permission to ask, how does this make me feel or to answer how this makes me feel? I also recommend, and people may find this funny, of the use of emoji’s and emoticons because early on there’s some research that suggested that in the business world, people look down initially on folks who use the emoticons and emoji’s because they were seen as sort of childish or something, but they can save a lot of hurt and time. You put a smiley face at the end of something that’s intended to be a joke.

Then just maybe the other person won’t get as offended by the tone in it and maybe they’ll say, “Okay, yeah, he was just kidding. I’ll forgive him.” And so it’s a huge time saver. So I would say use the emoji’s, especially the millennials are going to use them anyway. And so in a few years, it’s going to be second nature. You’re going to have to use them or you’re going to look like somebody who’s out of touch. So get used to emoji’s, use them because they’re going to save you a lot of emotional angst.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And I would say my own experience too, you get in a hurry and you’re just trying to answer what somebody asked you. And you forget to say thank you for responding to my email and giving me such a thorough answer. I think that’s not intentional. I think it’s just the person’s not there. So I just, I didn’t quite have the cue to say thank you first. And I think that, that’s one thing I certainly try to work on.

Nick Morgan: Yeah. And you’d do that automatically if the person was face-to-face, so one of the little tragedies I learned about the other day was studies of kids who have Alexa in the household or the Google equivalent. They actually learn to demand things of other people that sound incredibly rude when you’re face-to-face. So they’ll say to somebody, “Daddy, get me some cookies.” Right? Whereas normally they’d learned, “Can I please have some cookies?” Or, “Daddy, would you please get me some cookies?” Because that’s what works with Alexa. I’ve heard, and I don’t have the direct evidence to support this, but I’ve heard that Alexa and some others are now creating child versions that demand you say please and thank you to Alexa, which I think is a very good idea if that’s who’s teaching us how to communicate.

John Jantsch: You’d get a kick out of this. I actually ask Alexa to please tell me a joke. I don’t demand it because I think you’re absolutely right and she or he or whatever Alexa is, will respond even if you ask politely.

Nick Morgan: There you go. It’s good practice, John, for when you actually talk to a real human being. You’ll remember how to do it.

John Jantsch: Well, Nick, this was fun. Thanks for joining me today. I’m speaking with Dr. Nick Morgan, author of Can You Hear Me? So, Nick, tell us where people can find out more about you and your work as well as the book?

Nick Morgan: Sure. Thanks. It’s is our website and there’s lots of free information there about public speaking, my passion, as well as the hazards of the virtual world. So have a look there and there’s a contact form that you can ask me questions directly or just send it to my email,

John Jantsch: Maybe I’m not stealing your thunder here because maybe you’re already in conversations with people. This ought to be a college class.

Nick Morgan: I think you’re right.

John Jantsch: All right.

Nick Morgan: I think we all need it.

John Jantsch: Yeah, absolutely. So thanks again and hopefully we’ll run into you out there on the road someday soon.

Nick Morgan: Excellent. Thanks, John.

Transcript of Building Accountable Leadership to Transform Your Business

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John Jantsch: You know, leadership might be the hardest job for an entrepreneur. You’ve got to decide that you want that job, you have to understanding that it’s an obligation, and let’s face it, it is hard work everyday. It’s not for the meek.

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast, we are gonna talk about the leadership contract and everything that you need to do to make leadership a part of your culture.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by CloudPhone. You can get big-time, modern, virtual phone functionality at a fraction of the cost. In fact, keep listening, I’m gonna tell you how to get 50 percent off.

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Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Vince Molinaro. He is a business strategist, author of three books, including the book we’re gonna talk about today, The Leadership Contact: The Fine Print to Becoming an Accountable Leader. So Vince, thanks for joining me.

Vince Molinaro: Thanks so much John for the opportunity.

John Jantsch: So let’s … So often there are key words in the titles of books that need to be unpacked a little bit. Let’s unpack this word, “contract.” What exactly is a leadership contract?

Vince Molinaro: Well, it’s really came about from working with a lot of my clients globally who had been investing a lot in leadership development, but not see it translate into stronger leadership within their organizations. And they were kinda saying, “What’s going on?”

And as I spent time really thinking about it, I think what I believe we need to do is help leaders understand that when they take on a leadership role, they’ve actually signed up for something really, really important. And I kinda use the term, it’s a contract.

But, a lot of leaders aren’t really consciously aware that they’ve done it. And, in fact, what I think many of us have done either to get the promotion, to get the increase in pay, to get the better title, is it’s more the analogy of an online contract. Wen you kinda are online conducting any transaction that window pops up with all the terms and conditions, and if you’re like 93% of the people on the planet, as studies show, you just kinda click “agree” and never read what the contract actually entails and what you’re really held to.

So, the contract says essentially that. That there is a contract, you gotta be aware of it, and it comes with four terms and conditions that you’ve gotta understand and internalize as a leader.

John Jantsch: So before we get into some of those, you don’t pull many punches in this book. You call people out that leadership is broken in a lot of organizations. Is that because of some of the things you allude to? Is that society? Is that people really misunderstanding what it means to be a leader?

Vince Molinaro: Yeah, I think that’s exactly right. It’s, to me, that that’s what is the most fundamental question I find I have with my clients is what does it really mean to be a leader today? Because the role is more complicated because our world is more complicated. Leaders are under more pressure, more expectations.

So the role has gotten bigger, more challenging, but I don’t know if we’ve really kept up with our thinking about what is it that I need to do individually, or what do we need to collectively as a group of leaders, to really lead our company. And I think we’ve got some baggage from the old days when we used to promote people because they were good at something technical. Best sales person, best analyst, best accountant, best engineer, whatever. Or because they stuck around the longest. They had the most tenure. And we would move people into leadership roles for those reasons, but not because they were great leaders.

And so today, because the role is so demanding, I think we gotta pause and think a little bit about what have you signed up for.

So the book is pretty direct. It does challenge people in leadership roles. And yet what I have found in all my work, and my talks with leaders everywhere, is they’re really resonating with it because they acknowledge, yeah, it is a tough job. I can’t go into it lightly, I have to really pause, and I have to make sure it’s right for me. And if it’s not then I need to kind of find another way to add value to my company.

John Jantsch: Well, and I think that’s a real challenge because I work with a lot of entrepreneurs and people that get started because they have an idea, or an ability to do something. And they, in some ways, didn’t really sign up to be a leader. They don’t like that part of it and they’d rather they didn’t have to do that. But, in a lot of ways, that’s the job, right?

Vince Molinaro: Well, exactly right. And that’s sort of why the first term of a leadership contract is that it’s a deliberate decision that you have to make. And you have to know yourself well enough, know what the role demands, what the company demands of you, and then make sure that you’re up for it, right? Or make sure you’re really ready to do what’s necessary to really step up effectively.

So I think in those instances that that is a decision that one does need to make. But, you know, the expectation now … What’s interesting is, we’re expecting everyone to be a leader, even employees. I’ve got a lot of clients that say, “No, we need everyone to step up.”

So that expectation is being put across. So I don’t even know if we have that, “Wow, you know, I wanna do this, but not that.” I think that is true in some cases. But, I think we gotta understand that we’re expecting everyone to step up in more significant ways, because I think that’s what companies need to be successful today.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and sort of with that though, we need to sort of break down the idea of the hierarchal leadership I suppose. And if you’re talking about everyone needs to be a leader, I mean that’s like describing the culture, isn’t it?

Vince Molinaro: Yeah, that’s a great point. You know, that’s the other variable here is that the model of leadership has really shifted and evolved. So, certainly when I started my career years ago, it was a very hierarchical model. And the leadership strength was concentrated at the top, and they were the ones that kinda came up with the strategy and communicated the orders. And everyone else just kinda did their jobs with their small teams, and that worked for a long time.

But, in today’s world, what our clients really say is, “The world is more complex. One or two years at the top isn’t enough. We need leadership to be strong in every seat, every chair in our organization.” And that’s I think because, as you say, I think that model of leadership has really evolved and changed, and keeps evolving and changing.

John Jantsch: Accountability is a huge theme in your book. And, you know, as I read the book I was kinda struck with the point that I don’t know gets made enough by a lot of people in that accountability works both ways. That the leaders have to be accountable, but then they have to really demand, or at least expect, accountability in return.

Vince Molinaro: Yeah, I think that’s the other part of the leadership contract that is theme of so much of the books that are written, and there are some great books written about leadership, really try to map out here’s what the great leaders do. And that stuff is important to know and understand, but when you really come down to it I think this connection between accountability and leadership is fundamentally there.

Human beings, that’s what we do, right? We see someone who we define as a leader, we hold them to a higher standard of behavior, that’s the contract. And if they don’t live up to that standard of behavior, like we see leaders involved in scandal or corruption, or bad behavior, we get frustrated, disappointed, and we immediately ask for accountability. That person needs to account for their behavior.

So I think that connection has always been there. I don’t think it’s necessarily a new idea that I’m bringing forward. But, I think we have to make accountability now more front and center in leadership. Because as you say, those two things are really connected closely together. And I have to … In the leadership contract is my contract with myself to be an accountable leader, but then I have to set the tone for others and demand accountability in those that I work with and those that I lead.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and it’s a tough job as a leader, of course, because you can’t get away with the “Do as I say, not as I do.” And I’m sure many, many people have worked for organizations where that frustration was felt because we were supposed to be a customer-first company and boss does nothing but complain about the customers, and that makes it really tough to do your job, doesn’t it?

Vince Molinaro: Well, I think we’re always looking for our leaders, or looking to our leaders, to set the tone. And then when they sort of come up with, you know, different rules for everyone else than themselves, then they’re not being accountable. And we can kinda sniff it out. And I’ve always found interesting little kids. When they’re four and five, they’re really good at calling out adults, right? They’re saying, “Wait a minute, that’s not fair. You’re asking me to do this, but you’re not doing it yourself.”

And so I think it’s, again, hard wired in us as humans that we kind of demand that accountability and we demand that integrity between this is what you’re saying we need to be doing, and yet you’re not doing it yourself. Well, that doesn’t make any sense. So I think that’s just hard wired in us.

John Jantsch: So, you’ve alluded to a couple of the elements. Make the decision, hard work ethic, we’ve talked about, obligation. The one that I think is really intriguing to me is your fourth element is community. So, I didn’t mean to steal your thunder there with the four things, but if you wanna lighten those up a little bit and then maybe expand on that idea of community.

Vince Molinaro: Yeah, well as you said, the first term is you’ve gotta make that decision. That kind of visceral decision to define yourself as a leader and know that you’re kind of all-in and fully committed.

The second one is, it comes with obligation and you’ve gotta live up to those obligations because we expect a lot from our leaders. We’ve talked about that.

As you said, the third one is that it’s hard work and you’ve gotta have the resilience and resolve to tackle the hard work. And a lot of the hard work is around the people stuff, right? Giving candid feedback, managing poor performers, making tough decisions that might be unpopular for you but important for the organization and you must do it.

And then the third term says that leadership is a community. It gets back to what we talked about. It’s the model of leadership has evolved, you know? And while companies might still organize themselves as a hierarchy, how we get work done now is less vertical and much more horizontal. So we’re working together across lines of business, across departments, across functions more than ever before. And that’s because, I think, our problems are more complex that we have to solve. The customer issues need different perspectives and we’ve gotta bring the best minds together.

The Corporate Executive Board has done some research and surveying among leaders, and they’re reporting that collaboration has gone up 60% for most leaders day-to-day, and that more and more what I need to be successful is less on my own effort, it’s more on what does John do to make my team successful? What does Mary do to make my team successful? We’re much more dependent on others for our own success.

And so, as a result, the idea of building a strong leadership culture where leadership is not just strong at the top, but across the whole organization, becomes more and more critical. And so this idea of a community is really, I think, the model of the future and that’s really what I talk about.

And in many ways, that’s kinda the promise of the leadership contract is to say, “You gotta get your leadership act together,” and then you kinda commit to making the community strong. Do your part, but work with colleagues across the organization to execute the strategy, to be agile, to drive innovation, all those things that companies are really working hard to drive and be successful.

John Jantsch: You know, it’s funny. The last few years there have been a lot of management consultants charging a lot of money to train leaders how to work with this next generation of workers coming in, the millennials coming in. And I think what you just described is really that. That that’s actually just become a preferred way to work and so a lot of organizations have been caught off guard because they haven’t worked that way, and it’s been tough for them to attract or keep folks that want to work that way.

Vince Molinaro: Well, I think it’s a great point. I think what has also been missed, right, because you know the millennials have gotten a lot of attention. And I think, sometimes, there’s been what I call a lot of “millennial bashing,” right? We’ve been kinda pointing out that they’re not motivated, they’re not this, they’re not this, they’re not that. We’ve … My team and I have done global research and leadership accountability is a global problem. And it’s not as … Leadership is not as strong, nowhere near as strong, as we need it to be. And it’s in fact, quite mediocre.

So now, imagine a millennial coming into a company who has high aspirations to kinda wanna change the world, have a real impact, and now they’re working for a leader that is mediocre. Well, of course their motivation is gonna be affected. And what millennials have done that we don’t really, I think, fully appreciate is unlike Gen X and even Boomers, they’ve come in expecting to work for great leaders. And when they find a great leader, they’re actually fairly loyal. And, you know, they may not be there for 20 years, but you can really, you know, get a lot from them. And they’re prepared to roll up their sleeves, and be pretty loyal, and pretty committed, and do great work.

But, if they don’t find it what they do is they leave. And I think Gen X did a little bit of that, but Boomers just stuck it out no matter how bad it was. And so that perpetuated a lot of mediocrity, a lot of bad leadership, because we never were forced to pay attention to it.

I’m really curious to see, because you know the research just came out in the last few weeks from Bloomberg that says that next year, in fact, Gen Z, Generation Z, is actually going to outnumber millennials. And so as they start coming into the workplace, it’ll be curious to see what happens. Because to me, that generation actually should be called Generation L. They should be called the Leadership Generation because they’re coming in to organizations already with ideas and thinking around leadership, more leadership development, more expectations of leadership than any other of the previous generation. So it’ll be curious to see when they come in. They’ll just kinda, “What’s all this talk about leadership?” Because they don’t know any other way on how to behave. They know how to network, they know how to collaborate like millennials. So, I think that’s gonna be another change in our workplaces over the next decade as both millennials and Gen Z start making up more and more of our employee base.

John Jantsch: You know the telephone’s still a vital way to do business, but it’s changed—the technology has changed—and CloudPhone is the answer. It’s perfect for small business. It comes with local numbers, toll-free vanity numbers (like 1-800-duct-tape), you can send and receive text messages on your business line, works with any of the phones that you already own. And you can get a ton of other business features like call recording and conference calling and voicemail transcripts. And because you’re one of my listeners, I’m gonna get you a 50 percent off the small business plan forever deal. Just go to

So, if I’m listening to this and I’m a leader of any type, but certainly a lot of my listeners are running small businesses, are there some best practices for getting this thinking started? I mean, it’s tough. If you’ve run your company a certain way for 10 years, and then you read this book, and you go, “Okay, now I’ve got it.” It obviously becomes a process, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s not an overnight start.

Vince Molinaro: Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, I think what’s really interesting is that’s where a small- to medium-sized enterprise actually has a lot of advantage over large companies. I’ve been in a couple of … I’ve been in three startups in my career and what I find is that oftentimes you just get naturally strong leadership because there’s an idea from the founder, from that entrepreneur or business model that’s really compelling. It just attracts people to say, “I wanna work with this person.”

And so, the early days are actually pretty easy and the best practices are always kinda in place, right? And I remember I joined a pharma company that was just starting out, a pharmaceutical company, and my first day on the job the head product manager came to me saying, “Okay, here’s how we work.” We had our pixelated and our five values, so you gotta live up to these five values. And how we worked everyday is you’re coming into a meeting, we’re not taking any notes, there’s no minutes, your job is to hear what’s going on, figure out what you need to do, and get it done. That’s how we go. Let’s go. And that was it.

And yes, there was everybody that was there in the early days were just so aligned and committed to those core ideas that we got … we grew really quickly until we hit about 150 employees. And as the research shows, that’s a funny number with human beings that once you hit that number then all of a sudden you start actually behaving like a pretty big company. Start getting a bit more bureaucratic, more process and rules get into place. You need that in order to hit your next level of growth.

And so the thing that I suggest in the book, I think, apply. The first thing is, you’ve gotta respond individually. You’ve gotta commit to being an accountable leader. Can really think about what that’s gonna look like. And then as an organization, you have to define what are the expectations we have of our leaders. What are the three, four, five things that we expect leaders to be and do in our company? You gotta really articulate that clearly so you can attract the people who are aligned to that vision. And then you can kinda start identifying who are the people demonstrating that so we can promote them. And that becomes important.

So it really gets down to that. In fact, our global research has found only about half of the companies have set clear expectations of their leaders. And so, if you do that as an entrepreneur, it already sets you apart from the rest.

And then the other thing that needs to happen is the opposite. So the expectations kinda set the vision of the future which inspires. But then, if you find leaders who are mediocre, who just are struggling interesting heir role and they’re not really stepping up, you gotta address that. You gotta address that. And what our research has also found, it only … One in five, about 20%, of the people who responded to our survey globally said that their organization had the courage to address the mediocre leaders. And so what they do is they say in conversations they say, “Well, we know who they are. We just don’t know how to do anything about it, so we’ll just leave them in their job.” And the second you leave a mediocre leader in their role, you’ve communicated to everybody that mediocrity is fine. You’re gonna tolerate a low bar. And then, that just puts you on a slippery slope which becomes a problem.

So, I think you gotta make that decision yourself to step up and be an accountable leader when you’re an entrepreneur and a business leader. And then, you gotta set those expectations for others. Create them for your company so you attract the best, those who really aligned already to your way of thinking. And that already will set you off a direction that will be pretty compelling and exciting for even a small company.

John Jantsch: And I think you just probably nailed one of the hardest parts of the hard work is that idea of something that feels confrontational. A lot of times it’s just easier to not have that hard conversation. And I agree with you 100% that that just sort of festers, doesn’t it?

Vince Molinaro: Well, it does. And what it does is it slows us down. So in the book, I talk about the hard rule of leadership that says that what we don’t often appreciate as leaders is that when we avoid some of tough things, and they’re legitimately tough, right? Running a successful company is not easy. There are tough things. But, when we avoid those tough things, and we know a lot of leaders do, we don’t fully appreciate how it makes us weak as leaders, weakens our teams, and weakens ultimately our company. But, if you have the courage to tackle those issues and make progress, you really drive greater success.

Because if you don’t address those things, they kinda weigh you down. They’re always kinda like you’re carrying this big boulder on your back and on your shoulders, and they just kinda wear you down. But, if you chip away at them, you kind of lighten the load.

John Jantsch: So let’s finish up today making the correlation between this type of accountability, this type of leadership contract, and improved performance. Certainly, your work has hopefully returned some correlation.

Vince Molinaro: Yeah, well in fact our global research has revealed that … We surveyed over 3,000 organizations worldwide and we asked in the survey to self-identify … the respondents to self-identify is your company … talk about your company’s performance over the last three years. And in the last three years, were you an industry leader, top quartile, were you above average, average, below average, or a lagger at the bottom quartile?

And when we analyzed the data it was fascinating. The industry leaders completely set themselves apart from everyone else. What was most surprising, even above average performing companies, which are pretty good, look more like poor performing companies than they actually look like industry leading companies. So when we cut the data to compare everyone else against the industry leaders, we found that the industry leaders are far more satisfied, over two times more satisfied, with the leadership accountability in their companies.

They’ve done a much better job, almost two and a half times better job, of setting clear expectations for their leaders. And, in turn, they have over two times more satisfaction, or confidence, that they have more leaders fully committed to their roles as leaders. So we’re really starting to see a strong connection between having really strong and accountable leaders in place, and a company’s performance. We’re gonna be doing more research to really delve into that, but already we’re starting to see that connection.

And in many ways, it makes perfect sense, right? If you have a group of highly mediocre leaders, they’re never gonna get you there, right? Just the math will never work. And so that’s, I think, what’s becoming more and more apparent is we pay a price for tolerating mediocrity.

Now, a lot of leaders don’t necessarily choose to be mediocre. They’re in conditions that are [inaudible] or the company hasn’t set clear expectation, or they’ve never been supported in their development. It’s not all on leaders. And that’s why I say there’s things leaders obviously must do, but the organization and the companies must support them as well. You need that dual responsibility.

But, that connection is very clear in my mind now between strong accountability among leaders and company performance.

John Jantsch: Speaking with Vince Molinaro, the author of The Leadership Contract. So Vince, where can people find out more about you and your work?

Vince Molinaro: Certainly they can reach out on LinkedIn. There’s also And on there is really the information about the books, the information about the work I do, and a number of resources that people can download to learn more about how to bring these ideas into either their roles, into their teams, and into their organization.

John Jantsch: Great book, Vince. Thanks for joining us, and hopefully we’ll see you out there on the road someday.

Vince Molinaro: Well, thanks for making time, John. I really appreciate it and some great questions. I had a lot of fun. Thanks so much.

Transcript of Focus on Existing Assets to Generate Better Marketing Results

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John Jantsch: We all want to go out there and chase that new customer, get those new leads but the truth of the matter is for most businesses, some existing assets, existing traffic, existing customers, existing email list, that’s where the money is. In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast we speak with Louis Gudema to talk about his approach called bullseye marketing, check it out.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by CloudPhone. You can get big-time, modern, virtual phone functionality at a fraction of the cost. In fact, keep listening, I’m gonna tell you how to get 50 percent off.

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Hello and welcome to another episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Louis Gudema. He is the president and founder of Revenue & Associates and the creator of The bullseye marketing framework and we’re going to talk about a book built on that called Bullseye Marketing: How to Grow Your Business Faster. Louis, thanks for joining me, welcome back, I should say.

Louis Gudema: Hey John, It’s great to be back. Good talking with you again.

John Jantsch: One of the things that I’m going to put out as a premise of the book is that we’re all getting excited about big data and AI and voice search and social media, but many businesses that I work with, and you certainly contend this in your book actually need to start way before that, that that stuff is actually not important to them or could be important to them, but it’s probably not a priority, is it?

Louis Gudema: Yeah. That’s real graduate level stuff, and most businesses aren’t taking care of the one or one and one or two kinds of things. I actually did a study on this a few years ago, and I looked at 351 B2B companies with 50 to 1000 employees, and there was a huge difference between the software companies and the non software companies. The software companies were by and large great marketers and the non software companies … and these are not trivialized companies, these are sizable companies. They were doing in manufacturing or medical devices or professional services, many other fields doing almost no marketing.

And it was a shock to me because I had kind of been working in this tech marketing world, and I assumed everybody knew about these tools, and yet outside of the software industry, almost no one was using them, and then I came back to this just this year, and I looked at the same 351 companies and for those non software companies, there was very little progression and I think that a big reason for that is that marketing has become so complex.

John Jantsch: Yeah. What does not marketing mean? They have a website, they probably have a sales team, is that kind of where it ends?

Louis Gudema: Yeah, pretty much and trade shows and brochures. What I did was, I had … when I’ve done business development, I had developed this digital marketing scorecard essentially and I was doing business development. I had my own agency for a dozen years and then I did business development for a couple other agencies after I sold my agency 10 years ago and so I had developed a way to look at what were companies … what were prospects doing before we talked so I could have a more intelligent conversation with them. You can tell without ever talking to someone, do they have a marketing automation program?

Are they doing search engine advertising? Are they doing anything on social media. This was more important four years ago than now, but did they have a mobile friendly website. And so there were these nine programs that I looked at and thought of it as kind of a digital marketing scorecard or maturity model, and for the software companies, the median was that they were using seven of the nine programs and for the non software companies, the median was that they were using two of the nine. And you got one point just for having Google analytics on your website, so effectively-

John Jantsch: Another point if somebody actually knew the login, would that be for good analytics[crosstalk]

Louis Gudema: I couldn’t tell if anyone ever looked at it, but if they scored a two, I kind of assume they probably didn’t. Then I also looked at those software companies and found that this actually correlated very well to revenue growth, and the companies that were using eight or nine programs regrowing about five times faster than the companies that were using zero to three programs. It was a real affirmation both of … well, it was a shock to see how different it was between software and non software companies, but it was a real affirmation that marketing does work and it does drive revenue growth when it’s done well.

John Jantsch: Does this scorecard still exist? I’d love to see it, If it does.

Louis Gudema: Yeah, absolutely. I’ll send you a copy of the report. I haven’t put out the update yet. I’m going to put that out shortly. I can send you that 2014 report and you can see it.

John Jantsch: One of the things that you talk about and I completely agree is there are so many people out there that they have customers but all their focuses on how do we get new customers and a lot of what you talk about in this book is to break down “Hey, let’s start with exploiting what we have already” our existing website customers email list. How would somebody go about … it seems so obvious but why are people not doing it, and if they aren’t doing it, they’re listening today. What’s the way to unpack that?

Louis Gudema: Yeah, so that was … as I worked with companies, I kind of realized as you have, that they were kind of jumping ahead and they weren’t taking care of the basics first and they were … “Oh, we have to do social media or we have to do advertising or we have to create a lot of content”, And they didn’t take care of what I call the marketing assets. They didn’t take advantage of the marketing assets they have already owned. That’s the center of the bullseye, and the center of the center is the customer. First of all, is just talking to customers, and a lot of what I say here will be … to some people will be “Well, of course”.

But as I was saying to much of the business world, this is not being done today. Whenever I work with a company where I’m doing consulting, and I interview their customers, the CEO or the owner always is “Oh, no, we know what our customers want, We know what they think” And yet when I come back with the results of these interviews, they’re invariably shocked and they find out all sorts of things about what their customers want or need or think about them, think about their competition, what’s important. Secondly, taking that information to create a great customer experience.

Forrester does an annual survey of 10s of thousands of consumers, asking them about their customer experience of hundreds of major brands, and that actually has gone down for the last two years. Customer experience, again, is not something we should take for granted, because many companies are not doing it well, and the ones that do, do it well really profit by it. And then the third thing about the customer is to focus more on customer retention and growth and not so much on new customer acquisition. Not that, that’s not important also, but companies over emphasize it.

And maybe it’s just a kind of holdover from when they were just starting out and they had to really, really, really work on getting those new customers, but you get to a certain size … and Salesforce knew this from the beginning. They were focused on customer success and retention and growth very early on, and it’s important for all companies because it’s so much more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain and grow an existing customer.

John Jantsch: Well, not just more expensive, I think it’s a lost opportunity a lot of times too. That customer that already trust you, that is already given you money, it’s a lot easier to ask them for 10 times the money that they’ve been giving you for a bigger service, bigger product bigger offering, then it will ever be to go out and try to sell that to the world. And I think that’s a thing that a lot of people miss, is that there’s so much more opportunity in their existing customers.

Louis Gudema: Oh, yeah, for sure, and that … one of the things about those customer interviews is they’re not sales calls, but I would say one out of five times when I conduct them, customers will say “Hey, by the way we need this, can the company do that for us?” And so they actually generate a lot of new business just from talking and listening.

John Jantsch: An existing asset that I see a lot of people missing as well is that they’re getting leads, they’re getting traffic but it’s just not turning into business. A lot of times when I go to work with a company, one of the first places I look at is their sales process or what happens when the phone rings. It may just be the way the phone’s answered even because you turn the dial up on that a percentage or two and that can have huge growth impact.

Louis Gudema: Oh absolutely. I actually had a client who … they had terrible sales and marketing collaboration and the head of marketing said that it could take two weeks for sales to respond to an actual inquiry, not just someone downloading a white paper but someone contacting the company and saying, “Hey, we want to talk about your product, possibly buying it.” Two weeks is just criminal, that’s a dead lead.

John Jantsch: Another one that I see is just you email us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into an organization, they’ve got 2000 names of people that have bought products from and they’ve never sent him a thing.

Louis Gudema: Yeah. Well, you and I are perfectly aligned on all of these John. You get an honorary member badge, but yeah … And I’ve had the same thing. Companies who say “We’ve got 9000 emails, 20,000 emails more than that and you say, “How often do you email them” And they say, “Oh, at the holidays” And yet email marketing … you look at almost any survey of marketers about their most effective channels. Email Marketing is always number one or number two. And McKinsey actually said that it’s 40 times more effective than social media, and I believe it.

John Jantsch: In terms of certain goals, no question.

Louis Gudema: Yeah, absolutely, and so that’s another one of those marketing assets people aren’t taking advantage of, their websites because, again, in my survey, I found that about three quarters of these B2B companies had no calls to action, no conversion devices on their website, and a lot of them had pretty poor messaging too, but that’s a little more subjective, but just 99% of the people would come and go, and the company would have no idea who they were or what they wanted, or if there was any opportunity there at all.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I know I’ve gone to a website ready to buy, so it wasn’t just getting information. I wanted their phone number, I wanted to call them and buy something and I couldn’t find their phone number the[inaudible]. It was partly because it was a mobile friendly design, I think and so they made me work so hard, I finally gave up. Imagine how much that’s costing people.

Louis Gudema: Oh, yeah, absolutely. These are these center of the bullseye opportunities that first of all, they cost almost nothing to do. Companies already have these email lists, they have customer relations, they have sales and marketing people and some of these other opportunities there because there is about six or seven of them, and it is really fast, it’s really inexpensive, it’s low risk, and they start to see results really quickly. That can really start to build the confidence and the buy in to then go to the second ring and the third ring of the bullseye approach.

John Jantsch: You know the telephone’s still a vital way to do business, but it’s changed—the technology has changed—and CloudPhone is the answer. It’s perfect for small business. It comes with local numbers, toll-free vanity numbers (like 1-800-duct-tape), you can send and receive text messages on your business line, works with any of the phones that you already own. And you can get a ton of other business features like call recording and conference calling and voicemail transcripts. And because you’re one of my listeners, I’m gonna get you a 50 percent off the small business plan forever deal. Just go to

I’m jumping around a little bit here because there’s some other channels or opportunities I want to cover, but I find that to me, one of the greatest reasons is because there’s a lack of data. There’s no analytics, there’s no information. They don’t know what’s making the phone ring, and so consequently, it’s hard to double down on something, if you don’t really know what’s having the impact, so you tell me, I struggle with this all the time, because it’s telling people that have to take a math class, just to talk about analytics. How do we get people using the data to make better decisions?

Louis Gudema: Well, one of the challenges actually for small and mid sized companies and I have a whole chapter on analytics and data in the book and I talk about it constantly in other chapters too. About how can you measure the impact of some of these channels, but one of the real challenges for small and mid sized companies is, they don’t have enough data. It’s not really statistically significant and they have to go by anecdote almost more than kind of the rigorous data that a P & G or a Coca Cola or a Salesforce, or someone might be able to do with huge numbers of customers.

John Jantsch: But I’m talking about simple things like if we run an ad, can we set up conversion goals and see if we got … even if the number is two, you’re going to see that you got to conversions.

Louis Gudema: Yeah, absolutely, and part of that’s culture. In a lot of these companies, where they just have not been doing much marketing, they’re just not used to it, they’re not used to looking at it, and you do have … there was a Dilbert cartoon I remember several years ago about, now we have more data that we can ignore when we make our decisions. It is part of culture, it does have to be part of what the company and the management is willing to use as part of their decision making process and not all … you do have especially in owner operated companies, people who are used to making their own decisions, and that’s what they do.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and you stole a little bit of one of my questions, so I’m going to jump right to that too. I find that marketing is a culture thing. In a lot of organizations, there’s a resistance, “It doesn’t work, I hate it, It’s too salesy”. There’s a lot of resistance to what people see as marketing, and I think the best organizations are actually very marketing driven.

Louis Gudema: Yeah. Well, I haven’t heard that it’s too salesy too much, because almost all companies are sales focused, but very few owners or SMB presidents have a marketing background. Most people who started companies are really good at their industry. They had some innovation or they thought they could deliver service better, and then they realized over time they had a whole company that had all sorts of things they weren’t thinking of before, like marketing and HR and finance and a lot of things.

But marketing is one where it’s greatly misunderstood. It’s just not in their DNA, and many people think of it as just advertising and promotion. And that is very … that’s in the outer ring of my Bullseye approach, and there’s just so much more to it that a lot of people in companies just don’t understand.

John Jantsch: Yeah, I think that’s a great point because a lot of companies even if they’ve gotten fairly successful it’s because the founder has been good at selling I think, and I think so there’s no senior marketing type of hire even.

Louis Gudema: Yeah, and they will think of marketing often as an expense and not an investment in growth.

John Jantsch: You advocate and I’m a full supporter of this, but some things that people are kind of turning a little bit of a side eye to these days is Print for example and PR. I think those are still both direct mail particularly in the print category. I think those are still fabulous channels for companies that are maybe more opportunity there now than ever.

Louis Gudema: Well, they’re in the outer ring, so they’re not a top priority. You’ve got those existing marketing assets as I mentioned in the center of the bullseye. In the second ring, you really focus on trying to identify people who are planning to buy soon and focusing your marketing around those people who plan to buy soon, because most people in your market aren’t, unless you’re selling something like food or clothes that people buy all the time, most people aren’t looking to buy and most companies aren’t looking to buy a lot of things.

So you really need to focus much more and use intent data and things like search advertising to get in front of the people who are researching and intend to buy soon. And then in the outer ring, you have these long term branding and awareness programs and Print certainly falls into there, and direct mail can. I think the wrap on Print is that it may be a little expensive for the amount of exposure you get, and so you really … and it’s not measurable in the way that digital is.

John Jantsch: Yeah, you better have your conversion part down if you’re going to spend hard dollars on driving people to your website or something, right?

Louis Gudema: Yeah, exactly.

John Jantsch: I’m sure you get this a lot. I fully on board with this idea of existing assets, but what if you’re a startup? What’s a startup to do?

Louis Gudema: Yeah. Obviously a startup doesn’t have the existing assets, but a lot of the approaches that I talk about in the book are very applicable to startups as well, and I mentor startups at MIT. I’ve worked with startups many times. The idea of understanding your customer, creating a superior customer experience, having a website that has clear messaging, and great calls to action, using remarketing. Those are all things that are really valuable for startups.

And something I talk about in the book is account based marketing or sometimes it’s called target account marketing, key account marketing, but that kind of direct sales approach being supported by marketing to help them with the research, to help them create the custom content and so forth. That’s often the way that startups have to start. They just have to get out there and pound on doors and make some sales, and marketing definitely has a role in helping them do that. And those things that are in the outer ring, things like content or inbound marketing that can take two or three years to have an impact. Things like social media, that also can take a very long time to have any sort of impact or Print, those should be delayed.

John Jantsch: Yeah. A good marketing is good marketing whether you’re a startup or existing business though, isn’t it?

Louis Gudema: Yeah, Well said.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Louis, where can people find more about you and your work and obviously Bullseye Marketing and of course we’ll have links in the show notes.

Louis Gudema: Yeah. Bullseye Marketing is available on Amazon. If you know have a Kindle or just in the introduction in the first chapter, you get a lot of information about what the approach is all about. The book website is My business website is People are welcome to contact me at I’m also on Twitter @Louisgudema. I’ve got one of those names where I didn’t have to be Louis Gudema four, five one, one or anything, so would I love to hear from people and hear their feedback to the book, and their reactions and questions.

John Jantsch: Well, Louis it was great to catch up with you again, great book and I appreciate to you stop by the show and hopefully we’ll see you someday out there on the road.

Louis Gudema: All right. Thank you John.

Transcript of Increase Your Focus and Combat Distractions

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John Jantsch: Productivity. That’s the name of the game today, right? Get as much done in the day as you can. But let’s not confuse productivity with focus because focus is what it takes to actually get the important work done. And that’s what we talk about on this episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. We’re going to visit with Chris Bailey. He’s the author of Hyperfocus.

Hello and welcome to another episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Chris Bailey. He’s a productivity expert and an international best-selling author of the book called The Productivity Project. But today we’re going to talk about a new book called Hyperfocus: How to Be More Productive in a World of Distraction.

So, Chris, thanks for joining me.

Chris Bailey: Hey, thanks for having me, man.

John Jantsch: So there are two words in this title that I want us to spend some time on. Focus and productivity. Are those the same thing? Are they interchangeable? How are they linked together?

Chris Bailey: I think the more focused we are and the better we manage our attention, the more productive we become. But I don’t really have a cut and dry way by which I look at productivity because when you zoom out from the idea of productivity, you realize that so much effects how much you’re able to accomplish throughout the course of the day. How much energy we have affects it, whether we spend our time on the best possible things in the first place. And so focus is one of those things that contributes to it but, at the same time, I would argue that in the environments that we work inside of today, it’s the ingredient that’s in the most demand and it’s the one that we so often have the least control over. You know, the world decides for us what we focus on instead of us choosing what we focus on ahead of time.

John Jantsch: In fact, you could make a case for, and some people do, that hyper focus can actually be a detriment. You know, there’s a lot of people in ADHD world that treat hyperfocusness, if that’s a word.

Chris Bailey: Sure, why not.

John Jantsch: And so while you’re talking about it as the killer thing, it also has its limitations … Or has to be managed in order to create productivity. Would you agree with that?

Chris Bailey: Oh yeah. The way that I choose to define hyper focus … I kind of borrow, like you said, the term from ADHD literature. I use it as a definition for when we bring our complete attention to something but our deliberate attention to something. And so that kind of cuts to the core of it.

If I’ve found one thing in researching productivity and nerding out about these ideas for so long, it’s that what lies at the center of what it means to be productive isn’t working harder, harder, harder, faster, faster, faster. It’s working with greater intention and deliberateness. And so I think that’s something we need to do with our focus, too. The term hyperfocus, and if you look at the cover of the book, I have a copy here, it’s very red. It’s very vivid and bright. And it kind of implies some intensity. But I think it’s a bit slower than that. It’s just about choosing what we focus on before we focus. Which is way easier said than done which is why there’s been a few books on the topic. But we have to bring that deliberate attention to something.

John Jantsch: Hang on a second, I’m making a stock trade right now.

Chris Bailey: Okay. What … please come back, John.

John Jantsch: No, I’m kidding right now. I’m really just trying-

Chris Bailey: John, come back.

John Jantsch: -to get into this idea of multitasking. Can’t we get more done if we’re multitasking?

Chris Bailey: No, John, no. How many times do I have to tell you? No, I think multitask is a poorly understood phenomenon. I thought I understood it going into writing this book but it turns out that I didn’t really have an understanding of it.

We can multitask but only with habits. And so who’s to say that we can’t walk down the sidewalk while we listen to a podcast like this one, while we avoid the cracks in the sidewalk, while we chew bubblegum? You know, we can do most of those things because most of those are habits. Once we initiate the habit sequence in our mind, we can go through the rest of it on autopilot mode.

But where we run into trouble is when we have to bring our full attention to more than one thing at one time that the more complex things in our work. And, frankly, we could multitask if we could seamlessly switch from one thing to the next, to the next, to the next. But we experience a sort of residue in our attention that exists from the previous thing that we were just doing.

So if we were having a conversation prior to this one, that might prevent us from becoming immersed in the conversation that we’re having right now because a part of us is always thinking about what we were doing before. And so we can’t really focus on more than one thing at one time so what we think of as multitask is really just this rapid switching between things. Which, we can rapidly switch between things but because of this residue that exists as we move from one thing to the next to the next, things take on average about 50 percent longer.

John Jantsch: Yeah, I mean, that … Everybody’s been focused on something and got interrupted and then it took you about five minutes to get back into it. I think that’s what you’re describing, right?

Chris Bailey: Yeah. Well, it depends actually. This is the fascinating thing and one of the best parts about nerding out about the topic for writing the book is that it depends on whether the distraction or interaction is external or internal. And so when we’re interrupted completely, it takes us about 22 minutes to get back on track and resume doing the original task. But when we seek out something to interrupt ourselves with, it takes us about 29 minutes to resume working on that original thing and, here’s the thing, is we don’t just go to doing that thing then go back. We do 2.26 other tasks before resuming. So we distract ourselves a second time before we get back on track.

But luckily there is a saving grace with regard to this and it’s that this distraction isn’t our fault. Our mind is wired, in fact, to pay attention to anything that’s one of three things. We’re wired to naturally pay attention to anything that’s pleasurable, anything that is threatening, and anything that is new and novel. So we even have a novelty bias embedded within our brain. Like, “Oh, we should trade some stocks while we’re having this conversation” because that’s a pleasurable, novel, maybe threatening thing that we could focus on instead of a more meaningful conversation that we could be having in front of us.

So it’s not necessarily our fault because the world is wired in such a pleasurable, threatening, novel way. But we do, I argue in the book, need to get out ahead of this impulse.

John Jantsch: You know, one thing that happens in my brain, and sometimes it’s procrastination, it’s … I don’t really want to be doing the thing I’m doing so I’m more easily distracted. But sometimes, when I’m doing something … I write a lot and I open up the tab and I start writing and I’m focused and I’ve got a lot to … And about 40 seconds in, I’m like, “I think I’m going to do something else.” You know? But I think it’s just my brain pulls me away and I think that’s a really common thing, isn’t it?

Chris Bailey: Yeah. I don’t know if you pulled 40 seconds out of the ether but the research shows that 40 seconds is the average amount of time that we only focus on one thing for. Whether we’re writing a report, whether we’re updating a budget in excel, whether we’re typing up an email. So this is kind of this novelty bias in action where we’re constantly seeking out something that’s more stimulating than what we could be doing so we have more dopamine coursing through our mind. And this lowers down from 40 seconds to 35 seconds that we switch between things when we have apps like Slack and Skype and other instant messaging things open as we’re working.

And, you know, what we see as a distraction … You know, I talked about the three magnets for our attention, anything that’s pleasurable, threatening, or novel. What we see as a distraction, I think you hit the nail on the head, is anything that in the moment is more pleasurable, threatening, or novel than what we truly ought and want to be doing. And so I think it’s so critical to tame these things ahead of time.

One of my favorite apps for writing is called Cold Turkey Writer. Have you used that app before?

John Jantsch: I haven’t but I have heard of it.

Chris Bailey: Aww man, yeah. So you fire it up, it essentially takes over your computer. It says either set a limit, how minutes do you want to write for? Or how many minimum words do you want to write? And it hijacks your computer and so you can’t switch to doing anything else until you hit that word count or that time minimum.

And so these are ways, apps like that, distractions blockers. Because we can’t resist Twitter in the moment, taming these things ahead of time is so critical.

John Jantsch: So have our brains, over the last 10 years, gotten this new conditioning or have we just … it’s just been easier to find this stuff? I mean, has this always been the case or are we more so today?

Chris Bailey: Yeah, we always resist things, right? Like the most important tasks in our work, they’re always less pleasurable, less threatening, less novel than a conversation with a coworker, some water cooler chitchat. But the internal distractions have definitely gone up by which we interrupt ourselves with. And it’s because the world is wired to be more pleasurable and threatening and novel that we switch between things more quickly.

And what this does is … I make a case that’s bigger than productivity in the book is that I set out to write out a productivity book but what I realized very quickly was that the state of our attention is what determines the state of our lives. If we’re distracted in each moment, that makes us feel overwhelmed. Those moments don’t exist in isolation. They accumulate day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year to build up to create a life that’s overwhelming and like we don’t have a clear purpose for where we wanna go.

And the same is true, though, if we make a concerted effort to focus on what’s meaningful in each moment, on what’s productive. And it allows us to accomplish a lot in each moment. Conversations with loved ones, the run that we’re going on, the song that we’re listening to, the cup of coffee that we’re drinking. It seems so luxurious but it really allows us to accomplish more and get more meaning out of our lives.

A lot of that involves ratcheting down how stimulated we are by default because I think you got it right. We’ve never been busier while accomplishing as little as we do today and I would argue that it’s because we’re so stimulated. So by lowering that level of stimulation we can think more deeply, we can focus on things for more than 40 seconds, we can notice that we have veered off track and refocus before 22 minutes or 29 minutes, depending on where a distraction or an interruption comes from.

So I think this idea that we need to choose what we pay attention to, and so much of that is taking control of our environments, that idea has never been more important because we’re surrounded by more stimulating things than we ever have been.

John Jantsch: Well and now we just moved over into the spiritual aspect of the podcast today because, really, what you’re describing in a lot of ways and what you describe in part of the book, not the entire book but part of the book, is covered in a lot of eastern texts that talk about mindfulness.

Chris Bailey: Yeah.

John Jantsch: And I think that’s often associated with lower blood pressure and more peace and happiness and it’s not just productivity, is it?

Chris Bailey: It really is, yeah. I think it is impossible to become more productive without also becoming more deliberate. And it’s so difficult to become more deliberate without becoming mindful of what you’re doing in the first place. You know, all mindfulness is is a process of noticing. You notice what you’re doing. You notice what you’re thinking. You notice the intentions of other people. You notice the impulses that you have so you can say, “Oh, man. I have an impulse to eat this bag of chips in front of me. Maybe I should get out in front of this impulse. I feel like I’m going to distract myself, maybe I should get out in front of this.”

And you’re right. The research does bear this out. The more control we have over our attention, the more control we have over our life. My favorite study’s on this. The less control we have over our attention the less autonomous we feel with our life, the less we accept ourselves, the less happy we are, and the less satisfied we are with our lives overall.

Control a kid has over their attention. The more text messages a kid sends, in fact, the less they feel that they have control over their life and accept themselves as well. So these truths are universal that the quality of our attention matters. I think it’s the most important ingredient for our productivity today.

John Jantsch: So let’s just get it out there. Email is killing us.

Chris Bailey: Oh geez, man, yeah it’s terrible. The average knowledge worker, so somebody who works in front of a computer, checks their email 88 times over the course of the day, so 11 times every hour. And email often doesn’t take a ton of time of our day but it takes up a lot of attention. So these are 88 times when we’re not totally immersed in email, we’re kind of thinking about it as we switch to doing something else.

And so a good, tactical thing that somebody can walk away with is bring some of this awareness, some of this deliberateness, to email. Maybe only check for new messages if you have the time, the attention, and the energy to deal with whatever might have come in since the last time you checked. It’s a simple tactic but it’s a way of ratcheting down how often you check. Or keeping a tally of how many times you check throughout the day because if you’re close to 88 times, you might want to lower that a little bit.

John Jantsch: Is there an app? There’s gotta be an app for that because I probably check it 200 times a day. And I think-

Chris Bailey: Aww, man, we could have a contest.

John Jantsch: And I think that, as you were describing earlier, email offers. There might be something different in there, there might be something cool, something terrifying, something stimulating. I might have got some more business and I think that’s always the allure, isn’t it?

Chris Bailey: Yeah. Well, what is more pleasurable, threatening, or novel that you could receive on the computer than a little notification that pops into the corner of your screen? Or the sound that we’re conditioned to almost salivate to when we hear that a new email has come in? But this just makes it more critical that we get out ahead of this impulse. If you feel like you have to be connected all day, which frankly a lot of us do. This is the thing about productivity advice is you gotta take the advice that works for you and leave the rest.

But email sprints are something that I coach a lot of people through. The tactic is simple. At the start of every hour, you set the timer for 15 or 20 minutes and you blow through as many email messages as you possibly can during that time. So, essentially, you hyper focus on email then you get 45 minutes or so for the rest of the hour to focus on things that are more important. So there are ways that we can compartmentalize these ideas while we still stay on top of everything.

John Jantsch: Well and he blurbed your book, the modern godfather of productivity, David Allen. I remember reading “Getting Things Done” and that was … You know, he’s like, “Touch it once. Deal with it or don’t go there.” And I think that that’s a version of what you’re saying.

We’ve been beating up what’s wrong with our world for quite a while here so let’s move to what are some steps you can take to actually get focused?

Chris Bailey: Yeah. Well a couple ideas for email … checking only if you have the time, the attention, the energy, keeping a tally, doing some sprints. Your smartphone is probably one of the most pleasurable, threatening, novel things that are in your environment.

One tactic that I love for the smartphone, and once I turned it on to this mode I found that my usage basically halved, is the gray scale mode. Have you heard of this mode on the smartphone?

John Jantsch: I have not.

Chris Bailey: You essentially go to the settings app and you search for gray scale, G-R-A-Y scale, and it turns your phone screen black and white so it’s like you’re reading a newspaper.

John Jantsch: Well that makes sense so you don’t have all the colorful, jazzy things on the [crosstalk] stuff, yeah.

Chris Bailey: The color, yeah. Yeah, it’s just so much more stimulating in the moment. And once that’s not there you’re just like, “Oh. This is kind of boring. I’d rather do something more colorful.”

And so another tactic is to mind the gaps of your day. And this is something that I’m also a big advocate for. Another thing I’m a big nerd about in addition to productivity is traffic flow, so how traffic flows down a highway. And if you look at what allows traffic to continue moving forward, it’s not how fast that individual cars are moving, but rather it’s how much space exists between the cars that allows traffic to continue moving forward. And I think our work is the exact same way.

We can’t focus and reflect on something at the same time. And in fact, when our mind is wandering … So when we’re walking on the way to a meeting or we’re just kind of letting our mind rest and wander in one way or another, we actually think about our goals 14 times as often as when we’re focused on something. And so this is when we can set a direction for our focus and then we can focus to actually move our work forward. But it’s kind of that intention behind our actions that comes from these gaps in our day. And so yeah, those are a few ideas.

One more. This is my favorite productivity ritual of all time and I’ve been talking about this for years so if you’ve heard me talk about this, I apologize. But if you’re new to this rule, it’s one of my favorite productivity rituals. It’s called the rule of three and it goes like this.

At the start of the day, you fast forward to the end of the day in your mind and you ask yourself, “By the time that this day is done, what three main things will I want to have accomplished?” And it’s simple but it allows you to prioritize so that when you notice your mind is wandering throughout the day, when you notice that you’re in a pit of distraction and you’re looking for something to do, you can revisit what you deemed to be important at the start of the day and then you have a benchmark to measure your productivity against as opposed to just sort of busy-ness.

And this fits with the way that we think. You can look around us and we have sayings like, “Good things come in threes” and “Celebrities die in threes” and “The third time’s the charm.” And we divide stories into three parts. A sequence of dozens of events, we divide them into the beginning, the middle, and the end. Phone numbers are another good example of this, which are essentially … If you ask me what my phone number is, I won’t tell you it’s one billion, six hundred thirteen million, eight hundred ninety … I say it’s 1-613 da da da, da da da da. You know, in chunks of three and four. So it fits with the way that we think but it’s also a way that we can focus on what’s actually important throughout the day.

John Jantsch: Now, I’m no productivity expert but I will give you my tip. I discovered a few years ago that if I actually worked shorter days, I got more done.

Chris Bailey: Oh yeah. You know it’s kind of the effect of a deadline where you shrink how much time you do something over and you force yourself to expend more focus over that period instead.

John Jantsch: Yeah, I mean the reality is I get every important thing … That’s the other thing I love about this rule of three is, a lot of days, I can get all three of those things done in 45 minutes and most of what I would spend the rest of the day doing is not really that valuable.

Chris Bailey: Yeah. And this is the truth about our work, it’s called Parkinson’s Law is what it’s referred to in productivity circles. Our work tends to expand to fit how much time we have available for its completion. And this is something that I find with some executives that I coach. When they tame all their distractions, so they force themselves for just one day to not tend to any unproductive distraction, work all day with the distractions blocker … Some people find that they have like three hours of work to do and that the rest of their time, it’s filled with things that support their work like email or social media or just checking up on the news, things that make us feel busy, which makes us feel productive, but don’t necessarily allow us to accomplish much.

So it’s a good way to get a handle of how much you have on your plate, too, because sometimes being distracted … And this is kind of a controversial opinion that I have but I think there’s a lot of truth behind it. Sometimes the fact that you’re distracted a lot throughout the day is a sign that you have the capacity to accomplish even more than you are and take on projects even more complex than what you’re already doing.

John Jantsch: Yeah, that makes total sense to me.

Visiting with Chris Bailey, he’s the author of Hyperfocus: How to Be More Productive in a World of Distraction. Chris, tell people where they can find out more about you, your coaching, your books, and anything else you want to share.

Chris Bailey: Yeah. So the book is called, Hyperfocus. It’s in bookstores everywhere. If you like the sound of my voice … I have a cold right now so it’s a bit lower than the audiobook but I record my own audiobook. Yeah. My site is called and all my articles there are free. I just got rid of that annoying newsletter popup that comes up when you visit so it’s a friendlier place now.

Yeah, thanks for having me, man.

John Jantsch: And James Earl Jones did my audiobook but … you know.

Chris Bailey: No big deal.

John Jantsch: I asked him, he was busy okay? All right. He didn’t really do it. Chris, it was great to visit with you. Great book and I look forward to running into you out there on the road.

Chris Bailey: You too.

Transcript of Why Sales and Marketing Need Each Other

Transcript of Why Sales and Marketing Need Each Other written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: Marketing has never needed sales more and frankly, sales people have never needed marketing more than they do today. In this connected world, where people can find out whatever they need to find out, do they really need sales people? In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast, we talk with Pam Didner. We’re going to talk about effective sales enablement, collaboration, getting marketing and sales together. Check it out.

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Pam Didner. She is a content marketer, author, speaker, and has a new book called Effective Sales Enablement: Achieve Sales Growth Through Collaborative Sales and Marketing. So Pam, thanks for joining me.

Pam Didner: My pleasure. And you are based in Kansas city?

John Jantsch: I am in Kansas City, Missouri.

Pam Didner: How is the weather today?

John Jantsch: It’s beautiful today. Well, I don’t know, it’s actually, summer’s hanging on a little longer than I’d like to do. It’s about 90 and humid.

Pam Didner: Oh my gosh.

John Jantsch:  So, we’re waiting for that first fall cool weather to break.

Pam Didner:  It’s coming. It is coming.

John Jantsch: All right, so let’s define the term sales enablement. That’s one of those terms that I bet you could get a whole bunch of people that define it in different ways. So what’s your definition of sales enablement?

Pam Didner: Yeah. In general, if you talk to anybody in sales anywhere in the world, they tend to define that it’s related to sales development and sales training. But for folks who are listening, if you actually look for a sales enablement definition, it’s usually related to development and the training of a sales team.

And my book was written from a marketer’s perspective. Interestingly enough, I was never a sales person, but I have done multiple different jobs supporting indirect sales, and also the sales team. And I feel that there are things that marketing can do to actually support sales.

So the way I defined sales enablement for my book is to deliver a positive customer experience by equipping sales with knowledge, skills, processes, and tools, through cross functional collaborations, obviously that’s between sales and marketing, in order to increase sales velocity, sales retention, and also productivity.

It’s a little bit long, but if you’re thinking about the purchasing cycle in the continuum, obviously via time we’ll pass the baton from the marketing to a sales team. At the end of the day, we want to make sure we deliver that seamless customer experience.

John Jantsch: That’s interesting. I have a little history with this. I actually wrote a book called Duct Tape Selling. The sub title is Think Like A Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar. I was actually writing to sales people saying, “Hey, you need to start acting more like marketers.” So maybe a little bit similar.

Here’s what I kept hearing from people when I’d go out and speak about this. That’s great, but sales and marketing have different goals, different priorities, different support systems, they’re even compensated differently. That was the pushback of hey, how do we get these guys together? So what have you found, how have you found, because I’m sure you’ve heard that same thing?

Pam Didner: Yeah. You are totally right. It’s interesting enough that sales and marketing work in the same company. They even have the same business goal. Drive revenue. But they always have some sort of a misalignment, and I think a lot of the misalignment has to do with two things. First one is long term versus short term, right? If you talk about sales people, they have to meet quota every single quarter. Then if you talk to the marketers, they are building a brand awareness. Obviously it’s a much longer term beyond just one quarter.

Another thing is the top of the funnel versus the bottom of the funnel, because the marketers tend to focus on the demand end, especially in the very beginning of the purchase funnel, and also building the brand awareness. Again, that’s on the top of the funnel as well. But if you talk to sales people, they tend to focus on the bottom of the funnel, right? They want to drive conversion, they want to drive the sales closure.

That also cause a little bit of the misalignment between the sales and marketing. With these short term versus long term, top of the funnel versus bottom of the funnel priorities, that obviously have a huge impact on the resource and the budget allocation when you move down to a technical level.

The way that I see that both sales and marketing work together, is you need to find some sort of commonalities within the misalignment. One of the great way to actually drive that is account based marketing. Obviously, especially for the technology and the complex sales, that they are specific accounts the sales people go after. And account based selling is nothing new, but what about working also with the marketing people to tailor and customize some of the marketing campaigns and outreach for a specific account. That’s just one example, if you will. It’s looking for commonality within misalignment. I think that will be the first step to do.

John Jantsch: Okay, here’s the really tough question to get us both in trouble. In that description, and in the traditional sense, do we even need the sales function anymore, then?

Pam Didner: That’s actually a very good question. I still think sales function is absolutely necessary, and I am a marketer. I never can qualify myself as a sales person. And I think marketers need to think that the sales is just another marketing channel, and sales people need to think that marketing is another hidden sales force. Does that make sense? They complement each other in a way, and I loved supporting my sales people when I was in the corporate world. But I don’t think I can do their job. I still think that sales people provide a huge amount of value, and to bring the revenue actually to the company. I don’t think marketing can actually take that 100%.

John Jantsch: [inaudible] always described the difference between sales and marketing is that marketing controlled the message and sales typically controlled the client relationship, and was much closer to the client. How do we get marketing closer to the client?

Pam Didner: I think there are multiple ways to do that, but before I talk about that, John, you brought a very good point. Traditionally, marketing tend to focus on messaging and sales focus on client relationship. With the rise of digital, especially in social media, don’t you think that marketing is actually doing some of the customer services? And also managing the client relationship, right? Because you have to talk to the customers and it’s no longer just one way communication, it’s actually a two way communication. So I actually see the modern marketers are taking on some of the client relationship on its own, naturally, just because of digital technology. That’s one way I’m looking at it.

John Jantsch: Not to mention the data that we now have. I think that the segmenting is better, personalization of content is better, and so I think all of those elements have … I think a lot of people are missing the boat by not using those elements to get closer as well.

Pam Didner: Yes. You are totally right. Leveraging data is actually a great competitive advantage, if you will. Unfortunately, to be honest with you, my generation, probably along with yours, we kind of grew up with traditional marketing. So data, looking at data day in and day out is not necessarily what traditional marketers do. I have to intentionally learn, and make an effort to do that. I agree with you that something, especially probably for the millennials that come into the workforce, that will come naturally to them. But at least for the existing workforce that’s currently in the marketing field, this is something that we still have to learn. Does that make sense? But I do agree with you 100%.

John Jantsch: What does today’s, I mean I made my comment earlier about do we even need a sales function, and I agree with you. I was actually just opening that up for, so a lot of sales people listening can say, “How dare you?”

Pam Didner: Yeah, John. How dare you?

John Jantsch: What does today’s sales person need from marketing, though, so that they are relevant?

Pam Didner: I think there are multiple things that the sales team needs. In the past, I think sales people can be a super hero. They can do a lot of client relationship, accelerating the purchase funnel on their own. But in the current modern world, you need a team to support you. You cannot do anything on your own anymore, if you think about it. I think the marketing team can be the back end to actually support a sales team, and there’s multiple ways that the marketing team can do, right?

In addition to give the sales people MQL, which is marketing qualified leads, marketing people have done email marketing inside out. They probably know how to optimize that, and I know a lot of sales people do many email marketing campaigns on their own for their prospects. So getting the tips and tricks from the marketers doesn’t hurt.

And social media, obviously, marketing people are pretty much on the front of that. Again, tips and tricks and teaching sales people how to do that better doesn’t hurt.

Social selling is related in terms of how to do research of your prospect on LinkedIn, on social media, and using the hash tag, and what of and keyword search. How do you use keyword search, how do you use hashtag properly? Again, marketers can provide some help. On top of that, there’s a lot of messaging, even content, that marketers create.

If you think about it and try to map the customer journey along with the sales processes and also methodology, there may be some content on the marketing side that can also be used on the sales side. If it cannot be used, obviously it can be modified and customized in certain way. So the content sharing between sales and marketing is another way that marketing can contribute.

And the last one, if you will John, a lot of the stuff that marketing people are doing can easily be part of a sales on boarding, and so is training. How to do social selling better, how to actually do research better online. All this can be part of the on boarding training and continuous training of the sales people. So there are multiple ways that marketers can contribute. I’m just sharing with you several examples.

John Jantsch: Now, one of the things that I’ve encountered in talking to a lot of sales people over particularly the last five to seven years, is that some of them got tired of waiting for the company, for the company culture, to shift and bring sales and marketing together. A lot of very successful sales people have said I’m just going to go out and build my own reputation. I’m going to blog, I’m going to participate in social media, I’m going to get speaking at maybe regional conferences where my customers might be there. In your opinion, should companies go as far as elevating their sales people in those veins?

Pam Didner: I think it’s actually good, but there’s a couple of things I want to address. If you are actually in a small business or, I would say, a mid size company, and having sales people speak and talk about the brand, is probably not their thing. You want everybody to talk about your brand and also your product, and you become a brand ambassador or your company’s ambassador to promote your products and services.

However, in the bigger enterprises that be hundreds or thousands of a sales force, they usually have a policy and also processing place to do that, and you need to understand your corporate policy and make sure there’s no code of conduct violations, or whatnot. Right? And if you actually go out and talk about your products, sometimes you have to use examples. And say if you talk about specific accounts, will the other accounts be mad that you didn’t mention them?

So there is always a fine line in terms of should you do that or not? My recommendation is always look at your corporate policy and check with your senior management, especially VP of sales. Some of them welcome that, some of them feel, you know what, you should not do that and you should use your time more effectively making calls. So that’s when-

John Jantsch: “Those idiots in marketing aren’t sending me any good leads!” I can hear people screaming that.

Pam Didner: Yeah. This is something that, you’ve got a good point, John. From my perspective, if that’s the case there should be a very honest conversation between sales and marketing. At the end of the day, you’ve got to have a come to Jesus meeting. You know what I’m saying? And the sales people need to be very frank and say I’m doing all this because you are not giving me stuff. And now, what can we do or what can you do, to actually help us out?

So I think at the end of the day, it’s the service level agreement that needs to be finalized and also communicated, so sales can do their jobs. But if they feel that being a brand ambassador or company’s ambassador that can get them leads, I don’t know. It may not be a bad thing. What do you think, John?

John Jantsch: I’m a big fan of it, but I do know that it’s like everything, it’s fraught with land mines as well, potentially, when you’ve got shareholders and things to consider. But in the small business, which quite frankly, I have a lot of small business owners as listeners, and I think that they should find ways to … If I was considering making a purchase and the sales person from one company was speaking at a conference I was attending, and the other people were just sending me brochures, to me that would be a great competitive advantage. But again, it’s probably individual considerations.

Pam Didner: I do agree. And individual company considerations, yes, absolutely.

John Jantsch: Absolutely. I’ve always said that one of the best sources of lead generation is happy customers, and a lot of companies are investing pretty significantly in customer experience and service. So how could a comamonas use that investment as a way to help sales?

Pam Didner: You’re talking about customer services, right? You’re talking about wholesales, specifically? I just want to be-

John Jantsch: The kind of stuff that would generate raving fans and referrals, and things like that.

Pam Didner: Yeah, I totally agree that customer service or the post sales experience is incredibly critical, and this is so true, so true for technology companies or SaaS based products, because when you offer any kind of SaaS based products, there’s always a learning curve, right, that the user has to go through to get familiar or get competent and efficient with your tools.

The post sales is very critical in terms of getting cross sales and also up sales in the future. And fortunately, the customer service department is not a necessary part of the sales team or part of the marketing team. They tend to be a team of its own. What I have come to realize, especially working in the marketing side of things, at the end of my job in the corporate world, I got a chance to actually work with the customer service team, because understanding what kind of questions they ask actually helped me to determine what kind of content I should create. Does that make sense?

We also feed that kind of information back to the product team. So when they created next version or next generation of their product, some of the features can be incorporated. On top of that, some of the key learnings or the questions that were asked as part of the customer service team, we tried to feed into a sales team so they can get kind of like first hand information and just give them a heads up that when they implement certain tools, there’s a couple glitches they may encounter, and the sales people can prep their contacts.

It’s interesting how customer service in the past tends to be a division of its own. Now a lot of the data they collected, and John you mentioned how important data is, that is feeding back to the marketing for the content creation, and feeding back to the sales team to improve their client relationship, and even the product development. So I think it’s very critical to actually have that relationship with the customer service team as a marketer.

John Jantsch: So if we are going to have effective sales enablement, what does the new sales-marketing-service team look like? Does it have to fundamentally be changed in how we structure that in organizations?

Pam Didner: That’s actually a good question. In an enterprise, it’s almost impossible, right, to change the organizational structure and the sales team and the marketing team will continue to actually have their differences. I don’t think we can overcome that overnight, per se. And the way that I recommend it in my book is, you need to take some baby steps. If there’s a huge or there’s a big gap between the sales and marketing, is it possible you could find some sort of commonality and start it with small initiatives, for example.

The second thing is, if there’s already some sort of misalignment but can you make that alignment even closer and drive multiple different joint initiatives together? I don’t think the two circles will completely overlap, and my recommendation is make an effort to align as much as possible, but be aware that the sales and the marketing team always have different goals.

John Jantsch: But you know what? Get somebody from marketing and go get them in the car, and go call on some accounts with them.

Pam Didner: Actually, I do agree with you, and that’s one of my recommendations in terms of trying to understand sales processes and sales methodologies is to shadow the sales person for a day or for a week. If nothing else, they can get a sense of the pain of the sales people for the continuous rejections. But yes, it is very important to actually try to understand sales issues and concerns in order to better support them.

John Jantsch: Speaking with Pam Didner, author of Effective Sales Enablement. Pam, where can people find out more about you and your work and your book?

Pam Didner: Excellent questions. You can always google Pam Didner, D-I-D-N-E-R. And I also have my own website, Just go there, check it out, I blog and I also have a podcast, Seven Minute Marketing With Pam, and the book Effective Sales Enablement will be launched on October 3 in the UK, and on October 23 in the US. And you can obviously pre order on Amazon. The things I really want to share with your audience is that if you purchase my book, and you read the book, and you discover absolutely nothing, nothing usable in the book, schedule a call with me. More than happy to actually help you out. Tell me your challenges, I will see what I can do.

John Jantsch: Awesome. That’s about as good a guarantee as you’re going to get from an author, so Pam, thanks for making that offer and we will obviously have links to everything in the show notes when you check this out, so Pam, thanks for joining us. Maybe we’ll catch up with you out there on the road sometime soon.

Pam Didner: My pleasure. Thank you so much.

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John Jantsch: With all these fancy marketing channels we have, still today, the most potent form of marketing is the original form of market, word of mouth. In this episode the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I visit with my friend Jay Baer. He’s got a new book called Talk Triggers: A Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word of Mouth. Check it out.

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Jay Baer. He’s the President of the global consulting firm, Convince & Convert. He’s also the author of Hug Your Haters and Youtility. I think both books that we had him come on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast and talk about at some point. But he’s got a new book with the co-author, Daniel Lemin, called Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word of Mouth. Jay, welcome back.

Jay Baer: My friend, it is fantastic to be back here with the Duct Tapers. I appreciate the time. We should mention at this top of the show here that you are quoted liberally in this book, Talk Triggers, because you are a very smart man and at some level it’s the idea of referrals and you certainly have a handle on that. Thank you for your contributions to the book.

John Jantsch: Well, thank you for starting with that, because I had a questioned cued up here for you, if you quoted any smart marketing people. That was going to be my opportunity, but you just did it for me.

Jay Baer: At least one. No, but it’s funny you say that, because this book is about word of mouth and word of mouth is not a new idea. It’s not like we struck some sort of plutonium vein. Word of mouth has been around since the first caveman sold a rock to another caveman. There are a number of good books about word of mouth on the shelves, but here’s the thing that Daniel and I tried to do. We wanted to give people a book that allows you to follow a system to do word of mouth on purpose. A lot of people who are good at word of mouth are kind of good at it on accident, so we’re very specific and there’s a whole framework in this book; a six step process that any business can use to develop a talk trigger, a differentiator that creates word of mouth. I think what our contribution to the word of mouth literature will be is giving people sort of a thing that they can say, “Oh, now I can follow some steps and actually do this.” As opposed to just say, “Yes, word of mouth is important.”

John Jantsch: It’s funny, until you said that, I hadn’t really thought about it. Word of mouth’s probably the original channel, right?

Jay Baer: It is the only channel. Imagine before you had Papyrus, or Hulu, or Snapchat, word of mouth was the only game in town.

John Jantsch: I’ve heard you and seen you define a talk trigger as a strategic operational differentiator that compels word of mouth. You want to unpack that?

Jay Baer: Yeah. I mean, a talk trigger is not marketing. Maybe we should just end the show right there. It is not marketing. It’s not marketing. It is an operational choice that creates a marketing advantage. It is something that you do differently, not something that you say differently. I’ll give you a quick example if I may. One of my favorite examples from the book is a restaurant in Sacramento, California called Skip’s Kitchen. Skip’s is a counter service restaurant, so you go to the counter and you order two patty melts, and chocolate shake, and onion rings, and they bring your food to your table when it’s ready. Pretty simple concept. These guys have a line to get in almost every day. They were just named the 29th Best Hamburger Restaurant in the U.S. by USA Today newspaper.

Yet John, they’ve never spent a penny on advertising in the 10 years they’ve been open. They’re able to do this because they have made an operational choice. They have a talk trigger. They have a differentiator that creates conversation. Here’s how it works. Before you pay, you’re at the counter, you make your order. Before you reach for your wallet, they say, “Hey John, I got something for you to try.” They whip out a deck of cards from under the counter and they fan the cards out faced down in front of you. They say, “John, pick a card.” You select a card and if you get a joker, your entire meal is free, whether it’s just for yourself or for the entire soccer team that you just ordered for. Now, on average three people a day win. When they win, they go crazy.

They’re taking patty melt selfies, and they’re calling their mom, and there’s all kinds of social media, and a high school marching band plays. It’s very exciting. But that’s what propels this business forward. People tell that story over, and over, and over. So much so that even though there’s a big neon sign out front that says Skip’s Kitchen, people in Sacramento typically call it, “That joker restaurant.” It’s a choice, right? It’s an operational decision that they made that creates marketing, but it’s not a contest, it’s not a coupon, it’s not a campaign, it’s not a promotion. It’s none of those things that we typically associate with marketers. It’s not even content. It is an operational choice.

John Jantsch: I’m going to give you an example of … A much simpler example. My wife bought a piece of clothing from kind of an indie place, not a mail order catalog that you would know. She brought it home and put it on the first time and put her hands in it. It was a sweater or something, outer garment. She put her hands in the pocket and there was a piece of paper in there. She pulled out a piece of paper and it said, “You are a goddess.” I just-

Jay Baer: Nice.

John Jantsch: I have talked about that to so many people, because-

Jay Baer: That’s really good.

John Jantsch: What a simple thing-

Jay Baer: That’s a really good one.

John Jantsch: To do.

Jay Baer: Yes.

John Jantsch: We’re not shouting and taking … In fact, I did take a picture of that, of course, and share it on social media.

Jay Baer: Yes, yes.

John Jantsch: But it can be simple things, can’t it?

Jay Baer: It actually should be simple things. One of the tenets of the book, Talk Triggers, is that it has to be reasonable. Sometimes in marketing we want to go for the big, right? We want to do surprise and delight, we want to do this whole huge crazy thing, because it’s so competitive and attention is hard to come by and so we feel like the way to get attention is to do something dramatic, and bold, and crazy. That can work, right? Surprise and delight can work, but it’s not a strategy, right? Surprise and delight is not a word of mouth strategy.

It’s a lottery ticket, right? It’s a publicity stunt. What I love about your idea with, “You’re a goddess,” piece of paper is that really meets two of the conditions that we talk about in the book. One, it’s reasonable, right? It’s a small. Two, it’s repeatable. I presume that every garment that they sell has that piece of paper or some piece of paper in it. It’s not just every once and a while, or just on Thursdays, or on your birthday. Everybody who orders at Skip’s Kitchen gets a chance to play the joker game. Talk Triggers must be repeatable as well as reasonable.

John Jantsch: Talk a little about, you mentioned it, but talk a little bit about the research that went into kind of your conclusions.

Jay Baer: We did four different research projects for this book actually. We did a national study of the impact of word of mouth on purchases and voting behavior. That study is called Chatter Matters, which was actually released today out of media embargo. That’s got all kinds of charts, and graphs, and data points. One of my favorite findings in that piece of research, John, is that 66% of Americans would trust an anonymous online review more than they would trust a recommendation from an ex-boyfriend, which I think is genius, right? Word of mouth matters, unless it’s your ex, and then it doesn’t matter at all.

John Jantsch: Well, you bring up a great point though, because I mean, look how many people are making decisions because behavior of looking at reviews, which is sort of word of mouth, has become so prevalent that-

Jay Baer: Huge. You have no idea who this person is.

John Jantsch: That’s right, that’s right.

Jay Baer: But we don’t care. We’re like, “If it’s on the internet, it must be true.” We did the Chatter Matters research. We did a bunch of social media, deep social listening research around individual talk triggers and how much they surface in social media conversations. Then we did two deep, deep, deep studies on two of the organizations that we profile in the book. One on DoubleTree Hotels and one on the Cheesecake Factory restaurant to examine how effective their specific talk triggers are at generating chatter amongst their customers. For example, listeners may know that the DoubleTree Hotel chain gives you a warm chocolate chip cookie when you check in. They’ve been doing that every day for 30 years. Each day now they hand out 75,000 warm chocolate chip cookies per day. That’s a lot of cookies.

Well, we talked to 1,001 DoubleTree customers and found that 34% of them have mentioned without being asked, have mentioned that cookie to somebody else in the prior 60 days. Which means that approximately every day 25,500 mention the cookie, which is one of the many reasons why you don’t see much advertising from DoubleTree because the cookie is their advertising. See, the best way to grow any business is for your customers to grow it for you. You know that, you’ve written about that extensively. I could not agree more. The problem is, everybody knows that to be true, but then they don’t give their customers a story to tell. A talk trigger is the story that you want your customers to tell one another and everybody can do it, they just need to figure it out and go do it.

John Jantsch: It’s interesting, as I heard you talk about that, of course, the … I won’t call it a danger necessarily, but once you come up with a talk trigger, you have to commit to it, right? Because I mean, imagine if-

Jay Baer: Yes.

John Jantsch: You went to that DoubleTree and the cookies were cold, or just weren’t there, or somebody said, “Yeah, we’re not doing that anymore.” I mean, it almost has the opposite effect, doesn’t it?

Jay Baer: Absolutely. That’s why it really is an operational choice. One of the things we talk about in the book is how important it is to get everybody in your organization, large or small, on the same page. While it’s common that talk triggers and word of mouth programs like this will initiate with marketing, everybody’s got to be on the same page; sales, operations, customer service, because everybody’s got a pull on the same rope here for this to happen and for it to be delivered consistently.

John Jantsch: Since you mentioned operational, I’m going to use the S-word, system, for this and you have a very nice tidy four, five, six system. Again, I’m not going to ask you to spell out every aspect of that, but let’s talk about the four … No, let’s go with five. Let’s go with the five types of talk triggers.

Jay Baer: It helps, I think, to have this taxonomy, to think about what are we trying to achieve here. Because a talk trigger is really just something that defies expectations. In fact, in the process one of the things that we really recommend is doing some research of your current customers to determine what it is that they expect, because if you know what they expect, then you know what they don’t expect, right? That’s really the raw materials for your talk triggers. There’s five different types, five ways that you can execute a talk trigger. The first one and the most common one is talk about generosity, where you’re more generous than your customers expect. Free cookies at DoubleTree is certainly an example of that. Winning a free meal at Skip’s Kitchen if you pull a joker is an example of talk-able generosity. That’s the one you see the most in the wild, John, because it’s the easiest to implement in your operations.

Another one is talk-able responsiveness. This is where you are faster than your customers expect. This can have tremendous winning benefits for your organization. It is perhaps the hardest one to do though, because expectations around a speed get higher, and higher, and higher every year. What was fast three years ago is average today, so that one’s a tough one to stick, but when you can do it, it works really, really well. The third one is talk-able empathy, which frankly, wouldn’t have even been in the book three years ago, because as you well know, treating customers with empathy, with humanity, with kindness was the default state in a business for the entirety of my career and yours until recently. But I think I can say now without any degree of irony that we are now in an era of empathy deficient.

Where both in politics, and in life, and in business the default state is no longer kindness, and warmth, and humanity. When you can still play that game, right? When you can still treat your customers disproportionately well, it actually is disproportionate at this point, and it can create a lot of chatter and really be a winning word of mouth strategy for your business. That’s talk-able empathy. The fourth one is talk-able usefulness, where you’re more useful than your customers expect you to be, similar to the book I wrote called Utility. Some of those same ideas are in that one. The fifth one is talk-able attitude, which is my co-author Daniel Lemin’s favorite category. That’s when you just do things a little different, right? You’re just a little askew, a little askance. You’re just a little wacky, a little wild.

One of my favorite case studies, it’s not in the book, because we learned about it afterwards. There’s a bar in Great Falls, Montana, which is out of the way, even by Montana standards. This bar was just named one of the top 10 bars to fly to by GQ Magazine. In Great Falls, Montana. Here’s their talk trigger. Every night between 9PM and midnight, they have a giant aquarium behind the bar, live human mermaids swim behind the bar from 9:00 to midnight. Now, you cannot possibly go to that bar and not have a conversation with somebody about that afterwards. That is a good talk trigger.

John Jantsch: What’s interesting as I wrote all these down, I mean, none of them saw you’re more active on Facebook, or that you have great ads, right? I mean, they’re all operational things in a lot of ways.

Jay Baer: Yeah.

John Jantsch: Or culture things, maybe. We would say some of them, but I think it really hammers that point home.

Jay Baer: There’s two things there. One, it’s important to know that the research shows, and this is research from engagement labs, that 50% of word of mouth is offline and 50% of word of mouth is almost exactly the same is online; social, review sites, etc. Now, our research in Chatter Matters shows that the impact of offline word of mouth, that you and I talking right now on Skype, or an email between the two of us, or a face-to-face conversation has more impact than a social media recommendation, just because the nature of that relationship and one-on-one. But half and half, offline versus online. Then the other thing, is you talked about Facebook ads or anything else, that’s where the sixth step in the process where you have to amplify your trigger comes into play.

If you’ve got a talk trigger, what you want to do, not all the time, because then it gets a little yucky, but every once in a while you just want to remind people. You just want to connect the dots for them. One of the examples we use in the book that I think is really … It’s just very intuitive, is Krispy Kreme doughnuts, right? Krispy Kreme doughnuts has hot doughnuts, right? They just make them out of the assembly line, but in every single Krispy Kreme location they have a giant blinking red neon sign that says, “Hot now.” They have a hot now light, right? When you see that light driving by, you’re like, “Oh yeah, fresh doughnuts. That’s their talk trigger. That’s their thing, right?” They use the sign to remind you of their differentiator and that’s a good way to do it. That’s where you use social and other forms of advertising and marketing to just remind people that you do have something that’s a little different.

John Jantsch: I’m imagining some listeners sitting around going, “Gosh darn it, that Jay is so smart. We need to do that. Let’s create a viral stampede into our business, right?” Remember everybody first started talking about viral videos and stuff that they wanted to create. How do you really authentically create … I mean, if it was a simple saying, “Let’s do a talk trigger and the world will beat a path our door,” everybody would do it. How do you do it in a way … How do you at least brainstorm, just start coming up with what would be your authentic talk trigger?

Jay Baer: We don’t really think of talk triggers as a virality mechanism, because when I think viral, I think fast growth, rapid spread. That’s not what a talk trigger does. Talk trigger does consistent reliable spread over time. A talk trigger is a word of mouth strategy. A viral campaign is a lottery ticket. It’s not the same thing, right? You may have a similar impact, but once your viral thing is over, what do you have left? You have the memories of your viral thing. DoubleTree’s have the same talk trigger, the warm chocolate cookie for 30 years. 30 years, right? It’s a different kind of way of thinking about it.

But the first step, the first step in the whole thing is to understand your customers better. We really recommend that people looking to implement a talk trigger do some interviews with customers, specifically new customers, longtime customers, and ideally lost customers. What you want to do is take your customer journey map, sort of the different inflection points that you had with each customer, and then you say, “Okay. At this step, when we sent you our proposal, what did you expect would happen?” Then you just write all that stuff down. When you do that, what you have is an expectation map, because once you know what they expect, then you can figure out what they don’t expect.

John Jantsch: That seems like something everybody ought to do anyway.

Jay Baer: Yeah, it really … It’s a good point, right? It seems like a good … Even if you’re not going to build it into a word of mouth strategy, it’s probably good information to have.

John Jantsch: What’s the danger of your talk trigger being copy-able? I mean, I can bake-

Jay Baer: It is a danger. Yeah, it happens.

John Jantsch: Chocolate chip cookies maybe.

Jay Baer: Yeah. I mean, you would think … In most cases, right? You would think that if you’re going to roll it out you would know if it’s already in the market, right? You would know, “Hey, somebody’s already doing this, so maybe we should or shouldn’t.” But sometimes you roll one out and then everybody’s like, “Hey, that is a great idea.” Then they rush it and copy you and now it no longer works. The example of that we use in the book is Westin Hotels. You may remember, John, this is … I don’t even know how many years it was. I’m going to say five, maybe it’s longer. Westin came out with this thing called the heavenly bed and they put a ton of money into trying to convince us all that they had the best beds in all of hotel-land.

Well then, Hilton Garden Inn did the same thing, and Marriott did the same thing, and Hyatt did the same thing, and somebody else got the Sleep Number bed. I think it was Hyatt. Then everybody’s got a fancy bed, and so then their talk trigger no longer worked. They basically just got co-opted out of it. That sometimes happens. It is a danger, which is why in the process of talk trigger ideation, we always recommend coming up with five to eight ideas, and then you score those ideas on a matrix we created, which is 50% talk-ability; how interesting is it, and 50% viability; how operationally difficult is it to execute. Then if one gets stolen, right? Your competitors, say, they match you and you can’t do it anymore, then you go back to the list and you just try another one.

John Jantsch: We’ve sort of been talking about, what I would call, core talk trigger for an operational … Core talk trigger for a business. Theoretically, couldn’t a product, or a service, or even a person have a talk trigger?

Jay Baer: Yes. Definitely a person, no question. There’s a lot of “personal branding,” implications for this work, no question about it. At the product level, yes. However, you have to make sure that if you’ve got, let’s say, three different talk triggers, one for each of your three main product lines, that if all three of those stories get told it doesn’t confuse anybody, or they do not create conflict, or some lack of congruity. You just have to make sure that if you’re going to roll out a talk trigger for a division or a product that if you’re going to have multiple, that it all kind of adds up. Because you don’t want to end up having your stories fighting against one another.

John Jantsch: Yeah. It might just be that if that’s ingrained in the culture, it may just actually be a design decision that goes … As cliché as it is to say, I would like to think sometimes, at least one point in their life, apple head that. That they sort of intentionally built a talk trigger maybe even into the design of their product, but that was sort of based on their overarching aesthetic.

Jay Baer: Yeah. That’s where you sort of get this Venn diagram of talk trigger versus what is actually your brand, right? For example, on the DoubleTree side, right? The warm chocolate chip cookies is the talk trigger, but their brand positioning is the warm welcome. Even within the pantheon of the 14 Hilton brands, DoubleTree’s thing is the warm welcome. They put a tremendous amount of time and effort on staff training and lobby design to sort of own that 10 minutes between when you walk into the hotel, between then and when you walk into your room. That gap, that 10 minutes is what they want to own, and so the cookie ceremony makes a lot of sense in that context.

John Jantsch: Jay Baer, I could talk to you all day long, but I better let you go. But we are talking about Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word of Mouth. Jay, where can people find out more about what you’re up to?

Jay Baer: If they go to,, we both show a little landing page for your listeners, we’re going to give you the six step guide to how to build your own talk trigger. Because I want people to do this and when you do it, please let me know, because we’re always looking for new examples. The book, of course, has a lot more detail, but if you just want the cheat sheet, go to, download the six step process guide and get started tomorrow.

John Jantsch: That’ll be, of course, in the show notes. Kind of on a final note, I won’t say this was intentional. I didn’t think this was a talk trigger, but people over the years have responded to the name of my business, Duct Tape Marketing as a bit of a talk trigger.

Jay Baer: Oh, absolutely. It would be so simple for you to lean into that skid, right? And do something with duct tape, or what have you, to sort of extenuate that differentiator.

John Jantsch: Absolutely. Jay, thanks for joining us. I know I’m going to see you soon. This book’s out in September of 2018, depending upon when you’re listening to this. Go check out Talk Triggers. Jay, we’ll see you soon on the road.

Jay Baer: Thanks, my friend.

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John Jantsch: Would you consider yourself a protectionist? I certainly would not consider myself a traditional protectionist, but I wonder if there’s times when viewing my view of the world through other people’s lens has cost me, has held me back, has stopped me from doing what I was meant to do

In this episode of The Duct Tape Marketing podcast we visit with Petra Kolber, she’s the author of The Perfection Detox: Tame Your Inner Critic, Live Bravely, and Unleash Your Joy. I think you better check it out.

Stuff like payroll and benefits are hard. That’s why I switched to Gusto and to help support the show Gusto is offering out listeners and exclusive limited time deal. You sign up for their payroll service today, you’ll get three months free once you run your first payroll. Just go to

Hello and welcome to another episode of The Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Petra Kolber. She’s international renown fitness expert and wellness leader. Also, the author of a book we’re gonna talk about today called The Perfection Detox: Tame Your Inner Critic, Live Bravely, and Unleash Your Joy. So Petra, thanks for joining us.

Petra Kolber: Oh my pleasure. Thanks for having me John.

John Jantsch: And I also forgot to mention that you are, you’re gonna shoot me, Scottish.

Petra Kolber: Oh, my god. You are so off. I am British. My dad was Scottish though. I have to be honest, my dad was a Scott.

John Jantsch: There’s a little Scot in your accent still, what’s left of it.

Petra Kolber: If you say so. Okay, we’ll just leave it at that, because my mother’s turning in her grave right now going, Scottish?

John Jantsch: I could have called you Australian.

Petra Kolber: That too. I’ll answer to anything John. If I’m just talking to you, whatever works. I’m fine with that.

John Jantsch: All right, so let me ask you this first. Is this book autobiographical?

Petra Kolber: Well they say you teach what you need to learn, so yes. For me it was autobiographical in a sense, but again for me the pain point of the book, as you know with sales and marketing speak to the pain point. That was definitely my own personal pain point for many years and I thought, if I can help people fast track the seven year process or so that it took me, John, to figure out that you don’t have to be perfect to do great things in this world, then I though it’d be a book worth writing.

John Jantsch: So detoxing is really hot right now. I mean there’s probably half a dozen books in every book store about it, and diets and what not. What does that speak to you think?

Petra Kolber: Well I did the name Detox to be honest, like we had talked about before, my background was fitness for 30 years, so detoxing, nutrition is definitely a piece of that and if you look at the books cover, The Perfection, Perfection is very lightly written, so I do believe many people who pick this up thinking it’s a juicing book, but again, so hey why not build on a cultural trend. That’s not why I called it that. Like with detox from anything is basically cleaning out the crud, and that’s what this book is about. It’s not cleaning out the crud from your body or your nutrition, but really your mental aspect and whether you’re gonna go for a job of your dreams, you’re gonna start that business you’ve been thinking about. It really is about, not what you’re doing, but do you feel worthy enough to even begin the dream and how do you feel about yourself along the process?

John Jantsch: Okay, so let’s start here. What does perfection look like?

Petra Kolber: Ha, great question.

John Jantsch: I’m probably saying that because I have no idea. It does not enter into my life in any sense.

Petra Kolber:  You are so lucky John, let me tell you. So I do believe perfection means different things to everybody and I do believe a lot of people have asked me. Why did, this book as you know is definitely got the woman perspective, yet I speak to men and woman across the board, and many men come up to me and go, “Oh my god, you were speaking to me.” Perfection means different things to everybody and what I ask people to consider is, when you think of the word perfect in the three main areas of your life, self care, the relationships of your own personal family relationships, and your work. When you think of the word perfect, does that add joy to your life or does it suck the joy out of you? Because perfect and perfection is only a word until you attach a meaning and an emotion to it. So this book, this idea of perfect, you know detoxing from perfection, some of your listeners might go, “Well, hey perfect works really well for me in my business.”

I strive, and this is not about not working hard. This is not about wanting to be the best that you can be. It’s not about wanting to be the leader in your field and what it is about is how are you feeling about yourself when you’re striving for these high goals? Do you ever reach them, or they are so high where perfections become the basement level. Maybe we can look at different metrics and a different definition of success.

John Jantsch: So I work with a lot of entrepreneurs and one of the things that I see is almost rampant in that community is that they didn’t define what perfection was. They’re striving for somebody else’s view of perfection because they see somebody else being more successful in their view, or whatever, having more customers, a bigger launch, a bigger house, you know, whatever it is, and how much do you think that, that plays into it? Is that we don’t step back and even define perfection. We just try to hit somebody else’s target?

Petra Kolber: Oh, that’s so interesting John. Nobody’s ever really put it to me that way. Yeah, I agree and I think whether it’s comparison … I think we are comparing being by definition. We need to look at other people for inspiration and I think Jon Acuff was the one that said, “Don’t compare your beginning to everybody else’s middle.” And what happens, especially in this world of social media and the online culture where everything is coming across our feed so fast and if you’re like me, for many years I never had this idea that I had anything unique to say, so who was I to be doing a book, a bran, an online course and so whether you see it as perfection, like you had said, or you see it as a lack of confidence or the gap between where you are right now and where you want to be, I think it’s all about the same thing John. We start looking at ourselves, unwittingly comparing ourselves to others, and then out negativity biased, which is a part of our evolution, is automatically gonna hit on the things that we think we are not enough of.

Or in some cases, we think we’re too much of this and what happens is then, we then stop beating ourselves up and judging ourselves, and I should know better, I shouldn’t be comparing my brand, or my launch to someone else’s launch. The challenge is the part of our brain that’s the strongest, it’s not part of your character flaw, it’s a part of our genetic makeup and unless it goes managed and unless we notice these thoughts John, like “Oh, my god, their launch was so perfect. Or, “They wrote the perfect book, ” or, “Their online program is so perfect,” and unwillingly we’re comparing our back story and our struggles to what we see as their overnight success, which in reality is 10,000 hours of hustle and hard work, and failure after failure and iteration 2.0. This is when we get stopped in our tracks and so it’s where we stop doing, we start watching and then we start becoming paralyzed because we start judging what we think we’re doing to everyone else’s highlight reel.

John Jantsch: So physical toxins, are quite often aligned with something you’re familiar with, as a cancer survivor. How is perfection toxins, what’s that costing us?

Petra Kolber: You got some great questions John. You know what, the interesting thing about this, people often say, “Ah, it’s just a thought. I’m just having these thoughts. I’m beating myself up.” And now science is showing that these thoughts have a physical reaction, a chemical reaction to your body. So what we’re seeing now in this world of elevated stress, elevated anxiety, in the entrepreneurial world and in the life’s of our children, elevated depression, although with our kids, they’re saying anxiety is going up, as depression is coming down a little bit. Every time we have these thoughts, our brain, every time we have a thought of self judgment and doubt, or worry it’s not a status quo, it’s gonna trigger irresponsible in your body. It’s either gonna be fight or flight, or tandem befriend and this cortisol, the adrenalin, and placed on top of the adrenaline and cortisol that gets triggered every time we have an email alert, or a text come in our we have an argument with our partner, or work partner.

This is all having a physical impact on our body and our immune system, our health, our joy, our happiness, and so again, people go, “Oh it’s just a thought.” “Uh, yeah, no.” Because your body can now not … This is science, the science of neuroscience. Your body cannot tell the difference between an actual something we should be afraid of and go on physical defense or a thought where we ramp up and have this same toxic, like you said, toxic emotion built into our body and often to put on top of that John, this work is often happening behind a computer and we’re sitting and you and I just spoke about this before. Sitting is the worse place for our body, our health, our happiness, our focus, our agility, our resilience. So you put all these thoughts on a body that’s now static, it’s just compiled and exasperates to a magnificent and an unfortunate level.

John Jantsch: For the record, I’m at my standing desk right now as we record this interview. I want everybody to know. So let’s pick on social media a little bit now. So let’s pick on social media a little bit, shall we. You know my last interview that I … Who knows when people will actually be listening to these. They probably won’t come out back to back, but Dan Schawbel, Back To Human: How Greatly Leaders Create Connection in an Age of Isolation, and one of the main thrusts of his book is that technology, while it does enable us to do some cool things, it’s probably made us more isolated than ever, and I suspect that in the perfection game, social media is a pretty big culprit isn’t it?

Petra Kolber:  Yeah, absolutely. I love that idea. I think the currency of the future is gonna be connection and I heard Gary V. speak recently at an even and he held up his phone, and he goes, “Technology doesn’t have and opinion,” and I was like, oh that’s good, ’cause I had become silently very judgy about social media and technology. It doesn’t have an opinion, but it’s how we feel about ourselves and how we decide to use it and what our intention is when we’re going onto social media, or any form of technology. So again, it does magnificent things. You and I are having this conversation across the country because of technology. My thought is with social media in particular, there’s many great aspects of it. It allowed me John, over the course of two years recently, to pivot my branding from fitness to happiness and now to this idea of becoming our best selves versus our perfect selves. Social media will allow me to do that without paying a PR company, yet we often use social media to deflect, distract.

We often go on when we’re bored, when we’re a little bit lonely and that is the worst place, the worst time for us to jump on, because then that negative bias, our inner critic is quick to ramp up and then start again, going into that comparison mode, and even though we know that what someone is posting on social media there, there are a million dollar launch, or that perfect this, or we know that’s probably not the exact truth. Maybe it’s a little bit highlighted a little bit, while our brain knows that and for females especially, we see the pictures going across out feed, with that million Instagram followers. Our heart has a really hard time discerning what’s real to what we’re seeing across our feed. So I just say, there’s nothing wrong in social media, but make sure you’re going on with full attention and with what intention. There’s so much noise out there. Do we want to add to the noise or can we elevate the conversation. Add things that make people think, make them feel good, make them want to share what it is that you’re sharing about your thoughts and your view of the world today.

If we’re there to elevate the conversation and make people feel less alone, than it’s a great thing, but then again I keep coming back to this idea of when you step off your time on social media, do you feel more joyful, or has the joy been sucked out of you, and then maybe it’s time to look at who you’re following, your intentions, and just kind of do a quick little detox on your social media too.

John Jantsch: Wouldn’t it be great if in your business all you had to do was the stuff you love, the reason you started the business and not all that administrative stuff, like payroll and benefits, that stuff’s hard, especially when you’re a small business. Now I’ve been delegating my payroll for years to one of those big corporate companies and I always felt like a little tiny fish, but now there is a much better way. I’ve switched over to Gusto and it is making payroll and benefits and HR easy for the modern small business. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits, and great service to take care of your team. To help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners an exclusive limited time deal. If you sign up today, you’ll get three months free once you run your first payroll. Just go to

So I probably wasn’t gonna bring this up, but you opened the door to it. Do feel that men and women approach this idea of perfection differently?

Petra Kolber: Yes, I do. I mean I think … This is why I wrote the book form a female perspective, ’cause while I’ve had many conversations with men, and I think the suffering is there, but I think it’s a little different. I think, and again, tell me, correct me on this John, I would imagine that sometimes it’s easier for men to compartmentalize their areas of their life. So my job is, I’m crushing it, I’m succeeding, my goal is to be perfect, and their like great, but perhaps your relationships are suffering, or maybe your self care is suffering, whereas I think women have a harder time separating their self care to their relationships, to their work life, to their family, so there’s more of a trickle effect. If I’m not feeling great in this area of my life it’s gonna kind of have a little bit of a trickle effect where I think, and I hope I don’t get a lot of blow black on this.

It might be easier for men to compartmentalize just a little. So while perfection’s working in their work life per se, maybe their self care’s suffering, or their family life is suffering and it doesn’t have the ripple down effect quite as much, and feel free to correct me on that.

John Jantsch:  No, no, I agree 100%. I think society plays a huge role in that too. I remember when my kids were little and I’d take them to … I might have one of them, well I have four, so I might have had all four of them and I’d be carrying one in the grocery store checking out and you know it never failed. Somebody, “Oh you’re such a great dad.” And I wonder what it would take for somebody to actually say, “You’re such a great mom,” if my wife was doing the exact same thing. I think society really … You know, we have much lower expectations I think on men sometimes.

Petra Kolber: It’s a great point and again, not to do any bashing, but I think this expectation that women also place on themselves and the conversation is absolutely changing, a little bit, but even if the conversation is changing externally it’s really hard on the internal conversations that we have with ourselves to ease up the judgment and the self doubt in that area of our life.

John Jantsch: Okay, so we’ve talked a ton about perfection. Let’s talk about detox. Where do you start?

Petra Kolber: Well like with anything I would love to say with this book we start with the joy, but unfortunately you have to clear out the muck. So the first part is just clearing out what’s not working for you and it’s not everything, especially with perfection. Any kind of detox you want to keep what’s working. So you’re gonna keep the flowers but pull out the weeds. So I’m gonna jump back a little bit about perfection John, because there’s many aspects that you want to keep, you’re a hard worker, you strive for excellence, you triple check your work, you’re a great friend, you’re a great coworker. None of that we want to get rid of, but whatever you’re detoxing from, we need to get rid of the stuff that’s not working for you right now. So first bit is clearing out the muck. Then the universe in your brain does not like a vacuum, so you got to put something good in there and this is where my work and my studies with positive psychology enter in. Again our brains default ids the negative, so if we leave a space, then more negative’s gonna come in.

It might have a different voice, a different accent. It might have a Scottish accent, but it’s gonna come in. So we got to put something positive in there and then we want to really be robust for the future. So it’s kind of clearing out the clutter, the muck, which often has happened from our past. Cementing a really positive presence and then from that there’s actually sustainable steps, like creating new habits. As we know, it’s those many daily habits of small, small steps that create magnificent change over time. So how do we do sustainable actions, sustainably new habits around our thinking especially that allows us to create a flourishing future.

John Jantsch: Yeah, that replacement idea is so big. I just read a post, a friend for a long time in this content world and he wrote a post recently. He talked about how he just one day decided to stop drinking alcohol and it just turned into months into year and then he turned around and realized he’d gained 40 pounds and how to like, okay, now I need to replace that with exercise. I think that is so true of our condition isn’t it?

Petra Kolber: Yeah. I mean the thing is, it’s that familiarity. It’s that we’re gonna come back to a habit, whether it’s negative thinking, negative actions that we do, without even realizing that they are negative. They have negative impact. So again, it’s just … And again with this world of becoming, we’re in this attention economy where we’re our lack of full attention. So often times these habits, I think, the negative ones creep in even faster these days, because we’re kind of partially focus, we’re partially engaged without even realizing it. We’re think we’re multitasking, we know there’s no such thing, and I think that has an effect on our inner dialog also, because we’re not fully aware of even the inner habits that we’re maybe replacing, what we thought was a negative just with another negative. So again it’s bringing attention and full intention to all aspects of your life, which is exhausting. So it’s, you do the best you can with what you have.

John Jantsch: Well and you certainly make this point fully in the book fully, but I do think a lot of people when they kind of wake up one day and say, “I have to change something externally.” They really don’t have much success, or at least they don’t stick with it until they change something internally first do they.

Petra Kolber: Yeah, I mean at the end of the day you can want whatever you want. As an entrepreneur, a small business, you can have all the right desires, but unless we’re really looking at the why, what is our driver? Are we being driven by creativity, possibility, seeing failure as just proof that we’re trying, and there’s data in the disasters. If we’re not secure in our foundation John, where we’re building it from a place of, “We are enough,” not meaning there’s not a ton of work that we still need to do to get better at certain aspects of our business, but what often happens is, we can sustain these habits, because the foundation their built on is floored. It’s from an idea of I’m not enough. I’m trying to prove something. I’m trying to prove my worth, versus how can I add worth to the people I’m trying to serve. So again, it’s just with kindness and a curiosity, just continually asking ourselves, why I’m making these choices? Why am I wanting to do this business? What is it in the end that I want to leave? Our legacy. It sounds like a little be grandiose to say, but it really is at the end of the day, don’t we all want to leave the world a little better than when we found it?

That means that we have to continuously and consistently explore our whys and our feelings, not about just the work that we do, but as we grow and evolve and also one thing to make clear is, the closer you get to doing work that really matters, the more you’re gonna struggle with this, because fear is gonna show up, because it just … To me it’s a sign that you’re doing work that you really care about, but when you can flip that wear and stop worrying about, like Seth Godin says, “To be remarkable, means you’re gonna be remarked upon, not just the good but the negative.” When we can flip the fear about what are people gonna say about me if they don’t like my work, onto I’m afraid that I don’t get my work out there and maybe that one person their life could be made easier, by me sharing what it is I believe in, then that’s work worth doing. So, but again, it’s not easy. Our brains gonna notice the negative, the critics, the behind the screen warriors, but when we can believe more in our work, than more about what people think about us, that’s when we can take action behind our dreams.

John Jantsch: So let’s end on a cynical note, shall we?

Petra Kolber: Okay.

John Jantsch: Some might say that perfection has it’s benefits.

Petra Kolber: Yeah, no, again, I mean I never said it didn’t. So that’s fully circle back. Okay. That was the imperfect end. So we’ll circle fully back. Perfect is only a word until you attach an emotion to it. I would change the word perfect, because for me and this is only … This is a personal thing. Again, this is when I’d ask your listeners to go. This might not even be an issue for you, but if the idea of being perfect, or putting out the perfect job, the perfect blog, the perfect podcast. If that stops you from executing, let’s reframe what that word means. Let’s say I’m gonna put out and excellent podcast. I reframe it from being a perfectionist to a passionist. If you can put passion behind your driver instead of perfection, you will probably work harder than you ever have worked before, but this is the area that a lot of people find tricky. If I give up the idea of being perfect, they suddenly see themselves on a couch watching, like binge watching Netflix. I actually think if you give up … I invite you to consider.

If you give up the idea of being perfect, what you think your top level of success is, is actually your mid level, because for many of us, not everyone. If we think we have to be perfect leaders, perfect bosses, we hate to say we don’t know the answer, we hate to ask for help, we have hard time delegating, we don’t give our brains time to relax and find flow and find a place of curiosity. So I often think what you think your success is now, if you eased up the breaks a little bit, not on the work, but changed your driver from fear and has to be flawless and pristine, ’cause also there’s where are you gonna learn. If somethings flawless, how the heck is it gonna get better. So I like it a little bit rough around the edges. That allows us to have iteration 2.0, 3.0, fine tune, fine tune, fine tune, ’cause I’m not sure if it becomes perfect, there’s no more room for learning, growth and expansion.

Don’t know if that answers … and I hopefully that wasn’t quite so cynical.

John Jantsch:  No, I was actually saying that you know, I could see some people saying that. Well that’s just an excuse to do sloppy work, which is what some people would say, but I would counter to that, that the perfections excuse not to ship.

Petra Kolber: Exactly, and I think there’s a different … No perfectionist I know, John. No one I’ve worked with has ever gone from being a perfectionist to being sloppy. That’s just not gonna happen, it’s not in your DNA, but you’re gonna double check your work but you’re not gonna be paralyzed, by going through it with a fine tooth comb, like you said. So you never ship. Would you rather have something slightly imperfect out in the world, or your perfect silence. So, that’s the things that often happens here. Is when we’re trying to be perfect, we often become paralyzed. So let’s just change the conversation around that.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and I think one of the real keys is that you have to have so much self trust in what you’re doing that when I first started writing, I was a terrible writer. I mad grammatical mistakes, really silly ones. When I started speaking I was very bad at that, but I knew that those were gonna be important elements and the only way to get good at ’em was to just do ’em.

Petra Kolber: Yeah, got to get them out. Get the feedback, get the feedforward, and again it doesn’t have to be … That’s the thing, I think … That’s the bit where we get really stuck. I’m gonna wait to do the perfect speech. I’m gonna wait to do the perfected launch. I’m gonna wait to write the perfect book and that for me Johnathan, for many years paralyzed me and now I’m like, if it’s good enough so I don’t embarrass myself, I look professional, I’ve done the work. I’ve done the preparation. I show up and it’s good enough, fantastic, and then also then I allow room for constructive feedback to get better, but then I also know, I’m not gonna be someone that shows up unprepared and if I am, then I deserve to be remarked upon, then shame on me. So I don’t think I’ve ever met a protectionist that goes from that extreme to giving out shoddy work. It’s just not gonna happen.

John Jantsch: Visiting with Petra Kolber author of the Perfection Detox. So Petra, we’re gonna have a link in the show notes to your website, but tell people if they want to learn more about what you’re doing and what you have to offer, and where they can find. You.

Petra Kolber:  Great, my traditional website is just my name and then more about Perfection Detox, just

John Jantsch: And my great gran mother Celia McLaughlin who is indeed a Scot, thanks you for coming on the show.

Petra Kolber: Your so welcome. Thank you.

John Jantsch: Hopefully we’ll see you next time I am up and around your part of the world Petra. Great to visit with you.

Petra Kolber: Thank John.

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John Jantsch: I love technology. I love the fact that we can communicate and work virtually, however there’s no question that these tools and technology have created a sense of isolation for a lot of people in companies, a lot of marketers with their customers. In this episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, we’re going to talk with Dan Schawbel, and we’re going to visit his book called Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation. Check it out.

Stuff like payroll and benefits are hard. That’s why I switched to Gusto. And to help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners an exclusive limited time deal. You sign up for their payroll service today, you’ll get three months free once you run your first payroll. Just go to

Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. And my guest today is Dan Schawbel. He is a New York Times bestselling author, partner and research director at Future Workplace, and the founder of both Millennial Branding and He’s also the author of Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation. Welcome back, Dan.

Dan Schawbel: So happy to be here. I was thinking this morning. I’m like, “I’m going to talk to John.” And when did I first connect to him? I mean, it’s got to be 2006, 2007 when there was the Ad Age 150. Remember that?

John Jantsch: Yeah, I kind of do. Yeah.

Dan Schawbel: And when it went up I’m like, “Huh. Well, I aspire to be on that list.” And I think strategically it’s probably good to know everyone on there because they all love marketing, and I’m a marketer, even though I’m a marketer in HR now. It’s always my skillset and I always looked up to you. You always provided incredible content consistently. You were passionate. You had a great model. I just really liked it, and I think you do a great job.

John Jantsch:  Well, thank you very much. I guess we’ll pass out compliments here because just in watching what you’ve done over the last decade, a lot of people have jumped on this personal branding thing years ago. And you have done as good a job of building a personal brand as really anyone online. And mainly it’s because you’ve been so consistent.

Dan Schawbel: Thank you. I appreciate it.

John Jantsch: Let’s get into the book. I’m kind of reading this because I want to get it right. But I want to let you unpack this. Back to Human reveals why electronic and virtual communication, though vital and useful, actually contributes to a stronger sense of isolation at work than ever before. I’m guessing that’s the main premise of the book, so unpack that for me.

Dan Schawbel: Absolutely. Technology has created the illusion that we’re so connected, but in reality we feel very disconnected, isolated, lonely, less committed to our teams and organizations over the overuse and misuse of technology. It’s not like technology’s a terrible thing. It’s really about how you use it. And so I interviewed 100 young leaders from 100 of the best companies in the world, so Johnson and Johnson and GE and Uber and Instagram. And everyone described technology as being a double edged sword. It’s done some great things. But at the same time, it’s made us think we have a ton of friends, Facebook friends. And it’s made us think that we are being incredibly collaborative and accomplishing great work, when the reality is we might get some stuff done, but the relationships we have with our coworkers are not as strong. And it’s much easier to leave a team of acquaintances that you sometimes email and work with than a team that feels like a family.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And it’s funny because technology has obviously enabled us to work differently. I have a client in London. I have a client in Toronto. I’ve never sat face to face with either of them. I have employees that are in seven different states, and rarely do we ever see each other. It’s enabled us to work in different ways, but there’s no question there’s a whole new set of practices I think to try to kind of regain some of that humanness, as you talked about in the book. Aren’t there?

Dan Schawbel: Yeah. And it’s interesting because I think especially today when people are working so, so hard, in America the average workweek is 47 hours a week. And not having your phone is the new vacation. We’re always kind of on the hook. We’re always kind of on duty. We feel guilty if we’re not responding to a business email on vacation or after “work hours.” Right? Because of the remote work revolution and the ability to do work using technology and connect wherever and whenever you want to, the downside is that we get burned out. We have weaker connections. We feel stress and anxiety, so it can be bad for our health. And the most fascinating finding, I worked with Virgin Pulse. My company, Future Workplace, and Virgin Pulse partnered in a study of over 2000 managers and employees in 10 countries. And it revealed something really fascinating. If you work remote, you’re much less likely to want to say you want a long-term career at your company.

Working remote has all these positive things that people talk about, having the freedom and flexibility to do work when, where, and how you want. And it lowers commuting costs, of course. But the downside never gets talked about. And that’s isolation, which creates loneliness and then unhappiness. It’s all connected. And so consciously, as someone who’s worked from home for almost eight years, I’m always thinking about: How can I break up my day so I’m meeting people, whether it’s for business or personal? And it’s like when we look at our calendars, our calendars are created for business. Right? And we always say things like, “If it’s not on my calendar, it doesn’t exist.” We let the technology try to do the work for us.

If we’re going to let the technology do the work for us, it should also have aspects of our personal life on our calendar. That’s part of what I’m saying when it comes to work, life integration and being conscious about if you’re working so many hours and you’re kind of always working, how do you break up the day so you’re fully maximizing your time, and you’re fulfilled personally and professionally? And the first chapter is called Focus on Fulfillment. You need to become fulfilled before you can sit down with all of your team members and help them accomplish their goals and service their needs. And the things that remain consistent, as you know, you’re born, you pay taxes, you die. That’s the big joke. Right? Probably through multiple generations.

Well, what about we only have 24 hours in a day? And then our needs in terms of the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs remain the same regardless of how much technology we have. We need food and shelter, and then to be loved and have friendships. Otherwise, we’ll never be self actualized. We’ll never be able to reach our full potential and be the most productive worker imaginable for our company.

John Jantsch: And you know what’s interesting, there’s so many companies today that have distributed workforce. And I find myself falling into this habit. I have our check in meetings, and at the end it’s just like, “Get to it. Work. Work.” It’s like we never have that what we used to call, around the water cooler time, where it’s like, “Hey. How was your weekend?” It’s just like, we’ve got this call, it’s scheduled. It’s for a purpose. It’s like a meeting, so we never have that time to in some ways get to know each other. One of my favorite chapters in the book is this idea of shared learning, where you may be … I think you have to carve out these things. Don’t you?

Dan Schawbel: You know what’s amazing? So many people have said they’ve liked that chapter. And the reality is the reason why I think that chapter is so in the now is because true power, and you’ve done that, we’ve grew up in the world of blogging, so we know this very well, is true power and influence in our society is not the people who hold onto the information. It’s those who distribute it freely. And I think that’s a big shift from maybe 10, 20 years ago versus today.

And we need to share what we know with the people we work with and care about, so all of us can keep up with the speed of business and adopt the changes that are inevitably happening, whether we like it or not. The average relevancy of a learned skill is only five years, so we have to keep on moving. The big skills now are artificial intelligence, machine learning, data scientists. You’ve got to keep going. You’ve got to keep up with what’s changing. And if you don’t, the tasks you did five and 10 years ago are just not going to be as relevant. You’re going to get paid less for them and you’re going to struggle.

And in order to know this information, in order to know the trends that are going on in your industry, learn the new skills, see the latest research study, we have to count on each other because we’re finding more and more information through our network. I mean, that’s the brilliance of Facebook. Right? It’s like, I don’t have to figure out what’s going on in the news. It’s going to come to me based on who I follow and friend.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And I think you could take that a step farther. I know in our organization, what we try to do is almost task people with saying, “Hey. Go find out about that and come back and teach us all.” And I think what it does is, it has the dual effect of, as you said, we get to learn some more. But as you know, nothing makes you learn something better than if you know you’re going to have to teach it to somebody.

Dan Schawbel: Well, actually now that you bring that up, I did a whole presentation on this. Google has a G to G program, where employees teach other employees what they know. And it’s all volunteer basis. But I think people naturally want to be teachers. They might not want to be part of the school system, but they want to share what they know with others because it helps them learn and master it more. And it’s good for your career. Right? You become an expert. You’re sought after. You build a network. It’s really the crux of personal branding, what I did earlier in my career. Right? It’s become the best at what you do for a specific audience, or become really good at multiple things when combined give you a competitive advantage. And then just give freely. I mean, between us, how many pieces of content you think you and I have generated in 10, 20, 10 or 15 years? Like, thousands, right?

John Jantsch: I’ve got 4000 blog posts.

Dan Schawbel:  Yeah. And, I think we hit 5700. And then if you add LinkedIn, Facebook, all the other networks, writing articles, like we have books. It’s a lot.

John Jantsch: Wouldn’t it be great if in your business, all you had to do was the stuff you love, the reason you started the business, and not all that administrative stuff like payroll and benefits? That stuff’s hard especially when you’re a small business. Now I’ve been delegating my payroll for years to one of those big corporate companies. And I always felt like a little tiny fish. But now there is a much better way. I’ve switched over to Gusto, and it is making payroll and benefits and HR easy for the modern small business. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits, and great service to take care of your team. To help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners an exclusive limited time deal. If you sign up today, you’ll get three months free once you run your first payroll. Just go to

Another thing I like about your book is that you put a lot of exercises in there so people can try what they kind of have read about. And you’ve even created a test or an assessment, the Work Connectivity Index. Tell us about that.

Dan Schawbel: Yeah. I always wanted to do an assessment for my book. I saw what Sally Hogshead did with Fascinate and what Gallup did, and Tom Rath with Strength Finder. And I was very inspired by them. I’m like, “Huh. I’d love to do it someday.” And on this book I had the idea. If I’m studying work connectivity, what about having an assessment to tell people how strong of connectivity they have within their organizations? Right? And so you get low connectivity score versus high connectivity score. And people are all in the middle of that. And so I reached out to seven professors. It was like first come, first served. The first one who was really excited about working with me got it, so it was Kevin Rockman, a professor at George Mason University helped me create the assessment. It’s on When you take it, you’ll get a score. And of course, if you have a low score it means that you’re not getting enough face time and you’re not building the type of relationships that are required to be happy and fulfilled and successful in today’s working world.

John Jantsch: You’ve also created a LinkedIn learning course, which I think is awesome. I’ve done about, I think I’m up to about seven courses with them. They’re great people to work with.

Dan Schawbel: Wow. You win.

John Jantsch: You know what it is, you go out there and they go, “This guy’s easy to work with and he gets done fast. Let’s give him another one.”

Dan Schawbel: Especially when, I know this probably true to you as well, I finished I think three hours ahead of time, and they love that because the beach is right there.

John Jantsch: Exactly. I love going to Santa Barbara. But they told me they had one person come in and it took them four days to do a course. I was like, “Wow. I would shoot myself.” One of the things that you are so good at, and I think a lot of people neglect this today in the online world, is you have done a great job at attracting mainstream media. Obviously, you’ve picked some hot topics, and that’s one of the ways to get attention. But I’ll ask this question really for business owners, but other authors out there. What’s been your secret to get so much pub? You get as much as anybody in the mainstream, I think.

Dan Schawbel: Yeah. I think I’ve generated, it’s definitely thousands of media impressions at this point, or media hits, I would say. And you know what, it’s a cross between right topic, right time, trying to be original, staying in my lane. Any time I venture out of my lane, things don’t work out well. I’ve done a whole research campaign on politics that failed. Anything that’s outside of my domain, it typically doesn’t do well because you have to be seen as the expert in what you’re publishing, or publish what you want to be an expert in. And if you aren’t doing that, you’re not going to be seen as a credible source no matter what you’re putting out there. Focus on your strengths. Stay in your lane. Double down.

And think of something original. For me, I’ve led 45 research studies surveying about 90,000 people in 20 countries in six years, so I’ve been all in with research because it allows me to create something new, find something and share and disseminate and distribute those findings through books and speeches and media and various forms. I think you need a good network. I have an advantage being in New York because the media’s here, clearly. That has helped. I won’t deny that. Second, I think you need to figure out what makes you unique. Right? What topics do you think that you have something to say about? If you have nothing to say, and so in interviews, that interview’s not going to go well, and you won’t be invited back.

The other thing is start small. Back in the day, I was doing local TV, radio, some of the smaller outlets, which prepared me for the bigger outlets. If my first interview was on the Today Show, I would’ve bombed it because I didn’t have the experience. So I bombed a local ABC affiliate. I didn’t bomb it, I just didn’t perform at my best. But that was good because it was a learning experience. And then I knew that even if they give me the questions, that they might not ask the questions. They might do a trick question, so it’s being prepared for everything. And then I think it’s just being easy to work with, like what you’re saying. It’s like being very responsive. For me, I’m very responsive. I get immediate inquiry, boom, I just go for it.

Back then, I’ll tell you, phase one in my career with personal branding, it was my only goal was to own the search results for personal branding in Google. That was the only strategy I had, but of course that connects to doing a lot of other things right. And that got me almost all my original media that allowed me to build my platform. And then I think phase two has been more on the research, so it’s harder to get press now, so I need to create news instead of hoping that I can fit into the news that’s currently happening.

John Jantsch: And the media loves statistics, [inaudible 00:16:56].

Dan Schawbel: Yeah.

John Jantsch:  It’s something that can be simplified into one sound bite. And unfortunately, that sometimes is what it takes.

Dan Schawbel: And I think phase three, the way I’m seeing it now is really building your own platform. I just started my own podcast. It’s called Five Questions with Dan Schawbel, really active on Instagram, two posts a day, seven days a week. Instagram is my new blog. It’s exactly what I did. How I’m operating Instagram is exactly what I did in the early blog days. Back then, I posted twice a day. And it was longer form with blogging. And I commented on every Instagram, or blog profile, or blog website, sorry, that mentioned personal branding. Today, I’ve chose maybe six or seven profiles and I’m always commenting. And between commenting and posting every day, I’ve gone from four to 26,000 followers organically in a little less than four months. That’s it. That’s all I’ve done.

And of course, people I’ve met have read the book, so I get some followers just based on reputation. But most of it’s earned, and it’s just a lot of work. And people don’t want to hear that it takes time. I think phase three is you’ve really got to double down on your own platform because the probability of getting seen in traditional media is declining significantly. I used to do campaign. My first campaign, John, was in 2012. Literally went viral. I analyzed four million millennial Facebook profiles, Today Show, CNN. It was everywhere, 70 national media outlets, so people saw it.

Now it’s like maybe you get 10 at most. And I’ve been doing this for six years consistently. In one year, I did nine studies. And I’m telling you, now if you do something like that, it’s much harder to break through. Books, it’s harder to break through. So that tells me, that to me is feedback that, okay, I need to double down on social media and building my own platform and leveraging everything I’ve done to do that because the future could be grim. I think a lot more of these media companies are going to go under, and new media’s going to be rising. I think you’ve got to shift strategies as this is happening. And that’s the call I made, is I’m moving my efforts.

John Jantsch: Perfect segue to the last question I wanted to talk about. We’ve been talking about social media here for a minute. And there’s a lot of people that would claim social media has actually made us less human, probably one of the biggest culprits of making us less human. How do you, in the vein of how great leaders create connection in the age of isolation, how do you do that with the realization the social media is an important channel?

Dan Schawbel: Great question. The motto for the book is to let technology be a bridge to human connection and not a barrier. Use the technology to schedule a podcast interview. But when you’re in the interview, hopefully it’s audio or maybe video, and so you’re getting to know the person. Use it to connect with others to get them to go to a meeting, or a networking event, or an office birthday party. And by the way, found through the book that the number one thing that leaders should do is create more social events and company outings because that is what employees really are looking for right now, is to build relationships in that respect. And it’s lacking. Only 20% of companies have those type of social events, and that’s kind of broken.

I think, let technology lead you to the human interactions instead of just relying on it as crutch, thinking that technology’s going to do all the work for you. Use it in order to make those initial connections. And what you’ve been so good at this too is in the early days, you would connect with so many bloggers. But then there would be blogger meetups. And you’d meet them in person. For me, as an introvert, it’s much easier to reach out via email or text, and then actually meet in person. I feel more comfortable because I feel like I already know you. I think when and when not to use technology is what we have to think about.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Speaking with New York Times bestselling author Dan Schawbel. We’re talking about Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation. We’re going to have links, of course. We always do, to everything we talked about, like the assessment and the book itself, of course, and even the LinkedIn course. But Dan, tell people where they can reach out and connect with you.

Dan Schawbel: Absolutely. You can go to That’s And you can go on Amazon or your local book retailer and pick up Back to Human, and then listen to the podcast, Five Questions with Dan Schawbel. Thank you.

John Jantsch: Thanks Dan. It’s always great to catch up with you. Hopefully we’ll run into you out there on the road.

Dan Schawbel: You got it, my friend.

Transcript of The Secrets to Scaling Your Business

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John Jantsch: You wanna scale your business but you’ve got to figure out how to get all the work done. You don’t necessarily want to hire employees, but outsourcing while attractive has its own pitfalls. Let’s talk about it with Mandy McEwen, the founder of Mod Girl Marketing. Check out this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast.

Stuff like payroll and benefits are hard. That’s why I switched to Gusto. To help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners an exclusive limited time deal. You sign up for their payroll service today. You’ll get three months free once you run your first payroll. Just go to

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Mandy McEwen. She is the founder and CEO of Mod Girl Marketing. We’re going to talk all about ways to grow your business. You guys have heard me talk about this a lot without necessarily adding a bunch of overhead or at least, I think, that’s where we’re going to go. Thanks for joining me, Mandy.

Mandy McEwen: Thanks for having me, John. I’m excited to be on.

John Jantsch: I will tell you at least judging from the emails that I get and the LinkedIn requests that I get, the two hottest professions right now are teaching agencies how to scale and teaching agencies how to generate leads without doing any work.

Mandy McEwen: Yes, indeed.

John Jantsch: What do you suppose is up with that?

Mandy McEwen: That’s a major challenge … two challenges that Mod Girl helps our members in our community with right now, but that’s really two things that agencies and [inaudible 00:01:50] really struggle with is both of those, scaling and doing too much work themselves. Then it goes together because if you’re doing everything yourself, then you don’t have time to get leads, so you’re looking for someone to help you get leads. They go hand in hand.

John Jantsch: One of the challenges I have with this word scaling is that I think we have to define it. I think that it means probably something different for everyone. If we try to package it as the same for everyone, we’d miss in a lot of ways the great opportunity of owning your own business is that you get to decide what scale looks like. I’d love it if … I mean, how do you describe scale? I think, a lot of people immediately think, “I’m going to have this giant organization,” but I think it’s actually something completely different.

Mandy McEwen: No, I’m really glad that you mentioned that John, because it is. It’s completely different. We work with solopreneurs and their consultants. They don’t want to build a big team. They don’t want to have a team of … Even if it’s an outsourced team of freelancers, that’s not what they want to do. They don’t want to provide SEO and social media and web design to all. They don’t want to provide eight different things to their clients. Their definition of scaling is going to be different for someone that they want to provide more than what they are or they’re providing something where they definitely need a whole lot of help. I’m glad you brought that up.

For me, it’s a little different because I started out as an SEO agency and then we mold it into this big, not big, but I mean in terms of service offerings where we provided bigger service offerings and inbound marketing from everything, from web design to social media to blogging to PPC and all of that. No, that’s not really the best way to go about doing things and not what I would recommend to people now, but that’s how I did it. My definition of scaling was, “Ah, I need people to help. I need outsource partners. I need vendors. I need white label agencies. I need an operations manager.”

I just need help, but that’s not necessarily what everyone wants to do and that’s not what I recommend everyone to do. For other people that they want to stick with their craft and what they’re good at, for example, let’s say a LinkedIn marketing consultant, and that’s all they want to do. They have no desire to provide SEO or even outsource SEO to people. Sure they can just refer it off and maybe get a referral fee, but they want to stick with LinkedIn coaching, LinkedIn marketing, LinkedIn consulting. For them, scaling is gonna to be a little different. For them, it would be, “How can I make more revenue while still working the same or working less than I am now?”

In those terms, they’re gonna looking for those higher paying clients, and they’re going to be looking to create packages that they can resell to people without having to spend more time on all of those. There’s different scenarios here because you are exactly right, especially in this age of there are so many people that own a quote agency, and everyone’s definition of agency is different too, right? They might be a one-person agency providing one thing, and they call themselves an agency, and that’s totally fine. It doesn’t matter what exactly you’re doing, but you’re right.

Their definition of scaling, they can’t approach it like how I approached it when I was growing Mod Girl, because they’re doing something completely different. In their case, they would be scaling and working on, “How can I make more revenue without working more?” Well, I need to be targeting clients that need to be repackaging my offering, and still at the same time, I still highly recommend that people at least have a VA, at least one virtual assistant, if not more, because there are certain things in your business that you could certainly get help on. You really shouldn’t be doing all of the things yourself. Does that make sense?

John Jantsch: Well, absolutely. I think, actually the world that we live in today, many of the tactics … I mean obviously, I trained marketing consultants all day long, and many of the tactics that are being done in the name of marketing can be taught to literally anyone. I think that that’s been our approach is don’t go out necessarily and hire a pay per click or Facebook advertising expert because they’re just gonna get more expensive every single day, and rather, figure out your system or package approach to Facebook advertising, and teach it to somebody. That is going to be $25 an hour all day long.

Mandy McEwen: Yes. I completely agree.

John Jantsch: Let me flip that around a little bit. I do also work with agencies and consultancies that do want to get bigger. They want to have people. They wanna have the true idea of scale, but in your experience … I mean, I also run across a lot of them that can’t get it done. In your experience, what holds people back from effectively scaling in maybe that traditional sense?

Mandy McEwen: That’s a great question. I think, a lot of people honestly, John, they skip the fundamental steps and that’s what holds them back. As business owners, as agency owners, as marketing entrepreneurs, we are freaking busy. We are doing so much. Most of the time, we’re doing too much. We’re running around. We’re trying to help our clients or taking care of the business side of things. When it comes down to it, you really have to take a step back and go back to, “What am I trying to accomplish here? What are my goals? What industries am I trying to help? What services offerings do those industries need? What are my clients paying me now? What profit margins do I desire? What is my budget for outsource partners?”

Just taking a step back and really getting clear with yourself on, “What am I trying to do here? Where do I want to be in 90 days? Where do I wanna be in 12 months?” I think people just jump into it, and they’re like, “I need help. I need help now.” Instead of going back and looking why, “Why do I need help? What am I trying to accomplish? What kind of partners do I need? What are the price ranges I need? How much am I gonna sell these things?” I feel like a lot of people just blindly set out on this journey to quote scale by having more people, more hands on deck, but they don’t really have a clear vision of what that looks like.

I feel like that’s number one. That’s a big problem.

John Jantsch: One of my experience is you mentioned everybody should have a VA. I firmly agree with that, but if you don’t know what you want that person to do, it’s gonna be a really bad experience, isn’t it?

Mandy McEwen: Exactly. Yes. I completely agree. That goes back to exactly what I just said. As I said with VAs is you have to give them very specific instructions on exactly what they need to be doing for you. You can’t just be like, “I need help.” Go for it, because it is not gonna work out. The same goes for outsourced partners even though when you’re hiring specialists and agencies, they don’t need as much handholding clearly, but you still have to have a general idea of what you’re trying to accomplish here and what you want your clients to have and all of that.

You’re exactly right, John. You can’t just blindly go out and be like, “I need help. I’m gonna hire a VA.” Okay, go for it. That’s gonna be a disaster.

John Jantsch: We can talk a bunch about that, but let’s just first … Let’s talk about the pros and cons of hiring an employee versus hiring a virtual resource.

Mandy McEwen: Obviously the major differences or con I would say of employees is just the overhead. You hav the payroll. You have the taxes, unemployment and all of that even if they’re a remote employee. That’s the biggest one. It’s just fund because a lot of smaller agencies, they don’t have the funds for that or they end up pulling the trigger too early, and they hire one or two employees and then they can’t afford payroll or they can’t afford to pay themselves. That’s the first thing. How I did it, what I did is I didn’t hire my first full-time employee for years until I worked with them as a freelancer, as a part-time freelancer.

That’s personally how I like doing things and what I recommend. I know everyone is completely different, but I like working with people that are freelancers on a part-time basis, even if it’s a project basis, getting to know them and realizing that they’re a good fit. That’s another thing too when it comes to hiring employees. If you don’t have all your ducks in a row when it comes to the process and weeding out the ones that aren’t a good fit, you might end up taking on an employee that ends up not working out six months down the road, and that’s just way more of a pain to go through that than if they were a freelancer or outsourced partner.

Now on the flip side of that, it’s difficult, especially in the beginning when you’re first starting out to hire freelancers that are committed to helping you grow and that actually care, because freelancers, we’re all entrepreneurs essentially. If you own an agency, you’re an entrepreneur. If you’re a freelancer, you’re technically an entrepreneur. They’re not as committed as you are because it’s not their business, so you have to filter through a lot and realize like, “What am I looking for? What are the personality traits?” I realized that the personality is a big part of this to make sure that our personalities meshed, and the values, the integrity, everything is there even when it comes to freelancers.

I would say that’s the biggest thing. It’s just finding those who have integrity and have your same values and truly believe in what you’re doing with your business and your vision, and aren’t just out for themselves. Even if it’s a short-term future, they see some future with working with you, but I feel like a lot of people don’t have that or they don’t have something that resonates, like their brand, their vision, all that doesn’t really resonate with the people that they’re hiring freelancers. They just don’t really care as much. They’re just trying to get projects out the door and make money.

That’s what I’ve found in that sense, and it took me a while to realize that I made a lot of mistakes when I first started out hiring the wrong people because of that, but I think the more you get clear on your branding, your vision, your passion, and the more you share that with the world and including the people that you hire, the better off you’re going to be because you need to find people that also share that similar vision and love what you’re doing.

John Jantsch: I agree completely. I mean, one of the challenges I think in this Fiverr world is it’s so easy to just go get that, and go get that. One of the things I see is that sometimes, it creates a lack of focus, lack of commitment. If you go out and get a couple of video projects and you hire a videographer and or video journalist or whatever you want to call them internally, first off, I think you’re gonna potentially put out better work, but I think you’re also going to go out and find more work to keep that person busy.

I’m not saying you necessarily put your back against the wall so that you have focus, but I do think that there is something to committing to something keeps you on track, and when it’s so easy to just say, “Oh sure, we’ll go find a PHP programmer to do this one project,” it does have a tendency to scatter you.

Mandy McEwen: I completely agree. I like to treat our remote business and this new digital age we live in is the same as a regular brick and mortar business. You have to have a culture. You have to have a company culture. I don’t care if you’re a one-person show or you’re a 10-person show. You need to define like, “What is your culture here? What are you going after?” Because you’re going to attract people that also believe in that same mantra and have that same culture, and it really does make a huge difference.

If you’re just out there giving off the vibe that, “I’m just trying to make money. I’m just trying to get clients. I don’t really care about standing out or being different,” or really defining what your vision and a company culture, then you’re going to attract those or you’re probably going to go to Fiverr just like you said, and try to make that work, but there are plenty of talented freelancers out there that are looking for something like that. They’re looking for, “Where can I fit in?” I love long-term projects.

If you talk to freelancers and you ask them, “Are you looking for short-term projects or long-term projects,” the majority of them are gonna say long-term projects because it’s reliable income. They wanna work with people and companies that they believe in and that have similar values. If you’re just failing to do that, then I think you’re selling yourself short on really building an outsourced team and just everything in general, but especially when it comes to hiring talented freelancers.

John Jantsch: There was a great book—Jason Fried was on my show when this book came out a couple of years ago called Rework. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that book, but I think he makes a great point because a lot of their hundred plus folks were dispersed or distributed, and he really makes a point about even with freelancers, they need to know what you believe and they need to be part of meetings. They need to understand the culture. I agree with you. I mean, we have a web designer that’s done work for us are probably going on 15 years, who is a freelancer.

We have her on our website. I mean, I think, she feels definitely a part of the team.

Mandy McEwen: Exactly.

John Jantsch: I think you can create that. I completely agree with you that people want that. We have two virtual marketing folks that would tell you they work for an agency. I think both of them would tell you that they are our employees if asked, because we just really live that and preach that as well. Wouldn’t it be great if in your business, all you had to do was the stuff you love, the reason you started the business, and not all that administrative stuff like payroll and benefits? That stuff’s hard especially when you’re a small business?

Now, I’ve been delegating my payroll for years to one of those big corporate companies, and I always felt like a little tiny fish, but now there is a much better way. I’ve switched over to Gusto and it is making payroll and benefits and HR easy for the modern small business. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits, and great service to take care of your team. To help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners an exclusive limited time deal. If you sign up today, you’ll get three months free once you run your first payroll. Just go to

Let’s talk about time management. That falls somewhere in this whole outsourcing delegation realm. One of the biggest challenges I think when you go to try to bring in some outsource resources, it’s like a step backwards first, because if you’re not prepared, if you don’t have the systems and documentation in place, you’re gonna have to teach that person how to do everything. That’s more work than just doing it yourself. I mean, how do we get ourselves to the point where we can get out of the business enough to actually do that kind of work on the business?

Mandy McEwen: Yes, that is definitely a challenge loaded question. What I have found and what we do now is we have a very strict vetting process. I recommend this for anyone. Definitely have a vetting process for, let’s just say, just stick with freelancers for now because white label agencies and vendors are a different ballgame here, but when we’re talking about freelancers, you have, first of all, a vetting process of they need to have these qualifications. They need to know these tools. They need to be familiar with this. They need to have experience working with X, Y, Z, whatever that is.

Then you send them this survey/form to fill out that you can look at and all of that. It depends on your time and your processes you have and of course your budget. If you don’t have time and you’d rather pay a little higher price for someone who knows exactly what you’re trying to accomplish, they’re more of a specialist and they don’t require as much training and handholding, then you’re gonna end up spending a little bit more on that freelancer, but there’s still the factor of they’re going to have to learn your ways and your processes.

Someone could be an SEO expert and come to work for a Mod Girl, and they might do things a little bit differently than we do. There’s still some time involved there, but I honestly recommend investing a tiny bit more to get people that do have experience and they aren’t complete newbies, so you do not have to spend as much time training them. With that said, you still need a process. You still need something documented. That’s like, “This is how we go about hiring freelancers,” step one, the onboarding process when you do hire them too because they still need to …

We use base camp and we literally have a base camp project specifically for new hires, and it’s just a template. We just duplicate it for new hires, freelancers included. That would give them, “Read Mod Girl’s about page.” Like, “Here’s our case studies. Here’s our vision.” We literally give … It doesn’t matter what they are, a web designer or a social media consultant, but we give them the same thing, and they have to learn about Mod Girl, what we’re trying to accomplish, our team. Here our teams. These are our teams. Please go to Slack and do this.

It is very, very important to have that, and that’s exactly why I hired an operations manager because that is not my strong suit. I am not an operations person nor processes person at all. I’m the creative ideas and just go out and do them. I don’t take the time to … That’s just not how my brain works. For me, I had to hire someone to make all of those processes because I was just hiring people. Luckily for me, I chose really people in the beginning that ended up working out and I didn’t have to give them the processes I should have that probably would have saved my time, but you need some process.

That’s my recommendation. One is to spend a tad bit more money and invest in someone who knows what they’re doing, and then two, have some process in place for everyone that you bring on board. Then I usually put people on a trial too, freelancers, so trialed, and let them know that they’re on a trial. “This is a paid trial for two weeks. This is what I want you doing, and we’re going to see how it works out. If it works out, awesome, we’ll get you going. If it doesn’t, then we’ll part ways.” That’s how I like doing it.

John Jantsch: I have a little tip that may or may not be fair, but a lot of times when I’m trying to work with somebody to get process, I have basically done what I want done, and maybe I know how I’ve done it and I will dictate the steps. Then I actually ask them to document the process, because I find that they’re going to use it, and there’s nothing like doing it while you’re using it to build a document. It’s amazing. Especially if you give them a structure, it’s amazing the amount of documentation you can get done while people are doing things.

Mandy McEwen: I like that, yes definitely.

John Jantsch: If I’m out there listening and I’m thinking, “I’m drowning. I know I need to get help.” I think one challenge that people struggle with and I’d love your advice on this, “Where do I start? Like, what do I outsource first?” I mean, is there a filter for trying to figure that out?

Mandy McEwen: I would look … What I tell people to do is write down a list of everything you’re doing right now. Take some quiet time and just think of your day to day. Okay, I wake up. I drink coffee. I go workout. I eat breakfast. I come back. I shower. I eat breakfast. Literally going through your day to day, “I check emails. I do this. Here’s what I do for my clients.” Then once you start, it’s eyeopening, especially for people that don’t … They’re just rush, rush, rush all day long. They’re to get as much as they can and they never finish their to do. They always have this giant to do list that never gets done.

When you take a step back and you look at all the little things you should be doing, there’s only a very small percentage of them, 5%, that are actually making your business revenue. They’re actually doing things to grow your business. I would start there. Look at what you’re doing and look at what the things that you’re providing to your clients or even just like admin tasks. Can we go back to talking about virtual assistants? It doesn’t have to be, “I need someone to provide services for my clients.” It could literally be something that you’re spending your time on that is not helping you grow your business, that you could easily hire a virtual assistant to do.

That’s where I like starting. It’s just looking exactly what you … Then I also tell people, “Make a not to do this.” Like, “What the heck should you not be doing?” After you have your, “This is what I do,” look at that list. Circle the things that you need to be doing yourself, and then go create another list and look at all those things, and then make a what not to do list. What you have on that list is what you should start looking for, VAs and freelancers and outsource partners to help you with.

John Jantsch: I would add one more thing to that. There are many things that maybe make you money and maybe are important, but you absolutely hate doing them-

Mandy McEwen: That too. I forgot that part.

John Jantsch: …because it sucks the mental life out of you to have to do it. I think, that’s a pretty good place to look too.

Mandy McEwen: Yes. I totally forgot that. I was just on a coaching call here today, and that’s exactly what I told her. I was like, “Well, what do you like doing? What do you not like doing? Are you providing services to your clients right now that you just completely cannot stand?” She’s like, “Yeah.” I’m like, “Well, there you go. Get someone to help you with that.” Good point, John.

John Jantsch: We worked with so many small business owners, and they just absolutely hate social media. I’m like, “Well then don’t do it because I’m not going to do it for you. And if you’re going to hate it, you’re going to do it poorly. And let’s figure out a place where you’re going to spend the time doing something you do enjoy.” I mean, if they had unlimited resources, you’d say, “Okay, let’s find a way to get Instagram work into what you’re doing.” I think, a lot of times, we waste a lot of mental energy thinking, “Oh, I have to be doing all this stuff and maybe we don’t.”

Mandy McEwen: Exactly. At the end of the day, you started a business because you’re passionate and you want to do something that you can wake up every day and say, “I love what I’m doing.” If you’re spending your day doing things you can’t stand, then what’s the point of being an entrepreneur and having your own business? It defeats the purpose, right?

John Jantsch: Mandy, tell our listeners where they can find out more about you and your services and products.

Mandy McEwen: Definitely. If you are a marketing entrepreneur or agency owner, I highly recommend joining our free Facebook group Mod Agency Insiders. That’s the first thing. You can go to and join our free Facebook group, where I’m active every day, and host Facebook live. We have an awesome community there that’s growing every day. The rest, you can just go to and pretty much learn everything that we have going on. We have all sorts of products and programs. I have my new membership remote agency society that is awesome for startup and smaller agencies that just are looking and don’t that focus, kind of what you talked about.

Like, “Where do I start?” We have a membership dedicated specifically for people to scale and take it to the next level depending on what your definition of scale is, of course. I go live every week in the Facebook group, and answer questions, and basically give people all of the resources, the knowledge, and what I only wish I had when I started Mod Girl back in 2010, but basically, our free Facebook group is the way to go because they can learn about everything there.

John Jantsch: Awesome. We’ll have links in the show notes to all of that stuff. Mandy, thanks for joining us and hopefully we’ll run into you out there on the road someday.

Mandy McEwen: Alright, thanks so much, John.