In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Michael Liebowitz. Michael is the CEO of Magnetic Mind Studio. Magnetic Mind Studio is a laboratory for clear messaging and deeply felt value articulation founded from Michael’s passion for understanding how the human mind works to drive our decisions.
Being able to effectively communicate your value and connect with your audience starts with understanding how and why people make decisions the way we do. The truth is: people don’t want your thing; they want what your thing means to them. In this episode, I talk with Michael Liebowitz about how the human mind works to drive our decisions, and how we can align our messages with how the brain is wired to feel trust.
Questions I ask Michael Liebowitz:
- [1:23] Can you talk about the basis of your work around the idea that survival is a key driver for decision-making?
- [3:01] Is the human survival decision you’re referring to “I have to feel like you like me” or “I have to feel like you understand me”?
- [3:29] We obviously make far fewer life and death decisions today in comparison to the ancestors that you’ve referenced – so why haven’t our brains evolved?
- [6:10] Does this idea suggest that our marketing should become more tribal in our communication, messaging, design, etc.?
- [7:33] A line on your website says – People don’t want your thing. They want what your thing means to them. So how do we make that distinction?
- [10:33] So at what point does the approach of influence turn from being truthful and authentic to manipulation?
- [12:20] What kind of messages are the best at creating that attraction and desire that you’re talking about?
- [17:50] Oftentimes the main outcome of what people desire isn’t what they say it is or we make assumptions about what it is – how do you know or uncover the main outcome of what people are after?
- [20:59] How can people find out more about your work and your masterclass workshop?
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John Jantsch (00:48): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Michael Liebowitz. He’s the CEO of magnetic mind studio, a laboratory for clear messaging and deep. We felt value articulation founded for Michael’s passion for understanding how the human mind works to drive our decision. So, Michael, welcome to the show.
Michael Liebowitz (01:13): Thank you, John. This
John Jantsch (01:14): Is gonna be just some light and fluffy stuff. We’re not gonna get in anything very deep at all.
Michael Liebowitz (01:19): Darn it. Cuz I had a whole treaties on the meaning of what I’ve all prepared. Oh, well,
John Jantsch (01:23): All right. Well let’s uh, dive right in. I think you contend that most of our decisions or key driver of many of our decisions is survival. I mean that’s a little bit of what your work is based on. So maybe I’ll just let you start there.
Michael Liebowitz (01:37): Sure. You know, between making a sort of a rational decision or a survival to decision, well, guess what wins every single time, right? We make survival decisions. I always say to, um, when I get my presentations, you know, all of us are the very proud descendant of some long ago. Ancestor who, when walking on the across the planes did not turn to the right and say, oh, I wonder if that line is hungry. No, we, they ran away. Survival decisions win every time. And the core thesis of my approach to messaging is that one of the primary ways, if not the primary way, our neurology is set up to maintain survival is to make sure we surround ourselves with like kind people who are like ourselves are considered safe. And anything that is not considered like kind is to this neurology considered to be a potential threat to survival. So in messaging, the name of the game is how do you present yourself as like kind so that you get them to that safe zone from which in business, by what you’re selling. Cuz if they’re in not like kind survival safety mode, no matter how much they need, what you’re offering, they will not buy it. Cause there there’s a part of their brain saying if we do this, we will die.
John Jantsch (03:00): So is it, I have to feel like you’re like me or is it I have to feel like you get me, are those two different things.
Michael Liebowitz (03:08): Those are two different expressions of the same root that we are like each other. And therefore the quote unquote finger quotes, logic of part of the brain goes, I don’t want me to die. Therefore things like me probably don’t want me to die either. So let’s go hang out with things like me.
John Jantsch (03:28): Why, you know, obviously we make far fewer life and death decisions than these ancestors that you, uh, referenced. So why haven’t we evolved? I mean, picking the wrong toothpaste, uh, shouldn’t be a life or death, uh, decision.
Michael Liebowitz (03:43): Yeah, that’s an excellent question. So even though this neurology is going on the way it gets operationalized is not necessarily an actual life or death decision, it really comes down to identity the like kind, this neurology, which I call the critter brain, the light kind, the critter brain is looking for is, does your identity match my identity? And so when it comes to toothpaste or a spatula, whatever, what we do is we choose the one that is presenting itself in a way that matches my identity. Because what if someone sees like an actual person or the, of judge cosmic judges, whatever’s gonna notice if we associate ourselves with the wrong identity. Oh no, right then we’re gonna get punished or whatever. I mean, this isn’t literal this sort of like a metaphor for what’s going on in, in, in the mind. But uh, we want to, we want to choose the things that reinforce and match our identity.
John Jantsch (04:50): So, so in some cases, maybe we could soften it and say, it’s not necessarily life or death, but maybe it’s safer feeling or I, or I,
Michael Liebowitz (04:57): It all
John Jantsch (04:58): Comest make a mistake if I make this choice. Is that more like that? Probably
Michael Liebowitz (05:03): The critter brain doesn’t think in those terms, it does only two things. It does survival and it does emotions. All right, this is why there’s that saying? Like all buying decisions are emotional, but no one ever said, what the hell they’re talking about or which emotion, right? Well, this is the core of it. It just does survival. And it, it communicate it’s in the language of emotions. This is safer, not safe, gives all these good feelings, not safe, gives all the bad feelings and safer, not safe is determined. Like, is this match my identity? Or doesn’t it. Now these signals get picked up by the human brain, all the logic and all the other stuff that we associate with being human. And that just interprets it to, in the words that you just said, right. That, so the critter brain gives off a signal of, Hey, it’s like kind the happy juices go off in the chemistry, human brain picks up and says, oh, I like this because, and it just fills in a story around a rationalization really around why it is that we like it, but it was the critter brain making the real decision.
Michael Liebowitz (06:06): Yeah.
John Jantsch (06:07): So does that suggest that we in our marketing should become even more tribal than, you know, in other words, real trying to appeal to a certain, you know, you’re like me and you know, in your ads and your messaging and your choices about design and everything.
Michael Liebowitz (06:26): Yeah. The word tribal is now getting a bad
John Jantsch (06:28): Name. It is, it is these days.
Michael Liebowitz (06:30): However, the term I use and actually part of my process, working with clients is we, the belonging traits, what are the traits that signify belonging and belonging is a baseline state in all human beings. It is without belonging. Life is not survivable, quite literally not survivable. We will all find ways of belonging. This is where you see confirmation bias and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It’s old motions of trying to find belonging. It’s also what Seth Goden was pointing at when he is talking about tribes. Right. He’s really just talking about belonging. So how do you signal belonging is, is the answer to that question is like, and to me, if you can dial that up to 11, you are
John Jantsch (07:14): Good. Just know your market is as, as narrow as you focus. It’s probably big enough. Yeah. So I have, for years been saying, people don’t want what we sell. They want their problem solved. And I read a line off your website that, uh, gets at the same point, but maybe a little more subtle than me. People don’t want your thing. They want what your thing means to them. So how do we make that distinction? Yeah. We don’t talk about our thing for right.
Michael Liebowitz (07:41): Well, yeah. It’s better to talk about what your thing means rather than what it’s at least yeah. Human beings. It seems our brains are designed for, to do two things above all else. Number one is to filter out most of reality. Yeah. Right. There’s too much to pay attention to. So it filter most of it out based on our belief systems, which tell us what is important to notice. And the second thing is to attach a meaning, to nearly everything meanings, help us make sense of our world. Right? They give us context for understanding. They help us figure out the relative value between things, right. And really when anyone buys anything, what they’re really buying into is the meaning. It holds in their world big or small or even micro, right? It’s like when I work with someone, the first movement we do is we figure out what’s the belief systems underpinning the business.
Michael Liebowitz (08:41): And I like the pressure’s off your belief system does not have to be profound. The heavens do not have to part. And there’s this universal cosmic knowledge that is imparted upon the, upon your customers. Like no beliefs do not have to be profound. They just have to be true. And when you target your messaging towards beliefs, again, what your beliefs are and your goal is to find other people who believe the same thing. That’s the combination of light kind, right? When you’re clear on that. And you’re clear on what that means to both you and the, and the customer, that’s the, the, the magic, the secret sauce fill in whatever metaphor you want that really gets the brain excited. And it says, and that’s what creates the, and if along the way, you can identify the problem and solve it. Excellent.
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John Jantsch (10:30): I had Robert chill Downey on this show a few years ago, author of influence. And he had told a story that he actually wrote that book so that people would be armed with the knowledge to not be influenced. And of course it turned actually into the Bible of influence of, you know, how to influence. So at what point does this sort of approach turn from being, you know, truthful and authentic to manipul obviously in the wrong hands, of course we’re
Michael Liebowitz (10:55): Talking about, but yeah, exactly. It’s tent and focus on what you, if you focus on what you believe to be true about why you do what you do, the beliefs underpinning the business and just say, Hey, we believe X, Y, and Z either explicitly like that, or implied by other ways of, of turning a phrase, it can only result in sort of like the white hat version of it when it comes from a place of, of honesty and introspection and, and truth to answer, like what happens when someone uses it for bad intent? I don’t know. I don’t go there. And if I sense a someone wants to hire me who in that space, it just doesn’t happen. But I, I tend not to attract them and they self select like, oh, this Michael Guy, he’s definitely not going there because I’m so clear about my belief system and the meaning behind it, that the wrong customers actually self select out of my system.
John Jantsch (11:56): Well, we could go very far down the, the, the rabbit hole of certain tribes being, uh, conned, uh, into, uh, believing that they’re hearing, uh, the truth, but we won’t go there. So let’s get let’s all right. Hopefully we’ve kind of percolated up, you know, the value of what it is you’re talking about. So now let’s kind of get practical. Like what kinds of messages, you know, are we talking about being kind of the best at creating that attraction and, and desire that you’re talking about?
Michael Liebowitz (12:25): Yeah. There are only from my perspective, there are only two things your audience needs to hear first and foremost, everything else, you is a supporting cast member to these two main players. And in no particular order, number one, what’s the main outcome I get from working with you. And for the sake of your listeners, your outcome may or may not be the thing you deliver. Yeah. Right. There’s an old saying. I, I, I forget who coined it, it, it may have been Leo Burnett or some other, a golden age of marketing person, but the paraphrase is people don’t want a drill. What they want as a hole in the wall. Right. It’s like it’s classic and everyone knows it. Like the outcome is not, I purchased a drill, the outcome I’m looking for as a whole, right. So what’s the main outcome of what you do, what this does in orient your audience in what I call space and time when it relates to marketing, which is, am I in the right space with you right now?
Michael Liebowitz (13:28): Right? What’s the context that we’re in together. And is it the one I want? So when you clearly communicate the outcome, come, you help them answer that question quickly. Now, most businesses, I mean, this makes sense, right? It’s like, you gotta tell ’em what the outcome is. Of course, that makes sense. To me, it’s logical. And most businesses do some version of this. Not many of them well do it well, but they do some version of it. The second thing almost no one does. And to me, it’s more important than the first one, which is, so number one is, what’s the main outcome I get from you. And the second question they’re asking is, do we share the same beliefs? Cause this gets back to that safety. If we share the same beliefs, you’re safe, I will not quote unquote die. And therefore I can buy from you.
Michael Liebowitz (14:17): And if we don’t, oh no, all the red flashes start going off. And by speaking clearly about your belief system, you take the question mark away from your audience, cuz trust me, our neurology is looking for it. Do what do you believe? Do we share the same values or whatever term you wanna put on the, are you like me? And if we give vague or sort of like indeterminate answers to that question, it freaks our brains out. We start going, you know, you’re giving me something but not enough. So that’s where babies come from a foot. You’re like kind a foot and you’re not like kind. And we’ll usually default to no cuz why risk it? But we just wanna know, are you safe to be around? And the way you do is another word for this is called trust. Of course. Right? And the fastest way to trust is simply to share what you believe like the fastest
John Jantsch (15:18): And that’s to me, that’s why storytelling has, you know, has become a standard element of marketing today. I, I remember when I started telling people 30 years ago, you know, tell ’em what you believe, tell ’em your story. They’re like, no, they don’t care about me. Yep. You know, they wanna know what they, what they get. But now it’s, you can’t pick up a marketing book that doesn’t have some aspect of storytelling
Michael Liebowitz (15:40): It.
John Jantsch (15:41): Um,
Michael Liebowitz (15:42): Yeah. Yeah. It is. You really? I mean, there’s two. What seem to be opposite facing pieces of advice. Don’t talk about, you talk about your company, tell them what you believe. Right? It’s like, wait, isn’t that about me? It’s like, well, yes, they definitely wanna know what you, what your business believes. Now, if you’re a, so operator that’s you specifically, if you’re in a business where there’s multiple people, it’s the collective here’s leadership. Here’s what we believe. Once they know that the safety system just calms down. It really does.
John Jantsch (16:18): But there’s really a lot of demonstrating that though, too. It’s really easy to say, you know, here’s our tagline. Here’s what we believe. But it’s how they see you respond to complaints on Twitter. It’s, you know, there’s so many things that really go into to really proving that you like saying, trust me,
Michael Liebowitz (16:34): There’s two parts to that. One part is from a very early age, we become excellent BS detectors. And what I mean by BS is actually belief system from a very young age, we can Mrs. Morris, when someone is saying something, they don’t actually
John Jantsch (16:50): My kindergarten teacher. Okay, go ahead.
Michael Liebowitz (16:53): Yeah, exactly. And it comes out in how we communicate you. We can get a sense for disingenuous communication, right? When, back in the day, when Ford was saying quality is job number one, and yet you could tell it’s kind of not right. It’s like, okay, you can talk all you want about quality, but you’re not embodying it. Not just showing it. You’re not embodying it. And the rest of everything you’re telling me. So that’s a moment. We are excellent BS detectors. And number two. You’re absolutely right. When you say it, it’s a promise and you have to follow through on that promise various different ways in, you know, how you communicate. And to me, everything is communication. Not just the message. Everything is
John Jantsch (17:44): Communication. I wanna circle back to one of the things you said earlier, because I think this is a real challenge for a lot of people I work with. Anyway, you talked about what’s the main outcome I’m gonna get. And I think a lot of times we don’t know our customers actually don’t always know or they, or you’re making assumptions and they’re making, you know, like people come to me as a marketer and they tell me they want leads. Well, half the time they just want control over their marketing. You know, they say they want leads. And if we promise ’em leads, we had, you know, were saying, here’s the main outcome. But when you get in there and work with a client for many years, you realize that’s not actually what they were after. I mean, it kind of was, but it wasn’t the, it wasn’t the emotional driver.
Michael Liebowitz (18:27): Right? I’ll answer that by you. An example of a previous, a past, uh, client of mine. This is a client. They make, uh, cooking gadgets and they were marketing like, Hey, cook your meal fast and always Mo or whatever. Right? All the buzzwords. And this also gets back to beliefs. Don’t have to be profound. So the first movement is to find the belief and it turns out after much digging and my background being behavioral neurology, this is actually a therapeutic technique. So I’m actually doing therapy on the, the C-suite during the whole thing. Finally comes out from the CEO. He says, you know, I know this is gonna make me sound superficial, but I love that moment at the dinner party when everyone eats what I, I created and they just look at me like, oh my God, I can’t believe you made this right.
Michael Liebowitz (19:18): And digging deeper. The belief was simply, it’s fun to show off, right? Like fantastic legit. It’s fun to show off. That’s the closely held belief underpinning this business and why these people started this business in the first. Well, now you can ask another question, which I, which is the meaning behind the belief. All beliefs have meaning connected to them. Meanings, give context, which is then you ask. Great. So what good things come to you when you’re able to show off dig a little deeper turns out well, because everyone deserves to feel valued. Oh my gosh, what’s the main outcome of this business. It’s not fast, moist, blah, blah, blah, food. It’s feeling valued through the creation of foods and such like that. Well, now, you know what the real outcome is. This turned into a message of, do you wanna be the star of the dinner party? Because what circles that square is like, I like get to show off and I get to feel valued from showing off. So now they’re talking about dinner parties and these are tools you can use to be the star of the dinner party and notice being the star of the dinner party as an identity, you can say, I am, if anything that starts with I am can be formulated into identity. I am the star of the dinner party, but you can’t say I am moist fast cooking.
John Jantsch (20:43): What?
Michael Liebowitz (20:44): Yeah. Does it
John Jantsch (20:44): Make sense? Plus, I’m guessing that you charge more now for which is even better, right? You have first, I’m gonna invite you to tell people how they can find out more about your work. We’ve obviously scratched the surface, but I noticed you have a, like a two hour kind of masterclass workshop, you know, to everything that you offer monthly. And I, I will have a link to the website and, and that opportunity, because I’m guessing that’s probably is easier way to, to dip your toe in the water of, you know, what my, what Michael teaches.
Michael Liebowitz (21:11): Absolutely. Yeah. The thank you for bring up the workshop. The first half is put this in finger quotes for everyone listening is my Ted talk. I haven’t actually been on the Ted stage. I just wanna make that clear, but it is that kind of talk about how our neurology is wired up to receive and respond to messaging and the whole psychology and neurology behind the whole system. Well, now that you learn that stuff, how do I apply it to my business? Well, that’s the second half is we actually apply what you learn to your specific business in the workshop. So I love learning on opportunities. It’s even better when learning opportunities get, turn into, like, how do I apply this to my business right now? So that’s what we is really
John Jantsch (21:56): What everybody wants. Yeah. And that’s at
Michael Liebowitz (21:58): You come out with a better message than you had coming
John Jantsch (22:00): In, and that’s a mind magnetizer.com. Right? Awesome.
Michael Liebowitz (22:04): Correct. Yeah. That’s the website and you can go register there and all month through the rest of the year is, is you get able
John Jantsch (22:12): To sign up for, and those are small cohorts or
Michael Liebowitz (22:16): My max me cohort is 10 people.
John Jantsch (22:18): So a little bit of interaction. Yeah.
Michael Liebowitz (22:20): So everyone can get individual attention. When I first started this, I had 15 people in the room and that was a lot of work. So I limited 10.
John Jantsch (22:27): Awesome. Well, Michael, thanks for taking time. Stop by the, a duct tape marketing, uh, podcast. And, uh, hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days out there on the road.
Michael Liebowitz (22:35): Thank you, John. It’s been a pleasure.
John Jantsch (22:37): All right. So that wraps up another episode. I wanna thank you so much for tuning in and you know, we love those reviews and comments. And just generally tell me what you think also did you know that you could offer the duct tape marketing system, our system, your clients, and build a complete marketing consulting coaching business, or maybe level up an agency with some additional services. That’s right. Check out the duct tape marketing consultant network. You can find it at ducttapemarketing.com and just scroll down a little and find that offer our system to your clients’ tab.
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