Jason Feifer, Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Magazine is back to discuss his new book, Build for Tomorrow. He makes a great case on why laser focus on your career path might be… bad. We also discuss why being in the top 1% of pod downloads isn’t that great, and he calls out a phony pitch he got from a dude that had a fake TV show! Why do people lie so much?
How you can build for tomorrow
Feifer’s brain is packed with stories about misplaced public freakouts like recorded music and automobiles. Our history is full of hasty and negative reactions to changes that, in reality, could have been positive for those resisting change. Narrow-minded thinking hurts countries, companies and, most importantly, you! Feifer leverages this knowledge so you can build for tomorrow and have a better career.
If you’re honest with yourself, you may believe there is one or maybe two ideal career paths for you. But that’s wrong. “There is no one singular path, and there is no way to stay on that path anyway,” Feifer told me. The zigs and zags in life are incredible resources to help you build for tomorrow. Success looks like a zig-zag path of chaos, not a straight and organized line.
Focus vs. Goal Setting
Feifer recounts a story of a young student who told him he wanted to work at Entertainment Weekly. “Put that path out of your head,” Feifer told the student. He explained by being too focused on that specific goal, he might be setting himself up to ignore better opportunities.
Goals aren’t bad, obviously, but only if we keep the blinder off. “It’s good to have a goal, it’s good to have something to move towards, but you should also be very ready to abandon that goal in the service of something that comes along that is more compelling.”
What is Jason building?
When Feifer wrote his first book with his wife, his friend’s reactions were what you’d expect. They thought it was cool, But entrepreneurs had a different way of looking at it, they asked what Feifer’s goal for writing a book was. They were focused on how he would use it to build for tomorrow. So, that’s the question I asked him: What is this book helping him build for? He told me there is something exciting on his horizon. But what could that be?
Former Secret Service Officer Jose Vargas is a force of nature. His life started in poverty and difficulty, but his mom set a goal for him and his family: to escape an abusive environment and set her children up for success. Little did she know her son would go on to protect the leader of the free world.
Vargas discusses unique experiences, walking the White House halls and washing hands next to the President of the United States, his “no fail” mission to keep our officials safe, and the lessons you can learn. Vargas explains the common mistakes people make when setting goals. His perspective will reset you and focus you on your goals.
If there’s anyone qualified to talk about anyone’s ability to achieve their dreams, it’s Jose Vargas. His trip from poverty to the highest levels in the US Government was no mistake. He is crystal clear in this interview that those who make intentional efforts eventually drift downstream over the rapids. If you want to achieve goals, it’s not enough to set those goals and write them down. It’s a matter of mapping out steps to achieve those goals.
Vargas explains why daily holding yourself accountable and paying the price to hit your goals is the only way to achieve them. He tackles the pervasive myth that God will give you a sign, or your friends will tell you what to do, or your parents. You need to take control and set those goals, no one and nothing will give you that.
September is national suicide awareness month, and one major cause of suicide is PTSD. Did you know eleven million Americans are struggling with PTSD right now? The darkness is very real, and the condition is doing real damage to the body, not just the mind. Dan Jarvis, President of 22Zero decided to crush the problem after his own struggle.
In this interview, Dan Jarvis discusses why 60% of veterans aren’t completing the VA’s programs designed to help those with PTSD. He explains how prevalent this issue is, not just in the military but also with first responders and others. We dig into what causes the problem, how it feels and why people get “stuck” in fight or flight.
The statistics are troubling on suicide and PTSD. It’s a lonely struggle and currently, we’ve lost more soldiers at home to suicide than on the battlefield. That’s unfathomable.
A Proven Method To End PTSD
Jarvis explains those suffering from PTSD can change their neural pathways, reversing the damage done by PTSD. In traditional exposure therapy methods, a person has to focus on the event that caused their PTSD, but Jarvis explains their approach doesn’t require anyone to tell their story at all.
Using the Tactical Resiliency Process (TRP) and the Emotions Management Process (EMP) developed by 22Zero, early results show a 98.4% success rate in helping people recover. Currently, 22Zero has 75 coaches in 12 states. Any soldiers or first responders struggling with PTSD are encouraged to email [email protected]. Services are free.
Watch The Documentary
The Healing the Heroes Documentary won the 2021 NY Film Festival for best feature documentary.
Deep Work boosted the quality of our work, but readers who were quick to rid themselves of distraction and do more deep work ran into a problem: workplace reliance on the “hive-mind.” Cal Newport discusses his newest books A World Without Email and Deep Work, and explains how to get your entire team and workplace on board. It’s not an easy task.
Newport is a New York Times best-selling author, and we take a deep dive into the theme of Deep Work and A World Without Email. Both of these books uncover a core problem in the modern workplace: individuals and teams don’t want to be held responsible for their output. Those who have tried to convert their organization to be more organized and efficient quickly find opposition. The act of organization requires more work temporarily, but the bigger reason is that people resist accountability and transparency.
In this interview, you will hear about…
problems that result from an email-reliant organization
email being used as responsibility hot potato
how tools meant to organize the workplace can be implemented poorly, resulting in additional complexity
why you need to have fewer meetings, converting to fast, efficient “status” meetings to cut 90% of emails
Deep Work with kids?
I asked your listener questions about working deeply despite outside distractions like kids or in a school setting if you’re a teacher. I also asked if we can ever actually remove email entirely. I mean, I did reach out to Cal for this interview via… email. Special thanks to Dan Pink for the introduction to Cal. Get Dan’s book here or listen to my interview about The Power of Regret.
Your customers HATE your tech. Customer feedback comes in unpredictable forms, like Twitter, surveys, Google Reviews, CSR conversations, etc. Dan Erickson, CEO of Viable, has developed an AI to analyze all that data and share results in natural language. What’s one big theme? Your tech, apps, and website suck! You’re ignoring it and it’s driving your customers nuts.
Because Dan Erickson has used Viable to analyze so much customer data at this point, he has quite a few insights. I asked him to share some of their top trends.
Trend 1: Customers Hate Your Tech
Erickson says their AI has found that most companies truly struggle with crappy tech experiences. Customers want websites and apps to just work, but even after they complain, nothing changes. Company leaders don’t spend the time or fully consider the complete tech experience—this is costing companies dearly.
Of all the data Viable has analyzed so far, bugs are the biggest trend. Bugs in websites and apps are an area customers are not willing to forgive. Negative experiences with the app hurts customers’ overall brand experience.
Trend 2: Customers Downranking Apps for Bad Service
At a high level, what other customer data is Viable seeing? They pulled in data from a bunch of retail apps in the App Store and Google Play Store and found customer experience with human support matters a lot! In fact, people use app reviews to complain about customer support. This is a key insight because it means negative reviews in the app store may not have anything to do with the app itself.
Company executives would be wise to fully analyze all reviews to understand their origination. It could have been a bad experience with a customer rep, OR simply a customer’s difficulty getting in touch with your customer service department.
Why don’t executives fix obvious problems?
Erickson explains there’s a huge communication gap between executives and their customers. But why? Why do CTOs, COOs, and CEOs miss this stuff? Because 80% of their customer feedback comes to them as qualitative data from unstructured text like emails, call transcripts, chats and phone calls. The only way to filter through this data is manual time. For example, analyzing 60,000 people surveys (compiling) could take five people 5 weeks to analyze. Viable can return a more detailed and more accurate report in 24 hours.
Politics and ego often trump profitable outcomes. #2 on the Thinkers 50 list, Rita McGrath has seen this play out in real time and explains how leaders miss the opportunity to evolve, losing to previously insignificant competition.
McGrath is a professor at Columbia Business School and the best-selling author of many books, including Seeing Around Corners. She explains how organizations large and small can see inflection points in advance by identifying weak signals within their organization.
One major theme she discusses is how well executives, intentionally or not, insulate themselves from the front lines of their organization. Behind every organizational failure was a leader who saw the weak signals, and refused to act.
McGrath also discusses the role of clear facts in future decision-making and why waiting for the data is a fatal choice.
If you’re at risk of being disrupted or are seeing customers slowly leave you for other solutions, THIS episode is your weak signal of a coming inflection point. You should probably listen before it’s too late.
Special Announcement: I will be chairing a panel discussion with Roger Martin, Rita McGrath, and Christian Sarkar for the Global Peter Drucker Forum on June 9th. Learn more »
Why does your boss repeat the same broken leadership model, despite seeing poor results? It’s because many business models are useless. They are simply a warm security blanket, and using them absolves a CEO of responsibility. Best-selling author Roger Martin calls out bad leadership and bad models and explains how data can crush imagination.
Martin is the former Dean of the Rotman School of Management, best-selling author of 13 books, the #1 Thinkers 50 for management, and author of his newest book, A New Way To Think. Much of his new book, details the broken models leaders use, why they use them, and what they should do instead. He tells detailed stories from more than a decade of work alongside A.G. Lafley, CEO of Proctor and Gamble as well.
Why do CEOs and managers use broken models?
Why do CEOs and managers use broken models and poor leadership practices to begin with? Simply because they exist… no, really. Martin explains many leaders would rather cling to something broken instead of nothing. These models are basically a security blanket: they provide nothing but a warm fuzzy feeling.
One negative symptom of a company using a broken model is the front-line staff and employees repeating the familiar “that’s just policy” phrase. Their ability to think critically tells them it’s wrong, but they have to stick with the broken model. “You can own your models or your models can own you,” says Martin.
Martin also explains why the logical model of “increasing shareholder value” actually doesn’t increase shareholder value.
Data VS Imagination
Another area Martin cautions about is our reliance on data over imagination. He criticizes leadership that relies on data to prove something in the future. He explains how innovation would never happen if we only relied on data. The smartphone, for example, would have never been invented because there was no data showing that people wanted it. Elon couldn’t prove people wanted an electric car, for example.
Martin tells a hilarious University of Chicago Economist joke to demonstrate his point. If he sees a $20 bill on the sidewalk, does he pick it up? No, he doesn’t. If it were actually a $20 bill on the sidewalk, someone would have picked it up already! Martin also quotes Charles Sanders Peirce to drive him his point, “No new idea in the history of the world has been proven in advance, analytically.”
I also ask Martin about using AI to make inferences about the future and if we should base our leadership models on it. Join the discussion on why that could be a risky approach since AI can manifest itself as conversational and imaginative.
Every startup founder fears the day the money dries up. When that day comes for the wide majority, they fall silent. For years, that was the case with Derian Baugh, CEO of Men’s Style Lab, but today he shares his failure experience and if he regrets the decisions he made.
Men’s Style Lab wasn’t a small startup out of a basement. Baugh ended up raising 3 million dollars and had 36 employees at one point—many of whom were stylists with fashion degrees. Despite seeing the signs, Baugh fought—maybe at the expense of his own mental health—to keep the company going. He recounts the toll it took on his family and his finances, ultimately forcing him to declare bankruptcy and sell his home. It was a rough road, but he learned some incredible lessons and tells about life on the other side of catastrophe.
Who Is Derian Baugh?
Derian Baugh is the founder and former CEO of Men’s Style Lab. The company rose to fame alongside StitchFix and TrunkClub nearly 5 years ago. Today, he’s the co-founder of HUDU, a company designed to get you connected with the right services sourced from your community and not easily-faked reviews.
He Lost His Identity
Baugh explains how his company became his identity. He called himself “The Style CEO” and used his personal brand to push his company and grow it. But when his board told him it was time to shut down the company, he suddenly didn’t know who he was. If he wasn’t “The Style CEO” anymore, what was he?
After MSL failed, he ended up avoiding the coffee shops he used to frequent, fearful of the questions. He simply went dark on several relationships. He thought all eyes were on him as a failed founder. But after a while, he realized it wasn’t weird for everyone else. “It was just another Tuesday,” he explained. People didn’t care nearly as much as he thought they did. His friends still liked him, his family still loved him, and life continued.
Failure Makes Us Human
People identify with those of us who fail and are honest about the experience. The majority don’t identify with the mountaintop success stories and the reality is that most successful founders first experienced bone-crushing failure. When success-minded people see another fail, it’s a badge of honor because they’ve been there and know what it’s like.
The people who do brand you or treat you differently because of your failure are the ones who haven’t tried anything in their life and secretly want others to fail, making them feel better about themselves.
Get Yourself Noticed
AI has turned into a marketing term, and the result is confusion for everyone on what AI is. So, what is AI, and what isn’t AI? For example, did you know taking panoramic photos or using HDR is computer vision, but not AI? I asked Dr. Satya Mallick, the CEO of OpenCV all the stupid questions you’re afraid to ask!
The difference is this: if the system, or machine, is learning through data, it’s AI. If the process is fixed, it’s probably not. Face recognition requires AI, for example, because it’s learning through data. Or at least that’s the general current understanding since AI is a rapidly-evolving science.
What is OpenCV for and why do we need an open-source library for AI? In a way, they are collecting the lego blocks so builders can focus on building new things instead of starting from scratch.
Is AI Safe?
There’s a large spectrum of AI discussions. On one side, it’s reduced to simple advertising tactics meant to get us “addicted, while the other side of the spectrum explains it as killer robots! The reality is somewhere in between. Dr. Mallick discusses why safety matters and how bad AI can truly have dire consequences. However, he also explained that “buggy” software that drives us nuts is actually quite different from software or AI running vehicles.
There are two completely different methodologies and even more different developer mindsets. Your smartphone may have some irritating bugs, but those developers are operating under the mindset of “move fast and try new things,” which can result in bugs and crashes. Developers working on airline or vehicle software don’t leave anything to chance. This software has much more rigid standards and is meticulously tested for flaws, bugs or problems. In some ways, it’s the difference between building a top-safety ranking Volvo, and a box cart. Neither has a “wrong” approach. Just different.
We speak about tech addiction VS distraction. Hear my interview with Nir Eyal on tech distraction VS addiction right here.
We discuss my client, Roboflow. You can learn about them here.
It’s difficult to get a seat in Professor Arthur Brooks’ MBA happiness class at Harvard, according to the Wall Street Journal. As political polarization gets crazy and workers face burnout, Brooks explains how happiness is an effective productivity tool, and how leaders can avoid the hyperpolarizing political pitfalls being experienced by Disney and others.
Brooks is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of Strength to Strength and Love Your Enemies. In this podcast, we discuss why happiness at work is finally taking center stage and why you need to tell the hateful minority to back off.
Brooks explains that only within the last 20 years or so, have we been able to access data around the impact happiness has at work, and just how controllable it is. Many people still don’t know you can directly impact your own happiness with lifestyle changes, fitness, diet, and other personal choices.
As depression rates climb, you can choose to be happier. Effective leaders don’t just get work done, but manage their team’s happiness. Brooks describes how self-actualization is where this journey starts. And for those of you who think this idea is fluff, he has the data to back it up- and a lot of it.
Disney, Racism, and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Another topic we dive into is why people are so quick to throw around racist accusations against those that oppose Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, and how Disney should have acted to avoid being in the center of the new Florida bill controversy. Believe it or not, the wide majority of Americans don’t actually want the hyperpolarized state we’re living in.
Brooks suggests if we stand up to the whiners and tell even our own tribes “no,” there’s a much bigger group waiting to embrace us on the other side. Did you know 93% of Americans hate how divided we are? They want the hateful rhetoric and division to stop, but everyone fears the bullies on their own side.
Republicans are Grateful for Democrats?
Brooks spoke to a group of Republicans and made a fascinating discovery. They were actually grateful for Democrats! He told them they needed to start acting like it!
Of the many topics discussed, Brooks explains that to heal, we shouldn’t avoid conflict and disagreement, but seek it out. Passionate disagreement shouldn’t lead to disembowelment of each other’s character.
Check out his “How To Build A Happy Life” podcast here
Why inferior ideas get more attention
Have you noticed inferior ideas get more attention? Have you noticed your competitors—who have a clearly poor product—get more attention, more press, and even outrank you on search engines? It’s because they know clever comms tactics you don’t. Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll learn how to amplify your message.
Listeners loved my previous Chris Hogan interview (listen here). The best-selling author ofEveryday Millionaires gained national notoriety as a Ramsey Personality and best-selling author. Some even wondered if he was next in line to take over Ramsey Solutions. But then he simply vanished from the airwaves. His show was removed, and his social media profiles were erased. What happened? I asked.
Hogan’s book challenged the common belief millionaires are an elite class. His data showed Americans, surprisingly, most millionaires are self-made and not trust-fund babies. In the largest study of millionaires to date, Hogan showed unequivocally: anyone can be a millionaire.
What happened to Chris Hogan?
Chris Hogan and Ramsey Solutions parted ways in March of 2021. Details of the separation have not been shared by Hogan or Ramsey Solutions outside of a short video from Hogan saying his actions didn’t align with the Ramsey brand. It’s easy to find rumors online, but outside of audio from Dave Ramsey confirming accusations had been made to a prominent employee, neither party has confirmed anything.
Similarly, nothing was confirmed when prominent Ramsey personalities Christy Wright and Anthony O’Neal left the company soon after Hogan’s departure. It’s important to point out both had positive things to say about the company upon their departure.
Because many were asking what happened to Chris Hogan, his “I’m back” message was exciting for fans. In early March, Hogan posted an “I’m back” message with video on LinkedIn, agreeing to come back on my show. During our discussion, Hogan told me how his new brand will vary a bit from his message and role at Ramsey. Instead of focusing on retirement and finance, his new brand will be more focused on personal lessons and individual performance.
We discuss how leaders become control freaks, why it’s damaging for employees, and how to get through life’s “stuff.” We touch on inflation, rising interest rates, and why Hogan believes these will calm back down in the near future.
For Chris Hogan fans, you can expect leadership and personal development courses coming to his website in the near future.
What does the hybrid office look like as we come out of the pandemic? You will probably love it, explains Reid Hiatt, CEO of Tactic. He believes the office is following the same path successful retailers took in building experiences for employees.
We discuss how hybrid work actually saved the open workplace that most people hated, why massive corporate offices may be on their way out, and how hybrid work will actually make the office… dare I say… FUN?
Hybrid work represents the vast spectrum of work between fully remote, and fully in-office. Hiatt explains that remote and in-office both have challenges and negatives, but hybrid allows for a customizable blend. Hiatt says their clients all have various hybrid models- all designed around the unique needs and requirements of their own workforces.
How The Physical Workspace Is Changing
Many companies using Tactic are planning on shrinking their overall real estate footprint due to lessening reliance on the physical space. He guesses the future worker will likely do heads-down work at home, and come to the workplace to connect, collaborate and solve difficult problems.
In a fascinating turn of events, the open offices that employees hated pre-pandemic due to the distraction factor, may not be the thing that attracts them back to the office.
I told you on the show I’d give you a free PDF guide to get your brand famous in your space in as little as 10 days. I’ll also send you exclusive audio tips from past guests and tactics to get you ahead of your lame-sauce competition.
Kara Goldin, CEO and founder of Hint, a fruit-flavored water company, explains how she overcame the setbacks and doubters, and how she dealt with sacrifices in her new book, Undaunted. During our conversation, she explains why being called “sweetie” lit a fire that made her successful and she addresses raising money as a woman. Unlike most entrepreneurs, Goldin does a stunning job recounting specifically how she grew Hint both tactically and strategically. If there’s one message you get out of this interview, it’s this: Undaunted should be the first book any budding entrepreneur—or seasoned one—should read.
One common theme in the book is how Goldin simply approaches people and asks for what she wants even though she may not know all the proper jargon or details. I ask her if this “hat-in-hand strategy” was intentional or resulted from her natural curiosity. It turns out to be a bit of both: she is naturally curious, but she quickly discovered that just showing up, calling, and asking for what you want gets you really far. People talk. A lot!
Goldin was a competitive gymnast growing up, and even on days she wasn’t competing, she’d show up. She started to notice opportunities would just be given to her when she showed up prepared. As she applied this to all aspects of her life, it kept working.
Dealing With Pig-Headed People
Goldin had a few run-ins with truly pig-headed people. One was a Coco-Cola executive that saw absolutely no value in her idea that would become Hint. Another individual—a lawyer at her former workplace—decided it was easier to lose her work ethic and results than to let Goldin stay in her home city. Both people lost a lot of money by failing to listen to her.
How does she recommend we deal with pig-headed people? While she admits her superpower is not patience, she acknowledges it’s extremely necessary. There are plenty of people who will not understand or embrace your big ideas. “It really isn’t personal. People are just doing their jobs,” says Goldin. “You’re definitely going to run into people along the way that don’t know you. It’s easier for them to say no than to say yes. It creates work.”
In the case of the Coca-Cola executive, the executive Goldin interacted with simply didn’t see the value. He thought customers simply wanted “zero calories” and didn’t care about natural ingredients or preservatives, telling her, “sweetie, it’s not going anywhere.”
This executive may have been the catalyst for Hint’s success, however. “They get caught up in the stake they put in the ground,” says Goldin. “And they’ve told too many people that ‘this is what the world wants,’ that they can’t actually slow that down. That is what I was experiencing.”
Is it tough raising money as a woman?
One question Goldin often receives is, “is it tough to raise money as a woman?” and her redirect response is incredible: “I’ve never been a man, so I don’t know,” she says. “I hear what everybody says, that it’s tough to raise money as a woman, and I definitely have my own stories along the way, but if you focus on what you can’t do, you’re not going to be able to do it. You have to believe you can do it. You have to have your head focused and in the space.” These words are truly powerful.
“If you don’t believe you can, the world sees that… and you believe that, so you will never accomplish that.” Goldin says what she didn’t focus on is how hard it is. She didn’t focus on what she couldn’t do. Everyone can learn from this, whether they’re a woman, man, or fit into any category someone may tell this is a disadvantage. Saying “I can’t” because of “X” is defeatist and ensures your failure.
There are many self-made barriers entrepreneurs run into. Another barrier Goldin touches on is how entrepreneurs view competition. Entrepreneurs fear new competition and she faced that reality often.
When Hint started getting public attention, one competitor actually got aggressive. “They came in and told the retailer to remove us!” Goldin explains. But then a few months later, that same retailer wanted to put them back in and expand their Hint selection. Why? “They noticed the revenue loss!” Goldin said.
No one bought the big company’s knock-off! Goldin explains sometimes competition actually brings more attention to the category, and if you keep your vision and mission and refuse to sacrifice quality, competition can be quite profitable.
Is sacrifice an entrepreneurial requirement?
One theme of the book is a constant sacrifice. Goldin sacrificed incredible career opportunities, sacrificed her house, and even was in a position to sacrifice all her shares just to make Hint successful. I asked if there is ever an entrepreneurial scenario that doesn’t require sacrifice.
“There are way easier ways to make more money,” says Goldin. “There were points when if I would have done waitressing full time, I probably made more money when I was first starting hint. You have to figure out how do you keep moving forward. How do you not stay complacent? I think that’s the most important piece.”
When you pick up Undaunted, you will notice that sacrifice is a normal part of building the business. If you’re faced with impossible situations and setbacks, you’re not broken. It’s business as usual.
BONUS: Goldin and I also discuss what labs found in public school water (like PFAS), meeting Vice President Kamala Harris (then Senator Harris), and who stood in the way of Hint getting on school lunch trays. This topic was then brought up by President Joe Biden in his State of the Union address days after recording.
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Steven Hoffman (aka Captain Hoff) is CEO of Founders Space. After I was introduced via Happioh CEO Soulaima Gourani, I asked my startup friends and they confirmed he’s THE guy when it comes to startups. If you see one pattern in the interview with him it’s this: founders do a really crappy job simply listening to their customers. This leads to communications problems, marketing blockades, and poor market fit.
Why the VP of MTV ignored calls, but finally reached out.
One of his first startups was perfect for MTV. Doing their research, they found the Senior VP of MTV and started leaving voicemails but he never called back. Their luck changes after one of Hoffman’s co-founders was invited to speak on a panel at CES. After the panel, a man approached her and said he wanted to do business. That man introduced himself as the Senior VP of MTV, to which she responded, “I know, we’ve been leaving you voicemails!” Within three weeks, they had 350k of cash in the bank from the CES Panel. What changed?
PR is what changed. The advice here is simple: find where your customers are hanging out and fight like crazy to get in front of them in those trusted spaces. Entrepreneurs think their targets will see the value they provide, but they absolutely will not. The environment must be correct.
Founders Routinely Get Stuck On “Idea”
Hoffman also speaks about how founders get stuck on their original strategy and suffer from the founder-baby problem—like a new parent, they think their baby is the cutest, but to everyone else, they’ve seen thousands and will see thousands more.
Because founders suffer from this bias, they build a product people don’t care about. YouTube was originally a video dating site, but no one cared. Later they discovered the value of using the platform when they wanted to send a video to someone. They used their platform to share the link, and that is when they found market fit.
This is why Hoffman says, as early as possible you must go to your customer and listen to them intently. Don’t try to sell them, but “try to figure out with them what to do next,” he said. Don’t become defensive and protect your idea.
Nailing the pitch. Communication is crucial
Nail the elevator pitch. Hoffman recommends standing on an actual elevator and pitching your startup. If you can’t do it, you have a severe problem. So many entrepreneurs can’t communicate what they do. They focus on technology no one cares about.
If you can’t communicate your value in a simple way, you will fail. This may sound obvious, but I see thousands of people pitch to me on this very podcast and after numerous emails, I still have no idea what they do.
If you’re failing, do this now
“If you’re facing failure, it’s not personal unless you make it personal,” Hoffman says. “It doesn’t reflect on you. Being an entrepreneur is a process of failing over and over and over again until you figure out the right direction, and the right thing you should be doing.”
If you are looking down the barrel of failure, do these three things how:
1. Don’t delay the failure
Entrepreneurs try to do everything but recognize failure. You need to recognize you’re heading in the wrong direction.
2. Recognize you are failing and look back and learn.
Check your emotions and look at your failure as a scientist. Given this failure, what should I do next?
3. Go to the customer.
Ask the core customers you are targeting and tell them you recognize the product isn’t a great fit. Then ask them what challenges they are currently facing.
Steven Hoffman, CEO of Founders Space
Steven Hoffman is CEO of Founders Space. It’s one of the leading startup accelerators in the world, with over 50 partners in 22 countries. Ranked the #1 incubator for overseas startups by Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazines.
Want to know how to get press, get ranked in Google, and break through the noise? Sign up for my list. I’ll send a free PDF Guide to get you more press in just 10 days!
Is there a crisis of critical thinking? Instead of healthy debate, are we burying our heads in the sand, demanding censorship of messages we don’t like? Julie Bogart, author of Raising Critical Thinkers, discusses being self-aware and how the ostrich effect causes us to ignore data we don’t like. She expands on questions to ask ourselves, our friends, and our children to get beyond our bias and engage our critical thinking skills.
Bogart’s new book, Raising Critical Thinkers, is out right now. I asked if there’s a critical thinking crisis, how to get others to see their own bias, and why people tend to sensationalize harm or their own victim status to protect their emotional energy.
A Few Big Ideas Discussed:
1. Censoring Dangerous Ideas
We discuss why censorship of ideas we don’t like—even dangerous ones—can be worse than the ideas themselves. Dangerous ideas don’t go away when we censor them; they just move into dark corners where they fester and attract larger followings.
How then, should we approach concerning ideas in the public square? Engage publicly, so people can see for themselves why the idea is concerning. Shed light on bad ideas. Don’t hide them!
2. How Do We Vet Information Online
The web is full of misleading or heavily-biased information, but how do we know what is accurate? Are there standard ways to vet websites, data, and make sure our minds aren’t being taken captive by fake news or dangerous ideas? Should we trust experts? What if they’re wrong? How do we know? Bogart has some excellent strategies.
She explains how to properly vet information and sources to make sure you’re forming accurate opinions and perspectives, and why Wikipedia and search engines may not actually be showing you the best information.
Julie was published by Penguin Random House, but how did she do it? Her strategy to amplify her message is to have better insight, a message no one has heard before, but also make more intentional efforts to communicate that insight.
Here’s the New York Times opinion piece that seems to promote the idea of using Wikipedia as a source, and Google results as a good source. What do you think- did the author miss the mark?
Here’s my piece in the Washington Post. Before writing this piece, I actually thought a longer barrel on a firearm made it more accurate. I was so wrong.
Store-bought tomatoes suck, beef is supposedly killing the planet, and organic food might not be as healthy as you think. The food we consume is questionable, but so are the suggested solutions. Paul Lightfoot, Founder and CEO Emeritus of BrightFarms walks me through a pragmatic and reasonable way consumers can eat healthfully, and treat our planet better without going to extremes.
BrightFarms uses hydroponic greenhouses to grow produce as close as possible to the consumer, meaning it doesn’t travel as far to get to you. The result is produce that is picked ripe, instead of produce that is picked early. It’s this simple reason why garden-grown tomatoes taste great, and ones from the store suck, Lightfoot explains. Produce at the store is grown for easy transportation.
Currently, the US Food system is responsible for one third of emissions in this country, and Lightfoot believes their hydroponic approach can significantly cut that down. He also believes if retailers were more transparent on which growers were responsible, consumers would opt to choose growers that were more sustainable. Will retailers adapt though?
Should we give up beef?
You’ve probably heard about cow farts, and how beef and meat contribute to climate change. I asked Lightfoot for a straight answer: is beef really bad for the environment, and do we really need to give it up? His answer is a relief for steak lovers. No!
Industrial beef is the worst climate offender in the food system as of right now, but we don’t need to give it up to reduce our emissions. We simply need to be more responsible. Beef, cattle and meat aren’t the problem, it’s the way we produce them.
Is organic a racket?
Many consumers don’t fully understand what “organic” actually means. They don’t understand the USDA actually has to certify something as organic in the USA. Lightfoot also explains fewer than 1% of farms in the USA are even organic. Much of our organic food comes from other countries.
Do you have trouble getting your message out? Do clients not listen? Does the boss not care about your idea? Sign up and I’ll send you resources to make you famous in your space. Plus, I’ll send a free PDF guide to get you more earned media in just 10 days.
You’ve heard the term “supply chain” tossed around, but do you know what it is, why it failed, or how it can be fixed? Grafton Elliott, CEO of Onward, breaks it down so even a 12-year-old can understand. Yes, it’s a complicated issue, but its problems are easy to understand once you understand the nuance.
The supply chain is wildly complicated, but the solution is remarkably simple. In fact, the entire supply chain could be dramatically improved in just a few weeks if (and that’s a big if) the industry was willing to communicate more effectively.
The supply chain was already strained before the pandemic, but when the pandemic happened, it broke. When home deliveries—especially for larger items—increased exponentially, that added a final mile problem that already plagued the industry. To summarize, the length of the chain was extended, but no extra links were added, explained Grafton. And when that happened, it broke.
Typically, any other business model would just adapt, but that’s impossible in the supply chain due to their dark-ages approach to technology. Much of the industry, 90% to be exact, is run by regional mom & pop operations that still rely on paper forms, phone calls, and manual processes. This leads to an inefficient supply chain, zero freight transparency, and numerous trucks at low capacity, traveling the exact same routes.
Grafton Elliott, CEO of Onward
Elliott believes his company, Onward, can alleviate the empty truck problem. If trucks were traveling at 100% capacity, there’d be more freight moving per mile, less congestion, more inventory for retailers, and more on-time deliveries for consumers. Will the industry make the move or stay in the dark ages? Time will tell.
Has your boss, client, or potential investor ever crapped on your idea before? Guess what, that’s normal! You may not need better ideas; you need better communication strategies. I make today’s coolest companies famous in their industry. Sign up and I’ll send you the strategies that work best, plus a free PDF to get you more earned media in just 10 days.
2/10/22 Update: “The Power of Regret” opened at #3 on the New York Times bestseller list. Congrats Dan!
In Drive, he taught us what truly motivates you, in To Sell Is Human, he explained why everyone is in sales, and in When, he told us the secrets of perfect timing. Now, Dan Pink is back with the largest study on human regret ever completed. It’s all in his new book The Power of Regret.
16,000 people told Daniel Pink their deepest regrets
Pink is always asking big questions that most people shy away from, so it’s no surprise he conducted his own World Regret Survey. By collecting regrets from more than 16,000 people in 105 countries, he found 4 core regrets people have, and why regret makes us better humans. The Power of Regret is an emotionally heavy book, as many people in the world used it to bear their souls and confess to regrets that truly bothered them.
His book suggests that as an entrepreneur with a failed business, I would likely have more regret in life had I not started the business in the first place. I’m betting you have some regrets in life you wish you could undo, but Pink’s research indicates you might consider being thankful for those experiences. There really is great power in regret.
You’ll also learn:
What people regret most
If you’ll regret taking a chance or if you’ll fail by taking the chance.
What entrepreneurs regret
How helping people anticipate regret can change behavior
And some bonus content NOT in the book, like who truly doesn’t have regret
The Power of Regret, by Daniel Pink
The book launches in February, but if you pre-order, Pink will let you in on lots of goodies, like a one-of-a-kind event you can be a part of on January 30. He’ll host an event on The 10 Most Important Lessons I’ve Ever Learned, featuring guest appearances from Malcolm Gladwell, Anne Lamott, and Al Gore!
That great idea you pitched to your boss or client was ignored? Don’t worry, that’s normal. People don’t recognize great ideas. The best communicators win, not the best idea people.
Startups and large companies are making big moves to reduce friction in all its forms, but that might actually hurt the customer experience, explains Soon Yu, author of the forthcoming book Friction. He has concrete examples that show adding more steps creates an affinity for your brand.
This clever customer strategy is why Betty Crocker boosted sales by adding work for their customers, why Hermès puts customers through hoops to acquire a Birkin Bag, and why Ben Franklin asked people for favors to improve relationships.
Yu gives plenty of examples of what he calls “good friction.” Hermès makes the process to buy a Birkin Bag extremely difficult. They hold the bags in the back of the store, and may even ask you to buy other items before giving you access to even see their bags. The thrill of the hunt makes it worth it for some of their customers to pony up $11k. Nike does something similar with exclusive new product releases by creating a kind of real-world hunt for their customers.
Similarly, Betty Crocker boosted cake mix sales by removing some ingredients, then requiring customers to add an egg. Universal Studios even has an extensive process in Harry Potter World for visitors to get a wand.
The EMBRACE Process
To bring good friction to life, Yu outlines the elements that brands can follow.
Exclusivity – Playing Hard to Get
Meaning – Give it some depth
Belonging – It takes a tribe
Rapport – Forging bonds that last
Assurance – Let’s double-check
Competence – Gaining by training
Engagement – Make them laugh, make them cry
Friction, by Soon Yu
Soon Yu’s new book, Friction, Adding Value By Making Your Customers Work For It!, comes out in March.
Do you have a great idea in business or in your company? Sadly, the best ideas don’t rise to the top naturally. The best communicators win the day. If you need to improve your communication skills, sign up for my newsletter. I’ll even send you John Jantsch and Soulaima Gourani’s audio tips on how to give and get better referrals.
Is Meta and the metaverse the newest addiction you need to protect your family and employees from? Not really. Nir Eyal knows the tactics social media companies use to keep you hooked, and he explains how little power these companies actually have over you.
The New York Times best-selling author of Hooked and Indistractable knows a thing or two about how social media companies get you hooked on their products. Using their tricks against them, he wrote Hooked to describe how
they work, and how you can do good. But now he’s gone a step further. He’s also empowering you with the tools to “hack back” against Meta (Facebook), the metaverse, Twitter, TikTok, and everything else that sucks your time like a vampire.
Medicalizing our habits and distractions
Eyal explains the word “addiction” is so easily tossed around, but the real problem is bad habits and our desire for distractions. His advice gets to the root cause of these tools, how to “hack back” against them, and why simply removing them from your life might not actually lessen your dependence on distractions.
The schedule maker tool mentioned in the show is here.
Why doesn’t anyone care about your idea?
Repeat after me: the best idea doesn’t always win. Sure, you may be an idea person, but guess what? Only execution people win.
If you’d like the latest tools to get attention for your company and get press in as little as 10 days, I’ll send you a free PDF guide. Just tell me your first name and email address.
Update 5/24/22: Today, Circles announced they have raised a 16.5M Series A! Congratulations to Irad Eichler and the team!
Life changes -both positive and negative- can be a lot to handle. Whether you’re riding the excitement and chaos of being new parent or drudging through the darkness of losing a loved one, speaking to others who are going through something similar is healing, especially when done in a safe space with licensed therapists. Finding these groups can be hard, but Irad Eichler, founder of Circles, created the solution.
Irad Eichler got the idea during his mother’s fight with cancer. Even though he was supportive, he noticed the brightest moments for her came from her discussions with those who shared her life path. He wanted to give that relief to people all around the world through Circles.
Today, Eichler sees many people on various paths using the service: anyone from parents, immigrants, and caregivers of people with special needs. Since people going through various life experiences don’t necessarily know how to plug in, Circles technology can help.
The technology assists in facilitating groups sized from six to eight people, and there is a trained human facilitator so individuals can have confidence they are entering a safe environment.
Because there’s a therapist shortage, group therapy is actually a great option lately, allowing therapists to help more people at the same time. It’s also great for patients to connect with others in similar life scenarios. People can share in their suffering, plug in and have a sense of belonging. Group therapy of this nature can ease feelings of loneliness. Eichler explained this feeling of loneliness is especially challenging during the holidays.
Are you an ignored entrepreneur?
I work with emerging tech companies often and understand not everyone has the budget to hire a PR company. That’s why I’ve developed a guide to get you more press coverage in just 10 days. To download it free, just enter your name and email.
In this special episode, Jay Ly, Master Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician, Chief, US Navy, and founder of Golden Compass Financial Freedom has jumped from planes, taken enemy fire, and diffused bombs in Afghanistan. Ly has spent 13 years of his life in the US Navy serving our country and keeping us safe. As the US exits the country, I ask him the good that we accomplished, what the media got right, and what they got wrong.
Ly’s positive attitude and encouraging words are what we all need to hear these days. For those who think Afghanistan was a waste of time or lost cause, Ly’s perspective is completely different and gave me a sense that we really did accomplish a lot. We collected incredible amounts of evidence and stopped an untold amount of attacks on the USA and even other countries.
Dan Simon founded Qwoted as a matchmaking service for journalists and expert sources. He explains how broken the relationship is between PR people and journalists is, and how he’s trying to change it with technology. We also discuss how various PR agencies operate and how it’s highly offensive for most journalists.
The Problem with PR
To get their clients in the center of the conversation, PR agencies pitch news companies They hope to get their clients exposed to the masses, but there is often a major misalignment on goals. Companies wantto be featured in what is basically a long-form advertisement, whereas journalists want unique stories their readers will click on. Instead of PR agencies or PR people taking time to understand a journalist’s beat and consumer, most opt to just email blast tens of thousands of people the same pitch. It’s not effective, and this behavior has led to a strained relationship between PR people and journalists.
Simon believes Qwoted is more of a matchmaking service than a journalist database. Using tech, he believes that matching the proper experts with the proper journalist is better for both parties. He’s onto something. To get media coverage for your startup-or any company for that matter- matching an ideal story to an ideal journalist is the best strategy.
I work with emerging tech companies often and understand not everyone has the budget to hire a PR company. That’s why I’ve developed a guide to get you more press coverage in just 10 days. To download it free, just enter your name and email.
80-hour workdays, sacrificing time with the family, and focusing only on work activities off the clock? It’s not going to end well for you, explains Dr. Andrea Mata of the Bright Spot Podcast and Bright Spot Families. Research shows aligning your work patterns to your circadian rhythm, resting, making time for family, and capping your work hours at 55 hours per week makes you more productive each week. Not less.
Andrea Mata, PhD is the founder of Bright Spot Families and host of the Bright Spot Podcast. She holds a doctorate degree in Clinical Child Psychology from Kent State University. Dr. Mata is a gifted keynote speaker and works with families and entrepreneurs to make positive life choices.
Dr. Mata’s 10 core values to live a value-based life
There’s more to life than just your career, but we often get confused and lose sight of our priorities. Some entrepreneurs convince themself they must sacrifice their values to achieve goals. For example, they forgo time with family and make sacrifices at the office so they can ensure high quality of life–life in which they can one day spend more time with family.
Instead, they can live their values right now. Dr. Mata explains we should think about ten core values and write down which we perceive as the most important. Then, compare it to how you spend your time, do they match?
Leisure or recreation
Spirituality / Religion
Physical and mental health
Work and Career
Hacks for Entrepreneurs and Founders
Entrepreneurs and founders work hard on executing ideas and overcoming challenges, but many are horrified when their market completely ignores them or their product. Why do people ignore the best idea in favor of a sub-par routine? It’s because the best idea never wins; the best communicator does. Sign up for my free newsletter and I’ll give you a free PDF to get more press in 10 days. I’ll also teach you how to rank better in search engines.
Many of us have experienced anxiety as it relates to Zoom or Google Meet calls. We stage the room and prepare ourselves, but we all wonder if we are being perceived well through the lens. Charles Hua, CEO of Poised, invented a real-time AI coach to help you.
Using your computer’s microphone, Poised analyzes vocal stress and speech patterns, presenting improvements in a real-time heads-up display. It analyzes how fast you’re speaking, if you’re using filler words, if your confidence needs a boost, and even clarity, empathy and energy.
As a radio guy and podcaster, it took me months to get comfortable behind a microphone and years to hone that skill–regardless of the fact that presentation and communication comes naturally for me. One trick I used to polish my podcasts and live radio presentation skill is that I would listen to every second of the show when I was done, making notes on what needed to change. You can actually hear the difference if you listen to my first podcasts (It’s embarrassing).
Tragically, some of my older shows aren’t super great, because I learned presentation lessons after the fact. But what if I had Poised five years ago? Would there have been a shorter learning curve? I’ll never know, but you can try it right now.
Have you wondered how entrepreneurs and emerging tech founders get themselves press coverage? It’s about knowing what editors, reporters, writers and consumers want to read. I can teach you exactly how to do this for free. Just download my free PDF and you’ll learn how to get more press in just 10 days. Did I say it was free?
In an era of rising tensions and concern about violence, one company has made it their mission to make the bullet obsolete, Axon. The company behind the popular body cameras and Taser has an incredible mission. Their CFO, Jawad Ahsan joins me to discuss the future of de-escalation, preserving life, and building teams.
As we all watch the news in horror, Ahsan gives me a lot of hope for the future. The Taser was developed when the company founder, Rick Smith became upset when his friends were killed in a road rage incident. He set out to create a future where guns didn’t exist.
Partnering with a NASA scientist, Taser, now rebranded as Axon, has developed many interactions of the familiar yellow Taser we see carried by officers today. For Axon to make bullets obsolete, they are focusing on making Tasers more effective and more reliable than firearms.
How Tasers Work
Tasers function by incapacitating a threat via Neuromuscular incapacitation (NMI.) In simple terms, this shuts down your limb’s ability to function, while your body’s critical functions operate normally. Their new Taser7 product has a quick reload option for peace officers.
Their consumer version, the Pulse, will continue to cycle for 30 seconds, giving a victim an opportunity to run away and get help. The Pulse+ will even alert the authorities of your exact location.
More About Jawad Ahsan
Jawad joined Axon in 2017 and leads the company’s global finance, corporate strategy, legal, and IT organizations. He also serves as the executive sponsor and owner of Axon’s consumer-facing business, responsible for the Pulse, and Strikelight products. Ahsan has built a world-class team on his mission at Axon, and his book details the lessons he has learned along the way.
If you have a big idea and your boss, or industry is ignoring you, don’t worry: that’s normal. Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll learn why people reject great ideas, and how to become a better communicator and find a receptive audience.
Scott McLeod, founding member and Chief of Staff at Resident, creators of Nectar Sleep, saw 500% growth despite 99% of their staff being remote. I push hard to find out the critical remote-first workplace lessons they’ve learned.
Scott McLeod of Resident disagrees with my WFH opinion.
Brian Hamilton, VP of Smart Dollar joins me to discuss some truly troubling data. 78% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck and 40% can’t cover a $400 emergency. America was broke before the economic shutdown, now things are worse. He explains the solution.
Harvard Business School Professor, Francesca Gino is author of Rebel Talent. She expands on why rebels aren’t a negative force, how to manage them, and how to utilize them to boost your company’s inventive spirit. And if you’re a bit of a rebel, how you can impact others in a positive way.
Francesca Gino on Rebel Talent
Harvard Business School professor and author of Rebel Talent, Francesca Gino joined me to discuss the impact rebels have on the workplace.
How are rebels supposed to convince anyone to work with them when they look like chaos agents?
Most see rebels as not trusting of others, power-hungry, and lone wolves. But is that reality?
Is there any hope for rebels and top performers to get through HR or get hired?
Speaking as a rebel, do rebels walk a really lonely work path?
Do rebels naturally disrupt the organizational pecking order, and does that make leaders uncomfortable?
Nate Regier, founder of Next Element discusses how to be authentic at work, how to self-assess your leadership, and how to influence your boss without negative conflict. He also explains why an older leadership model, PCM is misunderstood and why he’s writing a book about it.
2-4-21 UPDATE: Alexandra Carter’s book Ask For More is now a Wall Street Journal bestseller! Congrats Alex!
Many of us assume if we just do our job and make clients happy, people will compensate us, or give us a raise. That’s not true and Alexandra Carter author of Ask For More explains how to ask a few simple questions to get more. Carter is a Columbia Law Professor and Negotiation Trainer for the United Nations. She has concrete skills that helped me negotiate better, ask for more, and score win/win deals.
Alexandra Carter has spent years perfecting the art of negotiation. Before meeting her and before reading her book Ask For More I confess I believe it wasn’t possible to influence a negotiation in a way that is meaningful. She has completely changed my view on this.
Many of us falsely believe that we will get a raise or get a better deal by simply doing the work and impressing others. But if you want more, you have to ask for more explains Carter.
He’s YouTube fire and you can’t get his songs out of your head and his name is Scott Bradlee, creator of The Postmodern Jukebox. He explains how he got his start and what he did right to get viral content.
Other topics in this show: You sent in your work from home data about workload and responsibilities + what if we’re wrong on Covid-19? Can our leaders walk it back at this point or would they stay the course?
Here are the full survey results I posted on social and emailed to my list. This is a poll from only listeners and social media friends.
Work from home status
66% of you are now working from home. This tracks closely with Gallup. (62%)
Most of you want to work from home only 55% of the time.
There was a sizeable group that preferred to work from home 100% of the time
There were only a handful of respondents 0% work from work
Overall, you slightly favored working from home. Around 50% of the time perhaps.
I have about the same amount of work = 46.15%
I have more work = 30.77%
I have less work = 23.08%
My productivity has increased — I’ve completed more projects = 25.64%
My productivity has not changed = 46.15%
My productivity has decreased — I’ve completed fewer projects = 28.21%
My budget has been increased = 5.41%
There has been no change in my budget = 59.46%
My budget has been decreased = 27.03%
My budget has been frozen or removed = 8.11%
My boss communicates more than before = 33.33%
There has been no change = 46.15%
My boss communicates less than before = 20.51%
Have you used Covid-19 as an excuse to cancel internal or external projects you actually do have time for?
A total of 2.5% answered YES
How responsive have the following been
Employees = Slightly more responsive
Vendors = about the same
Clients = about the same
Valuegraphics Management Data
Special thanks to David Allison, creator of Valugraphics for providing this information free for my listeners. Please visit his website >
Fact 1: Managers don’t care about belonging: mid-managers do not really care about belonging: they are far more focused on the specific network they worked hard to build over the years and the web of one-on-one relationships that fueled their career advancement.
Fact 2: Managers crave 3 things they are being deprived of right now: From a list of 56 possible core personal values, mid-managers place the most importance on financial security, personal growth, and personal responsibility. The margins between these values are so small it’s best to think of them altogether—a bit of a vegetable stew of values. In other words, being better every day, getting stuff done, and feeling financially secure are all equally important, and currently under threat.
Fact 3: Leaders aren’t being acknowledged: 86% said they don’t feel acknowledged. and hate feeling invisible and unseen. These are your star athletes, who have succeeded in the office environment by being the best at what they do and, importantly, by being seen doing it. They know how to speak up in the boardroom. They know how to get the high-fives and atta-boys. But now the playing field is gone, there’s no one watching from the stands, and there isn’t an obvious way for their game-changing run or pass to be noticed by the people who matter.
Scott Bradlee of Postmodern Jukebox
Scott Bradlee is the founder of Postmodern Jukebox and had a lot to share on how the concept came to be and his funny Nickelback experience.
Pernell Cezar co-founder of Blk & Bold coffee achieved national distribution in under 2 years! I ask him how. Also, we dig into why 1 day shipping from Amazon isn’t doing well, the balance between transparency and oversharing, and why only 70% of your internal email is ever read. (Ouch)
One-day shipping has been a surprising flop so far. It seems people are unwilling to pay extra for that service… or at least extra that they’re aware of. I believe this pattern reveals something deeper: In our own internal/external communications, how much transparency is good? And when is transparency bad?
Check out the full report on industry trends here.
Pernell Cezar of Blk & Bold
Today’s in-studio guest is Pernell Cezar of BLK & Bold Specialty Beverages. The dude has built a nationally distributed coffee brand in less than 2 years, which any retailer knows should be an impossible feat.
I dig into the details and ask how he did it, what tools he used, and advice on how other brands can pitch the big boys and win. We also break down what makes specialty coffee so special. As a life-long coffee drinker I learned quite a bit from speaking to Pernell. I know you will too.
I have to admit the data on internal email is abysmal. A team of 10 people will generate over 700 emails per month, and around 20% of those emails will never be read. Do we need to set aside email time? Get better email software? I think there is a core problem. Shuffled responsibility from shaky leaders.
Have you ever suggested the better idea only to hear crickets? It’s actually a very common problem. The best idea never wins, only the best communicator does. Learn how to beat the odds by signing up for my list. I’ll even send a PDF guide on how to get more media coverage in as little as 10 days.
8/3/20 UPDATE: I’m saddened to hear about the tragic passing of Bryan Stockton. I had the pleasure of speaking with him for 30 min last year and was touched by his big heart and positive spirit. My heart is with his family and his wonderful wife Maureen. – Justin
Bryan Stockton was CEO of Mattel from 2012 – 2015 and after leaving Mattel started everyone’s dream job: a professional resort photographer that travels the world visiting the most stunning locations. I spent 30 min with Brian as he explained the pain of loss, playing guitar with Vince Gill, and why you shouldn’t let the English language get in the way of great communication strategy.
Who is Bryan Stockton?
As CEO of Mattel, Bryan Stockton oversaw annual revenues in excess of $6 billion, operations across 40 countries, he managed 31,000 employees and sold products in more than 150 countries worldwide. Mattel takes a warm spot is most American’s hearts and have partially defined American culture producing Barbie®, Hot Wheels®, Fisher-Price®, Matchbox®, Monster High®, American Girl® and many other brands.
Before his CEO stint, Stockton was Chief Operating Officer, President of $3 billion Mattel International before 2011, joining Mattel in November 2000 as Executive Vice President of Business Planning and Development.
Don’t Let English Ruin Great Communication
During his time at Mattel, he picked up on an interesting theme and told me “don’t let the English language get in the way of communication.” During his time leading the international division, with the exception of one person, all of his direct reports spoke American English as their second or third language. It sounds like a recipe for miscommunication, but Stockton explained why it had zero effect.
“We spent a lot of time making sure we all understood exactly what we were agreeing on.” His teams even spent time defining their team, industry and company lexicon. It’s a tactic even English as a first language don’t do, and pay dearly for. We send emails, use slang, and sacrifice context constantly, and we lose out on great communication, we lose out on great results.
When Stockton became COO and had mostly direct reports where American English was the first language, he was surprised that language is so ambiguous even Americans were not understanding common American words or business terms. The challenges were exactly the same. Common language doesn’t have to hurt your group communication.
His Exit From Mattel was of Glorious Ruin
Because the name Bryan Stockton was a household name his exit was a public one. He explained the pain, frustration, and process he went through, explaining the emotional toll, but he also explained how his previous life making “play” for children had cost him his one play of the guitar, and enjoyment with his family. Since he was a kid he wanted to produce art in music, and today his job is literally the dream job most people bring up when they’re dreaming. How many times have you wanted to be a vacation resort food writer or photographer? Well, that’s his job. For real. (Here’s his Instagram page) Oh, and he did get to play guitar with Vince Gill. On stage. You’ll have to listen to the interview to learn how that whole thing happened.
Kurt Workman is the co-founder and CEO of Owlet, a world-changing tech company dedicated to improving infant health. Owlet’s famous “smart sock” uses pulse oximetry to track babies’ health, alerting parents of potential problems are concerning trends.
Why Was Owlet Founded?
In reality, the idea for Owlet came about decades ago via a personal experience in Workman’s family. His wife has a congenital heart condition and the only reason they caught it early was because her mother “had a feeling.” What if their child had the same issue? The uncertainty and concern are shared by millions of parents.
Workman eventually focused on pulse oximetry that tracks heart rate, and blood oxygen concentration. This gave him all the data necessary. Because pulse-ox tech was developed in the 70s though, why hadn’t anyone does this before? It turns out wireless technology and miniaturization of sensors are what allowed them to use this technology in a sock.
How Many Lives Have Been Saved By Owlet?
Although HIPAA, privacy concerns, and feedback limit Workman’s data on how many lives have been saved, he told me they have received 1000 customer feedback notes about their technology saving babies’ lives.
Suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a big problem and Workman’s team at Outlet continues to work to save infant lives and bring parents peace. The data has been helpful to parents for sure, but I asked Workman a bigger question. Have they seen any data trends, or will they possibly spur medical discovery?
Owlet Data May Lead To Medical Breakthrough
Kurt Workman explained they are currently analyzing the vital data they’ve collected in hopes of making a medical breakthrough. Owlet has hired the VP of research from United Healthcare to come look at all the data. Broadly speaking, there are a lot of cases where a baby’s heart rate or oxygen levels will change before they will get sick, so there is a high prediction rate that a baby will get sick.
RSV is common among babies, and Workman believes they may be able to predict it. In all, they are working on 12 different case studies in infant health. He believes they may have the largest data set of infant health in history.
Currently, Owlet can detect and notify parents of real-time health concerns, but their future goal is to predict negative health events before they happen, allowing them to schedule a pediatrician visit before they visibly see symptoms.
Future Versions Of Owlet
I asked Workman about future iterations of their smart sock tech and he explained they are looking into monitoring core body temperature, respiratory rate, sleep states, and additional integrations that could possibly turn on white noise when a baby is coming out of a sleep cycle, or allowing their tech to speak to other smart technologies like a basinet to lull the baby back to sleep.
Kurt Workman and Owlet’s Near-Fatal Failure
Kurt Workman, like every other entrepreneur, didn’t have an easy experience launching Owlet with his co-founders. Early on, after their crowdfunding push, a flaw in their product design nearly ended the company, forcing them to throw away their first 2000 units. You will have to listen to the podcast to see how his failures actually made for a better product. (And also how inspiring his early backers were)
Owlet Pregnancy Band
I got so caught up in my time with Kurt Workman, I neglected to bring up their newest product, the Pregnancy Band! The Owlet Pregnancy Band, set to launch in the future, records and shares your unborn baby’s heartbeat and activity, allowing new parents to receive wellness notifications.
The Pregnancy Band will manually count kicks, and even track maternal sleep positions. Their Beta program is currently on their website and you can fill out this form to be alerted when the product is available.
Tiago Forte explores the future of work at his company, Forte Labs. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Inc., Lifehacker, The Atlantic, Quartz, and others. His “future of work courses” have been taken by more than 20,000 online learners.
Past clients include Genentech, Toyota, Nestle, and the Inter-American Development Bank, as well as startups, incubators, universities, and nonprofits around the world. In this interview, Forte explains what the future of work looks like and why creative work cultures aren’t as spirited as some might think.
Listen to the interview + subscribe
Listen to the full interview with Justin Brady and Tiago Forte.
The Future Of Work
Tiago Forte is obsessed with helping companies and work cultures not just survive but thrive. His training and consulting work help companies by helping them focus and organize, improving on skills that I call “dangerously simple.”
So many leaders and workers forget, or simply don’t know, that process is the only thing that takes creativity and ideas and turns them into tangible action that can accomplish your goals. The future of work will demand artistry and creativity, but so many get the wrong impression of what this looks like. Who wants free-spirited painters responsible for getting work done? Actually, you.
Forte explains that the best, most profitable artists are actually quite regimented and have a solid process that they use to get things done. Creativity doesn’t stop with the idea, getting creative ideas into action with concrete, repeatable processes is a big part of the game.
We also talk considerably about the key role trust plays in creative process-driven organizations, which is probably where my favorite quote of this interview came from. “Work moves at the speed of trust” Brilliant!
Tiago Forte Resources
Tiago Forte leads Forte Labs, which is dedicated to helping knowledge workers transform their productivity and learning. His company offers live workshops, online courses, books, coaching, and organizational consulting.
Steve Clayton is Microsoft’s Chief Storyteller and General Manager of Microsoft’s Innovation, Culture, and Stories team. His team is responsible for showing the more human side of Microsoft and how they are actively changing and improving the lives of their customers.
I ask him what the team is responsible for, how this unique role materialized, and ask what brands can learn from Microsoft’s storytelling strategy. His team is responsible for the company’s storytelling with a focus on employees, media, customers, partners, and candidates. Steve and his team have a history of innovation in storytelling to bring the company’s mission to life for these audiences.
Background Microsoft’s Storytelling Team
Clayton started writing a blog that recounted internal lessons he learned at Microsoft, the great, the good and some things Microsoft needed to work on. It was truthful and open. Colleagues initially became a bit concerned, curious if Clayton should be writing on behalf, or if this corporate communications job. Eventually, Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s chief of communications, called Steve, saying “we need to talk about your blog.”
Steve Clayton told me, he quickly became convinced he was going to lose his job, instead, he was promoted to expand his ideas into an entire platform for the company. Clayton expressed his appreciation for the trust his executive team demonstrated. He explains in the podcast, how we got his title as Microsoft Chief Storyteller.
Clayton was the architect of the acclaimed “88 Acres” story that signaled a new direction for Microsoft’s corporate storytelling, leading to the creation of microsoft.com/stories. Today, his team continues to create a wide variety of content focusing on what he calls his four P’s: people, place, product, and process. This manifests itself in many ways, like creating Microsoft Life, the company intranet, social channels and even creating engaging keynote presentations for CEO Satya Nadella. The storytelling and culture team have been key in helping transform the culture of Microsoft.
What’s The Business Case for Storytelling?
The one thing I know a lot of leaders are likely to ask is about the business case behind a chief storyteller, and a storytelling strategy. The pageviews are a big bonus, but Clayton explains their storytelling initiative is a long-game strategy. In this day and age customers want to do business with companies that are focused on purpose, and most importantly, a purpose they align with. Leaders like Steve Clayton are filling that gap.
More Tech Leader Interviews
If you liked this interview with Steve Clayton, you might like my interviews with Blake Irving, CEO of GoDaddy, Alistair Weaver, EIC of Edmunds.com, or Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics. Subscribe to get notified of new guests by entering your first name and email. (I’ll also send a PDF guide on how to get more earned media in 10 days.)
Skip Prichard is the Wall Street Journal best-selling author of The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future and CEO of OCLC. Prichard has run global businesses ranging from the startup phase to mature businesses with over $1.5 Billion in revenue. Harvard Business Review labeled Prichard as a rare social CEO and a “relentless giver.”
Skip Prichard: Turn-Around Guy
Prichard has interviewed over 1000 successful people and has turned a fair amount of companies around from the bring. I had to ask, is there a pattern for turn-around success? Is there a dirty secret where he uses the same fixes help most companies? Sadly, it’s not that easy and many of today’s problems are unique because every company culture is different. Culture sometimes gets an eye roll… but changing it, is the only thing that will change results permanently. “Culture is creating cash” Prichard explains. The hardest think about changing a culture, however, is that leaders don’t want to do it.
Culture is hard to change and it’s a long-term strategy. Many leaders don’t want to deal with it, shareholders don’t want to consider it, and Wall Street likes to reward short term gains. So, how does a CEO or manager balance short and long term? Prichard discusses how great leaders are measured by how well the can focus on the future but prioritize short term when necessary. It’s not something I hear a lot, but short term thinking isn’t necessarily bad. Sometimes we need short term thinking to save or turn around a company… provided it doesn’t sacrifice long term focus.
Different Times Require Different Leaders
We think of leaders in the context of good or bad, but it’s not that simple. Skip Prichard explained the type of leader you need depends on your organization’s age or challenges. Where one great leader may fail, another great leader may succeed. One’s not better, but simply, better for that particular challenge. Great companies need to be willing to shift not just their leadership, but their hiring with the times. Any good organizations will constantly evaluate the kind of leader as they look to fill positions that open up.
HR, if used the right way, can be the extraordinary catalyst to challenge leadership, drive the culture change, bring in new skills and constantly reach for the stars bringing in an era of positivity. The best HR leaders will bring that mindset of HUMAN resources, understanding that getting great people and treating them well is their unique differentiator and edge.
Negative Pattern For Broken Companies? Victimhood.
I asked Skip Prichard if there are any negative patterns he documents in The Book of Mistakes. The answer? Organizations that struggle claim a victim mentality. This mentality is the single greatest recipe for failure in our companies. Allowing this mentality is extremely dangerous. “There’s nothing we can do, “the market is squeezing us,” “the price is too high,” or “this person is holding us back” are all victim mentality statements.
The victim mentality, which can turn into a victim culture, develops when the organization doesn’t want accountability. In one case, Prichard worked with an organization whose head of sales blamed the product division for not having the product he needed to sell. Of course, the product division blamed sales for selling what they didn’t have.
He told Prichard “this is the way the game is played, if you’re a master, you shift the blame to the product team.” This is idiotic. Great companies hold themselves and their leadership personally accountable for their own success. All companies experience setbacks — great leaders and great companies master themselves and don’t accept victim status. Leaders bear this responsibility. It really does start at the top.
Skip Prichard’s Mistakes
Skip Prichard has listed the following mistakes you must avoid in The Book of Mistakes. We discussed numbers 2, 5 and 7 in the interview.
Working on someone else’s dream.
Allowing someone else to define your value.
Surrounding yourself with the wrong people.
Staying in your comfort zone
Allowing temporary setbacks to become permanent failure
Trying to blend in, instead of standing out.
Thinking that there is a fixed and limited amount of success available.
The best ideas are often ignored. If your boss won’t listen, or your industry won’t give you the time of day, sign up for my newsletter. You don’t have an idea problem, you have a simple communications problem. I’ll help you for free, and I’ll send you a free PDF guide on how to get more press, and Soulaima Gourani and John Jantsch audio tips on how to get and give more referrals.
Nate Quigley is the co-founder of Chatbooks, an online service that takes the photos you post to social media, automatically creating your own photo book subscription. Photo books are mailed to your door every month, without any difficult editing, photoshop or layout work. His company is living proof that proper listening is the best creative tool you have.
Check Out The Data Behind Chatbooks
What’s most interesting about the Chatbooks model is its low tech appeal. Most people think print is dying, but the data supports the fact that people do want tangible beautiful print.
Justin Brady 0:04
My name is Justin Brady. Let’s talk about turning your business, your team and you into a creativity cultivator.
Justin Brady 0:14
Hello, cultivators, that is officially I think the name I’m going to stick with cultivators. I like it. And we have Nate Quigley today. Nate, thanks for joining us on the podcast.
Nate Quigley 0:26
Justin. Thanks for having me.
Justin Brady 0:28
You’re that you’re the CEO of chat books, which is a subscription-based photo book service. And you’re in Provo, Utah. The reason we were connected is because, Ryan over a previous podcast guest Ryan, his people said, Oh my gosh, you need to talk to Nate quickly over at Chatbooks.
Nate Quigley 0:44
That’s very nice of them. I listened to the ryan episode and it was great we live. We live two doors away from each other in the neighborhood. And then our offices are sort of building apart as well. So we bumped into each other all the time.
Justin Brady 1:00
So Chatbooks is this basically automatically create 60-page photo book volumes, like your own magazine subscription kind of have your own photos, from photos that people create with their smartphones. And you know, based on what you share on social media and Instagram, each of you know a book arrives at your door and each like eight bucks and shipping is free.
Nate Quigley 1:24
That’s it. Yeah, we tried to take all of the work out of photo books. I love that kind of the interesting little thing we discovered was that people still love having printed photos in their life. But we’re not doing it because it’s a pain, right used to stick a roll of film and the cameras I’m I’m ancient, so I used to actually have a film camera. And I would put film in it and you know, you take 24 pictures with 34 pictures and you wanted to see what was on them. So you dropped him off the one hour thing while you were shopping at Costco and then you you know, you got to see your photos for the first time when you open up the little envelope. And that’s you know, it’s it’s obviously we took a lot Photos, but we had to print them all to see what they looked like and had them in our lives and we put them up on our walls, we stuck them in little books. And then, you know, we made the big switch to digital, and we were taking tons more photos, but it was no longer quite so easy to sort of, you know, drop them off when you’re going to buy some groceries and pick them up on the way out. And so we’re printing, you know, way fewer photos, we thought, is there a way to get the, you know, get photos kind of back into our lives without adding work.
Justin Brady 2:32
Digital ease, but with print?
Nate Quigley 2:33
Yeah, that’s it. That’s it. And so what we came up with was, let’s just print people’s Instagram feeds, because we’re taking tons of photos. And we’re kind of curating and doing all the, you know, the only hard work is, is curating which of these 10 photos that I took to I want to post and how do I want to crop it and all that said, Well, I already did all that when I posted to Instagram and I kind of wrote the puffy you know seven-word caption Yeah. happened actually exactly the right thing to put underneath the photo if you’re going to print it. And so we just tapped into the Instagram API and and and came up with the Chatbooks ongoing photo book series, where we started at photo one that you ever shared Instagram and we took the next 60 photos and made that into Volume One of your ongoing book series, we printed Volume One and the date range of those photos on the spine of that book. And then every 60 photos, we sent you another Volume.
Justin Brady 3:28
Basically, you’re creating your own magazine subscription of your own family photos.
Nate Quigley 3:33
We call it the magazine subscription to your life. Yeah, I learned that you don’t even have to order I mean, because it’s a subscription service. It’s not a time-based subscription, but it’s a usage-based subscription. So every time you post 60 photos, Instagram, we send you a notification and we say hey, you know you got another volume 17 is ready to go. If you want to come, you know edit, edit it pick a different cover. exclude a few photos of cereal or you know Whatever you can, or don’t worry about it. And in three days, it’s going to go to press and we’ll just mail it to you and, and lots and lots and lots of our customers just put it on complete autopilot. Yeah. And they don’t even know a book is coming. They just go out to the mailbox one day, and it’s there. Yeah, their little green envelope there and they get excited.
Justin Brady 4:17
So cool. I love it. Apparently, it caught on because you guys sold over a million of these in your first 18 months.
Nate Quigley 4:25
It’s crazy. We sold 500,000 in the first year. We sold the next 500,000 in the next six months. And it’s just continued to accelerate, you know, amazingly. And it’s been really, really fun.
Justin Brady 4:37
You’re the CEO of live TV before this. And you were also previously co-founder of 11 technology. And, you know, there’s a bunch of stuff you’ve done in the past. You also were you got your Bs and accounting from Brigham Young University MBA from Harvard. What was that like? At what point do you say oh my gosh, I should create Chatbooks… I mean, this is a really original is a very unique idea. And here’s the thing that’s fascinating to me. I am a huge print geek. I love print. And I love it very, very much. And I rarely find people who agree with me. I find people who agree with me on a sub-psychological level. But on a top-level, everyone’s like, oh, Prince dying, Digital’s the way to go. Yeah. And you know, we have people like 99 you that writes articles I’ve written I wrote an article for 99 new ones and ended up getting published in their magazine is a printed magazine with beautiful paper. So we have certain print applications that are taking off like you what you’re doing what they’re doing. But then we have traditional magazine subscriptions that are like suffering. So I mean, obviously you hit on something that I would be willing to say very few people could have predicted how wildly successful this would be. Yeah. So where did the idea come from?
Nate Quigley 5:59
It came from Wife. I mean, very, very simply, the answer is my wife and my co founder, and she is the chat Booker and chief and, and continues to kind of be the heart and soul of the product direction at the company.
Nate Quigley 6:13
She spends tons of time talking to our customers and just understanding them. And and this won’t surprise you or I don’t know, it wasn’t it wasn’t obvious at all to me which was which was, you know why it’s such a it’s such an interesting opportunity because I think it was, again, it’s it’s one of these things it’s true, but not obvious. Right? It’s It’s It’s a thing that is true, but only you know, it’s true. Right? At the beginning it Peter teal talks about how that’s, you know, one of the requirements of a great business is what do you believe that no one else believes.
Nate Quigley 6:45
But that is actually true.
Justin Brady 6:46
Nate Quigley 6:48
And the thing is, is what’s funny about this is it isn’t that no one else believes it. It’s to know men believe it.
Justin Brady 6:55
Nate Quigley 6:56
women immediately understand why you want to print photos.
Justin Brady 7:00
Nate Quigley 7:00
Men have to kind of be talked into it for an hour and then you show them some data and then you explain like 10 more ideas about why it might be right and they’re like, Okay, well and then they actually get a book of their photos and like yeah, that’s kind of cool i like that. Women it’s almost the exact opposite they say well why are you explain this to me like this? does of course want to put my photos
Justin Brady 7:20
right well, so I have a radio show into Moines, Iowa and it reaches the state and surrounding states as well. It’s called Saturday morning live and I don’t know a lot of podcasters actually know I have that show. But it’s it’s a local lively, more fun thing. We get to talk about local events, local happenings, and my co host Adrianne. I we brought this up because this was right after the ryan interview with politics and so we were doing okay, yeah, weekend. I just brought it up in the show. And it took like two seconds. It won’t probably it took 10 seconds for me to describe what this was and she lost her freakin mind. And she’s like, this is the best thing I’ve ever heard. Because she she and you know, I will watch your videos which your videos are hysterical. Oh, my God, great. They’re going to try to make this funny video that’s really stupid. But you pull it off so well. And there’s a there’s a subconscious level to why these are working as well. And I’m going to talk about you. I’m going to talk to talk to you about that another time. But I basically told her about this and she’s like, Oh my gosh, this is the lifesaver I need. She’s like, because I am that person. In that video. That’s me, like I spend all this time. I don’t want to spend all the time it is annoying. It is frustrating. And this is exactly and I think she probably signed up. I don’t know.
Nate Quigley 8:34
That’s awesome. I hope she did.
Justin Brady 8:36
But it’s genius idea. I love it.
Nate Quigley 8:38
Well, it all credit goes to my wife, Vanessa and then that the credit continues to go to the amazing women, our team. So we’re one of the odd tech companies where 70% of our team members are women. Wow. Including 60% of our of our leadership team. And we wouldn’t I mean, we just would be nowhere without the incredible women on our team. We would be nowhere without my wife’s initial inspiration like this sort of gut instinct that was, I want photos back in our lives, but I don’t have any time for a project. So you know, let’s figure out, just put my Instagram. I mean, she that’s literally what she said. And the little light bulb went off for me and a couple guys I had on the team and we went and sort of bang something out over the next couple of weeks. And you know, it wasn’t quite right at the beginning, but rabbit one or two more times, and all sudden, that’s it. And we sold the first book in in June of 2014. And we’re kind of like immediately running into operational and capacity problems like kind of one of these classic sort of overnight successes that came at the end of like a couple year grind of building the wrong thing and you know, doing everything wrong.
Justin Brady 9:44
Here’s the thing you talked about earlier you talked about it was this idea that like only you knew to be true. Yeah, if we want to go I want to get back to that a little bit. Because it was it was this idea that Oh, you you both knew, or at least your wife knew in her gut was a genius idea. It truly And I can, you know, from previous experience is it is a hard sell to anybody else you know, at least at least from the beginning, like from a from a business viability standpoint. It’s a tough sell.
Nate Quigley 10:11
Oh yeah. No investors were you know, it didn’t make any sense to investors, but again most investors are men, right mostly it’s unfortunate but it’s it’s it’s true that most, you know, most venture capital you know if you look at the venture capital gender statistics it’s crazy um it’s just it’s an industry run by men still.
Justin Brady 10:29
Right and men they’re not a lot of men like me who appreciate print and understand the psychological value it has to people.
Nate Quigley 10:36
Yeah, you know, it goes backwards. It’s one of these that it feels like wait a min I thought that’s over.
Justin Brady 10:42
Right, of course.
Nate Quigley 10:44
But you know, it says it turns out it’s not and you know, I think when we first saw the Kindle were like, well, books are dead books aren’t dead. No, no, no, of course not books or books are here to stay. And then obviously vinyl was completely dead with vinyls coming back. there’s a there’s a book called The Revenge of analog. It just talks about a whole bunch of use cases like this where we just are coming around to realize that digital and analog go together. Like, there’s a reason and a use case for both. Yes. And there’s something just about being a human being wandering the planet. You know, we’ve been picking up rocks and sticks for like, millions of years. And we just like to hold on to stuff
Justin Brady 11:21
We like tangible.
Nate Quigley 11:22
Yeah, it’s one of the five senses and it’s not going away.
Justin Brady 11:25
No, it’s not, you know, I would even venture to say, one of the senses, everybody, when they pick up a chat book, or, or, or a book, for example, or a magazine, one of the senses they don’t even know they’re using is smell. They have no idea. But that smell of a fresh cut paper does trigger certain things. And you know, we associate that with opening packaging and getting presence and it starts to trigger our childhood. So yeah, getting and receiving packaged goods and paper is very emotional experience. And yeah, you know, one of the things that people forget as touch as well is I 99 you for example, they have very very cool paper selections that they use in their magazines like really cool paper where the magazine? Yeah, General magazine subscriptions are still you know, going cheap for color. Yeah, paper. Yeah, I don’t I mean, yeah, but you know this what this talk a little bit about the kind of the blank stares you got when you introduce this because there are probably people like your wife at companies right now that have this truth only known to them idea. And they’re hitting opposition all the time. And they’re sitting on like this genius idea, and no one will give them the time of day.
Nate Quigley 12:36
Yeah. Oh, man. You know, I think that what’s great about 2017 is you don’t actually have to win these arguments. You can just go do it and prove it. Like we’re, we’re someone is not seeing it because it’s 2017. And this is not true for all ideas, but for, I think lots of ideas. The it’s so easy to sort of build a prototype, you know, to sort of Build a little version 0.01 and just launch it, you know? Yeah. And so I think that’s that, that’s probably the best advice I would have is because I don’t think I even believe that, you know, it’s my wife, I really want to believe her, but I’m kind of like really precarious room like, who’s gonna pay for that? Who’s going to buy Do you want that? But, you know, I was a guy, I didn’t get it until I actually, you know, got the first bunch of Chatbooks in the mail and see them on our bookshelf and see our kids looking at them. And I’m like, okay, but because it’s because it you know, you don’t have to raise $10 million dollars in venture capital to launch a beta. Like you did you know, when I first started my career coming out of business school,
Nate Quigley 13:42
you just build a little thing and get it out there and see what happens.
Justin Brady 13:46
Yeah, I mean, well, you guys have obviously raised a lot of money now and people are starting to take notice TechCrunch Forbes ad week, or just a few of the people that have covered what you’re up to.
Nate Quigley 13:59
it’s every Really, we’ve been really, really fortunate. We’ve had great press, we have an amazing chief marketing officer who comes out of the publishing industry, and just sort of knows how to help reporters find industry story and, and she does a fantastic job of, of helping us get our story out there. We have a great PR agency as well, that’s, you know, done a great job for us. So, I think it is a fun enough story that people are kind of inclined to want to learn a little bit more. And as a result, we had, you know, hundreds and hundreds of press hits last year.
Justin Brady 14:30
Now, I mean, what’s what’s some advice, though, for like, because not everyone wants to start a company? I mean, as you know, very well, it can be not it can be it is a giant, and yeah. You know, it can be terror sometimes. Yeah. But you know, what’s, what’s the advice for someone who really does have a great idea in an organization like, how can they be heard is, is there a way for them to be heard or made? Or maybe, are they stuck with the only option of going out on their own?
Nate Quigley 14:57
You know, yeah, I guess you don’t, you don’t have to launch a product. per se, there’s there’s a million other ways to sort of get some data. But I think that’s people like to see facts, right. They like to see data and proof. And if they if they just kind of inherently don’t believe you, I think the onus is on you to just prove them wrong. And you can either, you know, build something and see if people actually want to use it, or you can do a search on go sign for call tricks like to do a little, get some market data, you know, that somehow proves your point, that, you know, you’re not the only person in the world that thinks this is right, this, this print photos thing was a huge blind spot for us. So me and the team of four guys that were working on, effectively the same mission, but in a different way. We heard people along the way saying, Hey, this is really cool. This software you built that I kind of want to be able to print it, and we would just sort of brush it off. Like we just weren’t hearing it. And it wasn’t until you know, my wife who we have, obviously a special relationship when she tells me I’m like, wait, what do you say and it It kind of clicked for me for the first time because she was able to kind of just grab me and box me outside the ears a little bit, right? Listen, where I’d heard I want to print this or I want this in a book from from other customers. On this other product we’ve been working on, it was sort of related or tangential. But there wasn’t wasn’t working. And I just had kind of missed it.
Nate Quigley 16:22
If you can’t get someone to listen, just, you know, show them a chart.
Justin Brady 16:28
I think the flip side of that for leaders is make sure you’re listening.
Nate Quigley 16:31
Justin Brady 16:32
And it’s like, think about, think about the person that you truly love the most in your life. I mean, for you, maybe that’s your wife, Nate. But, you know, for someone else, maybe it’s their Grandma, maybe it’s their mom, maybe it’s their dad, listen to everybody with the same care, love and respect. And we listened to that person. Because how easy was it Nate for you to come almost completely missed this groundbreaking idea that you’re
Nate Quigley 16:54
Justin Brady 16:54
And it was your own wife.
Nate Quigley 16:56
No, I know. Absolutely. Yeah, there’s this. There’s an IT. There’s a It’s a bit of a tough problem for I think entrepreneurs and leaders Anyway, there’s so much noise in the world that you do have to block out or you just lose your mind you may go crazy if you if you if you if you’re listening to absolutely everything you hear and taking it really seriously, I think you probably go crazy after a month or two of that. So there is a lot of like signal and noise blocking you have to do and for an entrepreneur, especially there’s so much negativity there’s like, you know, why’d you quit that job? How come you didn’t take this other job while you’re doing this thing is totally stupid Facebook’s gonna kill you. I mean, there’s just no end to the to the sort of negative inputs coming at you that you get pretty good at like ignoring things you know, you have to kind of be a little bit insane and just think that the world is wrong and you’re right. But at the end the process you can block out some really important signals that that you need to be somehow able to pick up on so there’s this weird combination of bull headedness and humility.
Justin Brady 17:56
Nate Quigley 17:56
…that you somehow have to get right. And I but I like your idea of you know, What if everyone is your wife? And you’re really trying to understand what she’s saying and why she’s saying it? Yeah, you, you probably would, you know, pick up on these things a lot earlier, we should certainly would have.
Justin Brady 18:11
Yeah. And I call it the LET principle. Listen, empathize and trust, I always argue that the one thing that separates the remarkably creative companies from the non creative, stagnant ones is it comes down to only that, you know, it’s a companies that listen, empathize and trust. So I call it the left principle, and it has three facets and you know, that’s what the facet,
Nate Quigley 18:31
I like it.
Justin Brady 18:32
One of the things that we always ask every single person who comes on here because, you know, I think every single person’s creative, I just think that some people self limits and they don’t believe it about themselves and that’s, you know, that’s, that’s tragic. But, you know, one of the goals of this podcast is to help them get over that hump and realize their creative, but you have something that I call like, demonstrated creative success like you know, it’s no one can argue that you guys have been successful. Filled with a really creative idea and that you could be considered like a creative leader. No one will no one’s going to argue that, you know, to me it’s tangible.
Nate Quigley 19:07
Every accounting major an MBA aspires to, to get that little merit badge you just gave me. So thank you very much.
Justin Brady 19:16
ha ha ha
Nate Quigley 19:16
We’re not typically we don’t typically earn those awards. So I’ll take it.
Justin Brady 19:21
Now you say your accounting.
Nate Quigley 19:23
I was an accounting major at BYU. I went to McKinsey for a couple of years and consulting I, you know, got an MBA.
Justin Brady 19:30
Well, I’ll be done. So accountants can be creative!
Nate Quigley 19:32
There you go. there but i’m gonna i’m going to take the award you just gave me Yeah, you better take it celebrate it. Yeah.
Justin Brady 19:38
I hear so many times where I was talking with Dan pink in the last episode, and we hear so many times about how there’s this these the there are these creative people. And then there’s the uncreated people. And you know, we even have names for them, like designers, and marketers and videographers, we call them we call them creatives, we actually call them that, which is the dumbest label. Because here, you know, the co founder of chatbooks would not be considered creative, it’s the dumbest thing ever anyway. So we ask the same thing to every single guest successful people like yourself. And that is, name one thing we can implement right now to cultivate more creativity from our staff, our team, or from ourselves, and I should clarify with all the listeners that you can’t be a jerk boss or mean and not love your employees and actually have this tip, any tip work. If you don’t treat your employees with respect, there’s nothing in the world you can do to make a creative culture so name one thing we can implement right now to cultivate more creativity from our staff, our team or from ourselves.
Nate Quigley 20:45
Yeah, okay. So we, we have we have a thing that it probably is going to sound silly kind of out of context for for us, it’s really important and it’s this we just say keep it weird. And what we mean by that, you know, in our little in our kinda little culture Deck is that we are not optimizing for productivity at Chatbooks and and we’re optimizing for creativity, we need these weird breakthroughs. And you can only get weird breakthroughs. I don’t know, maybe not. We’re right. But like the kind of the breakthrough idea that actually has a big impact does not come from, you know, really tightly holding the reins and making sure we don’t waste any time anywhere. We actually waste time, like on purpose. And we want to, we want our team to understand that. While there are there are moments where we just have to crank something out and we know what it is and we have to put our heads down and just been busted out. We’re about 100 and something people now and we want to we want everyone to feel like they’re still in that five person pre product market fit startup, at least parts of the day and week. Sure, so they can just explore and just sort of do something goofy that probably won’t work but you know, you never know might be the thing that it actually is the future of the company.
Nate Quigley 22:00
So we have this wall in the in the company, we had some local artists come in and paint this kind of crazy, you know, Beatles LSD mural kind of thing. On the on the wall we called the weird wall. And it’s just kind of a reminder that we’ve got a, we’ve got a, we’ve got to be optimizing for creativity and not process we actually want a little bit of chaos in the building and we’re, we’re okay with it like, so I think the thing you can implement is you can if you’re trying to get a lot of creativity, you just you can say, as a leader in the company, let’s waste a little time let’s like let’s do some things that may not work. Let’s just kind of not program every minute and let our incredibly creative people and talented people just sort of run a little bit. My wife used to ride a horse fair back all the time in high school in Florida where she grew up. And I like that idea of like that kind of writing where the horse is kind of doing a lot of going and she’s kind of going with it versus like the bitten bridle and you know pulling up sharp so we’ve talked about kind of keeping the link the the reins loose and just keeping it weird so we’ve got a million Portland keep it weird pictures and our favorite Portland is skits and and just all that kind of one example from this keep a weird principle. There’s a little prototype that one of our designers built that we ended up calling Chinder. Because it was like the Tinder of your photos you swipe left if you didn’t want the phone in and swipe right if you did, it was like this silly thing that everyone’s laughing like, you know, we were showing all the single people in the office and they were like helping us tweak the UI a little bit to make it more like Tinder.
Nate Quigley 23:41
And lo and behold, like we we kind of launched it to 10% of our, of our of our traffic and a bunch of people started using it. And then we we launched it to everybody and now it’s 50% of our subscriptions are using this Tinder interface. And we still call it Chinder internally. We don’t even Know what they call it in the app, we don’t really call it anything because it’s so ridiculous. But we all laugh about how half of our subscriptions now are Chinder subscriptions where they just subscribe to their camera roll, and then swipe left and right. To add a photo or, or, you know, kick it out.
Justin Brady 24:18
I talk a lot about fear based leadership as well. And so a leader, a fear based leader, or maybe one who’s, you know, somewhat scared, would probably ask, you know, well, what about metrics? You know, this whole keep it weird. Can you tie that down to real productivity and real results? And I think that would make them scared. But can you? I mean, is there any way to even tie that into any metrics at all?
Nate Quigley 24:47
I mean, we, we measure, we measure everything. We’re super geeky and data driven, have an awesome BI team and just in general, everyone in the company likes numbers and likes data. So we like to measure if these things work or not. And then you decide if you’re going to invest more or just sort of let that one go and try some other weird thing. But just the principle in general of not trying to program every minute, I really don’t want to hand out a bunch of task lists, and you can barely get to the end of your list and you go home and crash and come back the next day, right, you know, another set of marching orders. We really want to we hire for people who, who want some space and then can creatively use that space to come up with, we think, some breakthrough ideas.
Justin Brady 25:32
So you kind of let let some things happen, and then look back later and say, is this working or did that work? Yeah, exactly. Because you can’t really prove viability up front for some of this stuff.
Nate Quigley 25:43
That’s, I mean, that’s the thing — it comes back to the pre product market fit startup where you’re just experimenting all the time and measuring. And if you’re if you’re not experimenting, fast and experimenting, orthogonal II and just kind of doing crazy things, you’re not going to find that That thing that is true, but that no one else knows is true.
Justin Brady 26:03
And this is this is interesting because just I think it was last week I was having I was on a panel. And the one of the questions asked is how can innovation and creativity happen in a, you know, either a company culture or a or organizational culture without sacrifice or, you know, what, how can you really innovate and push forward without sacrificing productivity is it was the question said.
Nate Quigley 26:30
I am Yeah, you do sacrifice.
Justin Brady 26:32
And that’s exactly what I said.
Nate Quigley 26:34
Justin Brady 26:34
One of the other panelists very strongly took objection to that. But I was like, I think that in order to push innovation and creativity forward, you have no option but to sacrifice.
Nate Quigley 26:46
Yeah, I agree. I mean, I think it’s you do have to kind of keep checking yourself. Well, of course, make sure you’re making any progress but
Justin Brady 26:54
Right, right, I’m not I’m not suggesting people just throw money and and burn it. ha ha ha
Nate Quigley 27:00
You do have to kind of tell your team, hey, it’s okay to just, you know, go wander in the wilderness for half a second here, just, you know, just do your thing.
Justin Brady 27:09
Yeah, you might know, in some big cases, you might lose a bunch of money. And, you know, that’s that’s kind of necessary.
Nate Quigley 27:15
Yeah, we’ve we’ve launched a few products that were duds that we, you know, we thought they were going to work, we thought they were going to be interesting. And, you know, we just they weren’t people just didn’t didn’t care about it.
Justin Brady 27:25
Well, I appreciate you. Oh, sorry. Go ahead.
Nate Quigley 27:28
No, I was just gonna say, I think you have to, you have to stay kind of explicitly in the culture. And you almost have to as you as our company’s grown, we’ve had to fight the instinct to kind of solve all the chaos because we’re all we’re all problem solvers. You know, waste and inefficiency does kind of drive you crazy. So when someone processes a big huge mess, like there’s this really strong instinct to kind of get in there and fix it. And there is some of that that’s needed. But I just we have this keep it weird principle in the little weird wall in the office, just to remind ourselves, we’re not going to try to On a railroad here, like, it’s going to be weird, it’s going to be chaotic. And that’s we’re looking for that that’s part of that’s part of our plan.
Justin Brady 28:07
Well, I’m going to email this episode of the person who disagree with me on the panel and laugh at him. And I’m just kidding. I’m totally kidding. He was he was a great guy. We had a disagreement.
Justin Brady 28:15
One of the other big things I always like to ask, and I’m glad you clarified that, by the way, that’s, you know, that’s, I think that’s a really great answer. And I think everybody can implement that right now. Just, you know, trust, trust your people, let them experiment on some things and trust them. You hired smart people for crying out loud, let them be smart. Yeah. So another thing we always like to ask everybody, because we typically get the idea that, you know, people like yourself have just succeeded in everything and never had to experiment or fail. And so a lot of people right now that are maybe doing their own startup and they’re going through failure, and maybe they’re having a dark tough time just they sometimes can get the idea that you know, this just, this doesn’t happen to any of the successful people. I’m a failure in life and this is why I’m never going to make it so we like to talk to the innovators right now that are in the dark space as well. And we like to connect them with these leaders like yourself that are doing great things. So name one incredibly named name a big personal failure. And the incredible lesson you learned from that catastrophe and how it made you who you are today.
Nate Quigley 29:19
Yeah, oh, man. Well, so I’ve had, you know, plenty of dark hours in, in the wilderness as a startup entrepreneur, in the one that, you know, comes to mind, I think I alluded to it as sort of before my wife was able to sort of say, hey, dingdong like print my Instagram. We spent a good, you know, three years, me and a team of four other developers and the designer, you know, building software that nobody cared about that nobody wanted to use. And, you know, the huge It was a very tough time. Because I thought at that point, I actually knew how to be an entrepreneur. This is my third company, and I you know, Identity Business School I’d been in consulting, I’d been to other startups and growth tech companies and I cannot that Okay, cool. Now I’m going to do the one I wanted to do, right?
Nate Quigley 30:11
Those, I kind of learned a whole bunch of stuff. And in startup number one is started number two, and they both went pretty well. And now I’m ready to build the company, you know that I want to have chiseled into my tombstone. And it’s going to be about helping people hold on to their family memories and stories. We have mentioned this, we have a big family of seven kids. And it’s sort of our whole world and we have, you know, all these amazing experiences with these kids that we love so much within with our other extended family. And we wanted to capture that and be able to share that and organize it and enjoy it and safeguard it. So I marched off with these with a technical co founder that I really liked. He was very talented engineer and we’ve recruited a couple other great people. And we just started building this thing I had in my head, you know, that I wanted to build for for a long time. And we didn’t really listen to anybody, we just kind of put our heads down and went into a little cave and build built built. And I was coming off of both of the earlier companies were enterprise companies, to enterprise software enterprise systems. And I kind of built this giant ERP system almost for family memories. And you know, lo and behold, nobody wanted to use it was it was like, way too complicated. And you had to have 20 people like get really committed and do about actual work for it to start to be interesting. At the same time, and you know, duh, like, that didn’t work.
Nate Quigley 31:37
But I was so bullheaded about it so stubborn, like the world needs this thing, that I just wasn’t really listening to feedback. And as people would come in, use it for a little while and then quit. You know, I wasn’t going to say with a whole lot of humility, like how come you left? I was sort of like, man, well, there, there’s bad user. You know, it was it was amazing and I dug that hole for A good solid two and a half, three years. Wow, before we really start on the on this Chatbooks idea that my what you know, my wife came to, and I think her idea was, in some ways a reaction to what we were doing, you know, she should have been incredibly patient and supportive and like, Well, you know, you go do your thing. But we, you know, we’ve burned through a ton of our own money and would burn through some investor money, and he would just work nowhere. And it was getting a little grim. You know, yeah, not a little grandma a lot grim.
Nate Quigley 32:30
And I think that part of you know, her instinct was printed photos, you know, were a thing. And then her other really important instinct was and you better make this one simple, right? I don’t want to, I don’t want to learn anything. I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to look at your stupid app. Like I’m already using Instagram and Facebook and I don’t want to use anything else. And and at that point, we were finally sort of I was personally ground down enough that I was I was able to kind of hear the, the clarity in that and be like, Whoa, that’s it.
Justin Brady 33:00
Yeah, sometimes it takes that, sometimes takes life just to beat the snot out of you before you listen.
Nate Quigley 33:05
Yeah, well, that’s what happened to me so, that my, you know, my big career mistake. My career has been going pretty well up to that point, you know, hadn’t really had a big setback. And so I think I was overconfident. And I spent a couple of years sort of like not listening and you know, thinking I was the, the, the genius you know, in the in the design room is going to emerge with the iPhone or whatever. And, you know, that happens to some people, but no, not in this case. I needed to be a lot more humble and a lot, you know, a lot more actively listening to the feedback we were getting. And when I finally got there, you know, we, we we turned the company around and started Chatbooks
Justin Brady 33:47
Nate Quigley, CEO and co founder of Chatbooks, thank you very much for coming on the show and talking to all of us today.
Nate Quigley 33:55
Hey, my pleasure. I really enjoyed it.
Justin Brady 33:57
How Now I do want before I let you go, how can people learn more about you? How can they connect and how can they go get a subscription and Chatbooks?
Nate Quigley 34:06
Yeah, Chatbook.com will have everything you need. You can also just go to the App Store and search Chatbooks either on Android or iPhone and that’ll you’ll get off and running. And then I’m just @NJquickly on Twitter.
Justin Brady 34:18
Awesome. Nate, thank you so much for spending time with us today.
Nate Quigley 34:21
My pleasure. Thanks for the opportunity.
This transcript was automatically transcribed by otter.ai. If you find any errors, please hit the menu button below and “contact” to let me know.
Jody J. Foster, MD discusses the office schmuck, how to deal with him or her and how to know if you are one!
Dr. Foster is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry in the Pearlman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and got her MBA from Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and works with executives in her own practice.
When it comes to entrepreneurship and how to amplify your own message and mission, I have a lot of resources for you. Learn more about how to rank higher in search engines, how to amplify your message, and I’ll even send you a guide to get you in the media in 10 days.
Imagine working on a project that would change human history? Ken Kocienda was enlisted to be a part of project purple, the code name for the super-secret iPhone team at Apple. Kocienda discusses creativity in the Steve Jobs era, how his biggest failure led him to be among the first eight software people on the iPhone project, and how he doesn’t mind your ducking autocorrect criticism.
Kocienda has written down what made Apple great, in his book Creative Selection. In it, he tells stories about his work on Safari, iPad, iPhone during Steve Jobs’ leadership. A few key lessons that stick out to me are his takes on decisiveness, taste, and disagreement.
Kocienda told me decisiveness at Apple was a big deal. It was instrumental in making ground-breaking products. When Apple team members created demos, teams would make clear decisions on what to do next. Always. Even if they were wrong decisions, team leaders would still make concrete decisions and move forward.
Most of this comes from Jobs himself. He was very clear and decisive on everything. You can’t really know at the moment if a decision is right. Twenty more decisions down the road may be necessary to know for sure. Making bad decisions was actually quite useful. Committing to a bad decision, clearly showed teams not only what didn’t work, but why.
Disagreement Is Key To Collaboration At Apple
In order to make products turn out well, individual judgment, personal taste, and subjective viewpoints were required. Only when everyone’s personal taste was on the table, could Apple teams find balance. Everyone had their own subjectivity, but their opinions were all balanced by other, possibly incorrect views. Kocienda explains this is really hard work. It leads to disagreement.
Disagreement was pervasive and encouraged at Apple. Jobs may have been intimating, but he often wanted people to challenge each other, and team leaders encouraged that culture. “We had mutual acceptance of each other’s opinions.” Kocienda recounted. “You have to accept—really truly accept when someone tells you that they like or don’t like something. They express their personal subjective taste to you. Sometimes this can be really difficult to accept emotionally.”
It’s hard because you invest yourself in something for weeks, and then a team member tells you something is terrible. Instead of putting the barriers up, truly accepting the feedback and work through it is necessary for a boundary-breaking company. “When you do a piece of work, and the first person you show it to says ‘gosh, I really don’t like that,’ that person probably represents millions of people throughout the world.”
Accepting feedback, but also fighting for your own ideas is how Apple maintaied its incredible ideas during the Jobs era. There is no way to innovate without requesting, and accepting critical feedback and disagreement.
Get access to special guests and alerts for new podcast guests. Also, get Justin Brady’s exclusive strategies for getting your ideas heard at work and in your business community.
Stephan Paternot is the father of social networking, co-founding TheGlobe.com and is the author of A Very Public Offering. He’s also co-founder & CEO of Slated, the world’s first online film finance marketplace.
Theglobe.com was founded in 1994 and the company made history when it went public in 1998 with a one billion dollar, record-setting evaluation. Over a six-year span, the company grew to over 300 employees, and the website became one of the top thirty most trafficked sites in the world, and in 1999 Paternot won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
National Geographic has featured Stephan Paternot in their new series, Valley of the Boom. He gives sound investing advice from his unique and discusses why going public is the last resort not a metric of success.
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Justin Brady 0:04
Stephan Paternot oh yeah that’s that’s who’s with us Steph pattern now author of a very public author excuse me a very public offering. Co founder and CEO of slated the world’s first online film finance marketplace stuff thanks for joining us I maybe you should just host the show I’m choking all over myself.
Stephan Paternot 0:34
My pleasure. Good to be here
Justin Brady 0:36
you’re you’re best known for of course co founding one of the first internet community sites the globe 1994 and you know most people are going to be familiar with that. But now you’ve been featured in this new thing the National Geographic is up to called valley of the boom What are you doing in this thing? What What is this?
Stephan Paternot 0:59
It is a series that I unwittingly became one of the subjects of which is about the birth of the internet and sort of came out of the blue the year or two ago, I actually thought it was going to be a documentary, which I’ve done many times before. And I would just be interviewed and be a talking head and some sort of dry documentary about the internet. And it actually turns out it’s a scripted series, sort of high energy a ton of fun about the rise of the Internet with it follows three companies Netscape, the globe calm, and his third company pixel on and they basically use those as examples of, you know, Netscape was the pre Google company. The Globe was the pre Facebook company and pixel on was the pre YouTube company. And it’s a crazy narrative that was created by Matthew Carnahan and this guy’s a creative genius. I would I just participated as an interviewee and discovered later that it was this scripted series and that they were casting people named Marc Andreessen and stuff pattern. Oh, and I was a little bit horrifying at first, but ultimately, I’m, you know, pretty flattered and humbled that they’ve selected our company to portray the the rise of the Internet as well as the.com bubble burst, because our company was pretty iconic at the time for the rise and fall of that era.
Justin Brady 2:27
So the globe, the globe. com went public in 1998. And at the time you had this just massive record setting IPO, and what was the company valuation at that point?
Stephan Paternot 2:42
Well, it was on the day, the IPO went to a, like one $1.1 billion,
which was insane only because the day before it was a company price that look, call it 150 million dollars. And we became best known for Unfortunately, it was that first day IPO run up of 1,000%, which didn’t happen because of anything magical. My partner and I did when we were doing our roadshow, it it was like a confluence of events, the market turning around a huge amount of pent up interest by investors and getting into dot coms. And maybe a little bit because this whole notion of creating the this virtual community is social network got it piqued people’s interest. So everybody bought into our stock like crazy, the stock price ran up like this insane thousand percent. And I think we were just as bewildered about what was happening. And at the end of that first day, my partner and I, you know, we were just to 24 year old kids, what seemed like a reasonable business we’ve been building for four years before suddenly felt like this massive amount of pressure on us and huge expectations by the world. And that was sort of the beginning of the.com IPO mania, followed by the followed by the gradual deflation and the bubble bursting, two years later. So
Justin Brady 4:08
now over the six year span, the globe grew to over 300 employees. And the website was one of the top 30 not I did not know this, by the way, but it was one of the top 30 most traffic sites in the world. And you ended up getting the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. I mean, was this I think a lot of people kind of look to Facebook as the beginning of those social media sites. But that’s not that’s kind of what the global was. Right.
Stephan Paternot 4:36
I mean, there’s, you know, as they say, the the road to success is littered with the dead corpses of the pioneers along the way, right, where we’re one of those guys. Yeah, it’s, you know, I think the only people who are going to remember the globe story are really the.com, 1.0,
here are the people who lived in it. And we’re building stuff back then. Right? So for most people, today, there’s 2 billion plus people using the internet, they don’t remember what the what it was, like, on the internet for the first hundred million users. When we started the globe, there were only five to 10 million internet users. And, and even at our peak in 2000, 2001, there were maybe 200 million internet users, 20 million of them were hitting our servers every month. Yeah, that seems it seems like a lot for us back then. But today, that’s a drop in the bucket, right? Compared to Facebook, or compared to people who use iPhones or Android devices. It’s, it’s nothing. So you know, this is sort of like a fun walk down memory lane, quite frankly. And
yeah, we were inadvertently, we didn’t know what we were creating back then would be a the first social network, we were calling a virtual community. And it was this idea that you could now live online, quote, unquote, and get to join clubs and communities and interact with people around topics of interest, right. So we were creating things, chat rooms, and forums, and what we called free homepages, homepage hosting, and we gave people publishing tools so they could create their own little space and have their own little news feed and photo albums and all these different things. Which, of course, 10 years later became like a your Facebook wall,
Justin Brady 6:11
right. Right now,
Stephan Paternot 6:12
we’re used to right now.
Justin Brady 6:15
It’s just baked into almost every website nowadays. That whole model
Stephan Paternot 6:19
Yeah, social networking, which really became woven into the fabric of the internet or.com two point O or web two point O is now the norm. We’re all used to that, right? We’re now starting to look at web 3.0, the evolution of blockchain. And by the way, that is a really a completely new beginning of reinvention of how the internet works, which is part of the reason why this this TV series that came out on nowhere valley of the boom, the timing couldn’t be better, because it’s a 25 year look back at the beginning of the Internet, and how did we get here, and it’s become highly relevant again, because of what’s gone on with the internet. The internet is sort of become distant, boarded and worked from the original utopian vision. Everyone here is now addicted to social media and, and people’s personal information that they’re pouring online is now being weaponized against them in subtle ways. And everyone’s starting to think there’s something really dark and distorted about the internet. And it needs a course correction. But to be able to do that, you need to be able to look back and I think everybody that was racing along, like we were back in the day, you know, you just had this pure vision, it was back in the days before money, corrupted the whole thing. And, you know, it was all about, let’s live online, and make the world a global village and make it easy to shop and make it easy to connect with people and all these great, wonderful things. And, of course, there’s a flip side to all of those things that I just described. So Oh, go ahead. Well, I was gonna say, so for people to really take a lesson away from all this, you need to be able to look back, right? Otherwise, you’re destined to keep repeating, right? Same patterns, right, so now we’re at this inflection point, blockchains coming along with a whole new young generation of entrepreneurs. It’s not people like me who are reinventing the internet. It’s the next generation of young kids who have grown up with the internet from day one. They’re the ones who didn’t know about the globe, probably never heard of Netscape. And they’re the ones who seem to be most interested actually, in this TV series, or, or my book, or whatever it is, that’s helping them go back and live through how we got here in the first place.
Justin Brady 8:27
I mean, looking back, you know, talking about history, we see we see companies in the news now that are I mean, Lyft and Uber going to be there IPOs been in the news all the time. And that’s a really hot topic right now. I mean, if you could share with them information, or coach them right now? Is, is the IPO the magical it? Is it is this the metric the pinnacle of success, or is it not?
Stephan Paternot 8:53
Well, I unfortunately, it’s still represents a mile milestone that people want to achieve. And I say, unfortunately, because we lived through it, and I got to see firsthand how corrupting how the the system the whole IPO process of going public, as well as what the SEC then requires you to do as a public company. Sure, negatively negatively game defied the system, it was intended to help protect small, unsuspecting and experienced investors, right, transparency, quarterly reporting, making sure that companies operate at the highest of standards, once they’re public, right, it’s certainly done is massively rewarded short term bumps and your stock interest. And it’s it’s the very thing that happened in 2008 with the market collapse where we slowly started questioning capitalism, you know, in its in its entirety, which is, wait a second, if everyone is being rewarded for sure, term gains. And of course, you know, day traders and shareholders they’re all in it, right? They want they want to map they want as much to make as much profit selling stocks as fast as they possibly can, right truly in it for the revolution of the company.
They’re not really in it to see if they can change the world over a 1020 year horizon, they want to make a quick buck in the market rewards that and so that’s what led to the 2008 2009 collapse where your Dodd Frank had to come in, and there was this whole notion of like, let’s create clawbacks so that when short term gains lead to long term pain, we can try to grab those profits back from the people who benefited and try to course correct Well, that’s what IPOs are still today. And they’re necessary because once you get really big and some of your shareholders want to sell their positions or company wants to raise even more money, there is no alternative you can only raise so many billions privately before you have to go public. Sure. So that’s, you know, I commiserate with with a lot of people about the public markets being broken because they need to be fixed, it would be great if you didn’t need to go public in order to keep creating your company and making it successful and being able to let some of your shareholders out who want to sell their their gains, but it hasn’t changed yet. And so I’m you know, I talked about this when Mark Zuckerberg was taking Facebook public, I posted publicly on his Facebook wall a letter to mark saying, you know, beware of going public here.
The benefits of course, we all know of the cash infusion and the credibility it adds to your company. And it’s it’s a sexy trophy to have if you like, but but the downside will be that you’ll have 10s of thousands of more shareholders yelling and screaming at every dip in your stock, you’ll have hundreds or thousands of more journalists yelling and screaming from from the bleachers telling you how you should run your business. And you’re going to have to build a really thick skin to here past all that noise. And by the way, once your public you really, truly lose the ability to make big, bold, risky bets, right? Because you got to manage your business. Sure, yeah, very carefully and becomes a business of incremental optimization instead of big bets. And of course, now I watched Zuckerberg and what’s going on and he’s going through all of this
Justin Brady 12:20
right Absolutely. Well, and then it also reminds me of a Ilan musk tweeting, you know, something that I would have never imagined would get anybody in trouble. Just I, you know, you is, it was, um, at least knowing Ilan Well, not knowing him. But watching the guy, it seems like the way when he tweeted, I’m just going to buy all this stock, it was very genuine. And he was probably actually going to do it. And then that’s, that ended up getting him in in trouble. He almost lost his entire company, I mean, got kicked out. So you know, that that right there, I think is a perfect picture of what you’re talking about. Once you go public, you lose even what I would call common sense control things, you should be able to tweet whatever you want. But because he’s the CEO and founder, he can’t.
Stephan Paternot 13:07
That’s correct. And Elon Musk is a great example of a brilliant risk taking entrepreneur, right? It’s his, it’s his brilliance, his perseverance is crazy vision that allowed him to create the world’s first electric car company at scale, right. And it’s him, it’s his, again, crazy vision and ability to take massive financial risks for years on end that allowed him to finally make his fourth rocket launch successful and then usher in this new era with SpaceX. Right. And he’s doing the same thing with Solar City and battery technology. And by the way, there was another entrepreneur 20 plus years ago that I admired was the Elon Musk of the time that was Richard Branson. Yeah. And he famously took virgin public and then only ended up within yours truly regretting it and successfully taking virgin private again And ever since ever since he successfully took it private, he’s been able to keep innovating and doing all the types of things with airlines and aerospace and whatever other ambitions he’s had and keep innovating and inspiring generations of entrepreneurs so the big point is is going public is actually something that mostly your shareholders want who’ve been along for the ride and want to cash out right it’s not something that the person who has to keep running the business necessarily wants in fact it’ll it’ll generally start to work against them the longer they’re running their company publicly
Justin Brady 14:31
is the SEC kind of I don’t know like the stoic just say no I don’t want to get off my butt boss is that kind of the role like for anybody working in corporate America is that kind of the role they play the you know no I don’t want to deal with it kind of crotchety old guy,
Stephan Paternot 14:49
I don’t know, the SEC there. They there The intent is a good one right, is to protect, create standards, protect the unsuspecting and try to set up rules that help everybody because you know, you you know what to aim for. It’s just that those rules haven’t evolved fast enough in the internet age. And they don’t truly I feel like they don’t really take into account the research that shows the impact of innovation risk taking, right that occurs or the loss that occurs of that once companies have gone public. So it just, it just seems like they need to evolve and course correct and prevent, again, the types of market meltdowns that occurred in 2008, 2009,
Justin Brady 15:40
right. I mean, it just kind of kind of seemed like when its IPO time innovations done, and now it’s just going to be this general boring company
Stephan Paternot 15:48
Justin Brady 15:48
and maybe that’s an unfair categorization.
Stephan Paternot 15:52
but it’s it’s not that unfair, because what happens with those companies become big, that instead of truly innovating, which is what got them to be huge in the first place, they start optimizing and what you do and start optimizing yet, you still have to keep increasing your revenues at the fastest pace possible to excite shareholders. Well, your only choice then, is to go by companies that are innovating, right, so big companies end up buying lots of private companies that are making the big bold bets. And what happens is, is that you keep buying those companies it keeps goosing are your top line it keeps helping your bottom line. But you have to keep meeting the next year’s goal. So you then keep buying and buying and buying. And what happens inevitably, is that you get big and bloated, unfocused. And by the way, that’s a lesson for all entrepreneurs, big and small, right? Which is that the less focused you are, the more diluted you become. And that’s where you eventually go off the rails, you need to stay focused and to stay focused. It means turning away all these other great amazing shiny ideas and objects and companies that you might want to copy or buy. So big going public, again, it it works against you in these initially very subtle ways. And that eventually, in bigger and bigger ways until all you’re doing is managing your stock you’re no longer managing innovation and changing the world
Justin Brady 17:16
so I mean, what does it look like them too, and I want to get onto slated eventually as well. Want to talk more about that as well. But I mean, generally speaking, given how quickly things move, giving how quickly business evolves in the environment today, what does it actually mean to be a leader in this rapidly changing business environment these days? Does it does it mean something different than it did 20, 30 years ago?
Stephan Paternot 17:43
Yes, I think leadership and the what it means the definition of it, the practice of it, the best practices of it have evolved dramatically. I think 20 plus years ago, that wasn’t a real field of study, certainly not. And so Valley, it was all about just innovate, innovate, innovate, move as fast as you can. But I think leadership now has become something you can measure. And you can look at particular leaders and see what makes them great, and also what makes them knots over eight. And, you know, in the era of me to movements, that’s a whole there’s a whole other angle, a whole other lens to look through at the topic of leadership. And I think it’s something it’s, it’s a topic that I care about deeply because I felt that I was not a great leader. When I was running the globe. I mean, I was straight. I was in college, I was a 20 year old kid, I didn’t know anything about leadership. And over the next four years, we grew our company to 300 employees. And I, you know, I was learning on the fly, but resting taught and I did my partner and I did at the time as we were hiring senior leadership that was much older and wiser than we were so that they could help us manage it. I mean, very much like Zuckerberg got.
I’m totally blanking right now. Sheryl Sandberg. We needed our Sheryl Sandberg. At the time now, after Gosh, has been 20 years, almost nearly 20 years since the globe since left the globe… it’s become a topic that I’m really fascinated by. And I constantly aspire to improve myself to become the leader I’d always imagined. Yeah, and that means really just maturing right, with age and time. And I’ve been I sat on both sides of the table where I’ve been an entrepreneur and I’ve been an active angel investor, I’ve now invested in 50 plus companies over the last 10 years and gotten to learn you know, what, what is it I look for, as an investor in leadership and teams that I invest in what makes a great team what ultimately makes a great business and by the way, no great surprise it’s all about the team. It doesn’t matter what their idea is, how crazy it is, or how seemingly boring an idea is. There’s a there’s a great team you just can write your check you can sit back and relax because great team will iterate until they succeed and a poor team No matter how much advice you try to give Won’t they won’t succeed ultimately so you need to just learn to recognize great talent and get out of their way
Justin Brady 20:13
they, sorry… go ahead and finish that thought.
Stephan Paternot 20:17
well so now as having put back on my CEO hat with slated I’ve had a chance now to put into practice all the things I learned that of what makes a good leader and I had been a reluctance CEO. Ever since the globe. I had no intent of running another company. I was very happy and comfortable just writing checks from the sidelines and investing in second generation of entrepreneurs rebuilding the internet. But eventually, I found myself with a passion project that I thought was addressing a massive industry that needed fixing, which was the film industry and ended up co founding a company called slated, which is now the world’s first film finance marketplace. But I didn’t initially come into it as a CEO. I did everything I could to not be CEO and family.
Justin Brady 21:07
No, I don’t want that again. Ha ha
Stephan Paternot 21:09
Yeah, no, I mean, what, what do you get burned, and you have all this emotional baggage, you know, right? You, you change your trajectory in your life to avoid burning yourself again, there. But what I discovered along the way, when, when the company had launched and was was growing, but growing modestly, was that I may need to actually roll my sleeves up and dive in again. And to help the company out. And also, I realized, wait a second, I’ve learned so much. And he’s last 20 years, maybe I am ready to be a CEO again. And over these last four or five years that I’ve been co slated, I discovered amazingly, that it fit me like a glove again. And this time, the glove fit really well in a way that it didn’t fit 20 years ago.
Justin Brady 21:54
And I was all those all those mistakes, you remember. And you’re picking up on them.
Stephan Paternot 21:58
Yeah, it’s the think about making mistakes. And then with time, looking back and recognizing them in their totality, and in their fullness. So now you don’t feel threatened by now. You don’t feel embarrassed about your mistakes. Now, you actually enjoy the mistakes you made and find new ways to tackle them.
Justin Brady 22:14
Yeah, the terror is not there anymore. Just the lesson learned so for people see, I wasn’t familiar with slated at all until we connected. So what if you said it’s the world’s first online film finance marketplace? Is this a, like a kind of an investor type of model? How does it all work?
Stephan Paternot 22:33
Well, the the 10 second version of this is if you’re if you’re familiar with Silicon Valley, and all the different players is where we’re Angel list for the film industry.
So every time every tech entrepreneur has ever used Angel list, we will have them some context years like oh, same thing for the film industry Yes, we we basically help filmmakers assemble, you know, find a great project listed on there, assemble a team assemble financing as symbol sales and distribution is very much focused on the film industry. So different terminology. But let me give you a little more context about why I decided to dive into this thing called slated. Yeah, please do. I, I have a passion for film. I’ve watched movies since I was a kid. I don’t know anyone in the world who hasn’t. It’s one of the most widely consumed pieces of content you’ll ever experienced that and TV. And it endlessly fascinated me. And most people in the world consume film and TV and are fascinated by it, but have no idea what goes on behind the scenes, how these things get created, where they come from, you know, and I always wanted to peek behind the curtain and see how this stuff gets made. Who makes these decisions to pick a project and tell a story and what’s you know, how does one thing end up costing, you know, 10 million to make. And another one cost 200 million to make and what makes one succeed and what makes one fail. And all that was always in the back of my mind has been as I was building the globe. And ever since then I had this I had to scratch. And eventually I co founded a film production company partner mine was running it from from Los Angeles, it was called palm star, and is called palm starts still still around and succeeding. But I learned very quickly that this is a massive industry. It’s a $300 billion a year industry, it keeps growing steadily. And in fact, it’s accelerating and growth. as China’s building more theaters, India’s building more theaters into streaming streaming is come on likes, it’s not just about the article. It’s just about that just demand for content, it is exploding. As long as the population of Earth keeps climbing, and all these different, all these different cultures, and everyone wants more and more content made just for them, then you have this this supply and demand issue where more and more content needs to be made. And it’s getting harder and harder to find the winners in that content.
Justin Brady 24:54
Now, are you seeing a lot of are you seeing this incredible demand of content? Because organism like Netflix, like Amazon, like Hulu, are all trying to buy up and provide exclusive content for their networks? Is that is that partially contributing to this crazy growth increase?
Stephan Paternot 25:13
Uh, yes. And no. I mean, the growth has always been there.
But Netflix and Hulu and Apple, they’ve provided a new means for that content to reach a wider audience, which in effect means, oh, they need to feed the beast, right? So now that they’ve connected writers have millions of more people who can stream stuff and couldn’t go to the theater before. Okay, well, now they need to buy up more content. And of course, what turns out is there’s not enough content to buy up. Think of them as large companies acquiring small companies, they’re buying every single film and every single TV series they can find. And also now they’re doing their own original content, right. So they’re just signing up all the talent and telling them please just make this stuff for us. So yes, it’s, it’s, it’s raising prices. And it’s making it, you know, a more exciting and more profitable time for a lot of people to be in this business. But it was always there and big and growing. And what hasn’t changed is the process of sourcing and assembling and putting together a film that you interest. So the only thing that’s truly changed is how we access that content. What hasn’t changed in 100 years, is how it’s getting made. And that’s where slated comes in, we realize we realized there was an opportunity, which was create an online marketplace where all the talent of the world can sign up. And they can automatically connect with all of the new up and coming projects that need talent. And oh, by the way, all the investors that have ever been fascinated by film and TV can now connect with them at the point where they need financing. And then ultimately, we help greenlight those projects. And then those projects are looking for distributors. And again, that’s where Netflix comes in, and Hulu and Amazon and iTunes, and all the studios. And they can basically shop right on slated for all this content, and we’re simply assembling it far more efficiently than any studio ever could have.
Justin Brady 27:07
That’s, that’s a really awesome concept. And I mean, I feel like we could talk about that for another hour. But we do need to, we have three minutes left. And I want to get to a few things. The one thing we love to ask every guest is what is a time in your life. A lot of people look at you and they think you just kind of, you know, this guy doesn’t understand failure or pain. He just kind of things worked for him. But that’s not true. A lot of innovators go through struggles, and it’s hard and there’s failure. So name a time in your life, that you had a miserable failure, how you recovered, and how you took that to be where you are today,
Stephan Paternot 27:40
a god honestly, there are so many failures that I have, which one was that which one was the most profound one,
I think it’s… Gosh, and we may need to edit this later. Just because I’m trying to think through which was the which was the most important I think it was my
it was partly contribution of youth, but my inability to understand how to manage people, it left me feeling highly insecure, and scared because I didn’t know how to manage the 300 people that I had. And I need to then spend, I needed to spend the next 20 years learning how to manage how to work, how to work with people, how to understand them better how to communicate with them in a way that inspires them more to work with you, not for you, right. So really, I would say the failure came in part in and an inevitable one, which is, if you’re too young and too mature and thrust into a massive position of leadership, you’re going to hit a lot of walls. And these are the walls that you can only get over with time and age. And so there’s a lot of lessons that I needed to learn and pour into my my new book, just so that I could teach a next generation of entrepreneurs, those who care to read the book, you know, a cheat sheet, if you will a Cliff’s notes on what are the things you’re going to hit? And how do you as a manager as a leader, so that I don’t know if that answers…
Justin Brady 29:13
That’s a great, that’s a great answer. And with our final minute, what is one tactic you turn to when when teams are stuck to help them get over their problems, help them problem solve?
Stephan Paternot 29:25
Well, I would say this, which is always apply a gentle but steady pressure to solve a problem or to achieve your dreams. Because you need to remember, at the end of the day, it’s not a sprint, you don’t need to quickly get there. Now, as long as you have the intent and the drive to solve the problem, to build your vision to execute. Just trust that pressure you’re putting on yourself and let the solution appear organically. If you try to manufacture an outcome really, really fast, you’ll simply burn out and get really frustrated. And that may make you give up so slow down and trust you’ll find the answer and and if you’re having a problem and you’re in a state of crisis, the next most important thing is to stay centered. Because when you’re in a crisis, and you only see negative problems all around you, you’re not seeing clearly and if you can’t see clearly you’re going to make a bad decision.
Justin Brady 30:17
Now that’s that’s really good advice. I like that a lot. Gentle and continuous pressure. Steph Paternot, thank you very much for joining me and everybody. Today. A very public offering is the book co founder and CEO of slated and of course valley of the boom when does that come out?
Stephan Paternot 30:33
January 13 on the National Geographic Channel
Justin Brady 30:37
outstanding. How do people reach out to you what’s your website? Or how do they learn more information about what you’re up to.
Stephan Paternot 30:42
If you go to StephanPaternot.com or same thing on Twitter or Facebook or any of those.
Justin Brady 30:54
Thank you so much stuff. I really appreciate it.
Stephan Paternot 30:56
This was automatically transcribed. Please contact me in the menu below if you find any problems.
Elay Cohen is CEO of Sales Hood and former SVP of Sales Productivity at SalesForce. His process is credited from growing the company from 500 million in business to worth more than 3 billion dollars. That’s why Rob Acker, SalesForce CEO endorsed his latest book, Enablement Mastery.
Learn More About Elay Cohen
SalesHood, Cohen’s company tackles these issues and corrects problems with best practices. The company allows people to connect, and share experiences on their own results.
This was automatically transcribed. Please contact me in the menu below if you find any problems.
Justin Brady 0:04
I’m a salesperson. I think everybody knows that. But I started my own company. And not until, you know, sales was confusing is heck. And it was terrifying. And it kind of felt like there were. I was juggling three bajillion different things. And my my today’s guest, Eli Cohen probably knows a thing or two about that, Eli, thanks for coming on the podcast today. Great to be here. Super honored. Thank you. So you’re theco-foundero founder of sales hood, you’re a two time author and you’re also the former SVP of sales productivity at Salesforce. I think everyone’s heard of that.
Your process has been credited for growing the company from $500 million in business to worth more than 3 billion dollars. I’m going to take a wild guess here. You I’m going to assume that’s why Rob Acker, the Salesforce CEO endorsed your latest book, you know,
Elay Choen 1:07
Justin Brady 1:09
yeah, I figured that might be the case,
Elay Choen 1:12
Rob Acker. And I worked very closely together over the years, as I did with many executives. And, and you know what, you don’t go from 500 million to 3 billion. And so eight years without being really focused and mindful and purposeful about how you’re going to get your team’s productive, and how you’re going to get them being great.
Justin Brady 1:31
So the book is enablement in blah, blah, blah, I can’t talk to the enablement mastery, I need to be unable to speak better, I guess today and we’re going to get into that I want you to later to tell people how to buy it and that kind of thing. But looking through the book, looking for your profile, you’re kind of laser-focused and obsessed with how to modernize company’s sales processes. And is this also the whole point of sales hood, your company as well?
Elay Choen 1:58
Yeah, so, you know, great, great question.
So we’re, we’re, we’re Our mission is to help companies increase and grow their revenue, right? We want to help people optimize their teams make it more efficient and help them grow faster. Think about Salesforce, right? 500 million to 3 billion sub eight years. That’s almost a 10 x revenue growth. What company on the planet doesn’t want to get more from their salespeople, right? Make it more efficient, faster. And so yeah, we’re when I was at Salesforce, that was my job. You know Marc Benioff, or call me into his office and say, Hey, I know we get our people more productive faster. Let’s do it. And then when I left and fatty my company sales, it decided that we’re going to build a SAS platform to help companies do it at scale. And now my last book enablement map my book I just finished writing I mean enablement mastery is can it’s it’s it’s the book that explains the company’s explains to leaders explained to CEOs how to embrace enablement as a top line priority at the business level.
Justin Brady 2:57
So Well, what does that mean exactly? Because, enablement is not like the, you know, giving your kid too much candy, or so that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about, like, supporting employees, supporting staff supporting sales teams, right?
Elay Choen 3:10
Yeah, well, I want you to think about this. If you’re a company, and you’re a CEO, and you’ve got a leadership team, and you’ve got products, you know, and you’re, you’re investing so much money to build products, and to go to market with your solutions. And, and you’ve invested billions of dollars in innovation. And most companies, what they do is they forget to kind of take it to that last stage, like, how are their sales people being trained on actually being able to talk about those products, right, they spend so much money on marketing, but nobody is spending money to enable their people to coach their people to help those people that are actually having the conversations with buyers. And that’s what enablement is. It’s about connecting organizational processes. So you can get everybody in the company on message saying the same thing so they can see sell more of the products and they can deliver a much better Richard customer experience. Does that make sense?
Justin Brady 4:04
Yeah, it does. I mean, a lot of the seams I want to caution everybody listening because this seems easy to gloss over. And you know, well, okay, train everybody on what the products we have our duh. But I’ve seen it happen a billion times where the messaging you’re talking about everyone getting that common messaging, maintaining their independence and sales process, but common messaging, knowing how to talk about the products the right way.
Elay Choen 4:28
messaging alignment is the heart of organizational readiness and enablement. mastery. messaging. Alignment means this if I’ve got a core set of values, if I have a central set a pitch, a corporate pitch deck, here’s what our brand stands for. The brand itself means something, and how do I get everybody at my company to say the same thing at the brand. So our customers have in our buyers have that consistent experience. It’s really, really hard. And it was a big differentiator for us at Salesforce, right Benioff would call them into his office and say, here is our latest corporate pitch deck. And think about it. This is 2005. So Salesforce was not a household name. And the way that we got everybody on message was we have to run around the world, we have to coach them, train them, certify them, sit down with them, they do the presentations, we make sure they got it. So that way, every customer experience every by experience was consistent. And that consistency ultimately drove up. Sales drove up when rates messaging alignment is super, super hard, takes a lot of work. And it takes a commitment from CEOs and from leadership teams to make it a priority.
Justin Brady 5:36
And what are the some of the exact very specific example of not like, maybe we have a CEO or a sales VP? And he’s like, I don’t, what does that even look like? How do I know if people are off message? I mean, does it does it translate some way specifically, I mean, you know, I can say firsthand, I’ve seen sales people that are brilliant sales people, and the product was a fit, and then they some of the words they were using in their emails were really weak words. And I’m like, ah, the way you wrote this sentence looks like you just you have doubts about what you can deliver, can you deliver this or not? And he he this individuals like, absolutely, we can deliver, I’m like, then use like, use aggressive words like, you know, don’t say try to or hope to just say will, and I see that all the time, people that are very confident come across non confident almost on accident.
Elay Choen 6:31
Funny. Yeah, you know, the choice of words are critical. And what we want to do is we want to, we want to, we want to give our people we want to give our teams the right language, the right tools, we want to give them the right information so they can ultimately have better, richer conversations. And that’s across the entire sales process. And it’s not just sales people, right? Notice it says enablement mastery, it’s not sales enablement mastery, because enablement is something that everyone needs to do. But here’s you asked a question. So, so what does it look like an organization that doesn’t have enablement as a top priority, an organization that is struggling with messaging, struggling with learning, struggling with coaching ultimately has some very, you know, acute things are going to see some specific things are going to see, sales numbers aren’t going to be increasing at the pace that they wanted to increase, they’re going to have sales attainment, which means how many of their sales people are hitting quota sales, the distribution of attainment is a metric that most people don’t really look at closely. They’re going to look at win rates, right? So you could start looking at these sales metrics and the sales key performance indicators, and you can start correlating them to high performing teams. And that’s what we’re doing it sales it is we’re looking at performance of teams, we’re seeing what are the teams saying, what are they using it with inside of their sales cycles? How are they winning? And we’re helping organizations codify that into a best practice that they can ultimately repeat over and over and over. And, and you know, we did it with resources at Salesforce. Like we threw a boatload of people hundred and 20 people are on it. But that’s not normal. Most companies don’t have 120 enablement. Coaches on their team. So So you got to figure out how you can do with scale. So sales at my company is video and mobile. And we do peer to peer and social learning. We make it really fun for sales people to practice their pitches to share their wins stories to give each other comments. That way, they can ultimately learn from the best and enablement mastery helps companies build that muscle inside of their organization. And as a culture, and as an ultimate driver of success across all departments.
Justin Brady 8:35
I think another issue I seem to see a lot is when people grow, they have that spurt of growth, they have a good product, they have a good relationship with customers, they have this growth and then they hit this glass ceiling. And one of the solutions that is always that seems to be pushed around is will just knock on more doors. And you know that the same things that work before don’t work anymore. Is that also a symptom just a crappy process?
Elay Choen 9:03
Well, I think it’s interesting, you know, folks that think they can keep doing the same thing over and over and get different results. It’s kind of a cliche thing to say, but, you know, what we want to do is we want to help, you know, companies kind of figure out what is working and stop doing what isn’t working, and to do that with some semblance of scale, and then repeat what is working over and over and over, so, you know, yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s the secret of, of enablement, right. enablement is not about doing more of what isn’t working, right. Because think about most companies today, when they say they’re doing enablement. It’s kind of like checkbox enablement. You know, this Yeah. Like, oh, will host a webinar will get the product managers to kind of just walk us through the product. Or, or maybe we’ll fly everyone to Vegas, and we’ll do this amazing event and everybody’s, you know, the only thing they remember their hand over at that point, what we’re saying is, enablement is is cadence, it needs to be repetitive and needs to happen. You No, I want to see, enablement happened an hour a day, you know, a half hour a day, you know, a few days a month, like all the time versus just two or three days a year. And it’s that repetition in the practice and the constant maniacal focus that, hey, let’s not forget to enable our people as we’re rolling out products, as we’re doing campaigns as we’re trying to grow our business. That’s what makes a difference between Okay, companies and great companies.
Justin Brady 10:24
So what is the let’s let’s do something encouraging because I’m going to ask, I’m going to ask something a little bit more discouraging. A little bit. Well, not necessarily discouraging, but more pointed. But what is one thing in your opinion, most sales teams, small and big are doing right? What are they? What do most do quite well? Or what’s what’s what one area that many of them just don’t seem to struggle with?
Elay Choen 10:49
That’s a great question. Let me think for a moment. I you know, I think, I think sales organizations in general, they do a good job hitting their hiring numbers, right? they’ll hire people, they’ll fill the seats up, they’ll, they’ll, they’ll, they’ll get people in there. And and when it comes to sales, execution, I think for the most part, when you start getting focused on activities, most organizations will have, you know, the right amount of activities, right, you know, they’ll do the right amount of calls, maybe they’ll send out the right amount of emails, but that activity if it’s the wrong activity, I’m not trying to get discouraging, but i think i think organizations do for the most part, are doing a decent job hiring and for the most part, are doing a decent job kind of trying to get their reps get their salespeople to do more sure do. And I think that’s, you know, that’s okay, whether they’re doing the right thing is is another thing I think, you know, those are things that people are doing well, I think sales organizations when they have a sales process when they’ve got, you know, a defined playbook I think, and when you have a leader, these are been a lot of a lot of wins. But if and when you have a leader that believes in the playbook, I think you can very quickly get an organization to kind of follow the process. And you’ll see magic happen in terms of revenue growth and revenue multipliers. But those are a lot of ifs.
Justin Brady 12:11
Well, I mean, I think one of the things I always see a lot is that sales teams do well, and maybe this is, maybe I’m wrong on this. Maybe it’s just that I hang out with some just killer sales teams, I don’t know. But one of the things I get is getting in front of the right people, I think most sales people do a good job at that they seem to be able to find the right person, and they seem to be able to do a good job to break into that or find the right person. It’s just they do a poor job maintaining that relationship and following up and then I think the other thing they do a poor job is the kind of forget that relationship or that opportunity and let it fizzle.
Elay Choen 12:47
So So, you know, I think I’m gonna, I’m gonna just kind of share some insight, I think one would think that a salesperson, successful experienced salesperson would do a great job, kind of getting in the door, you know, doing those activities like I talked about, and, and ultimately getting presumably, to the right person. And, and, but what I’m seeing what I’m seeing I, you know, politely feel like that’s not necessarily happening. I think when you when you look at the numbers, and you say, well, what’s the percentage of sales people that are actually hitting quota you be surprised that we’re really living in a world right now, we’re sales organizations are really just at about 30%, 30%
of sales people are hitting quota globally, right? That’s the that’s the Universalist and the number. Is it improving? So we need to figure out how can we get our sales people to start hitting quota so we can get the value foreign investments and, and your questions, a great one, you know, what are they doing? Well, what are they not doing? Well, what they’re not doing well, is they’re actually thinking there at the right person, where they might, there’s, there’s, there’s a concept called Happy years. And I love happiness as a concept. Because when I’m selling, if you’re the buyer, and we’re on a conversation, like Justin, you know, like, like, You’re telling me you want to buy and it’s great. And you’re saying, Yes, I’m good to go. You know, what sales people tend to do is they love happy ears. And they’ll and they’ll just say, Great, they’ll take the notes, I’ll send you a follow on email, but they’re not going to ask the hard questions.
Justin Brady 14:14
Oh, they don’t want to didn’t want to sour the relationship?
Elay Choen 14:17
Yeah, like so. So tell me, why do you want to buy now? And and what happens if you don’t buy and what problem are we solving? Who else in the organization really cares about this problem? Where it is? Where does this problem fit in the pecking order of other problems in the organization? There are layers and layers and layers and layers of questions that can be asked that our sales people will ask one or two questions, and then they won’t go deep. And then they’ll ultimately Miss solving the key problem and really identifying who the organization cares most. And that’s the person that’s going to sign and so you end up having sales people saying all they weren’t ready to buy, well, the person you were talking to wasn’t ready because they’re not power. So we’ll get in the door with speak to some of the… we won’t be curious enough and get to the right person. But we can enable people to be better at doing that.
Justin Brady 15:06
So the reason that people because you know, sometimes you have a contact that just goes icy and stopped returning emails, are they just trying to fade in the background, or they just, you know, I’m always like, wrong contact, wrong time. But the reason that this happens, I think, fairly often to sales people is because a happy ears, they didn’t ask the right, they didn’t ask the hard questions up front, and they pay handsomely for it in all this waste of time.
Elay Choen 15:30
Absolutely. I think the more we can get our teams to understand what happens, what happy ears looks like, when we’re talking to our buyers. And the more that we can, we can have kind of, the, the mindset of, of training our people to, to help each other, right? So there’s some great exercises we can do with our teams, right? We can, we can have people practice role playing conversations, right? That’s enablement. We can have people record their wins, stories learn from each other, and they can share examples where deals did get stuck. And they can actually talk openly about these happier examples shy because we want people to avoid happy years. And so there’s an example there’s one slice of the sales process that when we hit a deal, or we work a deal, and when we identify that our sales people are really bad, asking great questions. Hopefully, that makes sense.
Justin Brady 16:23
Elay Choen 16:24
and they and they ultimately, and they ultimately do have happy years. If we could diagnose that, then what we want to do is prioritize that as a problem. Because we know if we can fix that problem, guess what, our reps when rates will double our sales people be more effective, more people hit quota. And that’s what enablement is about. What we want to do is you want to identify what are the top problems we can solve for the organization. let’s identify on this document. And then let’s build a program that makes everyone aware of the problem. And then let’s coach and train people, then the next reinforce, then let’s celebrate successes. Like that’s a whole enablement process map that most people just think, Oh, my God, we have a happier problem. Great. Let’s send an email and let people know that how to avoid
Justin Brady 17:06
and now we’re done. Let’s check that box.
Elay Choen 17:09
But that’s it. Right? That’s the difference.
Justin Brady 17:11
You’re absolutely right. What? Okay, so here’s the more pointed thing in me. I don’t know you can call you can call out the end of it. Not, not by name. But you can call out the personality that does this or whatever you want. But what is that slam your head on the desk repeatedly issue that almost every department is dealing with are many of them or their leaders that they’re dealing with, right? Yeah, like, what is that? Like? What is that slam your head on the desk? People? People say, Oh, yeah, you like, I’ve got that covered? Or Oh, yeah, you know, whatever. We’re dealing with it this way, we’ve got it under control. What’s that thing? You just feel like you’re bashing your head against a brick wall that people continually what is that pet peeve you have.
Elay Choen 17:56
what I continuously here is people say when it comes to enablement. And when it comes to the sales organization, you know, they’ll say, yeah, we’re, we got it, we’re doing enablement already. And, and, and we hear that a lot. And then and then we start asking questions about what, what are you doing, and how are you doing it? And and, and then we take a step back, and we start asking them to share some data, right? Well, let’s, let’s talk about the impact on the business. So how are your team’s doing today, so, so the thing that the thing and so a lot of organizations will will kind of jump in and start training their people coaching their people, but they’re training and coaching them on the wrong things, right, they’ll train and coach them on a sales process. But really, what they need to do is double down on happy years. Sure, right. And so I guess kind of, just to kind of summarize, you know, the thing that I see over and over is, organizations are solving the wrong problems, and they’re not getting to the root of the problem of how they’re going to ultimately drive dramatic improvements in growth, if they want to grow the business, they need to figure out what’s working, and then they need to go solve that problem. And and so when organizations are making investments in, in product in marketing and sales teams, when they don’t understand the why they’re making the investments. And when they’re not documenting the specific metrics and KPIs that they want. They’re not they’re not going to actually achieve their goals. And we see companies spending billions and billions of dollars on learning systems and learning programs. And nobody is bothering to ask the question, why are we rolling this out? What impact does it have? What priority is it solving? How are we going to measure the success? Sure, how are we going to how are we going to share successes on an ongoing basis. And, and that’s the frustrating thing because, you know, organizations can spend, you know, a fraction of what they’re spending on right now and developing their people and have a much bigger impact if all they did was focus it and focus more people on the same thing, and focus on the problems that make a difference. And that’s what not me write the book. I just felt like we got to get the word out, we got to help CEOs begin to prioritize their investments better in their people.
Justin Brady 20:07
So, you know, there are a few more questions that I want to get to maybe if we have time. But there are two main questions we always ask on here. And the first one is, you know, people tend to look at you, and you know, you What was it to your the 2011 top executive Marc Benioff recognized you as that I think it was the former senior vice sales, but sales force, of course, the book all the stuff you have going on. I think people tend to look at people like you and say, Oh, well, Eli doesn’t know failure. You know, he hasn’t, he hasn’t gone through failure. He hasn’t faced planet so he doesn’t, he doesn’t get it. Well, that’s not true. So we always give offer the opportunity on this podcast. What? What’s the moment you just totally face planet? And how did you take that moment in, spin it into something good later?
Elay Choen 20:53
I appreciate the question. And, and, you know, I’m going to share a story from Salesforce. And I wrote about it in my book. And in my book, The title is MIT the title of this section is called missing the C suite with metrics. And, and so I’m going to share the story. I’m not going to read from the book. But I…
Justin Brady 21:14
…I could play chimes every time you turn the page.
Elay Choen 21:18
And you know what this is, it’s a fabulous story. And actually, the reason why this story is interesting is because it ultimately became the inspiration for me to create my company sales hood, it ultimately gave me the power to go in and try and change the world and help every company do enablement the right way. And, and here’s what happened. It’s 20. So you know, yeah, you’re right. I was 2011 Executive of the Year, you know, you know, we’re, you know, recognized by Benioff and listen on cloud nine, right? Had you ever told me that my, if I just never would have imagined that would have happened, it was amazing,
Justin Brady 21:55
Or… Sales Cloud Nine,
Elay Choen 21:58
So so. So a year later, it’s, it’s the summer of 2012, and I’m invited to to Hawaii and Mark did, you know, kind of annual leadership off sides with the top hundred executives, and, you know, we, each person has their time on stage where you’re going through your business, and, and, you know, yeah, I remember I’m Executive of the Year and so there I am standing up. And then within three or four minutes of me presenting, I realized that the information I was presenting was not aligned with Mark and, and, and, and yeah, no, I it was like, it got hotter as the moment
I remember, I was wearing shorts in London shirt, and there’s little to sweat started pouring through through my shirt. And, and, but I knew at that moment of time, this is, but I couldn’t, I couldn’t escape because their aim and and what I was specifically missing. Remember what I said, missing metrics with the C suite. I wasn’t able to answer the why, you know, Mark had a very specific question. He said, hey, you’re doing all this training, your doing all this learning, you’re doing all this certifications and coaching, can you show me a dashboard, a summary report, I want to see all my teams by cloud, I want to see the data, I want to see the correlation between performance and the activity. I want to know if your hundred and 20 people are making a difference. Can you show that to me? And, and, and I didn’t have it, right. And I started fumbling, and I will mark, you know, we, we can’t keep up with it anymore. You know, the old days of certifying everyone, and coaching everyone in the old days of running around on planes. And he’s like, he didn’t want to have any of these, like, No, no, stop talking, why don’t you have this information? How can you continue to run your team this way, without being data driven. And, and it was hard, right? It was, it was a hard hour for me to be up there. And I remember at the end, you know, the HR leader came over, she gave me a big hug. And, and, you know, ultimately, Mark and I hugged it out as well. And, and, but it was the right message to the organization at the time, because we were growing 3 billion. And we needed to, you know, mark the, to explain to the team that, hey, we need to be data driven with our approaches. What worked in the old way isn’t going to work in the new way. Now, I felt beat up, right. It was a low point for me complete low point for me. And, and, and, and went lower. Right. It was it was like, I was a, how did I fail? How did I miss it. And, and there was a moment, you know, a few months later, where I kind of snapped out of the snap out of the bottom and I was able to pull myself out and I was able, I was able to kind of pull my I left Salesforce after that, you know, about five, six months later, you know, I kind of just felt like, you know, what, maybe this isn’t right. You know, and, and, but, but I but I anchored myself around that feeling like, what was wrong. And what I realized was, you know, us as leaders when we’re doing enablement, we need to be prepared to be able to answer the why, and be able to show to our leadership teams and our CEOs on demand, they need to see a picture of what’s working, what’s not working, how are people doing, how are we developing, what are our investments look like. And that became the beginning of my, of my company sales hood. So from that moment of appear, you know, embarrassment, and fear and sweat in Hawaii with the leadership team, and like thinking like, you know, that, that that Fred Flintstone and when you’re getting smaller and smaller, it was worse, but but you know what, that’s power and, and that was power for me. And it motivated me to kind of start my company.
Justin Brady 25:21
Those are what I mean, those are what I internally refer to as fraud moments, it’s you start saying to yourself, Am I a fraud? Did I eat here accidentally? Did I fool the right people at the right time? Is this the end of everything? Will I be homeless in the, you know, on the street in less than a month, that’s when I started, that’s when I start circling the drain. But I think what you said, because I’ve had those moments, obviously, more than I can count, but what you said was, there was one key and you glossed right through it. But I want to I want to go back to it briefly. You said I snapped out of it. And I think so many times when people hit one of those moments, I guess my message would be, and maybe this is yours, too. I don’t know everyone hits those moments. But the reason the successful individuals force themselves to snap out of it.
Elay Choen 26:10
I was fortunate that I was able to the snapping out of it was the clarity of thought. And rather than, rather than feeling like a failure, I started thinking, Well, wait a minute, let’s, let’s go back in time. And, you know, five, six months later, I ended up opening up an email folder of all the thank you emails from the thousands and thousands of sales people and sales managers from Salesforce, thanking me for all the great work we did over the years. And I reminded myself of what we did, and, and, and, and I sat there, I remember I was on a train from from Vancouver from Vancouver to Seattle, I did a speaking gig and I was on a train at less Salesforce already, and I’m reading these emails and, and, and, and, you know, it was, it was extremely emotional for me, because then I realized, like, Oh, my God, I need to create this energy, right? Had I bottled up this energy had, I had been able to, to the energy meaning that the gratitude and all the goodness that we did, I just didn’t know how to how to visualize all the amazing impact that we had. And that was sales sales. It was born in that exact moment. And, and it was because I was able to snap out of it. And, and, and I got an I snapped out of it, by being inspired by people’s ideas, and remembering all the good things that we did in the impacts that we had on people’s lives. And, and that vision and and, and that the essence of what sales said was, is what we’re still doing today. So just sales people be the best they can be.
Justin Brady 27:43
Just a few minutes left. And I wanted to ask what There’s another question we ask everybody. And that is, what is that go to? When your team struggling when they’re stuck? What is the way you and stick them? What is that way you help them to solve bigger problems?
Elay Choen 27:56
You know, we got to get curious. And so when, when somebody is when a team when someone I’m sitting in front of me is is struggling with something, you know, I immediately I used to be the mindset, okay, let me try and solve it for you. But But the way that the way what’s worked for me is, let’s start asking some questions. Let me get curious. Let’s figure out what’s going on. Let me figure out what’s working. Why don’t you show me some of the things maybe draw something like like, as long as you can, you can, as long as we can have a conversation about it. And it’s the it’s the art of curiosity in a in a collaborative way, as long as the person who’s being asked the questions doesn’t feel like this is being an interrogation. So the right questions need to be asked needs to be in a very compassionate way. And they need to understand that they shouldn’t get defensive. We can usually solve a problem with curiosity. And to me, that’s my default. Let me start asking some questions before I solution.
Justin Brady 28:51
That’s very awesome. No, I like that. That’s, that’s a really good solution, then that’s an awesome place to leave it, Eli, what is the new book and how do people by it
Elay Choen 29:01
Thank you very much. The new book is enablement mastery comes out January 8, 2019. I’m stoked. I’m holding one in my hand right now. Looking forward to having everyone read it. And share with me your thoughts. You can get it on Amazon. Amazon. com, the book is there. And you know what enablement mastery. com is also a website for the book where you can find it. There’s some great endorsements and some great videos there so you can get some insight into the book and super grateful for the opportunity to be here.
Justin Brady 29:29
And the other thing if people want to reach out to you they want to connect they want to learn more they want to get more resources where do they go to do that
Elay Choen 29:37
you know the LinkedIn is a universal business network so if you if you if you you know, if you if you connect with me on LinkedIn and personalized a note and just say, Hey, I heard the podcast absolutely I’ll connect with you you can connect with me there I’ll give my email is fine. Feel free to to email me or text me LinkedIn, whatever works, Twitter works do Eli Cohen, the co
Justin Brady 30:03
founder and CEO of sales hood. Thank you very, very much for joining us all today. Appreciate it.
Elay Choen 30:10
Justin. Thanks so much. This was an honor to be on your podcast and I hope everyone really loves the new book and thanks for having me.
Ken Blanchard is an icon and one of the most influential leadership experts in the world. He wrote more than 65 books, including the world renown bestseller The One Minute Manager® and now his newest book, The Simple Truths of Service.
We discussed how critical amazing service is in an age of disruptive online retailers and how your competitive edge in today’s business environment is in how your customers are treated. If you want to succeed, it’s time to get creative about customer service.
The Simple Truths of Service
The Simple Truths of Service recounts the iconic story of Johnny The Bagger, an amazing young man who takes a chance and changes the culture of a grocery store. Bestselling authors Ken Blanchard and Barbara Glanz wrote the book together focusing on how any company can use to reshape their culture around serving the customer.
More About Ken Blanchard
Ken Blanchard is one of the most iconic and influential leadership experts in the world and he has authored more than 65 books, including The One Minute Manager, which you’ve probably read.
He is also the co-founder and chief spiritual officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies, an international training and consulting firm started by Ken and his wife, Margie, in 1979.
Buy Ken’s newest book, The Simple Truths of Servicehere