S2E18 – The Lessons from Mickey Mouse Edition with Dennis Snow

James chats with Dennis Snow a gentleman with a passion for service excellence who has consulted with organizations all around the world on the subject.


His customer service abilities were born and developed over 20 years with the Walt Disney Organisation. And in his last year with that business, his leadership performance was ranked in the top 3% of the company’s leadership team. He’s now a full time speaker, trainer and consultant and is dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals in the area of customer service, employee development and leadership. He is also the author of two best selling business books: ‘Lessons from the Mouse’ and ‘Unleashing Excellence’.


They chat about fanatical loyalty, the customer’s moment with your business, little moments of wow, driving submarines, empowering employees and of course the Disney Experience.


Contact Dennis:


email: dennis@snowassociates.com
Web: www.snowassociates.com
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/dennissnow/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DennisSnowSpeaking/
Twitter: twitter.com/DennisSnow

Click for the full transcript

James Nathan 0:54 Hello and welcome to The Only One Business Show and I have a really fun guest for you today and I’m gonna talk about a few of the things that really make me excited. This gentleman has a passion for service excellence and has consulted with organizations all around the world on the subject. His customer service abilities were born and developed over 20 years with Walt Disney World. And in his last year with that business, his leadership performance was ranked in the top 3% of the company’s leadership team. He’s now a full time speaker, trainer and consultant and is dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals in the area of customer service, employee development and leadership. He is also the author of two best selling business books: ‘Lessons from the Mouse’ and ‘Unleashing Excellence’. Please welcome Dennis Snow. Dennis, how are you?


Dennis Snow 1:42 I am doing fantastic. Thank you so much for inviting me on the show.


James Nathan 1:46 Oh, it’s an absolute pleasure. Lessons from the Mouse is one of those books which I, you know, whenever I’m asked to, to put a list together, I’ve got to tell you, it’s always on there for people.


Dennis Snow 1:55  Oh, I appreciate that. Yeah, my retirement appreciates that as well.


James Nathan 2:02 You got a few years to go, haven’t you


Dennis Snow 2:05 Just a few. Yeah.


James Nathan 2:06 So when did you When did you start working full time for Disney?


Dennis Snow 2:10 Well, I left Disney in 1999. I was there for 20 years. I started in 1979 working on the rides as a attractions operator like most people do. I don’t know if you remember there was a ride there and attraction called 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It’s not there anymore. But my that was my first job was driving the……. still the best job I’ve ever had, driving the submarines there. And I was 19 years old. And I say submarines, I should put submarines in quotes that never actually went underwater. But and then I managed different operating areas around the company. I worked at the Disney University, managing the Disney University where they do the internal training for the company. And then we spun off a division called the Disney Institute where companies would benchmark with Disney on best practices about service and leadership and so forth. And I did that for the last few years I was with Disney. I was with the Disney Institute, and then started up my own company in 1999. So, so I’ve been doing this now for 20 years.


James Nathan 3:16 Well, fantastic. I was just saying to you before we went on air if you know if you want to get me talking about any subject under the sun, you know, Disney would be one that you’d probably have a hard time shutting me up…. that, motorcycles and guitars and, you know, we’re done forever, but it’s a wonderful, wonderful organization, and it brings a lot of joy and a lot of happiness to people. It’s also one of those businesses when we mention customer service, then it’s pretty much one of the first mentioned and so it’s a bit of a cliche these days, isn’t it? Well, I guess I was also saying, you know, I’d love to be that big a cliche, but it’s a fantasy, isn’t it a theme park? What can we really learn from a business like Disney in the real world,


Dennis Snow 4:02

Yeah. And part of me struggles a little bit with this because I hate to peel the fantasy away. But I’m going to do it. I’m ready to do it. Yeah, it is it to the guests. It feels like a fantasy. But it has the same issues, the same challenges that every other organization does. And so when you look at Disney’s objective, Disney World’s objective and any of the Disney parks, it’s to create such a great experience that people can’t wait to go back. You know, bottom line. That’s what they’re doing. They’re trying to create that intense customer, they call their customers guests. They’re trying to create that intense guest loyalty, where after that first visit, you say, I can’t wait to go back and I’m going to tell everybody about it. Now think about every one of your listeners and the businesses that they either own or that they work in. They have the exact same objective. So it’s about looking at the overall experience that you’re trying to create for your customers, executing on that as flawlessly as you can. Nobody does it flawlessly but as flawlessly as you can, so that you become that, that cliche you know, that icon that you mentioned, that people say it’s……. a colleague that I know of his name is Nido Qubein. Wonderful, wonderful speaker. He says something that is just resonated with me. He said, we need to move from brand preference to brand insistence. And I love that that philosophy. So that’s what Disney is trying to do is when it’s time for vacation, where are we going? We’re going to Disney World. And I think that applies to every single company. And it’s not about throwing money at this. It’s just about the way you do things.


James Nathan 5:51 Well, it’s interesting you say that because there is huge choice. You know, even in Orlando, there’s massive choice and you know, there’s you Universal down the road fabulous rides different experience. I think they….


Dennis Snow 6:04 They do a great job. They do a great job.


James Nathan 6:07 I really love the place but they’re not Disney. And so when they do their parades and when they do their other stuff, it’s it feels like a bit of a second attempt.


Dennis Snow 6:18 Well, the way I think of it and I do love Universal and I enjoy going out there, Universal is selling attractions and shows, that’s really what their product is. Disney what Disney saying is they’re selling an experience. And so that impacts everything from the moment you start planning your trip there. to the moment you leave, all of those touch points. So that’s really what they focus in on that’s not to take away from Universal because again, I think they do a good job. But Disney really focuses on that fanatical loyalty that people have.


James Nathan 6:56 Well that’s a bit I was trying to kind of get to is what makes it so special in in its world?


Dennis Snow 7:03 Well, I think it’s because of their attention to detail is again, when you are from the moment you start planning the experience, it begins there. And then when you arrive at the Orlando airport and you take Disney’s Magical Express Bus where it starts and they’re showing Disney movies, and they’re taking you right in, so it’s all started there. The moment you arrive on the property, everything is pristine, it feels magical, to the check in of the hotel, the demeanour of every cast member of they call all of their employees, cast members, that all of that is so carefully crafted to be a part of the experience. And one of the things that I think Disney has done a marvellous job with is engaging their cast members in the fact that they are part of the experience. They’re not disconnected from it. So that when that person is checking you into the hotel, or they’re serving you a hamburger in one of the theme parks or they’re sweeping the streets, they understand and we can talk about how they do this. They understand that they’re part of that experience. And so they take that very seriously and making sure that that that they follow through on that.


James Nathan 8:21 Well that magic in the detail part I really love I tell a story in one of my keynotes about seeing someone dusting a plant at the yacht club there. And you know, and it’s the things you don’t see they produce the magic as well.


Dennis Snow 8:35 Yeah. What do you think about the theme parks for example, the how beautiful the flowers are all the time. Well, that’s because, you know, the evening and early morning before the park opens, there are landscapers in there freshening up all of those planters to make sure that every flower looks like it just bloomed and all they did was that’s all by design. They’re making the…. because again, they’re focused on those details.


James Nathan 9:02 So it can’t be perfect, can it? I mean, it feels it, but it can’t be?


Dennis Snow 9:07 Well, and it’s not it. Anybody who’s been to Disney multiple times, I’m sure has had examples of service that weren’t what you would say Disney service. The critical mass of the experiences are, so no, it is not perfect. And if you have you ever gone into any of the backstage areas taken any of the Disney tours that they sometimes offer?


James Nathan 9:29 No, it’s on my it’s on my bucket list,


Dennis Snow 9:32 Do it do it. And I’ll tell you what, I tell you why it’s valuable. When you go backstage, you see that it is not perfect that they have the same issues and challenges. You’ll overhear cast members complaining about the the shift that they have to work, their supervisors down on them for something. They had an argument with their significant other, people call in sick and the supervisor are scrambling to cover shifts. And so when you look in the backstage environments, it meant they they deal with the same things my restaurant deals, with my my boutique store deals with, they deal with exactly the same issues, right? So it is not perfect. However, the understanding is when you are on stage and they’re very careful about the designation of on stage and backstage, when you are on stage, the magic is on and none of those problems exist. Now again, it doesn’t work every single time but it works most of the time.


James Nathan 10:38 Well, it works pretty well.


Dennis Snow 10:42 And sometime and and that’s part of it, too, is that sometimes those little glitches you are willing to forgive, because the overall experience is typically so positive.


James Nathan 10:54 Yeah, we talk a lot about a particular on this show about businesses and how they deal with problems when they occur. Because invariably it will happen. What happens at Disney, something goes wrong, you know, you never wanted to but it does. How do I look after people and turn that around?


Dennis Snow 11:12 There’s a few things when but I think the most powerful thing is that they really empower their people to take care of problems. So if there’s a problem, and I’m a frontline cast member, and you bring that problem to me, I am empowered to help you out. So you had a negative experience. And I say, you know, I really want to take care of this. I noticed that your child is a big Mickey Mouse fan. Let’s go into one of the shops and get a Mickey Mouse t shirt for your child just as an apology for what happened. No questions asked. There’s no there’s no I’ve got to run it up the flagpole to get managers involved in all of that. So the front line is very empowered to manage those problems. Sometimes though things are escalated where a guest is so upset that they say, we want to talk to a manager, we want to talk, we want to, we want to talk to Walt Disney!


James Nathan 12:12 They bring out a couple of candles in a crystal ball…….


Dennis Snow 12:19 That would be funny actually, that would be very funny. So then when that happens, the idea is that, let’s say I’m a manager now, and I’m dealing with this disgruntled guest who’s legitimately disgruntled about something is just, we first of all, we pull them into a private area so that they can vent and not feel embarrassed about what’s going on. And just listen to what the problem is and do everything that we can to solve the issue. Now, there’s some issues you’re not going to be able to solve. There’s some time there. There’s some things that…. it was raining all day and they came all the way from the UK. And it was raining during their day at Disney World. Well, I can’t solve that. I can’t solve that. But what I can do is make sure that that guest feels that they were listened to, that I empathize with them and that I wasn’t just blowing them off and say, Well, look, it’s raining and what can I do about the rain? And perhaps are some suggestions, you know, what attractions haven’t you been on yet that you’d like to go on? We’d really love to go on the Haunted Mansion. We haven’t been on it yet. And well, let’s go over there. And we’ll get you right on the attraction. So if there are little touches that we can add to those unsolvable issues, we’ll do it. So the first thing is frontline, very empowered to handle issues, escalated issues, make sure the guest feels respected even if there’s nothing that we’re going to be able to do make sure that they feel respected and listen to. And then the third thing if there’s a little something that we can do to at least bridge these the frustration gap, and we’ll do it.


James Nathan 14:05 Fabulous. And you talk there about empowering employees and I love to hear that with businesses. But empowering employees, well it means you’ve got the right people in place in the first place. Right back at the beginning during the hiring process…. What is it that Disney looks for? What’s the special, the special sauce they’re trying to find in those people.


Dennis Snow 14:28 They’re looking for those people who are naturally engaging and truly care about what they do. And it’s not about being a bubbly cheerleader type of person. Some people are that comes natural to them. Wonderful, great cast members. Other people, they’re a little bit more reserved. They’re a little bit toned down. But you can tell from your interactions with them that they truly care, but they’re very authentic. So I guess that’s probably the best word is that they look for people who are authentically passionate about serving people. We’ve all dealt with people who they really are almost resentful about serving people. And they look for people who are passionate about serving people. So what they’ve done is they’ve looked at the various roles within the company. They’ve defined what the superstar differentiators are, the people who really excel at the job, and they build the interview process around those qualities so that they’re bringing in people who are who are likely to be highly engaged. Okay, they don’t get it right, again, they don’t get it right every time. But because they put so much focus on it even they even call it the casting centre. You go into the casting centre. Yeah, because they want you to know this is show business. You’re being you’re not being hired for a job. You’re being cast for a role in the show. It’s a very different mindset. Though that process reinforces that, and again, while it doesn’t work every time it works most of the time, and so when you get people who truly are passionate about taking care of people and serving people, they will typically do the right thing.


James Nathan 16:16 So for people listening, because obviously people listening from all different sizes of businesses, when they’re looking at their business, and they’re thinking, right, like, I want to take some lessons in hiring from Disney, what do I do in my own business? How can I work out the right kind of people for us? And then how do we test that while we’re meeting them?


Dennis Snow 16:35 Yeah, well, step one is and I think everybody could do this within minutes, is to sit down with a piece of paper and identify the people in your business you would most love to clone, right? If I could just clone these folks in my life would be so easy. We would just go into the stratosphere with service and my guess is everybody could do that pretty quickly. And then start defining what is it about those folks that make them…. that made them come to mind for me what are the things that they do? Well, they don’t wait for the customer to come to them, they go to the customer, they greet the customer with a genuine and I’m making this up because it’ll be different depending on the business, but they greet the customer with a genuine greeting that’s not canned. They look for opportunities to find out about the customer so that they can tailor their delivery to them. So there’s certain qualities that will come out from the superstars in your in your business. And then you start defining your interview questions, your opening interview, open ended interview questions, to either bring those things out naturally from the applicant or not. So you say for example, you say, you look at your server superstars and they’re great team players, they really engage. They’re…. it’s not about the equipment, it’s about their team. They’re very focused on the team. So when you’re designing your interview questions, one of them should be around something that would either naturally bring out a focus on team, if they have that in them or not. You know, tell me about the best tools that you found in delivering great service. And somebody naturally says something well, I really look to my team, my fellow team members and get them involved too, introduce some of them to the customer, you know, those kinds of things that they naturally bring in those qualities to the discussion, but the starting point is what are you looking for? And I think the the place to start that is well who were my superstars?


James Nathan 18:51 Right. Yeah, it makes a lot of sense when you put it so simply. I was having a conversation this morning about this actually, about scale. Now, Disney is obviously a monstrous business with, you know, arms around the world. When it started, obviously it wasn’t it’s grown out of sight. How do you maintain that quality when you scale? Famously, when Disney opened in Paris, there was some teething troubles there. So, a kind of parts to question really. So how do you scale and maintain that quality? And then when it doesn’t go quite right, like it didn’t go quite right in Paris, what do you do to fix it?


Dennis Snow 19:33 Yeah. So in terms of scale, in terms of scaling it, it again goes back to identifying what makes you successful. So when you look at the Disney theme parks, it goes back to it’s about the experience and what are the elements of the experience, they made us feel special, it was magical. They paid attention to every detail. There are certain qualities that define the Disney park experience, right? So now in terms of scaling is you take those core things, those core elements, and you adapt them to wherever in the world, you are putting something or wherever in the city, you’re putting it, wherever it is as you’re scaling it. But the earlier you can capture what makes…. what your secret sauce is, the better because then you can start to, I use the word inculturate, you can start to inculturate into the the organization from the hiring process to the training process, the communication processes, the accountability processes, so the sooner you can start doing that. So now when you start scaling and growing as an organization, those things go with you. Now where it becomes a challenge, and this was the challenge with Paris is thinking you can just plug and play. You do have to adapt it for where you are. And that was the the issue there is that they went in thinking, okay, we’ll just you know, we’ll just plug it in. And they really struggled, they learned a very valuable lesson from that experience,


James Nathan 21:24 But managed…. I know, sort of looking at other Disney parks around the world. They’ve seemed to have taken those challenges and accepted how to get on with it.


Dennis Snow 21:34 Yeah, exactly. If you go to any of the Disney parks, it has a Disney feel to it, but they’ve adapted it to that area, whether it’s in China, whether it’s in Tokyo, wherever it may be, Paris. I’ve been to the one in Paris and I think they’ve, it’s one of the most beautiful parks they have. And again, they’ve had to adapt to the environment. But it is a Disney experience.


James Nathan 22:03 That’s the thing. People will go and say, you know, at the weekend one of my client’s staff was going to Disney I said ‘Oh fantastic, when you get over there have a look at this’ and she said ‘Oh no, I’m going to Paris.” I just heard Disney and thought Orlando.


Dennis Snow 22:20 Right. That’s kind of what people do they think of Disneyland and Disney World.


James Nathan 22:25 Is it the same without it being America?


Dennis Snow 22:30 No, it’s but it’s not, but that’s not a problem. I don’t think I think the the idea is to connect that Disney brand wherever you are in the world, that people have access to the Disney experience, whether it’s a theme park, whether it’s a product, a movie. I think where it can be a challenge… now again, they’re not asking me for my opinion on any of this…. How far can you go but without diluting the special factor, you know how you can almost some you can almost make it too accessible and where it’s not as special anymore. So that’s a decision that I think they’ll constantly have to be looking at is how do we make sure we don’t dilute the magic by making it so accessible?


James Nathan 23:31 Well, you want people to come away thinking, you know, I just had the time of my life…..


Dennis Snow 23:38 And can’t wait to come back.


James Nathan 23:39 Yeah, but they’re paying a lot of money for it, I mean, tickets to Disney these days are not cheap.


Dennis Snow 23:44 They’re not cheap yet. Nobody would ever accuse Disney of being a nonprofit organization. So it is very expensive to go and people save up for a long time. A lot of families, they save up for a long time and this may be a one time experience for them, this may be it. So that’s another thing that I think is important that any business can learn from Disney is you need to make sure your people know that while they may be serving 100 or 200 hamburgers a day, or whatever the job is, for this person, this is it. This is their moment with your company. And it’s on the line, everything is on the line. And so Disney is very good about the training process and reinforcing that. That, yeah, this is an expensive experience. This may be a one shot deal. You’ve been asked 100 times today where the restroom is, all of those types of things. But it’s a moment for this guest and they would teach little things like when you know, looking at somebody’s t shirt that they’re wearing and seeing what’s on it and it might be their favourite sports team or something like that and just making a little comment… Yeah I love that team or how’s your team doing or whatever it may be, doesn’t take any time, doesn’t cost a dime but it makes that moment of connection, that relationship that I know you’re very focused on that and will relationship mentality. So anytime you can do things like that….. I hear an accent…. and I say so where are you folks visiting from? Yeah, again, it’s a moment didn’t cost a dime. It’s a but it’s a moment and the point that I make is, while the big wows are great when we can do them, the little wows are where the magic lies, because little wows add up those little moments, those little touches of wow add up. So when you look at the overall expensive experience, the where I think the success comes from, is as long as the guest feels like they got more value than the money they spent. You’ve done dramatically increased the likelihood that they’re coming back and they’re going to tell other people about it. So yeah, they raise prices, but they always are very, very careful in saying but are we providing value that exceeds the price?


James Nathan 26:14 And it’s it’s quite a subjective thing in a world like Disney because in other parts you know, you know, when you look at value, you see how much you actually have in your hands where, you know, value in experience is a very difficult thing.


Dennis Snow 26:27 But you know, when you get it and you know, when you don’t get you know, if you go into a restaurant or a store or any business, you…. there’s while you might not be able to measure it, you have a feeling of this was a value added experience. And I’m going to come back, I’ll likely come back versus the ones you go into, and it was a transaction, it was mediocre. I might come back I might not. So while we can’t necessarily put a number on that decision. There is that quantity….. There’s that qualitative feel of value versus price.


James Nathan 27:11 Well, there’s a very interesting sort of piece to that as well in that I think we remember the price of….. if we’re comparing two expensive things. We remember the one that was…. we remember what we paid for the one that wasn’t great. The one that was great. I can’t actually tell you if you said to me right now, how much were the tickets that Disney you bought this year with the family? I don’t know. I could give you a rough idea. I can’t remember exactly. But I could tell you when we took my Mum out to a triple Michelin star restaurant for her 70th birthday, and I didn’t enjoy it, I’ll tell you exactly how much I spent.


Dennis Snow 27:45 Yeah. Great point.


James Nathan 27:47 So we do we do really…. I think that don’t people understand that. It’s expensive, but you don’t mind if it’s great. You mind when it’s not.


Dennis Snow 27:59 And, we’re out there not too long ago with the family, I’ve got two grandkids. And so we spend a lot of time at Disney World. And I saw a guy with a T shirt, and I had to take a picture of it. I said, oh please let me take a picture of it. And it was in that Disney script. The wording on his t shirt was in that Disney script. You see so many of the shirts that say most magical day ever, that’s a very popular shirt. His said most expensive day ever. I just I loved it. And the reason I loved it is he had the biggest smile on his face. He was having a fantastic time. And I guarantee you he will go back. But I loved that T shirt because of the smile on his face.


James Nathan 28:46 Fabulous. Disney’s awesome. But there are lots of other great businesses. Who would you point to if we were going to say right, let’s pick one. Let’s pick something they do. That’s really very special. Who would you think of him? What would you pick?


Dennis Snow 29:02 Well, there’s a…… and I like to use examples of small organizations for these things because there’s the big icon ones, Nordstrom department store, Emirates Airlines, you know, there’s the big ones, the Disney’s of the world. But I like to use some of the smaller organizations. There’s a restaurant here in Orlando. They’re a chain now but that started here in Orlando called Seasons 52. Marvellous restaurant. Excellent food, but a lot of restaurants have excellent food. What makes them so good is and it’s just it’s a restaurant like any other, is as good as the food is the services even better. They’ve trained their people to make you feel welcome the moment you park your car, if you use the valet, the valet parkers do it. But the moment you walk into the restaurant, it’s not, do you have a reservation? It’s welcome, welcome to Seasons 52, glad you’re here, have you been here before? It all begins with that as they’re escorting you to the table. It’s not just a task, they’re having the conversation with you that they then relate to the server, that’s going to be taken care of you. So if there’s a special event happening, you know, you’re having a business meeting, you know, they’ll tell the server, they’re having a business meeting, which means not a lot of interruptions. So they orchestrated each moment to add to the experience. It’s a restaurant like any other service, very good food, very, very good food, but it’s a restaurant like any other. But they, they and I don’t know if it’s a conscious thing that they said we’re not selling food, we’re selling an experience. But that’s definitely the way they’ve built it. And it’s for my wife and I it’s our favourite restaurant in Orlando. We go all the time. It’s our favourite restaurant here. And we recommend it all the time.


James Nathan 30:59 I bet you do. I bet you tell everyone and you know…. I was interviewing some guys which I haven’t haven’t had the podcast yet but I’m hoping to run a pub restaurant here called the Bottle and Glass. It’s only a little place but it’s quite well known. And we went there for….. well me and my wife both work for ourselves. So instead of having Christmas party with staff, we don’t have any, we take each other out for Christmas and we have a Christmas Lunch.


Dennis Snow 31:25 So you have a little business meeting first right….


James Nathan 31:28 We sit down and we have a glass of champagne and toast the year and I put a little thing on social media, I took a photo on Instagram with a picture of Mandy holding a glass of champagne and said are the James Nathan Experience and Dr. Mandy and Associates Christmas party. Within about a minute they picked up on that they brought some crackers to our table and said we just saw that and we thought we’d make your day a bit better. And so perfect. So we had a little chat with them and I’ve interviewed them and one of the things they said which I really loved was in certainly in restaurants is good service can make up for bad food but great food can’t make up for bad service. It’s absolutely absolutely true.


Dennis Snow 32:09 So when you look at the world class organizations, going back to what you talked about earlier, it’s a matter of scale. So the principles are the same for one restaurant versus a chain of restaurants. And now this season’s 52. They’ve grown they’ve got I can’t remember how many they have now around the US. But it’s taking those same principles. So, I think the first part of the learning for me is identifying those differentiating qualities as soon as you can. So that as you’re scaling, you can build those into the expansion.


James Nathan 32:53 I’m really conscious of time Dennis, and I could chat to you all day. I really could. So let me ask you one question, let me ask you the big question, what one thing, what golden nugget, what gem of wisdom would you like to leave our listeners with that they could use in their businesses today to make them better for today and better for the years to come?


Dennis Snow 33:17 Okay, what I would say is this and it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the business itself or if you’re managing a department, same principle. Is to sit down with your team in a team meeting or a series of team meetings and have this discussion. What are three things we would want our customers to say about their experience with us? Three things because that really makes you focus in on the differentiator, what’s really important to the loyalty, what are the three things we would want our customers to say like they paid attention to every detail they made us feel important, whatever it may be, have that discussion, captured on a flip chart or on a whiteboard. Then once you have that, because that’s your brand now that that’s your brand, whether it’s your company or department, then have the discussion. So what has to happen in order for those for our customers to say those three things, and it gets your people thinking about behaviours, what do I need to do to make people say, they made me feel like a VIP, you know, whatever my role is made me feel like a very important person. So the first part, step one is what do we want our customers to say about their experience, and then Okay, what has to happen in order for them to say that. Then you just keep reinforcing that over and over and talking about it and training about it and all of those things. And when I work with clients and my consulting work, that’s usually where we start.


James Nathan 34:49 You know, it is just a fantastic piece of advice and I hope people go and do that right away. Dennis, it has been awesome chatting with you. Thank you so much for taking the time out.


Dennis Snow 34:59 My pleasure. My pleasure. Again, I really enjoyed this, this conversation.


James Nathan 35:05 Great. Thanks so much and I look forward to chatting to you again.


Dennis Snow 35:08 Hope so.

S2E17 The Gift of Struggle Edition with Bobby Herrera

James chats with Bobby Herrera, the author of The Gift of Struggle, a book about leadership and the life changing lessons we learn through our struggles. He’s also the Co-Founder and President of Populus Group, with a passion for building strong culture and communities through trust and storytelling.


His leadership style is about empowerment, connections, and ensuring everybody has the opportunity to succeed. He grew up in a big family with parents who emigrated to America without very much, which isn’t an uncommon story, but the leadership style and culture, company culture that it’s inspired certainly is. The belief that everyone deserves the opportunity to succeed is at the core of his philosophy, in business, and in life.


They chat about authenticity and openness in leadership, positive re-framing, telling your story, the kindness of strangers, pivotal life moments, giving back and guarding your food from 12 siblings!


Contact Bobby:


Web: bobby-herrera.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/bobbyherrera.pg/
Twitter: twitter.com/BobbyHerreraPG
Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/bobby-herrera-5781821/

Click for the full transcript

James Nathan 0:00  Hello and welcome to The Only One Business Show with me your host James Nathan and I have a stunning guest today for you, and I think you’re going to really enjoy meeting him. He’s the author of the book, The Gift of Struggle, a book about leadership and the life changing lessons we learn through our struggles. He’s also the Co-Founder and President of Populus Group, with a passion for building strong culture and communities through trust and storytelling. His leadership style is about empowerment, connections, and ensuring everybody has the opportunity to succeed. He grew up in a big family with parents who emigrated to America without very much, which isn’t an uncommon story, but the leadership style and culture, company culture that it’s inspired certainly is. The belief that everyone deserves the opportunity to succeed is at the core of his philosophy, in business, and in life. A proud Army veteran currently living in the very beautiful Portland, Oregon with his wife and three children. Please welcome Bobby Herrera. Bobby, hi, how are you?


Bobby Hererra 1:13  I’m excellent. I’m blessed. Absolutely looking forward to connecting with you, James.


James Nathan 2:01 Well, I’m delighted you’ve been able to take the time, Bobby, thanks so much. And you’re in Portland, you you mentioned to me you haven’t been there long how’s the transformation to Oregon life been?


Bobby Hererra 2:11 Well, I think I mentioned it, you know, offline while ago we should have we should have come out here a long time ago. It’s beautiful. It’s everything you hear about Portland is true.


James Nathan 2:19 And your parents came to the to America. When was that? When did they When did they immigrate?


Bobby Hererra 2:24 Yeah, my dad’s story brought him to the US in 1964. And I joined the tribe of 13 children a few years later. So I was the first one born in the United States. I didn’t speak a lick of English until I was seven. And it was a….. it was an interesting time to, you know, have the family journey start at the US.


James Nathan 2:51 So where were they from?


Bobby Hererra 2:52 Yeah, from northern Mexico. Yeah.


James Nathan 2:58  13 kids my word. That’s a really expensive Christmas isn’t it.


Bobby Hererra 3:03 And you know, my wife is still trying to break me from eating with my elbows on the table. And I think it’s just hard wired. I’ve been protecting my food since I was a little fella.


James Nathan 3:12 I can imagine if your brothers and sisters eat anything like my brother did, you would want to protect that as well. So you grew up in this big, big family with with your folks. And so what what did your dad do? What was his story?


Bobby Hererra 3:29 Well, so my dad was a Brasero for Mexico. James. For those of your listeners that aren’t familiar, that was an agreement between the US and Mexico that started during the World War era, and basically was temporary workers from Mexico that would come to the US and offset the labor shortage while the US men were all fighting in the war. And my dad was selected as a Brasero in 1954 in the year that he was selected there were 300,000 men from Mexico, amongst millions that stood in these lines for the opportunity to come to the US and work. And, you know, my dad stood in line for nine years, trying to get an opportunity to become a Brasero and he finally was selected. And, you know, can you imagine the resilience and the courage that it took to never give up. And, you know, I’m so grateful for the fact that he never gave up. And he did that for 10 years, James from 1954 to 1964. And, you know, that part of his story came at a significant sacrifice. You know, you and I were talking about our kids a little before the recording and you know, he would leave the family for 10/11 months at a time and send money back home and, you know, as a family story goes, he would, you know, he’d leave, he’d come back, he’d meet the kid that he made before he left, stick around long enough to make another one, do another, you know, season as a Brasero, and they come back and, you know, I can barely stay away from my coconuts for two, three days. And I can only imagine the pain that he felt as a father because, you know, in the end, that’s what it’s all about.


James Nathan 5:20 Well, but what uh, well, you know, if I think about that, and I think but goodness me, you know, people talk about having a hard time these days, but they don’t know what they’re talking about when a man can do such a wonderful thing for his family and such a difficult thing for himself. Well, you know, it’s really quite impressive.


Bobby Hererra 5:36 Yeah. And I think, I think most, most men out there, at least the ones that whose frontal lobe is fully developed would readily admit that my mom probably had the harder job she was at back at home raising all those children. And yeah, so yeah, they both made significant sacrifices for that and in 1964 when the program ended my Dad had met a sheep rancher from eastern New Mexico here in the US and that rancher told my dad that hey, if this program ends just come knocking on my door and I’ll give you an opportunity and a few months after it ended in 1964 my Dad did just that. And you know that kind rancher named Henry kept his word and that was the beginning of our family story in the US and I’m grateful for my dad meeting that kind man that you know held true to his promise and I they you know, it forever changed my family story.


James Nathan 6:36 Well, what a fabulous man, is he still with us?


Bobby Hererra 6:39 No, he’s, you know, I him and my dad, I think are both having pints at the at the beer in heaven where they at the bar and have a free beer. At least that’s what I’m gonna tell myself.


James Nathan 6:51  Well, that sounds like a good place to be. I’ll do that when the time’s right. I don’t want to do that too soon, but that journey, you know, growing up with the distant dad and and then then moving from one country to another hardly speaking the language must have been a hell of a thing for all of you.


Bobby Hererra 7:09 You know when you’re going through it your narratives different than when you reflect back on it and after, after I joined the family and a couple of other younger siblings joined, we were a migrant farm working family, which in English means that we were part of what is often called the invisible workforce in the United States. And where I met my family, my dad would pull all the kids out of school in April. And we would begin our journey as a migrant farm working family and so we would go to the state of Colorado and we would work in the onion fields and then we would go into Wyoming work in the sugar beets. We would go to Idaho and we would pick potatoes and pears and a few months later we would make our way back down all the way to our home state of New Mexico and that’s how I grew up six months out of the year, you know following my family around in the fields, eventually becoming part of that. And, you know, I just I grew up working in the fields, you know, often 10 hours a day, six days a week. And, you know, at times growing up, I thought everybody did that, James. But, you know, I end up you know, I had some very fortunate opportunities. I had a act of kindness. It changed my life when I was 17. And, you know, I just started looking at my life differently in those later teen years.


James Nathan 8:38 Tell us about that act of kindness and what happened?


Bobby Hererra 8:41 Well, it’s actually the first chapter of the book in The Gift of Struggle, but it’s actually my one of my marker stories. So my brother and I…. I was 17 and we were on a return trip home for a basketball game. And along the way, the team stopped for dinner. Everyone unloaded off the bus. Except for me and my brother Ed, you know, being part of this big tribe. We were, you know, very modest upbringing. We were in a point in time where we couldn’t play sports and afford dinner. So a few moments after the team of loads, one of the dads to the other player steps on board the bus. And he teased me a little bit James because he had outscored me that night, he was a better basketball player than I was. And then he said something to me that I will always remember.


Bobby, it would make me very happy. If you would allow me to buy you boys dinner. Nobody else has to know. All you have to do to thank me is do the same thing for another great kid just like you on this bus. And James, I had this wave of gratitude come over me that it’s still hard for me to explain that feeling to this day. And I remember stepping off that bus and I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. You know, struggle had been the only consistent theme in my family story. I wanted off that bus more than you know. And even though I didn’t know what I was going to do, after that kind act, I knew why. I would somehow some way figure out a way to create something that would allow me to pay forward that kind act to other kids like me who were born on the wrong side of the opportunity divide.


James Nathan 10:29 What a fabulous thing.


Bobby Hererra 10:31 And, you know, I felt nine foot tall that evening, James, I felt like nothing could stop me. You know, that moment you gave me identity, it gave me purpose. It showed me that I too could somehow some way make a difference in someone else’s life and it became the invisible force that drove me and it fuelled me you know later on in life when I started my entrepreneurial journey and started my company Polulus Group.


James Nathan 10:58 So tell me about Populus Group because it’s quite a special business isn’t it?


Bobby Hererra 11:02 Well, I’m very fortunate, I’m blessed, you know, Populus Group, it’s Latin for people. We’re a community of passionate, egoless climbers building something bigger than ourselves. And that is bringing that bus story to life to help kids and, you know, military veterans. That’s, that’s what drives us. And we’re very passionate about the culture that we fiercely protect that I’ve been fortunate to build with them. But the problem we solve for the world’s pretty simple, you know, there’s a raging forward for talent out there. And we help organizations better manage their non permanent workforce. So there’s an interesting irony there. So you know, my Dad, he was a temporary worker from Mexico. And it’s interesting now that the industry that I serve, is helping organizations better manage their temporary workers. So I have a very deep personal connection to making sure that we serve these people who, in my eyes, they’re just like my Dad and Mom, we’re trying to do something better for their families. And that’s embedded into the way that we serve, into the way that we give. And I tell those stories everyone in Populus Group understands those stories and it gives us meaning when we serve those that are you know, that trust us.


James Nathan 12:25 Isn’t it a really interesting sort of circle of faith that you end up doing what you’re doing? I don’t I don’t believe in many forces in life but i i do think that there is something very special when when that sort of thing happens. So that bus story, the story of that very kind man on the bus and, Populus. How is that transformed your your journey with that company?


Bobby Hererra 12:51 Well, I appreciate that question for two reasons. One, that bus story was raging like an inferno inside of me. And the first reason I appreciate your question is that bus story is also part of one of the biggest leadership mistakes that I made. And let me tell you what that is. It took almost 10 years after I started my company for me to develop the courage to tell that story, isn’t that crazy. It’s raging like an inferno inside of me. It was the moment that gave me purpose, identity. And, you know, I write about that in the book on the narrative that I was telling myself that nobody needed to hear it. That I mean, it was a big point of vulnerability for me. And when I finally developed the courage to tell that story, it changed everything for us. And you know, another reason that I appreciate your question is it’s been a big part of how it’s shaped my leadership philosophy because you know, there’s a backstory that I think’s important. You know, that gentleman that stepped on board the bus James. He was a very successful businessman in the community. And the narrative that I told myself as a 17 year old kid, is that, you know, people like him, they don’t they don’t see kids like me.


But with one simple act of kindness, not only did he show me that I was wrong. But he taught me that one of the single most important parts of leadership is seeing and encouraging potential. That was the first time in my life that I felt seen. And it changed everything for me. And that experience has shaped my leadership philosophy around how I reframe my struggles and what I went through and how that applies to, you know, leadership and serving others. And, you know, I know service is a big passion of yours and, you know, it has to stem from someplace meaningful. And that that bus door has been been the marker For me,


James Nathan 14:28 It’s interesting when you mentioned that he was a very successful person. I tell a lot of stories as you too and, and one of them is a kind of how I ended up in business in the first place or how I ended up in a sales environment and part of that was was trying to work out what made successful people…. one person more successful than another and how they how they went at it, but not just what they did, but how they thought about it. And one of the things that I did as a guy was just start to ask, to ask to buy beers for people or buy him a coffee or asked if I could take them out for lunch and, and just just find out what it was that made them so special. And one of the things I discovered was not only were they extremely generous with their time, but they were always extremely generous with their knowledge. They were very happy to help and to give. And I think that’s something that stuck with me. You know, our mutual friend Bob Burg talks a lot about that giving but not giving to receive, giving to give and that you know that what goes around comes around. I think it’s it’s quite interesting when I hear stories like that bus story and I think you know what, it doesn’t surprise me in any way. It delights me but it doesn’t surprise me that that person was a successful business person.


Bobby Hererra 16:18 Yeah, he was a very kind, is a very kind humble man…. you know, a few years back, you know, I realized had never picked up the phone and called him. And I’m not sure why I hadn’t. And it was about 15 years into my company’s journey. We just turned 17. So, ironically, now my company Populus Group is the same age and I was when he stepped on board that bus and you know, a few years back, I picked up the phone and I called him and I told him the bus story. I told him the impact it had on me and how I have been fortunate and very greatful to, you know, pay for that kind act to other kids who, you know, feel like me on that bus. And it was a real special moment for us, James. And yeah, a few days later, I got a note from him. And in that note, he says, you know, he says, you know, Bobby, thank you so much for calling me and telling me the bus story. I don’t mind admitting the many tears that I shed during and after that call. You made me feel like my life had mattered.


James Nathan 17:30 Did he remember, he did he remember meeting you on the bus?


Bobby Hererra 17:32 He did remember, he did remember. But he had no idea how that moment had become the invisible force that drove me to build something that is very fortunately, a pretty unique community and a given community of great people that I’m just, you know, God’s given me more than I deserve. And I like to think that I would have figured it out on my own James. But that’s not a real comfortable thought for me. I’m real open about that. Because, you know, again, seeing people encouraging people, making people feel seen and heard. That’s really what service are all about wouldn’t you agree?


James Nathan 18:12 Oh, absolutely. I think, you know, people talk about the thought…. it’s the thought that counts. Of course, it’s not as the effort that counts and the effort we make for others and the way we think about them, to give them…. to delight them to make them feel great, to make them…. to warm them to what we’re doing, and to hope that they want to do more of it. Where does struggle fit in because you talk about the gift of struggle, and is struggling a gift?


Bobby Hererra 18:40 Well, great question. So I’m going to take you forward one year from that moment that I experienced on the bus. So about a year after that experience, I probably raised my hand and I took the oath and I joined your what I probably call the best branch of the military in the US, the Army. And about three weeks in the boot camp, that’s right in that heart of that haze of that mental and physical breakdown that any soldier that joins the military will experience. And it was late one evening about 11:30pm at night, and I’m polishing my boots by flashlight. And all around me, I can hear the soldiers complaining about the night that had no end in sight. And the morning that was going to start way too soon. And James, I remember vividly thinking as they were complaining, I’m like, wow, I’ve been waking up in the wee hours to work in the fields ever since I was, you know, yea high. I know what it’s like not to have any material comfort. I know what it’s like to not have any free time. I’d even been asked to leave the table because of the color of my skin and language I spoke at the time and I remember specifically thinking, like, maybe that was part of the plan. Because for the first time, I thought, you know what, there’s nothing that they can say or do to me that I haven’t somehow someway experienced before. And I started reframing some of those hardships and those struggles and those experiences. And that’s where, you know, as I reflect on my journey, and I look at some of those experiences, anytime I faced an obstacle, I could always draw from something that I experienced before that made me feel like I had self doubt or question myself, it was always a previous experience of struggle that gave me the energy to get through whatever obstacle I was facing. And I connect a lot of those dots through the stories that I share in the book. Yet, you know, that ultimately shape my leadership philosophy and, you know, to answer your question, what it really comes down to in my mind is that you we all struggle. Inside every struggle is a gift that teaches us something. And leaders share those gifts with others. And it’s a simple philosophy, yet it’s a very true philosophy. I often say that, hey, we all have a PhD in struggle. Are we tapping into those lessons and those gifts that those struggle have given us?


James Nathan 21:24 You said your biggest leadership mistake was not talking about your story. What stopped you?


Bobby Hererra 21:32 Well, you know, my wife says my frontal lobe wasn’t fully developed yet. And, you know, I think every entrepreneur when they first start their journey, you’re dodging arrows, you’re facing so many unknowns. And, you know, I have to call the first five years of Populus Group the most fun I never want to have again, like I just wanted to keep the lights on and although I intuitively… culture and, you know, purpose was burning inside of me. I was just trying to survive. And then, as we experienced some fortunate growth in that second era, you know, I was telling myself the wrong narrative. And the narrative that I was saying is that, you know what, this is important to me. It’s not important to them, they don’t need to hear it. What if I fall flat on my face? You know, and, I mean, this moment was the experience that exposed my biggest point of self doubt. And again, I didn’t realize at that point, just how powerful and critical the competency of your being authentic and vulnerable with your people really is. And, you know, I finally mustered up the courage. I talked about how I did it. It wasn’t, you know, I didn’t just one day wake up and say, yeah, I’m going to tell that story. It actually happened accidentally while I was working on a project. And I just share the story with, you know, with a gentleman that was helping me work on a project where we were going to codify our culture and our culture code. But when I told him that story, I felt like this giant weight had been just removed from my shoulders. But a few weeks later, my company heard the story. And it changed everything. It humanized me. And they were finally able to understand that intensity that they knew was there and they knew I had this real intense driven passionate succeed, but they didn’t know why. And I believe as a leader, one of the most important things that we need to do is we need to give our people meaning. In other words, it’s our responsibility to give those that we lead, contribution, give them something to contribute to. And I hadn’t done that.


James Nathan 24:03 Right. It’s interesting, you know, I speak to so many people on this podcast, you know, across the last couple of seasons and so many talk about their, you know, everyone has a story and they talk about their stories. And the common theme is that when they started to discuss that with the people they worked with, with the people that worked with them, a whole world of change happened, and that authenticity that vulnerability, I guess, made them very human and it not only did it change the relationship in the business and with the people in their business, but it inspired and one of the greatest talents of a leader is surely to inspire those around you to follow the journey into come along to toward the vision. So it’s really fantastic that when you when you mentioned that you think, ah great, how can we get people to do that? How can we get leaders to think inside themselves and to bring that vulnerability out, what could what could people listening today, think about and do to change that narrative?


Bobby Hererra 25:10 Well, you know, that’s actually part of my mission is, you know, I want to reframe how the world view struggle, you know, I want them to see it as a source of empowerment. As a gift that it really is. And as I was fortunate to do, and that’s the primary reason why the first lesson is tell your story. And I believe that it has to be a choice, you know, people, we’re wired in a way that, you know, we don’t like to be told what to do. And, you know, I’m going to keep telling my story, to be an example and, you know, share the good, bad and the ugly of, you know, how it helped me and the more I think people out there who have made a similar mistake or experienced a similar struggle, the more safety we create for others to do the same. I think they’ll make the choice. You know, in business, I believe that’s one of the biggest trends in business now is leaders wanting to build a more purpose driven organization? And the reality is that’s what the younger workforce generations are teaching us. So, you know, a lot of people complain about the millennials and all these other generations and I’m like, you know what they’re actually teaching us to lead with more purpose, more intentionality, to communicate differently, communicate better. I tend to focus more on what they’re challenging and encouraging. Those of us that get the opportunity to lead to do better.


James Nathan 26:42 But that new generation….because you your your background is, as you say, it’s not an uncommon story, you know, migrant background hard working family. But we certainly would hope that you know, the next generation and the generation on have easier and easier lifes. So does that give to struggle disappear? I guess your kids won’t feel or know the same hardship that you felt as a child.


Bobby Hererra 27:09 You know, I hope they don’t yet I want to teach them the same lessons. You know, we were talking offline. You know, I moved to a farm so they could learn how to work in the dirt, play in the dirt. Yeah, I’m going to manufacturing it. But you know, the reality is, is, you know, as a good friend of mine, who had a very fortunate upbringing says, you know, they’re going to be born on third base, and they didn’t hit a triple. So I want to make sure that they, that they understand these lessons, and I’m doing that by the storytelling, but here’s a….. here’s what I really want to, you know, comment about that, James, is that, you know, there’s a technical definition of struggle, and that is, you know, to strive or achieve something in the face of difficulty or resistance. And, sure that’s true. We’re going to face obstacles, exterior obstacles, and you know, struggle. The way I view it, it’s actually the pain that we feel inside. We often have self doubt, we feel like we’re the only one. We feel like that there’s only one person, ourself, that is experiencing this frustration or source of pain right now. And that’s just not true. And through storytelling and sharing some of these stories, I’ve received some heartwarming, life changing letters from great people across the world that, you know, they’re thanking me for simply just sharing the stories that I shared in the book, and I wrote it to give. And one of the part of that giving is to create that safety for other people to talk openly about it. And I think there’s a big gap out there right now for leaders to, you know, finally step up and admit that they don’t all have their stuff to together.


James Nathan 29:02 Well, you as you talk about the reframing part, I just want to come back to that in a moment, but you know, that ability….. there’s a resilience or is it just a bloody mindedness that kept you going? And then how did you when you said you reframed it, was there something that clicked was there a pivoting moment that made you think I have to look at this differently?


Bobby Hererra 29:24 Well, that that moment that highlighted at that basic training at boot camp, when I was polishing my boots, and that was the first vivid experience yet, as I continued into my professional journey, and then my entrepreneurial journey. Every time that I faced an obstacle, and there were many and there’s countless and you know, the book is laced with mistakes and frustrations that I had and then mistakes that I made and I often tell people that although I have been very fortunate, intentional about reframing my struggle. I don’t openly go out and invite it in my life, like you have to be crazy to want to struggle. But you have to be crazier to think that it’s not going to happen. So just shifted our mindset a little bit. And, you know, often when I guide leaders or coach others, I have them go back to the beginning, like, write down a list of those marker moments in your life, where you faced a significant struggle. And it’s usually pretty, pretty easy for someone to do that. And then I’ll have them draw a line, and I’ll ask them, okay, on the other side, when you reflect on that, what did it teach you? How did it make you better? And you’ll see people write things like, well, hey, it taught me compassion. It taught me to be kind. It taught me to never give up. It taught me to go off the beaten path, it taught me to, you know, ask for help. And those are the things that get us through those moments when we, you know, feel like we’re alone and we feel like the weight of the world on our shoulders. But you have to work at it.


James Nathan 31:16 Fantastic. Bobby, I read a lovely quote from you, which said leadership amounts to wanting more for people, than what we want from them.


Bobby Hererra 31:24 That’s right.


James Nathan 31:25 And I think if anything could sum up what you’ve been telling me I think that that’s, that’s absolutely wonderful. I’ve loved chatting with you, and I’m pretty sure I could go on for the rest of the evening. But could you leave our listeners with your one big thing, one, one idea, one Golden Nugget, something that they can do for themselves and for their businesses to be benefited day and better for the years to come? What would that be?


Bobby Hererra 31:54 Well, I’d asked him to consider the…. just the unvarnished truth of this next statement, and that we must all go through struggle, pain and suffering, to get to wisdom. And I often say that, you know, the long way is a shortcut. And if we really take a step back and do that deep excavation that we just briefly talked about, and going back to the beginning and writing down some of those significant, often painful moments, I believe they would recognize that, wow, I do have a PhD in struggle. Maybe this is part of the plan.


James Nathan 32:38 Bobby, thank you so so much. It’s been lovely chatting with you.


Bobby Hererra 32:42 God bless you James and that pints on me next time you’re in Portland. Hail the underdogs!


James Nathan 32:47 I’ll hold you to that. Great, thanks Bobby.

S2E16 The Self Reliant Entrepreneur Edition with John Jantsch

James chats with John Jantsch, marketing consultant, speaker and the author of Duct Tape Marketing, The Referral Engine, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and SEO for Growth.


His newest work, The Self Reliant Entrepreneur – 366 Daily Meditations to Feed Your Soul and Grow Your Business, taps into the wisdom of 19th century transcendentalist literature, and the author’s own 30 year entrepreneurial journey to challenge today’s entrepreneurs to remain fiercely self reliant while chasing their own version of success.


They discuss self reliance, living to a purpose, having four daughters, what 19th century literature can teach us today, and doing less to achieve more.


Contact John:


Email: john@ducttapemarketing.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ducttapemarketing
Twitter: twitter.com/ducttape

John’s new book: ducttapemarketing.com/the-self-relia…-entrepreneur/

Click for the full transcript

James Nathan 0:54 Hello and welcome to the only one business show with me your host James Nathan and today I’ve got a stunning guests for and I really hope you’re going to enjoy the conversation. This gentleman is a marketing consultant, speaker and the author of Duct Tape Marketing, The Referral Engine, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and SEO for Growth. His newest work, The Self Reliant Entrepreneur, 366 Daily Meditations to Feed Your Soul and Grow Your Business, taps into the wisdom of 19th century transcendentalist literature, and the author’s own 30 year entrepreneurial journey to challenge today’s entrepreneurs to remain fiercely self reliant while chasing their own version of success. One of my personal favourite authors, really delighted to welcome John Jantsch. John, hi, how are you today?


John Jantsch 1:43 Hey, thanks, James. Happy to be here. Love, love that. you’ve enjoyed my previous writing.


James Nathan 1:50 I have, but this one’s a very very different book, John. How did you come from Duct Tape Marketing through this journey and end up with where you are now?


John Jantsch 2:01 Yeah. So as you mentioned, I’ve owned my own business for almost 30 years now. And so I think what I wanted to do in this book, it’s called The Self Reliant Entrepreneur, it is structured as a daily, almost devotional, or I like to call it love letter to entrepreneurs. You know, it’s not about marketing. It’s not about teaching you how to do anything necessarily. It’s really more….. It’s really more I think about the why to do what you’re doing. And I think that I wanted to write a book that was… there’s no question it taps kind of my journey, and how I think and what I’ve experienced, and you know, where I’ve come to in my entrepreneurial journey. But I wanted to write something that was really focused on on the mindset, I work with thousands now of entrepreneurs. And I think a lot of them even get the how to do things, you know, they understand what they should be doing. But stuff gets in the way that kind of trips them up. They don’t trust themselves enough to follow through their own, on their own idea. They aren’t able to frame failures, you know that happened to them in a certain way, as a learning experience, they’re not focused enough on the impact that they want to have on the world and I just think that an entry or you know, writing from me, you know, I was trying to tackle kind of that…. here’s a daily practice that hopefully can keep you on track as an entrepreneur because there we all know there are a lot of things stacked up against us trying to to get us off track and so I really just, you know, I wanted to write a very different kind of book and hopefully it will have some impact in the world.


James Nathan 3:41 I certainly hope so. There’s that fantastic thing of people setting up in business know you know, when you, you set up for yourself and you think this is going to be great and have all the spare time, I’m going to going to do whatever I want, you know, and then the stark reality hits you and it’s not like that at all. What is a self reliant entrepreneur.


John Jantsch 4:01 Well, I think it’s a lot of things. Now the title, some of your listeners may remember, you know, I’ve kind of taken from an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson called Self Reliance and a lot of entrepreneurs cite that essay is really kind of being, you know, the, you’ve got this, you know, you need to follow your own dream. So that’s where that title came from. But for me, I think in a lot of ways, it’s somebody that just realizes that their life is a work in progress, and that going to work on yourself is how you build a better business instead of, you know, we spend so much time, you know, trying to work in the business and on the business, that we sometimes fail to realize that you know, the businesses, in many cases is really just about who we’re being and what we’re putting out in the world. And if we don’t focus on that component, if we don’t focus on on finding the joy and happiness in our business, it will suck the life out of you.


James Nathan 4:58 Was it a personal thing, was there an experience or something that changed me that made you think, you know what I need to write this kind of book.


John Jantsch 5:06 I can’t say there was an event or anything, it’s really more that, you know, about 10 years into my business, you know, I felt like, it wasn’t really going where I wanted, I felt a little stuck, I felt like I just kind of been taking whatever came along. And that was really actually the point where I decided to completely change my business go after small business, write Duct Tape Marketing, you know, create my approach to small business marketing as kind of my gift or playing I’m not sure which, to the world. And, at that time that, you know, I really kind of did have a revelation that, you know, I need to be doing this for me, not not for me, but in a way that that really feels unique to my gifts and, and the impact that I can bring to the world and I think at that point, you know, I kind started this sort of self examination, and it’s continued to where, you know, I’ve consumed pretty much everything I can to, you know, to, you know, figure out, you know, what I’m thinking why I’m thinking that, you know, how can I have a positive impact on the world? How can I take better care of my mind and body and spirit so that I can really bring my unique gifts to the world? And so, you know, in a way, I feel like I’ve been writing this book for 20 years, and it just kind of came to the point where it bubbled up, I suppose.


James Nathan 6:31 It needed to be out there. You know, 19th century literature is an interesting place to be what is it about that, that’s so relevant do you think?


John Jantsch 6:43 Well, to me, you know, you will see if you spend any time on Pinterest or anything like that, you’re going to see, you know, quotes from Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, of course, American writers that are known all over the world, but certainly very important. American writers I dug into that period when that count when their content was written, I was looking for kind of a way to anchor the book. So every day starts with a quote from some or really a reading from some mid 19th century literature. And then kind of my reflection on that. And if you think about what was going on, at least in America, at the time of that, most of that writing 1850, 1860 we were on the cusp of a civil war, women were marching in the streets to get the right to vote, we were trying to abolish the horrible act of slavery. And it was the first time that a lot of the writing some very overt, like Emerson, was saying, hey, it’s time to stop listening to our preachers or parents or our politicians or you know, people that are telling us we have to live our life a certain way that we’re all endowed with a soul, unique soul and a unique gift that were meant to bring to the world…. and that was, that was, you know, counterculture thinking at the time. And when I dug in a little bit, I found that really a lot of the works of fiction even, that many of us read, at least again in America, you know, Moby Dick, The Scarlet Letter, Little Women. I mean, these were required reading. Well, it was the first time also in American literature where the protagonist, you know, we’re showing up is this very self reliant, you know, this may cost me but I, you know, I have to live and stay true to my dream. I think that’s still some of the best entrepreneurial writing out there. And so that’s really when I started digging into it and researching, you know, letters and journals, not just the the works that everybody’s familiar with, but really just how they thought. It just, it just seemed like the perfect vein of literature to mine and, you know, I don’t know if it’s ironic or telling but I feel like around the globe, I think I feel like we’re, we’re on, there’s some real similarities right now to that period of time. And so I think entrepreneurs have always been the force of good, you know, I’ve always been the ones that are, you know, out there trying to tackle the world’s wrongs. So I think an army of self reliant entrepreneurs, is really one of the ways that I think we’re going to get back on track.


James Nathan 9:27 It’s interesting, you mentioned the kind of history repeating itself there, it’s….. you know, you just have to look into the, into the streams of thinking at the moment, and in some ways, I think it’s very, it’s very important that we look at these things and think, you know, how do we…. what future do we want? How do we want it to be? You know, there’s loads of talk about the generational differences. Do you see real differences in the generations?


John Jantsch 9:52 Oh, I think very much, but that’s not a new thing. You know, I think every generation, you know, throughout history, and there’s been some advancement, there certainly are some things that I think cycle there are historians and researchers that talk about kind of this fourth generation concept, the idea that kind of every fourth generation comes along and shakes things up, you know, significantly but there’s this kind of, you know, gradual change with every generation and frankly, you know, the even the writing of this book I shared with, I have shared now with people of all ages. And I find a lot of people…. I’m a baby boomer, the very tail end of the baby boomer generation. I find a lot of people my age, you know, are taking these readings and thinking more about like, have I you know, have I made a difference? You know, what impact is, you know, me running my business done, you know, for my family, or for the one or 100 or thousand people that maybe I’ve touched over the course of my business, and I see a lot of millennials and Gen Z folks that are just coming up now and they view work I think completely differently. I mean, there’s, there’s nobody in that are very few people in that generation, they’re saying, I’m going to go to school, get a 30 year career, retire, you know, with the watch, they’re very much My life is going to be about a series of experiments and that I’m going to, you know, try different things I’m going to, you know, maybe take a completely non traditional path, maybe I won’t even go to college, or, you know, taking that approach. And so, I’ve heard from folks in that generation that the writings and in this and the readings in this book, you know, are really more…. they really encouraged that idea of, hey, you know, find what’s true for you and put string together a series of experiences and you know, that’s how you’re going to find your purpose.


James Nathan 11:48 Well, you’ve led me into something I really wanted to ask about because I look at this and think right you know, I meditate every morning. It’s something I started to do a while ago and I find really helps focus me on my day. And you know, when I tell people they go, oh are you old hippy and I wish I had been born, you know, I wish I had been a hippy I would have been, you know, right at the heart of my favorite music, but do the more…. Are Gen Z’s, I mean, I struggle with millennials, because they’re almost 40 aren’t they. Do they buy into this faster? Is it something that they get hold of quicker? Or is it something that actually everybody can embrace quite quickly, but they need to sort of focus themselves a bit.


John Jantsch 12:31 You know, I don’t think there’s a real difference in terms of embracing it quicker. I think it’s really just more point of view of how they view it. You know, I think a lot of the Gen Z folks feel like yeah, I’m going to go out and I’m going to start a business. I’m going to do this, you know, even if it’s a side thing, and so, I do think it feels as though purpose and meaning are at the forefront of what they’re trying to experience where I think a lot of people my age, you know, we’re taught that that’s something that you look, you look back, like traditional accounting and say, How did I do? You know? And so I think that that’s, you know, that’s the real significant difference that I see at least.


James Nathan 13:17 I had an interesting conversation on the first series, this podcast with a guy who, who basically refuted everything that Simon Sinek put in Why and, you know, we talked about purpose, and he was saying, well, actually, you know what, it’s nonsense. We don’t need a purpose, because each of us have an individual purpose. What would you say to that?


John Jantsch 13:35 Well, I think that I probably fall somewhere in between. And really, the reason I say that is because I think a lot of people read a book like Simon’s, and they think, okay, I have to sit in this room and figure out what my purpose is, you know, and I have to go through these exercises and fill out these forms and these sheets and then I’ll have my purpose, and that leads people to coming up with something that sounds good or sounds meaningful. You know, to them, but maybe isn’t at the heart of what it is they’re meant to do. So I do believe that we’re all…. every single one of us is completely unique. I mean, that’s just a fact of science. And I think that we have a unique spirit as well, we have a unique mind as well. And I think that if we go out and have experiences, if we go out and stay curious if we go out and explore if we go out and push ourselves outside our comfort zone, I think what happens is purpose finds us and it is somewhat unique. So that was a good on the fence answer probably. But I do think the answer is somewhere in between those two points of view.


James Nathan 14:39 Fantastic. Could you read us an excerpt I think that might be a nice thing to do. Just if you could find something you think might be quite interesting and relevant. And I guess the 366 is the number of days in a year, so does it work on dates?


John Jantsch 14:55 It does work exactly on date. So I was we are you and I are recording this today on November 21st


James Nathan 15:02 So, shall we have we have today? Because I think this will probably go out in January. Okay. If I look at my schedule, early January, we have a little break for Christmas for a couple of weeks


John Jantsch 15:14 What we can do that or, or another….


James Nathan 15:16 Let’s go with November 21st John


John Jantsch 15:20 Another option is I could read your birthday?


James Nathan 15:23 Ah, I tell you what, read my daughter’s birthday Have you got the 11th of February


John Jantsch 15:28 February 11. On another little side note, in this book, I have four daughters. And I actually asked each of them to write the reflection for their birthdays so readers will find an author’s note on four different pages and that they’ll get to experience the writing from each of my daughters.


James Nathan 15:46 Fabulous.


John Jantsch 15:47 All right, February 11. So every day starts with a title, then a reading. This one happens to be a really short reading from the literature and then my take and then I actually leave you with a challenge question. In each day two and some of them are worn you are, you might not have the answer to. All right February 11. Simply perfect. In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity. That was from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, his favourite poems. And my reflection: Longfellow is one of America’s most popular poets, his long form poems such as Paul Revere’s Ride, The Wreck of the Hesperus, and the Song of Hiawatha, were at one point required memorization exercises in many schools, and yet in his own work, of favourite poems is a note about yearning for simplicity that sums up his creative genius. Simplicity it turns out as much harder than the opposite. Simplicity or even brevity of thought and word forces us to distill something to its core without access to make our point. But being precise is sometimes the greatest work we endeavour. Simplicity, however, maybe best summed up as an aspiration. To embrace simplicity as a creative force, we might find it useful to see it in all things, our choices, strategies, conversations, possessions, as well as our entrepreneurial vision. Through this lens, it becomes our teacher. Simplicity is about being less busy and more focused on what matters. Simplicity as a point of view helps us focus on the essentials that lead to the success we so desire. In the words of Greg McCowan, author of Essentialism – the Disciplined Pursuit of Less: the pursuit of success can be a catalyst for failure. Put another way, success can distract us from focusing on the essential thing that produces success in the first place. And your challenge question today. What is the one thing you could simplify or eliminate completely right now?


James Nathan 18:01 Wow, that’s gonna keep us thinking. Sure there’s more than one as well. While you were reading I was thinking you know, you there’s there’s a lot of a lot of kind of meditations and mindfulness stuff about. And this is quite different, isn’t it?


John Jantsch 18:18 Yeah. And I actually talked about this book as a practice. And I think a lot of entrepreneurs have realized that developing some sort of morning routine that you know, kind of gets their head straight, you mentioned meditation, thats become a very popular practice I’m discovering amongst entrepreneurs. And I think this book could fit into a practice like that very easily, that you might read that, you know, before you meditate or after you meditate or before you journal. Like a lot of people do. And so that’s the reason for the structure. I mean, I think all of us have a stack of books on the corner of our desk that we’re meaning to get to but you know, it takes a lot of energy to get to you know that new that new book and and we’re this you know…. you pick it up every day for two minutes read a page and you know you’ve maybe done something really inspiring and helpful for you to take into the day.


James Nathan 19:16 I love the idea of that I say I’d some you know that that starting the day with with the meditation for me I use an app, and it’s and it really does set me up and I like the idea of it….. you before we started recording you mentioned this is going to come as an audio book as well.


John Jantsch 19:34 That’s right. Yeah. It’d be interesting to see but I mean, again, you know, a lot of people are using these apps like Headspace and things like that, to have guided meditations and you know, there is an element of these readings that that could probably, you know, focus that way I would never put myself out as a meditation coach, but I think there there is an element to that and, I do apologize to your listeners for that Paul Revere thing


James Nathan 20:01 No, no, not at alll… what did you learn John? Because writing a book is a hell of an undertaking, isn’t it? What did you learn on the way through?


John Jantsch 20:09 Well, it’s funny, you know, my other books have been about marketing, as you mentioned, and a lot of times in those books, I was really just kind of recounting, here’s what I do. You know, here’s how it worked. Maybe it’ll work for you. And so, you know, I’m not saying that they wasn’t a lot of work. But this book, I had six months of research to for the readings, sick another six months to actually write. Turns out, James, it’s actually harder to write short pages, right. And, and so, to answer your question, you know, it was almost like a gift of being able to spend you know, almost an entire year immersed in thinking about the concepts that I write about in this book and I find myself you know, thinking, you know, differently about the mark. I want to leave I find myself thinking differently about success and about comparison. And, and I think those are all good things and and it really so it was really, you know, I credit my team in my company for you know, giving me the space to and my, my family, you know for giving me the space to write this because it in some ways was, you know, almost a selfish endeavor to you know, to immerse yourself so deeply in something like that, but hopefully, hopefully it leaves you know, others better off, you know, for having engaged in the content.


James Nathan 21:34 Absolutely. And you say you know your family with four girls, that’s a busy household.


John Jantsch 21:39 Well, it was they are all grown and having having babies were on that so but yeah, it definitely definitely was.


James Nathan 21:47 Fabulous, nice legacy for them to come back to I guess when they have the time. What do the people who pick the book up learn, what does this book give that’s different to the other books on the market. In a similar vein?


John Jantsch 22:03 Well, here’s my smart alec answer, I have absolutely no idea. And the reason I say that is because, you know, it’s sort of ironic to write a book about telling somebody how to be self reliant. Because, you know, the self reliant part is totally on you. And it’s been kind of fun to, to share some of these readings to have discussions with people about these questions, and discover that every single person looks at every page differently. I mean, there’s no consensus about oh, here’s exactly what that meant. Or here’s exactly how I’m going to answer that question. People come to this kind of thing. I’m sure you’ve done this before, you know, where you’ve read a book and then you go back and read the book a second time, and all sudden, it’s like all these brilliant things are in there. You know that you missed the first time, but it’s because you are ready to hear them now. And I think that that’s kind of how this book is people will get out of it, what they need, you know, where they are, where they need to go. And, you know, the beauty of this book from a author standpoint is, you know, it’ll never go out of date. I mean, there’s another thing in here, that won’t be as relevant 10 years from now, you know, as it is today, and I think a lot of people will find in a book like this, that when they come back to January 1, say, you know, on year two, you know that reading means something completely different to them, because they’ll be a completely different person.


James Nathan 22:30 That makes huge amounts of sense to me, is their spirituality attached then?


John Jantsch 23:37 Well, there certainly is a spiritual element, the writers that I source quite frequently were labeled transcendentalist and it wasn’t it…. was really like I said, more of a label. It wasn’t a religion or anything, but it was really more of a way of thinking and one of the, you know, a lot of their thinking was drawn from, you know, some of the kind of Eastern Wisdom texts. And so this idea that we’re all connected yet we all have a unique soul that you know nature is a, you know, is our, our best example for how to live, you know, certainly allows you to kind of bring some spiritual themes into this book. And as I said, you know, buyer beware this is a lot of what I believe. And so, so those themes do show up.


James Nathan 24:25 When you look back, if you read back through them, is there a particular author that really resonates with you? Is there one that you like more than the others?


John Jantsch 24:33 Sure. So one of the things that was really important to me was to, you know, I we already talked about I have four daughters, I’m sort of acutely aware to try and to find and source you know, as many female authors as I could in this particular work, which was actually a chore because of course, you know, a lot of the writers of that day that that happened to be female, their work didn’t get featured. It didn’t get shared, you know, as widely and so it was very fun turning up some authors that….. I talked to a lot of women today. And if they hadn’t taken courses in women’s studies or something, you know, they haven’t heard of most of these authors. So kind of a two part answer. I’ve always been a huge reader of Thoreau. So if you were going to pin me down to save my favourite texts, and you will see, I need to do a count on this. But Thoreau probably shows up about 30 times in the throughout the book, but my favourite kind of discovery was a writer named Willa Cather. And she wrote, she wrote, O Pioneers! and Song of a Lark, which are in My Antonia, which are books that people probably doing any kind of literature, QA studies would be familiar with, but I was not that familiar with work. And so I really enjoyed kind of her point of view. Her novels are all about kind of pioneering, you know, the West In that period of in America, so they’re all works of fiction, but her characters were really gritty, and her writing is very beautiful.


James Nathan 26:10 You know what, why speaking there, I love the idea of not only what this book brings to you, but also the literature, it opens up to you. And, you know, the opportunity to, to read new authors or authors that are new to you and to perhaps find, you know, some joy in something you may not have had the opportunity to come across before simply by you know, reading today’s reading.


John Jantsch 26:33 Yeah, it’s kind of a sampling, you know, and it was, you know, just something that I really dug in and, you know, I need all the statistics on here, but there probably are, you know, well over 100 individuals that are represented in, you know, throughout the book, and, you know, with one or one or two entries, so, it was it was a great chance for me to dive into that literature. But I am hearing from people that have said, boy, I, you know, I like Thoreau as well, but I, you know, it’s so great to kind of have the cliff notes, if you will on on that period of other writers.


James Nathan 27:11 You’re just giving away the secret of how I got through my A level in English Literature. John, you talked about what you’ve learned from it was anything that surprised you?


John Jantsch 27:21 Well, I think the thing that surprised me the most, and it shouldn’t, you know, I mean, now in hindsight, but was how relevant these readings are today. I mean, there were times when I would read something and say, Thoreau was talking about how much time we waste on Facebook. You know, when, you know, mid 19th century, how did he know? And I think it’s really more a symbol of, you know, the tools change, the technology changes times change, but the human condition, I think remains the same.


James Nathan 27:50 Yep. Yep. Very, very true. Very true. John, I cannot wait for the book to be available to me. I know it’s coming very soon. And certainly the audio, which I will, I’m going to be one of those people that buys two or three different versions I’m sure I’m the best client of all. But what I’d love you to leave our listeners, John with just one thought, perhaps a golden nugget, something that they could take away and think about and do to make their businesses better today and better for the years to come. What would that be?


John Jantsch 28:22 Sure. Do less is my is my golden nugget. You know, it’s so easy to get it to do list with 27 things on it, maybe even hack away at half a dozen of them throughout the day. What do I think it does is it distracts us from the important things. And you know, it’s very easy to fill up a day. We all know that and so one of the practices that I’ve done for years that I think has made a huge business, or a huge impact on my business is that every quarter my team and I pick three things that are going to be our primary focus, primary objective for the quarter, and we build in projects and tasks, maybe around those. But every single day, I revisit that list and say, okay, what am I doing to move these three things forward? You know, before I plan anything else on my list?


James Nathan 29:11 What a great tip, John, I have loved chatting with you. I’m sure we could go on all day. But thank you so, so much.


John Jantsch 29:19 Oh, it’s my pleasure, James.

S2E15 The Power of Emotion, Diversity and Inclusion at Work with Gian Power

James chats with Gian Power who whilst working at Deutsche Bank and PwC witnessed first-hand some of the wellbeing & inclusion issues that need to be tackled in the corporate world.


In 2015, Gian’s life changed forever when his father was murdered whilst overseas. When returning back to work, Gian saw the power of being able to share his emotions and being his full self at work. Recognising that everyone has a story, he wanted to encourage others to share and saw the power of storytelling.


He is the founder of TLC Lions and The Unwind Experience and is passionate about igniting emotion in the workplace, encouraging others to share and be themselves at work.


They discuss the power of emotion and storytelling at work, the ROI of diversity and inclusion, what we can learn from 5 year olds and how corporate organisations and businesses generally can benefit from meditation.


Contact Gian:


Web: www.tlclions.com
Email: gian@tlclions.com
twitter: @GianPower, @tlclions

Click for the full transcript

James Nathan  0:53   Hello and welcome to the only one business show with me your host James Nathan and a fabulous guest for you today and I hope we’re going to have, well, you are going to enjoy this conversation. He set up his first business aged just 13 and went on to work with Deutsche Bank and PwC, witnessing firsthand some of the well being and inclusion issues that need to be tackled in the corporate world. In 2015 an unexpected family tragedy changed his life forever. And on returning to work, he saw the power of being able to share his emotions and being his full self. Recognizing that everyone has a story, he wanted to encourage others to share and saw the power of storytelling. He’s the founder of TLC Lions and The Unwind Experience and is passionate about igniting emotion in the workplace, encouraging others to share and be themselves at work. And his work has now reached over 57 countries around the world and is featured in the Independent, Business Advisor and part of a BBC One documentary. He’s been invited to interview such names as day Dame Esther Rantzen and Reggie Yates and has spoken at events alongside His Royal Highness Prince William, and popstar Will Young. He also sits on the board of This Can Happen which is the UK largest mental health conference and is supported by Westminster hosting his own roundtables at the House of Lords to further the agenda alongside the UK Government. This year in 2019 he was the winner of the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Qwards, and has been named as one of Empowers 100 Ethnic Minority Executives. Goodness me, please welcome… that’s a lot of stuff. We please welcome Gian Power. Gian, how are you?


Gian Power 2:37  Hello, I’m good thank you, all good. That was a long introduction. Wasn’t it?


James Nathan  2:41  I shortened what I was going to say because you’ve been a really busy guy, haven’t you?


Gian Power 2:46  Yeah, it’s an interesting last 18 months lots been happening. But yeah, non stop. But all good fun.


James Nathan  2:53  Take us back in time. And just if you don’t mind, just give me and the listeners, just a better background to who you are and how you got to where you are and what you’re doing these days.


Gian Power 3:04  Sure. Yeah. So my background as you said, I kind of set my first business at 13 and absolutely loved it. So that entrepreneurial nature I guess, came out quite young. But then kind of went down a bit more of a traditional route…. University, joined Deutsche Bank as you say, and I kind of grew up with my Dad who’s an entrepreneur by background and really kind of put this go getting nature within me and said, whatever you want, you can kind of go out and achieve but my mom quite the opposite. I guess, she’s kind of just a… does a lot with children, counsellor by background, a very calm, so they kind of brought me up together very normal upbringing. And then yeah, as I said, I kind of joined PwC very much performance driven, focused. But then yeah, nine months into joining there a lot changed for me. One night in 2015. And, yeah, kind of was working the city. So my dad got murdered overseas, and I guess just a very normal life as I knew it kind of went across the media, and my attempt to try and get justice for Dad. But more importantly, really, and you know, I took three months out of work, PwC were hugely supportive. And they really, were great. I think, you know, when you’ve got organizations who feel like a second family, it makes all the difference. But when I came back into the office, so many things changed. And I started, you know, a lot more people started sharing their stories with me, and I realized that everybody has a story. And, you know, unfortunately a colleague of mine who I joined with, he was 23, he jumped off the building and ended his life. And it just made me realize, like, we’ve got to do more to bring human back to corporates we’re human beings, not human doings. And, you know, I kind of want to do more. So, yeah, in short I recognize everybody has a story. And actually when you have a story to share, and you share it at work, and you have to a caring kind and understanding, actually it allowed me to really thrive. I never took a sick day I was much more productive, so much more loyal. And yeah, I wanted to do more across the city. So, hence why I left and went on a mission to ignite emotion in the workplace through storytelling with TLC Lions. Lion being mine and my Dad’s middle name.


James Nathan  5:12  Sure. And you kind of very quickly glossed over what must have been one of the most horrendous experiences, anybody can, you know, have to come to…. to cope with and come to terms with and then back into an environment where, you know, my background’s accountancy as well and you know, an environment where people don’t want to show anything but strength and I’d like to show weakness and obviously that’s an incredibly, incredibly unhealthy way to be.


Gian Power  5:40  Yep, absolutely. And I just, you know, my I suppose you could say I didn’t really have a choice because it was in the media and I had to speak up. But actually, it was so much better when I did because it was like a pressure valve had been released. But you’ve got to have the right people around you the right leaders who are caring and understanding because if you don’t Then people do bottle it up. And that’s why this stuff really does start at the top. And it starts with leading by example in organizations. And you know, we often say our leaders, are they contagious? Are they really empowering their employees to speak up?


James Nathan 6:14  What was the trigger though… what was the point where you thought you know what? Speaking the way I am is actually making a difference for me.


Gian Power 6:24  Yeah, I guess it was when I started realizing that I had two projects going on at the same time. And with one the leader was really she was so busy, but she was so caring and understanding. She’s called Izzy Gross. She’s a good friend of mine today. And she just listened and listened to understand not to just respond and create that safe place. And I would then realize that I’d go above and beyond for her versus another project. You know, I was working, I remember two or three in the morning one night and I went over to the manager and I said, Look, I’ve got to go and she said, she didn’t even look at me. She just looked at her watch and said, be back In five hours, and I just remember thinking, wow, that’s not where I want to work. That’s not the type of leader I want to be. And it just made me think God, I’m going to do so much more for the other person. And I guess that’s when the penny dropped, that we’ve got to do more. But similarly, there’s one Senior Partner who shared her story with me of something that happened when she was 26. And, you know, we were like all tears going in her office one day, and I was like, why have you never shared this, I was like, so much more inspiring to know that people who’ve made it whatever that looks like, have gone through their own turbulent times. I thought, my God, I’ve got to do more to get the human out in people.


James Nathan 7:37  That’s a really interesting thing. You said there, you know, so much more inspiring when when there’s that level of honesty. Because we talk about honesty all the time, and, you know, being authentic and all this kind of stuff. And a lot of the time, it’s just words. It’s not real.


Gian Power 7:51  Exactly. And I think you know, I was doing some research recently into storytelling and words, and there’s so many buzzwords now that it says that we’re so used to hearing things like resilience and being your whole self at work, and they are important, but we’re so desensitized to them. The brain doesn’t even compute them anymore. I’m trying to say just be human, people walk into an office, and they are a mother or father or son or daughter. Don’t let them slip just because you go into a corporate environment. Care about your team like a second family.


James Nathan  8:22  Yeah, I know. I’d say everything you’re saying is ringing very, very clear bells with me. And I’m sure it is with people listening as well. I remember walking into my first corporate job and thinking, oh, I better be the way that I think I should be. Yes. And it was only later when I changed roles and went into a different company that I realized actually being myself as a whole lot better. But happy workers are great workers aren’t they. I mean, it’s not that suddenly we everyone seems to understand. What does that What does TLC Lions do? What’s the purpose and how does it work?


Gian Power  8:54  Sure. So, in short, we brought together 25 ordinary people with extraordinary stories. And each of these Lions really has a powerful story to share, but an understanding of the corporate world, and they’re people who are really championing in that respective field today. So we work with around 95 multinational companies to really ignite this emotion in the human back through storytelling. So that could be through kind of whether we do lunch and learns or we do AGMs, or we get involved in what might be a technical training, for example, will bring that to life at the end through one of our stories. And the focus is to ignite that emotion to evoke that, and to get people it’s almost like a ripple effect. If you hear somebody sharing, people start to open up and it builds a circle of trust and people and start sharing themselves internally. So that’s kind of what our focus and that’s what our mission is through our awesome Lions we’ve brought together.


James Nathan  9:50  So how does it company, what did they think they think or do you know what I’ve heard of these guys we’ll get them in or is there is there a trigger for their businesses where they understand that actually is time to speak to someone like you and the guys who work with you.


Gian Power 10:05  Yeah, I guess so we do a lot around well being and inclusion in the workplace and the business cases there as well, you know, there’s a Deloitte Report in 2017 every one pound invested and well being yields nine pounds back or, you know the case for diversity inclusion, it can add up to 30% on the bottom line when we have a diverse board. So why aren’t we doing more? I think businesses are waking up to realize that this is no longer just a nice to have, it’s actually a business imperative, and it affects the bottom line. So I think that’s twofold that it’s really, you know, one they’ve got to seen to be doing it, but actually hopefully waking up that this does affect the business.


James Nathan  10:40  It’s interesting him and you mentioned business case there and profit and, you know, talking with with Rob Stevenson, who I know, you know, earlier on in the in this series of podcasts and he was talking about budgets. Do the budgets exist for well being or they are they still you know, does it still need to be made or money shifted or how does a business…. Where are we at at the moment in the corporates?


Gian Power  11:05  So I guess I can only speak from my side, which is not as a budget holder, I suppose. But yes, some companies are waking up to it and realizing the importance of setting aside budgets and funds and the right resource that’s required for this important topic. And I challenge a lot of companies instead of putting, you know, £5000 behind the bar this Friday, actually invest in something meaningful. But at the same time, you know, not everything requires a budget. But you know, there are the small and simple things that companies can be doing to make a huge difference. I think it’s about realizing, you know, where the huge impact comes from. So yeah, I think in short, companies are waking up to it. And setting budgets aside, but I challenge companies who are doing that and not to make it tick box exercise and make sure they’re monitoring the return on investment, and the difference they’re making stuff.


James Nathan 11:53  Oh, absolutely. I mean, you mentioned some interesting figures there. Where did they come from?


Gian Power 11:58  Which figures the ones, the reports I mentioned?


James Nathan  12:00  Yeah, the return on investment.


Gian Power  12:02  Yeah, so that’s a Deloitte report. Deloitte did a report in October 2017, was 27th of October. And it was commissioned with the UK Government. And this was a huge was really, really interesting study. That’s the report that also started sharing the numbers around the cost of not just absenteeism in the workplace, people obviously not being there but also presenteeism, the cost of people being at work and not being focused on the job because they’re thinking of other things. It’s a huge number of billion, billions of impact that it has in organizations. And hopefully, you know, I remember reading the report and I emailed Elizabeth, one of the authors that night and went to me the next day to really dig deep into it.It’s a great report.


James Nathan 12:44  Fantastic. And so you obviously, the big companies often have bigger pockets. And you mentioned small things and simple things that businesses could do. What small things and free things I guess can small businesses do? What can they be thinking of and what have you seen work really, really well?


Gian Power  13:02  Yeah, I think there’s just small things that you can do in teams. I mean, this is, this is a random example. I just happened to be with a great guy called Tulia from Goldman Sachs today. He was saying, you know, the end of every day, he just high fives his team, keeps them happy. They might think, what are you doing? But he’s like, hey, it’s making you laugh, isn’t it? You know, it’s just small things that just kind of changed morale within the team. But when we were looking at suppose at mental health and things like that, it’s, you know, really encouraging storytelling across individuals, or, you know, one of our clients, you know, Hyatt who we have a great relationship with in some of their meetings, if it’s an hour long meeting, spending the first few minutes in meditation, doesn’t cost anything, just doing some breathing exercises, the team, even if they are on the line around the world, and the remaining 55 minutes or whatever, it is actually so much more productive. The people who might be often get more louder, I suppose in those meetings are bit calmer and quieter. Those who are normally quieter kind of got a bit more voice because it just puts them on a level playing field. You know, IBM has a Monday morning meditation everybody can dial into. There’s loads of different things like that people can do that see a nice return on not just investment of money. It’s actually time and resource. Yeah.


James Nathan  14:18  When you mentioned meditation, I mean, I can almost hear people going, oh, that’d be ridiculous. And the people who say that tend to be people who haven’t been involved in it, and then when they do that, you think actually, what a fool I was, you know, this is really wonderful. The Unwind Experience comes from that kind of mindset, doesn’t it, of getting that that group meditation going within a business? How does that work?


Gian Power 14:44  Yeah, exactly. So just to kind of take you back where that evolved. There was a time I suppose, for me when, you know, I had the media constantly outside the office, and it was quite overwhelming. And actually, in a moment when it was just all really all encompassing, and a leader said to me Gian, listen to this, go into the toilet, shut the door and listen to this. And I had no idea what it was. But it was a 10 minute meditation on YouTube. And I just thought, What on earth is this similar to all the skeptics out there, but actually in a situation that was hard to manage and navigate, I came back just, you know, being able to kind of navigate my way through it really, and to deal with everything properly and accordingly. And then I realized that actually a few friends of mine were going out, going into hospital, should I say, burning out. And I’d always ask the same question of do you meditate? Have you tried meditation and, you know, you’d get that thing of no Gian, that’s not for me. And then somehow, we’ve really got to get corporate friends of mine meditating. And it’s got to be done in a way that’s quite cool and accessible. It doesn’t have to have those religious connotations. And despite that being the origin. Yeah, I was inspired to create this new concept of The Unwind Experience. One of the first surround sound experiences that we take into organizations and it’s been quite the journey since.


James Nathan  15:59  How does it work?


Gian Power 16:01  So, yeah, we kind of have two sides to it. So one is that we’ll do corporate meditation. And we’ll go into the likes of, I think we work with Deloitte, Just Eat, Universal Music, take your traditional rooms, and really transform them into our kind of special experience of a candlelit oasis, and take them into a 30 minute guided meditation. But for us, it is this kind of experiential field that we put our unique spin on it to really take employees away from the desks. Similarly, we also do kind of bespoke brand activations. Yes, and working with awesome organizations to bring their brands to life. Rather just speak about it. Let’s get people to feel it.


James Nathan  16:44  Sure. Absolutely. And how does a manager…. if you’re sitting there with the team and thinking, well, I really want to…… let’s step back a moment. When you mentioned meditation before meetings and the louder ones becoming slightly quieter and even better the quieter ones getting a voice. If I was listening to that now with my team, I be thinking, you know, that sounds really good. How can I start the journey for my team in my business?


Gian Power  17:12  I think if you, if you’ve got people in your team, you might be a little bit skeptical. I think it’s firstly just outlining to them the advantages of meditation. You know, it can enhance decision making, it can enhance productivity. It can reduce anxiety, there are so many awesome things. And it’s a tool that doesn’t cost anything. We’ve all got a breath. And it’s kind of what most of us do. It’s always there and I think that’s the first thing is, you know, if you’ve got a team of their head or heart people, that’s the first thing maybe they understand the advantages. And then just don’t put stress on people. Don’t push it on people that you’ve got to meditate every day. I say there’s no right or wrong way that everybody should or shouldn’t meditate, find what works for you. They might want to for example, there’s awesome apps Headspace and Calm. I use Calm, it works for me, just doing 10 minutes every day when I can. Just take some time out for myself and you know, there’s facts out there that actually, people think the meditation takes time away from your day. But actually, if you can give it 10 minutes or whatever per day actually almost brings you time back because you have so much calmer. So much clearer thinking, I can come up with so many ideas, and I’m much more creative after I meditate for 10 minutes.


James Nathan  18:18 And 10 minutes is not a lot of time. I mean, we waste so much time don’t we during our day.


Gian Power 18:22  You know what, it’s so true. I think, you know, we have 1440 minutes in a day, what’s 10 of those to take and leaves you with how many thousand and whatever the rest of the day, just take it out. And it Yeah, and even it just helps me so so much every day.


James Nathan  18:38  You know, when you say that, I look across my office at my exercise bike and it frowns at me me. I think God you know, 20 minutes, 10 minutes, half an hour. But actually, you know, there’s nothing you need other than some empty space, a set of headphones and being left alone, really which is which is a whole different thing.


Gian Power  18:57  Exactly. Exactly. You got it.


James Nathan 18:59  How did you get involved with the House of Lords and the roundtables there?


Gian Power  19:04  Yeah, so I’ve got, I’m really proud to have a really great advisory board. One of my advisors is called Dr Kamal Hothi and she is actually the UK’s first female Asian bank manager. And spent 40 years at Lloyds Banking Group but now is an amazing advisor on the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust and a number of other charities. Now, she’s been really kind of banging the drum around inclusion and wellbeing the workplace for four decades, and does a lot in government and thanks to her as well and Baroness Verma, who’s a close friend of miles. Baroness Verma kindly offered to host us every quarter, really believes in what we’re doing our passion and drive, sees the business case and why it’s the right thing to do? And yeah, so the Baronesses actually the United Nations chair for women in the UK. So you can see the kind of obvious linking to her passion and yeah, that’s kind of how it evolved.


James Nathan  20:02  And so who’s that those tables and what does it achieve?


Gian Power  20:06  So the tables are done in Chatham House Rules. And yeah, we have a variety of our clients throughout different times of the year to discuss important topics that are close to them, dictated by them, to really kind of, I want to push this agenda cross industry, I want competitors sat next to each other, helping one another. I want non traditional industries supporting each other. And really just cross sharing of ideas across industry for greater good. At the end of the day, talent moves around and we need to help organizations and help each other.


James Nathan  20:41  I mean, I didn’t mean to pry in terms of the actual names, but I just wondered sort of what kind of style of businesses there is it all big business that you’re talking to other smaller businesses involved as well.


Gian Power  20:53  So we’ve got a range of them and all of our clients are on the website. So we work with so as mentioned from college, Sony Pictures to Warner Brothers all the way through to Rothschild to MasterCard, American Express, Visa. So a real kind of wide range of them. And again, you know, I’ve mentioned competitors, I mentioned different industries. And it’s really bringing the right people around the table depending on the topic to push this forward.


James Nathan  21:19  How does storytelling change things? When you talk about you know, people…. Obviously, everyone you say everyone has a story, and of course, we all do, but storytelling and talking about your story of different things, aren’t they?


Gian Power 21:34  So I think they go hand in hand. I mean, storytelling has been around for thousands of years since you know, cavemen were telling stories. These days we just seem to have changed it with presentations, PowerPoints, and things like that. And their stories are 65% more memorable than facts. You know, it they really, really are so important. And I think you know, when we tell a story it releases different chemicals in the brain, oxytocin, which helps, you know, build trust and empathy among people. You know, that’s what we want an organizations. So actually, hopefully through the work that we do with the Lions, and sharing stories and storytelling, it helps build that trust and empathy and evoke that within them to then go and do the same internally amongst each other.


James Nathan 22:16  And those Lions are extraordinarily inspirational people. I mean, you know, you mentioned their ordinary people with extraordinary stories, but their stories are phenomenal. And there’s a real mix there. Is that something that’s growing? Are you bringing more people into the Lions or have you got kind of the right mix at the moment?


Gian Power 22:35  So we are always open to the right potential Lions, if we see a right fit. But we have been, we have to be very selective with the right people, not only from a cultural point of view, because you know, it’s a close community, but also what value with our clients, you know, I think corporate background can they can really bring this story to life and so I guess in short, we’re always on the lookout for amazing talent. You know, this week we brought on board Alexandra Kutas. Alexandra is the world’s first runway model in a wheelchair. Yeah, she’s really, really awesome. I think just an amazing person. She’s not only got a story to share, and people might see Alexandra in a wheelchair, but actually she talks about mental health, not about physical. And, you know, she’s really championing the fashion industry today to change them for greater good. And that’s what I’m about. It’s one thing having a story and we all have one. And you know, but it’s actually what are people passionately doing and driving to make a change in that space and across the of 25 of them I’ve got, yeah, a right range, we got Chico’s really passionate about all things, you know, adventuring the ocean plastic, and then I was out with George last night, he’s another adventurer and the Danny’s in the film industry. And Jeremy, who’s a lawyer, so it’s really, really diverse and they teach me so so very much.


James Nathan  24:00  You’re incredibly lucky to be surrounded, I mean, obviously, we make our own luck in life, but to be surrounded by those sort of inspirations must drive you as well. Do you find that since you’ve put this together, you’re becoming even better?


Gian Power  24:15  Better in what respect?


James Nathan 24:17  Well, in every way, I guess, as a person, in what you achieve and how you think about those things.


Gian Power 24:23  Yeah, I guess I always say that I can learn from anyone or anything, you know, anything I love, like taking the good from it. And each one of these 25, they’ve taught me something, you know, just kind of thinking about them. Now, you know, Johnny Benjamin, he was the stranger on the bridge. Just such an awesome guy and so much in the mental health space, you know, for people around the world with such like, just love and admiration for what he does. And he’s just, yeah, we speak a lot about happiness and we spend time together or then I’ll speak to you know, George last night. He’s an adventurer and explorer. He’s got so many world records, and we just talked about, like just the fun side of life and whatever we do we want to enjoy it. You know, just so many all the way through to Jacqui Gavin, who’s one of our Lions, who’s transgender, just teaching me so much and I can get really curious with her and ask her questions that maybe people think you can’t. So they really educate me about so many topics.


James Nathan  25:20  Oh, I’m absolutely sure and you know, when I look at the there’s such an impressive group of people… when we look at them, and you mentioned them being ordinary people. What’s lovely is that they are ordinary people. And they are people who have it just like you, you know, been to work one day and the next day things are different. Or, you know, something’s come to them. I know, you know, a couple there who are friends of mine who took an enormous amount of time to get to where they are now. And the ability to learn quickly from people like that is really, really wonderful. But having the, all in one place I think that’s also quite special. What’s the next step for the Lions? And for The Unwind Experience? Where do you take it next?


Gian Power 26:11  Yeah, so we’re constantly evolving and to be honest, working with our clients on what that looks like. Now, it’s about kind of shaping as I mentioned, bringing the right and any new Lions on board, understanding where we might have gaps in what we do. And, you know, I’m really actively looking for somebody maybe, you know, a cancer survivor, who’s been through the workplace was going through that. Domestic violence, you know, male and female, you’ve been you’ve gone through that, because it’s very different, you know, going to work while stuffing without at home. It happens so much across the industry. So for me, it’s about finding that, making sure that we are really representing as many stories as we can in the work that we do. And we’re doing a lot more work internationally as well. So I’ve been individually and I think 16 countries this year. Quite a hectic travel schedule, and it’s just you’re working with our clients overseas as well to ensure that one we can bring this to life across their organization globally, whilst also understanding kind of the cultural nuances in each geography, which is super important.


James Nathan  27:16  Well, you just mentioned what I was going to ask, which was how does culture affect this particularly with some of the more traditional cultures? How do you bring out what you need to from those people?


Gian Power 27:28  Yeah, it’s huge. I mean, I’m half Indian by background and you know, in our, in our culture, there’s no word for mental health. There’s no word for things like dementia. There’s a huge, huge stigma attached and you know, it doesn’t you can’t just roll out a one size fits all mental health strategy. I think people who are planning these, yes it’s great that we’re seeing a change. It’s vital that they understand the people the makeup of their employees. And we’re doing a lot with, you know, charities like Alzheimer’s Society. One of my advisors sits on the board there to really challenge them because dementia is going to be the biggest killer globally, I believe is by 2030. And actually, so much more needs to be done, especially in the ethnic minority community to get people speaking up about this. And, yeah, it’s huge. I mean, when we look at one of our lines, Johnny Benjamin, I mentioned him again, but the reason is, you know, Johnny is from a Jewish background, Johnny came out was gay, and actually in that community it was very difficult for him to come out. And the knock on effect was his mental health.


James Nathan  28:29  Look, I’m Jewish as well, my family, you know, going back forever, as these things to. And my Mum’s gay, and when she came out to my grandfather who’s no longer alive, he didn’t speak to her for three decades.


Gian Power  28:45  Really…


James Nathan 28:46  Yeah, and you, I mean, obviously, that’s had a massive effect on our family. But when I look back at it now, I think you silly old fool, what the hell what you know, because obviously we think differently, but that mindset is is impossible to get your head around. And where someone could design their own child, it baffles meters to the core. And so when you’re working with cultures that are so ingrained like that, you know, it isn’t surprising that people have a hard time or, you know, even just being honest with their families, because the knock on for the mist is too extreme.


Gian Power  29:26  So true. And that’s why I’m just like, you know, when I see meet people from different backgrounds, and let’s let people live, let them be happy. Let them be their selves. I think one of the most amazing things about all the people we meet is their uniqueness and what they bring. And I’m just like, who am I to judge somebody else’s life? And I know it’s difficult in different cultures and the way we’ve got to battle and challenge them. It’s, you know, we were out in India last month with Bloomberg and Hyatt, they’re talking about, you know, some of the issues around gender out there. You know, there’s so much work but actually together with the right people around the world if we can start trying to combat some of these issues we can make the world a better place for people to really be their unique selves.


James Nathan 30:08  Is it a timing thing do you think? Is there a….. because I look at my kids and I talk about my kids a lot of the podcast but I look at them now and you know, they don’t see difference the way that I think I saw at their age. And even though we live in in a quite a…. living in the country in Oxfordshire, it’s a fairly white middle class, you know, Anglo Saxon part of Britain, but they don’t notice difference and you know, the kids at school that Ben goes to in Reading come from everywhere, every background you can imagine, which I think is really healthy but as they grow up, their attitudes, to race to religion, to gender, to sexual orientation. They seem so much broader and so much more together about them. Is the whole issue going to disappear?


Gian Power  31:01  I think there’s a lot to do that I believe with kind of the perception in society because you know, working with companies like Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, Universal…. film companies are waking up to make sure that things going out on TV are more diverse of a more inclusive, they’re showing people of all backgrounds. There are more people on social media than ever, so how do we make sure that the information and the TV and things that people see, really bring it to everybody, because when you go back to where I’m from back up in the North of England, in Durham, I was the only non-white person in my school out of 500. You know, right here back then, you know, I’m not saying it was that long ago, but kind of compared to now i’m sure those kids watch so much TV, so many things with such diverse cultures and things on social media, they follow, you know, their favorite football teams that are now more inclusive than ever and ethnically diverse. So it’s hopefully changing things and that’s why I think the film industry has a huge responsibility to make sure that they’re challenging this challenging the status quo. So that people like your kids, and also my niece, who’s five, when I chat to her about things, she also doesn’t see the difference. You know? Yeah. Yeah. It’s really interesting.


James Nathan  32:10  It’s quite lovely. It’s quite lovely when you see that and you just think fabulous, you know, if what we could learn from a five year old….


Gian Power  32:19  Creativity back from them as well.


James Nathan  32:22  Well, that too, that as well. I’m loving chatting with you, but I’m also conscious of time and, and I’d love you just to, if you could leave just one thought perhaps given one golden nugget, one thing that people could do in their businesses and their lives today to make everything just a little bit nicer, a little bit better. What would that be?


Gian Power 32:41  Yeah, I guess if anybody’s listening, I say everybody has a story. And it’s not always easy to share. But if you can find the courage, maybe one to one or with somebody at work, to share it with them, and let them know that you’re always there to listen to them as well. I think if we can do that we’ll create a lovely ripple effect. You know to help each other and create what human workplaces where we story share and work at the same time.


James Nathan  33:06  What a great thing to finish on. Gian, thank you so much for your time. I’ve really loved having you as guest.


Gian Power 33:12 Thank you so much.

Gian Power  33:12  Thanks so much.

S2E14 The Trade Exchange Edition with John Attridge

James chats with John Attridge who started his life in Australia studying economics. And then left like all of us wondering what to do with himself did a number of different things including time as a commission based insurance salesman as well as running a very successful and then suddenly not successful car rental business in Brisbane during the World Expo. He then came across something called trade exchange – digital cashless trading, he went on to set up his own under the BBX brand in the UK and Ireland, which is now a multi million pound operation running in 14 different countries.


They discuss trade exchange, selling your spare capacity, queuing at McDonald’s, scaling business, alternatives to banks and of course, great service.


Contact John:


Web: www.johnattridge.com/
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/john-attridge-c-t-b-31378413/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/john.attridge.10

S2E13 – The Don’t Be Ordinary, Be Extraordinary Edition with Mark Sanborn

James chat’s with Mark Sanborn, bestselling author and recognized by GlobalGurus.org as the #5 leadership expert in the world today.


Mark writes an award-winning blog and is the author of The Fred Factor which has sold more than two million copies to date and has established him as the expert on turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.


Mark is featured by Crestcom in DVD based training taught in 90 countries. He is also Leadership Expert in Residence at High Point University, The Premier Life Skills University.


His list of 2600 clients include Harley Davidson, Costco, Cisco, as well as In & Out Burger.


They discuss being like Fred, choosing to be extraordinary, using email better, rewarding and recognising success, and going the extra mile, as well as parenting and early adopting technology.


Contact Mark:


Web: marksanborn.com
Twitter: mark_sanborn
Facebook: mark sanborn – leadership speaker
Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/marksanborn/

Click for the full transcript

James Nathan  0:54   Hello and welcome to the only one business show with me your host JamesNathan and my guest today is a best selling author and recognized by globalgurus.org as the number five leadership expert in the world today. He writes an award winning blog and is author of The Fred Factor, which has sold more than 2 million copies to date, and has established him as an expert on turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. He’s featured in by Crestcom in DVD based training taught in 90 countries. And he’s also leadership expert in residence at High Point University, the premier life skills university. His list of over two and a half thousand clients includes the likes of Harley Davidson, Costco, Cisco, In & Out Burger and now The Only One Business Show, please welcome from Denver, Colorado, Mark Sanborn. Mark. Hi, how are you?


Mark Sanborn  1:49  I’m great, James. Thanks for having me on the show. It’s good to be with you.


James Nathan 1:52  Oh, it’s it’s lovely that you could take the time for me Mark. Thanks so much and listeners really appreciate especially when you have to get up so early on the other side of the of the like to to catch up with us. It’s lovely just chatting with you beforehand, you’re reformed motorcyclist, a reformed flyer, you’re a man of many talents.

Mark Sanborn  2:12  Yeah. Now I mostly try to just go fast in my pace of daily living rather than driven by things with engines.

James Nathan  2:20  It’s probably a really, really sensible way to do things. And talk to us about the Fred Factor Mark because it’s sold over 2 million copies and appreciate you’ve brought out Fred 2.0 now, but for those who haven’t read the book, what’s Fred all about?

Mark Sanborn  2:36  You know, Fred, he’s still alive today. He’s just retired. When I met him many years ago, he was a postal carrier for the United States Postal Service. And I’m not sure how your postal service’s evaluated there in the UK, but frankly, in the US, when you think about customer service, the United States Postal Service usually doesn’t come to mind. Fred did such an extraordinary job of delivering my mail, as simple as that may sound, that I wrote a book about it, I used him as the real life living example metaphor for what great service looks like. By the way, if anyone would like to read the first chapter for free, they can go to fredfactor.com. And the actual story, the details, if you will, or when I first encountered Fred can be found on there. But basically, the reason I think it became a successful book wasn’t because of my Hemingway like prose. You might appreciate this James, I had a review on Amazon and it said, this book is so simple. It’s written at a seventh grade level, then I thought, I wonder what level it is written at. So I took a block of text and I went online and I found an analysis tool. And you know what, it’s not written in a seventh grade level. It’s written at a fifth grade level.

James Nathan 3:49  You know, someone was talking to me about newspapers recently Mark and they are all written at seventh and fifth aren’t they? So it’s right on the money.

Mark Sanborn 3:57  Well, and the thing is that Fred, you know, you he has a simple job until he retired, he sorted and put mail in the box. So most people would say, you know, that doesn’t lend itself to being really extraordinary or creative or masterful. But if Fred can bring that kind of artistry to his simple work, then you and I have far more to work with on the palate that we call work than Fred did.

James Nathan  4:21  What was it about him? What was it? Was it Fred himself or what Fred learned to what my friend so special?

Mark Sanborn  4:27  Well, first it was was Fred and, you know, I learned an important lesson and it’s one of the principles of the book, everybody makes a difference. The only question is what kind. I think neutrality is a myth. When you encounter a postal carrier or someone at the grocery or a lawyer or a teacher, they impact you either by being interested and engaged and willing to help or by being in different disengaged and we always interpret that neutrality, if you will, as indifference. It may not be fair, but you know, you don’t turn to your spouse when you get bad service and say, well, honey, they were just neutral. You know? No, you said they didn’t care. They didn’t like…. they weren’t interested in us. And so the first thing I learned is that no matter what job you have, nobody can prevent you from choosing to be extraordinary. That to me is one of the big messages because Fred worked in a system that didn’t encourage or reward or teach excellence. And yet, he made that choice himself. The second thing I learned from Fred is Fred was the first postal carrier I ever got to know. I mean, most of us see our postal carrier maybe know his or her name, wave. But Fred really took time to understand if…. you know what I did for a living, did I travel and because I did travel that would impact how you would deliver my mail and keep an eye on my home so that I wasn’t, you know, the victim of a burglary. And so, you know, I got to know Fred, and, you know, we’re coming up on a…. well, we’ve been in a continuous political system now for about four years, but we’re coming up on an election and I’m always reminded of something they say in politics and it’s so true in customer service and that is it’s hard to hate in person. You know that person who you get email from or a letter from or even sometimes that you talk to on the phone if you were to meet that person face to face and just spend a few minutes you’d probably find out they’re not such a bad person you know, they’re just like you they got their their flaws and their strengths, but it’s important that as much as possible if we can’t build a relationship with our customers, we at least connect with them. And I say a connection is a moment of shared affinity where we recognize something in them that is like us and that we can appreciate. So the second part of that is relationship.

James Nathan  6:41  I love what you said there about text and armchair warriors because you see so much that these days of people getting very kind of hot under the collar about different things and knocking it out on a keyboard and one of the big sadnesses for me I guess when I work with a lot of my clients, I’m sure you see this too is the reliance on email and messaging systems, rather than the phone and face to face and the reduction in quality of relationship that you you end up with as a result of that.

Mark Sanborn  7:15  Let me just interject James because I think, you know, certainly generational differences come into play. But one of the things I’ve learned is even with email, it’s possible to be a little warmer and a little less sterile. You know, I’m a, I’m a left brain economist by training. So you know, I’m I get to that point, get the job done. I would often send emails that would say, you know, Hey, can you send me that address? And I found that just by putting, you know, hey, Bob, how’s it going? Can you send me that address? As superficial as that seems…. It’s it’s almost a symbol for saying, hey, you’re still human. I’m still human. So I agree it’s harder. And I think younger people have figured out a way to put a little more personality into texting and email than perhaps those of us that are older, but it is still possible to be relational in these different communication methods.

James Nathan  8:06  So that’s just that’s just choosing to be different choosing to be extraordinary.

Mark Sanborn  8:10  It’s about paying attention. I think so much of anything today is about being engaged and in the moment, not daydreaming and looking at your phone. By the way, I was in a hotel last week for three days and right outside my window and down one floor, there was an office building. And there was a young guy, I don’t know how old he was maybe early 20s. He had a computer on his desk, but every time I checked, it got to be a game. He was looking at his phone, and I almost wanted to walk over and walk upstairs and say what is it you’re supposed to do for a living? Now maybe he maybe, he monitors the phone for the firm? I I shouldn’t be judgmental, but I just remember going, dude, how do you get anything done with your continual fascination with your phone?

James Nathan  8:53  Wish you had. You see this in restaurants these days, waiters wandering around and waitresses wandering around with the phone in the back pocket. And you know, when I worked for Hilton Group a long, long time ago, it was before mobile phones, Mark. But I’m pretty sure we weren’t allowed to make personal calls or what have you while we were working. And a lot of that has to do with focusing on your job. But with that sort of technology available, it does make me wonder how people do actually continually focus on what they should be thinking about and focusing on rather than what they choose to, to be distracted by.

Mark Sanborn  9:28  I agree

James Nathan  9:29  You mentioned, you mentioned choosing to be extraordinary. What makes somebody not choose to be extraordinary and what makes somebody choose to be extraordinary?

Mark Sanborn 9:40  Well, that’s a good question. You know, it boils down to one or two things or a combination thereof, and that is genetics, more environment. You know, one of the things I think it’s important, I don’t know, you know, people ask me, can you make somebody be a Fred? Well, you know, I have grown sons now, but when they were kids, I couldn’t make them take out the garbage so I’m the wrong guy to ask about making anybody do anything you know, I think we encourage and role model and recognize the reward, you can do all those positive things. But at the end of the day, if somebody chooses not to be a Fred, I’m not suggesting they’re not a nice human being, but they’re probably not somebody you’re going to really want in your sales or in your service team. And I think that’s why when we hire…. in my new book, I say hire for for culture, not just for function. And that is if you want a culture that really gives extraordinary service, don’t just hire somebody that’s able to pick up the phone and recite the script. Hire somebody that seems genuinely jazzed about the challenge of engaging people in solving problems and helping because you know, function only takes you partway there you’ve got to hire for cultural fit as well.

James Nathan  10:48  It’s an interesting thing. You mentioned that I talked about it a lot and if you’ve seen any of my previous pods or or any of the blogs that I write, I’m forever talking about understanding core values of business and then hiring against core value and that’s understanding the way you want the business to be or what the business is. And then hiring people who fit with the business as well as people who can do the job. And I want to talk about The Intention Imperative because it’s, you know, it’s brand new and fantastic. Before we get to it, what’s the role of the leader than if you’ve got people in your business who you’ve hired correctly, you think you’ve got the right people in the right jobs. And they’re not quite choosing that exceptional style yet? What’s the leaders role in helping them?

Mark Sanborn  11:38  It’s a good question. Let me give your listeners an acronym. I know acronyms little hackneyed and trite but there’s still a pretty good way to remember stuff. I always say leaders need to remember the acronym Fred. F is for find, because it’s easier to find someone than convert someone. If you can hire someone with that predisposition. Your work is much easier. The second one is once you have someone on your team you’ve got to reward and recognize them for the right behaviour. Often good work goes unrecognized. I mean, think about it James, the people that do good work usually always do good work. And so we kind of take them for granted, don’t we? You know, it’s like, well, you know, that James, man, he does a great job, now Bob’s a knucklehead, so I got to spend all my time on remedial work with Bob and over time, you know, James is like, damn does, doesn’t anyone notice. So rewarding and reward I always say is tangible recognition is intangible. That just reinforces the right behaviours. The E in Fred is for educate, because here’s the deal expectation without education equals frustration. You know, don’t give people innocuous squishy, bromides like delight the customer, what the hell does that mean? People need to understand how concepts translate into behaviour. So you gotta teach people, in our firm, how do we delight the customer? What are some of the things we’re willing to do? Share good ideas that other people on the team use. So that’s the that’s the E for educate. But the D is the most important one, sounds simple. And that is demonstrate because people will listen to what you say as a leader, but they’ll watch how you treat people. If you turn the team to treat people well, and you treat people like crap, sorry, that’s a big disconnect.

James Nathan  13:23  Well, we were talking before we went on air about…. a little bit about parenthood and do as I say, not as I do, but you know, there’s far too many businesses where that is the case, you know, I want you to work this way and then don’t worry about the way I do it. I’m past it or I can’t do it anymore or I’ve lost interest in it that just that just rubs off on everyone around them, doesn’t it?

Mark Sanborn  13:47  Well, it does. You know, in parenthood, we don’t get a great until it’s too late, right? Because after the kids are out of the house and we find out if we got it right or we got it wrong,

James Nathan  13:56  I was told very early on when our kids were… my boy was very little… your job as a parent is just not too stuff him up too much. I thought that was a really awkward way of looking at.

Mark Sanborn  14:09  You always want to teach them to be themselves but to be their best selves.

James Nathan 14:12  Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So you’ve just brought out the new book. Fantastic read. Tell us a little bit about where you’ve got to now.

Mark Sanborn  14:25  Yeah, well, the big shift and the new book. And by the way, let me just mention that the other two principles of the Fred factor besides everybody makes a difference. And, you know, it’s all built on relationship, is you can add value to what you do doesn’t have to cost a nickel. And that’s getting creative and replacing money with imagination and finding ways to delight the customer. And then the final principle is you’ve got to reinvent yourself every day. You know, don’t wait for someone else to motivate you. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. But ultimately, you’re responsible for your own level of motivation. The new book talks about the fact that all success comes down to being clear on what you’re trying to accomplish and taking consistent and correct action every day. That’s what the Intention Imperative is. No long term success is sustained by accident, you might have a one hit wonder, one trick pony. But successful leaders, successful people don’t end up on top of Mount Everest accidentally. It’s very intense, takes a lot of planning and a lot of effort. But the balance of the book, I talk about three big shifts that I believe all businesses globally need to take. And I’ll just focus on the one that’s most relevant to customer service. And that is the shift from customer experience to customer emotion. Not just the experience you create, but how the customer feels about it. For instance, you can have a good experience, but if you didn’t get what you want or expected, you’re still unhappy and disappointed. So what I talked about in the book is to design and deliver for emotion to actually identifying and talk about 16 emotions in the book. Actually identify what is it You want your customer to think, feel and do when they when they leave or they interact with you, and then to design that into the way you deliver your service.

James Nathan  16:08  Right. So give us an example of what you’ve seen that really working well.

Mark Sanborn  16:12  Well, a friend of mine, you know, she had that borrow a car from a car dealership and when she had a flat tyre and she was going to be late for an appointment, so when they bring her a car that she can drive to the appointment, the guy brings her a hot cup of coffee, a charger for her phone, and you know, sends her on her way. So she not only is able to make her appointment on time, but she gets a cup of coffee and her phone which was almost dead, you know, she was able to charge. Now the art cost on that the phone charger, you know was about was a loner, obviously, and the coffee was you know, either $2 at Dunkin’ Donuts or $9 and Starbucks. But the point of the matter is, you know, it was thoughtfulness, obviously the number one tool that any service provider or leader has to be successful is to slow down enough to think about and notice opportunities to be thought. You know, going 100 miles an hour with your hair on fire, you know, if you’re not unthoughtful, you just don’t have time to be thoughtful.

James Nathan  17:18  When you mentioned that I was just just thinking I was in a…. my lad loves skateboarding and he had a skateboarding party last week. And you know, I left them in the skate park for a while and went off to find some lunch and I ended up in a chicken joint. And as I walked in the door, the first thing the guy said to you is, you know, thanks for coming. If you’ve got a laptop in your bag, would you like me to charge it for you? Now he’d obviously taken…. he’d seen I was carrying what look like a laptop bag and he decided to to ask me something which actually I thought, you know what, that’s fantastic. But it was an opportunity he took. I’m sure he’s been trained to do that. How do we look at our staff though? How do we train them to notice the opportunities

Mark Sanborn  18:00  Well, you know, the Fred Factor I call it ABCD: above and beyond the call of duty. Little things make a big difference. I think one of the big mistakes we make is we think, you know, we got to do something grandiose, like give our customer a new car, to really, you know, wow them, but that obviously would wow them. But like I said, the example you gave is fabulous. Because here’s a guy, you know, I mean, at the end of the day they serve chicken and yet, what makes your experience better? And how do you feel when you pleasantly surprise somebody in any environment, they leave happier and happier people buy more tell others? You mean, you just told me all your podcast listeners, and they’re more loyal. And that’s really what the name of the game is. So you’ve got bring this this opportunity into awareness for your team. And then the best way to teach it is to use examples. You know, each This is what I did. Here’s what I experienced. This is what worked, what have you seen, because that’s much more memorable than just the concept.

James Nathan  18:59  Absolutely. And I couldn’t tell you what I ate, but I remember that, which is which is….  I’m you know, you’re probably a bit like me Mark I’m forever looking for examples of great service and I’m also very critical of bad service I think we all are and there’s there’s a big you know, the ability to to rant. We mentioned online, you know, armchair warriors, but you know, things like, you know, TripAdvisor and what have you. They do give us the opportunity to be grumpy, but they also give us the opportunity to thank people and to, and to give them a little, a little nudge and a little, you know, a bit of recognition, I guess for what they’ve done. When you talk before about reward and recognition. Where does praise fit in that cycle?

Mark Sanborn  19:45  Well, I would say praise is a form of recognition. I mean, praise doesn’t cost anything and by the way, you know, as long as it’s sincere, you really can’t overdo it. I’ve never met somebody who said, you know what I need about my boss. He just appreciates me way too much. He’s forever praising me and slapping me on the back you know it makes me crazy. If it’s sincere you can’t overdo it. I think where managers get mucked up as they they you know they go to a seminar they hear I need to be…. I need to get my employees praise and it’s hollow, it’s instance, it’s like good job Bob. The more specific and enthusiastic it is, the more lasting it’ll be. But that’s…… praise is certainly part of the recognition cycle in my book.

James Nathan 20:26  Cool. Absolutely. And when you see the eyes light up when people, you know, in a team meeting or for whatever it is that sort of recognition amongst peers is, is super important. I saw that recently in a hotel or is that where someone was looked after….. I don’t know what happened at the table next to me, but something had happened. And the maitre D grabbed the waiter and just sort of took him aside and shook his hand and told him well done and you know, in front of the whole place, I thought that was that was really fantastic. You talked a little bit, well you mentioned earlier about that keeping fresh and keeping yourself, you know, fresh in your role. Businesses are often seen as, you know, there’s a business here in the UK today going into administration, a big place called Mother Care, and I don’t know if it’s in the States as well but it sells baby gear and what have you. And it’s yet another casualty of the high street. And people kind of like to quickly blame, you know, the online retailers like Amazon and what have you for that, but why are these big businesses not managing to change with the times? What is this stopping them keeping fresh?

Mark Sanborn  21:40  Well, you know, I write a little bit about that, I call it…. Seth Godin called it years ago, the stuck winning model, and that’s, for some reason stuck in my head and that is, you know, we do what works and because it works, we keep doing it and then when it stops working, we do more of it. You know, we’re creatures of habit and if something I did used to work, then and like I’m not getting the same results, I just say, wow, how can I do that better? How can I do more of it when maybe we shouldn’t be doing it or doing something different. In the book, I talk about the world that is. I’m a pragmatist, and you got to look around. And, you know, you may not like social media, but frankly, if you’re in any kind of a customer service business, you better damn well better monitor it. As a matter of fact, I’ve given up on making phone calls, if I want some help, I go to Twitter, because most organizations that are worth their salt have a team that can at least direct you, or help you, you know, get some resolution to the problem that you’re facing. But even if you don’t like customer service, and frankly, I’m not a fan of it, but I’m have a platform that includes all the social media bases because it’s how I go to market. It’s part of my marketing mix. And if I had said you know what social media is great. By the way, we always take an example of somebody who isn’t doing something and then we make it our example. I do know a friend who’s very very successful as a speaker, and his social media is pretty mediocre. But he’s an outlier. He’s an anomaly. He’s not the rule. And if you had the other things going for you that he has going for him, you wouldn’t need to do much more, you know, as a speaker, I or anyone else wouldn’t need to do my social media either. So it’s very dangerous to take that exception and say, well, you know, Bob, he didn’t adopt that new technology, and he’s doing just fine. Well, there might be a reason for that. Or maybe Bob just plain got lucky.

James Nathan  23:31  Well, I think it’s probably a mixture of both. But if you want to ignore the biggest shop window that we’ve got, I think you crazy aren’t you?

Mark Sanborn  23:41  Yeah, I mean, you know, here’s the question, do you want us thrive or you just want to survive and there are frankly, you know, we used to say, you know, you got to change you’ll be extinct. I’ve come to believe that isn’t necessarily true. I see a lot of mediocre businesses that are hanging on, but they don’t look like they’re having much fun and I know they’re not making much money. So, you know, I go back to you know if you want to just survive and knock yourself out, find that balance between just getting by and you know putting in eight hours and if that makes you happy god bless you. But most of us you know we aspire to something a little higher and if we really want to excel then we need to be contemporary with what works best in our respective marketplaces.

James Nathan  24:22  If people sitting listening now Mark and this they’re hearing what you’re saying and they’re thinking well you know, what can I do how can somebody listening now make their their work, their life extraordinary what could they change or how do they go about starting?

Mark Sanborn  24:35  Well, I would just two very two or three very simple ideas. Number one next time you ask somebody Hey, how are you doing? Actually mean it. In other words, I know how are you How you doing? You know, those are common greetings, but every once in a while, inquire into the lives of the people you we live and work with. Take an interest because you know you don’t have to do that with every interaction every day. You don’t have enough time. The problem isn’t we don’t do it every time and so we go weeks or months without doing it at all, really inquiring into you know being interested in the lives of a co worker or customer. The second thing would be that ABCD, ask yourself what little extra flourish can I do, won’t take much time won’t cost me any money. But you know maybe I can charge their computer for a while they eat their chicken. Like your example was. But that’s what ABC D is. Now my favourite technique is what I call the One a Day Principle that is do a good job for everybody but once a day find one person to do some super cool for. Something that will make them go holy buckets. I can’t believe they just did that. You know, so that at dinner that night with their family or when they go back to work after lunch they go you won’t believe what just happened. And you know, again, the idea is you can’t delight everybody but why not find one one person a day, make it a challenge. You got 8, 10 hours in a shift. Find one person and do something super cool for and I call that the one a day principle in is very easy to consistently do something amazing for people when you narrow it down like that.

James Nathan  26:07  That’s a fantastic idea, I really love that. What have you done in your business? When you look at your own business Mark, what have you done to take yourself up another level? What have you done to change to an extraordinary position? How do you serve your clients better?

Mark Sanborn  26:23  I have tried to live by the rule to be an early adopter of technology, technology that benefits my customers. That also means sometimes spending a little more money, early technology tends to be more expensive before it’s pervasive. But I didn’t example year this a long time ago, when you think about it. Speakers would say, have you heard about this new website thing, this URL? Do you have a URL, or do you have a website? Well, you know, people say to me, you’re one of the first guys with a website. Is it getting bookings, I go not yet. But here’s the deal. The reason I’m doing it now is so I can learn the technology before it’s commonplace. In other words, wait until everybody else is adopted something, all you’re doing is keeping up. It’s when you can get on the front edge of you name the technology, whether it’s you know, CRM, or whether it’s social media or whether it’s Slack. When you can learn that technology and master it before everyone else. That’s where I think the competitive advantage lies.

James Nathan 27:30  And who do you look to to understand where that is? How do you keep an eye on everything that’s new?

Mark Sanborn 27:36  Oh, well, you know that that fear of missing out isn’t one of my dilemmas in my older age, but, you know, I have I have really smart friends, colleagues, and then you know, I’m a big believer and professional associations is a way to really couple years off your learning curve. So, you know, and I pay attention. I just, I’m interested in everything. Except ballet. I’m not a big ballet fan, but I’m pretty much interested in everything that I encounter. So I can always learn from new insights from new areas.

James Nathan  28:10  When you look at all the clients that you’ve worked with, and you’ve worked with some fairly, you know, really meaty names, which are the ones that really stand out now to you having thought about them, you know, which are the ones that are really striving forward that we can look to.

Mark Sanborn 28:27  Well, there, you know, there are a lot of I mean, certainly have some some blue chip clients. I just worked for the yeah, do you have Lidl there, LIDL?

James Nathan  28:39  Yep, Lidl, we call it Lidl but who knows how it’s really pronounced

Mark Sanborn  28:43  Today and when I say they’re my client, you go well, how come you don’t know how to pronounce them because it’s been a while since I work with them, but they to me are a really good example of how you can take something that is relatively stodgy grocery and related items and make it really sexy and fun. And actually I had a chance to visit one of their stores. They’re relatively new to the United States. And I just think that they’ve said, you know, there’s still ways to reinvent this business, there’s still twists and nuances and angles that we can use to create value. I just I just toured St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. And that was incredibly inspiring, just to see an organization is so unified by the idea of helping kids for free, that everybody seems to be on the same energy wavelength, whether they work in the cafeteria, or they’re doing research or they’re treating patients and I just remember thinking, wow, if everyone really visited here, they understand what it’s like to have a unity of commitment to a mission and a vision.

James Nathan  29:46  Isn’t that wonderful? Absolutely Fabulous. Mark. It’s so so much in what you’ve said. Today’s get a ring with the people listening and I know our listeners will be really keen to, to hear much more from you. But before we go, I just want to ask you the one question, the one big thing? What’s the thing that people can do in their businesses today to make a difference for them for today and for the years to come? What would that golden nugget be?

Mark Sanborn  30:12  I would say, revisit what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. I’ll go back to what I say in the Intention, Imperative, you know, a lack of clarity. You can’t overcome a lack of clarity with hard work. You also can’t have a successful outcome if you’re clear, but you’re not doing the right things. And I think we are such creatures of habit, as I alluded to earlier that we sometimes go on autopilot. I think, the more we pause and think about our businesses and why we’re doing it, what changes are needed or what we need to start or stop doing. We become more intentional. And I think, as I said, the one thing that that unites all successful people and leaders is are crystal clear on what they’re trying to accomplish, and they take consistent and correct action every day to accomplish it.

James Nathan  30:59  Fabulous Mark, Thank you so, so much for your time. It’s been lovely chatting with you.

Mark Sanborn  31:03  My pleasure. Thank you, James.


S2E12 The Significant Business Edition with Dawnna St. Louis

James chats with Dawnna St. Louis, one of the world’s most requested motivational speakers. With a bigger than life stage presence this CEO of highprofitzone.com has transformed lives worldwide from a homeless team to a multi millionaire entrepreneur.


Her extraordinary transformation is one of the inspirations behind her bold message, helping others discover their own untapped talents and infinite potential. Today, fans worldwide revere her for a mastery of teaching people how to tap into their limitless potential. A noted successful entrepreneur, she’s built an organization dedicated to helping other entrepreneurs, coaches, speakers, consultants, and experts to succeed.


S2E11 The Highly Personalised Recruitment as a Service Edition with James Osborne

James chats with James Osborne, who the past 16 years has been working with recruitment business leaders helping them to achieve significant growth, performance improvement and competitive advantage acting as a non executive director, consultant, trainer and strategist for numerous fast growing recruitment businesses.


He’s a passionate speaker on behalf of the recruitment and staffing sector, and is the Chairman of the Recruitment Network. The fastest growing global support an advisory club for recruitment business leaders. He is also an Iron Man triathlete, which he competes in for raising money for his own personal charity.


S2E10 The Be Amazing Or Go Home Edition with Shep Hyken

James chats with Shep Hyken, the Chief Amazement Officer at Shep Presentations, an award winning keynote speaker and New York Times and Wall Street Journal best selling business author.


As one of the leading experts in the field of customer service and experience, he works with customers and companies who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees.


They discuss smart customers, convenience, being employee focused, damaged fridges, reducing friction, hailing cabs, and always being amazing.


Contact Shep:


e: info@hyken.com
p: + 1 314-692-2200


Click for the full transcript

James Nathan  0:54  Hello, and welcome to The Only One Business Show with me your host James Nathan, and this week on the show I’ve got amazing guest. He’s the Chief Amazement Officer at Shep Presentations, an award winning keynote speaker and New York Times and Wall Street Journal best selling business author. As one of the leading experts in the field of customer service and experience, he works with customers and companies who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. All the way from St. Louis, Missouri. Please welcome Shep Hyken. Shep, how are you?


Shep Hyken  1:26  Hey, it’s so great to be here. Thanks for having me.


James Nathan  1:30  Oh, it’s an absolute pleasure. And I hope I haven’t got you up too early. Because I know it’s a total difference in time at the moment.


Shep Hyken  1:36  I know it’s in the evening for you. And it’s middle of the morning for me, so definitely not up too early.


James Nathan  1:42  Oh, good. They’re all good. And so and you’ve been traveling a lot recently…. I’ve been keeping a track of you online. You seem to get away from your office there a lot.


Shep Hyken 1:53  Yeah, I’m gone about every week. A few international trips this year. Actually, I was over near you. I was in Brisbane earlier this year. Let’s see where else I go. Malaysia. I went to South America. Canada, that’s not really too far out of the way.


James Nathan  2:12  Well, it’s another country. I mean, I’m living in Oxfordshire these days, but I came from Perth originally Shep. So yeah, you know, I think it’s in Australia is about as far from Brisbane as you could get. On a map it doesn’t look too bad.


Shep Hyken  2:24  And I got a call from a company in Perth, I’ve been working with them for the last few years. And they said, Shep, we want to hire you to come and speak to our, actually they call them members. They’re not customers, which I love that concept. And I go great, great. I’m going to finally get to Perth. No, we’re going to do the meeting in China, I go okay…..


James Nathan  2:44  Well, still….


Shep Hyken  2:45  Yeah. But I get to go to Paris this month. And plus, you know, I go to all over the US. I’ll be in San Francisco, Austin, Texas. I’ll be in a bunch of different places in the next few weeks.


James Nathan  2:58  Picking up a few air miles on the way I guess as well.


Shep Hyken  3:01  Yeah


James Nathan  3:01  Shep, I’ve been loving the Convenience Revolution book, I’ve just finished it. In fact, it’s my second read through, the first time I just listened the second time where I started to really pay even more attention. What is it about convenience and customer experience that’s so important?


Shep Hyken  3:19  What’s really interesting, we’re starting to understand by looking at all the stats and facts and research that’s coming out that companies are trying to do their best to provide great customer service. And let’s just make a statement that’s real obvious. But people don’t recognize it until they hear it. Our customers are smarter than ever before. They know what good customer service is. They know what it feels like what it looks like, when they experience they know it. And they’re experiencing it from Rockstar companies that are providing it and guess what’s happening? Because so many companies are promising great service. And by the way, many are delivering a level of service that may be better than what they used to have, they aren’t necessarily hitting the bar, these great companies. The point is our customers recognize a great service experience and don’t compare you to a direct competitor anymore. They’re comparing you to the best service they’ve ever had. And I want to set that stage. Because from that point, okay, we provide great service good, we provide a good product, good, one plus one, at that point does not equal two, its bigger. How do you get that to the next level, you make it easier, you provide less friction, you find ways to just make it a better experience by making it more convenient for the customer.


James Nathan  4:38  Because we all we all love things when it’s just easy for us, don’t we? I know someone was was talking recently about value on this show. And they were telling me you know, the old definition, I guess is, you know value is more what you get more than what you pay for. But actually it’s not. It’s about ease of use as well, isn’t it?


Shep Hyken  4:57  Yeah. and ease of use is huge. So are people willing to pay more for convenience? They all the indicators are yes. Multiple research studies have gone out there and said that we’re actually starting to conduct one on our own to make sure that you know, the data is relevant to the audience that I’m interested in talking to but I want you to imagine this. You’re sitting in your hotel room. It’s 10 o’clock at night, just outside your hotel room, maybe 20 feet away, is a machine that sells soda, water, drinks, whatever, for about $3 a drink, that’s US dollars. Okay, in your room, you have a mini bar that the hotel provides for you. And if all you do is pick up the soda, they’re going to charge you for it right? And the price of that soda is $9 or $10 or three times more than the one outside. Okay, that’s just 20 feet away. Where do you go to get your soda? I know where I go. Okay. But most people….


James Nathan  5:59  I go across the road because I’m…..


Shep Hyken  6:03  the place that sells and even less expensive than the machine. Right? Yeah.


James Nathan  6:06  Well, as long as you dressed, I guess. Yeah.


Shep Hyken  6:08  Right, Right. But here’s what happens. Every morning, I look at the hotel staff, when I know that there’s a machine. And there’s the minibar and I’m watching the staff restocking the mini bar, and nobody is touching that machine. So I mean, people do use the machine, it’s just not as frequent. And think about it. Now that’s that’s the definition of convenience and where price becomes less relevant. You’ve heard of the convenience store, it’s pretty obvious the 7 Eleven, they have 65,000 around the world. There’s many different versions of a 7 Eleven convenience store that is out there. But typically, when you go into a 7 Eleven, not as biggest selection, price a little bit more. But guess what, everyday people are driving in there, simply because it’s more convenient. That’s why they call it a convenience store.


James Nathan  6:57  Yeah, and they know it done that they know it’s going to cost them more.


Shep Hyken  7:00  Yeah. But then there’s other businesses like, I don’t know how much you buy from Amazon. But Amazon is the most convenient of all businesses to do business with. And yet, they also pride themselves on having very competitive if not even the lowest price. So that’s an unbelievable combination. But they’re able to give you these conveniences because they don’t have a brick and mortar store. They don’t have the same level of cost that others do. So they pass that savings on. And by the way, Jeff Bezos, who, you know, the guy that started this whole Amazon thing, he figured out, he’d rather make a tiny profit on a whole lot of customers than a bigger profit on a lower number of customers. And as a result, he piles all that money back into giving people a better experience and keeping prices low.


James Nathan  7:52  You know, you mentioned whether I use Amazon or not, I think they’re going to put a special van in just for my home at the moment Shep, I tell you, it’s some and you know, and it’s not cheap Amazon. It’s a misconception. It’s a bit like eBay, you know, people think it’s easy, it’s cheap. It’s not cheap. It’s just easy, and it’s convenient. And you click it, it’s there for some stuff, even you know, the same day. And that’s amazing. Absolutely amazing.


Shep Hyken  8:15  And you know, what Amazon does is in many cases, when you see an item that you like, and I’ll tell you, there’s an item that you can buy through the third party, I guess they call it the third party market, they may fulfill for them. Or they may just be marketing through the Amazon website. And they’ll tell you, it can be bought less expensive. If you want to go outside of Amazon’s guarantee and their suggestions. And people say no, I like the guarantee. You know what happened the other day, I bought a refrigerator from Amazon. That’s a pretty big purchase. It was a mini fridge, not a huge fridge. It was from my office, okay. And it came damaged. And we called up. And by the way, I didn’t even have to open it, take it out of the box. You can see as soon as we open it, you could see the top of it had been dropped, it was bent. It was still usable. But I thought you know what, for a few hundred dollars, I would like to let them know, maybe they’ll send me a new and I could ship this one back. I haven’t even taken out of the box. They were they said can you send us a picture, snapped a picture on the phone. They told me what email to send it to. Four minutes later, and we’re back on the phone with them. They thanked me, they apologized over and over. They took care of it. It was so easy. And you know, when you know they’re going to stand behind whatever it is that that they sell. I think any company needs to do that. And we can take a lot of lessons from Amazon. As matter of fact, the book you mentioned, The Convenience Revolution, while I showcase guests, there’s 30 different companies that we use as examples. There is one master case study. So it’s actually 31 companies. There’s one master case study and Amazon is it. It represents all the six convenience principles, by the way many companies do. But since most people know who Amazon is and have done business with Amazon, it was a real easy example to use.


James Nathan  10:07  And you don’t need to find them do you? You can’t find them, in fact, because they make it easier for you because they insist on phoning you, you just click a button. There you are. And it does. In fact I we did have a problem this week was with something was was actually the Fire Tablet that my daughter uses. And as soon as I press the button, my phone rang. It was almost like it was connected to my phone


Shep Hyken  10:28  They were waiting for you.


James Nathan  10:29  Yeah, man. I just…. people whinge a lot about Amazon about what it’s done to the high street. I don’t think it’s done a thing to the high street. I think the high streets done a lot to the high street, you know, actually theres huge points we can learn.


Shep Hyken  10:41  Yeah, I didn’t you write about that? Not that long ago?


James Nathan  10:44  I talk about it a lot.


Shep Hyken  10:46  Yeah, yeah. So here’s the other thing with Amazon. The damage that was done was in shipping. They aren’t responsible for shipping. The actually, to me, they’re responsible for shipping. But you know who created the problem was whoever it was, it could have been the US Postal Service. It could have been FedEx, it could have been UPS, any one of a number of different providers. So they did not say hey, once it leaves our warehouse, it’s not our problem. They own it. And I love that. So Jeff Bezos once said, why do we need a phone number? If we’re so good at delivering service? They should never, they the customer should never have to call us. And that’s fine until somebody else like the shipper creates a problem. And then like, I never got my item. And so who do I call? I call Amazon and Amazon says well it left, you know, and so they say…. I just love it. They take responsibility


James Nathan  11:43  Talk to me about internal customer service. Go know that something that you’re very keen on? Businesses are so big, most businesses will tell you their customer service. And most businesses will tell you, they’re all about what goes on outside the business, but surely inside the businesses equally important.


Shep Hyken  11:59  Well, and people say what should you focus on first, by the way, I believe strongly in delivering a level of internal service. And matter of fact, when you did the introduction, you said Shep works with companies that want to build loyal relationships with their customers and their employees. And all the research shows that if you focus on your employees, and try to give them a great experience, and treat them fair, and that doesn’t mean, you know that you have to roll over and give in on everything they asked for. But you have to be fair, you have to be approachable, you have to be, you know, when I say approachable leadership and management, they’ve got to create a culture within. And it’s really interesting that you’ll see that the best customer service companies that are rated, if you take a look at glassdoor.com and you go on you look at the same companies, you’ll find that they’re very highly rated as an employee experience as well. So which comes first, and I believe you first must decide I want to be very customer focused. So where’s my first step? It’s not the customer, it’s the employees, you don’t decide you want to be employee focus first, before the customer, you decide I want our customers to have a great experience. The first thing I have to do is go inside, what’s happening on the inside of an organization is felt on the outside by the customer.


James Nathan  13:14  Well, there’s there’s an old expression isn’t there that our customers treat our clients the way we treat them? I’m sorry, our employees treat our clients the way we treat them. Very, very true. But that goes right back to hiring, doesn’t it?


Shep Hyken  13:26  Yep. So you have obviously you have to hire right. And there’s a whole lot behind hiring right? You have to…… So I even think it goes before that, before hiring. By the way, your point about treating people I call this the Employee Golden Rule, you know, we’ve learned do unto others as you want done unto yourself. Well, the Employee Golden Rule is to do unto your employees as you want done unto the customer. And I might add even better, you become the role model. So before we can hire the right people, we must first decide, what do we want this culture to be? So leadership must define what that culture is. And once they have a clear picture of what that is, and what’s expected of their employees, then they can start hiring those people.


James Nathan  14:14  So what do you say to the smaller businesses? I understand, you know, in a big business, there’s the time and the resources to look at these things. But say, I start my shop, I’m focused, crazy focused on running the business. And then I start hiring employees, at what point does the leadership kick in? Or what point do I need to take note of that?


Shep Hyken  14:34  By the way, the day you started is a solo entrepreneur, okay. I don’t care if you’re a company that has 100,000 or more employees, or you’re the only employee getting ready to hire your first person, you need to define what you want that culture to look like. Now, maybe early on, because you’re an entrepreneur, and it’s just yourself, you haven’t done that exercise, I get it, that’s fine, you’re probably going to still try to find somebody that wants to give you the end result of what you’re trying to achieve. So I’m okay with that. But at a certain point, when you have two or three or four or five employees, you still need that vision. So I call it the service vision, which actually I refer to it as the mantra, because a mantra is a phrase, or, you know, if you think of the meditation, you know, where the person sitting there with their legs crossed, and they’re, you know, hands are on their arms, and they’re going ‘ummmm ummmm’. That’s a mantra, okay. And I remember when I was a kid learning, transcendental meditation, that was a hot craze back then, it still is very good. It’s very good for you to meditate. They gave you your own. I don’t know if they call it the mantra or not. But to me, a mantra is a statement, one sentence or less, that identifies the service vision that you want. And so you create that mantra, and we created ours. It is simply this: always be amazing. And I had an employee that work with me, wonderful woman, and she started showing up late for work every day. This was not like her. She was always the one that was early. Well, apparently, I didn’t realize she had moved from just a very short drive to an extremely long drive that was taking her almost an hour to get to work if not longer. She was trying to figure out how to get there early. But she was struggling. So she came in and sat down one day with me because I said, we got to talk about this habit that we need to break. And I said this showing up late, what is our mantra here at Shepherd Presentations. And she said, always be amazing. And I said, do you think showing up late four days in a row now is amazing behaviour? And she said no. I said, that’s right. It’s not. So we have a choice, you can be amazing, or go home. And the goal was to get her to understand that this habit needs to be broken. She goes, Well, how do you suggest I get here? I leave early every day. And I’m trying to figure out I leave a little bit earlier. I said, Well, that’s not what amazing people do. Amazing people go the opposite direction. You leave really, really early, you show up here a half an hour too soon, you going tomorrow, I don’t need to leave quite as early. And that’s how you figure it out rather than…. and she goes, ah, very good idea. Well, guess what happened the next day, she showed up a half an hour early. So, but there is an example of, you know, we hired somebody, they understand what our vision is. And when they weren’t hitting it, we could sit down and say look, is what you’re doing, you know, reflecting of our service vision, our mantra, three words always be amazing. The Ritz Carlton, my favourite one to talk about yet is nine words long:  were ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen. That’s a….. then there’s a great one that’s a little bit longer. It’s a passion statement. I love talking about this company Symbiosis, they are so passionate about taking care of their clients. They say we and this is exactly how it goes. We love our clients so much that when we kiss them, their lips bleed. So, and I could see if somebody is out of alignment to that vision, that, you know, the boss may sit down with the employee and say, hey, you know, we’re passionate about taking care of our customers. This is our mantra. What is it? By the way, the goal is everybody knows it, it’s memorized. They talk about it. It’s right out there all the time. You know, we love our clients so much your lips bleed, what do you think the way you behave by not calling that client back for three days? Does that fall in alignment with loving our clients so much and being passionate about taking care of them? No, sir doesn’t? Or no, ma’am, it doesn’t. And that’s right. So what do you think would be the right response time and let them work it out. And then you agree with them and say, there you got it. Now go do it. And it’s beautiful.


James Nathan  18:45  If you’re not stopping what you’re doing to call a new inquiry….. It infuriates me when I talk to people and they say, oh James, you call back so quickly and go, well, what did you want me to do? Sit around for half an hour and then call you back? You want to do work with me, I want to work with you.


Shep Hyken  19:02  Right, here in the US. There’s a fast food chain, or quick service chain, as they call them today. It’s called Jimmy Johns, right. Jimmy Johns, you know, they say, and we get your sandwich, freaky fast. So and so I tell them, we are the Jimmy Johns of the speaking industry, if we….. so here’s our process. If a client is interested in hiring us, they may call us. great, somebody’s going to answer the phone, if they call us in the middle of the night, someone’s calling back right away. But many times they go onto our website and there’s a form they fill out. That form goes to all the people here in the company. And by the way, we have a very small company, we’re one of those little tiny companies that still created our service vision. We have basically five people and plus an occasional intern or two. But here’s what happens: that inquiry shows up on everybody’s computer. And within a moment, somebody said we got an inquiry and they look at it within another moment. I’ll take it, and we call them back yet. And they’re often blown away. And we say we recognize that this is important to you. And by the way, you will always hear from somebody, you know today, it was really quick because we were sitting here and we saw it come in, but the worst it’s ever going to be is one business day, that’s the worst, it’s probably going to be in one or two business hours. The exception is Shep’s on an airplane or he’s on a stage and he’s not going to be able to respond to his own emails, obviously, if he’s out of you know, range as far as Wi Fi goes. But even I make it clear, if I can’t respond to somebody because I’m busy and I’m sitting in this office, I will forward the email to my assistant, and she will make sure it gets taken care of. That’s how we run it. That’s how we work. Our clients are amazed. And we tell them: do you want your company to do anything different for your customers? The answer should be no.


James Nathan  20:55  What stops them Shep? Because when you talk like that, I think well, of course you do. You know, it’s important to you. What stops businesses being that effective?


Shep Hyken  21:04  You know, you would think it would be so easy for them to figure out. And that’s a problem. Why is because they haven’t verbalized and then written the process out or written it out and then verbalize it. So let me give you an example. This by the way, I’m about to share with you the number one culture changing tool that we share in our training programs. And it comes right out of a book that I wrote years ago called Cult of the Customer, which will be rereleased next year and all updated. And in the back, we have these exercises, and one of them is called the moments of magic exercise. And all it is is every one of our team here we meet at least once a week, every time we do that Monday morning meeting or it’s usually the first day that I’m in town that week, everybody brings an index card. That’s it, we give everybody an index card at the beginning of the week, and we tell them: sometime in the next week, you’re going to create a moment of magic for one of our clients or maybe a fellow employee, okay, an internal customer, I want you to just write that down two or three sentences, not a novel, it should take it three minutes, two minutes to do with the most, nothing longer than that. And you’re all going to get to share these. So by the way, the same person that was showing up late every day, she came in with her index card, her moment of magic card, and we go around what’s your moment of magic? And she said I had a client who was so impressed how quickly we responded to them, on one of these inquiries that came in. They said it was just amazing. Thank you great moment of magic. And that just lets the rest of the team when they hear it go: yeah, that’s what we need to do to right. Next week. She came in she goes somebody emailed me, and was so impressed that I got back to them within like 10 or 15 minutes. They thought that was just unbelievable. I go well, there you go. The next week, she comes in. She goes, I had a phone call while I was at lunch and somebody took a message. And I called that person back right when I came back from lunch. So it might have been about a half an hour later, maybe 20 minutes later. And and they said they were so impressed. So guess what I’m seeing this pattern from this team member telling me, boy, when I respond quickly, people are impressed. So I said team, what is the typical response time and we all agreed it should be quick. But you know what we’d never written it down. We never made it a formal part of a process that this is what’s expected when we return calls or when return emails or when we respond to those inquiries. And now we have that. And you know, anybody that’s out of alignment on that I get to bring up hey, you know, this is how we do it here. Freaky fast!


James Nathan  23:47  Freaky fast. I’ve got a recruitment client where the phone must be answered within three rings. And you know, I don’t know what their policies on email, I’m going to ask them this week when I go and see ’em because I know the three rings works. When you talk about that. And I in my head, I’m thinking God, you know, to just differentiate yourself is so easy, because all you need to do is, is the right thing every time because nobody else does it. You know, it makes it really easy.


Shep Hyken  24:12  I wouldn’t say nobody else, does. Because enough people don’t, it becomes obvious when it’s done right.


James Nathan  24:20  Exactly, exactly. So if a business now people listening to us are thinking right, we’ve heard Shep talk and he’s mentioned convenience, that sounds like a good kind of, you know, differentiator for my business, how do I go about thinking about it? Or there’s some principles that I can put in place?


Shep Hyken  24:38  Sure. So I’m going to do this in under a minute, I’m going to give you the six principles. And then I’ll share with you how you get started. Alright. So the first principle is, by the way, there’s an element of this and all six is simply reduce friction, find ways to eliminate extra steps, and whatever. And I want you to think about, you know, traditionally, in the past, if you wanted a taxi cab, and you didn’t live in an urban area you would….. like I used to live not not far from the city, but far enough that aren’t cabs driving around all the time. So if I wanted a taxi cab, I’d have to pick up the phone and call, and then I’d have to wait for the cab. And the dispatcher might tell me, the driver should be there within 15 minutes. Okay. And 15 minutes later, what do you think’s happening, I’m wondering if the driver is going to be there. And guess what I usually call the the cab company back and say, hey where’s my taxi? Yeah, I get into the taxi cab when the driver finally shows up. The driver doesn’t know where I’m going. But I tell the driver, and he starts or she starts the meter. And when I get there, they tell me how much it is. And then I pay the driver. Now that’s the way it’s always been done. And along comes Uber or Lyft, or any of the other companies that are now competing in that world. And they said, let’s eliminate almost all of that. Let’s give the customer an app. And by the way, years ago, there were no cell phones or smartphone devices with apps. But now that they’re there today, we capitalize on everything that’s available. And that’s what Uber and Lyft did. They said let’s give everybody an app, you push the button, you see how far away the driver is, you see, we they know where you’re going, and you know what the price is going to be. And once you agree that, hey, that’s a reasonable price, you accept it. And then the drivers on their way, you can see on a little map how far the driver is. When you get into the car. The driver already knows where you’re going. You don’t have to tell them and they know who you are, they actually asked ‘Are you Shep?’ or, you know, ‘are you James?’ Because, you know, they want to make sure they’re picking up the right person? Then when you get to the destination, you don’t have to reach in your pocket and pull out any money, you just leave. Yep. Right. So what they did is eliminated all of these little steps, all the friction. And that’s what eliminating friction is. And I went a little bit long on that one. But very quickly, the other five are number two, to create a self service solution, give the customer control. That’s what Amazon has done when you go and buy things. Or if you have a customer service issue, going online to the website and figuring it out on your own. Number three, using technology to drive a better experience. And there’s lots of ways to do it. The website and self services one, but there’s many different ways. Many technologies are being used to reduce friction and make it more convenient. Number four is to create a subscription model, where once you buy it, and you like it, hey, I’m going to use this up every month. Just send me a new supply every month. One of my favourite clubs is the Dollar Shave Club. Yeah. And it’s now the $10 Shave Club. Because I buy their expensive…


James Nathan  27:45  the stuff that goes with it.


Shep Hyken  27:46  Right. But it’s every every month, they send me a new shipment of what I need to shave, you know, and they asked me, do I want to add shaving cream in this time? Or do I want to do whatever? Yeah, and that’s just it’s automatic. I don’t even have to think about it. They think for me. Number five is delivery. Take it to the customer. You mentioned earlier in the show that you love it when Amazon delivers, like the same day and maybe even an under an hour. Well, that’s delivery on steroids. My car dealership delivered my car to me when it was ready when it finally came in. And they also bring me a car every time I need service, they let you know. So I never have to go in to that dealership, except when I want to buy another car. And that’s a brilliant way of locking me in with that convenient experience. Why would I go anywhere else? And finally, number six is access. And that is how am I available to my customers? If I’m a call center, am I available? When my customers need me? 24/7, am I available? I there’s so many like bankers hours, you know, that’s what they call them. That’s like nine to four, nine to five. And I always say well, the bank is really focusing on what the traditional bankers hours are about the only people that can do business with them are unemployed. We’re available to talk anytime, okay. And I’m being facetious and joke about it. But really, you know, that’s not really accessible to the general public, which is why my lead case study on access was a bank that stays open after hours. It’s open on the weekend. And of course, today you have online banking, which is technology driving a better experience. And access might be logistical? How close am I to my customers. Starbucks? Boy, you go into a major city, and you’re walking through the city. And there’s like a Starbucks on every block or two, that’s logistically accessible. So those are the six principles. And the question you had to me was, where do you start, you start with a journey, map. Make and create the journey that every customer has with you and every interaction point they have. And there’s going to be different journeys for different types of customers or repeat customer, somebody this may be buying a different product line that they might have, they might have a different journey. But you must map those out. And at the top line, look at the interaction points. Is there something you can eliminate? Or something you can make easier? And by the way, do the same thing internally? What’s driving that process? Is there a way to make it easier for employees to do business with each other, and the customer? So that was a very short, this is how you get started. But really, that’d be like there’s no better way to do it.


James Nathan  30:20  Shep. Thank you that that’s really, really helpful. And there’s so many little bits and pieces that come out of those six ideas. And while you were talking there, I was thinking of Starbucks and I don’t know if you’re if you are a Simpsons fan, but there was an episode of The Simpsons donkey’s years ago where Homer went for a walk in the street and every shop was a Starbucks. And you know, it’s not far from the truth. I’ve got a friend who’s walking to base camp at Everest at the moment he’s doing a trek. And there’s three stops on the way and at the second one, he sent me a photo and guess what it was? Starbucks Starbucks right in the middle of…. amazing. But also, that delivery things quite interesting, because I know your quote was that 70% of the population would prefer delivery. I’m surprised it’s only 70%. But I started thinking about professional services businesses, particularly lawyers and accountants, you know, where the old fashioned thing of, you know, we go to see our lawyer, we go to see our accountant, we dress up, we go to their very beautiful offices, and we drink they’re very expensive coffee. And we go away again. And it baffles me that…. why they even have the offices anymore, surely just going to see your clients would be a better way to look after them.


Shep Hyken  31:32  I don’t know where my financial advisor, I don’t think I’ve ever been to his office. And he’s been my advisor for years. I think I’ve been in his area and met him for lunch one day. But whenever we have our reviews, he always comes to me. And how about this? A friend of mine is a dentist. Now you obviously have to go to the dental office. But he says I’ve got a lot of elderly patients. So you know what I do? I have a car service that drives around and picks them up and brings him to me and takes them home. Yeah, that’s delivery.


James Nathan  32:05  Well, that’s amazing. Shep, it’s brilliant talking with you. You know so many things have come out of what you’ve said that I’m sure everyone’s going to go away and start actioning these things straight away. We’ve almost run out of time and appreciate you you’ve got your book, it’s a new version of Be Amazing or Go Home. Is that right?


Shep Hyken  32:26  It’s just….. I was so excited. So I had a book and you know, like The Convenience Revolution was published by Sound Wisdom and Greenleaf published a number of books Wiley published one of my books, but one book that Be Amazing or Go Home, it was just in my head, I said I gotta get this out. And so I actually self published it and put it on the Amazon platform, which was great. It was just, I just had to get it off my desk. I didn’t think a publisher would be interested in it. Well, sure enough, a publisher Sound Wisdom decided we really liked this book, would you give us the rights or sell us the rights. And guess what next week, they’re re-releasing the book. And it’s now available through them. It’s available in paperback as opposed to hardbound and and they’re just great to work with. And we’re going to be working on some other book projects in the next spring, they’re going to rerelease Cult of the Customer, which is now 10 years old. And I had to update all the stats, the facts, I had to get rid of irrelevant companies that were in there. So it’s a it’s not a new book from the standpoint of content. It’s just an updated book. And so it will make a lot more sense to the contemporary reader who buys it today. So those are the big projects we’re working on.


James Nathan  33:38  Well, if I hadn’t read Be Amazing or Go Home, I’d buy it now. But unfortunately, well, fortunately, I bought it the first time around. Shep it’s been fabulous talking to you, really great. Before we go, though, I wonder if you could just leave us with your one big idea, great big Golden Nugget, the one thing that people could go away to do in their business today, to make it better for today and better for the years to come. What would that be?


Shep Hyken  34:04  Great. I’m going to share with you one of my favourite lines that I share with my clients. You know, we’ve talked a lot about customer service and experience. And people think customer services where you go in, there’s a problem. And some people say customer service is what happens when experience goes wrong. I want you to think about it not as a department, not as somebody who’s in charge of customer service. But I want it to be part of your culture. So service is not a department. It is a philosophy to be embraced by everyone. And when you hire to deliver great service, both internally and externally, you’re going to start to create that culture. And you’ll be one of those companies that we talked about at the beginning of our program. You know who sets the benchmark high for everyone else?


James Nathan  34:48  Shep, awesome. Thank you so much.


Shep Hyken  34:51  My pleasure. Thanks for having me on the show.

S2E9 The Motorcycle Culture and Club Level Service Edition with Dutch Van Someren

James chats with Anthony “Dutch” Van Someren, who after 25 years in the media industry leading creative brand and marketing in companies like MTV, Bravo, Cartoon Network, Extreme Sports Channel, Harper Collins Publishers, and then an advertising agency he changed direction and created the Bike Shed Motorcycle Club.


It started in 2011 as a blog about motorcycle culture, which launched into an annual exhibition retail and hospitality event in 2013, which celebrated its 10th event last May at the Tobacco Dock in London with 17,000 attendees. And then in 2015 opened as a full time destination venue in Shoreditch under four huge victorian railway arches, offering club level hospitality, retail, events, a barbershop, galleries, and lounge spaces to a global audience of people who love motorcycles, and people who love people who love motorcycles, and their friends, their dogs and kids.