MDH 32 | Generate Leads

MDH 32 | Generate Leads

 

This pandemic showed us that more than just surviving in business, we also need to thrive. However, this has proven to be easier said than done. But while it is so, it is nevertheless not impossible. Join Victoria Wieck and guest, Visionary Marketing Coach Leon Streete, as they share marketing strategies that can help generate leads and increase conversion rates in the business. He talks about the importance of maintaining good relationships, recognizing problems, and creating solutions for customers. To stand out from the competition, he also emphasizes the need for doing business differently. Leon then takes us across his professional experiences, lending lessons that helped him get to where he is today. Join him in this episode to learn insights into staying connected with customers and growing as entrepreneurs.

Watch the episode here:

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How To Generate More Leads And Increase Conversion Rates With Leon Streete

I love being here every week with you, reconnecting with amazing guests. Now is another exceptional guest by the name of Leon Streete. He is the host of the Business Owner Elevation Podcast. If you haven’t listened to it, you might want to give it a listen. Honestly, when I first listened to it, I was delighted and amazed. I learned a lot from that one episode. Go ahead and give it a listen. Leon is a visionary marketing coach who always offers a fresh perspective on where the market is going and how you, the entrepreneur can take opportunities of that. He’s very innovative in his approach and the man has the patience of a saint. What he is known for is helping entrepreneurs discover ways to generate more leads consistently and also to increase their conversion rates. If you’re interested in learning a lot more of this and walk away from this episode with actionable tips, stay tuned.

Welcome, Leon.

Victoria, thank you very much. I’m looking forward to this. You’re such a gracious lady and everything about you is perfect. Let’s go.

I didn’t mention that Leon’s Business Owner Elevation Podcast won the Best UK Business Podcast award. I’m sure it took you a lot of heart and soul to get to that point. Before we even go to that point, you’re a visionary marketing coach. When I say visionary marketing, in marketing, we do need to have a vision. You need to step out outside of the box, you can’t always follow leaders supposedly out there. You charted and carved out your own little niche within that very crowded market. Give me a little three-minute bio about how you got to this point, and I’m sure there was a lot of pain and gain involved.

I literally finish my degree here in the UK. If I take you back to 2004, I was already creating websites and into marketing, I was starting it in 1997. It was at that point, I thought, “I need to get real and get some clients now because education’s finished, so I need some cash.” Fortunately, I had a great relationship with my dissertation lecturer and he said to me, “Leon, there’s a contract going here at the university. I think you’d be great to take it up, six-month contract.” I said, “Perfect.” I took the contract on, it was a six-month contract and I finished within five months. I literally had a month’s holiday from getting paid because the contract ran for six months. You know how universities work. They’re very rigid and it’s six months so that’s how long it lasts but I finished it early.

What I realized at that early stage was relationships and my ability to think on my feet and create what I needed based on whatever the solution needed to be the type of thing. Whatever the problem was, I could come up with something. I was always creative and it was at that point, as I stepped forward, that I landed on my feet continuously all the way up until 2010. You mentioned pain. 2010, I got to a point where I would hedge my bets too far. I was about to get in for a big shock of cash gap. It was around about $75,000 if I do the conversion rates. I had no cash, we had money owed to us but it wasn’t coming in. We had two clients who also owed us money that went after the 2008 recession. They, in 2010 went out of business owing us money, I would use all of my resources. I learned a big lesson there about trading insolvent. The business was cash flowing so well up until the final three months, it was masking the problem.

If you go into hiding, you are going to face even bigger problems.

What I realized is when the chips are down, the greatest resource that you can have is to know that there are still options. I didn’t know that at the time. It was speaking to my business coach at the time and to people around me. Up until that failure, I didn’t speak to people where I was in areas of weakness where I needed to be stronger. I thought I was Superman, I would wear an S on my chest and somehow, I would figure it out. That was as far as my figure out Leon’s creative mind could go. To veteran business owners in me now, I can see it’s part of the learning curve in it. That’s what I needed because everybody’s journey is different.

What I realized is that I needed to focus on more of, “What’s the vision for Leon this time around? What am I going to create? What is it that I need to put in place? How do I need to do business differently this time?” It took me a few years. When I look back, I could see it was a few years of depression, not years of growth. We all come out of these things better off but at the time it didn’t feel like it. When I got to this point where we’re launching this new podcast, it was at that point, I was able to look back and think, “That’s what those few years were.” I looked back and I realized, “You’ve come a long way, Leon. You restarted, you got a team going again, you’ve got clients paying, you’re about to launch this new podcast.” It was at that point I realized that there needed to be a big shift. Steadily but surely since 2014, we launched the podcast in 2015 and a lot of things changed for the better. I’ll let you ask me the next question before we get up to speed.

If I heard you correctly, I’m going to paraphrase this in a simple way, which is you basically got an involuntary gift of a few years. You didn’t ask for it, but you got into a situation that you didn’t know you were getting into. People can say that 2008, 2009, 2010 were rough years for everybody, but everybody didn’t go bankrupt, somebody did benefit from that at that time. It seems to me you have learned more than you bargained for because of the situation.

The scenario you described the cash gap, I have an upcoming book called Million Dollar Hobbies and I have a chapter there that describes that exact thing. This is when you’re young, you’re an entrepreneur, and you’re lucky enough to seem to have been at the right place at the right time and doing all the right things, the money’s coming in and things are going good. You think you can conquer the world and you’re just scratching the surface of whatever and you don’t look at the potential landmines that are in front of you, it’s very easy to grow broke. You’re growing without a plan and you’re growing too fast.

You do have this cash gap. If you have 1 or 2 customers that go bankrupt on you or that are late, this is how a lot of companies grow broke. In that particular case in 2010, most people think that 2008 was the meltdown but I personally think 2010 was the bottom. It was like hit the bottom in 2008 but it continued to shift things out. You learned all these lessons and you launch this new podcast, which is amazing. When you’re talking about podcasting, the entrepreneurship category is number one, which means it’s very crowded. To win that top prize is amazing.

I’ve listened to several episodes quite regularly and you do offer things that are different than what’s out there. Some of the things that you do differently than other coaches, maybe not completely contrarian but if you’re going from point A to point B, there are many different ways to get there. You are specifically catering to the small business owner and also trying to help them from avoiding some of those kinds of mistakes that you walked into. What are the top three things that you’re focusing on now in terms of marketing?

Marketing, we both agree that marketing was shifting at a faster rate because we are now living in this constant barrage of instant gratification, instant messaging, whatever. Things were moving out of control up to the point we got hit with COVID. Things were already naturally shifting in a very dynamic way and COVID put its own twist to it. Tells us what was happening. How do we now cope with the result of COVID and what’s your advice for moving forward coming out of COVID?

MDH 32 | Generate Leads

Generate Leads: The market wasn’t so saturated before the pandemic. A lot of people who never thought they would really go a hundred percent online were now faced with the reality that if you want your business to continue, you have to go online.

 

Just before COVID, the difference was the market wasn’t so saturated because the market, the world globally as a society, we weren’t educated up to the technology. We’re doing this interview right now in Zoom, for me, I’ve been using it for 5 or 6 years. A lot of people had never come across Zoom in 2020, they never used it before. That’s been one of the main communication systems that I’ve used for many years to coach my clients in my group coaching programs. When I say the market wasn’t so saturated, a lot of people who never thought they would go 100% online we’re now faced with, “You now have to go online if you want your business to continue.”

We’re talking about big corporations right through to small business owners. Everybody had to educate up into this new technology arena. What that also meant is there’s a lot of online communities that I’m a part of. Basically, where the opportunities lie for people if you want to generate leads, traditionally, it would be business networking, business-to-business and so on. Whereas now, it went all online in 2020. The shift was basically how do we continue to run our business with the fact that we can’t get out and use the habits that we’re so used to. That was the challenge for a lot of people in those six months.

I picked up a lot of clients coming in because they didn’t know how to use Facebook and Instagram. Don’t get me wrong, they’re know how to load the app but they didn’t know how to use it to market themselves. It’s because of that, it created a lot of problems where some people went into hiding because they couldn’t face this online world technology. It sounds like how my mom would respond like, “I’m not good at technology, Leon, you know me.” A lot of business owners also realize that if they went into hiding, they were going to face even bigger problems because everything was locked down, there’s no cash coming in. What I was able to do is sift through that by being able to create new offers for the time. That was the choice that I made and that’s what I also taught my clients.

I’ll give you one quick example. I had this one client who is a leadership coach, she works at corporates C-Suite level. She helps people with confidence and was facing a £4,000 month which is about $6,000, so not particularly huge, but it was enough to keep her going. She was already pretty successful. She owned two properties here in the UK. We could say she was comfortable, it wasn’t like she needed to earn lots. I helped her to create a brand-new offer so that she could go out to a market and she turned that month from being £4,000 into £18,000, which is $24,000. That was in April 2020.

That’s what 2020 going into the beginning of this year, 2021 was all about. It was, “Can you pivot? Can you change? Can you adapt?” Now, the dynamics have changed, it isn’t “can you pivot?” It’s “can you stand out amongst the crowded noise there is?” That’s the biggest thing. What it’s forced is for people to dig into the emotions of your niche to stand out because most people don’t. What I mean by that is simply get into the point of what is the true psychological pain or desire of your audience, and that needs to be your message because that’s what’s going to help you to stand out. That’s where I believe we are now.

I agree with you 100% that in 2021, it is not simply a matter of survival anymore. This is time to figure out how you’re going to thrive. What you were saying is that I like to paraphrase because I want to make sure that we’re getting very clear messages and you made it very clear, that to clarify what you’re good at, clarify your strengths. Make sure that they will solve the problems of the pain that your audience is experiencing and going through and double down and make sure that you stand out. This is a time to stand out. Everybody else is pretty much contracting and trying to figure out what to do next but leaders don’t wait until everybody else determines what’s next. You’re going to determine what’s next.

Basically, you’ve answered all three of my questions. This time-tested question is, how do we generate more leads? The second part of that question is, how do you increase your conversion rates? This might be a great time to take a look at that because I do think that there is an opportunity to increase your rates of conversion because if you can connect to your customers on an emotional level. To me, that’s a pretty easy picking but you’re the expert.

All come out of challenging things better off. At the time, it won’t feel like it.

We’ve spoken about this before. I think the example you gave me is when you were talking about what jewelry does for a woman. I loved how you broke that down into woman doesn’t have to speak, it presents for her, it speaks for her. I’m not going to go into your answer much more. It was amazing. You’ll have to catch that episode on my podcast. What you raised here in terms of generating leads, to keep it simple, there are two ways that you can generate leads. The two specific ways are you can push an offer or you can generate a lead. There is a difference. An offer is, I’m going to put something in front of you that you combine now.

If you’ve ever come across Chet Holmes, the author of the Ultimate Sales Machine, I believe he was the guy who came up with the customer buying pyramid. If you’ve not come across that, it’s a cool diagram and it breaks down. What you find is that there is only ever 3% of your market who will buy now. However, if you create an offer that generates leads that educate, education-based marketing, you open up the doors to having an extra 67% of the market warm to your idea even if they had no clue as to whether or not they wanted to buy something or had a problem in the first place. With that in mind, the most powerful way to generate leads is to truly understand the fears, frustrations, the wants or aspirations of your audience. You’re either motivated by the stick or the carrot.

As human beings, that means that you have to put marketing messages out that appeal to both of those. People who want to get past the pain or people who want to get towards their desire. If you want to generate more leads, what I find is a lot of people tend to put their offers out. As I said, you’re only ever going to pick up 3% of your potential market or however far and wide-reaching your message goes. It’s only ever going to hit 3%. Don’t get me wrong, you may go 1% or 2% over there. The point is if you really want to attract people, you need to get them to raise their hands. The reason why you want people to raise their hand is if I feel like I don’t have to buy the thing that you’re offering me now, but I can learn more about it, there’s less of a barrier of risk for me.

A quick example would be, one of my coaching clients is a natural fertility mentor. She helps people who are having difficulties getting pregnant naturally. She created a guide on twenty recipes that women can take to help improve their ability to conceive naturally. Previously, she would just put, “Who wants to get pregnant? Are you looking to get pregnant?” We put these recipes out into specific places, into a Facebook group of professional women. Within three days, she has 700 leads. The reason for that is because what she’s doing is giving value. She’s providing something where the person doesn’t have to buy now, so the risk is low and the person can say, “Send me that thing.” Off the back of that, she’s now speaking to 700 women who are her target market.

This is what I’m talking about. If you educate your audience and you don’t push to put the offer in front of them straight away, what that does is open up the doors for you to put the offer in the backend. That’s exactly what happened. I think she got to about 800 by the time seven days had passed. For a lot of small business owners, that doesn’t happen in a year, never in quite two years for a lot of them. Off the back of that, she was able to book sales calls for people to join her mentoring program. You talk about conversions, for me, education-based marketing is how you generate leads.

The second part of your question, how do you increase your conversion rates? You increase your conversion rates through constant testing and what happens on the front tent? You can’t increase your conversion rates if you’re not generating more leads. What I’ve found that works really well is if you do more of what works. For instance, if you found a way to generate leads on the front end, you find a great topic, angle, whatever it is, that’s the place where you need to keep pushing those messages out, so you generate more leads on the front end.

Now, you’re going to get to the point, what’s the next step? Are you trying to convert those leads into prospects or straight to clients? That can also happen. I know you know about this, especially when it comes to eCommerce because you can jump a few steps. When it comes to conversion, I coach a lot of people who sell by Zoom these days, not so much phones. The biggest thing I would say to you is that you’ve got to have a system either for how you do your sales calls, a script. If you’re pushing people through to sell a funnel where somebody can end up on a checkout page and buy, what you have to do is remove distraction. That’s what the script does. If you’re speaking to somebody on the phone, “Let me remove distractions and ask them questions that will reveal, whether or not they’re a great prospect and whether I want to work with them or not, or sell to them.”

MDH 32 | Generate Leads

Generate Leads: Education-based marketing opens the doors to having an extra 67% of the market actually warm to your idea.

 

It’s the same thing for eCommerce. What I found with my e-commerce clients, which is if we remove the distraction, it allows them to get towards the desire of what they want when it comes to buying. It is more of how much of this stuff can you repeat the laborious stuff but get better at. I found this from a Keith Cunningham book. I’ll remember the title before the episodes are up but it’s a great book. He talks about, the entrepreneurs that win are the ones who can do the boring stuff over and over again to get better.

I’m going to write Keith Cunningham here. I’m so glad that we’re having this conversation together because the traditional way of lead generation is to create a slick marketing ad or create a quick brochure and make sure that you understand where to populate. You’re looking at the traditional rates of Facebook and all the different social media conversion rates. I’ve always had a problem with that because I just know when you’re not targeted when you’re not emotionally connecting with. You can’t emotionally connect with, for example, if you said something like, “I want to talk to women who might want to get pregnant.” For example, you’re talking.

That’s different than somebody who has gone through all the procedures and that they’re desperate to try almost anything at this point. You would have a very different marketing message there. The two-part questions were related because if you start with the right lead generation, you’re going to automatically increase your conversion rate to a certain number. The way you create the right kind of lead generation is by understanding your customer first, understanding who you’re talking to, what their problems are, and how you’re going to connect with them. The way you connect with them is by sharing your knowledge first.

What I love about that model you gave is that you share your knowledge with 5,000 people that are highly curated leads. In that lady’s case, women who have problems with trying artificial medical ways of getting pregnant. She wants to do it naturally and this woman’s got some expertise in this. I guess a large percentage of them are going to come in and say, “Help me.” You’ve got a percentage of those people who won’t buy anything right away but they’ll keep listening to you because they might have more time. They might want to try a couple of other different ways but down the line, they keep getting information so they’re going to buy anything. They’re going to go to somebody who has shared rather than a slick marketing ad. I feel like the kind of model that can keep paying the first 3 months, 6 months, maybe 5 years.

The longest I had somebody come back to me from the first communication was fourteen months. When you do it the right way, I think exactly, as you say, it pays dividends in the end. That’s the thing you’ve got to remember, not everybody’s in the market to buy now only have 3%. The 7% that are open to it, don’t take me for verbatim, this is from Chet Holmes’s Buyer’s Pyramid. From what I’ve tested as well, and what I’ve seen in the market, it holds pretty true. He had tested it with thousands of people that he’d done marketing to over the years. He worked with some great people. I think Warren Buffett’s business partner, I can’t remember his name off, it’s the top of my head, he works with Jay Abraham. Chet Holmes is not with us anymore but a very well-respected guy from America. The book came to me, The Road Less Stupid, Keith Cunningham, great book. The audiobook is great to listen to as well.

Where do you think the market now is going? I think you answered it partly. The overarching question now is as we know, human beings, some of this is going to be out of our control. Meaning that if the world economy, all of a sudden improves crazy, we’re going to be looking at a different mindset in terms of our customer base as well as how coaches respond. Where do you think we’re going? If you don’t want to answer the question, that’s okay, too.

In terms of where we’re going, this is 2019, where information is what people are paying for, now it’s transformation. Now, more than ever, that’s the thing that people are looking for because of the rapid ascension in up-leveling in technology and the approach to marketing and being online. There are so many different things. I think we mentioned one of the apps when we were speaking before the interview Clubhouse, there’s TikTok. I’ve got one client on there, he’s a driving instructor. I may have mentioned him to you before. He’s literally got millions of views on TikTok. He’s not just on his own, he’s got a fairly decent business that we’ve built up together but it sends hundreds of thousands of visitors to his YouTube channel, which is growing at an exponential rate.

The most powerful way to generate leads is to truly understand your market’s fears, frustrations, wants, or aspirations.

The biggest thing I genuinely believe 2022 is about is the journey of transformation that you help people within your marketing message. I truly believe gone are the days where you can simply say, “I’m a business coach, I’m a live coach, I’m a consultant,” and people want to speak to you. No. Tell them what you’ve done for your customers. That’s what people are interested in. We’re no longer interested in, “Can we exchange business cards, and perhaps, I’ll give you a call.” Do people want to know what’s the outcome you create? What difference do you make in this world?

That’s partly where the visionary marketing coach has developed and evolved from. What I found is that there was less substance with people with who I was working. When I started to dig into what their vision was, and we married up their offers compared to their vision, we were able to bring them from being a person who was selling on features and a basic story to, “Here’s the difference that this product is going to make and here’s why we do what we do.”

I think that’s it. It’s just people showing up more like you’re doing this show and you have such an amazing message and story. I shared your message to some of my group coaching clients after the interview, and they were like, “She sounds amazing.” That’s what people want. This is the funny thing. When you look at it, we’re going back to what we want and crave as human beings, which is to go into the fantasy of the story. What you’ve got to do is bring that into your marketing messages. I think that’s what 2022 is all about.

One thing about the digital age, the information age brought to us is that we went through two decades of time where people with information, didn’t do anything with that information. They simply gave us information and this is how they made their fortunes. Now, we have the same information, we have access to the information but some of us can turn that into magic. Some of us can help you dial in on your strengths, work on your weaknesses and how that applies to what you’re doing now. With the digital revolution, everybody’s got a mobile phone and everyone can check you out. That’s the thing you can’t get away with one word that’s wrong. I think twenty years ago, a business coach would never come on any show and say, “I made these six mistakes and they were painful.” You could never do that six years ago. You have to be perfect. Now, that’s not even believable anymore. When I first asked you the question, I prefaced it with, I’m sure there was pain and gain involved because without the pain there isn’t going to be any game.

It’s like anything. I always see the quote, “Even a diamond is created under pressure.” It’s the same thing. We go to the gym but if we want to grow our muscles, we can’t get away from the pain and the tension that our body has to go through in order to grow muscle. It’s the same as an entrepreneur business. If your business is going to grow, expect the pain that comes with you going for it. It’s quite interesting because we know we’re getting on something, you could see my energy lifted as well. When I’m speaking to my coaching clients, a lot of the time, even though we’re talking about marketing strategy, I probably spent 50% of my time talking about their mindset and their ability to see through their misbehaviors and their bad habits. The things that basically are their blind spots that they don’t see. The more we get past our blind spots in life, the more we end up with people like Victoria.

As we close, what are your couple of advice for entrepreneurs who are reading now, thinking about what they can do right away? You’ve already covered a lot of actionable tips. If you had to leave us with the one thing, I’m very big on doing the one thing you can do for yourself, what would that be?

The one thing in two parts. The one thing is, if you know what it is that you want to do for the next 5, 10 years, so you’ve got this feeling or even the next twelve months, start going onto places like YouTube and Amazon to find the books, the videos and get the information you need. Part two, if you’re at the stage where you could invest in a culture or a mentor, or you get to the point where you’ve grown your business enough to get a cultural mentor, that would be the advice that I would give everybody. Make sure that culture mentor is in an area where they’ve either helped somebody achieve that or they’ve done it for themselves. You don’t want to go for somebody who’s generic. That way, you’ll get to wherever your goals are set to or your vision much faster. That would be my advice. If there’s anything that I could have learned early in my career, it would have been to speak to somebody who’s in that place where I wanted to be.

MDH 32 | Generate Leads

Generate Leads: When you’ve grown your business enough, it’s best to get a cultural mentor, where they’ve either helped somebody achieve that business goal you desire, or they’ve done it for themselves.

 

Those were some great advice. When I started my business, Amazon and YouTube didn’t exist and coaches were not all that assessable at least in my area. I do agree with you that having gone through that journey, the one thing that I wish I had was a mentor or somebody. There were so many times I was this close to giving up and thinking to myself, “This was a stupid idea.” A great coach will collapse time. They will help you get results that are exponentially better with the same amount of effort.

Once again, ladies and gentlemen, Leon, he’s the host of a podcast called Small Business Elevation Podcast voted the number one business entrepreneurship podcast in the UK in 2015. As you heard, he’s so delightful and so polite and ever gentlemen. Thank you so much Leon for coming and I hope you enjoyed it. If you have not subscribed to my show yet, go ahead and do that, I would appreciate that very much and share it with everybody because the more the merrier. We want a community of successful entrepreneurs who are happy and people who will share as Leon has. Again, thank you so much.

I was going to say, Victoria, it’s been an absolute pleasure. I encourage everybody to read this show to make sure you leave a five-star review on whatever platform that you’re reading it on because of the guidance of what you bring as you articulate the answers, your presence, and obviously, your experience. People will learn and gain a lot of great results and transformation in life just from reading this. Thank you for having me on the show.

Thank you. That’s it for this episode. Until next time. Stay wealthy and happy. Remember, happiness is a choice.

Important links:

About Leon Streete

MDH 32 | Generate LeadsGrowing up as an 80’s baby and being from a mixed-race background (English & Jamaican), I had such a vibrant upbringing.

With a heavy influence from my father who was into the Reggae Sound System scene, I was destined to follow, especially with my love, for beats and heavy bassline, Bob Marley, John Holt and Freddy Macgregor plus more were part of the music I grew up listening too, so in 1994 I decided to become a DJ.

In 1997 I created my first website off the back of me being a DJ “Disc Jockey“. I wanted to reach out to new fans, listeners and make waves with promoters and record labels.

It worked! My passion for music drove my need to be heard and after dj’ing around the country whilst trying to finish up my A-Levels, the music career and Website work were going great, should have perhaps focused a little more on my A-Levels!

MDH 31 Steve Sims | Becoming Successful

 

Why do you have no money despite working so hard? Becoming successful can be easy or hard; it all depends on how you show up in the world. The show’s guest today is Steve Sims, who from a bricklayer ends up working with ultra-successful icons of our time. Like Elton John and Elon Musk, no less! Join in this entertaining episode to know the world of luxury. Steve spills lessons you can apply to your life. For one, if you want to be successful, interact with successful people. But where do you start? Tune in to find out!

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here

How A Bricklayer Became Ultra-Rich: Lessons In Becoming Successful From Steve Sims

I have an amazing guest. Steve Sims has done almost everything that I’ve ever wanted to do in my life. As many of you know, I have traveled a lot. I have been very blessed to have done a lot of the things that are in my dreams, but Steve has done all the things that I couldn’t do so far. I couldn’t wait to get him on the show. More than anything, he has an amazing transformation story. I joked with him that he probably has something in common with one of my favorite singers, Tom Jones. I don’t want to date myself, but he started out as a bricklayer from London just like Tom Jones was.

He ended up working with people that are much better known than Tom Jones like Elton John and Elon Musk. You might have heard of a couple of those people. I don’t want to go through a whole bio because it’s very long and super interesting. I’d rather have him tell the story than myself. The other thing I love about Steve is he’s an amazing marketer, a humble and a fun person. With the amount of travel he’s done and the type of things that he’s been involved in, he has such grounded information of everything. Without further ado, I want to welcome Steve. Welcome to the show.

Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.

You’ve done everything I wanted to have. Number one, Andrea Bocelli is one of my absolute favorite singers of all time. Talking about a transformation story. His story is heart-wrenching and uplifting. It’s something that we can all relate to. I don’t want to sound harsh but Steve said this and I’m going to say this again, if you’re sitting on a million-dollar hobby and you’re thinking, “I can’t do it because I don’t have money or time, I’m not good enough, I don’t have some unique selling proposition or some chic marketing thing,” I have to tell you, you were out of excuses. Steve, let me take you to the beginning. Give me a three-minute bio about the beginning and how did you end up doing what you’re doing now.

It’s pretty much the same as everyone else. I spent the early part of my life being aggravated. I came out of school, worked as a bricklayer, and didn’t have a lot of money. I thought to myself, “How come people have money and I can’t? I’m working from 5:00 in the morning, I’m going home at 8:00 at night, busted up and wet from the typical London weather. How come I haven’t got money?” It aggravated me. I realized that I was in the wrong environment or room. I started going to upscale wine bars and lobbies of hotels to see what rich people did. There must be something that they’re doing that I’m not. I went out to try and find it. Along the way, I became a great advocate and consumer of human psychology and body language. I noticed how successful people interact with successful people, and how fake people interact, pretending as though they’re successful. I noticed all of these things.

Along the way, I started conversations with rich people to try and find out how. Strangely, while I went into different jobs to try and surround myself with them from a stockbroker, insurance, yachts and charter sales, I got fired from all of those but the best job I ever got was a bricklayer. I was a doorman of a nightclub and it gave me a great view of what people needed. I was in Hong Kong at the time and I started realizing what people wanted. I started throwing parties, getting into parties, and it went from there. Before I knew it, I used my access as a Trojan horse to try and get to have conversations with rich people and go, “How come you’re successful and I’m not?” The Trojan horse went a bit further because of all the requests I was getting. I started working with Sir Elton John, Richard Branson, closing down museums in Florence, and sending people down at the back of the Titanic on the seabed. I became the man they came for very affluent people with dreams.

Successful people interact with successful people.

While that was so interesting, what I got was some real-life lessons. I’m going to unpack what you said because that’s amazing to me. Number one, Steve started out his life very similar to a lot of people. A lot of people come to America penniless like me when I came to America penniless in search of a dream. You wonder, you are aggravated, and you’re frustrated because you’re working so hard, you’re doing everything you can to better yourself and nothing happens. At that point, you have two choices. You can either continue to bitch about your life and think about how unfair life is and all these horrible things or the other thing you could do is figure out what are they doing right that you’re not doing right. That’s the path you took. You decided, “I’m frustrated and aggravated. I’m doing every single thing I can. Those people that are successful and have money must be doing something right.”

You had that curiosity and then you went ahead. The other thing I love about what you said too is a lot of times, it’s not what people say. It’s what’s unsaid, the body language and how they communicate. You’ve observed all of this stuff and figured out you want to move yourself to a better environment where you have the opportunity and to become one of those rich people. A lot of people would say, “I’ve been working all my life and all I could get is a doorman job?” You embrace and made the best out of that. That was your beginning. It’s that little thing.

What Steve is talking about is he’s worked with people like Elton John, Elon Musk and all these people when you think about the impossible thing like having a museum in Florence open privately for you. There are a lot of these private museums. I actually toured the Forbidden City. I had a client in China that was pretty influential with the Chinese Communist Party and I was able to tour it privately. I had no idea that there was a whole private section of the museum. I’m sure in many cities like in Florence, they have these and they rarely opened them for anybody.

What do you do if you’re Elton John or Elon Musk? You’re not going to go pick up the phone and order pasta. You’re going to call somebody. Steve is that person. He’s done the impossible. I dream of doing something like this. He had Elton John, Elon Musk and all these people in a Florence private dinner party and have someone like Andrei Bocelli sing just for that private party, and you’re witnessing all this stuff. It’s one thing to have access, but the next thing is how do you make all this stuff happen? Did you call up somebody and say, “I want that museum open for a party of seven people?”

To be accurate, Elon and Elton weren’t at that particular party. This was for a different client. The client wanted to have a dine-in experience in Florence. That’s why I did that event. I took over the museum, set up a table of six at the feet of Michelangelo’s David, and I had Andrea Bocelli come and sing while they were eating pasta. I do reach out to people without the fear of reaching out. A lot of people will want to do something but before they even try, they’ll sit there and go, “I couldn’t do that.” They get scared and fear themselves out. Fear is terrible. Once it gets hold of you, there’s nothing you can do about it.

I’m too stupid for that. If I want something, I go and ask. It’s amazing the more times I ask for something, the more times I get it. One of the things I also do, which is one of my benefits, is I constantly have people who are revered more to do the asking for me or do the introduction. If I wanted to get hold of someone powerful and I went to try and talk to them, they’d be like, “Who are you? Why should I talk to you?” What I’ll do is I’ll go and find someone as equally powerful that I know and get them to introduce me. That way, I come in on credibility. I’m constantly trying to find out, “Before I contact you, who do you know that you respect that I know that I can get to introduce me?” I try never to make the introduction in the first approach myself. I always try to get one of my connections to do it for me.

MDH 31 Steve Sims | Becoming Successful

Becoming Successful: When you want to talk to someone, invite them for coffee.

 

Right now, the buzzword is collaboration and networking. You were networking way back before it was fashionable.

I’m terrible at networking. I’ve got to tell you that. You stick me in a room and you go, “Enjoy this networking event.” I’m going to find the ball and sit there. I don’t like networking. People use networking events like it’s a game to collect as many business cards as they can and form no conversations or relationships. For me, I need to form a relationship. I’m from the original version and standpoint of what networking was about.

To be fair, a lot of these networking events are put together just so people can meet and pick up business cards. I don’t consider them to be networking. It’s a room where you’re pretty much pitching to everybody. You would never go up to somebody and say, “I’m Steve. Will you buy something from me?” It’s what they’re doing in these networking events. The other thing I love about what you said is you talk about how you bring back the communication skills, all of these mannerisms and everything from the ‘80s onto nowaday’s world. I would agree with you because I remember in the ‘80s where people had manners. I’m not saying people now don’t have manners, but we are living in a very fast-paced environment now.

Back in the ‘80s, when you didn’t have internet and cell phones, and you had to get up and go meet somebody in person, and you got to know that person or you got to know a little bit about their family or whoever, you build a little relationship before you ask for an introduction or anything. What you’re saying is relationships are very important and also, that authenticity of asking for something in a way that makes real sense, not taking advantage of that relationship or abusing it. Those are all valuable. When I look at your bio, look at all the things you’ve done, and you break it down to those very basics, it is uplifting. Don’t you think?

I never went out to be uplifted and motivated.

What you’ve done is uplifting. What you’re saying is that’s what you did. It’s uplifting because we just all need to get back to the basics?

Move yourself to a better environment where you have the opportunity to become rich.

That’s true. I always joke that we need to bring the ‘80s back. Not all the music but some of it. I believe that in the ‘80s and the ‘90s, we spoke more. If you wanted to talk to someone, you knocked on their door or you phoned them up. Those were the options. Now, if you want to talk to someone, you DM them, text them or send them a private message. There are a million ways for you to reach out to someone, which means there are a million ways for you to be overlooked. I believe you’ve got to go back to the basics. Phone people, send them a letter, knock on that door and go, “I’d love to have a chat with you. Let’s go and have a coffee.” You’ve got to do that. The good thing is back in the ‘80s, this wasn’t unusual and creative. Imagine if you got a phone call saying, “I’m in town and I wanted to talk to you about a project. Can I buy you dinner? Can I buy you lunch? Can I bring the coffee and croissant?” You’ll be like, “That’s different and refreshing,” because people don’t do it now.

They’ll think you’re nuts like “How dare you? This guy must be ancient.”

Look at the phone. If you had your phone ring, how aggravating did you feel that the phone rang? From the first time I bought my first iPhone, I’ve had it on vibrate. I turned the sound off. When someone is in an environment, no matter what the environment is, when the phone rings and you’re not with the person, you look at the person as though they’re intruding. Your like, “His phone is ringing.” Everyone looks hatred at them. If it’s your phone and it rings, even before you’ve answered it, you’re aggravated because you’ve been interrupted. Even if it’s your mom, you’re in a bad mood before you answer the phone call because we don’t like that interruption, noise or alarm. Even when you phoned someone with good intentions, you’ve got to get over that. Let’s be completely blunt, the bad thing is we’ve gone through a year where people have not been able to communicate with each other.

The truth is we were getting bad in any case and all of a sudden, it stopped. I know a lot of people now who don’t want to go back to the office. You’ve seen it on the news. They don’t want to be around people. It’s gone the other way. Not only were we bad at communicating, but we’re also going to be bad at socializing. If I’m going out to dinner Friday night and it’s the first time I’ve gone out with dinner with a whole bunch of people, it’s a Wednesday and I’m starting to get a picture of what am I going to wear. It’s weird but that’s what happens now.

We get concerned and cautious. I heard on a British radio station that they’re coining something like a social hangover. You haven’t been with people for so long and now you’re all excited and tense. Afterwards, you are all tired. You’ve got a social hangover from interacting with people. It’s like all muscles. Any muscle you don’t use becomes weak and sometimes goes away. Social skills are a muscle that we need to focus on, get pushing and help with.

The world was already going toward antisocial behavior, especially with the younger kids. In Los Angeles, especially in the city, there are a lot of people who don’t even know who their neighbors are because they’ve got to work first thing in the morning and come back home at night, but they’ll talk to somebody in Russia, Korea or Latin America on their email or on their chats. That is unfortunate. Wouldn’t you say that a lot of the things that you’ve done such as having these doors open for you, having this incredible event where you made the event possible, calling up Andrea Bocelli or whoever, do you think you could’ve done all of that by Zooming people?

MDH 31 Steve Sims | Becoming Successful

Becoming Successful: Nothing will ever be the same as a face-to-face in-person conversation.

 

Absolutely not. It would have been a no starter. I remember being stood next to Elton John at a party. Someone came up to him and said, “How much will it cost me to have you at my barbecue party?” He turned around and he said, “I’m busy.” He moved off and walked away. People don’t know how to communicate properly. Zoom has lost the energy that you find when you are person-to-person. It’s been a good substitute, alternative, and it’s not going away but it’s also not in the placement. It’s like saying, “A horse can get you to work like your car can. It’s a good alternative and you haven’t got to fuel it but it is not going to replace the car.” You’ve got to understand what the priority is. There will be nothing that will ever be a face-to-face in-person conversation. Nothing will but the trouble is we’re getting bad at doing it.

Were you really a James Bond for the weekend?

I had a client contact me and they wanted to do something for her husband. We interviewed the wife to find out what the husband liked and he was a big James Bond fan. We got a Hollywood scriptwriter to write this whole script and this storyline. We made him Double 08 for the weekend where he was coming back from retirement. He was going back into active service. He had to go through these. We set this entire weekend up for him where he was Double 08 going back in. If any of you out there were James Bond fans, he always has a martini. If you think about it, everyone knows his name and what he has to drink. He’s the worst spy on the planet. We found out that this client had a whiskey cocktail that was his favorite drink. What we would do was every time he walked into a restaurant or a bar, the barman would be, “Good afternoon, Mister. Here is your drink.” They would automatically make his drink just as they do for James Bond.

That was in Monte Carlo?

We started off in Monte Carlo, went over to Santa Fe, and then finished off in Russia. His cover got blown in Santa Fe so he had to take a midnight flight into Russia. It was all part of the script.

I love all the things you’ve done. Since then, you’ve written a book called Bluefishing: The Art of Making Things Happen. I love the cover too. It’s so simple and it stands out. I’m a designer so I have to chime in on that stuff. What’s your favorite city of all the cities that you’ve been to?

The more times you ask for something, the more times you get it.

What a lot of people don’t know about me is I’m boring and curious, which is a funny double trait to have. I love riding the motorcycle on my own through the hills and not talking to anyone. At the same time, I’m very curious about what is the underground look like for these buildings in Prague. I’m always curious to get into places that I shouldn’t get into but I constantly love going to different cities. I’ve repeated the cities that I like going back and it’s always Florence but I love going anywhere different. I was chatting with my wife and she was talking about heading over to Iceland, and we haven’t been to Iceland. We’re not the kind of people that want to sit on a beach or walk through the snowy streets of Amsterdam or the manic West End of London. We love traveling but there’s nothing bad about coming home.

You’re a lot like me because I’m pretty boring. I live a boring life here. When I’m home, my life will be simple. I almost go to the same place for lunch every day. It’s the same six places I go to because that’s trusted. I do have that incredible curiosity about how other people live and the history of other places. One of my favorite places is Hong Kong, and the other one that’s interesting is Venice because there’s no other place like that where you got to take a boat and stuff. The history of both places is amazing like in Monte Carlo. It’s one of those places that has a very unique history as well. I was wondering if you can pick one.

Who could? Anyone that travels. I remember sitting in a bar in Rome, I was at the Hotel De Russie and this guy just wanted to have a conversation. I was on my own and I wanted to drink alone. He started talking to me at the bar and he said something about travel. I said to him, “Where have you been that you liked?” He turned around to me dead serious, then he said, “I’ve been everywhere.” I went, “Everywhere?” He’s like, “There’s nowhere I haven’t been.” I thought to myself, how sad is that? You mentioned Hong Kong. I lived in Hong Kong from ‘94 to ‘97 and I’ve been back a few times. Every 2 to 3 years, it changes. I went to Bangkok and I lived in Bangkok for 2.5 to 3 years as well. I went back to Bangkok a couple of years ago and I couldn’t recognize the place. Everything changes. The idea that you’ve been everywhere is probably the saddest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.

I meet a lot of people here that don’t want to go see anything.

I got American citizenship a couple of months ago. The first thing I did was applied for an American passport, which I got. At the passport office, there were a few people in the lineup that had got the immigration papers and the citizenship papers to get the passport. I was talking to the lady in the passport office. I said, “This is fantastic. You must get tons of people.” The government building was across the road. I said, “You must get a lot of people who get that certificate and come running over here to get that passport.” She said, “No. We don’t get a lot of passports. The funny thing is we get more people applying for passports that have gained citizenship than actual Americans that were born here because they don’t think they need to travel.” If they want the beach, they’d go to Miami. If they want the mountains, they’d go to Utah. If they want something tropical, they’d go to Hawaii. Why do they need to leave America? That to me is mind-numbing.

Part of it is that America is such a diverse country. If you go from Alaska, Hawaii, East and West Coast, and mountains, you do have almost a little continent within the country. Britain is a much smaller country. In Europe, everybody has to travel all the time just to get around. I pretty much read a lot of books because that’s how I saw the world. When I was able to travel to the Middle East, to Eastern and Western Europe, it was amazing that you’re soaking in the things that are foreign to you all the time. You feel like you’re never getting old. In your Bluefishing, do you teach that in the book? I haven’t read it and I’m going to because you’re one of the most fascinating people with incredible backgrounds.

MDH 31 Steve Sims | Becoming Successful

Bluefishing: The Art of Making Things Happen

I don’t want many people to get the idea that you are at the right place at the right time and everything just happens. It’s hard because you have to earn that respect with every client, every event, and continued to evolve. More than anything, you also have to have that curiosity and open-mindedness because only when you have that, you’re unafraid to pick up the phone and go, “Let me see what happens when I pick up the phone and call person X.” You’re not like, “I can’t call that person because the phone might blow up. I don’t know why I’d call them up.” In the book, do you teach the art of communication? What’s in there?

That’s a good and funny little story. I first got approached because more people were starting to know who I am and the things I was doing. Forbes called me and the real-life Wizard of Oz. I’ve been in everything from the South China Morning Post to everything. I’ve been all over the place, on all the TV shows, and breakfast shows. I got approached to write this book naming all of the rich and powerful people that I have dealt with and what I had done for them. I said to them, “I can’t do that. If I told you these stories, I’d be dead before cocktail hour.” They came back to me two weeks later and it was funny because I thought that was the end of it, and they said, “We’ve been looking into you. How does a bricklayer ended up working with the Vatican? How does a baker end up working with Sir Elton John? Can you write the book on that?” I thought to myself, “If I can do it, anybody can do it,” so I started writing the book.

Writing a book is always like self-psychology. You start questioning yourself. It can be quite disturbing. I remember a few nights thinking to myself, ”Did I do that?” I never thought about that. It was quite revealing to write a book. It’s like standing in front of a mirror with all the lights on and taking all your clothes off going, “Let’s have a look.” It’s strange when you start analyzing what you’ve done over your life. The book is about how to communicate, the importance of relationships, how to create impact, and how to focus on the solution and not the sale. It’s got stories of me, Bocelli, and all these different little things that I’ve got up to show that this isn’t a book about, “I can do this.” It’s about, “I did this because I followed these steps that you can do as well.” I didn’t expect the book to be anything special. I didn’t expect the book to even sell. This is the truth. I got paid that almost an illegal amount to write these books. I didn’t care if it sold a copy because I know I would have been paid.

When the book came out, I didn’t even do a website. I was told that I had to. SteveDSims.com has a video of my book launch where quite simply, I took over a whiskey bottle in Hollywood and got drunk with a bunch of my friends. They filmed a video on it and I didn’t know they were filming it. It starts off with everyone is sober and polite. As the video gets on, it gets a little bit coarse and crass. I didn’t expect the book to do well until people started reading it and going, “I ignore and I’m scared to try these things but you tried them, and now you’re working with the Vatican.” People have started grasping. That’s why now I’m talking on stages, training and coaching. I talk all over the planet. I have my inner circle, Sims Distillery. It’s gone crazy. The funny thing about the book is it’s been translated and been a number one bestseller in Korea, Vietnam, China, Thailand, and Poland. It got released to Poland and Russia. It’s hilarious how it’s taken over the planet.

First of all, when a publisher decides to back a book in advance, they usually know what they’re doing. They know what to back and it’s not a real accident. They do up the game and know which stories will sell. They got the whole marketing departments people who do book covers and all that stuff. If you self-publish it, that’s a whole different thing. I’m not surprised that the book sold specifically in those countries where people are naturally so curious. Believe it or not, the idea of the American dream where you could be anybody and try to dream of becoming someone, and you have a reasonable chance of achieving that dream if you’re willing to work for it, that concept of the American dream is so alive in all those countries, much more so than countries where it’s possible. I’m happy for you that you’ve done that.

Going back to what Steve said about what’s in the book, what he’s saying is the names like Elton John and all these people, there were secondary to the core message, which is all the steps that he took to transform himself from a bricklayer to somebody recognizable, trusted and respected for some of the most memorable and meaningful events in their lives. That means you have to gain their trust, he has to be likable, seen as somebody or known as somebody who is a can-do guy who can keep things under the wraps. It’s an incredible transformation story. It’s an American dream story because I don’t know about you, but if you’re stuck in a corporate job right now or you’re dreading going back to work, you know the life you deserve and what makes you happy but you’re still stuck at this job because you think you have no other option, and the only thing you can do is pay your bills for now and that now is forever. Take a page out of state.

Social skill is a muscle we need to focus on.

That’s what this whole show is all about. People like Steve are going out there to achieve his dream. If he said to himself like, “I was born a bricklayer and all I’m going to be is a bricklayer. This is my world and I’m not going to ever see anything. I’m aggravated but there’s nothing I can do.” Most likely, things aren’t going to change but being curious, open-minded and willing to learn are the other things we talk about in the show. I have people that I work with that we buy trips to Hong Kong. I’m not from Hong Kong but to me, the city is built like London. They drive on the left side of the road, they’ve got great rail systems. They speak great English because English was their first language until 1997.

It’s a cultural crossroads. I happened to love it but I know a lot of Americans who fear going to places like that because they think that it’s unsophisticated, unhealthy, they might get sick or something. They don’t want to travel. I’ve traveled to a lot of countries. The only two countries I got sick in and this has nothing to do with the country. It’s probably had to do with my fatigue. I was coming back from Cannes one year. I had done Cannes, Nice, Monte Carlo, and drove all the way up to Paris. On my way back home, I got sick probably from exhaustion but I never got sick from food poisoning or anything like that from any of these countries that I’ve been to. It’s sad that sometimes, you have these little things that are blocking your mind and blocks you from moving forward in life. Steve, it says on your bio that you have spoken at Harvard University as well as the Pentagon. Those are two pretty big names.

I’ve lost track of how many stages I’ve spoken on, which is probably a strange thing to say. Three of my most memorable was I spoke at the graduation party in Kern, Level-4, Maximum Security Prison. I’ve spoken at Harvard twice and the Pentagon. I’ve managed to speak to some pretty abstract and amazing places. I don’t know which one is my favorite, Harvard or Kern Prison. The funny thing is I sometimes say that the difference between Kern and some of the other events is the tailoring is better. It’s interesting. I would say Kern because in Kern, everyone had done some stupid, ridiculous, bad stuff but they wanted to be better and have fun. They weren’t trying to sugarcoat themselves. They were like, “This doesn’t have to be me. I did this and I’m aware of it. I’ll always pay for it but I need to be better.”

This is a very rude statement but if you’re in Harvard, the probability is that some of those people got helped to be in Harvard financially and connectivity. Those kinds of things. They had a leg up the ladder. They started going to private schools. There are a lot of people who got scholarships and have gotten there through hard work but there’s also a lot of feeder systems that people have used to get them into the right school. You start at the right basic school, the right intermediate, the right college, and you worked your way up. When you’re in Kern and you are in a 6 x 8-foot cell, twenty hours a day, for you to be that focused, upbeat, determined, driven, even though your rest of the day is full of fear and scare, that was quite something and intimidating. A big shout out to the Five Ventures for helping me be there. It’s a fantastic thing and I’m very proud to have done it.

At Harvard and Kern, what was your speech about? What is the same or different speech? I’m just wondering.

How could they be? I did Harvard twice. It was all around the psychology of an affluent client and the world of luxury. I remember it was those two things. At Kern, it was about refinement, focus and energy. They were very different topics to a very different crowd.

MDH 31 Steve Sims | Becoming Successful

Becoming Successful: Everyone had done some ridiculous bad stuff but they wanted to be better.

 

It is an absolutely beautiful campus with the river running through it and all these people rowing boats and stuff. My husband went to Harvard. He wasn’t one of the favored kids. He had to work pretty hard. He went to school with many that you’re talking about, the ones that were privileged and came into their classic classrooms with their jets and stuff. I enjoyed this interview. If you’re reading this, go ahead and check out my YouTube channel because we have a lot of stuff that we’re loading up like real-life lessons.

A lot of times, when we are learning real-life lessons, they’re not always fun. Steve somehow managed to entertain us a lot. I love his British accent. All Americans love that. We’re very fascinated. We speak the same language but you guys have a real handle on the mastery of the language, the same language that we speak. I love everything that you share and I also like that you delivered it in a way that’s not so classroom lecture-like. It’s very real-life lessons because a lot of times, coaches and people that want to be on the show, they’ve never lived the life. They’ve never done the things that that they preach.

Thank you so much. For all of you who are reading, I hope this was helpful and entertaining. If you want somebody to be a James Bond over the weekend or you want it to be a Martha Stewart or whoever you want them to be, maybe even become a Pope, who knows? He could make it happen. If he can dream it, he can make it happen. Where can they check you out, Steve?

SteveDSims.com, you can find out about my training, my events, my coaching and anything. Even follow me on @SteveDSims on Instagram or An Entrepreneur’s Advantage with Steve Sims which is my Facebook page.

If you haven’t subscribed to this channel or show already, please do so. I would love an honest review. You don’t even have to make it a good review. Just tell us what you like about us so we can continue improving. Thank you so much, Steve. Until next time, please stay healthy and well. Remember what I always sign off with, which is happiness is a choice and I hope you make great choices. Bye-bye.

Important Links

About Steve Sims

MDH 31 Steve Sims | Becoming Successful

Do you know anyone that’s worked with Sir Elton John or Elon Musk, sent people down to see the wreck of the Titanic on the sea bed or closed museums in Florence for a private dinner party and then had Andre Bocelli serenade them while they eat their pasta – you do now.

As the founder of Bluefish, one of the top personal concierge services, and an expert marketer within the luxury industry, Steve has been quoted in various publications & TV including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, London’s Sunday Times, South China Morning Post and many more.

A bestselling Author with “BLUEFISHING – the art of making things happen”, sought-after consultant and a speaker at a variety of networks, groups and associations as well as the Pentagon and Harvard – twice!

He makes the impossible, possible, after all he is quoted as “The Real Life Wizard of Oz” by Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazine

An entrepreneur in the truest sense of the word, Steve is well regarded within the luxury world for his innovation and down-to-earth personality. Known for his honesty, integrity and doing things “his way,” Steve creates experiences for his clients that they could never have imagined being possible.

 

Stories have become a part of people’s lives even when we were kids, where we enjoy listening to children’s books. As we grow up and learn how the world works, we should be aware that stories are still an important part of our everyday lives, even as entrepreneurs. Join Victoria Wieck in this episode as she discusses how mastering storytelling techniques can help generate more sales in your business. Know how to craft compelling stories relevant to your brand and make great impressions for a job interview, sales pitch or anything else. Master the art of storytelling and experience its numerous benefits!

Watch the episode here:

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Achieving Storytelling Mastery To Increase Brand Awareness

Welcome to another episode. If you haven’t done so already, I would love you to subscribe, share and spread the word out because I am so excited to be sharing this time with you every week. Without further ado, let’s get into our topic. I want to talk about the topic of storytelling. It seems to be a big topic out there now. I’m delighted that the topic of storytelling is something that’s taking off now because I have been doing exactly that, telling stories, sharing my stories, inspirations and mastering the art of storytelling for many years on TV. Let’s talk about why storytelling is important. Many of you who own a business, think about owning a business, maybe you work for someone or a large company if you are going to be successful in selling anything, including making a great impression about yourself, to somebody for a job interview or anything else, the best way to do that would be to master the art of storytelling.

Now, let’s think about what storytelling is. It is the oldest form of communication. Think about that. I imagine, maybe 2,000 years ago, even longer than that, people didn’t have digital computers, even written books or anything. If you go back to human history, they communicated by telling stories. Our history is recorded by oral history of some sort. It’s a lot of stories. I ask, “Why is that?” There are so many incidences. If you go back for 10,000 years, I’m sure people can remember. There were a lot of things that are not written in books that we don’t know anything about.

My theory is that stories could be very interesting, compelling, make you cry, laugh or sad. All those things that move your emotions to a different place, good or bad, have to do with human stories. I would say that most of us can remember incredible stories. We don’t remember a lot of statistics or data but we remember stories. I’m not saying that data isn’t important. In fact, I will get to data about storytelling. Data is important but remember not to overwhelm people with data. I do quite a bit of speaking engagements. Whenever I do speak, I usually have a warmup person or I’m not the first person to speak at an event.

It saddens me when speakers get on the podium where everyone has done all the work. All they have to do is shine and they get lost in statistics. There are so many percentages and 3 out of 5 or whatever numbers that they have to quote, those numbers mean nothing. Just remember that numbers are boring and stories are interesting. What is storytelling in terms of how you create a brand, a company or enough of an emotional connection for millions of people to connect with you and fall in love with you, your brand and your brand story? I am so excited to get a deep dive into this.

By the way, if you have not checked out my YouTube channel, it’s called Million Dollar Hobbies with Victoria Wieck. I want to be very specific on YouTube. I’m starting that channel so that we can dedicate it to amazing episodes. My vision is to create that whole thing into a free mastermind class that you guys can join in. It’s not just my story but also a lot of other people’s success stories and what they have learned throughout their journey. Let’s talk about stories. Stories could be very factual. Factual history would be all fact-based.

MDH 30 | Storytelling Mastery

Storytelling Mastery: Data is really important, but remember not to overwhelm people with data because they will not grasp them properly.

 

Some stories are factual but fictionalized with a character to emphasize a point. Those would be based on true stories, which have been fictionalized. You will have stories that are completely made up that are fictional. There are all these different kinds of stories. We remembered each one of them. I would tell you that think about things that we remembered like what’s your favorite movie that usually has to do with a story about a person. I’m not going to pick one and I have different reasons for it but my personal favorite movie is Godfather, for example. I love that movie for the music. I love the soundtrack. I’m a big music fan. I also love how flawed a person is like Michael Corleone, the whole Corleone family and even though they were so flawed, you want to almost root for them because, among all the bad people, there were the ones that still had love and all the other stuff that’s going on in their family.

I digressed in there but the point is the iconic movies and songs all have stories. Obviously, this is a business show so we are going to talk about how you tell stories artfully with the idea that you share enough stories to be memorable but you also have to cause them to take action. Think about some of your favorite movies, favorite books and what made you remember those things. I love the story about Jane Eyre and James Michener’s Hawaii, which is a fictional novel based on facts about how Hawaii was formed and all that but there are a lot of fictional characters in there. He does quite a bit of research on those too.

Differentiating Your Brand

First of all, before you even get there, what storytelling will do for your business? Number one, if you are a small to medium-sized business, your best bet in differentiating yourself versus all the big companies or corporations, or you were coming up with a new spritzer, for example, you don’t want to be competing with a Coca-Cola, Diet Pepsi or all those companies for ad budget. You are better off telling your story. It’s the same thing with a lot of other small businesses because most of us before we were business people or vice-presidents of any company, we are consumers of amazing stories and inspiration. If you can generate that time after time, that’s great.

I’m going to get into a systematic way of getting this done but you should have a brand video. I was approached by someone who wanted me to coach her for a mastermind class. I did not end up working with this person because I didn’t feel that she could benefit from me. She wasn’t quite there yet to waste the money that she was going to have to pay for this particular mastermind. When I was probing her about her business, her brand, where she was going and what it stood for to see if I could help her quickly, she told me that she had her brand story. It was all done on her website.

Stories have to be interesting and compelling. They should make you cry or laugh.

On our website, in terms of a blog and a brand story, it was about three-paragraph long explaining a little bit about our brand. I didn’t see a story about why she does what she does, the genesis of the company, what their mission was or how committed she was to either the product line or to serving the customer. Those were number 1, 2 or 3 mistakes that you make when you have a website. You want to have a compelling story. If you can, have a brand story that tells customers how you’ve got started, who you are and why you do what you do. It doesn’t have to be lengthy.

For example, in my own brand story, my daughter and I have a bridle Millennial business, which is 100% dedicated to conflict-free stones. Many of you don’t know about conflict-free or the word conflict-free. Just to give you a little backstory, a lot of your bigger stores will tell you that they guarantee it’s conflict-free but there is no way anyone can guarantee it’s conflict-free if it’s Earth-mined. A lot of the stones are mined in Africa. It’s cut in India then it’s polished to somewhere else. All these stones get mixed up. There was no chain of custody for every single stone or diamond that is a dot size. There was no way they could have a chain of custody papers for every one of them.

She and I started a company to educate a lot of the Millennials who think that if they get that piece of paper, they are getting something that’s 100% conflict-free, which is not true. In our brand story, we talk about how the mother, that’s me, who has been in this business for many years and has seen the devastation, destruction and confusion in terms of the consumer and what that does when you don’t have clear communication. She and I have decided to change the world, at least our own world, starting with our own little circle of friends. One engagement meeting at a time to bring awareness and also bring high-quality materials to their engagement process. Our whole mission is your love story is unique to you so why should you settle for something that some designer created to fit 10 million people out there?

That’s our brand story and we talk about the mother’s experience and the young girl’s hopes and dreams mesh them together coming up to a beautiful brand. With that story, we’ve been covered by a lot of the big companies like ABC and NBC. A lot of the affiliates have covered our story based on that. If you’re going to talk about starting a company, start with your brand story because that tells you a little bit about the personality, the genesis of your company, who you are and who you hope to serve so you can do this. I will do a whole other series of videos on how to do a great video.

MDH 30 | Storytelling Mastery

Storytelling Mastery: Storytelling plays a big role in creating a brand or a company or how you create because of the emotional connection it creates for millions of people.

 

Identify Who You Want To Serve

If you can, at least, write them down because even if you do your video, you are going to do a text version of that. Secondly, clearly identify who you hope to serve. In our case, we have several brands. I have a different brand altogether. My core customers are 45 to 65 years old. Her customers are about 25 to 35-year-old. On her website, she identifies who our customers are and who we hope to serve, which are Millennials who want to get educated and make an informed decision. We don’t judge anybody for buying an Earth-mined diamond. We don’t judge anybody for doing anything but we want to inform them of the choices that they have.

We hope to be one of the choices that they have. Clearly identify who you want to serve. Sometimes, you could say who you don’t want to serve or who you are not for. For example, you are selling anti-aging skincare. I have a lot of friends who are in that business because we are all aging and they have discovered some secret to anti-aging. If you are selling anti-wrinkle or anti-aging products, you have no business selling them to the twenty-year-olds. They are not aging yet. Their skincare routine is going to be very different than somebody who is already dealing with fine lines, wrinkles and everything else. You might actually say something like, “If you are twenty-some years old, we are not for you.”

I tell you why you do that because when you do that, you get credibility. Having been a 20, 30, 40, 50, 60-year-old woman in my life, I’m over that now. I know that my skincare routine changed when I was 20, 30 to 40. All those times, your skin and body change. When somebody says, “I’m not for you when you are twenty. As a 60-year-old woman, I know that this company is serious about taking care of the people that are 45 to 65 years old.” You get a lot of authority by being honest. That’s amazing. Secondly, nail down your story, meaning that all of us have amazing stories. I say that to you because you do each person.

You may not think you do but you have amazing stories and moments that shaped who you are, who your company is and your vision for creating the company that you have. A lot of times, you are like, “I want to do this in one paragraph. They tell me I could do it in 3 or 4 sentences something about my story but I have this long, old story that could take 1 or 2 hours about me.” You have to pick and choose what’s important to your brand. For example, I could talk about the fact that I immigrated from South Korea, I’m a mother and a lot of different things but when it comes to my own brand story, my own joy brand, aside from my daughter’s and mine, is The Victoria Wieck Collection, which caters to the 45 to a 65-year-old woman. We have two different websites for those.

Most of us can remember incredible stories. We don’t remember a lot of stats, statistics, or data, but we remember stories.

That brand story talks about making incredibly beautiful, stylish jewelry at affordable prices with their little artistic flair. The artistic flair is very unusual because of my background. I lived in South Korea until I was basically a teenager. I came to America where I had to embrace and honor both cultures. Being multicultural where East meets West, I have a very different eye. I use that to my advantage. My brand story would talk about how I love history and other cultures. I am a curious person with an artistic flair. I bring the best of all the world into amazing designs that they could buy at affordable prices. Also, those pieces become heirloom pieces because they are of very premium quality.

Effective Communication

You can read the exact wording on this because it’s a very short story but they are very effective. I can tell you that because I have built a $500 million business off of that brand story. It’s very important to nail down the story that’s relevant to your brand. As I said, I will do a series on video on how effective communication on video, which is a little different than how you write. The third thing I will tell you is If you can tell your story, tell it on video because when you say things on video, you collapsed the number of words you need to. If you were elegantly dressed, well-mannered, quiet, somebody who takes time and you speak with a lot of authority but you speak at a very slow pace with a lot of patience, you don’t have to write those in words.

People can check that. If you are hyper and you are like, “I’m so excited to talk to you,” and you are going wild if your branding is about that Millennial excitement and all that, that’s great. It fits perfectly. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Videos can do a lot with the same story because they can also add context, tone, pace, speed, delivery and all of that. You should tune into that and the other thing, too is if you are listening to me on audio, make sure that you check out the video version of a video series because we will teach you about lighting the makeup, how you address the audience and the whole thing.

Storytelling, as I said, is something that you should master. I also say if you ever want to pitch for a TV station or if you want to sell your things to a major department store, maybe like Harrods London or Galeries Lafayette, you may not have a ton of volume from there but you get some beautiful prestige. You get the global street cred pretty much right away because I have experienced that too. You can do that by effective storytelling again. Storytelling is something that you should master. If you are interested in learning about storytelling, come to my website because I will be loading up a lot of those mini videos that you don’t have to pay for. It’s not going to be like a masterclass on its own but if you are somebody who needed a little extra help or you are curious about this and you want to add a little extra pizzazz to your website or all your branding pitches, they should all be around a story.

MDH 30 | Storytelling Mastery

Storytelling Mastery: Storytelling is the oldest form of communication. A long time ago, stories were the only way to communicate with people when there aren’t any digital computers or written books.

 

If you are uncomfortable telling your story, there was a back way around that. You could have other people tell your story. Ideally, it could be your past customers, best friends or people that will be character witnesses, like maybe in a courtroom type of thing. If you are starting your company, it doesn’t have to be about 2 million people you have served. It could be about one person who got transformed based on what you do. That’s important as well. For this particular episode, I hope that I opened your ears and eyes to storytelling and why that’s important.

In the future, I will be sharing with you a deep dive on how to master the art of storytelling. When I’m on ShopHQ, we have to tell lots of stories. Every single design I present on TV has a story, where I was sitting and what I was inspired by. I love certain colors, for example, blue and green. A lot of designers use them. I happen to love those colors. I talk about how, for me, the tranquility, the majesty of all the palm trees and the greeneries around the beach, which is very blue. Mother Nature created those colors to be almost like a perfect fit for me. I used them very extensively in my collection. Again, that’s a very small story but it makes a lot of sense. A lot of people can relate to that.

When I go to Hawaii, one of my favorite places in the world, you are surrounded by blue. The song I will be singing is blue Hawaii, blue ocean. It’s so majestic and beautiful but it’s also surrounded by lush greens all over the place. That’s my dreamland, my heaven. Whenever I have certain pieces, especially hibiscus designs or things like that around me, that transports me emotionally to a completely different place. Again, that’s one example of simple storytelling that has been very effective for me. I hope that this lesson has been very helpful. Even if you are working for someone in your company and you are doing a lot of sales presentations, try to incorporate at least one story the next time you are faced with that task.

Anyway, thank you so much for reading. Please come to my website, www.VictoriaWieck.com or you can go to MillionDollarHobbies.com, give us some comments and also, if you can, please write a review. I’m not asking for a great review. I’m asking for a very honest review so that we can continue to improve our shows. It could be as simple as, “I’m going to hear more about betrayals or self-improvement.” It could be about, “I didn’t love such and such episode. I want to hear less of that.” It’s okay. You could give me a negative review but I want a review and hear from you. Until next time, please stay healthy and happy. Remember, happiness is a choice and I hope you all make great choices as we move to the next episode. Bye.

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MDH 29 Dr. Roseann Capanna Hodge | Child Mental Health

MDH 29 Dr. Roseann Capanna Hodge | Child Mental HealthIt is often said that you are only as happy as your happiest child. That’s why when parents pay little to no attention to child mental health, you can expect that it will hurt their own lives as well. Victoria Wieck sits down with Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, a trailblazer on a mission to change everyone’s perspective when treating children’s mental health issues. She explains how investing in your kid’s unseen challenges and helping them achieve happiness will lead to positive changes in your professional life. Dr. Roseann also explains how this mindset can transcend into the corporate setting, giving more effort to uplift employees and increase productivity.

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The Effect Of Child Mental Health On Corporate America With Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

The guest that I have is absolutely adorable. She is a special person and I couldn’t wait to have this interview with her. Nothing was going to stop me from interviewing her. I’m going to release this episode ahead of schedule because we feel that the topic is completely necessary and so relevant. Who are we talking about? We’re talking about a mental health expert. She has been considered the mental health trailblazer, Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge. She’s also known as Dr. Roseann. You can Google her. She’s interviewed by about 300 different broadcasts. The demand is very high but more than anything, Dr. Roseann is the most authentic, genuine, caring, heartfelt individual that you’re going to fall in love with. If you have any kids, you have friends who have any kids or you work with people who struggle with the compassion for their children and childcare, you’re at the right place. Without further ado, let me introduce you to Dr. Rosanne. Welcome to the show.

Victoria, thank you for that. That was beautiful. I’m going to give you a big hug for that. I’m a woman on a mission to change the way we view and treat mental health. That’s why we’re having this conversation because mental health, whether you’re a parent at home, an entrepreneur or a C-level executive, in this time, mental health has to be a priority for everybody because nobody is unaffected by the stress of the pandemic.

Let’s go back up a little bit. I know that you probably would agree with me that mental health was probably exasperated more by the pandemic. I’m a parent of two children. When I was raising my kids, I will say this. As an immigrant coming to this country without speaking English or anything like that and running a business, as you know you’re an entrepreneur yourself, entrepreneurship has many challenges. A crisis happens every single day. We’re fighting fires all around us all the time. When it comes to any business decision, whether it’s a $100,000 decision, $5 decision, $5 million decision, I can handle it. When it comes to the stresses that come from my kids, it’s the only thing that could stop me in my tracks.

I want to say that, first of all, thank you so much for working in this space. Children’s mental health is an absolute necessity. Every school district should have it. This is an unknown fact in my humble opinion. In my show, people can disagree all the time. I don’t have answers and plenty of people have. Wouldn’t you agree that our inability as a society to deal with the mental health of children is costing corporations tons of money, billions of dollars, don’t you think?

Every employee is your biggest asset besides your reputation.

When we talk about prior to the pandemic, one million workers missed work a day due to stress in general. Look at what’s happening. The American Psychological Association does a survey every year called Stress in America. This 2021 survey said that 70% of parents have moderate to severe levels of stress due to the pandemic. Who are we employing? Most companies are employing people with kids. We’re having difficulties getting our employees back into work. We’re losing highly skilled trained and workers, especially women. This is serious stuff. Forty thousand kids in America lost a parent due to COVID. We’re having single parents going back to work. They lost their partners. All of the challenges of working from home are still going to impact us to some degree. This pandemic is not over.

Victoria, you’re 100% right. We walked into this pandemic and it was terrible, the mental health of our kids. In January of 2020, I created the Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health because I’m so concerned. Here I am in this Ridgefield Connecticut Center. We see people virtually and in person. How many people could I help? Not that many. That’s why we need to have a global impact. Every single company, every single organization, every single school needs to be proactive. We are ill-equipped at what is going to happen as we’re reentering the workforce. People are going back to work and kids go back to school in August and September of 2021.

COVID pandemic was a good excuse for a lot of corporations, a lot of people, a lot of companies to overlook the problems they had going in family and schools. They did the same thing. It was the one convenient excuse for everything. Let’s step back a little bit. I want to also talk a little bit about what impact social media has on our kids, as well as in our schools. I was lucky because my children missed it. They still had Myspace and I thought that was dangerous. I thought, “What am I going to do with Myspace?” Those are the good old days. Now with Instagram, correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel like society as a whole, even grownups, we’re posting things like, “I’m drinking the $6 coffee.” It’s so shallow.

Let’s unpack that, Victoria. Let’s start with the adults. Let’s start with the top here. First of all, there’s a toxic component to social media. First of all, they call Facebook fake book. People are presenting fake images, unrealistic images. There’s a lot of pressure. People also feel very comfortable hate posting and putting negative speak. I don’t even understand why people would go out of their way to be rude. It’s so much easier to go out of their way to be nice. When you’re nice to people, it has a positive trickle effect. From the brain perspective, when you smile at people, all these neurotransmitters are released. You feel good stuff on you, with them. They start smiling and somebody else. It’s the same thing when we write positive things. I put heart emojis on every comment I make on my post to put love out in the world. We’re role modeling for our kids.

MDH 29 Dr. Roseann Capanna Hodge | Child Mental Health

Child Mental Health: Mental health has to be a priority for everybody because nobody is unaffected by the stress of the pandemic, whether you’re a parent at home, an entrepreneur, or a C-level executive.

 

What’s happening with all of this overuse of technology? First of all, let’s start with, “I’m more concerned about what kids are missing out on by being on their devices.” They’re missing out on socialization, exercise, hands-on skills and also had self-regulate their brain and body without technology. What do they do when they’re stressed? What are their problem-solving skills? We’re creating this culture. Everybody was joking about overeating and binge-watching Netflix during the pandemic because that was their unhealthy coping mechanism. Not to say that you can’t have a weekend where you watch Netflix but if you’re doing it every day, you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do to take care of yourself.

When it comes to technology, here’s what the research says. Not all technology is bad. Not all social media is bad. The more interactive it is like if we’re having conversations with our friends. Kids use an app called Discord and they use it while they’re gaming and have fun. It’s been found to improve mental health. If we’re passive scrolling like YouTube and social media, it’s associated with anxiety and depression. The reality is before the pandemic, the average teenager in 2019 was spending 7.22 minutes on technology every day and the 8 to 12-year-old was spending 4.75 hours.

I know you’ve written a book and I know you’ve done all this research. I’ve written a book myself. When you write a book, you do have to make sure that every word has been vetted, counted and researched. Hopefully, millions of people are going to buy your book because it’s needed. Do you think that a lot of parents, the kids are using their devices as almost like a babysitter? Where do the parents fit in in this whole thing?

In my book It’s Gonna Be OK, I’m a research nerd, so there are over 40 pages of research citations. It’s what I tell every parent that I worked with. Every parent I work with is worried about their kid. You are only as happy as your happiest kid. If your kid is struggling socially, emotionally, academically, with their siblings, whatever is going on and they’re stuck, you feel stress and anxiety that is indescribable. You can slay business. You can do whatever obstacle but when it comes to your kids’ mental and physical health, if they’re struggling in any way, shape or form, it’s hard. When it comes to kids, understanding what’s happening to them and the struggles that they have, not all technology is bad. It’s here to stay. It’s evolving but you can’t let your kids be on there for seven hours because it’s convenient for babysitting.

You can’t have them for seven hours without supervision. If they’re doing the Google search with their academic problems or even problem solving themselves in a healthy environment, that’s different. I agree with you that technology is neutral. It doesn’t have the power to corrupt you completely. Only who uses it and how do they use it?

If you’re a large company, encourage your employees to lift each other and focus on wellness.

They’re not doing physical activity or socializing. We can’t be in a world. We saw what it was like to be isolated. It wasn’t fun. It was brutal on people and even employees. I saw changes in a lot of companies with how do they keep their company culture when people weren’t together. Company culture is important for a business. Whether you have a small business or a big business, we all need to think about the culture of our company. It’s so important and often missed. That’s why we’re having this conversation because more people come back.

I’ve reached out to many companies in the first month of the pandemic. I was connecting with companies and they were like, “It’s too early to bring in employee stress management.” What’s happening is they all want to talk to me a year plus later because people are struggling. Your every employee is your biggest asset besides your reputation. They are an extension of your reputation. If we’re going to get somebody else, let me tell you Mr. Employer or Mrs. Employer, every person in America is completely stressed out for the most part.

You’re going to go from one stressed employee to another and instead, you’re going to have to reinvest training time for them, depending on what industry you were in. I have a team of psychotherapists. It takes me a good eighteen months to get somebody up to speed on the Dr. Roseann methodologies because we’re doing things so differently. Whenever I lose somebody, I’m like, “That was eighteen months just lost.”

I have a question. I understand the corporate world because I used to be in corporate and I deal with a lot of large corporations who are my customers. I see that they’re more likely to tell me because I’m not a co-employee. Sometimes they’ll say, “I’ve got problems with my kid.” I remember one of my buyers had a kid and then she was pregnant with the second kid. She had received word because she knows something was wrong with her older child. He was sneezing. There was a bunch of things that were happening. We were flying to Hong Kong for a trade show.

MDH 29 Dr. Roseann Capanna Hodge | Child Mental Health

Child Mental Health: If your kid struggles socially, emotionally, or academically, you will also feel indescribable stress and anxiety.

 

By the time we got there, they had run a complete check on her son. The son was cared for by her husband and her mother while she was traveling for three days in Hong Kong. During this whole time, they diagnosed him with autism. This was tough news for her at that time. As entrepreneurs and employers, when an employee is hurting, whether they got financial problems, marital problems, children’s problems, we want to be very compassionate. We want to be there because, in my own company, it is like family. I’m not a huge company so the thing that I could offer my employees is that family environment, where we care about every employee and their members.

We want to be very compassionate, be there for them and be present for them. When somebody’s sick, you don’t want them to worry about the work and the sickness. We want them to get well first. At the same time though, it isn’t fair for the other employees to have to pick up the slack because a lot of companies are running pretty tight. Your customers who come to you, deserve the service that they’ve paid for. What happens is when you have more than one employee out on any given day, in a large company, you could have 10, 20 people out, it does create stress to your system. For entrepreneurs who are aware of the necessity to be compassionate and to be supportive, how do we then balance all of this? Do you have any coping mechanisms or a way that we can implement a system that would be fair to everybody?

First of all, it’s like a family. I think of my company as a family too. We treat people even better than your family members. They are always these people. You want to front-load it. People will go through different struggles at different times. You’re 100% right. You’re smaller. There are strains to the system, whether you’re large or you’re big. When people struggle in different ways, depending on how they’re communicating with others, if they bring a toxicity component, they start faltering and falling down at work, this can spread like cancer at work. That’s important. I’m all about front-loading. It’s all about regular communication. It’s about meetings that talk about things. I use a protocol called the REPS Protocol. I teach REPS to kids, to individuals and to corporations. It is a four-step process to cut stress. Cutting stress and emphasizing stress management on the individual level and on the corporate level is going to be a necessity going forward.

If you were not doing this before, you better get a motor on it because we need to help people regulate their nervous system. To be a science geek for one second, our autonomic nervous system controls our stress levels. If you are stressed out, you’re in a sympathetic dominant state. If you are relaxed, you’re in a parasympathetic state. I call it the hot tub state. We want our people to be in a hot tub state for themselves, for the corporation, for the people that they’re interacting with. In my REPS Protocol, it’s four steps, Respirate, which is breathe, Envision, which is seeing success and setting that tone. Every entrepreneur already does that. P is Positivity. It’s using positive language with visualization and S is Stress Management. I teach people how to breathe first.

Parents must be the children’s anchor in learning how to take care of themselves, shaping them to become successful and happy adults.

When we do that, when we have control and we’re in this relaxed parasympathetic state, we can think and act more clearly. When we emphasize this, whether this is something that you’re like, “It’s REPS time at work,” or you’re teaching people. That E, the Envision and the positivity, I put together. It’s saying positive things and you create a culture at work where you have positive speak. You’re like, “I know this is hard for you. What do you see ahead of you now? What do you see reducing stress?” This is how you start talking to people. We hack into the brain to get people feeling better. We want to support our employees.

The S is regular Stress Management. Whether you’re doing breathing breaks at work, your yoga or you’re having everybody walk. Whatever it is, we need ten minutes a day to help keep that nervous system regulated so people are less reactive and less irritable. They’re sleeping better. They’re thinking more clearly. They’re a better employee and human being. That’s what I teach people because it’s simple and everybody can do it. There are no barriers to time, finances or experience. Truly, anybody of any age can do the REPS Protocol.

When I hear you talk about the REPS Protocol, it seems like it’s a system that’s going to work but more than anything, when you talk about how things are communicated, I live by this one quote. I’m an avid reader. I love reading books. I’m going to get your book too because even though my kids are older, I feel like mental health is something that you’ve got to constantly improve. Situations arise all the time. There is a quote by Maya Angelou. She’s written tons of quotes but the one that I loved the most is, “People will forget what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel.” What I’ve noticed when I wasn’t working corporate and I’ve implemented that in my own company after I formed my own company, I learned a lot of things and what not to do. In a smaller company, you’ve got much better control over who you hire. A lot of times with bigger companies, HR hires somebody and you end up with someone that may not be a perfect match for you.

If the employee is having issues with their children, whether it’s at school or they’re sick, it doesn’t take a lot for a parent to be stressed out over their kid as you know. If your first thought is, “I’m going to get fired. What will happen if my customer complains?” If your first thought going to that, then it adds to the stress exponentially. You’re less likely to talk about it and get some help. Whereas if you create an environment or culture where if you have one person who has a problem, it’s everybody’s problem. If you feel like you’re supported, if you feel like, “I need to get my child to school. I know I’ve got two coworkers that are going to cover for me. When they need some help, whether it’s with their mother or maybe they need help with their grandkids or whoever, I’m going to be there for them.” It’s those little things. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune or a whole program but it’s being conscientious about how you’re heard and how you’re supported are simple ways. Low-hanging fruit to a better culture.

MDH 29 Dr. Roseann Capanna Hodge | Child Mental Health

Child Mental Health: Those who bring toxicity to work will spread that same mindset to others like cancer.

 

Don’t wait for your employees to break down. I saw one of my employees who didn’t look like her perky self. I’ll make up a name. I said, “Amy, what’s going on? Is there anything I can do to help you with?” She was like, “I have not been myself. I need to get out more.” I was like, “Make sure you go for a walk at lunch.” All of a sudden, that one comment turned things around. I didn’t criticize her. We’re a team and we know each other. If you’re a large company, encourage your employees to lift each other, to focus on some wellness.

Give them reward points for being that like Ms. Congeniality or whoever. Have little recognition for going above and beyond. The other thing too is we went through probably decades of people. It was not just a corporate culture but culture as a society, as a country. Maybe it’s global because I traveled quite a bit. We went through decades of people comparing each other and competing with one another. None of us are going to get that far by doing that. If that’s your go-to mechanism for succeeding, I got news for you. All those people who did that to me, they’re still trying to pay rent and I’m here sitting nicely.

They’re in a scarcity mindset. You said to me, Victoria, a rising tide lifts all boats. Isn’t the journey so much nicer when you’re with people that lift you?

My dad passed some time ago but he used to say that being able to help people is a privilege and a joy but also being able to get help. Being an inspiration for somebody is great but being inspired is a whole other thing as well. It is a give and take. You’re the only mental health professional I’ve had on because I feel like so many other people do it so much better than I do. It’s something I don’t understand well but I do know there’s a huge need for it, especially at the children’s level. I feel like children are the most vulnerable. They were vulnerable long before COVID.

Simple communication shifts can create confidence in kids and provide them with unlimited possibilities.

When people are working and they’re focused on their careers, women are now going and getting their doctorates, PhDs and multiple doctorates. They’re not even making any money until they’re 30. They feel like they missed out on things. They missed out on travel and making money, all that. I’m not judging anybody over this but there was a thought that the best way I can take care of my kids is by being successful at my work so that I could be an inspiration. I could be somebody they can look up to and I can make a lot more money so I can impact them.

In the meantime, mentally, they feel like they’re abandoned and don’t matter or they feel like the best thing they could do to help their parents will be out of sight. This vicious cycle keeps on going on or at least that’s what I witnessed. When I was raising my kids, I saw that quite a bit. My kids got raised in a very affluent area. My children are in their late twenties. I’m seeing that the impact of what those parents didn’t do.

There’s a false message to families and women in particular that it’s okay to spread ourselves thin. It’s okay to not have any self-care. During this pandemic, what people brought to the table is what helped them get through it. We say this when we do drama work. I was one of the approved providers for Sandy Hook. I got to see who did well in that awful tragedy. Even in my years of trauma work before that, was that if people had good resiliency. They knew how to cope with their mindset. They didn’t use stress in the same way. You’re able to get through everyday stressors or huge stressors completely differently than somebody who has no stress tolerance.

When it comes to families and particularly working moms, when you spread yourself thin, I have a girlfriend who was sleeping 2 to 3 hours a day. She said, “I’ve been doing it through my twenties.” I said, “You have three kids under age six.” She’s like, “What did you do when your kids were little?” I go, “I worked 2.5 days a week.” She was like, “What?” I’m like, “I’m not farming my kids out. I wanted to be with them.”

MDH 29 Dr. Roseann Capanna Hodge | Child Mental Health

It’s Gonna Be Ok: Proven Ways to Improve Your Child’s Mental Health

We reprioritized our lives and Dr. Roseann said no to work, said no to things. I never worried of the opportunities. I made enough money. This is different when you’re in poverty and you don’t have a choice. We have to understand that you’ve got to put your own oxygen mask on. Like a computer that needs to reboot, you got to turn it off. Before you blink, your kids will grow up. You want to be there as their anchor. You want to be there to teach them about how to care for themselves and how to have coping skills. That is what’s going to create a successful and happy adult. When you ask a parent what they want for their kids, they don’t say, “I want them to go to an Ivy League.” They say, “I want them to be healthy and happy.” Let’s do that. It starts with you by role modeling. Parents have so much power over how their kids develop. I don’t want you to be overwhelmed by that. I want you to be excited about that.

Let me ask you a question though. Your book is already finished.

It’s out. You can go to ItsGonnaBeOK.com or you can go to Amazon and search it and it will pop up.

We’re coming to a close but I want all of you to go ahead and get the book. Honestly, if you’re a mom, a grandma or about to be a grandma, Dr. Roseann’s philosophy doesn’t apply only to kids. It applies to grownup adults who never grew out of the childhood stage. I worked with a lot of them. I believe that mental health is something that all of us can improve on because of those little things that we could do. Let me ask you a question. I understand that as parents, we have a lot of control because everything starts at home. What are the things that we could do with our kids?

If you are struggling with your life, take a step back and create a change for yourself. Don’t let the overwhelm eclipse you.

For example, at my home, we always have dinner together. We’re not allowed to have separate dinners. Sometimes we don’t have dinner until 7:30 or 8:00 because if one person has to Zoom internationally, we wait until everybody’s ready. We go around the room, talk about your highlights for the day and then your lowlights for the day. Everybody has to come up with one. We talk about that because at least it’s the sketch for you to think about. It’s one thing that we do in my family. What are the things that parents can implement on a daily basis that let them know when they’re stressed out? What are the coping mechanisms? What’s the go-to?

First of all, in my book It’s Gonna Be OK, I dive into exactly how to improve mental health and give you step-by-step tools that are actionable and easy. The number one thing I say all the time is this book is exactly what you’re doing, Victoria. Little ways create big waves. We often think there’s a magic pill and I have a magic wand that I put on my desk and pull out in every appointment to let them know. It starts with what are you doing at home.

For you, that’s a communication point. This is how we’re going to connect. What I say to parents is the number one thing that they can do in small ways is to flip how they’re talking to kids. We have to empower kids to cope. Kids have zero stress tolerance. You cannot walk around in the world regardless of your level of affluence. Trust me. I see every income point in the world. I have had kids that are billionaires. You have to have internal resilience and grit. We need to get kids comfortable with being uncomfortable. It comes from making mistakes.

Every entrepreneur is like, “My best learning has come from my mistakes.” It’s safe, little ways to make mistakes. For example, your kid gets an F on a test or gets a C and is totally upset. Instead of saying, “I’m going to call that teacher.” What are they going to learn from that? Nothing. You’re going to say, “You got a C. You got an A last time. What did you do differently?” You got to get them thinking. They might be like, “Last time, I studied.” “What are you going to do next time? How is that going to look different?” That is completely different.

When you do the first thing, you tell your kid they have no power and no control. This is probably the most important thing a parent can do. I cannot highlight this more. Those simple shifts create confidence in kids. It creates this comfortableness with being uncomfortable. It wins that. When you have confidence, your kid has unlimited possibilities. If you lack confidence and you think, “My kid’s going to inherit $100 million,” they will not have the same outcome in life that you think they will. It all starts with that resilience and grit. You have that power by shifting your language.

MDH 29 Dr. Roseann Capanna Hodge | Child Mental Health

Child Mental Health: For the longest time, women are taught to spread themselves thin and that it is okay for them not to practice self-care.

 

That’s interesting too if you have multiple kids in your family. I grew up in a family of five. I’m the oldest of the five. Some of us are neurosurgeons and others, just couldn’t cut it in school. My youngest sister tried going to college four different times. She flunked every class. In fact, it got so bad that my dad, when he was alive, she came back with a D-minus or something. Instead of being upset like a typical Asian parent would, my dad sat her down. She thought it was going to be like, “I’m going to be disowned or something.” It’s the second time she got a D-minus and the same subject. It was algebra. He said, “Don’t try so hard. You tried way too hard for this.” She thought he was joking. He said, “If you worked B on every single thing, you look at 50% but instead you try so hard, you got 30%. You always try hard.”

He had a very different perspective of looking at things. Math wasn’t her thing. His whole solution to this was that, “The national average for SAT was X amount and you are 20% below that, let’s work on your strengths,” which was her language. He said, “To your favor, main languages are 2/3 of your SAT score. If we can get the math thing to the national average,” which is not that difficult for most people but for her, this is a monumental thing, “Then would be okay. What can we do to get you to the national average, which is 50%?” He got her some tutors and all that stuff but she still didn’t cut it. Do you believe that a lot of parents work so hard? We feel like we’re making all the sacrifices for our children and that they owe it to the parents to how hard could it be to get a stupid A in a math class. Do you think that goes on? If so, is it wrong?

We are using grades as a benchmark of mental health. We are saying that if my kid is a straight-A student, there’s no way they can have anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts. Are some kids A students? Of course. Your sister could have tried and tried and me too. I would have never gotten an A in algebra. We did okay. I graduated a year early in my doctoral program. You can’t push and push. With my CHAMP Technique about raising successful kids, I talk about honing in on your strengths. We have to hone our strengths. I’m not saying grades are unimportant. It’s, “What are we putting ahead of these grades?” We need to put how our kids feel about ourselves. It’s not that your sister wasn’t trying. She did. Your father put his common sense and was like, “Let’s be strategic.”

At that moment, he taught her a lesson that was like, “I’m good at this, so why do I work a little harder on this to show how I have the strength on this?” Instead of punishing her, blaming her and shaming her. Grades can’t be everything and we’re missing out on some of these amazing gifts our kids have. My kids are super kind. Teachers write comments on one of my kid’s report cards. “It’s hard to describe how amazing it is to have your kid in my class.” It’s not because of his grades. He’s a good student. He’s very conscientious. He is so kind. His teacher wrote, “He is a friend to everybody.” I’m like, “I could die and go to heaven. I’ve done my job.” Let’s rethink what are the values of our kids because we know that emotional intelligence is one of the biggest determinants of financial and academic success. Let’s emphasize that.

I know that you have been on every show. I’m talking about Fox News, CBS, NBC, Forbes, USA Today, Yahoo News. You’ve been on everything, Washington Post and The New York Times. I am so glad that you’ve made time for my audience. For those of you who are reading, go in and read this again. I wouldn’t say all of our society is ill but a very significant portion of what we are experiencing in terms of the cultural, racial and social income divide has to do with the past generations, specifically in my generation where people have not done before. We didn’t know any better but we still have a chance to impact things. I’m glad that people like Dr. Roseann is out there trying to shift the dynamic, not just for the parents here but for the world.

This is also global. I traveled millions of miles with my business. A lot of the people I deal with are female professionals. That’s our number one worry. I remember sitting in Dubai with women that are completely covered up. We’re discussing our kids and our worries. It’s exactly the same moms. Women are DNA coded to be nurturing. We have that maternal instinct that transcends our age, religion, geography or culture. I’m so glad that you gave us a healthy dose of your experience and your advice. Good luck to you with your books. I’m going to get it. I’m going to invite you back for Christmas time because I know that as hard as we try, we’re going to be all stressed out by November and December, for sure. Thank you so much for coming by.

Thank you for this conversation. For anybody who’s struggling, all it takes is starting with one thing, whether it’s breathing. Just do it, move and create change for yourself. Don’t let the overwhelm eclipse you. You have to start small.

Other than people Googling you, do you want people to come to you? Do you have free webinars or anything like that where people can meet other parents even?

You can go to DrRoseann.com and you can see what we have going on, but I have a community. You can go to The Get Unstuck Program. You get our program and you can join our community to get support on how to create successful kids at home, in school, in life and how to implement these ways to nurture your kid and hone in on their strengths. Every kid is different and every strength is different. I’ve got years of experience. I’m sharing this with you so that you can take these little hacks and help to blossom your family. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you’re a parent, that’s where your heart is. Nothing is more important than the mental and physical health of our kids. If we concentrate on that, that’s when the magic happens. That’s when our kids have success in friendships, academics or maybe they’re an Eagle Scout. There are so many different ways. When we start to open that, we change the impact of stress on this generation and the next.

Thank you so much for coming by. Until next time. Stay healthy. Stay happy. Remember, happiness is a choice. Bye-bye.

Important Links:

About Dr. Roseann Capanna Hodge

MDH 29 Dr. Roseann Capanna Hodge | Child Mental HealthA mental health trailblazer, founder of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health, and media expert who is, “Changing the way we view and treat children’s mental health”.

FORBES magazine called her, “A thought leader in children’s mental health”.

Her work has helped thousands reverse the most challenging conditions: ADHD, anxiety, mood, Lyme, and PANS/PANDAS using PROVEN holistic therapies. She is featured on dozens of media outlets.

MDH 28 | The Bezos Letters

MDH 28 | The Bezos Letters

 

If it’s better for customers, it would be better for Amazon. Amazon’s success was largely founded on this principle by its creator, Jeff Bezos. In this interview with Victoria Wieck, Steve Anderson, the best-selling author of the book The Bezos Letters, talks about how Bezos built his company based on his obsession over customers. Tackling Bezos’ business model, Victoria and Steve also look into how you should take calculated risks, the importance of writing out your business plan as if it were an essay, the four cycles every business goes through, and more. Tune in and discover the growth principles Bezos has used to get to where he is now.

 

Steve Anderson can be reached at https://www.thebezosletters.com

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here

The Bezos Letters: Amazon’s Hidden Roadmap To Success With Steve Anderson

How Amazon Was Founded Largely Upon Obsessing Over Customers By Jeff Bezos

We have an amazing guest. I’m floored with the information that he has and the book that he has written. His name is Steve Anderson. He has written a book called The Bezos Letters as Jeff Bezos, the guy who runs our world right now. In this book, he deconstructs the 21 letters that Jeff Bezos sent to the Amazon shareholders over time. Otherwise, he’s an amazing insightful person with a lot of different industry backgrounds that culminated in this book. The book was the bestseller on The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Amazon. It’s an international bestseller. He has got thousands of followers on LinkedIn. Without further ado, I want to welcome, Steve Anderson.

Victoria, thank you. It’s so great to be here with you.

I’m sure I’ve got everybody’s curiosity peaked. First of all, why did you deconstruct the 21 letters that he wrote to Amazon shareholders? Were you one of the shareholders?

No, I’m not. I haven’t been and now it’s a bit expensive. It’s one of those things I regret not doing this years ago. I came up with the idea through my work in the insurance industry, where I’ve spent my entire career. I’ve spent helping insurance agents or brokers understand and implement technology in their organizations. What I came to the realization of was that the biggest risk businesses face now is not taking enough risk. That’s counterintuitive certainly for the insurance industry because we’re all about reducing risk and mitigating it. I started researching companies that had done it well. Meaning embraced technology and implement it and those that hadn’t.

Those that hadn’t are well-known now, Kodak, BlackBerry, Blockbuster, Sears and Montgomery Ward. There’s a whole list of them out there. I also was researching who has done it well. I came across Amazon. I say now but at that time, it was like, “Amazon has done well. I wonder how.” That was the question I started asking. I came across the letters to shareholders that Jeff Bezos started writing in 1997 when they went public. I was astounded at the amount of information he gave and talked about what his thinking is and how they operate at Amazon. That started giving me some clues as to why Amazon was and is and continues to be as successful as they are. That resulted in the fourteen principles, four cycles and all of the growth principles that I believe Bezos has used to get to where he is now.

The biggest risk businesses face now is not taking enough risk.

I read the book The Everything Store. I found the book fascinating. It goes through his early years when he was moderately successful. When you read it, you do get the sense of how he does the four different phases of building any business meaning as a bookstore then a toy store and all the different stores. When you look at companies like Blockbuster and all these other companies that are not with us anymore, do you think that it’s necessarily how much risk they took or they just forgot to evolve or reinvest?

I’m going to put it in Bezos’ speak. What he would say is that those companies became day two companies. One of his mantras is, “It’s always day one. It’s still day one.” That idea is that Bezos still thinks of Amazon as a startup. That’s crazy to think about, given how big they are. For your readers, it’s also important to understand Bezos started like every one of you reading. Meaning on his hands and knees, putting books in packages and taking them to the post office so they could be mailed out to customers. One of the phrases I use in the book is, “One of the biggest risks of success is actual success because you tend to start protecting what got you there, not looking at what’s next.” Blockbuster is a great example of that, not being able to adjust their business model or kill it when they started understanding that streaming was going to be something. Success gets business owners in a mindset of, “I got to protect what got me here, not look at what’s next.”

There’s a lot of truth to that. I came across this quote by Winston Churchill. You might have come across that too because you seem like you’re a well-read guy. It said something like, “Success is not final and failure is not fatal.” If you look at that and go, “What an interesting quote,” I wonder if success is the cause of their failure because success is not final.

Failure can be the cause of success. My first principle is called Encourage Successful Failure because Bezos has instilled in Amazon this idea that experimentation is key to invention. If you’re going to do an experiment, you don’t know if it’s going to work because if you did, it’s not an experiment. The whole nature of it is, “We don’t know what to do next. Let’s try this.” Amazon has been built on that mindset of experimenting. It’s not doing stupid stuff. It’s calculated. You protect the downside. In fact, Amazon has intolerance for incompetence. If it’s a failure because of incompetence, you’re probably gone. If it’s a failure because you’re trying to test something new then you’re probably encouraged to keep going, even in the midst of failure.

You’re protecting your downside and what’s working. Would you say that they are looking at the 80/20 Rule where the 20% that’s bringing you the 80%, they are going to always protect that but they’re going to have to look for the new 20%?

MDH 28 | The Bezos Letters

The Bezos Letters: 14 Principles to Grow Your Business Like Amazon

Yes, that’s a great way to look at it.

For my readers, would you explain that a little bit more in granular detail? That’s an important lesson. Going back to what you said about how Jeff Bezos started his company very much like everybody reading, I would go even further than that. If you look at companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, they all started their companies with $5,000 capital doing everything themselves. This is a relevant question in regard to taking the experimental risks because when we’re talking about taking more risks, Steve is not telling you to go and take more risks for the sake of taking them.

To try and answer that question, let me give you an idea of what is one of the pivotal tools that Bezos instilled at Amazon that has led to its continued growth. That’s called the six-page narrative. In 2004, they were fairly “old” at that point. Bezos banned PowerPoint at Amazon or Keynote. Any slide-oriented presentation was no longer acceptable to pitch an idea to a new product. It developed over a few years. You were required to write out an essay. It’s called a six-page narrative. It starts with a press release called a future press release on the day the product you’re pitching is released to the public. It follows an FAQ.

Here’s the point. It requires so much thinking to write out your ideas and anticipate, “Here are the problems. Here are the questions. Here’s what we don’t know how to do that we’ll have to learn.” That’s protecting crazy ideas because you’ve got to think it through and Bezos believes in writing things out. Even if you look back at the shareholder letters, that’s the core of what he did. He wrote out for shareholders and everybody else his thought process and that’s why they’re so valuable.

What you’re saying of this whole thing is to have a pulse on your business and customers so that you understand where your business is, where your stomach is as far as how much risk you can take and where your customers are going. One thing whether you’re evolving or not, the customers are always evolving. You are always evolving. You have to have a pulse and pick an accurate thing. Also, I like the idea of writing out your business plan or anything that you’re getting into because the act of being able to write it out will get you thinking about all the execution details. When you write things out, you’re like, “This sounds stupid.”

Encourage successful failures because failure can be the cause of success.

Going back to protecting the downside is, if it doesn’t make sense on paper when you write it out, it probably won’t make sense as you implement it. It’s the whole idea of slowing down to speed up. A quote from Andy Jassy, who’s the former CEO of Amazon Web Services now becoming and replacing Jeff Bezos as CEO of Amazon. What he said is, “Too often, engineers go into a project and they work and work. They get to the end and they end up with something that doesn’t work. Whereas if they had taken the time beforehand to think through all of the issues and problems, they save more time than they waste having to write out those ideas.”

From the business point of view, like from the business planning and getting stockholders to listen to you, we’ve covered all this. When it comes to what Amazon did, in my mind, in terms of their competitive advantage, there are so many different advantages and he has built all kinds of barriers to entry, which is outside of the scope now. What I do want to mention is that the one thing from the business I come from is how he revolutionized customer service. There needs to be another word for customer service now that he had set a whole new standard because the customer service that most of us experienced before Amazon wasn’t customer service. It was an afterthought. If they gave it to you, it’s fine. There has been nobody who has built a company around that.

A key principle, it’s my principle number four, called Obsess Over Customers. Obsess is Bezos’ words. In that first 1997 letter is that, “We will obsess over customers.” You explained what the implications of that mindset have been, which is an extraordinary development of all kinds of things that are focused on the customer. You said we talked about customer experience, customer journey and customer focus but obsess over customers has a different connotation to the point where Amazon has created automated customer service. Meaning they monitor people’s interaction. If it’s not up to a standard that they have set, they might automatically refund money without the customer even knowing something was wrong.

That happened to me twice. I bought a pair of athletic leisure yoga pants. I wanted to have them for my business trip and I was leaving. Amazon Prime delivered it in two days. I ordered it three days ahead. I didn’t receive it on day two. I tracked it and it says it was delivered. I live in an area where there was no theft. I emailed and told them I hadn’t received it but the double thing says I had it. I don’t know if I was ever going to get it or not because I was leaving for a trip for fourteen days. By the time this person got back to me, they had already credited my account. Lo and behold, by the time the person got on the phone with me, I’m looking at a package in front of my door.

I told them, “I’m going to let you know.” She was like, “We can either send you another.” I said, “No.” I was looking at this thing at my door. They anticipated. They have great anticipation. The other thing I would say about Amazon with their business model, too, is that there are so many things he did that are revolutionary. I have dealt with department stores, specialty stores and in-flight duty-free. I’ve dealt with people and companies. We’re talking like Harrods and all these companies all over the world, the discussions about customer service, how obsessed they are about customer service and all the things they do for their customers.

MDH 28 | The Bezos Letters

The Bezos Letters: One of the biggest risks of success is actual success because you tend to start protecting what got you there and not look at what’s next.

 

I’ve been in large companies in America where senior management will say these things but they didn’t care for their customers. They didn’t even like the customers they have. They come up with a new campaign to get a whole new group of customers. Sometimes they think it’s one group or the other. Bezos elevated that. He blew it off the chart. The second thing that he did that was revolutionary in my mind is that he was probably the first person who has built a part of his success from collaborations. He let all third-party people come in and do all that stuff. It was a brilliant business model because he was able to get reach from everybody.

I haven’t read the 21 letters and your book yet, which I’m going to. I would highly suggest that you read Steve’s book called The Bezos Letters, where he deconstructs 21 letters that Jeff Bezos wrote to Amazon shareholders. It’s valuable because I don’t know that he would write the same letters now with that same transparency and eagerness to his shareholders because he doesn’t have to. It’s a different company now but that’s relevant. As successful as Jeff Bezos has been, there hasn’t been a lot of books written about him. There are strategies. There have been portions of it. If you are a small businessperson, I would highly recommend that you read that because he did a lot of things. The poor man struggled for the first 10 to 15 years. He struggled downright dogfight every quarter for decades. Getting back to my question about the idea of collaboration, was that part of his goal?

For him, it was obsessing over customers. In the early 2000s, two-day shipping for Prime, his senior leadership team thought he was crazy. They fought him tooth and nail to not pay free two-day shipping. What he said was, “If it’s better for customers, it will be better for Amazon and our shareholders.” Now we look back, going, “Of course.” What did free two-day shipping do? It removed a barrier and friction point. Do you remember the days when we would go online and you get all the way through the shopping cart and all of a sudden there was a $20 shipping fee? We stopped and abandoned carts. That’s one example. I’ll get to your question on the next one. Amazon Marketplace is allowing third-party sellers to sell their products on Amazon’s most valuable real estate, their website.

Back to successful failure, that was the third iteration of them experimenting with what would work. The first was called Amazon Auctions. They were trying to compete with eBay. The second was called zShops, which was third-party sellers but in a whole different section of the website, bad customer experience. The third was third-party seller, Amazon product, literally next to each other on the same page. The senior leadership team thought he was crazy but what he said was, “If somebody else can have the inventory and/or at a better price, it’s better for customers. Therefore, it will ultimately be better for Amazon.” They created a whole business around fulfillment services for third-party sellers who could never afford to do what Bezos did for those first 10 or 15 years, which is built this amazing logistics infrastructure to get packages to someone’s porch.

I’m no Bezos and neither are you. There’s only one of him out there. You can pick a lot of different things about his business model and we are now seeing some cracks of his success as well. I’m sure he’ll deal with that. For me, I’m a customer service-centric person. I work with a lot of corporations that compete with Amazon. I’ve seen their reactions like, “Amazon doesn’t exist. They don’t do our category well.” I’m like, “Give it time. They will fight,” and they have. Having that incredible customer-centric mindset and when I say that, it’s not like you’re giving them lip service.

Experimentation is key to invention.

I’m not going to mention names. I’ve been in companies where they had names for customers like, “We’re going to call our customer Megan. We’re going to call the 50-year-old customers Elena.” They got their lifestyle demographics but they are completely missing the point. They have the name, demographics, gender and income group isn’t going to solve the problem. You have to understand the mindset of the person and preferences on how they want to shop and want to be delivered. I also love how Amazon has the anticipated shipping so that if I’m going to buy for four days, you can choose your ship date. They do make it so easy that you feel like you’re an idiot if you go somewhere else to shop for something.

Several times in 2020, which for everybody has been unique and different, I can go to the store and buy that and my wife would say, “It was easier to let Amazon ship and bring it to your door.” Because they have built that up and they can fulfill that promise 99.99% of the time.

You say here there are four key growth cycles that every successful business company is always intentionally moving through. What are the four key growth cycles?

Test, cycle one. Once you figure out what’s going to work, you build it. You accelerate the growth once you see it’s working right and then you scale. Even you can look at Amazon in the early days, testing, building, accelerating and scale. One of my questions when I wrote the book was, “How in the world do they have the number of employees they have?” In 2020, they added over 450,000 employees to that company. How in the world can you do that and still maintain culture? Those are the four cycles. The fourteen principles are grouped into each of those cycles that seem appropriate for that stage.

Maybe you want to recap. In the 21 letters that he wrote to the shareholders, what do you think for a small businessperson are the top three main takeaways? We already discovered the customer service part. Any other relevant things that you haven’t mentioned?

MDH 28 | The Bezos Letters

The Bezos Letters: Once you figure out what’s going to work, build it. You accelerate the growth once you see it’s working right and then scale.

 

I’ll go back to a couple of things we talked about. Encourage Successful Failure tends to be something that resonates with people. Amazon and Bezos have had some spectacular failures, which you don’t tend to remember because they’ve had some great successes, too.

Let’s go over the failures just a couple because people would like to know.

Amazon Auctions and zShops, that’s just an example. Probably their biggest failure is the Amazon Fire Phone.

I remember that.

Most people don’t. It was released in 2014. Jeff Bezos was up on stage saying, “This is the next great thing.” In 2014, iPhone had been out for seven years. Android phones were already out. Who needed another phone? Nobody. That was Bezos’ pet project. He pushed that and thought it was a great idea. It shows you, as smart as he is, he even makes bad decisions sometimes. At the end of 2014, they wrote off $178 million in development and inventory costs. The price of the phone dropped to $0.99 and they couldn’t give it away.

Obsess over customers.

That’s a spectacular failure.

Tying this, the success out of that is that same group that created the Fire Phone was also working on another project. That project turned out to be the Amazon Echo and then Alexa. All that voice processing work that they learned about creating a phone, they were able to apply into the Echo hardware. We can agree that the combination of Echo and Alexa has been successful.

What are the things that you think that Amazon has room to improve? What are the things that they can’t do as well as other people? I’ve got my ideas on that.

There are several. You’ve hinted at this. We’ve had a bit more of some questions about their size, “Could they be too big?” About the third-party marketplace, “Are they using data from third-party sellers to create their own private label products?” Employees, it’s focused on fulfillment center workers and warehouse workers, “Could they treat them better?” Those are at least three areas and they’re working on them. The last letter is the 2020 letter. My book stops at the 2018 letter. There’s now been 2019 and 2020. We’re starting to think about writing a second edition to wrap up those last two letters into it.

One of the things in the 2020 letter that Bezos said was, “We need to rethink or improve our relationship with employees.” Here’s a downside of customer obsession potentially, which is, why do warehouse workers have a hard time? Because they’re always pushing to get it out faster. That’s because of the three customer pillars at Amazon, wide selection, low prices and fast delivery. Everything they do for their customer focuses on those three pillars. That means employees have to get things picked off the shelves and packaged out to the trucks so they can be delivered. They’ve had already made steps in helping or working on improving those work conditions.

MDH 28 | The Bezos Letters

The Bezos Letters: The three customer pillars at Amazon: wide selection, low prices, and fast delivery. Everything they do for their customer focuses on those three pillars.

 

It’s a tough job. I’ve been to two different fulfillment centers. It’s fast-paced and hard work. They were the first company to increase their minimum wage to $15 an hour in 2018. If you look at these factors, they all work together. One of the things that I’ve noticed at Amazon with Bezos and I assume that will continue is that if you show him them, you can do it better. Once they become convinced they need to, they will. It’s not just political pressure. I believe he has a concern for all employees. There’s that interesting balance. Customer obsession fast, “Is it too fast for employees? How do we balance that off?” Every company goes through those kinds of decisions.

I have dealt with them for a long time ago. I’ve known quite a few people that worked for Amazon on the merchandising side, vice president of this and that. At the buyer, vice president and director levels, the turnover are high. They burn them out. You can make a fortune but they don’t ask for more than 3 or 4 years. They’re ready to like, “Get lost.” There’s a lot of work to do on that end in terms of their employee relationships, not just at the warehouse. Even these people that are telling you, they hire them well, too. They hire people with a lot of experience but they do burn them out at a faster rate than other Corporate America pieces.

Regarding using the third-party private label, that’s going on actively. That was partly responsible for their success because they were able to get good reach. Even if they’re not making it white-label, they were able to get overall trends faster. For example, if you were selling shoes, Amazon would typically stock the bestsellers like the black, brown and off-white. A third party might have the blues, grays and pinks that Amazon didn’t want to carry but then if they see a spike in the blue then you’ll know that even in branded pieces, they will start to stock that. It looks to me like it’s happening. I’m not in there.

Because Amazon is so algorithm, robots, systems and computers-driven, things that have an emotional connection like jewelry, for example, they don’t do that all that well. They can’t sell the upper-end pieces that you need a little bit romancing because you can’t only do 150 words. Writing those descriptions out isn’t going to cause somebody to go, “I want my wedding ring to be this.” They’re still losing out on that. The thing that I wish that somebody would get done quickly is groceries. They don’t have their gig down yet but I’m sure they’ll find it. We’re going to wrap up this whole session with the main takeaways. We’ve already covered the customer obsession and the pros and the down. Is there any one thing that you haven’t covered yet that you might want to leave our audience with?

If a business plan doesn’t make sense on paper when you write it out, it probably won’t make sense as you implement it.

I can do two and I’ll do the first one quickly, which is to generate high-velocity decisions. One of the reasons as companies grow that they tend to slow is that their decision-making process gets more complicated. Bezos describes it as type-1 and type-2 decisions. Type-1 decisions are bet-the-farm big decisions. He says those should be made slowly with lots of data but most decisions that accompany are not that kind. They’re type-2 and easily reversible. By adding bureaucracy, meaning, “I have to get this decision of the supervisor and then this decision for the manager and this decision for the regional VP,” all that does is slow things down. If you believe in encouraging failure, if somebody makes a bad decision, you’re much better off changing that decision once you realize it than trying to prevent any failure at all.

Back to what we talked about as companies grow, there are reasons why they slow down and that is one of them that I see a lot. The final one is this idea of, believe it’s always day one. Continue to think like a startup.” In an all-hands meeting, Bezos was asked the question, “Jeff, what does day two look like?” He always talks about day one. Paraphrasing, he said, “Day two is stasis followed by irrelevance, followed by a painful, excruciating decline, followed by death.” He goes on to say, “What I’m interested in is, how do you fend off day two? How do you not go to day two?” He has four points there that he talks about. This is in the letters. It was in 2016. He says, “It’s customer obsession, high-velocity decisions, eagerly embracing external trends even when you don’t know what that might mean.” I can’t think of the fourth one off the top of my head now. That to me encapsulates that mindset of thinking like a startup. It’s always day one.

I have some friends who are in the restaurant business on a smaller scale. Why do restaurants fail? When the restaurants opened on opening day, they put on the best linens, clean the carpet and do all the stuff. Think of every day as opening day and the same way. He has got that similar mindset. Steve couldn’t think about the fourth one because I put him on the spot here. None of my interviews are scripted or interviewed ahead of time so these things happen. The good news is you could find him at TheBezosLetters.com for all things regarding Steve Anderson and his upcoming project, as well as the 21 letters and the book. The book is going to be a must-read.

If you’re in small business or even if you’re not in small business, aren’t you curious about how our lives have changed? I’m old enough to remember 1998 and 1997. First of all, if you order anything online, you had to call a 1-800 number. When you finally get somebody at the other end, about 30% of the time, they got your address and order wrong. There was a $30 charge for a gym outfit that costs me $29. It wasn’t even an option. I’ve got my laundry detergent and everything coming on a schedule. I’m going to have to go to the stores for any of that stuff. My daughter is expecting a baby. She ordered almost everything for post-delivery. They sell a whole pack for a post-delivery package. She’s going to be able to have the heavy stuff like the laundry and cleaning stuff delivered so she wouldn’t have to leave with the baby.

MDH 28 | The Bezos Letters

The Bezos Letters: Think like a start-up. Believe it’s always day one. Day two is stasis followed by irrelevance, followed by a painful, excruciating decline, followed by death.

 

Are you not curious as to how all of our lives, not just here in America but all over the world, have been transformed in some way? Even if you decided that you don’t want to shop at Amazon anymore, some people say, “They’re getting too big. I don’t want to shop there anymore.” Even if you are that person, Jeff Bezos has set the standard for customer service that whoever you’re shopping with now has still up the game. The whole world has changed. I’m not his agent or anything like that but I’m just curious as a human being how this all transpired and who’s going to be the next. If you’re Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg or any of these people and they started their company with $5,000 or less, you got to be lying awake at night thinking there’s going to be some new person who could do the same thing and make you irrelevant. That person might be you. Get yourself educated. I love having you here. Thank you so much for your time. Good luck to you with all your endeavors.

Victoria, thank you. It’s a great pleasure to have a conversation with you.

All of you readers, please go ahead, subscribe, rate and review. Remember, stay healthy and happy. Until next time, happiness is your choice.

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About Steve Anderson

Steve Anderson is an expert in strategic risk and business growth. Drawing on decades of experience in the insurance industry, he wrote The Bezos Letters: 14 Principles to Grow Your Business Like Amazon, which has become a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and international bestseller. With hundreds of thousands of followers, Steve has been handpicked by LinkedIn as one of the world’s most influential thought leaders.

Mitchell Creasey, aka the President’s coach,  is an award winning executive coach who helps business leaders actually enjoy what they’ve built!  In this episode Mitchell shares his experiences coaching highly successful entrepreneurs how to live life abundantly with health, wealth, and thriving personal relationships. Coach Mitchell works closely with leaders from banking to tech and has appeared on KTLA Morning News, Good Day Chicago, Great Day Washington, Nashville’s Talk Of The Town, Virginia This Morning, & CTV Morning Live Calgary.  In this episode, Mitchell shares tips to help entrepreneurs with on time-management, people pleasing, and stress management as well as what to do after you’ve made it to the top. Often, highly successful entrepreneurs do not know how to slow down or stop working at the same pace they used to when they were actively building their business.

Matt Franklin is a serial entrepreneur who invented and co-invented multiple products, including PostureNOW, which earned him a Shark Tank appearance and has become a multi-million-dollar selling product. He’s helped numerous budding inventors get their product to market. Matt is also a seasoned investor and over the last five years has been helping other entrepreneurs to plan and invest for an abundant retirement.

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