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The Key To Writing A Must-Read

Marketing Podcast with AJ Harper

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview AJ Harper. AJ is an editor and publishing strategist who helps authors write foundational books that enable them to build readership, grow their brand and make a significant impact on the world. As ghostwriter and as developmental editor, she has worked with newbies to New York Times bestselling authors with millions of books sold. AJ is writing partner to business author, Mike Michalowicz. Together they’ve written nine books, including Profit First, The Pumpkin Plan, Fix This Next, and their latest, Get Different. She has her own book now called — Write a Must-Read: Craft a Book That Changes Lives—Including Your Own.

Key Takeaway:

How do you write a book that readers rave about? The answer to that question follows a simple, yet powerful philosophy: Reader First. When you learn how to put your reader first at every stage of book development, writing, and editing, you can create the connection and trust required to transform their lives. In this episode, AJ Harper shares her proven methods and frameworks she has used for nearly two decades to write and edit perennial bestsellers. It’s not the easy way or the fast way; it’s the effective way. The payoff for doing this important work: a must-read book, and a massive readership who serve as ambassadors for your message and your brand.

Questions I ask AJ Harper:

  • [2:04] Why is the idea that a book is like a business card and everyone needs one a silly concept?
  • [3:58] Is there a system to writing a good book?
  • [6:32] Can you unpack the concept of transformational reader sequence from your book?
  • [7:44] How do you get someone to trust you in the book that you’re writing?
  • [11:01] What role do credentials play when you don’t really have them?
  • [13:00] What makes a book transformational?
  • [14:00] How do you apply the idea of “Shitty first drafts”?
  • [16:35] Are you a fan of self-publishing or traditional publishing?
  • [18:11] What’s the route in self-publishing?
  • [19:33] The editing process for connection is probably the hardest part — how do you do that as an editor?
  • [21:23] I find that I don’t have the crispest grammar as an editor may want, so where’s the fine line with that kind of stuff while trying to remain authentic?
  • [23:18] Could you share with people how they can work with you and the course that you mentioned?

More About AJ Harper:

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John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the MarTech podcast, hosted by Ben Shapiro and brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network with episodes you can listen to in under 30 minutes, the MarTech podcast shares stories from world class marketers who use technology to generate growth and achieve business and career success all on your lunch break. And if you dig around, you might just find a show by yours. Truly. Ben's a great host. Actually, I would tell you, check out a recent show on blending humans, AI and automation. Download the MarTech podcast wherever you get your podcast.

John Jantsch (00:51): Hello, welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is a J Harper. She's an editor and publishing strategist who helps authors write foundational books that enable them to build readership, grow their brand and make a significant impact on the world. As a ghost writer in a developmental that's easier said than read editor. She has worked with newbies to New York times bestselling authors with millions of books sold. AJ is a writing partner to my good friend business author. Mike MCOW ITZ together. They've written nine books, including many that we've talked about on this show. Profit first pumpkin plan, fix this next and the latest get different. She's got her own book now called write a must read craft a book that changes lives including your own. So AJ, welcome to the show.

AJ Harper (01:42): Thank you so much for having me.

John Jantsch (01:45): So you must be a bit of a Saint to spend that much time with Mike MCZ that's all I'm gonna say.

AJ Harper (01:51): He is like a brother to me, maybe the brother who plays pranks on you a little bit,

John Jantsch (01:56): But yeah. Yeah. One of these days off air, I'll tell you the prank he played on me. It's not quite ready for prime time on the show. One of the things that when we get into talking about books, you know, it seems like the last decade or so the common wisdom is every business person needs a book. It's like an expanded business card. And I was so happy to hear you debunk that. I'd let you kind of riff on why that idea is kind of silly.

AJ Harper (02:20): Well, I mean, number one, what do we do with business cards? We toss them out. I mean, I think there's a, the rare person who saves them, collates them response to them in the system. Right. But even our best intentions, you know, at events we lose them. We forget them. I think that the danger in saying better business card is that it immediately lowers the standards yeah. For the book. And then it's just from there, it's just a long stream of cutting corners that only ends in disappointment. And I define disappointment as no one's reading it. No, one's talking about it. Very few people are buying it.

John Jantsch (02:55): Yeah. It's a really crappy business card. Right. You know, I think, I can't remember who responded to this. I was asking somebody else who helps people publish books? I said, you know, what's the number one thing, you know, or number one reason, you know, to write a book and he said, you know, kind of flippantly, but kind of serious, you know, have something to say and I think that's probably the place to start, isn't it?

AJ Harper (03:16): Yeah. And I, you know, the type of books I help people write are prescriptive nonfiction or personal and professional development. So I would add a piece to that, which is have someone you wanna help.

John Jantsch (03:27): Yeah. Right, right, right. Yeah. Solve, solving a problem. right.

AJ Harper (03:31): Yeah. And also caring about their reader experience. I think that's the differentiator. We tend to focus solely on the things we wanna say, and we need to focus on the experience. We wanna give readers.

John Jantsch (03:44): Now I know a lot of people out there think, okay, I just need to sit down, lock my way, self away for, you know, a month or a week or a long weekend or something and just start writing. But you have a very systematic approach to writing a book. And I obviously we can unpack it, but let's start there. I mean, is there a system to writing a good book

AJ Harper (04:02): There is, and it's not, you know, it's a system I developed as a ghost writer out of necessity because I started with no system. So I had to figure it out and piece it together over time. But yeah, the main challenge with sitting down and just writing whatever comes to mind is you're, you know, you're gonna end up losing most of that. You don't have the clarity. Yeah. Anytime that someone came to me with a manuscript to review as an editor, or maybe to revamp as a ghost writer, it was usually because they didn't have a clear idea of three things, right. Which is exactly who their reader is in terms of hearts and minds and a transformational core message and a promise they could deliver. They couldn't really articulate it. So you have to get that clarity first, before you start writing.

John Jantsch (04:54): And you know, it's funny, I've been saying this for years and I was gonna, you know, when you talk about the ideal reader and core message and promise to solve a problem, I mean, that's exactly what we do in marketing. yeah. I mean, that's what we should do. And I think that's, the parallels are really there. Aren't they? I mean, in a lot of ways, we're trying to gain a customer that customer may be a reader, but we wanna retain that customer, get 'em through the book, you know, we want, and I love the word that you use over and over again. We wanna make a transformation in their lives and books certainly can do that. I fortunately, I've written a couple books that people tell me frequently that this changed their life. This changed their marketing. And I think that, you know, it was pure luck probably on my part, but I think that really is, should be the goal, you know, rather than, oh, I wanna build my business by having a book,

AJ Harper (05:36): But see, I don't think it was luck because you just talked about how these are the things that you know, how to do in marketing anyways. So you applied those same principles. Right? So that doesn't sound like luck to me, it sounds like craft. And I think part of the problem is I know part of the problem is that we identify a reader, but then we don't think about the reader again. It's like, okay, that's step one. And writing a book, here's my reader. Right. And then past ideation, we're not really thinking about them anymore. Now we're just writing the book that solves their problem, which is great. I'm not saying that's bad. I'm just saying that we need to keep the reader on the page. Yeah. So the reason people are telling you, your books changed my life is because they actually read them and they applied the things you asked them to apply, but you can't get people to do that. If you don't write a book that connects with them, respects their experience and delivers on the promise,

John Jantsch (06:31): You, you have something in this book that I really love. And it's early on in the book that you call the transformation, transformational reader sequence, I think is the full thing. I'm gonna mess that up, but you know what I'm getting at. Yeah. And I think that's, that's like the customer journey, you know, it's that we do in marketing. And I really love seeing that because I think people need to think that through don't they, so maybe take a minute or two and unpack that idea.

AJ Harper (06:55): Sure. Well, I mean the first part's easy people buy your book because you have a problem they can solve and they will read your book because they see themselves on the page. They'll move, you'll move through the process as they begin to trust you. And eventually you're getting into where they believe in, you believe in them. And so that's why they're actually gonna do the things that you ask them to do. And finally they believe in you and that's when they tell everybody about it. So it's, you have to help them, you know? Yes, you have, they have to relate to the problem you're solving, but they need to see themselves on the first page mm-hmm and all the way through. And then they need to begin to trust you and feel that you think that they can do it. That's a key element in Mike Macow its' books, by the way. Yeah. And it's all intentional.

John Jantsch (07:44): So to me, I think the hardest part, I think people can write a good book that has a lot of action steps and you know, a lot of really useful things to do. I think the hardest part that you just described there is that trust element that, that actually gets somebody to say, okay, I'm gonna do that. I don't know if it'll work or not for me, but I trust you. So I'm gonna try it. Mm-hmm I, to me, that's always the hardest part. So how do you build that in?

AJ Harper (08:09): Well, you get the first part right. First, which is helping them feel seen. So no, one's gonna trust you if they think you don't get me, you don't understand me. You don't know my life. Yeah. And so that's number one, but then it's also being transparent, I think is one of the keys I see with my students and my clients. So often they're afraid to show how they make the sauce. Yeah. And they're afraid to show when they don't know something mm-hmm or when they aren't sure about something. Yeah. And so if they're just honest with the reader, I also wonder if this is gonna work or I tried this five times, maybe you will have a different experience. I'm not the expert. I'm just a person who try, you know, just being open about the reality rather than trying to be more than they are. I think it's just cuz they're afraid of how their book will be received at the core is of every afraid author is just a feeling who's gonna read this thing.

John Jantsch (09:08): Yeah, no, go ahead. I'm sorry.

AJ Harper (09:10): Tip. I would give about building trust is, you know, do need social proof mm-hmm so you can get that through stories, anecdotes. You can also bring in statistics if you need to. But I do think storytelling builds trust. Yeah. Especially when it's carefully constructed to show that what you're saying is true or that your promise can is possible, et cetera.

John Jantsch (09:32): So obviously this comes off more so in, in Mike's audio books probably than on the written page, but he has a level of sort of self deprecating humor that I think is his one of his tools for building trust. Isn't it?

AJ Harper (09:45): Yeah. That's all intentional by the

John Jantsch (09:47): Way. Yeah. No, absolutely. I mean, it's partly who he is too, but, but obviously he's taken advantage of it.

AJ Harper (09:52): None of nothing about him is disingenuine and he's no, absolutely 100% who he is on the page off the page. But it is the reason that we do share stories where he shows, where he screwed up, where he was a goofball where he wasn't sure of himself is that it endears him to his audience and then they feel okay he's it's not just, he sees me, but he's all, I'm one. He's one of us.

John Jantsch (10:16): That's right. That's right. Hey eCommerce brands did you know, there's an automated marketing platform. That's 100% design for your online business. It's called drip. And it's got all the data insights, segmentation, savvy and email and SMS marketing tools. You need to connect with customers on a human level, make boatloads of sales and grow with Gusto. Try drip for 14 days, no credit card required and start turning emails into earnings and SMS sends into Chuck CHS. You Chuck Chans, try drip free for 14 days. Just go to go.drip.com/duct tape marketing pod. That's go.drip.com/ducttapemarketingpod.

John Jantsch (11:01): So let's talk a little bit about credentials. You know, a lot of things, you know, you hear people talk about, you know, I, I feel like I'm a, you know, a fake, I don't, you know, I've got this idea. I've helped a couple people, but like, can I really write a book about it? I mean, what obviously great credentials can aid, you know, somebody's wanting to pick up the book, support the book, but what role does credentials play when you don't really have them?

AJ Harper (11:26): That is a great question. And I think it depends on your topic and your genre. If you are trying to write a book, that's gonna appeal to, if you're say writing for C-suite or you're writing an academic you book, you have to have credentials. Yeah. And you may need a co-writer in that case, you could get somebody who has the credentials, but if you're not, then you know, it's as simple as number one, make sure your content works. So, you know, it's not enough to say everybody has a story and everybody can write a book. Right, right, right. No, you need to make yes. And let's actually see if this content lands and works for people other than you. And I think there's simple ways to do test drives little boot camps, workshops speaking. Yeah. All sorts of things to see, I think this works, but can other people do it? And then the second piece would be just like I said earlier, being transparent and honest. So I'm not 15 steps ahead of you. I'm two steps. Yeah. But this is the view I can show you from here. And then you're being honest. Yeah. And they know that they can take that with a grain of salt.

John Jantsch (12:33): Yeah. And that idea of doing things ahead of the writing. I think a lot of people, mistake I see people make is they write the book and then they come to me and say, how can I market this? And I'm like, well, you should have been doing that two years ago. And that idea of building community, doing workshops, doing free clinics, whatever it is, mm-hmm to where you're getting that feedback. You're testing stuff out. You're seeing what works, but you've also, you're also building a little bit of hunger for this product when it, when it comes out. Here's the big question. What makes a book transformational?

AJ Harper (13:03): Well, really, it's just as simple as delivering on the promise. That's your chief goal as an author. So decide first you have to decide can, what is the promise that will speak to my reader? Yeah. That they want, then can I deliver on it within the pages of the book? Not someday. So this is where a lot of authors make a mistake. Well, eventually you might get this thing but it's about, okay, I'm turning the last page. Now I'm different in some way. And it doesn't have to be a major difference, but there need to experience a shift. So it's asking yourself, what can I deliver? But then also on the flip side, maybe challenging yourself to say, okay, I really do wanna deliver this thing. What else could I do within the confines of the book to make that happen and thereby you up level the content. Yeah. But as, as long as your book is designed to deliver, which includes keeping the reader immersed on the page, that's part of that. Then that makes a book transformational.

John Jantsch (14:03): So there's a book that I suspect you have read. That is one of my favorite books. And I, you pulled a little ti tidbit out of it when you were talking about rough drafts and that's Anne Lamont's bird by bird.

AJ Harper (14:13): Yeah. Classic .

John Jantsch (14:16): I actually saw her about 10 years ago and like was a, you know, a reading and signing for one of her books. And I had a first edition of bird by birds and she signed it for me. So

AJ Harper (14:25): Nice.

John Jantsch (14:26): I was very happy about that. Shitty first drafts. The, it just I'll just let you go from there. You know, what, how do you apply that idea?

AJ Harper (14:34): So that's interesting. I do talk about in my book. So she gifted us with the shitty first draft, which frees us from thinking it has to be perfect. But what I've discovered in all my years of teaching authors is that actually they don't really believe it like sounds good and it makes them excited and they try, but in the back of their mind, they think one of two things, they either think I'm gonna be the exception to the rule and my draft is gonna be less shitty.

John Jantsch (15:02): Yeah,

AJ Harper (15:02): Yeah. Yeah. So they're frustrated with themselves and they get locked in that battle or they think surely she doesn't mean this shitty

John Jantsch (15:14):

AJ Harper (15:14): And so, and then they get locked in that battle. And so the problem is they don't really know the definition. Yeah. It's almost like they can believe they can't believe it could be as bad as their draft is and you're a writer. So, you know? Yes. It can yes, it can. There's that beginning spot. It's just a mess.

John Jantsch (15:34): Yeah. I mean, I came to this probably, but you know, I write now almost like journaling. I don't edit at all. I mean, I used to like write a sentence and go, oh, I could say this better, you know? And then you got nowhere. Right? And so now I try to see how fast almost I can write, you know, a thousand words or whatever. Then I generally put it away. And then I come back to it the next day. And it's either really good or it's really bad.

AJ Harper (15:56): See, you have the benefit of having written many books. And I think that part of the challenge, if you're a new author, is that you think that the people who are successful or at least have written a lot of books, know something you don't know or are more talented, all it really is that you're more comfortable with the creative process. Yeah. So, you know, I'm gonna work this out in editing cuz that's where a good idea becomes a great book editing. So, you know, and you know that it's gonna work out eventually and you don't know how many drafts it will be, but a new person isn't familiar with the process. And so not only does it seem daunting, but they just don't know what to expect.

John Jantsch (16:36): Yeah. Let me, I wanna come back to editing, but I wanna segue through self-publishing versus traditional publishing. Okay. Because that's where I think editing really has to be discussed based on the path you go there, are you a fan of one or the other, do you think it depends.

AJ Harper (16:49): I think that the mistake we make is that we try to decide which one is better without considering our own priorities and where we are. Right. I think an author needs to decide, okay, what are my goals? What are my resources? And what is my timeline? Yeah. And then a fourth consideration would be how much control do I wanna have?

John Jantsch (17:07): Yeah. Yeah. And including after the fact.

AJ Harper (17:10): Yes, exactly. so once you've decided, this is what matters to me, then choose a path that fits it. And if that doesn't work, you can always do plan B or C.

John Jantsch (17:18): Yeah. So all of my books have been traditionally published. That just was the route that I ended up going. So my role was I'd write the book, turn into manuscript. The editor who had generally acquired the book would say, this chapter needs to go over here or this big chunk doesn't make any sense and send it back to me. Then I would rewrite that, you know, that part of it. And then maybe there would be one more round of that, but then it would go to somebody who's just looking for crap laying here that shouldn't be , you know, you said it this way, that way you said it this way, that way. And then finally it would go to somebody who would just find all the commas and the, you know, dangling part of simples and you know, whatever other kind of stuff they find. But how that that's part of, I guess the benefit of going a traditional route doesn't mean that they're actually good at, you know, at that. But I think a lot of people think that an editor just gets the manuscript in like mates marks and you know, things and they're done. What's the route in self-publishing?

AJ Harper (18:14): Well, this is the challenge. So many years ago, when self-publishing became more accessible and affordable, everybody was excited and you can get more out there. There are no gatekeepers. Yay. But the problem is you can't abandon all those traditional publishing quality standards that or quality controls that you're talking about. Yeah. The developmental or substantive editor. That's what you're talking about. That first person is the person who helps you make sure the book works. And if you skip that person, then the book suffers for it. But the problem is a lot of people just don't know, they have no idea that is an editor they need. And I don't think that the self-publishing industry is very forthright about the fact that they need it. Yeah. Yeah. I don't blame them. It's the most expensive kind of editing to pay for and it takes so longest. So if you're focused on speed and, and low cost, you're not gonna say, Hey, you need this editor. Yeah. But you do need that editor and you can get it your own if you're self publishing. Yeah. There are many people who do that freelance. Yep. So it's, if there's no reason why you can't get that person to come in and help you.

John Jantsch (19:19): So one of the things you talk about in the editing process is editing for connection. And I think that is probably the hardest, because that requires a level of understanding what I do, what I'm trying to get across, who I'm getting it across to. How do you do that as an editor who you're a ghostwriter? I mean, a lot of what you're doing is extracting somebody's mind and then putting it on the page. I mean, to me that seems like a daunting process of understanding somebody's, you know, voice understanding somebody's, you know, mind and then, you know, editing for that, you know, that final reader having said all that now I'm gonna really confuse you. Maybe that's actually better done by somebody else.

AJ Harper (20:06): Maybe it's better. What, well, I

John Jantsch (20:07): Didn't hear the last part. Well, I guess what I was saying is, you know, my biases that we, you know, that part only I can do, right. Because I know who I'm, you know, and yet I think that's a, an absolutely essential part. And I'm wondering if maybe that distance that an editor or a ghostwriter might have, would actually be beneficial.

AJ Harper (20:27): I don't know. I mean, I only, I co-write with Mike still, but I don't ghost write anymore. And haven't for about five, six years at the time, you know, I often had an editor, right. So I'm the ghost. And then there was another editor. So I was been, but I really do believe that it's the author, whether they're using a ghost or not, that needs to go in and make sure that it connects to their reader. Yeah. Because they know their reader and the editor doesn't, and this is something that comes up a lot since we're talking about Mike in his books where the editor might say, Hey, I, you know, I don't think you need so many stories or I don't think you need to repeat this piece of encouragement. And Mike and I will go back and say, well, actually the reader does actually need this here because this is their, what matters to them. And this is what we hear about from readers. Yeah. And they're, it doesn't mean you're always pushing back, but to have knowledge of what matters to your reader helps you in that editing process.

John Jantsch (21:23): Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I do know when I've had things written articles, I've written all my own books, but I've had a lot of articles written by other people that, that were going to be, you know, ghost written. And quite often the thing I find myself saying, well, I would never say it like that because I feel like my voice, my, who I am, you know, my personality wouldn't use certain words. Wouldn't use maybe crisp as crisp of grammar as you know, an editor might, might want, I mean, words defined on that kind of stuff. Cuz there's some times I've said stuff. People are like, well that's clumsy. I'm like, well, yeah, I'm clumsy.

AJ Harper (21:56): Well then you should write it at clumsy. I mean, you don't want everything to be completely incorrect in terms of grammar, but it is, you need to be authentic. You need to be yourself on and off the page. And I think you're right to say, it should sound like me. The thing about ghost writing is it's actually a really special skill. And just because you say, I don't need to take credit for that and I will work for hire, doesn't actually make you a legit ghost is a ghost. Has to be able to assume the personality. Yeah. So, you know, I could write anything and you wouldn't know if it Mike wrote it or I did. Yeah. Yeah. You would not be able to tell. Yeah. And that was one of my great skills with whomever I've written for people that were complete opposite of Mike . Yeah. And I still, but that was just a skill that I had learned to do as a playwright. That's the connection is I wrote characters, so I was just really good. I just have a good ear, but you know, this is why I stopped doing it and started writing or rather coaching and teaching authors. So they could do it themselves because then at least their voice is authentic.

John Jantsch (23:00): Yeah. That's interesting that you mentioned, I didn't know you had playwright history because I often feel like that idea of creating personas is, is very much what you're doing. You know, mm-hmm as the voice, you know, which is really right out of the theater, even though as a marketers have, co-oped it, that's a great segue to tell us about your workshops. And you mentioned that you even had a course that you could share with folks as well, that they could get a little taste of working with you.

AJ Harper (23:26): Sure. Yeah. So I do teach a 14 week workshop to 15 students at a time it's very small, twice a year. It's called top three book workshop. And it's basically to write that must read book that becomes a book on someone's top three list of FAS. And I just walk people through the whole process. It's very hands on. There's a lot of editing happening and developmental work and publishing, but mostly it's about creating a home for an author who actually wants to write something great versus an author who's trying to can't find any place to go except to maybe some sort of 90 day program. So yeah. Yeah. And that, that was important to me. So it's a small group. I do have a standalone course. Self-directed called test drive your content. And today I'm giving you a special code for your listeners, which is duct tape to get 50% off that course. And we did actually happen to talk about test driving. So it actually walks you through what are all your benefits of test driving? Yeah. Including building demand, as you said, but also specifically, how do you do a test drive so that you can really hear if it's working and you can process the feedback to make changes, but also how can you use that to get anecdotes, endorsements, stories, that sort of thing. So it's seven videos that walk you through that whole process.

John Jantsch (24:46): And that's found where,

AJ Harper (24:48): Oh, I'm sorry. That's [email protected] AJ

John Jantsch (24:51): Harper. Okay. So we'll have those in the show notes. See, I, I think anybody who develops a product course, whatever they ought to be doing that with people you get so much great insight I've over the years done things where I haven't gotten any feedback and I put it out there and people are like, we didn't want this. So , you know, it just really stops you from, I think having those complete disasters when you are finding out what people really need and what they resonate with. Didn't

AJ Harper (25:14): I think it also, if you aren't sure if you understand your reader very well. Yeah. It can also help you get to know them better through those interactions. Yeah.

John Jantsch (25:24): AJ, thanks so much for stopping by the duct tape marketing podcast. And hopefully we'll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

AJ Harper (25:30): Thank you for having me.

John Jantsch (25:32): Hey, and one final thing before you go, you know how I talk about marketing strategy strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It's called the marketing strategy assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co not .com .co check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That's just marketingassessment.co I'd love to chat with you about the results that you get.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network and Drip.

HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business.

 

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The Evolution Of The Podcast

Marketing Podcast with Todd Cochrane

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Todd Cochrane. Todd is the CEO of Blubrry Podcasting – a podcast media company that represents 105,000 Audio and Video podcasters in which his company provides advertising opportunities, media distribution/hosting, podcast media statistics, and other services. He is a podcast advertising specialist, and he founded the Tech Podcast Network in 2004.

Key Takeaway:

Podcasting and the podcast industry have changed over the years in many ways like the way podcasts are produced, how more easily accessible it is to start your own, and how the monetization of podcasts works today are just a few examples. In this episode, I talk with Todd Cochrane, the CEO of Blubrry a podcast media company, about how the podcast and audio content has changed over the years and where it stands today.

Questions I ask Todd Cochrane:

  • [2:07] What shows are you hosting today?
  • [2:54] What does the podcast media company look like today, and what was your idea for starting it?
  • [4:32] Is that was that the initial vision was to just make it easier to get those shows syndicated?
  • [5:48] Do you think podcasting is the hottest advertising medium going on today?
  • [7:06] Would you say that we are almost at a point where we need to redefine what a podcast is?
  • [8:09] What’s your take on the distinction between audio and video and what people consume most today?
  • [12:02] What are your current feelings about the technology that you’re using?
  • [15:48] Could you talk a little bit about the opportunities you think are out there with this form of advertising?
  • [19:01] Do you think podcasting is going to go in the direction of subscriptions and paying for content like other mediums have?
  • [20:55] Is there anything coming for Blubrry that people might not know about yet?

More About Todd Cochrane:

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John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the MarTech podcast, hosted by Ben Shapiro and brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network with episodes you can listen to in under 30 minutes, the MarTech podcast shares stories from world class marketers who use tech technology to generate growth and achieve business and career success all on your lunch break. And if you dig around, you might just find a show by yours. Truly. Ben's a great host. Actually, I would tell you, check out a recent show on blending humans, AI, and automation. Download the MarTech podcast wherever you get your podcast.

John Jantsch (00:50): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Todd Cochrane. He is the CEO of Blubrry podcasting, a podcast media company that represents 105,000 audio and video podcasters in which his company provides advertising opportunities, media distribution, hosting, pod, media stats, and other services. He's a podcast advertising specialist and also founded the tech podcast network way back in the dinosaur days of podcasting 2004. So Todd, welcome to the show.

Todd Cochrane (01:28): Hey, thanks for having me. And I think as we talk just a little bit, as we got started, you started in 2005. So you're right there with me.

John Jantsch (01:35): I did, I did indeed. And those were the good old days cuz you know what, so I always, I can go down a rabbit hole really fast on this, but you know what a lot of people don't realize is not only was it hard to produce shows, it was hard to listen to them or to get somebody to listen to 'em right. They had to actually have their own technology. So I'm certainly glad that we are where we are today.

Todd Cochrane (01:57): I am too. And it's, you know, no longer having to connect a device to a computer just to get the sync. Right? Yeah. It's nice to have it automatically happen.

John Jantsch (02:07): So tell me about what shows you're producing or not producing, but shows you are hosting today.

Todd Cochrane (02:14): Well, personally I still have my personal show geek, new central. That was the one they started in 2004. It just hit over 1600 episodes. Then I do a, co-host a show with matter of fact, Rob Greenley from Lipson competitor, it's called the new media show. I say, we can get a PhD in podcasting by listen to that show matter fact, we just finished recording of that about 30 minutes ago. And then we do an internal team podcast called podcast insider. But yeah, so a lot of, you know, still doing a lot of active shows, but it's really the day to day grunge of, you know, running a company and building, you know, building a business and keeping podcasters snapping.

John Jantsch (02:51): So I gave a little insight into the, what the podcast media company looks like today. What was the idea for starting it? And what was your initial vision?

Todd Cochrane (03:02): You know, it's, it was one of those things where, when I started my podcast, my wife had given me an ultimatum to make money in the first two years. She didn't say to want another boat anchor. And I solved that in June of oh five by securing GoDaddy, as a sponsor of the show. And the first round, I really didn't know what to charge and that kind of worked itself out. But in the second call where they're getting ready to sign a contract for a year, the gal asked me, Chris Redinger said to me from Godad. She said, do you know how the podcasts would like to advertise GoDaddy? And I said, yeah, I've got some tech shows that might be interested. And that really kind of set the Genesis point of the idea of raw voice, which is the parent company of Blubrry podcasting. And remarkably. I went on my podcast the next episode. So I'm looking for a lawyer looking for MBA programmer and a graphics developer. I've got a business idea and we're gonna have a call and free conference call do com in 10 days to be there. If that's you. And on that call, it was a lawyer, an MBA and a graphics developer and the graphics developer, new programmer got him on the phone. We formed the company over the phone, just absolutely insane how that company started. We didn't meet each other for the first six months.

John Jantsch (04:20): well, as I recall, I, and you and I were talking about it. I was probably a fairly early on user, as I recall it, it was primarily a WordPress plugin and then hosting came later and obviously advertising network came later. Is that, was that the initial vision was to just make it easier to get those shows syndicated.

Todd Cochrane (04:39): Yeah, the first, really the sequence was we had the advertising piece in place. We started ramping up real quick with shows with advertising. We built the stats platform so we could measure this stuff. So we weren't overbilling the vendors. The plugin happened because another plugin started that we were using was being abandoned. The person that was updating it wasn't being paid update anymore. So we developed our own plugin and that kind of really led the Genesis of everything else. And the plugin really kind of been like that candy at the end of the, you know, when you're in checkout, you know, that piece that you would grab and it really led to everything else that Blubrry does today.

John Jantsch (05:18): Yeah. Yeah. So people are probably already tired of hearing old folks reminisce about the old days. So , let's talk about how that's evolved now. Not just Blubrry, but just, you know, podcasting in general. Yeah. I always tell people they're, you know, the really early days people got into it, but then social media came along and that was shinier and it seemed like podcast kind of went in the background and then a or apple decided to put the app on the iPhone as a native. And all of a sudden, everybody was like, what are these podcast things again, to the point now where, you know, it's probably the hottest advertising, medium going, isn't

Todd Cochrane (05:53): It. Right. You know, and there was this definitely a series of inflection points, you know, it was, you know, the inclusion of iTunes, it was the iPhone, it was the inclusion of the app delivered with a phone. And then obviously listeners got more interest in podcasting when serial came around and had this, we had this huge inflection, true crime shows. So really I think, you know, it's been this long steady climb and now the space is just, you know, it's, uh, the indie podcasters, some of 'em are kind of concerned, but you know, with all this commercial investment that's happened. Yeah. I think that all ships rise together. So I think that there's plenty of room for anyone that wants to create content out there or use it as a business funnel or whatever their goal may be.

John Jantsch (06:36): Yeah. I, you know, I was gonna ask about that, how you think, like, where are we now, you know, in, in the word podcast, right. When blogs first started, they were really almost typically an individual's journal almost. And people interacted with them and there, you know, comments were a big part of them and you know, they've really changed now. Even the blogging software is really referred to as just content management, mm-hmm software systems. I mean, podcasts in some ways started around that individual host of the show. Would you say that we are almost at a point where, you know, we need to redefine what a podcast is?

Todd Cochrane (07:12): You know, there's been a lot of talk about it, you know, if in the pure sense, so, you know, it still requires an RSSV deliver a show to these syndication points, but the average listener doesn't care. They don't care if they listen on Spotify or watch on YouTube or consume, they, it really podcasts are consume and anywhere I've had this saying for a long time, they say, I don't care where they listen, as long as they listen. Yeah. But I want to be every place that they are. So I think in that instant, you know, podcasts are many things to many people, but you know, I'm kind of old school. So I still believe in the, you know, you still need to have an RSS feed to deliver the show, which causes most people's eyes, still the glaze over. But it really is that mechanism that keeps the space open and from being locked down and gatekeepers coming into place and making rules, it's still an open ecosystem. So I think from that aspect, even with the commercial investment of the podcasting space is a medium is very secure and will continue to grow.

John Jantsch (08:09): Yeah. Let's talk audio versus video. Is that a distinction? I seemed like video V cast. I think they, people were calling them at one point, kinda had a point where they were popular. Now it seems like everybody's doing some audio, some video. Of course the technology has helped that, but the portability of audio, I think is still what makes it so attractive to me.

Todd Cochrane (08:32): Yeah. I think still people have more time to listen than they do to watch. I know that I do. Yeah. But at the same point, I think the video piece of it is more of a, well, I started doing video 10 years ago doing live video for my shows. And I did it purely out of selfishness because I do a solo show. So I was, I was doing it eight o'clock in the evening in Hawaii and you know, it was kind of boring. So I was using it as a way to get a little interactivity from the audience when I was doing the show and it kind of just turned into this thing, but that's really most my main reason. And I think that's way a lot of podcasters think about it now too, is some people like to watch some people like to listen, but I still, my show still 70, 30, 70% listen, 30% watch why they watch me. I still don't understand. But it's, it's kind of the way it is.

John Jantsch (09:24): Yeah. I, I do. I mean, I think it's like, it's like when my books would come out, you know, there would be some part of the audience who's like, I'm gonna get it when the audiobook comes out. I was like, well just go buy it now. But there're just some people that, that's what they'd rather do. And there's no question that, you know, enough people have seen you on video now that you could probably go to a conference and people go, oh, I've seen that person. And so it certainly the medium, I think, itself has different uses and you're gonna, people are gonna consume different ways,

Todd Cochrane (09:57): You know? But in all honesty, I've had more surprise interactions from people hearing my voice. So it's like walking in O'Hare a couple weeks ago, someone heard my voice and they turned and they said, oh, you're are you Todd? And I'm like, yeah. Which show do you listen to? You know? So it's, so I think when, and also the audio piece is more intimate. We're truly, we're truly in there, you know, those that are listening right now, we're we're in your head. yeah. You know, we're I call it the earballs we're right in their ears. Yeah. So it's, I think it's a different experience when we watch YouTube, which most of us do, you know, we can be distracted. And I think in podcasting we're able to hold audience's attention span a lot longer. So I think that's why the medium has been for better word. So intimate.

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John Jantsch (11:28): Yeah. I can't tell you how many times I've had a YouTube video opened in another tab and all I'm doing is listening to it. right. Cause I'm multitasking. Yeah. Mm-hmm no question. What are some of the most exciting things in how the technology is involved? Evolved? As far as youre concerned, we were, again, we were laughing, you know, before we got started here about the early days of recording on, you know, handheld devices and phones that we'd plug into and you know, you and I were recording this on a platform that that's actually just web based. And you know, once we're done recording, it'll upload the two recording, you know, separated tracks. I mean, there's just some really great advancements. What are, what's your current feeling about the technology that you're using?

Todd Cochrane (12:06): Well, I think you hit the nail on the head. It's riversides wild. Some of these platforms that allow us, we don't have to have this big tech setup. I, you know, I've got literally $30,000 worth of gear in this room that I don't need anymore. Yeah. Because of the way the space has changed and the technology being able to see who you're interviewing or being interviewed and have that interaction is a huge difference. In the early days, all we really kind of had to really listen for those visual cues and we often would step on each other just because there wasn't that visual component. So I think that's a big change. Obviously. They've got lots of great software out there now for editing. Uh, I've always been an Adobe edition type of guy. And matter of fact, I don't edit. So I'm one of the few that actually don't, but it's, but I wouldn't be a podcaster if I all these years, if I would've had to have edited because it just takes too much time. But yeah. That's why they've got people out there doing those types of services now. But that's another thing too, is there's a service for everything, right? There's BAS there's people that do transcripts there's people that will do your editing, posting the whole nine yards. It's gonna, you're gonna have to write a check, but you can use your time wisely.

John Jantsch (13:19): I'm I saw, I got a pitch from an, an AI service that was promoting themselves as you, all you did was put in the guest or something about the guest and they would create a list of questions for the guests. Interesting. You know, based on just go out there and just like find, you know, your footprint and go, here's what the, here's what you ought ask this guest. And I was like, wow, , you know, we're, I wonder we're gonna even do the interviews at some point. , you know?

Todd Cochrane (13:43): Yeah. Pretty crazy. And you know, and I think too, the thing that's about podcasting that like this interview, you had a little background on me already, so you didn't have to do too much research, but I think there's a lot of folks that spend a lot of time researching their guests. And some of those best interviews are, is when a Podcaster's able to dig out that nugget, you know? Right. They get deep in a conversation that may not have happened. Otherwise,

John Jantsch (14:11): Can I get up on a soapbox and complain about something? And I'm sure you get this too, but nothing drives me crazy faster than when somebody asks me to be on their show. And I agree. And then they send me to a six page form to basically write the interview for them. I just like, you know, it, this is, I guess I grew up, you know, in a PR background mm-hmm and this feels like journalism to me. Right. And somebody else writing the article, I'll let you riff on that if you want to.

Todd Cochrane (14:37): You know, and it's even funny because I hired a service to help me get more interviews. And they asked me to write the top six questions. I'd like to be asked. I'm like, I don't even wanna do that because , every interview is gonna be wash RINs repeat because some guests are host are lazy and I've been lucky. People have only pulled from that a couple of times. But yeah, when I do guest interviews, I don't want any prep. I want the conversation to happen free flow. I think that's when you really get into the good stuff. Now you have to do your homework a little bit to kind of figure out what you're gonna talk about. But I, I think that

John Jantsch (15:13): That's the job.

Todd Cochrane (15:14): Yeah.

John Jantsch (15:14): absolutely. Let's talk about advertising and podcasts. My first advertiser was at and T I just kind of dropped out of the sky and it was a really big deal for me at the time. Sure. And you know, fortunately I'm currently sponsored as a member of the HubSpot network. So, you know, the money is definitely out there. And I know a lot of small four or 500, you know, a month download folks are now finding, you know, opportunities to get, you know, advertisers for shows like that. So maybe talk a little bit about cuz I know obviously you play in that world substantially with Blubrry. So talk maybe a little bit about the opportunities you think are out there and maybe just the state of, you know, this form of advertising.

Todd Cochrane (15:55): Sure. In the space today, 50% of podcasters are using podcasts for non monetization reasons they're using for funnel business, building authority, building, they have a different goal, but the other 50% are looking and hoping to monetize. Currently today only three to 4% of podcasts are actually fully monetized. So it leads a whole bunch of people on the sidelines. So five years ago, I would say that programmatic advertising probably would not have been effective because there just wasn't enough movement in the space and enough trust. But now programmatic has got to the point where even the smallest shows can get some advertising and it may not be, it may take their spouse or partner to dinner money. Some people will make car payment money. Some people will make house payment money, but there is gonna be an opportunity here in the very new future for all shows to be able to monetize at one level.

Todd Cochrane (16:46): Now, obviously the host read endorsement stuff, which is the core of the space continues to rule and pays the highest C cam rates. Matter of fact, my sponsor GoDaddy, which I've had since 2005, it's remarkable. They've been with me this entire time. Those are completely host, endorsed episodes baked in forever. But then again, my show gets, my tech show is 96 hours. It's achieved nearly 90% of its lifetime download. So it doesn't have a long tail. So it doesn't matter. But I think that from an advertising perspective, you know, niche, real niche content is and high Val niche, high value content can drive a lot of dollars, but if you're not super niche, then you need to big build big and the bigger the audience, the more potential for revenue. I think there's lots of ways to skin a cat. Now there's Patreon. You can, or just a simple PayPal link, which I've used for years to raise money for a show and get support. I think though a lot of podcasters get really wrapped around the ax. So early on about trying to make money too. Yeah. And but I think when a show gets the substantial size and stability and consistency, I think there's lots of opportunities to make money. Yeah. Across a variety of fronts.

John Jantsch (18:00): Yeah. I always, I, I, you know, I guess because it was so much work in the early days, you know, I always told people, I, you know, I'd do it if I had one listener and no, nobody because of the people I got to talk to that yeah. That was really, to me, the reason for doing it. Yeah. And you know, the, everything else sort of turned into a happy accident of consistency, I guess. Yeah. But, but that I that's, you know, I would do it again for that very reason.

Todd Cochrane (18:22): Yeah. I think for me too, is authority was one of the first things I was trying to build authority. And then second was my wife forced the monetization piece on me. She wanted me to get monetized and, and really, it was fun. You know, I had a lot of fun doing the show and the action with the audience. So I have always told my audience when it quits being fun. I'm done, but it's so far, it's still fun. I guess that's a rhyme. But

John Jantsch (18:47): So let me ask you what you think about, you know, some other mediums, you know, of advertising has really waned because people have other ways to, you know, to get around it. I mean, to not, you know, all the, all out of the streaming shows and things, now people are paying for that subscription. So do you think podcasting is gonna go that way? The paid model where I pay to subscribe? So I don't, or maybe one of the benefits is so I don't have to listen to ads is that I know there are people out there doing it, but is that, do you see that being the substantial way that people monetize?

Todd Cochrane (19:16): I think it's a key of scale there. I think you have to be big enough to do that because only a small, you know, it's just like clicking on banners, only a percentage. You're gonna click on a banner. So I, you know, if you can get 10% of your audience to convert, to paid and build an audience that could be significant ongoing revenue every month. Yeah. But I think, again, it's a economy of scale. You have to build an audience to be big enough to be able to, I think it's a combination of both is good, you know, and I have played with that model before and for my show, it didn't work. So I have a purely a, you know, an ad driven plus if you feel like it throw me a, you know, throw me a cup of coffee type of thing within the show, but it's a, I think it's really up to the podcaster, what they wanna try.

Todd Cochrane (20:04): But again, I think for the premium to pay a premium with no ads, I think there's several models that would probably work better. Number one, if you're part of a network yeah. And the network does it, and you get a share of that revenue from the network based upon your volume, that could be a potential or number two, again, you decide it's worth your time to put that out. That separate show. Cuz it's what you gotta do. Also if you're on PayPal or not PayPal, if you're on Patreon and you put it on some type of reward, that's maybe an extra episode for a contribution every month, what happens if only five people contribute, then you're locked in to doing work. Yeah. Yeah. So I think it's a lot easier to produce a second show without an ad, but then again, you may have to pay for a service, the managing of it to have people be able access that. So I, it's a way of time and money I think.

John Jantsch (20:54): Yeah. So anything coming for Blubrry that, that you wanna talk about that, that people may not know about yet?

Todd Cochrane (21:01): Well, you know, we just spent two years completely rebuilding the platform. Yeah. And it was getting along in the tooth. So we spent the time during COVID and uh, to really put spit and Polish on it and knock the walls down. And we've added some stuff to our stats that are really knocking peoples socks off and one's called a retention graph or giving them information about when people are dropping out, when they're actively listening to the show. It's been huge so far. Yeah. That to the bigger pieces, what we're really focused on is helping shows grow. It's the thing I keep hearing day in and day out from podcasters is how do I grow? How do I grow? So my team is focused on providing data and analysis stuff that they can look at at a glance that says, okay, here's where I'm slipping or here's where I'm doing well.

Todd Cochrane (21:43): Or this episode did good and why, or this episode had a drop off and you know what happened there. So we're trying to get folks info that they can easily look at without having to be a PhD and data analytics to figure out what's going on. So that's kind of our goal is to help podcasters grow, cuz be honest with you, that's the end game, you know, as well as I do a growing an audience can be a challenge. And it's oftentimes the grind of doing it for a long time. That's right. People are not that patient anymore, you know, and they want quick results, but it's still, you have to, you know, sit in front of the mic and do show after show on a regular basis to really build that big audience. If you're an Oprah, you know, you come with an audience, but if you're, you know, you may be authority in your town or your city, but maybe you're not in the next state. So it's one of those things where you just have to build.

John Jantsch (22:35): So I'm gonna give you the opportunity to once again, spell Blubrry cuz I bet you've done it 6 billion times with that little, with that little quirk.

Todd Cochrane (22:47): Yeah. It's easy. It's Blubrry without the E's cuz we couldn't afford the E's so if you wanna spell blueberry the way you normally would spell a blueberry, you just drop the E's @ blubrry.com.

John Jantsch (23:00): Awesome. Well Todd, it was great having you stop by the, uh, the duct tape marketing podcast in terms of podcasts. You're certainly the podcasting industry. You're a legend in the industry. So it was really great getting to spend some time with you and have you drop by the show and hopefully we'll run into each other one of these days out there on the road.

Todd Cochrane (23:17): Absolutely appreciate it. And congratulations for your 17 years. That's an accomplishment in itself as well.

John Jantsch (23:23): Well, thanks so much.

Todd Cochrane (23:25): Thank you, sir.

John Jantsch (23:25): Hey, and one final thing before you go, you know how I talk about marketing strategy strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It's called the marketing strategy assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co not.com.co check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That's just marketing ssessment.co I'd love to chat with you about the results that you get.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network and Drip.

HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business.

 

Did you know there’s an automated marketing platform that’s 100% designed for your online business? It’s called Drip, and it’s got all the data insights, segmentation savvy, and email and SMS marketing tools you need to connect with customers on a human level, make boatloads of sales, and grow with gusto. Try Drip free for 14 days (no credit card required), and start turning emails into earnings and SMS sends into cha-chings.

How To Harness Your Unfair Advantage

Marketing Podcast with Ash Ali and Hasan Kubba

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Ash Ali and Hasan Kubba. They both are award-winning authors and entrepreneurs. Despite not going to university, Ash became a serial tech founder and the first marketing director of a unicorn startup – Just Eat). Hasan built a successful startup from his bedroom with nothing more than an online course and a yearning to escape the ‘rat race’. They are now international bestselling authors, coaches, and keynote speakers. Their latest book is – The Unfair Advantage: How You Already Have What It Takes to Succeed.

Key Takeaway:

Behind every story of success is an unfair advantage. Your unfair advantage is the element that gives you an edge over your competition. In this episode, I talk with Ash Ali and Hasan Kubba about how to identify your own unfair advantages and apply them to any project in your life. We talk about how to look at yourself and find the ingredients you didn’t realize you already had, to succeed in the cut-throat world of business.

Questions I ask Ash Ali and Hasan Kubba:

  • [1:44] The book starts out with the premise — life is fundamentally unfair.  Could you break that idea down?
  • [3:37] What you would call an unfair advantage that people tend to recognize?
  • [6:46] Would you characterize this book as a business book or a self-help book?
  • [9:43] What are some of the places that are less obvious unfair advantages that people don’t even realize they have?
  • [11:41] Some people are purely lucky, but I would say a lot of entrepreneurs have come to the realization that they make their own luck, and that’s something that is earned as opposed to something that’s an unfair advantage. How would you respond to that notion?
  • [13:52] What are your unfair advantages?
  • [19:13] What do you say to that person that feels that they don’t have an unfair advantage?
  • [22:57] Where can people find out more of the work that you’re doing and grab a copy of the book?

More About Ash Ali and Hasan Kubba:

Take The Marketing Assessment:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the MarTech podcast, hosted by Ben Shapiro and brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network with episodes you can listen to in under 30 minutes, the MarTech podcast shares stories from world class marketers who use technology to generate growth and achieve business and career success all on your lunch break. And if you dig around, you might just find a show by yours. Truly. Ben's a great host. Actually, I would tell you, check out a recent show on blending humans, AI, and automation. Download the MarTech podcast wherever you get your podcast.

John Jantsch (00:50): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jan and my guest today is Ash Ali and Hassan. Kuba gonna, I have two guests today. They're award-winning authors and entrepreneurs, and despite not going to university, Ash became a serial tech founder and the first marketing director of the unicorn startup just eat Hassan built a successful startup from his bedroom with nothing more than an online course and a yearning to escape the rat race. They're now international bestselling authors, coaches and keynote speakers. And we're gonna talk about their latest book, the unfair advantage, how you already have what it takes to succeed. So Ash and Hasan. Welcome.

Hasan Kuba (01:34): Hello. Thank you. Thanks for having us. Hi.

John Jantsch (01:37): Awesome. So the book starts out with this premise and we could probably do the whole show without me asking another question, but here it is, life is fundamentally unfair. Who wants to take that doop of hope?

Hasan Kuba (01:50): I'll take it. I'll take it going. So life is unfair. Yeah, that is the under underlying principle behind cuz that life is not fair. And sometimes when you get into self-development like I did and still, I still enjoy a bit of self-development Mo you know, you learned that, you know, what you got in life is what you deserved. You know, you built the life that you're living now, you designed it. Your decisions led to the moment you're in now and all these kinds of quotes and beliefs and mental models to make you take responsibility for your life, which is a very useful tool, but it's limited because it's not actually that accurate. So one of the ways to look at well, when we talk about this in the book is it's, it's all about mental models. So there's one extreme, which is to think that all success is based on hard work and, you know, merit.

Hasan Kuba (02:37): And the other extreme is to think it's all luck and unearned. And the reality is squarely in the middle, right? There's a lot of serendipity in life. There's a lot of luck of births and genetic lotteries. And there's a lot of things that just happened because you were in the right place at the right time. Yeah. But at the same time, you can, you know, stack the deck in your favor. You can make the right decisions. You can be consistent in how you think and how you behave and the decisions you make to lead towards success. So it's a mixture of both. Life is unfair and ultimately, you know, we're so lucky and we should all be so grateful for everything that we have going for us. And at the same time, we can also exert our own agency on the world. We can also take best on responsibility. We can also take control of our lives to an extent

John Jantsch (03:21): Yeah. Cuz it, it is interesting. I mean, we all know people have had everything handed to them, all the funding, all the backing, all the mentors, all the, you know, whatever. And they've still found a way to piss it away. Haven't they . So it really is kind of that combination.

Hasan Kuba (03:35): Exactly.

John Jantsch (03:37): So, so let's maybe start out by defining, um, what an unfair, maybe some examples of what you would call an unfair advantage that people tend to recognize.

Ash Ali (03:49): Yeah. So I mean, an unfair advantage is something that's unique to you based on your circumstances and also based on your background and who you are as an individual. There's so many books out there that talk about strengths. But what we do is talk about your strength, but also about yourself as an individual, as a unique person. So we talk about, you know, life is unfair and it's not a level playing field, but sometimes when life is unfair and it's not a level playing field, some people can grow up with a victim mindset and a victim type of thinking, say, I didn't have this, I didn't have that. But actually what we say in the book is actually, how do you turn that around? How do you make that stuff that you, you felt was unfair growing up in poverty or growing up in an area that wasn't great.

Ash Ali (04:29): How can you turn that around and make it part of your authentic story and use it to an advantage? So an example for me would be, I grew up with little money and when I start companies now, and I know a lot of listeners are listening here who will run small businesses when you don't have a huge amount of money for marketing budgets, for example, I'm the perfect person to come in and work with you because I know how to be resourceful cause I had no money. Right. So my mindset is always based around being resourceful. That's just an example of something that you could use, uh,

John Jantsch (04:56): Straight. But again, I, you know, to the flip side of that, I guess we all know people who had everything and should have made it, you know, there, we, we all probably know at least somebody, or at least you've read their story of somebody that sh never should have you know, like you said, they didn't have the education, they didn't have the backing, they didn't have the money. They didn't really have seemingly you know, didn't seem that smart, you know, mm-hmm but you know, they've, they've made themselves successful the way we defined that. So, you know, what are, you know, I guess to Hasan's original point, it's kind of somewhere in the middle, isn't it?

Ash Ali (05:30): It is somewhere in the middle. It's interesting because you know, like I've got a daughter now who's growing up in privilege and I look at her and I look at my life and think, okay, you know, does she have the fire in the belly? And what can we do to help her have the same mentality of working hard and trying to achieve things in life? And one of the things I found was that interestingly is that constraint does kind of foster creativity. And if you just live, give everything to your children, for example, straight away, then they're not gonna, um, uh, feel grateful for it straight away. And unless they've worked for it. So con sometimes having constraints, uh, does make you more resourceful, more creative. And that's just an example of something. We live in an abundant world now where everything is available quickly, you can audio takeaway quickly, you can order your cab quickly. And, you know, they're growing up in a different environment compared to us where we had to wait for something, but we had to have some patience around something. So it's understanding what constraint is and how to manage that, I suppose.

John Jantsch (06:27): Yeah. I, I, of course it's so cliche now, but you know, I like to tell even 30 year olds, you know, about, uh, dialup, um, internet and, uh, yeah. Things of that nature. Can you, you imagine that now, you know, it might take 10 minutes and we had to take turns who could use it right. Only one person could be on at a time and pretty crazy. So I think what would you classify or would you characterize this book as a business book or a self-help book?

Hasan Kuba (06:53): Yeah. Good question. It really is in the middle because what we've done with our book is we've. So the origin of the book let's get into the origin. We did this book because we were getting pitched by loads of startup for funding. And it was just like shock tank, essentially. That'd come in and, and pitch us. And we thought, what is the difference that makes the difference here? You know, when we confirm we ourselves, we're like, what is it with some people that we're like, you know, even if we didn't believe in them, they're not gonna close out their funding ground. Nobody else is gonna believe in them. And they're gonna really struggle here. And what is that difference? And we started thinking about this and really diving into it. And we decided to write this down. This idea of the unfair advantage is essentially a sustainable competitive advantage for a big business.

Hasan Kuba (07:35): It's kind of the type of thing Warren buffet talks about in value investing. You want a business that has the economic modes, the defense ability that it's gonna sustain. And it's the same thing for individuals because at that early stage of a business, when you don't yet have a product, even sometimes when you don't yet have, um, customers, you don't yet have traction in sales, how are you gonna judge it? Well, you're gonna judge it by the team, by the co-founders. And when you're judging it by the co-founders that's when you have to try and decide, okay, what have they got going for themselves? What do they have? That's gonna allow them to push through, do they have a track record? Do they have something that gives you the idea that they'll be able to get into this? Do they have the unfair advantages? Yeah.

Hasan Kuba (08:15): And essentially that was the idea behind the book. And that's what made us think about like how we can help people to gain that kind of self awareness. Yeah. To know what kind of business to go for, to know what kind of strategy to go for. Should you raise funding? Should you bootstrap? Who should you partner with? These are the kind of decisions we wanted to help people with at that early stage. So we're just bringing it back to the individual. So that's why it's in between a business book and a self development. Cause it's about the early stages of a startup. Yeah.

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John Jantsch (09:27): So I think there are some unfair advantages that, that are pretty obvious that people could identify. But if I'm out there listening, you know, what are some of the, what are just some of the places that you go looking? I know you have a framework, you call the miles framework so we can kind of go, you know, letter by letter for the acronym. Uh, but, but what are some of the places maybe that are less obvious that you've said, Hey, you know, these are unfair advantages that people don't even realize they have.

Ash Ali (09:53): Yeah. So the miles framework is, uh, it stands for money, intelligence, location, and luck, education, and expertise and status. And it sits on top of mindset. And we talked earlier about why it's important for people to understand their unfair advantage in the context of business, because business is all about people. And most investors invest in small startups and early stage startups because of the people not because of the idea itself, it's the founders themselves. Yeah. And so if you can identify your unfair advantages and then amplify those in your pitch, in your message to hiring people to your cus or getting customers, it will help you get your early traction, which is what starts a business. So coming back to the miles framework, it's about understanding within each one of those miles frameworks in each one of those acronym letters, what you have, that's going for you.

Ash Ali (10:42): Right? And one of the big ones is insight. For example, when you're starting a company, right? If you have insight into something that nobody else has, and you are starting a business around, that's a very powerful, unfair advantage. And there's so many case studies in our book around that, um, about specific insights around that another one is being in the right place at the right time, right. The location. And look, you know, if, can you find the right co-founder, can you find the right, um, uh, customers who are close to you potentially who can, who can become customers straight away status is another one, you know, your network. And here, you know, when you are starting a business, if you know how to raise money quickly, and you have a network, that's an unfair advantage. And if you need to go out to the market to raise money from ground zero and have nobody, no network, it's much harder to do much harder to do. Right. And we know how that's, how investment generally works. So there's lots of little examples in different places for different types of projects or businesses. It depends where you wanna apply the framework itself, whether it's a project, whether it's your career, whether it's a business itself.

John Jantsch (11:41): Yeah. Let me, I wanna come back to insight in a minute and have you share some examples, uh, to, to help clarify that one, but let's talk about luck. Some people, some, some people are purely lucky. I mean, they run into luck in your right place, right time, like you said, but I would say a lot of entrepreneurs have come to the realization that they make their own luck and that, that that's almost something that's earned as opposed to something that's an unfair advantage. How would you respond to that? A notion?

Hasan Kuba (12:09): I, I totally believe in making your own luck as well. So we talk about luck and we talk about the fact that it's overlooked and luck exists. Hey, luck does exist. Talent does exist. You know, that all these books has become trendy to say, there's no such thing as talent, just work super hard and get the 10,000 hours in. And, and that will be that's enough. These things exist tiger woods, or was like, could swing a, could swing a golf, could swing a club before he could walk. Like, these are the kinds of things that, that is, is like pure talent. Oprah Winfrey was like giving speeches to whole congregations at church when she was three years old making. So these things exist, but making your luck also definitely exists. Yeah. We talk in the book about how you can actually increase your luck. There have been some psychologists who've studied the phenomenon of people who think of themselves as lucky versus people who don't and how the fact that they think of themselves as lucky just makes them more proactive, makes them more observant to opportunities that come up and it's been literally proven in studies.

Hasan Kuba (13:06): So it's quite interesting that you can make your own luck. We say, put yourself out there more. Yeah. Increase your surface area to luck and maybe more lucky things will happen. So it's essentially like rolling the dice. Just keep rolling it. No, one's counting how many you're throwing the dice. How many times you're throwing the dice. If you keep rolling, you're more likely to roll the double six.

John Jantsch (13:23): Yeah. I actually, I started my blog in 2003 that I talk about being in the right place at the right time. That was luck to spot that technology. But also it, you know, it led to my first book four years later, but that point I had also written a thousand blog posts. So , you know, I always talk about really, that was a lucky decision on my part to go that route. But then I, I do think, you know, you, you have to, you, you can also then turn that luck into something that is very fruitful.

Ash Ali (13:50): Yeah,

Hasan Kuba (13:51): Absolutely.

John Jantsch (13:52): So what's your unfair advantages. Yeah. I'll let you both answer that one. Go on. Cause I, for example, as you mentioned, you didn't go to college, so we're,

Ash Ali (14:04): I'll

John Jantsch (14:04): Stop the college degree from Oxford off the table, right.

Ash Ali (14:07): yeah. That is, that can be an unfair advantage if you know how to use it. Some people don't know how to use that as well. You know, we see people coming to us and like, oh yeah, I went to caught Oxford in Cambridge or wherever, and it's just pass a it's normal for them. But actually that could be an unfair advantage if you know how to use it properly, an unfair advantage. You know, there's several different things with strength. There can be double edged swords as we call them. Right. So having something and not having something. And we talk about constraint earlier on, I'll go through it from my perspective, which is kind of like the double edged sword version of it and how someone will go through it from his perspective. So from my perspective, I had no money growing up. So now when I'm building startups, I'm really shrewd and very lean and I can build things very quickly and I'm very resourceful.

Ash Ali (14:47): And, and actually what it does has done to me has made me more creative. So one of my high skills is creativity, um, intelligence, um, and insight. I have lots of insights with businesses because I'm doing things all the time. I'm always taking action. So I'm seeing opportunities and getting insights and different things and intelligence, there's different types of intelligence. You know, a lot of people said to me, Ash, you're really cool. You're the glue amongst your friends. So I'm good at bringing people together and doing things together, which is cool. And I like to be, I don't like to be the smartest person in the room. You know, I'd rather not be the most intelligent person in the room, but I can learn from other people quickly. So as well as that's the, the eye side location and luck, you know, I was born in Birmingham, which is like the second biggest city in the UK and automotive retail industry kind of community.

Ash Ali (15:27): And the tech industry was booming in London. So I moved to London at the age of 19. If I didn't move, I wouldn't have had the same opportunities. Wouldn't have been able to join companies like just eat and do the IPO and luck the IPO, you know, how many companies, IPO for and view between it once again. And there's the luck factor behind that and the right timing of that. And then seeing how that would work out, education excluded. I didn't go to university, so I didn't feel entitled, you know? So that's what made, that's why I kind of did everything in anything. And I built my expertise up in deal to market. So I was, and the time when everyone wanted to know how to do SEO and online marketing, I was there. And in status, you know, like a, you know, and your role ATEX of contacts, you know, like, I didn't know many people, but now I know lots of people. So if I need to do anything now, for example, I can open my black book of contacts, LinkedIn network connections, and make things happen because of my status of having connections that I've built up over time. Yeah. So that's become an unfair advantage.

John Jantsch (16:17): What's interesting, as you said, you know, the degree from a prestigious school used to really mean a lot. It feels like in the, particularly in the entrepreneurial space, it's more about what were you doing for your summer job? , you know, than what degree you got or your side hustle or whatever. It seems to actually hold more weight than, than, you know, college. And I think a lot of it's because people realize college is great for making connections, what they teach in a lot of like a marketing course in college will have very little application to what it's like to market in the real world. And so that, you know, that education, the actual learning classroom education is probably not that valuable.

Ash Ali (16:56): Yeah. I mean, if you want to learn,

John Jantsch (16:57): So, so Hassan, how

Ash Ali (16:59): Then the fastest way to learn is reading blogs like yours, John. And if you wanna learn about marketing, you can learn a lot more from reading blogs and marketing books can get old very quickly. Right? What happened, you know, some time ago, timing wise might not work now. So it's keeping fresh and, uh, up to date with knowledge, I think that's really important. And we talk about this in a book about this there's three aspects of university, but I'll let, has Sam talk about a miles favorite from his side and what his advantages are.

Hasan Kuba (17:25): Yeah, yeah. So, so for me, look, so it, it's easier to simplify to what is your unfair advantage? Well, the reality is we'll have a set of unfair advantages and a unique set of them. And that's why Ash goes through so many well, you know, for Ash, I would definitely say his creativity is, is just one of the top things about him and the fact that he just gives things a go, he just goes for it. So for me, I would say that it's my ability to learn really fast. So I think I have that kind of the intelligence where I pick things up fast and then I'm able to communicate them. So one thing that really helped me to get my initial clients and start to develop and get referrals is the ability to build rapport and build trust very quickly. So I think that's partly just from my ability to absorb information and knowledge in a space that's so new and like something, I was one of the main things I was doing was SEO.

Hasan Kuba (18:15): I was doing branding and website stuff, but SEO and getting people to the top of Google was, was huge. And so the fact that I was able to explain it to local businesses, built connections with them, build trust. I think that massively helped me. So that was huge for me. And then you can go further back and just say, listen, I was born in Baghdad, Iraq. And I came to the UK in London when I was three years old with my family to escape the war and all of that. So I, my unfair advantage is we moved to, to the UK when I was a baby. And I grew up here in London. If you imagine, if I'd come when I was 20 years old and I'd have the thickest accent and I'd have so much difficulty in terms of just how I come across the status side of it in terms of building rapport, building trust. So this is so lucky. So you can kind of go into the genetic lottery of it all you can go into where you grew up and what kind of schools you went to. You can go into your ability to skill, skill stack, and build your skills and expertise and learn things quickly. So I think that learning side is kind of the massive piece for me.

John Jantsch (19:13): So, so I suspect as you've both gone out there and maybe given talks on this or, or webinar done webinars on this that, that, you know, ultimately somebody comes to you and says, look, this is great, but I don't have any unfair advantages. You know, what do you say to that person that that feels, especially since mindset really sits on top of this, what do you say to that person that, that has that mindset?

Hasan Kuba (19:38): So I would say that essentially this idea and ashes touched on this idea of double edged swords. What you think is a disadvantage. You can turn into an advantage and I'll give you an easy one. So we have a few examples in the book of people who had a, kind of a classic disadvantage. So a classic disadvantage is a woman entrepreneur, right? So a woman founder, the example of Sarah Blakely, founder of spans mm-hmm . Now, if you think about it, what was her unfair advantage? Okay, well, it was tough. She had no idea about how to raise funding. Nobody would believe in her. She had no connections in that space, et cetera, but what did she have? She had an amazing insight into a problem based on her status as a woman, which is that this idea of like shape wear and, and spanks turned out to be spanks.

Hasan Kuba (20:24): She would cut off the feet off tights. Like, man, wouldn't have come up with that. wouldn't have had that insight the same with Tristan Walker. Who's another example in the book, he's a, he grew up in the projects in, I think he was the Bronx maybe, or if I'm remembering correctly, Queens actually Queens in New York and really poor. His dad was murdered when he was young, but Hey, he was smart. He got scholarships. He got into good schools. He spent a long time thinking about what his big idea is in the end. His insight was that black men need a different shaving system than other people do because they have more ingrown hairs. And so he developed this single blade, shaving system. He used different rappers who also from his location. So the rapper NAS grew up also in Queens and then he promoted his brand.

Hasan Kuba (21:09): And then eventually he was acquired by Proctor and gamble for 30 million. So it's like, what seems like a disadvantage you can use to your advantage. If you grew up poor, then you have an insight into how poor people live. What, what needs they have, what mass market products you might be able to create, let's say, or if you grew up as whatever, like you grew up from another country or you're learning languages, or you're, there's all these different aspects to everything. So it's all about your mindset. If you have a growth mindset and we call it, we talk about in the book, the growth, uh, the reality growth mindset, because we wanna root it in some real reality, then you can grow and you can turn what seems like a disadvantage into an advantage. And listen, if you're listening to this podcast, if you're able to read this book, you probably have a lot to be grateful for. So you just need to kind of do a sort of an audit and gratitude is one of the underlying themes of our book.

John Jantsch (21:59): Yeah. And it's interesting too, because as we grow up, a lot of the things that drive our parents are teachers crazy, you know, ultimately come out as an advantage. You know, we were told they were a negative, for example, I, you know, I, my parents used to always joke about how curious I was and always getting into things because I had to teachers, same thing, you know, I was told for a long time that that was a problem that has served me extremely well in my professional life. And I think that's, uh, sometimes we just have to overcome, you know, the, what, what society has told us is a negative don't we?

Ash Ali (22:29): Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. When people focus on your weaknesses more than your strengths, that's when you start to misunderstand really what your unfair advantage is because we've all got strengths. And what we, the idea of the premise for the book is to double down on your strengths rather than focus too much on your weaknesses and then plug those gaps where you can appropriately and understand that we work in teams and people is about businesses, about people. So it's not just about you as an individual.

John Jantsch (22:55): Yeah. So, so Ash, uh, Hassan where tell people where they can find more of you more of the work you're doing, and obviously grab a copy of the unfair advantage.

Hasan Kuba (23:05): Yeah. We're all, all over social media. So I'm at startup Hassan. Uh, Hassan is spelled with one S and Ash is, is it Ash Ali, UK Ash, for most of your socials, you can find us. And our website is the unfair academy.com.

John Jantsch (23:20): Awesome. And the book is, will be available in, I don't believe there's an audio version. Is there, there,

Hasan Kuba (23:25): There is.

John Jantsch (23:26): Yeah, there is. Okay. So an audio and then, uh, in E ebook format, as well as, uh, hard cover and available, depending upon when you're listening to this available, everywhere that you buy books.

Hasan Kuba (23:37): Yeah. It's available now, cuz it's at the time of recording, it'll be released tomorrow. So it'll be available by the time

John Jantsch (23:41): It comes up. And I should have mentioned this, but the book has been awarded. I don't have it written here. Tell me the best business book in the UK in 2021 or something, you could do it better than I just did. Tell me, tell me what the award was.

Hasan Kuba (23:55): So, so we were surprised and happy to learn that we'd won our category of the startup category of the business book awards. Yeah. And then it was like 12 different categories and then it turned out we'd won the whole thing as well, over all the categories. So we'd won the business book of the year 2021. It was actually it's based in the UK, but it's an international award as well. The only country that the book hasn hasn't come out yet until now is in the us and Canada in north America. So yeah, it's done really well. It's really popular on good reads. It's on YouTube. It a lot viral videos on YouTubes took summarizing it. So if you want to check it out a bit further, you can see some summaries on YouTube. You read all the reviews it's it's doing it's thankfully it's spreading by word of mouth. Cause people are loving it. Yeah.

John Jantsch (24:39): Awesome. Well, thanks so much for stopping by the, the duct tape marketing podcast. And hopefully we'll run into you both somewhere out there on the road.

Hasan Kuba (24:46): Thank you, Joe. Thank you, John. I'm big fans of duct tech marketing by the way.

John Jantsch (24:49): Appreciate that. Thanks so much. Hey, and one final thing before you go, you know how I talk about marketing strategy strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It's called the marketing strategy assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co not.com.co check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That's just marketing assessment.co I'd love to chat with you about the results that you get.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network and Drip.

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The Adventures Of The World’s Greatest Negotiator

Marketing Podcast with Rich Cohen

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Rich Cohen. Rich is the New York Times-bestselling author of several books such as Tough Jews, Monsters, and Sweet and Low. He is the co-creator of the HBO series Vinyl, and a contributing editor at Rolling Stone. Rich has a new book called – The Adventures of Herbie Cohen: World’s Greatest Negotiator.

Key Takeaway:

Herbie Cohen is known for many things like – being the World’s Greatest Negotiator, dealmaker, risk-taker, adviser to presidents and corporations, hostage and arms negotiator, lesson giver and justice seeker, author of the how-to business classic You Can Negotiate Anything, and of course, Rich Cohen’s father. In this episode, I talk with Rich Cohen about his latest book that honors his dad and the biggest lessons he’s shared with him throughout his life – The Adventures of Herbie Cohen: World’s Greatest Negotiator.

Questions I ask Rich Cohen:

  • [1:35] Your father was probably best known as the author of ‘You Can Negotiate Anything’. Would you say that’s why you’re a writer?
  • [2:19] You’ve written about a lot of topics – why write about this topic now?
  • [3:17] Some of the stories in the book were from the ’50s and ’60s – how did you collect these stories in such detail?
  • [4:33] So were you a Dodgers fan then?
  • [5:32] I’m going to go down a rabbit hole here – what’s your favorite baseball book?
  • [6:30] Have you written for TV at all?
  • [7:55] So who were some of his contemporaries in that space?
  • [9:40] My audience is primarily business owners and marketers. So what’s the business application of this book in your mind?
  • [12:01] If somebody were to come to you and ask you to list out five or six key negotiation lessons, what would those be?
  • [15:08] Would you say there is one or two of your favorite stories you’ve told them a hundred times and people still want to come back to them?
  • [18:11] You’ve mentioned Larry King a number of times, did he go to school with your dad?
  • [21:02] Where can people connect with you and get a copy of your book?

More About Rich Cohen:

Take The Marketing Assessment:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the MarTech podcast, hosted by Ben Shapiro and brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network with episodes you can listen to in under 30 minutes, the MarTech podcast shares stories from world class marketers who use technology to generate growth and achieve business and career success all on your lunch break. And if you dig around, you might just find a show by yours. Truly. Ben's a great host. Actually, I would tell you, check out a recent show on blending humans, AI, and automation. Download the MarTech podcast wherever you get your.

John Jantsch (00:41): podcast. Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Rich Cohen. He is a New York times bestselling author of numerous books, including tough Jews monsters, the Chicago Cubs and peewees. Just to name a few, he's a co-creator of the HBO series vinyl and a contributing editor at rolling stone. We're gonna talk about his new book today. The adventures of herbi Cohen, the world's greatest negotiators. So rich, welcome to the show.

Rich Cohen (01:21): Ah, thanks for having me.

John Jantsch (01:23): So, so you are a writer. Um, you've written, I, I, my intro didn't do justice. It would've taken a long time to list all, all of your books and all of your contributions, this latest book about your father. He was probably best known as, as also an author of the how-to classic. You can negotiate anything. Is, is that why you're a writer?

Rich Cohen (01:42): Probably. I mean, the, the main thing, my father, isn't really a writer. He's really a storyteller and kind of a philosopher and a business kind of guy, but storytelling was always a big thing with him and in my family and sort of to keep everybody's attention. You had to tell basically a funny story. So I remember when I first got outta college, I got this job at the new Yorker almost by luck. And there was a story that the, the bio was that the writer is somebody who here who thinks being funny is more important than anything, even warm human relationships. And I realized this is a place for me.

John Jantsch (02:19): so, so you've written all about a lot of topics. Why, why now? Right about this topic?

Rich Cohen (02:25): Well, I always write about my father, tough Jew starts with my father and his friend sitting around a diner in Beverly Hills, talking about Jewish gangsters and peewees, which is my life as a youth hockey parent, losing my mind. I started with a epigraph for my father, which is from you can negotiate anything at a big part of this new book, which is the secret to life is to care, but not that much. So I think my father's philosophy and his general outlook is a big part of my life. And a couple years ago, I was writing a story for audible, Amazon. Mm-hmm, just something about him. And it felt so natural and so fun to write about him, that I just thought, this is what I should be doing. And this is probably what I should have been doing all along.

John Jantsch (03:07): So, as I read some of the stories, I mean, it was really as though you were there, but some of these stories were from the, like the fifties and sixties, you were not there. probably in some of the war stories and things. How did you collect these stories in such detail?

Rich Cohen (03:21): Well, the stories about Bensonhurst and his gang, the warriors and Larry King and Sandy Cofax and all those guys, right? That was like my mythology. I grew up with that, like instead of Bible stories and there was always lessons in him. And when I was a kid, Larry King had this incredible radio show on every night from midnight to 5:00 AM. And he would tell, I would lie in bed at night and he would tell these stories and then I'd meet him and I'd ask him about 'em. That's how I got those stories in the army. A lot of the stories about my dad's time, coaching basketball, right. And he actually saved the reporting, cuz it was, he was coached the league that consisted of guys who were division one college basketball players. Who'd been drafted into the army during the Korean war. And my father saved all the coverage from stars and strikes mm-hmm , which had a lot of photos of these games. Yeah. And it was, you know, very romantic to me to see it, but was interesting. When I looked at how my father was very successful, coaching basketball, it's just the same exact way he conducted himself in negotiation, which is, he always tried to sort of do something unusual, control the timing, you know, control the floor. It was interesting cuz you see this one through line that goes from the time he's 10, 11 years old in Brooklyn, all the way till now.

John Jantsch (04:34): So, so were you a Dodgers fan then?

Rich Cohen (04:36): I was a Cubs fan. I grew up in Chicago and it's a very funny thing where my father playing sort of says he was a Dodgers fan. He grew up in Brooklyn. He was really a Yankees fan. And he says, the reason he was a Yankees fan is the first game he ever went to. The first in person was babe Ruth Day, which is when he was like 11 years old at Yankee stadium when babe Ruth was dying of cancer. And um, my father took me to my first game, which was Wrigley field, which he loved because he said he reminded him of evets field. Yeah. Was after the game where the Cubs had a big lead and then the Cincinnati reds came back from behind and crushed him. He said, I wanna tell you something I'm being very serious right now. Don't be a Cubs fan. A Cubs fan will have a bad life. Cubs fan will accept losing as the natural state of affairs in the world. Do yourself. He a favorite.

John Jantsch (05:23): He was a prophet in other words.

Rich Cohen (05:25): Yeah. But then they won in 2016. So it did happen. Finally. I just had to wait till I was 50 years old.

John Jantsch (05:31): So what's your, I've got to go down a rabbit to hold here. What's your favorite baseball book?

Rich Cohen (05:36): My favorite baseball book. There's this book called? I think the glory of their times. You know that book. I don't my shelf cuz I know that I have it. There's a lot of great. I like the Roger Conn book, the boys of summer. I like all summer.

John Jantsch (05:47): I've got boys of summer written down here cuz I frankly, I, I assumed that was gonna be a Dodge. This

Rich Cohen (05:52): Book, the glory of their times is an oral history of guys that played early. Yeah. Like in the dead ball era and their lives are so wild, you know, like they would jump a freight train to get the spring training and stuff. And that is a unique book.

John Jantsch (06:05): Joe, are you familiar? Joe PO Naski the, the writer sports illustrator I think is his last gig, but he he's got a book called the baseball 100 and he covers a lot of those guys and it, they are some pretty neat stories,

Rich Cohen (06:15): But see it's so Brooklyn stories and my dad, all of it seems like it was like Paul bunion stories. It happened. Right. in such an exotic different time. Yeah. Yeah. When there was the big baseball team in Chicago was in rock, was in Rockford. I think, you know where the first pro it's just interesting.

John Jantsch (06:30): So, so do you write for TV at all? Or have you?

Rich Cohen (06:34): I have.

John Jantsch (06:35): And the reason I, uh, say that is because the book kind of reads like episodes of a sitcom I think would make a great sitcom

Rich Cohen (06:43): Originally cuz my father has all these great stories. Yeah. And originally I just wanted to do it like a hundred chapters. Each one is separate scenes. But then as I started to write them, I realized there was actually a bigger story, which is a story of his life. Yeah. But so I did see it originally episodically and kind of funny with his lessons. Right. Cause my father, when he'd tells stories far follows a very ASOP fables like structure, which is question story moral, you know? So, but then I realize his life is the big story. So I always think of when I write it's like, I dunno if you know those Chuck close paintings or all these made up of little tiny pictures, but when you step back all the little pictures that up to one big picture, that's kind of what the effect I'm going for.

John Jantsch (07:25): Your parents owned a business. Is that right? They were entrepreneurs as

Rich Cohen (07:28): Well. They owned my father's business. My, the business was my father with power negotiations. My, my father's the guy who sort of popularized win-win I believe which he'd taken from game theory where he, he taught at the university of Michigan and he worked on game theory. And, but my mother came up with the company logo, which was, I can't do it cuz I'm one person buts, two people shaking hands at their thumbs like that. Yeah. Yeah. So it was a little cheesy, but very effective, a little cheesy goes a long way in America. It's good.

John Jantsch (07:55): So, so who were some of his contemporaries then in that space? Zig Zigler or somebody and was in that space, right? Yeah.

Rich Cohen (08:05): But the, the people, I remember the people who were around when like one of the things he did was he worked for the FBI. He trained their people and he, and he, sorry, there's like, I can just hear my kids just got home from school. There's a whole hub up. He trained their people and there was a guy named Walt sire and together they created the behavioral sciences unit because his whole thing was, he used to quote this thing from Arthur Miller to understand the price. You have to understand the player. And if you're negotiating with somebody and you don't know what is valuable to them or what they're like, you can't really offer them something or pressure them with something that's valuable. Now he's really, as far as marketing goes, he's like, he always said to me, that life is 90% marketing always said that to me. And he always said that he'd rather have a piece of crap product

Rich Cohen (08:55): With a genius to sell it. Then a masterpiece with an idiot selling it. and that's something I always remember, you know? So, and he taught me little things. I think he taught like a little lesson. He taught me, which I think is kind of like marketing and is I would turn papers in at school. And I would say to the teacher always, and my father found this. I don't think this is very good. You're probably gonna hate it. But here it is. And I'd get a bad grade. And my father said, no, people are very suggestible. You say, I think this is great. It's a work genius. You're gonna love it. And you get a good grade so that's like a little thing that he taught me that I live by all the time.

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John Jantsch (09:32): So if somebody, I mean, because obviously the subtitle world's greatest negotiator hints at some business advice, my audience is primarily business owners, marketers. So what would be your pitch to them of, you know, what's the business application? Because again, it, this book is very entertaining. it? The stories are great. You're a great storyteller or retailer, but what's the flat out business application in

Rich Cohen (09:57): Your mind? Well, my father really worked in the business world. You know, he started out at Sears, he's the executive suite of Sears and he was a advisor mostly to fortune 500 companies and trained their executives and negotiated their deals. And he has a philosophy of business, which is summed up by the secret to successes to care. But not that much approaching life is a game remaining, detached, not becoming fixated on a particular outcome, looking for a win-win deal. Not because it makes you a better person, but as he would say, people will support something that they're part of creating. So you want to bring people in and create solutions together. But his whole training of me was about business. So like my grandfather, on the other side, my grandpa Ben Eisenstadt invented the sugar packet and then invented sweet and low, which is still a privately owned company.

Rich Cohen (10:46): He created out of his diner in Brooklyn and I saw the whole life of that business. So I feel like all my books are in away business books, all of them. So like this is a new book. Like one of my more successful books has been, was the fish that ate the whale about this guy, Samuel Zim Murray, who took over United fruit, started out as a fruit Petr. And I wrote a book about chess records, which was, you know, these are all guys that live kind of, by the way, my father believed, which is give the market something, it doesn't know. It wants, you know, fill in niche that you don't even know exists as, uh, what chess records did, which invented rock and roll is first you, uh, invent the product and then you invent the market, you know, so, and I really saw with sweet and low cause you saw it in the pharmaceutical industry, which is first invent the pharmaceutical and then figure out what you can possibly sell it to cure. And one of my favorite stories, I always tell my kids is the, uh, history of Viagra because it's such a backwards way to come up with a product. But, you know, so I felt like I always kind of understood that about building a business and what happens mostly because I lived through that with my father and read all this stuff.

John Jantsch (11:53): So if somebody were gonna say, there are, there are many books on negotiation, this is, uh, probably the, the most unique one. Well, one of the more unique ones on negotiation, if, if somebody were going to come to you and say, you know, list out five or six, you know, key negotiation lessons, what would those be from the book?

Rich Cohen (12:10): From my book?

John Jantsch (12:11): Yeah.

Rich Cohen (12:12): Uh, okay. The first is approach an every negotiation like it's a game and the, the key is to care, but not that much. Second is don't. My father is always worst person to negotiate for is yourself because you care too much. Don't become emotionally involved. It's not personal. Yeah. It doesn't matter. Okay. Another is, don't become fixated on a particular outcome. People have a single goal in mind and try to reach that goal, but things change and you might come out with something different or something better. Two is try to make your opponent part of the solution because people will support things that they create. You see that in Congress where you get these 50 to zero votes and the thing falls apart because half the people in power are against it and want it to fail. You have to want both sides to want it to succeed.

John Jantsch (13:05): It's an interesting example to bring up though, because it feels like it doesn't really matter anymore in that they, you know, that maybe what people are fixated on is win, lose rather than, uh, win, win.

Rich Cohen (13:17): Well, the thing, one thing that my father said is he was supposed to write a second book and my mom would say, you've already missed a deadline. and he'd go, when what happened? And she goes nothing. Then he goes, then that really isn't a deadline. and that's like a big thing about his, which is I used to quote Jimmy Walker. Who'd been the mayor of New York, like in the twenties, who said, as long as you get there before it's over, you're not late.

Rich Cohen (13:38): you know, so basically this idea that there are these certain rules that are arbitrarily created. And one thing he said almost says like a mathematical formula is things that are, the product of a negotiation are negotiable. So people get very intimidated by authority and they think they can't negotiate something. As he would say about the sticker price in Sears, it looks like it was put there by God. So you can't question it when you realize it's just a few people in a room randomly selecting this price almost you realize itself was ran, was negotiated so you can negotiate it. And one of his key lessons I stupidly left out when I gave you my list was one of his big things is realizing that you have power when dealing with what seemed like more powerful people or institutions. And he always said power is based on perception. If you think you got it, even if you don't got it. And that's the key to his whole thing, which is people have power. You can always make a move. There's always another decision to make. And like he said, as long as you get there before it's over, you're not late. Some can still be salvaged and done. And he saw all that, like, you know, a game.

John Jantsch (14:48): So , I'm trying to, well, I guess I was gonna ask you this. People ask me this I've write books too. People ask me this all the time. I wrote a book that had 366 separate stories. So, you know, the logical question always was, what's your favorite? Yours? I lose track of what are you? 50, 60? How many? 57, 58 what's would you say there's one or two that are you that really are your favorite stories that people you've told 'em a hundred times and, and people still want to come back to them.

Rich Cohen (15:17): Well, I'll have to, I'll tell you two very quickly. One is a famous story, which is the Moo story, which Larry King claimed was when my father learned to negotiate, which is a kid that they went to school with had gone to Arizona, cuz he had tuberculosis mm-hmm and the cousin was supposed to shut down the house, go to the school and get his records, transferred for a school in Arizona. And my father said, you don't have to go to the school to the cousin. They were gonna walk this kid. His name is Mao. He said, uh, we will tell the school, save you a trip. And then my father said, I got a great idea of how to make some money and we can go to coing island and celebrate. Instead of saying MAOS in Arizona, it would say, ma is dead. collect money for his funeral w reefa.

Rich Cohen (15:57): And it was a whole long story. But ultimately in the end, after a year, I just say that it ends up with a giant fiasco, with a bunch of sitting there for the Gill Mermelstein Mao's real name, Memorial award. The first winner of which is my father, Larry and another guy. And Mao comes back to school that day. And my father jumps up on stage and yells go home Mao, you're dead. You're dead. Mao go home. And they sit with the principal and the principal says you're suspended. You're expelled. You're done. And my father goes, hold on, you're being a little hasty here. Cuz he looked at it from his side. He said, you're right. What we did was horrible and we're expelled and we're done. But if you go through it, this like you're planning to, we're not gonna go to school anymore, but you're never gonna work in New York city again. And he explained to him what would happen to him and why it wasn't in his interest to expel them from school. And that was when he was in eighth grade. My father and Larry always said that was when he became a negotiator. And the other second story I'm telling him very quick, here is no

John Jantsch (16:56): That's good.

Rich Cohen (16:57): One thing my father believes in is the difference between the what and the how, right? That's a big thing in his life, which is there's what you do or what you say and how you do or how you say it. We used to go to this terrible restaurant all the time in the town I grew up in and finally said, why do we go to the worst restaurant in town? He goes because they always give us the booth. That's a difference between the what and the how. And when I was a kid, my father took me to buy my first used car and he wanted to show me how to negotiate. He created this big list of criteria of the car we should get. And the car he decided I should get was a Toyota Corolla with 70,000 miles or less on it. That's the car he thought I should afford and I should buy.

Rich Cohen (17:37): So he looked and we finally found this car and I said, this is it. This is the car. And he said, no, no, I don't like this car. And I said, what are you talking about? It meets all your criteria. And he goes, did you see all the writing and on the car, on the driver's side and cursive, it said Barry. And on the drive and on the passenger side, it said Billy, and on the hood of the car, it said, Chuck, that was like the name of the car itself. And I said, so what we'll have it repainted. He said, you're missing the point a schmuck own this car. and that was the what and a half.

John Jantsch (18:10): So, so you've mentioned Larry King a number of times. And were they, did they go to school together? Is that where they met?

Rich Cohen (18:17): They met together. They, yeah, Larry's father died. Larry was like a, in my light, like an, an uncle almost Larry's father died when he was a kid in a heart attack. And Larry kind of grew up at my parents, my grandparents' house and Larry and my father first met when they were nine. I think they both got in trouble at school and they were assigned to be crossing guards and they were together. And my father said, Larry said, this is a terrible job. It's a waste of time. They don't need a crossing guard here. My father said, I disagree. This job has a lot of power and importance. This is like, if you think you got power, you got it. And they argued. And my father to prove his point took the stop sign that you held, went out and just stopped traffic for like five minutes. There was instantly a huge giant traffic jam in Benson or Brooklyn fights breaking out on the sidewalks car talking. And they said they had their sash ceremony ripped off their jackets, but that's their meeting and then they were, you know, they remained, Larry was a big part of my life from I, I worked for his show, used to work for his show was, you know, very interesting.

John Jantsch (19:19): I, I bring that up primarily, uh, because it, I knew it would've, Elit a good story, but also to talk about the acknowledgement for Ellen Cohen, who never understand Larry ,

Rich Cohen (19:29): That's one of my, my father's problems with this book. He thought I should not have done it that way. but the fact is, uh, Larry's a big part of this book and my mom would always say, can't stand Larry because they, they knew each other, their whole lives, since my mother was 18 years old. But when my father got around Larry, my father acted like he was 10 years old. right. And my mom sort of felt like a third wheel and this is even when she's like 60 years old. Right, right, right. So, and I, and by the way, it wasn't just her. I had the same experience. Their favorite thing to do together was to go to a BA, he liked to go to a baseball game, like five hours before the game and watch batting practice. So, and they would get P passes and they'd get out on the field, which wasn't hard to do.

Rich Cohen (20:07): There was nobody there empty stadiums. And I was with them once and they saw a player that they really liked from the fifties. And they both got all giddy and ran off to talk to him. And batting practice was being thrown by Rick Ziff who played for the Cubs. Yeah. And Rick Ziff, I never don't know Rick. I mean, he knew him as a fan and he comes up to me and he goes, did your dad just ditch you? Because he had a chance to meet a celebrity. And I was like, yeah, that's what happens when he gets around Larry. But that's, that was my mom's main problem with him. And also he'd always get into trouble with Larry. They'd go out and do stuff and get in all kinds of trouble. And yeah, it's, it's almost like Ralph and, uh, Ralph Cramton and Norton those do

John Jantsch (20:45): Together. Yeah. It's funny how people do, you know, even, like you said, at 60 revert to kind of their childhood, uh, selves, when they, you know, get together with, you know, old high school friends and things

Rich Cohen (20:54):

John Jantsch (20:55): Well, rich, thanks so much for taking a moment to stop by the duct tape marketing podcast and talk about, uh, the adventures of herbi Cohen. You wanna tell people where they can connect with you. Obviously the books are available, uh, wherever you buy

Rich Cohen (21:06): Books. Well, you can write me on social media. You can write me on Twitter, or I have a website that links up to an email for me, which is author rich cohen.com. And the Twitter is, I think it's rich Cohen, 2003, cuz that's the year I peaked and then, uh, you can buy the book on Amazon.

John Jantsch (21:23): Awesome. Again, thanks for stopping by. And hopefully we'll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

Rich Cohen (21:28): I'll see you in golden. Yeah.

John Jantsch (21:29): Thanks rich.

Rich Cohen (21:30): Get a course.

John Jantsch (21:31): Hey, and one final thing before you go, you know how I talk about marketing strategy strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It's called the marketing strategy assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co not .com .co check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That's just marketingassessment.co I'd. Love to chat with you about the results that you get.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network and Drip.

HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business.

 

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Transforming Marketing With Artificial Intelligence

Marketing Podcast with Paul Roetzer

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Paul Roetzer. Paul is the founder and CEO of Marketing AI Institute, and the founder of PR 20/20, HubSpot’s first partner agency. He is the author of The Marketing Performance Blueprint (Wiley, 2014) and The Marketing Agency Blueprint (Wiley, 2012); and the creator of the Marketing AI Conference (MAICON). As a speaker, Roetzer is focused on making AI approachable and actionable for marketers and business leaders. He’s also the co-author of a new book launching in June 2022 — Marketing Artificial Intelligence: AI, Marketing, and the Future of Business.

Key Takeaway:

AI is simply a system that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. The idea and purpose behind it are to drive digital transformation, evolve an organization, do smarter marketing, save time and money and produce better outputs.

In this episode, I talk with the founder of Marketing AI Institute, Paul Roetzer, about how AI is changing the game in marketing today and how to utilize AI in your marketing to be more efficient and effective in your organization.

Questions I ask Paul Roetzer:

  • [1:40] When somebody asks you, “What is AI?” — what’s the simple answer?
  • [2:47] Let’s start with the dystopian view. I’m sure you hear all the time that AI is taking over — where does that view intersect with reality?
  • [4:22] If your job is doing repetitive things, would you say someone in a role like that could be looking at getting replaced in the future?
  • [5:18] How will AI impact the marketing profession?
  • [7:21] What are some of the everyday uses of AI that people are experiencing and maybe don’t know it?
  • [10:07] What are the five things that every digital agency should be diving into that are going to give them some of the advantages of using AI?
  • [11:54] If you looked at these as efficiency tools alone, that would be a great start, wouldn’t it?
  • [12:25] Who are some companies that you think are using AI really well in their marketing or operations?
  • [13:39] What’s been the hard part of using AI for non-enterprise level organizations?
  • [15:02] Would AI help you serve your existing clients better?
  • [16:49] What ways are you seeing consumer behavior change?
  • [18:36] Where do you see AI being applied for more personal experiences in places like an email newsletter for example?
  • [20:25] What would you tell a group of folks that are just now getting into marketing where they should be putting their attention?
  • [21:56] Where are your favorite places to find AI tools?
  • [23:15] Where can people connect with you and find out more about your work and your book?

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the female startup club, hosted by Doone Roisin, and brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network. If you're looking for a new podcast, the female startup club shares tips, tactics and strategies from the world's most successful female founders, entrepreneurs, and women in business to inspire you to take action and get what you want out of your career. One of my favorite episodes who should be your first hire, what's your funding plan, Dr. Lisa Cravin shares her top advice from building spotlight oral. Listen to the female startup club, wherever you get your podcasts.

John Jantsch (00:47): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jan and my guest today's Paul Roetzer. He's the founder and CEO of marketing AI Institute, founder of PR 2020 HubSpot's first partner, agency HubSpots and sponsor of this show. As many of you know, he's also the author of the marketing performance blueprint, the marketing agency blueprint and creator of the marketing AI conference Macon. So guess what, we're gonna talk about AI, but he's also got a new book coming out co-author of marketing, artificial intelligence, AI marketing in the future of business. So Paul, welcome back.

Paul Roetzer (01:27): It's so good to be back together, John. It's good to see you.

John Jantsch (01:30): So, so we've been, we were laughing before we started the show. We've been talking about AI and now maybe for five or seven years, but I still think there's a lot of, like, what is that, you know, is that Hollywood? Is that, is that sci-fi, you know, how do you, when somebody just asks you, what is AI? Is there a simple answer?

Paul Roetzer (01:44): The definition I always give is the science of making machine smart and actually comes from de SaaS. Who's the co-founder and CEO of Google deep mind. And what I love about the simplicity of the definition is the software we use every day, as marketers, as consumers, the hardware we use the phones like your iPhone, they're incapable of doing things on their own, unless they're told how to do them. So machines being software and hardware with AI, those machines get human bilities to understand language, to generate language, to see, you know, with computer vision. And so that's really what they're doing, and they're able to learn from data and get smarter on their own. And so we'll talk, I'm sure we'll talk about some use case, some examples. Yeah, but that's the key is rather than just software, that's all human rules based AI enables vendors to build software that learns and evolves and makes predictions and recommendations to you to augment what you're capable of as a marketer.

John Jantsch (02:44): So let's start with the dystopian view, sure, uh, of, of, you know, which I'm sure you hear all the time, right. That, you know, it's taking over, there's no thinking there's no feeling, you know, like, you know, content marketers are, you know, like, yeah. I just put in a couple keywords and boom, I've got great content. You know, I don't have to hire anybody anymore. Uh, where does that view intersect with reality?

Paul Roetzer (03:08): AI's not that smart. So I think the key is there's definitely this nature one, you think it's abstract and it's, it is just the sci-fi thing. You're not actually using it. Two is it can seem overwhelming and highly technical. The reality is that AI isn't that advanced today. What, what happens is it's trying to do these very specific tasks at, at a very high level. And it's normally applied to things that are repetitive and data driven for us as marketers, things that we don't want to have to do a bunch of times anyway. Yeah. So you kind of look at these things in your daily life where it's repetitive, there's a defined process for it. That's a lot of times where AI being applied, it's augmenting what you do. It's intelligently automating pieces of it is not taking your job away. It's not replacing you as a writer. It's just there to be an it's easiest to think of it as an assistant. And so that's in the book we go into like these different levels of intelligent automation, and we're not going from zero to fully autonomous. We're just trying to get that little bit of support from the machine.

John Jantsch (04:05): Yeah. And I think some people can make a case for it actually frees you to do the creative work. And I think the argument probably 25 years ago when robots came around was, oh, it's taken, you know, these people's jobs, but like, do you really wanna put that bolt in 3 million times? , you know, over the next two weeks, is that a really satisfying job? Right. So that's a lot of what you're saying is it takes the repetitive stuff out. And, and so clearly if, if you're counting on having a job, that's based on repetition, I mean, you're probably, you probably are looking about at being replaced, aren't you?

Paul Roetzer (04:36): Yeah. I mean, the way I explain it is if your job is simply to AB test landing pages that is fundamentally all you do 40 hours a week, then yes, it will replace you like you. That is not gonna be something humans need to do. If you are looking at data and trying to figure out audience targeting for media buying AI is really good at that. It's really good at finding patterns and like being able to predict, you know, behaviors and outcomes. So it's just tasks. But if your entire being is doing those repetitive tasks, then yes, it would be a good time to start looking for other areas where there's uniquely human traits needed, like strategy, creativity, empathy, like those relationship building, those are machines not doing those things really. Yeah.

John Jantsch (05:17): So, so how, how are you talking to marketers specifically about the impact of this in their jobs? We, you kind of almost touched on it right there a little bit. Yeah. But how are, you know, how does it really, how will it, uh, impact the marketing

Paul Roetzer (05:31): Profession? So at a high level, we talk about this intelligent automation. We're under the working assumption that within three to five years, at least 80% of what marketers do will be intelligently automated to some degree, meaning tools, software you're using is going to have AI in them, but that's not unlike your consumer life. So you don't think about AI all the all day long, but every time you use Netflix and it's recommending shows and movies, Spotify learns, you know, your music and predict shows, Google maps routing you from a to B in the, in the fastest way. Anytime you talk to a, a virtual assistant like a Google or Siri, all of that is AI. And so your life is made more convenient, more personalized by AI. And that's, what's gonna happen in business, whether you're in advertising or email or communications or SEO, AI is going to be infused into the software and make it smarter. And in many cases, you're not even gonna notice it or even care. Yeah. But we're not there yet. And so what we tell marketers is you can get there now though, you can go find smarter tools to do what you do. It's not about buying AI. It's about buying smarter tech. You already buy this tech find tools that are getting better and making you better at your job.

John Jantsch (06:43): Yeah. And I think one of the, well, let me back up a little bit, cuz you, you alluded to a point I was gonna ask about is I think the AI's been with us a lot longer than people realize and it's in everyday stuff that we, you know, we don't realize. I, I wrote my last book exclusively in, uh, Google, uh, docs at somewhere along two, three years ago, you know, they started adding AI to Google docs to where it's actually, I could start writing a sentence and go, oh, I wasn't gonna say that. But that's pretty good. I mean, it would actually, you know, and I don't know if it's purely learning one to one with me or if it's just saying, oh, people commonly finish sentences with this word that start that way. So, so talk a little bit about some of the really everyday uses you started talking a little bit about 'em, but going to some examples of everyday uses that people are experiencing AI and, and maybe don't know it.

Paul Roetzer (07:35): Yeah. So the, we talk at a high level categorically and there's, I think it's chapter two of the book is, is broken into language, vision and prediction. And so it talks like these parent categories of different applications of AI. So language in particular is of interest to all marketers, right? And that is mainly around the understanding and generation of language. And so that's like what you're talking about Grammarly is a great example of AI embedded within a tool that many people use every day. Um, so zoom is another, like they use outer.ai to transcribe audio, right? So speech to text, text, text to speech is another one language generation with any, whether it's video or audio or written. So like all these Twitter out there, like copy.ai and Jasper and hyper write. And you know, you hear all these names, you probably see the ads for, and what they're doing is using a, the tool called G PT three or an underlining platform called G P T three, which is made by open AI.

Paul Roetzer (08:27): And that is a language generation it's using, what's called a large language model to generate language in all these different disciplines. And so you can go in and give it a sample website and say, okay, write me ad copy, or write me social media shares based on this. And it's doing it now. You're not gonna grab it and hit publish. But as a social media pro or an ad person or a blog post writer, you're going to take these almost as drafts and improve on them and then publish them. And so I think again, anywhere where you write, you're seeing it all over and that's gonna continue to become a part of your life. And then again, you just go disciplined by discipline, whether again, your communications, SEO, and just find ways where there's repetitive processes, predictions being made or language being read or generated.

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John Jantsch (09:57): So if somebody came to you and said, yeah, we we're an agency digital agency and we know about AI, but we haven't really been aggressively or intentionally trying to bring it to our clients. Where would you say, well, here's the starting point. Here are the five things that every digital agency should be diving into that it's gonna give them AI or it's at least gonna give 'em some advantages using AI.

Paul Roetzer (10:18): Yeah. So there's two ways we teach it. It's called the piloting. AI is that there's a chapter dedicated to this, too. What I tell people is take a spreadsheet, make a list of all the activities, the tasks that you do individually, or as a team each week, each month make a comment that says how many hours a month you spend doing it, uh, what software you use for it and how much that software costs per month. So you're basically getting a cost structure for each activity and then just apply of simple rating and says, well, how valuable would it be to intelligently automate this task? And so let's say you're a content strategist and you spend 10 hours a month on the editorial calendar, figuring out what to write, looking at past posts, trying to predict what work, what you should republish, what you should create new.

Paul Roetzer (10:58): Then that might be an area where you could say, wow, if AI could help me do this and cut it 80% of the time spent on it and be better at predicting, what's gonna work. That would be huge for me as a content strategist. There you go, AI for content strategy, go Google it, find three tools that do it, go demo those tools. So I always tell people is start where you're already spending time, where you can make a business case for the value it could create for you. And you're gonna know real quickly whether it's working or not. Cuz at the end of the day, AI is just designed to make you better at your job and make it cost less to do the job. And if it's not doing that in improving performance, then it's a waste of time.

John Jantsch (11:38): Yeah. I think that's a really great point too, because I think a lot of people look at this and say, oh, we can do new things and maybe start by by just getting efficiencies. Yes. I mean you could probably generate a tremendous amount of profit to the bottom line by just get, I mean, everybody that, by getting more efficient. So if you looked at these as efficiency tools alone, that would be a great start, wouldn't

Paul Roetzer (11:58): It? Yeah. And I know of companies that have, I have friends whose jobs and companies is to try and reduce the need for 15 new headcount down to five. Yeah. And they're basically just looking at not, they're not their job isn't to fire people, but it is to say, as we scale, how do we do it without having to hire more? And so they're looking at inefficiencies and work productivity and they're finding things that AI can do to at least some degree without the need for human involvement or minimal human involvement,

John Jantsch (12:25): Who are some companies that you think are doing this really well. I mean that are maybe kind of ahead of the curve and, and it might just be in their own operations or in their own marketing.

Paul Roetzer (12:33): Yeah. Most of as big enterprises, they don't talk about it much. But when you look at retail eCommerce or huge ones, just go to the top 10 eCommerce companies, top 10 retailers, um, CPG financial services. Those are healthcare. What you look for is companies and industries that have a lot of data and a, and a huge need for personalization. And there's a really good chance they've been doing this stuff for five to 10 years, not if not in marketing and sales and service across other areas of the company. But I mean, just like Mike, my co-author just put one on LinkedIn last week about like 15 retailers that are doing awesome things with AI. And it was the obvious ones. Walmart Starbucks McDonald's bought, bought AI com like they're buying AI companies, they bought one to customize the drive through screen for you based on the weather data and based on behavioral data of like what people are ordering that day. So it actually tailors what you're seeing. So I mean, it's just, retail was a huge one that, yeah, there's just tons on.

John Jantsch (13:29): So that's why that pumpkin spice shows up that day. Huh?

Paul Roetzer (13:32): Yeah. Well if it's in the middle of the summer. Yes. Because otherwise it just shows up in the winter, but yeah,

John Jantsch (13:38): That, yeah. So, so taking this back to non-enterprise yeah. Level companies, uh, which a great deal of our listeners are what's the, what's been the stumbling block. What's been the hard part, you know, of doing this.

Paul Roetzer (13:53): So we asked that question in our state of the industry survey we did with drift, like what are the obstacles to adoption? Number one far and away with 70% of people said, lack of education and training. They just didn't know where to go to get the information. And then in the 40 percentiles you had like lack of awareness, lack of team, right? Like talent, lack of strategy, lack of vision. My base assumption is the vast majority of marketers still have no idea what it is. So they can't explain it to you. They, if like, let's say you're at a, you know, a 30 person agency and you listen to this and you're like, this is kind of cool. And you're gonna walk into the CEO's office and say, I think we should start doing more AI. And the CEO says, why you're gonna say, I don't know, just, it sounds like we're just really cool. Like

John Jantsch (14:32): Everybody else is.

Paul Roetzer (14:33): Yeah. If they really say, well, what would be the business case for it? What exactly is it like most marketers can't give a basic definition and they don't know the main use cases for it. So I think it, it is just a lack of understanding across the industry. That's slowing adoption rates down,

John Jantsch (14:47): You know, I loved one of the filters. I think that you used for this, you know, when a lot of new social media platforms would come around and you know, clients would be saying, should we be doing that? You know, should we get on Twitter, this, you know, circa 2007 or something like that. Um, and, and I always did use the filter. Uh, would this help you serve your existing clients better? You know, if you make a case for that, then go all in and we'll get crazy with it. But, and I think that's probably a great starting place for looking at AI. Isn't it?

Paul Roetzer (15:15): Yeah, no doubt. I, I actually published something recently that wasn't in the book and it sort of came to me, uh, little later on, but the, what I think's gonna end up happening is, and again, keep in mind, I owned an agency for 16 years before I sold it. Right. So I, I live in the agency world and we work with lots of companies. So SMBs all the way up to, you know, fortune 500 companies. Um, I think in the not too distant future, there's three types of organizations. There's AI native. So they don't exist without AI, they're in an industry and they find a smarter way to do that industry, do the products and services in that industry. And they build from day one as an AI company, then there's AI emergent. Those are companies that exist today that look to the future and say, while there's smarter ways to do product and services, marketing sales, and then there's obsolete.

Paul Roetzer (15:58): And, and I don't think there's anything in between. So the way I look at it is AI is going to be so essential to the operations of every business. And so intertwined into the marketing sales and customer service, that if you don't find ways to adapt and evolve, someone else is going to build a smarter version of, of your business. That is way more efficient than you are without AI. And over time, I'm not saying like three years from now, we're all done. Like if you don't evolve saying, but over the next decade, like it's going, you're just gonna become less and less relevant if you don't find a way to become more efficient at what you do and deliver better results.

John Jantsch (16:34): Yeah. And I think some of that's very consumer driven too. You know, one of the things people always point to is Amazon changed the game because consumers got used to yeah. The way what they got to experience there and everybody else had to up their game or, you know, get left behind. And you know, what ways are you seeing consumer behavior change? Because whether they know it or not, they're being served this way.

Paul Roetzer (16:57): Yeah. I, I think the key for me is as consumers of consumer products, but also in our B2B world, you come to expect convenience and personalization. Like if I'm, let's say I'm shopping for new social media management software and I'm the entrepreneur of a five person company, or a 20 person agent, whatever it is, there's a good chance. I'm not doing that at 10:00 AM on a Thursday. There's a much better chance I'm doing it at 10:00 PM on a Friday after my kids go to bed. And I finally have a minute to look at that thing. That's not critical to my business, but is important to the future. So if I'm on a website for social media management software and it's like call us between Monday and Friday from nine to five, and there's no intelligent chat out there that actually helps me get what I'm looking for or understands that I've been on the site previously and kind of can predict my behavior and my intent, like I want personalization and convenience in my shopping experience, whether I'm on Amazon or I'm on some social media management software site. And so I think as consumers, we just come to expect convenience and personalization, and there is no way to do personalization at scale, without AI in the future. Like I've heard software CEOs talk about personalization as though AI, or as though it can happen without AI. It can't, like, we're not that good as humanist writing rules that apply to thousands of people.

John Jantsch (18:17): Right. Right, right, right. Right. So, so let's talk about the relationship between AI and your data, because I think that's what you're really in a lot of ways where, where people are starting to personalize without AI is because I know customer X has bought this product and I can cookie him or her. And so then I can serve a more relevant, personal experience perhaps, or relevant email newsletter perhaps. But where does, where do you see AI then? You know, must be applied. You know, if we can use these JavaScripts and we can use our own data, you know, where does AI come into play with that scenario?

Paul Roetzer (18:55): Yeah. So data is the foundation of AI. It's what it gives its predictive abilities, cuz that, that you almost every case AI is just making predictions about behaviors and outcomes. That's what machine learning is. So you hear machine learning thrown around is like synonymous with AI. Sometimes it's a subset of AI, but machine learning is all about the machine learning from data to improve its predictions and actions. And so that's what the data does is it gives you the ability to actually build these predictive models about customer retention, customer growth, churn rates, lead scoring, to predict who's likely to be a new customer. Who's gonna open emails. Who's gonna click on it's all predictions. And so data is at the foundation of that. Now you can be a small business. You don't have to have, you know, hundreds of thousands of records because what you can do is benefit from anonymized data. So if you're a HubSpot customer, they have 150,000 customers over money. They have, they can anonymize all that data targeted like, okay, this is a lump of cohorts. That's in this specific industry or this specific size company. And they can anonymize that data to improve your predictive ability. I'm not saying they're doing that, but that's what's happening. MailChimp is a good example. Hundreds of millions of records. They can use all that anonymized data to predict when you should send your emails, who you send 'em to subject lines, you should use things like that.

John Jantsch (20:07): Yeah. So let's, let's end by talking a little bit about future careers. If you were talking and you probably get asked to, to a group of college students that were in marketing, uh, what would you be? I know when I talk to 'em, I, I tell, 'em look, forget all the stuff you've been learning. This is what you actually should be focusing on. You know, what are you, what would you tell, uh, a group of folks that are just now getting into marketing, where they should be putting their attention?

Paul Roetzer (20:31): One, I think it's an incredible time to come into the profession because as you said so much of what got the rest of us, where we are, is going to evolve in the near future. yeah. And so the ideas to, to, to drive digital transformation, to evolve an organization, to, to do smarter marketing, that saves time and money and produces better outputs. It can come from the interns because a lot of executives don't understand this stuff and they're maybe even a bit intimidated by it because they don't understand and they think it's gonna be really hard to learn. So they just kind of avoid learning it, keep putting it off. Yeah. So I think that the people who take the initiative to go learn it and don't go and try and sell AI and machine learning like you, if you walk into the CMOs office as an intern and say, I think we're gonna, we do some machine learning.

Paul Roetzer (21:17): We could cut a hundred hours a month of productivity and like get outta my office. Like I . But if you go in and say, Hey, listen, I analyzed our email marketing activities and we spent a hundred hours last month doing these five things. I think there's a way to shave 50% of the time off and actually produce twice as much quality work now. Oh, talk to me about that. What is that? Okay. Well there's these two tools I've been testing and here's what they do. You don't ever even have to say AI. Yeah. Yeah. But you know, to go find smarter tools to do the thing and you identify opportunities to drive efficiency cuz you understand what it's capable of doing.

John Jantsch (21:51): All right. I lied. I'm not gonna end yet. Tell me where tell me, tell me where, what are you can need to say? Well, here are my favorite places to find AI tools or here are a handful of my favorite AI tools, either one, either way. You want to answer that.

Paul Roetzer (22:03): So in, in the book, there's 10 chapters in the middle that are piloting AI chapters and it's AI for advertising AI for communications. Each of those chapters just follow the same pattern. It explains the opportunity with that category of marketing. It goes into tech and then it goes into sample use cases or vice versa, use cases and tech. So there's about 70 different vendors featured in the book that are a good starting point on the marketing AI Institute blog. We regularly published lists of vendors across different categories and different things. Like we did 36 tools for AI co or for copywriting last week that, that sort of stuff. So yeah, we just follow along the newsletter or, you know, grab a copy of the book.

John Jantsch (22:39): And the, the fun thing is that like everybody's copy of the book will be different. Right.

Paul Roetzer (22:44): That would be awesome.

John Jantsch (22:46):

Paul Roetzer (22:47): There, there are a lot of things we tried to do with AI to do the book, but personalized copies for everybody. I don't think the publisher would've let me get away with

John Jantsch (22:56): That. No, no, that's a tough one. So speaking of an industry that, uh, maybe needs to come into the future, sorry. Uh, sorry. I'm not picking on your publisher,

Paul Roetzer (23:04): But my publisher's very open minded. I actually love what they're thinking of. We're doing some cool stuff with synthetic voice potentially. We may actually

John Jantsch (23:11): Do some stuff, so. Oh cool. Awesome. We'll tell people, you've mentioned a few things, but if you wanna invite people where they could connect with you and obviously the book will be available everywhere.

Paul Roetzer (23:20): Yeah. And so marketing, I institute.com. You can get to the book site from there. There's gonna be, uh, there's a couple of free downloads that actually the piling AI workbook that we talked about of how to figure out what to start with, that's gonna be a free download as part of the book. So you can go there and actually get that spreadsheet. And then there's a guide that has about 30 sample questions to ask AI vendors. So to help you assess them, it it's kind of a cool guide. So those will both be available there. So yeah, marketing institute.com is best and I'm really good on, uh, LinkedIn and Twitter. If you wanna reach out to me personally, I'm, I'm really responsive on both of those platforms. I am not a Instagram TikTok or Facebook guy. And if I'm missing anything else, I don't really do those either too much.

John Jantsch (23:56): gotta stay focused. Right. Awesome. Paul, it was a great catch up for you. I appreciate your stopping by the duct tape marketing podcast. Hopefully you will see you, uh, soon, one of these days out there

Paul Roetzer (24:05): On the road. Thanks so much, John.

John Jantsch (24:06): Hey, and one final thing before you go, you know how I talk about marketing strategy strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we create a free tool for you. It's called the marketing strategy assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co not.com.co check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That's just marketingassessment.co I'd love to chat with you about the results that you get.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network and Drip.

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Why Great Leadership Starts With Open Hearted Conversations

Marketing Podcast with Edward Sullivan

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Edward Sullivan. Edward has been coaching and advising start-up founders, Fortune 10 executives, and heads of state for over 15 years. His clients include executives from Google, Salesforce, Slack, and dozens of other fast-growth companies. He holds an MBA from Wharton and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School. Edward is CEO & President of the renowned executive coaching consultancy, Velocity. He also has a new book launching on June 21, 2022, called — Leading With Heart: 5 Conversations That Unlock Creativity, Purpose, and Results.

Key Takeaway:

Right now, workplaces are struggling to build high-morale and connected cultures. How do you retain and inspire your team? By leading with heart and sparking authentic conversation.

After thousands of hours of interviews and coaching sessions with leaders of many of the world’s most prominent firms, authors John Baird and Edward Sullivan found that top leaders don’t adhere to simple formulas and performance hacks. Instead, they discovered that these leaders help people unlock their creativity, purpose, and results by having conversations that make them feel productive, safe, and appreciated. In this episode, I talk with Edward Sullivan about why great leadership starts with open-hearted conversation.

Questions I ask Edward Sullivan:

  • [1:33] What’s the opposite of leading with heart?
  • [1:53] Is leading with ego how a lot of people have been taught or led?
  • [2:40] What does it take for someone to say that they are a leader?
  • [3:58] You did some pretty exhaustive research to come to the conclusions you did in your new book — could you explain your research process?
  • [5:24] Would you say that the great resignation is a bit of an indictment on leadership?
  • [7:23] It’s challenging to be a leader until you clean up your own house, and I think that starts with self-awareness — do you agree with that and if so, how do you balance that?
  • [9:14] What are the five questions that you talk about in the book?
  • [10:31] How do you start creating a culture of this openness if it has existed before?
  • [11:51] Is there an approach that works better in the workplace when it comes to the setting in which you talk about these questions?
  • [13:13] How do we actually help people understand what their needs are and what their fears are?
  • [14:20] How could you bring this work in earlier into an organization for say a new hire?
  • [16:03] This work is more than the five conversations, it’s daily consistent work — could you talk a little bit about the tools you give folks inside of their organization to use to help with this?
  • [17:57] What’s the balance of being able to use the framework and use it appropriately?
  • [20:29] Can you repair trust?
  • [21:19] Where can people find out more about your work?

More About Edward Sullivan:

Take The Marketing Assessment:

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John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the female startup club, hosted by dune Roen, and brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network. If you're looking for a new podcast, the female startup club shares tips, tactics and strategies from the world's most successful female founders, entrepreneurs, and women in business to inspire you to take action and get what you want out of your career. One of my favorite episodes who should be your first hire, what's your funding plan? Dr. Lisa Keven shares her top advice from building spotlight oral. Listen to the female startup club, wherever you get your podcasts.

John Jantsch (00:49): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Edward Sullivan. He's been coaching in advising startup founders, fortune 10 executives and heads of state for over 15 years. His clients include executives from Google, Salesforce, slack, and dozens of other fast growth companies. He holds an MBA from Wharton and an M PA from the Harvard Kennedy school. He's a CEO and president of the renowned executive coaching consultancy velocity. And he's also the co-author of a book. We're gonna talk about today leading with heart five conversations that unlock creativity, purpose, and results. So Edward, welcome to the show.

Edward Sullivan (01:31): Thanks so much great to be here.

John Jantsch (01:33): So let's start with leading with heart as opposed to leading with what's the opposite.

Edward Sullivan (01:41): Well, leading with heart is when you're being open and curious, and I guess it's leading with fear leading with ego is how a lot of people go about it, unfortunately.

John Jantsch (01:50): Yeah. And in your research, of course, I'm, I'm guessing that unfortunately that's how a lot of people were taught or that's how a lot of people have been led. Isn't it?

Edward Sullivan (01:57): Well, you know, I think a lot of people when they don't know better, yeah. They go back to maybe what they saw when they were coming up. And I think a lot of leaders today came up in the eighties and nineties and a lot of high pressure environments. And they were led by people who led by fear, who led with ego and they've learned to do the same. So our research indicated that the leaders who actually get the best results out of their employees lead with heart. And we explored that in the book,

John Jantsch (02:28): You know, a lot of entrepreneurs maybe didn't go through any kind of formal leadership program or were mentored or . I mean, they just started a business and like, poof, now you have to lead people, right? I mean, what does it, what does it take for that person to start saying, oh, I'm a leader now, what do I do? Yeah,

Edward Sullivan (02:45): You're right. A lot of our, our clients come to us because they're really good developers. They're good engineers, right? They're good product designers. And they built something. People liked it. And now suddenly they have to build a company around it and they never took that class at school. You know, the how to lead people class. And the first in instinct is to try to control everything. Yeah. When you're the founder, this is your baby. You know, you wanna control everything from the font to the color, to the, how people talk about it, to potential customers. And we've learned that people need a little bit more freedom than that. They need to feel some, some sense of owner. Should they need to be able to show up as themselves at work. And it's really incumbent upon leaders of these firms to give people that freedom and give people that support. So they do feel themselves.

John Jantsch (03:37): Yeah. And I tell you just personal experience as a leader, it's exhausting trying to hold onto everything. You're trying to think you have all the answers. Right. And so I, I think it could be very freeing once people go, oh, they actually did it better. Or nobody died here. Right. I mean, so exactly it really. So, so tell me, I mean, leadership books, that's a huge category of books, probably growing every year. You did some pretty exhaustive research to come to the conclusions you came to. You wanna explain that research process a little bit?

Edward Sullivan (04:05): Sure, sure. So my business partner and I are practitioners, we're executive coaches. We run velocity, it's a firm with 25 coaches around the world. We've got hundreds of clients. And over our combined 40 years of, uh, working with top executives, we were kind of performing the research on along the way. Right. We didn't even know it. So our research process was actually going back through our notes, going back through files and saying, what is it that really ties all these great leaders together? What's that common? We're not journalists, we're not researchers by trade. We're more practitioners who backed into doing some research about this. And we found that there are five core conversations that great leaders are having, that enable them to lead with heart that enable them to have these connected conversations. And they're conversations that we're not used to having in the office. Yeah. Right. Because they're about what do we need as people? What do we need to feel creative and resourceful? What fears might be holding us back, right. It's about what are the, uh, desires that we have that really motivate us, but can also derail us if we take them a little bit too far,

John Jantsch (05:10): We also talked about, I was just gonna say, I wanna unpack those each or the five conversations I, I kind of wanted to, I wanted to frame it a little bit though, in, in what's what's very topical right now is, you know, we're calling it all kinds of things, a great resignation and whatnot. I mean, is that a bit of a, is that a bit of a, an indictment on leadership? I mean, are people leaving because they're not getting these things or because they're not getting, you know, even basic respect.

Edward Sullivan (05:36): I mean, that is exactly right. And research has been done recently that showed that we think people are leaving because they want more freedom or they want more money. They want more equity, but 10 times more important is that they're leaving toxic work cultures. Yeah. Right. They feel burned out. They feel unappreciated. They feel unseen. Obviously doing all of our work over zoom. Hasn't helped much in the last couple of years. Right. But there are things that leaders can be doing to create this, these connections with people, even over zoom. And they're simply not doing them. We get on a call and we say, great, what do we have to talk about today? Let's do our work. Okay. Enough. And then we get off the call as quickly as possible. Right? Yeah. We're not creating that connective tissue anymore. And that's what people are missing.

John Jantsch (06:22): Yeah. I, uh, we have a client that, you know, like a lot of people are trying to hire people and, and trying everything, you know, running ads in all the places. And, you know, we just, we actually we're testing ads and they add that. We ran that today for two years now has been by far and away the winner, it just, the, the title just says respect wow. And then it says, are you getting, you know, are you getting the respect you deserve in your current career? And I, we can't beat that ad you know, so it really does say something doesn't

Edward Sullivan (06:50): I'm gonna write that one down here

John Jantsch (06:52): Do, go for it. So, so you started to unpack the five conversations and you talked about, you used words, like what people need, the fears that are holding them back. We're gonna get to the P word purpose eventually. Yeah. Here's the thing that not enough people say is that I don't think you can do those things as a leader until you clean up your own house. I mean, you get rid of your own fears. You get, you understand your own purpose. Right. And I think a lot of books try to a lot of books, try to say, here's the roadmap, you know, but not enough say, uh, self, it starts with self-awareness. So, you know, how do you balance that, that thought? Or maybe you disagree with it?

Edward Sullivan (07:27): No, don't I, I don't disagree at all. I fatally agree. Yeah. In fact, we, we call the book basically a, a 250 page coaching conversation with one of us, right. With both of us, because really in Le in reading the book, we're asking you these questions, you need to do all the work yourself. Yeah. And be comfortable answering these questions yourself with your employees, to be able to have those conversations. You can't just go into it into a room with someone and say like, what are you afraid of? right. that doesn't really make someone want to open up. But if you start the conversation and say, you know, I don't know about you, but I've been feeling a little bit triggered into some fear recently. There's a lot of uncertainty in the market. Things are happening abroad where, you know, we're the country, the world's at war right now. Yeah. Um, times of uncertainty make me feel a little uncertain, make me feel fearful. What's coming up for you. Right? Yeah. Suddenly the leader has opened up themselves, created that vulnerability, the V word, right? Yeah. That allows other people to feel comfortable being vulnerable as well.

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John Jantsch (09:15): So let's, let's just pretend that the person that's reading this book has, uh, dealt with that themselves. You know, just give me maybe gimme the 32nd. Here are the five, and then we can kind of come back and go, well, how do you do that?

Edward Sullivan (09:27): Yeah. Yeah. So the five questions that we found in our research and you've, you've outlined them as well are around needs. What do you need to be resourceful and creative? Yeah. Fears, what fears might be holding you back desires. And this is like, what do you really want out of life? And how could those core desires potentially derail you? We also talk a lot about gifts. What are the gifts you have that are unrealized or unexpressed in this current role? And then once we've had those four conversations, we're ready to have the conversation around purpose.

John Jantsch (10:00): Yeah. O obviously I shouldn't say obviously in many cases, uh, people have had that relationship. Maybe somebody's been there for a long time. I mean, they just know each other they've unpacked over the years, but a lot of times somebody's just, you know, managing somebody, they do, they get their 30 minutes a week, you know, with them. I mean, how do you really start getting into areas that maybe both parties are uncomfortable with, but probably the, you know, the superior, you know, perhaps seen as the superiors less uncomfortable with, I mean, you know, how do you start? How do you start creating a culture, I guess, of this openness that has maybe if it hasn't existed.

Edward Sullivan (10:37): Yeah. You know, we talk a lot about culture and our work and in the book and it is, it is a great challenge. And it's also an incredible opportunity. Yeah. Um, if you have a culture that's really shut down where people don't share anything about their personal lives coming out suddenly and talking about everything you're fearful of yeah. Will be, will come as a shock, right? Yeah. You need to build up some, some trust there, right? Yeah. You need to approach some of these topics slowly. You need to build an environment of safety where people feel like we're starting to connect to human beings as opposed to colleagues. And that feels pretty cool. Right. And it's that connecting that, learning about each other, where you come from, what have you done, what's going on at home? Do you have siblings, all those basic questions that we kind of take for granted with our friends, we often don't know anything aside from like the names of spouses and maybe the names of children with our, our colleagues. Right? Yeah. We start having those baseline conversations, then we can go, go a few layers deeper. Yeah. We can start getting into what are you really? Maybe what you're fearful of. Right. It builds upon itself. Yeah.

John Jantsch (11:40): Yeah. Trust is what we're talking about. Really trust .

Edward Sullivan (11:43): Yeah. I mean, yeah. It all comes down to trust when people say like, what's the two second summary of this book, it's how to build trust in a work environment. Exactly.

John Jantsch (11:51): So, so do you advocate making, you know, like a lot of people will hear this and they'll go, okay. Uh, we got 25 minutes, I'm gonna spend five minutes asking you about yourself and then we're gonna get into it. I mean, is that the approach or do you actually want to have like, let's have a company lunch once a month and we're not gonna talk about work. I mean, which approach is better

Edward Sullivan (12:13): In your, uh, it's actually both, right? Yeah. You need that regular drip of like connecting, uh, just like, Hey, what's been going on. Yeah. And as opposed to just like the cursory what'd you do this weekend, right. We also want people to be giving the giving each other, some praise. Yeah. Like, so we start in our company, we start all of our meetings with shout outs. Mm-hmm and we say like, does anyone have anything great to say on anyone else on the call? You know? And it's like, I really wanna thank Mike for, you know, in this meeting we had last week, he did this. That was great. Public praise makes people feel good. Yeah. We don't get enough of it. Right? Yeah. We might get praise, um, privately or over email, but you really wanna be sharing that praise in real time. And as, as much as you can in front of other people,

John Jantsch (12:59): How much of the work, like, I, I, I would venture to say that if we filled a room up with 50 people and said, please explain your purpose, you know, about, yeah. Two of them, you know, could come up with anything that they thought really resonated. So how do we actually help people understand what their needs are, what their fears are, because I think that's a lot of the challenges they don't know. We could ask somebody, what, what are your fears? But they don't know.

Edward Sullivan (13:26): They don't know you're right. You know, we try to explore some different themes in the book of needs that we've seen. Our clients have fears. We've seen our clients have to give people a language, but it's really through the conversation that we start exploring. I don't even know what I might be fearful of. Yeah. Right. You know, do I get to say that I'm fearful in this office environment hate to say it, but like men especially are trained to be fearless. They can't show any fear and to work in a, in, in a, in a tough work environment, women then show up and think that they can't show any fear either. And it's this creates this really negative feedback system. So we're trying to break that by saying, it's actually, it's not just okay to have these conversations. It's better if you do right. You actually get better results. If you're able to talk about these things and have that connection,

John Jantsch (14:20): How, how could you bring this work earlier, uh, into somebody? So somebody joins an organization. Could this be part of the hiring process to some degree, or is it just too hard to do that? Because there's no relationship because you know, when you start talking about people's desires and gifts, mm-hmm

Edward Sullivan (14:36): ,

John Jantsch (14:37): That might actually direct the path , you know, that, that they would go or the role that they would fill, you know, how could you do this without, you know, the relationship part? Or can you,

Edward Sullivan (14:47): Yeah. I mean, some environments, some organizations have a culture where as soon as you walk in the door, you feel at ease. Yeah. You feel relaxed. You can tell people genuinely like each other. Yeah. Right. And in those companies, and we, we, we're lucky enough to advise a handful of 'em that are like that you sit down for the interview and you already feel at ease with this person. You already it's like, we, we we've been friends for a long time. Right? Yeah. So the people who are just coming in are almost inculturated into this idea of it's cool to just be yourself. It's cool to show up as you are and bring your gifts to the table, bring your needs and fears to the table and we'll work with that. Right. Cause it's very human to have needs. It's human to have other environments you walk in and it feels cold. It feels like, you know, they're giving you like an intimidation interview. I don't know if you've ever had ever interviewed at McKinsey, like they're famous for the intimidation interview where they try to see how you respond when someone's almost really rude to you in an interview situation because the client might be rude to you someday. Yeah. Yeah. That's fine. And all, but how about have that conversation about, you need to steal up and be ready for people to be an asshole towards you rather than just be that way towards them in the interview.

John Jantsch (16:04): So talk a little bit about some of the tools, because obviously you do this work with organizations, you teach people, you give them tools to, to train the, you know, folks inside their organization. So talk a little bit about the work, I guess that is that, you know, that's more than just, you know, five conversations it's daily work.

Edward Sullivan (16:22): Right. Right. I mean, our work is predominantly one on one conversations, like coaching conversations. And then we facilitate a lot of conversations for our clients. So you might, uh, not be surprised that right now with everyone starting to go back to the office and COVID feels like it's mostly over, everybody wants to have a team offsite. So we're just completely booked out through the summer in dozens of team offsite for people who wanna have these conversations. Right. They're they wanna buy the book and have everyone that will have a workshop about the book or they just wanna get together and have a joyful experience of learning about each other. They're they learned half of our employees. No one's even met before. Cause we hired them in the middle of COVID. Yeah. What's your name? You know, don't tell me what you need yet. Just tell me what your name is. and in, in those facilitated experiences that we engage with clients, that's where the real work happens, right? Yeah. It's one thing to like play the games and do the trust falls and these kinds of things. It's another thing to have a facilitated, really hard open conversation that gets people cracked wide open and gets them sharing things that they never thought they'd be able to share, let alone, I mean, with their friends, let alone in an office environment and suddenly it feels very natural.

John Jantsch (17:39): I suspect one of the tricks to this work is that, you know, even though you've got a nice tidy framework, you know, people are, people are all different. Sure. Some people respond differently. Some people love to talk about how they feel. some people, some people that's like the worst thing that could, you know, that could be involved in the day. Exactly. So, you know how what's the art or what's the balance of being able to use the framework, but use it appropriately, I guess. Yeah.

Edward Sullivan (18:07): I mean, the important thing with all of this work is to start where people are, right. We can't have forced vulnerability. Yeah. You know, people need to feel safe. It needs to feel natural. And it should often, it often comes after the leader has created an opening for it. You know, the leader who calls a meeting and says, great, everyone's gonna share their most painful childhood story. starting with you. Right. Doesn't really work. Yeah. Right. But if over time we're building rapport, we're making people feel safe. And the leader is the one who is handing out praise, making people feel good, making them feel psychologically safe. Yeah. Right. And that's definitely a term of art in that when people give feedback, when they have ideas, when they push back against the conversation and what we're doing, and the leader says, that's really interesting. Tell me more. Yeah. You know, so really creates

John Jantsch (19:04): So really in a lot of ways, you're, it's not, there's actually a risk in proclaiming. This is how we're gonna do it or mandating, this is what we're gonna do now, as opposed to just doing it.

Edward Sullivan (19:13): Yeah. Sometimes you just do it. Yeah. And you say, there's no obligation to join the conversation. There's no obligation to share something. You don't feel comfortable sharing, but we've learned in this organization, whether it's through the book or through it's following the research that teams and organizations that share what's really going on for them. Yeah. Build trust. And then ultimately have more honest conversations about the work itself. Yeah. Right. It's this virtuous cycle. If you tell me what's really going on for you and I build trust, then when I push back against you on an idea when we're debating, you know, we're really trying to get to the truth of the matter. Or we're trying to get to the best idea. If I can't push back against you, we might ship a flawed product. Right. I mean the, the, the challenger exploded because a scientist wasn't able to say, oh, this O ring might be bad. Right. Things go wrong because people don't feel safe pushing back. And I

John Jantsch (20:09): Think this

Edward Sullivan (20:10): Whole artist is about up in the build that safety.

John Jantsch (20:14): Yeah. I was gonna say, I think you make a really great point. I mean, some of the best organizations are ones where people feel, uh, enough trust that they can argue that they can, you know, debate things like that. Yeah. Yeah. As opposed to feeling like, oh, well doesn't matter, you know, , I'm just gonna go. Exactly. Can you repair trust? Do you think? Because I'm thinking there are a lot of organizations out there that they just were, the leader was being who they were being and, you know, woke up one day and realize this isn't working, you know, is that something that you can repair or is it again, just one of those things where you've gotta demonstrate through your actions, that things have changed,

Edward Sullivan (20:49): You know, they say trust comes in on two feet and leaves on a horse. Yeah. Right. So it is something that is earned slowly and can easily be destroyed. That said humans are naturally forgiving people. Right. We can always earn trust back. We just have to do the work. Yeah. And we have to be consistent.

John Jantsch (21:11): Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Lots of work for lots of us to do so, Edward, thanks for, so by the duct tape marketing, uh, podcast, you wanna tell people where they can find out more about your work or anything else you wanna share.

Edward Sullivan (21:22): Absolutely. The book [email protected] and thank you so much for the opportunity.

John Jantsch (21:29): Yeah. Well, again, as, as I said, thanks for stopping by, and hopefully we'll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

Edward Sullivan (21:34): Hope so. Thank you much.

John Jantsch (21:37): Hey, and one final thing before you go, you know how I talk about marketing strategy strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It's called the marketing strategy assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co not dot com, dot co .check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That's just marketingassessment.co I'd love to chat with you about the results that you get.

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Did you know there’s an automated marketing platform that’s 100% designed for your online business? It’s called Drip, and it’s got all the data insights, segmentation savvy, and email and SMS marketing tools you need to connect with customers on a human level, make boatloads of sales, and grow with gusto. Try Drip free for 14 days (no credit card required), and start turning emails into earnings and SMS sends into cha-chings.