page title icon 019: Jeannie Walters: It felt like I wanted to run away

Jeannie Walters Show Notes

When Jeannie Walters learned about the acquisition of one of her favorite clients during the financial crisis of 2008 it wasn’t the loss of a major contract that impacted her most. Instead she found meaning in something bigger. Listen to Jeannie tell her story of how she got over the hump so you can too.

Jeannie Walter grew up in North Brook, IL as the youngest of five kids. Her fondest childhood memories were of epic camping trips with Dad, Mom, kids and the dog in their pop-up trailer. Despite the conflicts that can happen in large families Jeannie lives her life with the goal to leave a legacy of kindness.

Currently, Jeannie is the CEO/Founder of 360Connext, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has more than 16 years of experience helping companies improve retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience.

Jeannie’s expertise in customer experience is what earned her place as a TEDx speaker. The video’s popularity inspires her to collect microinteractions, which are the small, sometimes unnoticed things that can have a huge impact on the customer experience.

She is a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association. As a member of Vistage International, she was Member of the Year in 2007. She was also a member of former Illinois State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka’s Advisory Board for Women’s Issues. Walters was awarded the Businesswoman of the Year in 2001 by the Business Ledger and as An Outstanding Woman of Achievement in 2002 by the Girl Scouts of America.

Jeannie is also a very active writer and blogger, and has a large social media following and was recognized by the Huffington Post as one of “The Top 100 Most Social Customer Service Pros on Twitter.”

Jeannie currently resides in Oak Park, IL with her husband Mike and her two sons Brady and Nolan.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen and @jeanniecw will help you get over the hump on @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“Social media puts a magnifying glass on certain areas, and gives certain people a megaphone.” -Jeannie Walters Click to Tweet

“There are people who love to get up on their soap box and complain.” -Jeannie Walters Click to Tweet

“I really believe that most humans are reasonable.” -Jeannie Walters Click to Tweet

“We all have to get a little better and that’s really what life’s about” -Jeannie Walters Click to Tweet

“I tried always to do better, saw always a little further, I tried to stretch myself.” Audrey Hepburn by Jeannie Walters Click to Tweet

“I really like to focus on making small changes and looking one step ahead.” -Jeannie Walters Click to Tweet

“Life’s too short to work with people you don’t admire and respect.” -Jeannie Walters Click to Tweet

“If you have the choice, work with people that inspire you.” -Jeannie Walters Click to Tweet

“If you don’t have anybody in the room to look up to then you have to be the one.” -Jeannie Walters Click to Tweet

“Set small things and take the right action every day.” -Jeannie Walters Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Jeannie learned about the acquisition of one of her favorite clients during the financial crisis of 2008 and found herself in a personal moment of truth that impacted here more than losing a major client contract. Listen to Jeannie’s story so you can learn to move onward and upward faster.

Advice for others

Life’s too short to work with people you don’t admire and respect. If you have the choice work with people who inspire you and they will continue to do that.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

I am not as hyper organized as I should be.

Best Leadership Advice Received

It’s better to tell the truth early, rather than to try to cover it up.

Secret to Success

Staying positive and taking one action a day that will lead to the next big goal.

Best Resources in business or Life

My kids. They provide a lot of wisdom at odd times and keep me grounded.

Recommended Reading

The Leader’s Voice: How Your Communication Can Inspire Action and Get Results!

Contacting Jeannie



Crack the Customer Code Podcast:

More Resources

Jim Rembach on Jeannie’s podcast (Crack the Customer Code):

54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.

Show Transcript: 

[expand title=”Click to access edited transcript”]

019: Jeannie Walters: It felt like I wanted to run away

 Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we uncover the leadership like hat that help you to experience, break out performance faster and rocket to success.  And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligent practitioner, Jim Rembach.

Jim Rembach:   Alright, Fast Leader legion, I am so excited to have the person who I have on the show today, she is one of kindest people that I have had the opportunity meet in my life and that’s the legacy that she wants to leave. She’s also a phenomenal leader. Jeannie Walters is a member of Faith Popcorn’s Talent Bank and a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association.


 As a member of Vestige International, she was a Member of the Year in 2007. She served as a member of former Illinois State Treasurer, Judy Baar Topinka’s advisory board for women’s issues. Walters was awarded businesswoman of the year in 2001 by the Business Ledger and as an Outstanding Woman of Achievement in 2002 by the Girl Scouts of America. And you know what, she has two boys, so we have to find out how that came in [inaudible 1:03] she’s a very active writer and has her own podcast called Crack the Customer Code, which you can find on iTunes.


She has a large social media following and is recognized by the Huffington Post as one of the top 100 most Social Customer Service pros on Twitter. Jeannie grew up in Northbrook, Illinois and was the youngest of five kids and had some epic camping trips with mom, dad, kids, dog and a pup of trailer. And she stayed in the Chicago area lives in Oak Park with her two sons Brady 10, Nolan 8 and her husband Mike.  Jeannie Walters, are you ready to help us get over the hump?


Jeannie Walters:     Wow! I hope so. Thanks Jim. 


Jim Rembach:      Thank you for being here. I’ve given our listeners a brief introduction but can you please tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you better?


Jeannie Walters:      Sure. A long time now my passion has been around Customer Experience. And the mission of our company is to create fewer ruins days for customers. And the reason I created that mission statement was because when I think about my own experience as a customer, I am fitting to a lot of demographics, I am “sucker mom”, I’m a business owner, I’m all these things, so when I go in and have a bad experience at a bank or when I can’t do something on mind that I want to do, or something doesn’t work on mobile that can ruin my day. And unfortunately, sometimes we carry that throughout our lives and so this is why I’m so passionate about it, I really believe that if we provide better experiences for people in general, everybody else benefits from it. 


Jim Rembach:     I think we all lose track, in that, all of us have customer experiences even if we have customers and these days who doesn’t have customers who doesn’t have people that they have to interact with in order to have whatever experience it may be, really full of less stress, be more enjoyable, be something that we could not be used as something to pinpoint as being lousy in our day. So, the definition is so broad, for you, when you start saying customer experience what does that mean to you?


Jeannie Walters:      It’s a great question. I think customer experience is often define as perception as how people feel about an overall company or organization based on the experiences they ask have. I actually feel like—that’s part of it. But the customer experiences everything from how you are introduced to a company all the way through when you might leave them and why you might leave them. It’s every single reaction you have and the perceptions that go along with that. 


I have a perception about some companies even though I’ve never worked with them even though I’ve never been their customer. But I understand that their customer experience maybe isn’t something I want to purchase paid in, that’s part of the customer experience too. 


Jim Rembach:     You know, that’s a very interesting point you bring up and with you being recognized someone who’s very socially active in the customer experience space. There was a study that I was reading that talked about the complaints that are on social media about different companies, and that for one particular company when they analyze those complaints they found out that 80% of the negative noise were from people who weren’t even their customers. So, do you think that perceptions about companies are growing from a negative perspective or indifferent or positive perspective? Where do you see the trend going?


Jeannie Walters:      I think social media helps us put a magnifying glass on certain areas and also gives certain people a megaphone, but those people have always been the loud mouths anyway. I’m not a huge fan of focus groups as a way to do research simply because there’s always one really opinionated loud mouth in the group and that can sway a lot of people who are just willing—they don’t want to put themselves in that situation of being confrontational. And I think the same thing happens with social media, there are people who love to get up on their soapbox and complain and talk about what’s going wrong. And then they are the people who sit back and they might take in that information but then they’re reasonable people, I really believe that most humans are reasonable. 


And so, if you have something that happens and as an organization, come back and say, “We looked into this and this is what we learned about it” and present that side of the story it gives everybody a fair shot to understanding experience better. Well, I think that, social media is a tool that is great for communication. I also think we can get caught up in looking at the negative side of it. It’s an important tool for organizations to understand that they have that same ability to share their side of the story and to be human about it and if you are human, humans respond to that, it’s really that simple.


Jim Rembach:  I think what you’re talking about is really inspiration and even your message is saying that: Look, don’t focus on the negative stuff, here’s an opportunity to have a positive platform and that in itself is inspirational, so thank you for sharing that. And we focus on leadership quotes here on the Fast Leader show, cause they are just that, they’re inspirational and they’re perception based, we take some information within words and then we start pulling it inside and it has some strength for us, is there a quote for you that has some strength?


Jeannie Walters:       Yeah. A few years ago, I heard a documentary or quick bio piece on Audrey Hepburn and I’d always admired her because I grew up watching her movies with my mom, it’s really great memory for me to see what she did with her life, she became an ambassador, she did all sorts of things. And I had to look it up today because all I could remember about it was she talked about how we all have to get a little better. And that’s really what life is about, so the quote is: “I tried always to do better so always a little further I tried to stretch myself.” It’s so simple but it’s so meaningful because I think it’s easy when you’re a leader sometimes to go for big goal and when you get knocked down you think you failed or think that it’s over or you can’t get to that next big goal. And I really like to focus on making small changes and looking one step ahead instead of getting too caught up in trying to overachieve, I guess. 


Jim Rembach:     Even when you say that I started to think about how I even do that personally. It isn’t necessarily trying to do it for others. One of our previous guest, a leadership freak, Dan Rockwell talked about what drives him in order to write about leadership every single day of the year. And he says he has to remind himself, “You better get down there” because he wants to make a difference, and so it’s very inspirational. I think that quote in itself is going to have a lot of different meaning for different folks both men and women. Thank you for sharing that. Now, without a doubt, even if you start going back and looking at all you siblings and those camping trips, we have humps to get over in our life and they define who we are really help us grow and reach just like that quote that you shared with us? Is there a time where you had a hump to get over that defined you and that has really stuck with you? Can you share that story with us please? 


Jeannie Walters:      Sure. We were consulting very large organizations when the financial crisis hit in 2008 and one of my favorite clients was this amazing bank that serve people through community development and they had a triple bottom line approach with the environment as one of the factors profitability and community development. And they were going through a terrible time and when they were acquired, which we expected, I went to the women I was working with and I said, “How can we help you here? Because I knew that our contract was basically over, based on the bigger bank taking over and I knew that she was in a top spot. She was worried about us and she was saying, “Well, I’m trying to get your contract” and I said, “Don’t worry about that, what can we do for you?” And it was really a great example for me to go back on and think about at that time I really needed her as much as she needed me and we were supporting each other for the very right reasons of just being kind to one another. And I was very inspired by her because she really went out of her way to take her of her community even though the resources were so limited at that point of what she could do.


And so, it was a huge blow to lose that contract, honestly, but what I took away from it was it was about something bigger, it was about that relationship. And she ended up retiring a few years later and inviting me to her retirement party and it was amazing because I learned even more about her and the things she had done and the people who turned out and the recognition from the city and all these places that she was just remarkable person and I was so grateful that in that moment that was scary that it felt like I wanted to run away a little bit, that  it was a lesson for me of—you know that sometimes it’s about doing the right thing and that serves you in different ways and maybe your initial goal. 


Jim Rembach:     I can imagine that—going through that for both of you like you were talking about, it had to be very stressful. You had to open up just a whole lot of different thoughts in your mind that sometimes later we can adjust—oftentimes move past that time or get over that hump later. But if there was one piece of advice that you would give to our listeners from that story, what would it be? 


Jeannie Walters:      I’d like to say life’s too short to work with people you don’t admire and respect. And even clients and customers I think that if you have the choice work people who inspire you and to continue to do that even if the business opportunity isn’t there in that moment look beyond that and really look to that relationship.


Jim Rembach:    That is something that I think ultimately we can all strive forward we’d like to have. It’s kind of like that business utopia when we’re serving. But if you’re not in that position and you fell stuck and I’ve seen it—I’m probably there now in certain situations, how do you position yourself get past that so you can seek those clients and you can be not worried about the fact that you have to feed your family, do you have some advice on how we can do that?


 Jeannie Walters:   Yeah. I got great advice from one of my very first mentors and he told me once that if I don’t have anybody in the room that I can look up to, then I need to be the one look up to. And there are times where sometimes you have to own that a little bit and understand that maybe in this situation your role is to be that person instead of looking for that.


Jim Rembach:   That’s an awesome piece of advice. A lot of times we do, I mean, our eyes are pointing out and so were looking but oftentimes maybe we need to be reflecting. Maybe it’s us that we have to stand up and take that responsibility. Thank you again for sharing that. So, I know you are doing a lot of things with your company, being a mom of two young boys as a mom and sure as a spouse as well, but what about your current—well, life or business is really driving you and giving you that energy ?


Jeannie Walters:      Well, it does comes down to my two boys because part of why I started this business in 2009 was because it gave me the flexibility—it’s a virtual business, I have a team but we are all over the world, I work from home and I’m able to do things like walking my kids to school every day. They go to school three blocks from Ayren. When we’ve had school events I just put that on my calendar and I’m able to go do that. And so, knowing that I have that flexibility, knowing that there are times I’m sacrificing by working late hours or by getting up very early to get some work done, I know what’s driving me to do that and it is about creating a life—it’s not perfect and it’s not easy but at the same time I know that I’m going to have all this time to look back on where I was really there with my kids.


Jim Rembach:    I think for me too, kind of in a similar situation, I probably don’t take as much time doing that and listening to—I need to make sure I put more things on my calendar do just that. If you start thinking about yourself, going back to the quote that you had mentioned from Audrey Hepburn, what are some of the goals that you have?


Jeannie Walters:       I always have way too many goals [Laugh] that’s one of my downfalls. I set a goal last year, I started running last year so I’m doing my second 5K this weekend and eventually I’d like to do a 10K and keep moving up on that. I am doing a lot around writing and podcasting as you know, but I would love to write a book, that’s on my list. I would love to work with more organizations that inspire me and I have aspirational list of organizations I want to work with. And really it’s about—and I of course, as somebody who works from home and is in my house a lot, I have a list of things I want to do house, cause I see them all the time. Overall, I feel like it is about setting those small things and just taking the right action every day, that’s what I try to do. 


Jim Rembach:     I think that’s a good point. Just take an action even if it’s a little one at least there’s movement. I often say, sometimes you need to just go ahead and take those two steps back because ultimately it may lead to three steps going forward, that’s kind of hard thing for us to swallow, the Fast Leader legion wishes you the very best. 


Alright here we go Fast Leader listeners, it’s time for the—Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Jeannie the Hump Day Hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. I’m going to ask you several questions and it’s you job to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Jeannie Walters are you ready to hoedown?


Jeannie Walters:    I’m ready. 


Jim Rembach:    Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?


Jeannie Walters:       I’m, not as hyper-organized as I should be. 


Jim Rembach:     I can attest to that one myself. What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?


Jeannie Walters:     It’s better to tell the truth early rather than try to cover it up. 


Jim Rembach:     Noted. What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?


Jeannie Walters:       Staying positive and taking one action a day that will lead you to the next big goal. 


Jim Rembach:    What do you feel is one of your best resources that helps you lead in business or life?


Jeannie Walters:       My kids. [Laugh] They provide a lot of wisdoms at odd times and keep me grounded. 


Jim Rembach:     What would be one book you would recommend to our listeners? I know there’s many, just kind of that go-to that you always go back to?


Jeannie Walters:        One that I really love is called the “Leaders Voice” it’s by Boyd Clarke and I’m going to blank the other guy, but they work for Tom Peters and it’s about how we internalize communication and three ways and how to provide communication that way. It’s a really great book. 


Jim Rembach:    That’s awesome. Okay, Fast Leader listeners you can find link and other bonus information from today’s show by going to Walters. Okay, Jeannie, this my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning and you were 25 years old again. You’re supposed to begin a new job as a manager of a team of people that is underperforming and disengaged but you have retained all the wisdom and skills that you currently have. Your task is to turn the team around so you get up you get ready and you head out to work, what do you do now?


Jeannie Walters:      I listen. I’ll take them in one by one and listen to what they have to say, and then basically there’s a new sheriff in town, and help the right people get on the bus. 


Jim Rembach:    That was good. Alright, Jeannie it was an honor to spend time with you today. Can you please share with Fast Leader listeners how can they connect with you?


Jeannie Walters:      Absolutely, thank you. You can find me at as well as 


Jim Rembach:      Jeannie, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump.  Woot Woot!


Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show, especial offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the so we can help you move onward and upward faster. 






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