Mark Babbitt Show Notes
Mark Babbitt was always the man behind the curtain. He was the engineer in back that figured out how to get stuff done. But then his role changed. He had to blog and be vulnerable. He had to take a stand. As the guy who would vomit before public speaking. Mark had to get over the hump fast.
Mark was born in the Eugene area of Oregon. His parents, who have been married for nearly 60 years now, raised him, his older sister and younger brother, in a series or lumber towns throughout Oregon and Northern California.
Mark has always had an entrepreneurial spirit – his parents will tell you he’s been an entrepreneur since the age of 8 – he’s been blessed to have a diverse career path. He joined the US Air Force at 17. He spent 8+ in Silicon Valley leveraging his skills as an engineer in the semi-conductor industry.
He returned to his entrepreneurial roots by running an advertising agency for high-tech companies from 1990 to 1999. He then dove head first into the start-up world in 2000, and – after four start-ups and a fifth on the way – he hasn’t looked back.
Throughout, his one constant has always been coaching and mentoring. He’s coached football, basketball and baseball at every level – from t-ball and rec league to high school and national programs. Coaching and working with our future leaders keeps him grounded, no matter where life seems to take him.
When people think about Mark, he hopes they see one thing more than any other: a mentor. He wants to be known for making a difference, one young life at a time.
His tombstone will read simply: “Kids and dogs loved him.”
Mark currently serves as CEO and Founder of YouTern – a site that enables college students, recent graduates and young professionals to find their first or next internship or job.
He’s also President of Switch+Shift, a leadership community dedicated to helping leaders embrace the Social Age while leaving Industrial Age “best practices” behind.
He serves as CMO of ForwardHeroes.org, a community that helps U.S. military veterans and their families’ transition successfully into civilian careers.
Mark contributes to Huffington Post, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Monster, and many other publications. He the co-authored A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive – an Top 10 Amazon best-seller in six business categories.
He’s also been listed by Inc.com as a “Top 100 Leadership Speaker.” His speaking engagements have taken him all over the world, from Hong Kong to Europe and to 48 out of our 50 United States.
Mark currently lives in the mountains of Colorado between Denver and Colorado Springs. He and his wife Deb have raised 5 children, ages 29 to 9. They have two grand-daughters, ages 8 and 1. And they have two more grandkids on the way!
They also share their home with two other children: a chocolate lab named Cinder and a lab-retriever mix named Cash.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“A blue unicorn is a social leader; one who listens first and talks second.” -Mark Babbitt Click to Tweet
“Boomer, white males are our biggest barriers to success.” -Mark Babbitt Click to Tweet
“Find somebody you love and teach them everything you know.” -Mark Babbitt Click to Tweet
“Invest in your succession plan.” -Mark Babbitt Click to Tweet
“Invest in the person you trust and have affection for.” -Mark Babbitt Click to Tweet
“Change is the direct result of insurmountable market pressure.” -Mark Babbitt Click to Tweet
“Social media is an amplifier of what we’re already doing.” -Mark Babbitt Click to Tweet
“We’re not giving up, we’re not quitting, what’s the pivot?” -Mark Babbitt Click to Tweet
“Fall down 7 times, get up 8.” -Mark Babbitt Click to Tweet
“We have to surround ourselves with people that want better.” -Mark Babbitt Click to Tweet
“Whatever you are, you’ve got to own it.” -Mark Babbitt Click to Tweet
“You can’t be the next anybody else.” -Mark Babbitt Click to Tweet
“Whatever your value proposition is, you have to own it, bottle it, and sell it.” -Mark Babbitt Click to Tweet
“You’ve got to be what you are and sell what you are.” -Mark Babbitt Click to Tweet
“If you’re going to amplify something, amplify integrity and trust.” -Mark Babbitt Click to Tweet
“Active listening is expected in the social world.” -Mark Babbitt Click to Tweet
“Active listening is the most in demand soft skill now.” -Mark Babbitt Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Mark Babbitt was always the man behind the curtain. He was the engineer in back that figured out how to get stuff done. But then his role changed. He had to blog and be vulnerable. He had to take a stand. As the guy who would vomit before public speaking. Mark had to get over the hump fast.
Advice for others
Embrace your uniqueness and amplify it on social media.
Holding him back from being an even better leader
I suck at delegating. I need to get way better at that.
Best Leadership Advice Received
Be yourself, be unique.
Secret to Success
I’m a workaholic, I work forever.
Best tools that helps in Business or Life
Email: mark [at] youturn.com
Resources and Show Mentions
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:Click to access edited transcript
124: Mark Babbitt: I had to expose my feelings
Intro Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.
Need a powerful and entertaining way to ignite your next conference, retreat or team-building session? My keynote don’t include magic but they do have the power to help your attendees take a leap forward by putting emotional intelligence into their employee engagement, customer engagement and customer centric leadership practices. So bring the infotainment creativity the Fast Leader show to your next event and I’ll your attendees get over the hump now. Go to beyondmorale.com/speaking to learn more.
Jim Rembach: Okay Fast Leader Legion, today I’m excited because we have someone on the show who really gives us some really important information in today’s world that will make a big impact to no matter where you’re headed. Mark Babbitt was born in the Eugene area of Oregon. His parents who have been married for nearly 60 years now raised him, his older sister, and younger brother in a series of lumber towns throughout Oregon and Northern California. Mark has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. His parents will tell you that he’s even been an entrepreneur since the age of 8. He has been blessed to have a diverse career path. He joined the US Air Force at 17. He spent eight years in Silicon Valley leveraging his skills as an engineer in the semiconductor industry. He returned to his entrepreneurial roots by running an advertising agency for high-tech companies from 1990 to 1999 and he then go headfirst into the startup world in 2000.
After four startups and now on his fifth he hasn’t looked back. Throughout his one constant he’s always been coaching and mentoring. He’s coached football, basketball, baseball at every level from t-ball, reck league, to high school sports and national programs. Coaching and working with our future Leaders keeps him grounded no matter where life seems to take him. When people think about Mark, he hopes they see one thing more than any other, he’s a mentor. He wants to be known for making a difference one young life at a time. His tombstone will read simply, “Kids and Dogs loved him.” Mark currently serves as CEO and founder of YouTern a site that enables college students, recent graduates, and young professionals to find their first and next internship or job.
He’s also the president of Switch shift a leadership, a leadership community dedicated to helping leaders embrace the social age while living in the Industrial Age best practices behind.
He serves as the CMO of forwardheroes.org, a community that helps the US military veterans and their families’ transition successfully into civilian careers. Mark contributes to Huffington Post, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Monster and many other publications. He’s the co-author of A World Gone Social – How Companies Must Adapt to Survive a top ten Amazon bestseller and six business categories. He’s also been listed by Inc. as a top 100 leadership speaker. Mark currently lives in the mountains of Colorado between Denver and Colorado Springs. He and his wife Deb have raised five children ages 29 and 9 and they have two granddaughters ages 8 and 1 and they have two more grandkids on the way. They also share their home with two other children a chocolate lab named Cinder and a lab-retriever named Cash. Mark Babbit, are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Mark Babbit: After that long bio I’d better be.
Jim Rembach: You’ve got to deliver now man.
Mark Babbit: No pressure.
Now given our Legion a little bit about you but can you tell what your current passion is so that we get to know even better.
Mark Babbit: The current passion remains helping others and giving back. When you’ve had a couple of nice successful startups it isn’t about the money anymore and so I’m in a great position to serve as a mentor and a coach and not have to charge money for it and it’s a
Jim Rembach: That is a great place to be and I think we can all appreciate getting through there at some point. I always say that I keep applying for that retired job but they’re not hiring me.
Mark Babbit: Who’s in control of that Jim? You or them?
Jim Rembach: That’s a great point. I was a sharing off mic and I actually shared with a couple folks reading through–and I believe me that’s a lot to absorb—but a World Gone Social and all of the content that you guys have in here, I think your share is like , 39,000 words I mean it’s—
Mark Babbit: Yeah, 93,000 words.
Jim Rembach: 93,000, I’m sorry. And, words it’s just so much to cover but there was one thing that kind of stood out for me and you even sign the book that you sent to me, and I really appreciate that. But you said ”Jim thanks for being a blue unicorn.” What is that?
Mark Babbit: A blue unicorn, Jim, is that leader who has left everything he or she knows behind about Industrial Age leadership. They’ve forgotten that they were trained to be loud and decisive and autocratic and they have all the answers. A blue unicorn is a social leader one who listens first talks second, one who collects all the wisdom in the room before making a decision, one who mentors others and—sure he believes an accountability in its results-driven but it’s supportive accountability and it’s team-based results it’s just it’s just a much different way to lead in in today’s economy and I dare to say that we’re being forced into in a lot of ways. Let’s go back and really kind of point and get a little bit more specific on what you talked about the Industrial Age styles and things like that. Taylor-ism is a particular method of management that really started with the Industrial Age and Frederick Taylor really dictated a lot of the management styles and practices that many of our boomers were developed in and mentored and apprenticed under and there’s a lot of carryover effect in that. So, when you start talking about Taylor-ism and being able to help organizations make that conversion where you find in the most challenged?
Jim Rembach: Old white guys, right. I mean seriously boomer white males are our biggest barrier to success because of everything you just said. In business school, undergraduate work, up through their mentors, through their peers, through their parents, usually their fathers back then, they learned one way to lead and that was the general pattern style. Again I have to have all the answers, I have to be the loudest, I have to give the reason people reason to take the hill and I’m going to tell them what that reason is, I’m not going to ask them their reason I’m going to control the messaging, I’m going to tell them what’s best for them and if they don’t like it I’ll just go find somebody else to replace them. We were just cogs in the machine under Taylor-ism and that’s changed so much now Jim.
Mark Babbit: Even when you start talking about senior level positions and I don’t care what size of organization or and it’s of all types. Whether it’s Fortune, whether it’s even mid-market or even some of your smaller businesses there’s still a lot of that old Taylor-ism mentality that’s running those. And there’s a statistic that I keep coming across and sharing with folks is that even in the US when you start thinking about small businesses there’s literally millions of businesses that now will become available either for purchase or acquisition or merger because of these old white guys just retired and there’s no one to pass it down to. How do we get those folks to create and have a different legacy for their organizations so that those businesses do continue?
Jim Rembach: That’s a great question Jim and I’ll tell you the answer. The answer is probably simple than people might imagine. Find somebody you love and teach them everything you know. Invest in your succession plan. Invest in the person who you trust and have enough affection for that you will give up control to them. But that’s the hard part, Jim, that last part and it’s not just small businesses, corporate America too. Again those are white guys they don’t want to give up control, they don’t want to let go. This is their life, this is how they measure themselves this is what they are and it’s hard to give all that up. But man, the people who are doing it are just doing amazing work and their legacy turns overnight. Their legacy goes from—“He’s a good businessmen, got a little grumpy when he got old but sad to see him go to I love that guy, he taught me everything I know, I’m the person I am today because of her.” What a difference that makes in your life and the people who follow you.
Mark Babbit: And that is true. Now, I am somebody who—I’m an X’ers, right? And even when you look at the numbers in regards to boomers – X’ers – Millennial’s, there’s just like this huge void of people.
Jim Rembach: You’re in the minority man. You are.
Mark Babbit: Tremendous minority. And so even when you start thinking about transitioning and turning over leadership it’s difficult. But I’m also one of those people that man when change needs to occur I kind of hold on to it and I just try to drive it as much as I can and it sometimes hasn’t served me well because I get impatient with it. But I’m sitting in a position, say, I’m in we’re in an organization I have that old white guy who’s a top of me who’s really just doing that Taylor-ism thing to me, I can’t stand it anymore but I know that in a couple years he won’t be around. How can I survive?
Jim Rembach: Well, managing up is a big part of this Jim, that’s so hard. It’s exhausting. Now here’s where the social age can be our friend though because has changed so much in the last decade. That that old white guys sitting up on top of you is probably dying for new information. He’s looking around he’s saying, “Boy, we’re not as competitive as we used to be our numbers aren’t as big as they once were. That new company that’s always on that on that damn Facebook all the time with those kids, they doing good and I’m not. The first line in our book is change is the direct result of insurmountable market pressure. And that old white guy at one point he’s going to look at you and go. Man, what are we doing wrong? What are we doing well? I want to hear that too. What am I doing wrong right now? What are we doing wrong? And that’s where an eXer or a millennial or a Gen Z can walk up and go. You know what? Man, we’d be great if we mind reviews on Yelp? And we answer people on TripAdvisor and we got on social media and turn our customers into brand ambassadors? We’d start getting ahead. So, all of these digital native skills all of these things that might come more natural on a digital or social level to the eXers and Millennials those are white guys they’re just dying to know that. And, “Yeah, they’re going to be a little slow to pick up on it but once they do, wow! It’s their shudder.
Mark Babbit: And those are some really important points. And as you were talking I started thinking about something that would really be an asset or part of the toolkit for that person who wants to be able to initiate those changes. For it to be less threatening to that old white guy it’s really important to talk about the legacy that got you to where you are because that’s what that old guy wants to hold on to. We are this and this is who we are and this is what got us here and being able to preserve that. In the area of appreciative inquiry they talk about finding your power core and not getting too far away from your identity and who you are because often that’s not a path that can be supported by the organization because it’s just too far left or too far right but it’s holding on to that power core. How do you convey or help folks to be able to find that power core and use it as part of that influence?
Jim Rembach: Well, here’s the differentiator for that. You do have to stay within your core business and you do have to stick with what got you there or that white guys going to—no, no, too much too soon, I can’t do this. So here are the key words Social digital is an amplifier of what we’re already doing. It doesn’t change what we’re doing it lets the world know what we do really well. So, if we build a really good product or if we provide exceptional service we’re going to get others to talk about us on digital and social media and amplify what we’re already doing. We’re going to gain more customers by using a digital blow horn and when you explain it like that, that old white guy goes—okay, you know what, as long as I don’t have to push the buttons, I’m good with this.
And Jim, I was in this position when we launched YouTern we were going to be a BB service bureau to University Career Centers and we were going to help the career centers help their students. Six weeks before we launched the recession had hit every career center on the planet was having layoffs and budget cutbacks they had no money to pay but we’d already invested a million dollars in our startup, it’s self-funded and we had no place to go. So, six weeks before we launched, I’d looked at my team and said, “Now what? What’s the pivot? We’re not giving up we’re not quitting what’s the pivot? Monday morning one of my young guys came in and said, “Mark, we got this, we’re going to go blog and we’re going to jump on social media and we’re going to be so damn good at what we do that everybody starts talking about us we won’t have to advertise. We won’t have to generate revenue through traditional means, all word-of-mouth. We dubbed that to testimonial economy where you do become so good, at not just what you do but amplifying what you do that other people become your change champions, other people become your brand ambassadors. And that’s how we built three communities now. It’s an amazing transition that’s so far distance from the Industrial Age. It’s kind of earth-shattering and it blew me away. I look at young Joe—you are crazy that’s a dumbest thing I have ever heard in my life. It wasn’t dumb it was huge. It turned out he was brilliant and he save our company and helped launched two more.
Mark Babbit: Kudos to you for letting him move forward and that blog.
Jim Rembach: It took months, Jim. It took months to get this old white guy on social media. But once I on I was hooked. What we’re talking about here is definitely filled with tons of emotion and need for focus. One of the ways that we look at that for the show is through the quotes that guests share with us. Is there a quote or two that you can share with us that will help?
Mark Babbit: There is. I was in the military and I and I was stationed in Okinawa and there was a sign in Japanese above my bed while I was there. For a long time it just bothered me that I didn’t know what that was. After several weeks I finally asked the guy at BQ what that meant. He said, in English it basically means, “Fall down seven times, get up eight” and I was, I don’t know 18 at that time and I thought that is just brilliant, so simple and so brilliant, so, that’s kind of been my thing ever since. And then through all my trials and tribulations, several start-ups some successes some fails some great aspects of my career some not-so-great a very stressful divorce at one point when I became a single dad with full custody of four kids I develop my own mantra. It started on social media and then eventually went to my life and it goes like this Jim, “No trolls, drama queens or divas, no takers, no fakers, no assholes” and that’s the mantra I live by now. If somebody’s not contributing positively to my life and those people I care about I’m not going to spend much time with them. We have to surround ourselves with people who wants better and that’s my goal.
Jim Rembach: I appreciate your sharing that. A lot of people would probably say, that’s not very compassionate when you say there’s some people need to be cut out, but that’s reality.
Mark Babbit: Oh, especially in the social age because we get inundated with the self-promoters and the spammers and the askhole. Askholes is that person who keeps asking and asking and asking something of you but never gives back, that’s an emotional, financial, physical drain. And we’re just bombarded by those people all the time now so we have to be very careful we have to be very choosy about who we spend time with and who we invests time with.
Jim Rembach: And all of that means that we have humps that we have to get over in order to be able to move forward faster. Is there time where you can share a story when you’ve had to get over the hump?
Mark Babbit: Well, I think the pivot that I already talked about was certainly a big one but I think for me learning how to be the guy out in front was a big deal. When we launched YouTern I have in my corporate world and even in my advertising agency I was always the man behind the curtain. I didn’t have to be on front I didn’t do interviews I didn’t have to public speaking I was the engineer who sat in the back and figure out how to get stuff done and that was my role. And also with YouTern I have to blog, I have to write I had to be vulnerable I had to expose my feelings I had to take a stand and that’s a different way to think for those of us. Especially an introvert like I am, not an easy thing to get over, especially public speaking I was the guy who would literally throw up before I had to go on stage. To sort of conquer that and to break through some of those fears and those barriers to success it’s been a fulfilling journey but it hasn’t been easy.
Jim Rembach: So when you started thinking about being able to move from the back stage to the front stage, if you were to give people a particular piece of advice in order to help them do that flip, what would it be?
Mark Babbit: Own it. Whatever it is whatever you are, you got to own it. Everybody wants to be the next Gary Vee, everybody wants—you know, long time ago everybody wanted to be the next Stephen Covey, right? No, you can’t be the next anybody else. Whatever it is you do, whatever your value proposition is you got to own it bottle it and sell it. And if you’re a little quirky, if you’re a little different, if you don’t do everything perfectly according to Toastmasters or the best journalists on the planet then then so be it, but you got to what you are and you have to sell what you are.
Jim Rembach: I think that’s a really important point that you bring up because I was just having this conversation with another guest for different episode and we were talking about the uniqueness and the difference, and I said, well, that’s actually what you want to embrace, you don’t want to fall in line with everybody else because then you just look like everybody else. So, that quirkiness and those types of things is what you do need—talking about using your word “amplify”.
Mark Babbit: Right, that’s it exactly. What do you want to amplify? Do you want to amplify that you have a unique message and a unique style and passion for what you do? Or do you want to amplify that you’re a me too play and that you’ll sacrifice your integrity to make a buck or that just spam a you know what out of everybody just to help your conversion numbers. You’re going to amplify something, amplify integrity, amplify trust, amplify empathy, and amplify something good.
Jim Rembach: Exactly. When you start thinking about YouTern, the book, speaking, coaching because actually we had a particular time that we were supposed to meet earlier and you had a client who requested you, kids, dogs, wife, got all these things going on what’s one of your goals?
Mark Babbit: My goal remains the same. My goal is if I can get up every day without the alarm and I know that I help somebody or a group of people meet their goals, I’m good—that and catching three pound trout once in a while, I’m good. I meant to point my life—I live on five acres in the woods up in Colorado with those dogs with the kids with three grandkids and one on the way, it changed a week ago Jim since we’ve sent that bio to you.
Jim Rembach: Awesome.
Mark Babbit: As long as they come visit once a while I’m good. So, my goals remain the same. That doesn’t mean I don’t have personal things I’m working on, I still want to be a better speaker, I want to finish my second book which I’m working on right now. I want to have a unique voice, I want to want to make my presence known but mostly I want to I want to conquer the biggest fear that I have and that is someday I won’t be relevant, I won’t matter anymore and that’s everything I do is to that goal. If I ever woke up and I had just stopped being relevant that would probably be like my worst nightmare.
Jim Rembach: And the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor:
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Alright, here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Mark, the Hump Day Hoedown is that part of our show where you give us good insights fast. I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet read the responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Mark Babbit are you ready hoedown?
Mark Babbit: I am ready.
Jim Rembach: Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?
Mark Babbit: I suck at delegating. I need to get way better at them.
Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Mark Babbit: Get right back to what we are, be yourself, be unique.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Mark Babbit: I’m a workaholic. I work forever but I love what I do so it doesn’t feel like work.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?
Mark Babbit: Now it’s social media. I know it sounds crazy for an old white guy to say that but I couldn’t live without that.
Jim Rembach: Okay, Mark. What would be one book that you’d recommend to our listeners it could be from any genre. Of course well put a link to you—
Mark Babbit: The first business book I ever read still the most impactful Jim that’s, In Search of Excellence.
Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader listeners you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/markbabbit. Well also have a link to Mark’s book, The World Gone Social-How Companies Must Adapts to Survive, he wrote with Ted Coine. Okay Mark, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age 25 and you’ve been given the knowledge and skills that you have now and you can take them back with you. But you can’t take everything back you can only choose just one, what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?
Mark Babbit: I would take back—no, I would delete arrogance. As a young engineer I thought I knew everything. As a 25-year-old, Oh! My god I thought I was just on top of the world and I didn’t listen I was terrible. I was just terrible that’s the one thing I would change. Active listening is a skill that comes with age perhaps but the more we talk about it—I think more people will know that it’s expected of them now in the social world we can’t talk and listen at the same time and you can’t listen just to figure out what you’re going to say next. Active listening is probably the most in-demand soft skill in the world now and I didn’t have that at 25. And man, if I could change that I sure would.
Jim Rembach: Mark, it was an honor to spend time with you today can you please share with the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you?
Mark Babbit: I still answer my own emails and my own Twitter stuff. At social media—firstname.lastname@example.org and you can find me on Twitter, marksbabbitt.
Jim Rembach: Mark Babbitt thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump.
Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers, and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.
END OF AUDIO