page title icon 002 Stan Phelps: You can’t be half pregnant and succeed

Podcast Show Notes with Stan Phelps

How do you know when you need to cut the cord? Join me as Stand Phelps shares his story of a life altering decision that caused him to uproot his family while still being pulled back by old ties.

Learn how he made a leadership decision that changed the course of his career and life.

Since that decision, Stan has become a best-selling author and requested speaker at numerous events across the globe.

Stan is an experience architect and Founder of 9inchmarketing in Cary, North Carolina.

He believes that today’s organizations must focus on meaningful differentiation to win the hearts of both employees and customers.

His 20 year career in marketing included leadership positions at IMG, adidas, PGA Exhibitions and Synergy. He has also worked on award-winning experiential programs for top brands such as KFC, Wachovia, NASCAR, Starbucks and M&M’s.

Stan’s writing is syndicated on top sites such as Forbes, Customer Think and Business2Community. He also writes as a contributor to MENG Blend and Switch & Shift. He has spoken at over 100 events in the US, Canada, Sweden, Australia, The Netherlands, Russia and France.

In his free time, he enjoys tennis, golf and snowboarding.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to Stan Phelps and get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“I stay ready to prevent having to get ready.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“Treat employees like they make a difference and they will.” -Jim Goodnight told by Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“Doing a lot of little things tells people you care.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“Sometimes a journey is met with follicle loss.” -Jim Rembach Click to Tweet

“You can’t be half pregnant in this world, you have to be fully committed to succeed.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“You have to be careful on doing what is safe.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“You have to have the courage to leave the safety behind and go in with both feet.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“Everyday I have to challenge myself on being a better Servant Leader to the people I work with.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“Recognition is not something you can do too often or too soon.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“Recognition is a driver of performance.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“It’s about trying to create a relationship with people first.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“If you can’t make things fun for your people then you are going to be in a losing battle.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

“You need to think about your people as volunteers.” -Stan Phelps Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Stan was stuck having to do work that he felt was fundamentally different than what he believed. He knew he needed to make a change, but Stan was holding himself back and needed to get over the hump by better leading himself. Listen and learn on Stan’s journey.

Leadership Epiphany

I was doing myself and my employer a dis-service, and I just needed to make a jump.

Best Resource

His sense of humor

Recommended Reading

The Human Brand: How We Relate to People, Products, and Companies

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

Resources from Stan

Executive summary of The Purple Goldfish and The Green Goldfish Click to get

More Resources

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

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002 Stan Phelps: You can’t be half pregnant and succeed

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 intelligent practitioner, Jim Rembach.

Jim Rembach: Thanks Kimberly. Alright Fast Leader legion, I am thrilled to introduce my guest today to you. Stan Phelps is an author, speaker and experienced architect. Stan worked with some tiny brands that you may have heard like KFC, NASCAR, Starbucks, M&M’s, PGA. He has held leadership positions at many of these organizations either through project work or working for them as an employee. 

For over the past five years his focus has shifted and he has become a best-selling author. His writing is syndicated on some top sites such as Forbes, Customer Think, Business 2 Community and he also contributes at MENG Blend and Switch and Shift. He’s spoken in over 100 events across the globe in some countries that we all probably wish we have gone to like Sweden, Australia, the Netherlands, Russia and France. I think his most important job probably is being a dad to his two boys Thomas and James and a husband to his wife Jennifer. Stan welcome, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

Stan Phelps:    I’m more than ready, Jim. 

Jim Rembach:    That’s fantastic. 

Stan Phelps:    I stay ready to keep some avenue get ready. 

Jim Rembach:     That’s a great point. Another one of those little tips that I think all of us can learn from. Now, Stan I’ve given our listeners a brief introduction. However, would you please tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you better? 

Stan Phelps:    Jim, my life passion is really about shifting how companies market their products and their services. My career which spans almost 20 years in marketing was really all about the beginning, focusing on the prospect and trying to grab their attention. And I think that’s a misnomer when it comes to today, because today’s marketing is truly about the experience and that’s really what your brand is at the end of the day. So, my goal is to try to get companies thinking more about the customers they already have rather than the prospects that they don’t have.

Jim Rembach:   I think that’s actually become a common passion for a lot of people today and while they want to essentially live that dream they find out that it’s a really, really difficult path and I think you’re going to help us get over that hump in some of these areas.  First of all, on the show we like to start with a piece of inspiration. We like to really look on leadership quotes in order to help us. For you, what would you say is one of your most favorite leadership quotes? 

Stan Phelps:    One of my favorites by far Jim, and it comes right here from my backyard. I live in Cary, North Carolina and there’s a company that’s based here in Cary called the SAS Institute. It was started 30+ years ago by Dr. James Goodnight. SAS has been listed as the best place to work in the world. It’s renowned in terms of its retention rates, the things that they do for employees, and this little thing that I think is the key to his mantra and this is his quote—is the idea of treating employees like they make a difference and they will and whether it’s treating people, employees, team members like they matter and if you do that, they will. 

Jim Rembach: That’s a great point.

Stan Phelps:    It’s a simple one but to me one that I always try to remember when I think about leadership.

Jim Rembach:     I’m glad you even mentioned the SAS Institute because we expect two folks that are going to be coming up in episodes here shortly. I can’t give you some names yet because we still haven’t locked them in but hopefully they’ll be able to provide some inside scoop and tips and ideas on ways we can get over the hump from them internally. So, how do you actually apply the meaning of that quotes, Stan, in your life? 

Jim Rembach:      Well, everything I write and I speak about, Jim, is about the idea of doing the little extra and it’s based on a concept that comes from New Orleans called “Lagniappe” and it’s doing that little something extra that’s unexpected. If you look at SAS and how they handle their employees, they truly try to go above and beyond to do a lot of those little things that communicate that they care. And that’s what I try to do in my life when I write, my speaking and how I try to manage on a day-to-day basis. 

Jim Rembach:     One of your books was actually highlighting the concept of Lagniappe, wasn’t it?

Stan Phelps:    Correct. Actually the trilogy of my books all touch that. The Purple Goldfish, The Green Goldfish and the Golden Goldfish. 

Jim Rembach:   Yeah. And hopefully we’ll have a special offer from Stan coming up for us listeners and we’ll ask him about that in a second see if it includes something from the Fish projects. Stan, no doubt that the path to where you are today has not been a simple one, we all call it a journey and sometimes journeys are met with follicle loss, and I think you and I both share that good thing you guys can see pictures of our bald and shiny heads, when you start thinking about challenges getting over that hump, oftentimes we don’t have people to help us do that we have to find out on our own and sometimes we spent a lifetime not figuring that out. Those are important stories that we like to share here at Fast Leader Show because it doesn’t matter who you are, what you do at a minimum you lead yourself, so from that perspective we are all leaders. It doesn’t matter if you’re an entrepreneur, if you’re working in an organization, or if your domestic goddess as they say, we all have to lead. We are dealing with other people, we’re dealing with vendors and we’re dealing with ourselves, so therefore, from that definition we all have to lead. And the better we are at that the more of a fulfilling life and career that we’re going to have, and so we like to share those things. Stan, please tell us a story when you had a hump to get over in your leadership journey starting with the situation that actually created the [inaudible 6:32] 

Stan Phelps:    I think my greatest hump occurred about three years ago. I’d spent about 2 1/2 years writing my first book and I got to the point where I really believe that marketing needed to change and that what I was currently doing was flat out the opposite of what I was professing. And so, I really got to this point where I needed to make that leap and really try to stand on my own two feet and that’s not an easy thing. It’s not an easy thing to leave a day job and to venture out to do something, entrepreneurial, on your own. And what I ended up doing was essentially moving my family from where we lived up in the Northeast relocating, but essentially starting my own business. The little thing that I did that was kind of a half-way was I ended up working part-time for my old agency and then part-time starting my own business. And I think the hump that I needed to get over was, you can’t be half pregnant in this world. You have to be fully committed if you want to succeed. And so that was a huge lessons to me as I made that transition.

Jim Rembach:      Is that politically correct or gender correct?

Stan Phelps:    [Laugh] You can’t be both things, you can’t serve two masters. And so it really got to a point where I needed to put a stake in the ground and I was able to make that transition a little over two years ago and haven’t looked back.

Jim Rembach:     You and I had some personal discussions about this particular issue and I shared the half pregnant thing to somebody and that’s what I got back, “Hey, is that gender correct? But, you really get the point when you hear that, right? You just know what it means, you can’t have two feet in different ocean it just doesn’t work. For many of us that’s just a really hard thing to face. So, at what point Stan did you ultimately had that epiphany? You have to be very careful on doing what is safe. And I think for a while for the first few months, I felt like I had a nice little bit of cushion with doing the three days a week with my old former employer and I just realized I was doing myself a disservice and I was doing them a disservice by having one foot in both places. And it just got to me, it became crystal clear, I needed to put that date in the sand and I needed to find closure with my former employer and jumped into doing what I wanted to do even though there really was no net there, I just needed to jump, and that was the greatest thing I did. 

Jim Rembach:   As you’re talking about that, for me, it’s like you needed to stop languishing.

Stan Phelps:    Correct. Safe is not always the best thing for you in terms of moving forward. 

Jim Rembach:   I think there’s several things that we can learn from that story and thanks for sharing it. I think making a faster decision oftentimes will cause us to make the moves that we know we need to make and knowing you Stan, I know that the risk associated with that move was not one that was a high risk. You had a lot of knowledge and wisdom and I’m sure support backing you up in making that move. I think making the ultimate decision really was already made by the time you had your own epiphany, you just have to realize what it sounds like. 

Stan Phelps:    Correct. Have the courage to leave the safety behind and go in with both feet. And I’ll say this, there was a lot of—and I love this term, Ooching along the way. So these small steps of things that I did to test the waters, to make sure that I knew that there was going to be a roughly safe landing when I made that jump. So it’s important to have those little things that you do that validate where you want to go. I’m not a [inaudible 10:44] anyone they jump with without having a good idea of where they’re going to land. 

Jim Rembach:   I think I just shot an info video not too long ago where I talked about the difference between having a journey and not having a journey and what is not having a journey, it’s called wandering because you really don’t have a target. You have to have some type of target for it to really be a journey, otherwise, you’ll just be wandering all over the place and not knowing where to go and then sometimes when you get to a particular destination you have no clue on how you got there. For me that had typically happens with Internet searching like, “How did I get here?” 

Thanks so much for sharing that Stan, I think there is again so many pieces of information that we can get out of there. But I want to move us on to the fun part of our show—Hump Day Hoedown. Okay Stan, the Hump Day Hoedown is the 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 robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Stan, are you ready to hoedown? 

Stan Phelps:    Let’s Hoedown, come on. 

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

Stan Phelps:    I think every day I have to challenge myself on how I can be a better servant leader to the people that I interact with. A lot of the work that I do is entrepreneurial as an independent kind of entrepreneur, but I also work with a couple volunteer organizations. And so every day it’s how can I support the people that I work with and that report to me on those organizations to help them perform better because ultimately that’s going to help me and the team at the end day. 

Jim Rembach:   Perfect. What’s the best leadership advice you have ever received?

Stan Phelps:    I think it’s simply this: Recognize, Recognize, Recognize. Recognition to me as a leader is something that you cannot do too often or too soon. Recognition is a driver of performance it shouldn’t be something that just happens after the fact.

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

Stan Phelps:    I think, I really understand that at the end of the day it’s not about selling a product or a service, it’s about trying to create a relationship with people first and that those bonds and the time that you spend to strengthen those relationships are ultimately going to be what makes you successful at the end of the day.

Jim Rembach:    It’s all about the people man, right? Okay, what do you feel is one of your best resources that helps you lead in business or life?

Stan Phelps:    I think probably my greatest strength, and this is kind of weird, is probably my sense of humor. To me, if you can’t look at things from a very light perspective, when you can’t try to make things fun for the people that you’re working with, then you’re going to be in a losing battle. 

Jim Rembach:       That is an awesome resource and that’s a great way of looking at it. Most people would think tool, right? But now you thought about something else which is great. Alright, so what would be one book that you would actually recommend to our listeners?

Stan Phelps:    Other than my own, I’m not going to recommend them, there is an amazing book that came out late 2013 called, The Human Brand by Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske, and this book really boils down leadership and branding into something that’s very simple—the idea of warmth and competence. And that’s how people judge other people but also judge brands, and it’s a very simple way to understand where you are both as a person and as a brand. 

Jim Rembach:   We’ll definitely make that available, a link to that on our show notes page as well as some other bonus materials because Stan is going to have a special offer for us. Stan, what do you have for the listeners? 

Stan Phelps:    Great. Anyone that would like to go to my website which is the, they’ll be able to download an executive summary of The Purple Gold Fish as well as an executive summary of The Green Goldfish, so that both books boil down to the essence and great, great reads for folks.

Jim Rembach:     And these are great reads because they’re really about little stories that have made a significant impact and goes to many of the things that Stan was actually talking about today. They can contribute to all of us having better careers and lives if we just used those really proven tools and apply them in our own life. So, Stan we’ll make that also available as a link on our show notes page which is for you ‘gonna be’,

Alright, we got one more question for you to wrap up the hoedown Stan and that is: Imagine you woke tomorrow morning and you were 25 years old again, you are actually now responsible for a team that is underperforming and disengaged, you’re a brand-new leader but you’ve actually retained all of the knowledge and wisdom and skill that you currently have, now your task is to turn the team around. So, you get up, you get ready and you head out for work, what do you do now?

Stan Phelps:    What do you do? I don’t know if there’s any one thing that you do Jim. But knowing what I know now and I wish I knew when I was 25, is that, those team members need to know that you care. You almost need to think about the people that are on your team as volunteers. I love this as a mentality, you almost need to treat them Jim, that there’s nothing tying them to being part of your team, that they have to want to do it. If you can show that you care about them that you’re there to support them that’s really going to create the environment where you have folks that are engaged. Most people don’t realize that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. And so I figured with my 25-year-old self would’ve jumped in there and went, ‘alright we need to do ABCD’, no, that’s not the right thing. You sit down you get to know your folks, you show them that you’re there to support them and that you truly care, you get their buying, you set a vision and then anything is possible.

Jim Rembach: That’s right. Anything is possible when you focus on those people. Stan, 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 to so we can help you move onward and upward faster.