page title icon Adam Dorrell

077: Adam Dorrell: It can be the kicker that gets you going

Adam Dorrell Show Notes

Adam Dorrell had been made redundant three times in his career. The first time he had small children. The most recent time he had another set of small children. Listen to what happened to Adam and how he was able to move onward and upward.

Adam grew up in a safe suburb of north London, in England – right on the edge of what they call the “green belt”. It was the best of both worlds. He used to travel to London on the tube, and as kid he would play in a huge expanse of woodland, greenery and golf courses that started at the end of his garden. Adam likes the outdoors and camping – he was a Scout, walked and hiked and doing lots of open air activities while growing up.

Adam was also interested in engineering, but his real hobby was electronics and robotics. He built radios and buzzing circuits from about the age of 9, graduating to using mains electricity in his early teens. It’s quite amazing that I did not electrocute himself fatally or start fires back then. At high school, Adam completed a working robot that interfaced with his computer (a Sinclair ZX Spectrum).

Life wasn’t too hard – maybe too easy. Adam found his competitive drive later in life!

Adam has had an interesting career. He’s been an advertising salesperson, and sold computers, but then he moved into marketing. His career took him to spend 3 years in Switzerland working for Digital Equipment. Back in the UK he worked for Compaq, Dell, Avaya. Then he moved back to mainland Europe to Brussels in Belgium to run the ecommerce platform for Sony. Then later to Amsterdam, Netherlands where he’s lived for ten years. He started a company there because he can’t speak Dutch and realized he was pretty much unemployable!

His next challenge is to move his family to the USA this year.

Currently, Adam is the CEO of CustomerGauge, a software-as-a-service platform that helps clients improve customer experiences using the Net Promoter System®.

Adam, currently lives in a 200 year old house in Amsterdam that is just “one room wide” with his Wife Camilla and their 2 young children that speak 3 languages fluently. Adam also has two grown up kids at college in the UK.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

“Many businesses don’t really measure how many customers they’re losing.” -Adam Dorrell Click to Tweet

“It’s difficult to find somebody in the business who’s responsible for retention revenue.” -Adam Dorrell Click to Tweet 

“The people on the frontline know what’s needed.” -Adam Dorrell Click to Tweet 

“When you read customer comments and present them, that’s power.” -Adam Dorrell Click to Tweet 

“It’s really hard for organizations to empower people.” -Adam Dorrell Click to Tweet 

“Let people get on with it and then let’s discuss afterwards.” -Adam Dorrell Click to Tweet 

“Take quotes from the customer and then use them around the business.” -Adam Dorrell Click to Tweet 

“It can be scary to get the unvarnished truth from customers.” -Adam Dorrell Click to Tweet 

“Getting a good customer quote is fantastically energizing.” -Adam Dorrell Click to Tweet 

“Losing your job is sometimes the best thing that can happen to you.” -Adam Dorrell Click to Tweet 

“I come to work for the people I work with.” -Adam Dorrell Click to Tweet 

“If you’re an entrepreneur get some great people around you to work with.” -Adam Dorrell Click to Tweet 

“Become an entrepreneur earlier.” -Adam Dorrell Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Adam Dorrell had been made redundant three times in his career. The first time he had small children. The most recent time he had another set of small children. Listen to what happened to Adam and how he was able to move onward and upward.

Advice for others

Become an entrepreneur earlier.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Better time management.

Best Leadership Advice Received

I don’t believe in luck, but the hard I work the luckier I get.

Secret to Success

Never giving up.

Best tools that helps in business or Life

Excel and Power Point

Recommended Reading

The Ultimate Question 2.0 (Revised and Expanded Edition): How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer-Driven World

Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Salesforce

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

The Best of Wodehouse: An Anthology

The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Knickerbocker Classics)

Contacting Adam





Adam’s Episode on YouTube

Creating an even better place to work

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”]

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 intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.


The number one thing that contributes to customer loyalty is emotions. So move onward and upward faster by gaining significantly deeper insight and understanding of your customer journey and personas with emotional intelligence. With your empathy mapping workshop you’ll learn how to evoke and influence the right customer emotions that generate improve customer loyalty and reduce your cost to operate. Get over your emotional hump now by going to to learn more. 


Okay Fast Leader Legion today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show to me who was just so intriguing when I first met them that I had to actually have them on the show so you get to meet them too. Adam Dorrell grew up in a suburb of North London in England right on the edge of what they call the Greenbelt it was the best of both worlds. He used to travel to London on a tube and as a kid he would plan a huge expansive woodland greenery and golf courses that started at the end of his garden. Adam loves the outdoors and camping he was a scout, walked, hiked, and did a lot of open air activities while growing up.  Adam was also interested in engineering but his real hobby was electronics and robotics. He do radios and buzzing circuits from about the age of nine graduating to using mains electricity in his early teens. It’s quite amazing that he didn’t electrocute fatally or start fire back then. 


In high school Adam completed a working robot that interface with his computer, a Sinclair’s the ZX spectrum. Adam has had an interesting career he’s been advertising, salesperson, sold computers then move into marketing. His career took him to spend three years in Switzerland working in a Four Digital Equipment. Back in the UK he worked for Compact, Dell, Avaya he them moved to mainland Europe to Brussels in Belgium to run the e-commerce platform for Sony then later to Amsterdam, Netherlands where he lived for 10 years. He started a company there because he can’t speak Dutch and realized he was pretty much unemployable. His next challenge is moving his family to the US later this year. 


Currently Adam is the CEO of Customer Gauge a software as a service platform that helps clients improve customer retention using the Net Promoter System. Adam currently lives in a 200-year-old house in Amsterdam that is just one room wide with his wife Camilla and her two young children that speaks three languages fluently. Adam also has two grown up kids at college in the UK. Adam Dorrell are you ready to help us get over the hump?


Adam Dorrell:    I really am Jim. I’m ready when you are. 


Jim Rembach:    I’m glad you’re with us. I’ve given our listeners a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?


Adam Dorrell:    I think my current passion Jim is all about reducing customer mortality. That’s a strong word, but many businesses don’t even measure how many customers they’re losing we can lose customer retention. And so, my passion really is to help bring businesses the tools and the skills that they can reduce that customer journey, increase the retention basically promote the bottom line.


Jim Rembach:    When I hear you say that there’s so many things that just start running through my head and one of the things that I often find is kind of counterproductive, counterintuitive, oxymoronic and there’s so many words you can describe to it. Inside organizations they often look for lien, ways to cut, ways to be more efficient and when you start thinking about customer experiences they say that the differentiator is really around just that, the experience creating relationships. And what I see is that oftentimes the companies really just cut themselves to the bone and have no way possible of putting that value back into that experience. When I say that, what comes to your mind?


Adam Dorrell:    I hear what you’re saying Jim. I think that really it comes down to examining what the least possible expense they can put to the customer experience. I’ll tell you what I found in my 10 or 12 years doing this. A company I’ve worked with often put somebody in charge of customer experience to measure it but it’s really difficult to find somebody in the business whose sole responsibility is retention revenue which is kind of a weird paradox. They try to fix the customer experience without having somebody responsible for the matrix to find if they’re going to be bringing more revenue or losing it. So that’s a really aspect that I find that I think—one of the reasons is there’s very few tools that help to do this there’s very little science and if anything it’s sort of a  Cinderella operation looking out to clients so that’s I guess why it hasn’t that much focus in the past. 


Jim Rembach:    I often find too and you can tell me whether or not this is something that you’ve come across is that—when you start talking about tools when you also refer to this issue in regards to skill set ability, experiences, there’s a very, very different thing that occurs when you start talking about being able to analyze data and then being able to take data and drive the insights from the data and make it into something that is now going to generate some change or even go to that change process there’s multiple steps within that conversion and it’s not a situation where you talk about one person that person would have to be extremely gifted to be able to execute it by themselves but it creates more but that person has to be the instigator and has to have the skills to do it. 


Adam Dorrell:   Going back to your point about companies cutting the resources to deliver great customer services. You know what I have to find is that the people in the front line they know what’s needed. Like when you go to the airline and may say, oh, you need to pay extra for this package, or you need an extra ticket without knowing that you’re a frequent flyer, they don’t want to put that rule it’s been imposed on them from above by a middle manager, he’s got another metric to me. But the overall bigger picture, the guys in the frontline they know that the whole time. And I think that’s one of the things I really love about in what I do. You know, when you read customer comments and present it around in the organization, that’s the biggest power that’s sort of the voice of the customer and I love giving companies the tools to do that. 


Jim Rembach:    You’re talking about frontline I spent many years in the front line,  managing frontline and you’re right I think they do get put in a very compromising position and what I often find is that they aren’t  given the tools to be able to support customers in a lot of ways without using the dreaded word policy.


Adam Dorrell:    Yeah. 


Jim Rembach:    And for me as a consumer as a customer when I hear that word I now know because what I’ve gone through in my experiences, like there’s nothing else to talk about then let’s not waste our time. If you’re going to whip that word out to me, we’re done. 


Adam Dorrell:    I hear what you say. But Jim you know it’s really hard for organizations to empower people it is tough I really don’t understand this especially companies get larger. When they’re small it’s much easy to do that it hard with people but—the issue is how do you empower people on the frontline? It’s very hard to do that. I’ve seen some good example of how companies do that they allow certain frontline people the ability to spend $50 or 100 or to do certain things I think that’s a really good start. Kind of like a don’t shoot me policy is also a good way not to be missed  just let people get on with it and then discuss afterwards what happens.


Jim Rembach:    Yeah, that’s a good point. One of the reasons I wanted to have you on the shows because really you’re a subject matter expert. Okay, yeah, you’re a CEO of software company but you a depth of experience and knowledge from multiple cultures that really adds value to the work that you’re doing and the people and clients and customers that you’re serving.  When we first met you just struck me, and I have to share this because I want to know where this comes from, you asked me some questions that were very bold and typically I don’t find that coming from Europeans, I just don’t. For me I was actually take a back and I was like I didn’t know if I should share some of those things that you were asking me. But I’m an open person for the most part and so I’m like—why am I apprehensive because he’s now asking me. Where does that come from? Because I think it’s also been a contributing factor to where you are today. 


Adam Dorrell:    I think it has Jim, I live in Holland, Netherlands. I’m an English guy that lives in Holland and one of the things I first experience when I moved here was how direct the people are. There’s very little noise in the communications as where to get right to the point I really respect the Dutch about it, it’s great. Perhaps the other part my less (8:47 inaudible) past was my native rudeness and a lack of social awareness maybe that’s it, I don’t want to take too much out of it. But, yeah, I mean I like to sort of sometimes to indulge in too much small talk and I think I get a good connections straight away for example I felt comfortable asking those questions. I hope I didn’t offend you, I think it seem to work out okay. 


Jim Rembach:    I did too. Man, you’re here and believe me it’s one of those reasons why—and I’ve talked about this many times with previous guest is that—and Dave Randell who was a guest on the show talked about—he made some comments stating that, “You know what makes us weird is actually what makes us wonderful” something like that. So for me what I’ve been trying to be more mindful of is when things strike me as odd to not let them cause me to close down, if that makes sense. Instead I need to do is open up a little bit more and try to figure out where that’s coming from. And really that’s an emotional intelligence type of activity is to be able to be more active in your thinking, active in your listing process so that you just don’t close people off so I wanted to share—


Adam Dorrell:    I would turn around the other way Jim and I work a lot with Americans, I spend most of my time in America there days and I keep finding the other way around I find Americans refreshingly open and direct in a way that’s really not offensive, so I actually appreciate the—let’s take that as a compliment, thank you very much.


Jim Rembach:    Thank you. And from that—you’re a person of high energy. And we always look for sources of energy in the Fast Leader show and one of the ways we do that is though leadership quotes. And I’m sure in your travels and your studies and obviously you’re well read, is there some quotes or two that stand out to you that give you some energy?


Adam Dorrell:    Well I think so. I’m going to use that cliché we just break about the early rise. If you’re in business you take quotes from the customer and then you use it around the business especially positive customer quotes. I’m in the business of helping companies get a large amount of feedback and that can be kind of scary if you get the unvarnished truth from customers companies are not always willing to accept that. Every once in a while or depend on how good you are we get a good quote that’s fantastically energizing and I love that. You can pick out individual people all the offers is you pick something and you get awe they really nailed it, we really got to deal with that, so anyway that’s a bit of a cliché, I won’t do that. 


I can think of a few great quotes that I like, Winston Churchill he said, “If you’re through hell keep going” and I think it’s a good motto for me and I was just like going through it and just push it through the things. I’ve got a whole (11:36 inaudible) downstairs as I speak here from you in Amsterdam. I like to tell these guys the estimating a job is really difficult. I think it was the guy from Bell Labs that help to lick it up. He said, the first 90% of coding accounts were about 90% of the time and then testing it and finishing it off is essential for the other 90%, I think that’s about accurate it takes about twice as long to finish a coding job when you actually do. So that’s the kind of reality that we deal here. 


Jim Rembach:    Being somebody who has two families, you have some older children and some younger kids. You are a CEO of the software company. You had a couple of careers within your life, there’s humps that I’m sure you’ve had to get over and that have inspired you that cause you to go in a different direction, hopefully a better one, but is there story that you can share with us a the one you had to get over the hump where you were better off by going through it?


Adam Dorrell:    Yeah. Oh, man there’s been a few humps in my life. I’ve been made redundant three times. And when you have young families that’s always a challenge and I think you speak to people they take that in many different ways. The first time I was made redundant was actually after a very unhappy, short employment that I had I wasn’t relieved to be honest to be out of that and I came out of that I was lucky enough to find some consulting work, so that was it for my first taste of entrepreneurial ship. But at the most recent time it was a complete blessing, I left with a generous package that I was able to go off and spend a little bit of time reflecting, that’s actually why I went to Amsterdam I had enough money to survive for a couple of months and even to start the business that I now running, Customer Gauge. Whatever happens even if you live in a best way, being made redundant really does calls you to look at yourself it’s a memo for personal reflection, it’s never a good thing—I think could I’ve done it better? Could I change it? Ultimately it can be the kick that gets you going and I’m just delighted to have that experience and to move on and much as a how does it seems losing your job is sometimes the best thing that can happen to you, you have heard that before Jim I gain another cliche that I really think it can be very positive. 


Jim Rembach:    I think sometimes we do need a good push and while it doesn’t feel good while it’s occurring, if we can just—with your Winston Churchill type of quote, okay it’s hell but keep on going, if we can do that oftentimes we do come out better on the other end. I also notice that your wife works with you within Customer Gauge? 


Adam Dorrell:    Yeah.


Jim Rembach:    That can be very challenging when you start talking about being essentially with somebody all day long at work and after work and being able to come over a lot of the humps both personally and professionally, how do you guys do it?


Adam Dorrell:    Well, I first of all would say I consider myself super lucky that I’m in this position because sharing your work and life with someone is great, actually it’s tough. It’s not so much spending the time together, because oftentimes we’re travelling, we’re just doing things outside so we’re not sitting opposite each other night and day. It’s really positive in that we really get to think deeply about it we really care about ourselves so we got to think about how we can plot our careers and help a lot other people on our business problem luckily were also very well matched. Camille is responsible for the finance, the operational details she’s great at that, whereas I’m more creative, prone to a flight to fancy, a real drive, so that’s a really good balance that happens. I think it could be difficult not all investors are big fans of a husband and wife team. And I think it could be perhaps challenging for new hires after coming in and see a dynamics work. But I think, we both, Camille and myself we had long careers in large enterprises so we try to bring good corporate discipline to the table. And I think it’s really I found the dynamics, the watchful in all organization. 


Jim Rembach:    I also had the opportunity to listen to somebody who was talking about entrepreneurial ship, basically what they were saying is that it’s just isn’t for everybody. There’s so much buzz, there’s so much hype an talk, there’s so much out there with regards to—hey, start your own business, hey do this do that search your own future all of those things but when you start looking at the percentage of folks that are actually successful at being an entrepreneur, it’s an extremely small percentage point. Of course we all hear about the glory folks who hit it big, so to speak, but it just isn’t, it isn’t for everyone. So if you were to talk about a piece of advice that you would give to somebody who is contemplating or thinking about entrepreneurship, not that we want to stop them from doing it, but if you want to give them a piece of advice, what would it be?


Adam Dorrell:    That’s a really good question Jim. We talked about quotes, I would say Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is just showing up.” The reason is about just being in the game, just keep going so working hard is definitely part of it. I would just say to anybody contemplating any career it’s just do something that you love. We have to go out for long time these days and it’s hard to keep motivated and I just think the more we think about it just three things that you love and just can work on. I’m blessed by having a great team around me. I come to work with—I really love the people I work with and I think we’ve been able to build a community of doing things we—I like to think we help businesses become more successful and that’s a common thread that runs through our company and we got a great team. And that alone makes you want to show up for work and if you’re an entrepreneur, get some great people around you, you enjoy working with and step on and I think success will follow. 


Jim Rembach:    When you start talking about goals, what would be some of your goals?


Adam Dorrell:    I want to be able to put customer retention on the map, it’s a real Cinderella science. Everyone’s talking about bringing in a new businesses and acquiring customers and that’s super important to growth but very little attention is paid to keeping customers at the other end. When I research a former employee we were spending a million a month in Google Adwords and nothing on retention and I just saw the waste there not that as you already spoke one of my passion again talking about customer mortality. So I’d love to put that on the map, I love to become modestly customer attention guard. And I’d love to try and take the business as far as it can. I’ve also got another passion which is to teach kids robotics and electronics. I do that with my son, my nine year old son’s school and I really get some great pleasure at looking at the way the kids fiddle around with electronics and robotics and just create some crazy machines. That’s the sort of passion I can really pass on, that they could just tinker around with some stuff, have some fun. Look at me, I’m 30 years tinkering with the robotic, I’ve got a software company I never thought that would happen. If I really trace it back it really goes back to the roots just messing around my transistors and computers.


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, the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Adam Dorrell, are you ready to hoedown?


Adam Dorrell:    I’m ready for the square dance Jim. 


Jim Rembach:     So, what do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?


Adam Dorrell:    I’d love more time to do things. So better time management would be good.


Jim Rembach:     What is the best leadership advice you have received?


Adam Dorrell:    What is that one from Jefferson something like, I don’t believe in luck but I find that the harder I work the luckier I get. 


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


Adam Dorrell:    Never giving up.


Jim Rembach:     What you feel is one of your best tools that help to lead in business or life?


Adam Dorrell:    Excel, Power point probably.


Jim Rembach:    What would be one book that you’d recommend to our listeners, it could be from any genre? 


Adam Dorrell:    I’ve got a few books, I forgot some Jim, Fred Reichheld and Robert Markey’s The Ultimate Question cause I think that Net Promoter track is one that’s worth following. You know Jacky Huba? She had a great book Creating Customer Evangelist, I love that book. Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell and then of course the Kickback, PG Wodehouse, Gibson (22:00 inaudible) books and Sherlock Holmes obviously.


Jim Rembach:    Fast Leader listeners you can find links to that and other bonus information for today’s show by going to Dorrell. Okay, Adam this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question” Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you’ve been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything you can only choose one, what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?


Adam Dorrell:    Do not be afraid to start a business earlier. Become an entrepreneur earlier and why? Because I should have started earlier. 


Jim Rembach:    Adam 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?


Adam Dorrell:    Sure. You can always get hold of me 


Jim Rembach:    Adam Dorell 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 so we can help you move onward and upward faster.