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119: Simon Blair: I was spit thrown into the deep end

Simon Blair Show Notes

Simon Blair was a new call center team leader and instructed to increase sales by 400%. But as the new kid on the block he inherited the old school long-term employees that were resistant to change. After months of trying different tactics and failing time and again he finally found out how to get over the hump.

Simon was born and raised in Mulgrave in the South-East suburbs of Melbourne, Australia with his older brother and younger sister. His dad John was a self-employed, hard-working drainage contractor and his Mum was the one who did all the day-to-day running of the household when she wasn’t helping out at the kids’ local catholic primary school.

Simon had an idyllic, typical Aussie childhood, playing lots of sport like cricket, and Aussie Rules ‘footy’. At 14, the family moved to a small town on the outskirts of Melbourne where for the first time in his life he was forced to step-out of his comfort zone and adapt to a new school at a critical age. This experience drove rapid personal growth and would prepare him well for his career ahead.

After struggling through a computing degree at University at the age of 21 he secured a call center customer service job with Telstra, Australia’s largest Telco.

He quickly realized he had a natural gift for delivery of great sales and customer service. Opportunities for coaching, training and quality management in Telstra and other large companies followed.

In 2004, he took a leap into the consultancy space to build a Contact Center Benchmarking Operation from scratch for an Australian research company. His ongoing mystery shopping and quality monitoring of most of Australia’s largest Contact Centers gave him a unique insight into the state of play of the industry and the reality of customer experiences delivered.

In 2009 he co-founded the company Five Degrees. As the current owner and director, Simon to this day continues to lead the way in contact center measurement and transformation. Late in 2016, he also launched ‘The Coaching Podcast’ which explores the keys to coaching success in both sports and business.

Simon still lives in Melbourne along with his partner Jane who is a radio producer and voice-over artist. They are kept busy with their young 3 year old son, Hugh. Simon also has 3 children from his first marriage. Jacob who is 15, and twin 12-year old girls Amelie & Charlotte. Music is a big part of all their lives with Simon and Jane both singer-songwriters and guitarists, playing and performing together at home and with the kids whenever their busy lives permit.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @SimonLBlair to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“Most people have never experienced a strong coaching culture.” -Simon Blair Click to Tweet

“Walk into an environment that’s high-performing and I guarantee it has a strong coaching culture.” -Simon Blair Click to Tweet 

“Assumption is the killer of good customer experience.” -Simon Blair Click to Tweet 

“The key to great sales is customer service.” -Simon Blair Click to Tweet 

“The inherent difficulty of a call center role is repetition.” -Simon Blair Click to Tweet 

“The volume of repetition for a call center agent makes it hard to change behavior.” -Simon Blair Click to Tweet 

“The situation may be the same, but you’re dealing with people.” -Simon Blair Click to Tweet 

“The only way to deliver better customer experience is to engage in conversation.” -Simon Blair Click to Tweet 

“It’s the skill of conversation that is severely lacking.” -Simon Blair Click to Tweet 

“The only way to avoid assumptions is to engage the person.” -Simon Blair Click to Tweet 

“Customers are the worst people to ask in terms of what you need to do better.” -Simon Blair Click to Tweet 

“Humans love to think we’re rational creatures – it’s illusion.” -Simon Blair Click to Tweet 

“Even what we think is rational decision making is driven by emotion.” -Simon Blair Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Simon Blair was a new call center team leader and instructed to increase sales by 400%. But as the new kid on the block he inherited the old school long-term employees that were resistant to change. After months of trying different tactics and failing time and again he finally found out how to get over the hump.

Advice for others

Changing behavior and improving performance takes time, it doesn’t happen overnight.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Talking too much. I need to be more concise.

Best Leadership Advice Received

As a leader you’re always on show, so you better perform.

Secret to Success

The ability to recognize fear and emotions in others and to empathize and validate those. And my hands-on experience.

Best tools that helps in Business or Life

Canva and LinkedIn.

Recommended Reading

First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently

The Name of the Wind

Contacting Simon

Website: http://www.fivedegrees.com.au/ 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/simonlblair/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SimonLBlair

The Coaching Podcast

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

119:  Simon Blair I was spit thrown into the deep end

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.

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 help 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’re going to talk to somebody and get insight into really something that’s hot and of need today. Simon Blair was born and raised in Mulgrave in the southeast suburbs of Melbourne, Australia with his older brother and younger sister. His dad John was a self-employed hard-working drainage contractor and his mum was the one that did all the day-to-day running of the household when she wasn’t helping out at the kid’s local Catholic Primary School. Simon had an idyllic typical Aussie childhood playing lots of sport like cricket and Aussie rules “footy.” At 14 the family moved to a small town on the outskirts of Melbourne where for the first time in his life he was forced to step out of his comfort zone and adapt to a new school at a critical age. This experience drove rapid personal growth and would prepare him well for his career ahead. After struggling through a computing degree at university at the age of 21 he secured a call center customer service job with Telstra, Australia’s largest telco. He quickly realized that he had a natural gift for the delivery of great sales and customer service. Opportunities for coaching, training and quality management in Telstra and other large companies followed.

 

In 2004, he took a leap into the consultancy space to build a contact center benchmarking operation from scratch for an Australian research company. His ongoing mystery shopping and quality monitoring of most of Australia’s largest contact centers gave him a unique insight into the state of play of the industry and the reality of customer experiences delivered. In 2009, he co-founded the company Five Degrees. As the current owner and director Simon to this day continues to lead the way in contact center measurement and transformation. Late in 2006, he also launched the coaching podcast, which explores the keys to coaching success in both sports and business. 

 

Simon still lives in Melbourne along with his partner Jane who was a radio producer and voice-over artist. They are kept busy with their young three-year-old son Hugh. Simon also has three children from his first marriage Jacob who is 15 and twin 12 year-old girls Emily and Charlotte. Simon Blair, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Simon Brian:    Jim I’m ready to rock and roll.

 

Jim Rembach:    Awesome. Now I’ve given our Legion 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?

 

Simon Brian:    Sure. My current passion probably which has been the same passion and has been for the last  odd years is coaching and helping individuals within call center environments whether that’s staff at the frontline or their managers to build capability and confidence in delivering great custom experience whether it’s in sales or customer service.

 

Jim Rembach:    When we start thinking about customer experience as a discipline, really, when you start looking at where customers interact the most, data mine and get a good understanding of the customer experience, the contact center is typically the place that houses the vast majority of it. Now you may have a lot of web traffic but when you start thinking about the deep and complex customer interactions the contact center is the place to be. 

 

Simon Brian:    Absolutely. And of course as it currently stands for the last few years will no doubt continue to increase the amount of low value transactions are being stripped out because of improvements to technology and self-service which is leaving those more complex inquiries not to say that good service wasn’t important for the apparently lower value transactions but I suppose a lot more cool sense could get away with it. But that’s not the case anymore and I think that’s really driving a major shift for those that may be a bit late coming to investing people and staff development and through coaching and the skills that are required. It’s hard and if it was easy everyone would be doing it we’d all have great experiences as customers but we know that’s not the case.

 

Jim Rembach:    It’s true. You and I were talking off mic about the whole human development and agent development side we kind of laugh what we’re saying is, it’s always should be a priority, but it really hasn’t had been even though they may say it. But I think it’s becoming definitely more real and we can actually get the statistics associated with the easy stuff is being taken care of by the customers themselves and the complex stuff is being left for the agent interaction and they’re getting even more complex. And so companies are really saying that now one of their top priorities, and I was looking at a report that says for, where do you focusing on? And they talked about increasing the focus on coaching and development. But I was reading something that you wrote and said that very few contact centers are really geared and positioned to be good at coaching. 

 

Simon Brian:    Absolutely. Most people have never, never experienced a strong coaching culture. And what that looks like, sounds like, taste like, that palpable thing that when you work—you walk into an environment it’s high-performing and has a really strong vibrant culture I can guarantee you it’s because it has a strong coaching culture. Which all comes back to the role of managers, the role of team leaders what are they doing on a daily basis. And when we talk about coaching development I think this is, I suppose coming from as well as so many people don’t understand it. It’s often, sure there’s the formal aspect to it which could be you know more formal training, and coaching skills but it’s the day-to-day it’s while they’re on the phone doing their job, what does the team leader doing? They stuck at their desk while they’re walking around tapping someone the shoulder in between a call. I just listened to that call, how do you think it went? Asking good questions, talking about—and then maybe doing a quick role play in the moment spontaneously. I’ve never encountered many call centers that—well that’s just normal and actually that’s what’s needed. 

 

Jim Rembach:    It’s true. And you also mentioned something about some of the techniques that you’re using and some of the tools that you’re using in order to help organizations create that coaching environment. Like what? What do are you using? 

 

Simon Brian:    In my business, it’s a two-fold business, it’s driven by measurement. Call center clients send us their call recordings and we do mystery shopping, certainly with inbound sales great way to do mystery shopping and test and really assess the capability of staff, and that’s the measurement model that I’ve refined over many, many, years and what that does is inform what is the coaching requirement for an individual or for a team and for a manager, since he’s responsible for that team. What I’ve started doing recently, and I’ve been doing measurement for a long, long time but I’ve started to introduce video feedback. And as a bit of a differentiator in this space where I can even personally listen to a batch of calls and then just press record, it’s a bit like Jim with you at this podcast–myself has recently started a podcast—at some point just going to decide to do it and it doesn’t have to be too polished just got to act, and so I’ve decided just to–I have an emotional response when I listen and assess their calls and so I want to grab that and then really speak to the individual and video is just huge in terms of doing that and the means that can do it remotely. I do a lot of coaching onsite with my clients but the fact is I can reach individuals now in a two minute piece of feedback that talks about very practical things that they do well, things I can do better and I can actually demonstrate it for them and they can see me and I can see my own emotional response to what they’re doing. The early days of really experimenting with that with one client in particular and it’s having really, really good traction. So, I think that’s going to be something to look to expand for the rest of my business, 

 

Jim Rembach:    I think that power of a video is something that we all could leverage in a lot of different ways that we’re currently not doing I think that’s going to be the next wave for a lot of human connection that we currently just aren’t familiar with. And I would dare to say that the younger generation, they are there already there, so it’s those that are in my age group and a little bit younger maybe that we need to catch on and communicate like they want to communicate. But one of the things that I also had read that I think you and I are in alignment with that is one of the big failure points. When you start thinking about quality interpretation and service delivery is that companies, organizations, people internally try to assume or ascertain what the customer feels is a good experience and they start saying things like, “Well, I know I wouldn’t like that.” And they use that as part of their coaching and development which to me is a major, major really risky thing to do and it’s a bad practice. 

 

Simon Brian:    Absolutely. One of the things I realized early in my career and I’ve used this a bit of natural the way through is that it got to feel one thing I would change by the magic wand can wave it for contact center agents to wield over to do something different or maybe just stop making assumptions. Assumption is the killer of good customer experience and you’ve just given a really good example of that. Because the key—and this is sales service connection there is no difference the key to great sales is actually rooted in customer service it certainly modern best practices, sales practices. And part of that is it’s all about asking questions even when—and this is the challenge you’re getting me to talk about probably my greatest realization that I’ve known for a while that’s been key to my success and that is the inherent difficulty of a call center role is repetition. Yet the volume of repetition for a call center agents, why there’s high turnover that’s why it’s hard to change behaviors because of literally ingrained repetition of doing the same thing call after call. 

 

And the risk in that is, and it’s certainly true with more experienced staff is they start to bring all those assumptions—because I’m so experienced I’ve got this one this is the tenth time I’ve dealt with this inquiry today—and so they start trotting out those standing rehearsed lines, in my experience blah-blah-blah- and they might say to ten customers the same thing when everyone’s different. The situation might be the same on the surface but you’re dealing with people and everyone’s ability to process what you’re going to say to them is different based on their own experiences and what they bring to the table so the only way to deliver it better than average experience is to engage in conversation upfront and it’s the skill of conversation that is severely lacking. And not really understood by so many of us, so many people and that’s the only way to avoid assumptions is to engage the person. And then you can take what you were going to say and tweak it and tailor it to that individual in that moment. 

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a great point. I also see when you start thinking about—you talk about measurement and that measurement and that scoring criteria when you’re starting to talk about grading an interaction from an internal perspective and you look at the criteria that you’re using in order to be able to rate that service experience there’s so many times where I’ll look at somebody’s quality monitoring form and I’m like, half of what you have on here you should not be answering the customer should be answering those things. So, if I look at really you focusing in on the things that you can control you could probably do double of the quality observations that you could be doing right now because half of it is worthless and it’s sending you in the wrong direction. 

 

Simon Brian:    Absolutely. Customers are the worst people to ask in terms of what you need to do better for them. And this is the great problem across the world in terms of the contact center business because MPs is all pervasive. They have been around for a long time but there’s a lot of “Johnny-come-lately” in terms of latching on to the latest and greatest thing and it’s certainly useful if applied properly.  Trouble is like so many things where people latch on to it as if it’s the panacea for all things, just like traditional consumer research it has its place but it’s limited you need to understand its limitations. What I do is measure staff behavior the greatest thing that correlates to I suppose creating an actionable shift in performance or behavior is to identify what are your staff saying to customs and that requires expertise in sales psychology and service psychology understanding consumer behavior the things that consumers can never articulate to you when you survey them because they’ll just react emotionally. Customers are great at telling you what you’re getting wrong in terms of the fundamentals the obvious things the things that you shouldn’t even be bothering with, a checklist like you say, because it’s that higher level of competency like the skill of managing a structured conversation with a natural way are things that customers can never say to you.

 

Jim Rembach:    A lot of what we’re talking about internally and externally there’s of emotion that’s associated with it and we need to get to some direction and inspiration. On the show we often point to quotes in order to help us have better direction. Is there a quote or two that you can share that does that for you? 

 

Simon Brian:    Yes, absolutely. There’s a three-fold thing that I actually use this is a fairly bit in my training. So some of the training I do is it’s really to shift the start of what’s supposed to be new relationship with a client is to help shift the mindset into a more customer centric sort of headspace and then bringing this sort of skill based staff in terms of conversation. And so this is sort of drawn from what resonates with staff but certainly an encouraging context and we’re trying to get them to shift or treat customers better. So, it starts with—I don’t know it’s from the Gospel of Luke or a couple of Gospel, “Do to others as you would want them to do to you.” 

 

But an even higher form of this is and this comes from Samuel Johnson English writer, “The true measure of the man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.”  Because everyone it’s far easier to treat someone well when they’ve got something of value to give you but you know it’s closer being how do you treat the cleaner when you’re the CEO of an organization is a good test. But the final one I love is from Maya Angelou, many, many of your listeners would be familiar with this, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And that mentoring relates so much to I suppose what we’ve just spoken about that higher form of engagement with customers to not only resolve their problems but make them to feel amazing through the manner in which you’ve done that. 

 

Jim Rembach:    And I think more and more organizations are coming to that realization that the customer experience is all about emotion. 

 

Simon Brian:    Look lots about emotion. Humans love to think we’re rational logical creatures, it’s all illusion like a kid ourselves about that. Even what we think is rational decision-making is driven by emotions but your point is absolutely true that it’s a greater awakening there. There’s so many people have woken up they understand the absolute need logically but they’re looking for the way through—okay, I know we’ve got a problem I know we need to fix that problem and I also know if we do fix that problem the benefits that’s going to deliver to the business and to the customer and back into the business. But what are the practical actions I need to take today, tomorrow, next week, next month to start and then to make that happen and that is the big gap the context in (17:32 inaudible) because of turnover. Because of turnover there’s a brain drain I do what I do because I’m one of the few that (17:38 inaudible) and no doubt it’s similar around the world that stuck at it. And as a result it put me in a very, very good place because the vast majority of even the better people that figure this stuff out end up leading and doing other jobs. 

 

Jim Rembach:    That is so true. I wrote an article associated with what you’re just talking about in that I go to a lot of industry events and one of the questions that almost is asked every single one of them is, how many of you this is your first time that you’ve been at this event. And it’s always like 70% or more of the hands go up. So, for me you have to be able to draw the connection to say that, well these are pretty much new entrants that are in this space and it never fails. So, if you’re always having a churn rate that causes you to have 70% new entrants, how can you actually get that deep domain expertise and be able to leverage it? You can’t. And so experts, they should be fully leveraged in this particular space just about more than any other because, hey we’re in the experience economy. I know that when you started thinking about your transition, you talked about going through a computer degree at university and finding your way in the contact center and I think that’s what happens to most people that’s what happened to me it just happens to you it’s not something that you select. But there’s a lot of humps that we have to go through and also starting your own business and all that, family, there’s a lot of challenges that we have. Is there a time that you’ve had to get over the hump and it made a difference for you and you can share with us? 

 

Simon Brian:    In preparing for the show I thought of—I think I went way back because the greatest challenges I had in my career were those early days of me being a new team leader who was recently promote all those three years as a call center consultant. I was relatively shy, I was very comfortable on the phone one on one with the customers but quite a shy kid that had been through my experiences in high school started to come out of my shell through work, started to come out of my shell a bit more but because I was a very good consultant, they promoted me to being a team leader but it was like a bit thrown in the deep end. And I’m always surrounded by team leaders with being team leaders for 10 or more years, this is a very large call center with an old public service institution in Australia that being Telstra that’s main telecommunications provider, there was a lot of old school stuff. There was a reshuffle, this is when a coaching culture was brought in and all the team leaders were given greater responsibilities to sort this stuff out and make a difference in having back we had to get staff to become sales agents in this very strong traditional customer service environment where so many of them including so many of the team leaders, were really resistant to the whole concept of sales. Because their own experiences with the consumers was—sales people, we don’t like salespeople, sales is horrible and we’re not sales people we’re customer service. And yet as a new team leader it was very clearly instructed to me that you have to increase sales by something like 400 percent and I got inherited with the old school, long-term employees because I was the new kid on the block. 

 

Jim Rembach:    And I spent at least one to two months really struggling to find ways through them as a group and not only just as a manager and trying to get credibility but as a coach trying to radically change their behavior when they just thought I was rubbish to begin with. What do you do in that situations? And I’m sure anyone that’s been in the situation as a manager as a team leader you’re confronted with these scenarios of trying to effect change but I had no experience at that point. I knew what the outcome that needed to happen? So, I had to work back from that, so at least that was clear to me. I tried any number of things, because I was enthusiastic I was new jumping full of confidence not quite realizing how resistant the staff were and they would use every trick in the book. And Jim, you know call center staff, those that have been around for a while they know all the tricks of the trade so there was inherent challenges there and I was strong and I have schooled my way. 

 

Simon Brian:    And didn’t matter what sort of coaching side by side coaching, get them all in a room in a team meeting, try to be encouraging, be a bit more direct, nothing seemed to work I was pulling my hair out not really realizing it at that time. A contact center manager who was amazing really shaped my career, it was a bit of a test at that time, but she knew I’d find a way, I’d figure it out. And so eventually got to this point where there was one day and there was one individual, the most stubborn individual of all and to be honest they just gave me, using Australian expression, they just gave me the shits and (23:07 inaudible) that out, that’s the truth I’m being open being all honesty and I had that frustration, I thought, give me the headset I’ll show you rather than talk about it and try this and maybe give that a go and on the next call tweak this and tweak that and I just keep doing the same thing over and over. I could have demonstrate this, I actually got to make them believe that it’s actually possible that it fits their service mentality rather than sales being this horrible thing that customers actually won’t respond to. In a way I had to prove it to myself and there was a time I’ve actually applied this new thing that’s being asked of the staff myself. So, five calls I said to them give me the next five calls I’m going to take them and I’m going to sell to the next five customers. It was a good product it was valuable product real benefits newly released so it had those advantages. But at the same time I was on show (24:10 inaudible) to perform and that was really good in terms of sharpening my focus and helping me to just execute I suppose everything I’d been asking you think that you ought to do.

 

Jim Rembach:    So, what happened?

 

Simon Brian:    I solved five calls in a row, five products, I’ve gone—yes, yes, and after like the third one I’ve got this I’ve absolutely got this. And it came from being—I had to tailor to the individual I define that way through talking to them and ask questions, that’s all about the questions that I asked. And the style that I use it was not pushy, which is very consultative, and which is what the staff were coming from their object and then realizing their objections were valid because they’ve been burned before they hadn’t been coached before they hadn’t been shown how. And in that moment there was a massive epiphany for me in terms of—because I’ve worked and I saw and I knew the reaction from individual I will hook, by listening in, by leaning forward, and I knew I had them even if they were still at the end of it reluctant to give me praise. But look, it was through demonstration, through action rather than verbal instruction. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I think that that’s also a good thing to note as far as both credibility and human learning is sometimes they need to see it emulated. And whenever you can do that it’s going to add significant value to your ability to have change occur versus just being told, so that was a good move. But it came out of frustration because you failed, you failed, you failed, you failed, and finally you were just like—give me the headset.

 

Simon Brian:    Absolutely. It’s exactly like that. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Yes, it’s funny how those things come out. We have talked about a lot of the things that you have going on—you’ve launched a podcast—but when you start thinking about all the things that you have going on what’s one of your goals? 

 

Simon Brian:    There’s a very specific goal that I’m working on with one client in particular at the moment I think it’s worthwhile sharing. This client, different client for a couple of years now and we’re about we’re about to look in another couple of years of servicing, and going back to what we’ve talked about, that aligned just shows you the level of commitment that’s actually needed if you truly want to change there is no quick fix. So, one of goals is to—because of the investment they’ve made not only money but literally their time and their faith in my model to partner with over such a long period of time to see it through, to see the transition which is certainly happening with my message strides to becoming world’s best practice contact center in sales and customer service. And they’re at “Tassie” call center, Tasmania bottom end of Australia quite a very laid back, anyone who’s ever been to Tasmania it’s one of the most gorgeous parts of the entire world, go there, but culturally they’ve got a lot of strengths in terms of as people and as communicators but they’ve had to learn the skills if they wanted to be world’s best. 

 

And they came to me and secured my business because I told them that I can make them world’s best and that’s what they were striving for as opposed to most who just have less, I suppose, hardcore goals like that. I think most people just want to get better and improve but I literally wanted to be world’s best and they partnered with me to do that. So I wanted to see that through for the next two visits specific thing with that one client that has got my attention and focus to try any number of new things. 

 

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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Jim Rembach:    All right here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay Simon, 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. Simon Blair, are you ready to hoedown?

 

Simon Brian:    I’m ready. I think. 

 

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

 

Simon Brian:    Talking too much. I need to be more concise.

 

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

 

Simon Brian:    As a leader you are always on show so you better perform. 

 

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

 

Simon Brian:    The ability to recognize fear and the emotions in others and then to empathize with those and validate those. And my first-hand experience I think gives me a great advantage in being relatable and the fact I can demonstrate things to those I’m trying to teach. 

 

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

 

Simon Brian:    Quite recent I love the activity I been doing in social media there is the single greatest tool for any business owner and social media people the world over it’s an Aussie company called Canva, online production of social media content for people that aren’t tech savvy, it’s incredible. And a more obvious one is LinkedIn, I think it’s an incredible resource that so many just take for granted and don’t quite get what’s available to them. 

 

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

 

Simon Brian:    Oh, I’m going to give you two, a business book and a fiction. The business book, First Break all the Rules, what the world’s greatest managers do differently, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. When it comes to fiction I like a bit of fantasy, The Name of the Wind, trust me for anyone thinks fantasy—ooh, I’m not going near that—read this book incredible piece. 

 

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/Simon Blair. Okay, Simon 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 back you can only choose one. What skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

 

Simon Brian:    One thing?  I would take the model that I use for us assessing staff capability and I call it the five degrees of customer experience. The reason I take it back is because I know that the case studies I won’t be able to produce from implementing this when I was 25 would have been astounding in terms of the results and the ability to correlate to business outcomes and therefore what that might have done to my career in terms of sending into a different trajectory. So yeah, the model that have taken 20 odd years to cultivate that back 25 would be pretty incredible.

 

Jim Rembach:    Simon it was honor to spend time with you today can you please share with the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you?

 

Simon Brian:    Absolutely. I encourage everyone to—who wants to connect with me on LinkedIn, Simon L Blair and also my company website, www.fivedegrees.com.au. You can hit me up on Instagram and wherever else you can find me. And don’t forget the coaching podcast.

 

Jim Rembach:    Simon Blair, 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, 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 

 

109: Dayna Steele: I’ve never looked at it as failing

Dayna Steele Show Notes

Dayna Steele had a very successful career as a radio disc jockey. Then she decided to quit her job and move to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. After nine months she moved back home without a career in acting. But she never failed. Listen to what she actually did.

Dayna was born and raised in Houston TX with her Younger brother Scooter.  They were raised by two great parents, married over 50 years, but both now deceased.

Dayna actually chronicled her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s in the book Surviving Alzheimer’s with Friends, Facebook and a Really Big glass of Wine.

Beyond being an author, Dayna has been on a microphone and a stage for the majority of her life. She worked with the world’s greatest rock stars as a Hall of Fame rock radio personality and now presents those true stories and valuable lessons learned to business audiences across the country.

Dayna is the host of The Rock Business, a television series featuring successful rock artists turned successful entrepreneurs with side businesses including coffee, wineries, inventions, bio medical research, foundations, hotels, restaurants, shoes, clothing, marketing companies and more.

Dayna herself is a successful entrepreneur having created The Space Store, Steele Media Services, and a success strategy consulting company. Throughout her career, Dayna has garnered national accolades.

She was named one of the “100 Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts” by Talkers Magazine, nominated as “Local Radio Personality of the Year” by Billboard Magazine and has been inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.

AOL called her ‘one of the foremost experts on career networking’ and Reader’s Digest Magazine named Dayna one of the “35 People Who Inspire Us.” ABC News has called her advice “ridiculously sane.”

As an author, Dayna created the popular 101 Ways to Rock Your World book series, LinkedIn: 101 Ways to Rock Your Personal Brand, and Rock to the Top: What I Learned about Success from the World’s Greatest Rock Stars. She is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and is the Chief Caring Expert and spokesperson for Caring.com.

Dayna lives in Seabrook, Texas, with her husband, author, and former NASA pilot Charles Justiz, and has three sons. She is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and invests in Broadway musicals. She drinks good wine and plays bad golf.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @daynasteele to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“It’s not just talent. That’s the reason there’s rock stars and then one hit wonders.” -Dayna Steele Click to Tweet

“Find people that love what you do and deliver to their passion.” -Dayna Steele Click to Tweet 

“It’s not about you – it’s about the customer.” -Dayna Steele Click to Tweet 

“You have to have knowledge of everything around you to recognize opportunity.” -Dayna Steele Click to Tweet 

“It’s all about who you know and what you do for them.” -Dayna Steele Click to Tweet 

“Constantly let people know that you appreciate what they do.” -Dayna Steele Click to Tweet 

“None of us get to where we are without help, so appreciate it.” -Dayna Steele Click to Tweet 

“In everything you do let people know what it’s going to do for them.” -Dayna Steele Click to Tweet 

“When I call you I better not recognize you are reading from a script.” -Dayna Steele Click to Tweet 

“I don’t need your processes or your tech. I need to know you’re going to help me.” -Dayna Steele Click to Tweet 

“I didn’t fail. I discovered I couldn’t act.” -Dayna Steele Click to Tweet 

“I’ve never looked at it as failing. It just didn’t work.” -Dayna Steele Click to Tweet 

“Take the parts that did work and move forward.” -Dayna Steele Click to Tweet 

“If something doesn’t work set it aside and try a different way.” -Dayna Steele Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Dayna Steele had a very successful career as a radio disc jockey. Then she decided to quit her job and move to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. After nine months she moved back home without a career in acting. But she never failed. Listen to what she actually did.

Advice for others

Embrace absurdity and go for it.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

Wine

Best Leadership Advice Received

Always fight naked.

Secret to Success

Wine

Best tools that helps in Business or Life

My husband Charlie.

Recommended Reading

Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life

Contacting Dayna

Website: http://www.daynasteele.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/daynasteele

Twitter: https://twitter.com/daynasteele

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

109: Dayna Steele: I’ve never looked at it as failing

 

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 help 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 the person I have on the show today, when I met her—her feistiness is just something I had to share with you. Dayna Steele, was born and raised in Houston, Texas with her younger brother, Scooter. Dayna actually chronicled her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s in the book Surviving Alzheimer’s with friend’s Facebook and a really big glass of wine. Beyond being an author, Dayna has been on a microphone and a stage for the majority of her life. She worked with the world’s greatest rock stars as a hall-of-fame rock radio personality and now presents those true stories and valuable lessons learned to business audiences across the country. 

 

Dayna is the host of the Rock your Business, a television series featuring successful rock artists turn successful entrepreneurs with side businesses including coffee, wineries, inventions, biomedical research, foundations, hotels, restaurants, shoes, clothing, marketing companies and more. Dayna herself is a successful entrepreneur having created The Space Store Steal Media Services and a success strategy consulting company. Throughout her career, Dayna has garnered national accolades. She was named one of the  Most Important Radio Talk Show Hosts by Talkers Magazine nominated as Local Radio Personality of the Year by Billboard Magazine and has been inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. AOL called her ‘one of the foremost experts on career networking’ and Readers Digest named Dayna as one of the “People Who Inspire Us.” ABC News called her advice “ridiculously sane.” 

 

As an author, Dayna created the popular, Ways to Rock Your World book series, LinkedIn, Ways to Rock Your Personal Brand and Rock to the Top: What I Learn about Success from the World’s Greatest Rock Stars. She’s also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and is this Chief Caring expert and spokesperson for Caring.com. Dayna lives in Seabrook, Texas with her husband author and former NASA pilot, Charles Justiz and three sons. She is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and invest in Broadway musicals. She drinks good wine and plays bad golf. Dayna Steele, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Dayna Steele:    I am. I am. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Now, 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. 

 

Dayna Steele:    You know my current passion is the television show, it’s called The Rock Business and it came about from my speech and from my books where I talk about—what I learned about success from these rock stars, when I started noticing as a lot of the rock stars, especially the older ones, they’re in a position now where they’re successful they’re touring they have time off they have more money than dirt and instead of just playing golf and relaxing and doing nothing, they’re all entrepreneurs at heart. Sammy Hagar, of course, being one of them and the ones maybe people know the most about with his tequila company and his rum company, a lot of people don’t realize that Sammy’s been an entrepreneur for a long time. Way back when he was just a solo artist and he realized how much they were paying in commissions to travel agencies he got license he started a travel agency and that was a bone of contention between him and Eddie van Halen, a little bit later on when Eddie found out they were booking people every day through Sammy’s travel agency. 

 

Sammy was getting a little bit of money off of all that Van Halen travel.  Sammy owns a whole bunch of boutique hotels and restaurants now in the states and he recently, I think his most his latest endeavor is a fire suppression company. When he found out how much she was having to pay companies to put in sprinkler system. He’s just one of the examples you’ve seen, Gene Simmons and all of his businesses on Family Jewels and Celebrity Apprentice, another great story and I could go on forever, but these are the kind of artist we want to highlight. For example nobody knows Bob Dylan as a welder, he’s a certified welder. He welded the artwork that graces the entrance to a new hotel in Maryland. Can you imagine all of the construction workers that walked past this welder with his mask down and have no idea that was Bob Dylan. So I love the fact that I learn about business from these rock stars and then I’m discovering that these rock stars are like me, we are serial entrepreneurs, we can’t just relax and go play golf and leave well enough alone. We’re up every day going, “Okay, let’s start another business. Let’s drive ourselves absolutely crazy and try to create another successful business.”

 

Jim Rembach:    Thanks for sharing that. You know, as I was thinking and you’re talking about these different rock stars I started seeing this connection to the creativity the creation aspect of it and then the creation aspect that we need to have in business that oftentimes is missing. 

 

Dayna Steele:    I always say it’s not just talent, that’s the reason there’s rock stars and then there’s one hit wonders in any business, whether it’s music or insurance or whatever. You see some of these people that they’re so incredibly talented but they just can’t seem to get it together. They just can’t seem to succeed. And it’s the same with musicians and what I discovered working with these people and watching these people and studying and now writing and speaking about these people is that not only do they have the talent and that creativity but they have this incredible discipline and work ethic. They network like crazy. They’re extremely smart I narrow it down to make it easy for people, four rock star principles of success. 

 

The first one is ‘passion’. Obviously, loving what you. But finding people that love what you do and delivering to their passion in every single thing you do. It’s not about you, it’s about the customer. The second thing is ‘knowledge’. It’s constantly learning. If you’re not getting up first thing in the morning and watching the news and knowing what’s going on in the world whether you like politics or religion or sports or whatever you need to have a general idea of everything that’s going on in the world around you otherwise how are you going to recognize opportunity. And the third thing is ‘networking’. It’s all about who you know and what you do for them. And the fourth thing is ‘appreciation’ it’s constantly letting people know that you appreciate what they do whether it’s the fans or your coworkers or strangers or somebody that held the door for you, none of us get to where we are without help so you need to appreciate it. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Thanks for sharing that they’re a really good. And also when you started mentioning the part about customers and focus, a friend of mine who’s a recording musician as well and he shared with me, because I didn’t know the business very well, but he said, “I don’t write my music for me, I’m writing my music for my audience.” And so when you think about business and

these businesses it would seem to be that having that focus and that background in doing things for others, meaning writing music and the creative piece and owning businesses that they would bring that to their businesses and then therefore they would be more successful than maybe organizations that were already in place. 

 

Dayna Steele:    That’s like for example, if you want a raise, you want a raise or a promotion, don’t go in and tell your boss manager how great you are and how much you deserve it and me, me, me—go in there with your facts and figures and say, “I increased the company’s business, I increase the bottom line, if I was doing this instead of this it would make this much more profit. Let the people what’s in it for them. One of the greatest phone calls I ever got, having a husband who flew for NASA I’ve been around a lot of the astronauts for a long, long. Alan Bean, I guess the fourth man to walk on the moon, Alan’s a character and a half, he talks really fast, he talks—you spits it out, spits it out. I remember it was about five years ago on Christmas Eve I got a message from a number I didn’t recognize and I went back and I listened to the message and it’s like, “Dayna, Alan Bean, read your book, love it, love it, love it. Everything you say I love it except when looked at your videos on your website, I hate them. Call me, I’ll tell you why. Click. That’s another thing Alan never says goodbye, he just hangs up, you don’t know if you offended him or—he just hangs up. He’s the fourth man who walked on the moon, I’m curious so I called Alan. He said something that reminded me of something a program director had told me years ago, Allen said when you say the word “I” too much, you don’t talk to the audience about you, what this will do for your business, what you can be doing. He said, “When I learn to make my moon stories, their moon stories I became a much better speaker and a speaker in demand.” And it made me think back to something a program director had said to me years ago which I credit all of my radio success with, because I didn’t do a weather forecast any different than anybody else I didn’t play Stairway to Heaven and Free Bird any different than anybody else, but I spoke differently on the radio than every other DJ on the air and it was because of what I was taught. It doesn’t matter how many people are listening to you, this applies to an audience or a meeting as well, it doesn’t matter how many people are listening to you everybody has one set of ears and one heart and one soul and one brain and everybody wants to think you’re talking to them. So when I would say things like, “It’s really hot in the studio today or how are all of you?” This program director would hotline me immediately and say you just broke the connection, you just broke the connection.

 

And I try to remember that now when I’m onstage I speak as if I’m speaking to one person sitting right next to me maybe in a living room having a conversation, and that’s how I was taught to speak on the radio. You know, in your ads, in your marketing, I get up every morning and do the daily success tip I don’t know why I didn’t name it weekly success tip that would’ve been a lot easier. In everything you do, let people know what it’s going to do for them, it’s going to make them richer, it’s going to make them happier, it’s going to make them sexier, they’re going to get lucky, their family’s going to be happy, their wives going to be happy, their husband—what’s in it for them? 

 

Dayna Steele:    I think what you just said right there is something that I’ve been contending with a particular client of mine that is in the telecommunication space for contact center, they build Omni channel platforms. The marketing people go to the tech people and ask them about what are the things that they should be saying about the particular products. And of course they’re saying, features benefits, features benefits. Features benefits do not talk to the person—

 

Jim Rembach:    Is it going to work? Is it going to make my day easier? How do I make this stupid printer recognize I have two tray options? That’s all I want to know. I don’t want to know the specs. I spend all morning trying to figure out how to get one of my apps to recognize the fact that I have two trays in this printer and I won’t say names. I have looked it up and all I’ve seen is six google page search results of specs, I don’t want specs, I just want to use tray two. 

 

Dayna Steele:    Right.  I think being able to make that switch and understand how those features and benefits can talk to the individual that’s when they start being converted into value. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Yeah, I don’t care how many customers you have, you can be the biggest airline in the world but all I care is about my luggage today, who care about your systems, your processes, the computer doesn’t see it. I want you know real person cares about me and my wants and needs and it doesn’t matter how big your contact center is, when I call you I better not recognize your reading from a script. I want to know you have been waiting for me to call, whether you have or not, and that makes such a huge, huge difference. No matter how mad I am if I’m calling customer service, I learned a trick and I even used it this morning, I had to call on some medical insurance stuff one of the worst contact call centers in the world, but I always say you know they say, “Thank you for calling, this is Theresa. Your call may be recorded, blah, blah, blah—may I have your account number? Like, “hey Theresa, Happy New Year, how you doing today? That throws them off, every time. No matter what country they’re in, they’re like, “Happy New Year—but then you can yell—do see what I’m saying? It’s that human interaction. We’re all humans were not robots. I don’t need your processes, I don’t need your tack, I need to know you’re going to help me or make things better or when I buy your widgets I’m going to be widget happy, whatever. That’s a great piece of advice too because what you did is you cause the pattern disruption. 

 

Dayna Steele:    And you know how I like to disrupt the thing, that’s my job. That comes from years of rock and roll radio. I used to say if I hadn’t been called into the general manager’s office at least once a week I was not doing my job.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well without a doubt. You know you bring a lot of passion, you’ve had the opportunity and be blessing to be exposed to a lot of passion with all the people in the network that you built and the interviews that you’ve had and the people you’ve met. And one of the things that we look for on the show is a leadership quotes because they can contain so much passion and I shouldn’t say leadership quotes, just quotes in general. Is there a quote or two that you can share with us that has passion in it for you?

 

Dayna Steele:    A quote for me or one of my favorite quotes?

 

Jim Rembach:    One of your favorites. Or maybe one from you.

 

Dayna Steele:    Albert Einstein, “If at first the idea is not observed there’s no hope for it.” I got that on a coffee mug from Amazon, when I was one of their very first customers they sent their first customers every single first customer, like in this first year when I think Vesos who’s still in his garage got a coffee cup for Christmas that year—coffee mug—I was so sad when that finally broke a couple years ago, but that was the quote on it. It at first the idea is not absurd then there’s probably no hope for it, I love that. What you got to lose? That works for everybody unless you’re a brain surgeon, please don’t say that if you’re my brain surgeon, people always worry what are people going to think? What if I fail? I quit radio. I quit a pretty highly paid radio gig in 1990 because I always wanted to know what it was like to act for a living. I gave everything up, I sold my house, I surprised everyone, I moved to LA and discovered I could not act my way out of my box but I did discover you could put groceries on a credit card. So, I survived for about nine months ended up coming back and doubling my salary in radio. And people always say to me, well you know that time you failed in LA—it’s like, I didn’t fail, I discovered I couldn’t act and I have great respect now for people who do like toilet paper commercials and stuff it’s not an easy life out there. I think that’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever done in my entire career is to quit and moved to LA and try to act because I’ve discovered I can survive anything. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I love that. So, for me I’m going to definitely walk away with being able to embrace more absurdity.

 

Dayna Steele:    Yeah. Just go for it, what do you got to lose? Again unless your brain surgeon—please don’t do that. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Now, I also know too you just described one of the situations where you have a hump to get over, great lessons learned, but have to have those we have to embrace the absurdity and find out when—maybe it really was absurd, those are all humps that we have to get over. Is there a story that you can share with us when you have to get over the hump? 

 

Dayna Steele:    Probably the acting thing. Getting over the fact that—I can act, it didn’t work let’s move back let’s do radio, I don’t know—somebody said to me once—one of my record people, she even bought me a book, she said, “You tried so many different things and you failed so many times and you just pick yourself up and you just keep going. I really had to stop and think about that because I’ve never looked at it as failing. It’s like it just didn’t work, take the parts that did work and move forward and take the parts that didn’t work and remember that. There’s an old book, the book she gave me was called, There Must Be a Pony. And I love the story I tell this often on stage to all kinds of groups, and the short version is—there are two brothers standing outside a bar and they open the door, the barn is full to the rafters with horse poo. One brother looks at it and says, “Well there’s nothing about horse poo” and he walks off disgusted. And the other brother looks at it grabs a shovel and goes there must be a pony. You know, the hump is the poo. I’m just a firm believer that there is a pony on the other side of it and I’m just going to keep going and if something doesn’t work set it aside and try a different way. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, but I got to know because you’ve got to share. You move out to California, you had all these high hopes, what transpired for you to finally say, Oh, I did the work. 

 

Dayna Steele:    What transpired in the first week, I didn’t know you don’t just go to LA and call a casting director of the number one television show on the air and say, “Hey, I’m in town can I come by?” But one of my record guy that I knew said, “You really don’t him that well, he called me and he said, “I’m just so impressed you would just give up everything and go so bravely out to LA” he goes, “Here’s my sister’s name and number when you get out there tell her I told you to call and who knows—she’s a casting director maybe she’ll have something for you.” But it turns out it’s running, yes cool, who’s casting LA Law, the number one TV show on the air at the time, and again I didn’t know you don’t just call and I think she was so stunned that I just want—Hey, your brother said call, can I come by? She said come by and we hit it off, she said I have a part in next week’s episode for a newscaster—you read this script. So I read the script—why don’t you come back and read for the producers and then we’ll get you in the episode next week. And I’m like, “Oh, that was so cool.” I drove to the gates of Paramount Studios, that you see in all the movies, and I came back to read for the producers and I froze. I was terrified. I had never read for producers, I had done a commercial in Texas at the time when AFTRA and SAG, the two unions were separated, but in Texas if you are a member of one you’re automatically member of the other, so I didn’t realize what sort of gold I was holding in my hand when I arrived in LA with the screen actors guild membership already in my hand, so they assumed I had done television or movies or something because I was a member of the Screen Actors Guild. And I froze, I just froze. And I went on several more auditions and more auditions I went on that very first major audition for the number one television show in the country at the time, I knew when I walked out I’m an incredible DJ, I can be Dayna Steele 24/7 but I can’t be anybody else. I suck. I’m just awful. 

 

I tried a few more and I audition for a cat food commercial that was based on the old Gary Larson comic, what you say to the dog and what the dog hears. And I had to audition in front of these producers and tell them in seconds how great the cat food was only using the word blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I was just dating Charlie at that time and he was in town so he waited for me in a coffee shop downstairs and he said you should have heard all these actresses going, what is my motivation? I’m thinking a paycheck, that’s my motivation. I walked out of that, I remember getting in the rental car, getting in the car with Charlie to go get something to eat, he goes, How did it go? And I went, I’m ready to come home, this is ridiculous, this is no way to live. If I loved it, it would be worth it. It was like when I took flying lessons, I had these visions of being Angelina Jolie getting out of my private plane at which point my pilot has said, “You know, she looks good taking the trash—you will get nothing this week sir. That’s why I took flying lessons until the guy said you’re ready to solo and I said, no I’m not. No I’m not, I don’t have the passion I don’t feel the confidence it’s not there. So, that was a hump I didn’t get over. You know you just listen to your heart, listen to your soul, you know if something’s working or not.

 

Jim Rembach:    Thank you for sharing. I had the opportunity to see you keynote at the ICMI contact center conference and that’s where we were able to connect and set up the interview for the show and I’m blessed—

 

Dayna Steele:    Which by the way I love all the people I meet at that conference, everybody is just so—I don’t know it’s always a great—I’ve been very fortunate to keynote that conference twice now and they just keep having me back, and I love them for it. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I’ve had the opportunity to go to a couple of different industry types of events and I’ve talked to people who actually put on those types of events and some of them work with a couple of different industries and they always say, I love doing the customer care events because the people are just so wonderful. 

 

Dayna Steele:    How can you be in customer care event and not care? If you’re in the customer care industry and you don’t care, it’s probably time to go—act in LA or something, I don’t know. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Tell the paper commercials are calling. 

 

Dayna Steele:    Yeah, yeah, go do a toilet paper commercial. There’s my quote, if you’re in customer care industry and you don’t care, get out now. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Definitely. So I know you have a lot of things going on and you talked about the TV show, of course you’re speaking, your media work, your family and there’s a whole lot of things that you have going on but if you’re to look at one goal, what would it be? 

 

Dayna Steele:    To get the rock business on network television. We’re in negotiations so I can’t say the network but it’s a network that does a lot of really fun cool business shows and it would just fit in that network so incredibly, perfectly. But it’s a long process and I’m not very patient, not only am I feisty, I’m—let’s go, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go it’s and television doesn’t work that way so I’m having to learn a lot of yoga breaths when I speak to agents and Hollywood people and I try learning I’m trying, that’s a jump out of my skin. But that’s my number one goal, is to get the rock business season one, eight episodes on network television this year. 

 

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. 

 

The number one thing that contributes to customer loyalty is emotions. So move onward and upward faster by getting significantly deeper insight and understanding of your customer journey and personas with emotional intelligence. With your empathy mapping workshop, you 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 empathymapping.com to learn more. 

 

Jim Rembach:    All right here we go Fast Leader listeners, it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown, Okay Dayna the Hump Day Hoedown is a 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. Dayna Steele, are you ready to hoedown? 

 

Dayna Steele:    No pressure, yeah, go. 

 

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

 

Dayna Steele:    Wine. 

 

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

 

Dayna Steele:    Always fight naked.

 

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

 

Dayna Steele:    Wine. 

 

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

 

Dayna Steele:    My husband, Charlie. 

 

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

 

Dayna Steele:    Who Moved My Cheese? 

 

Dayna Steele:    Okay Fast Leader listeners, you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/DaynaSteele. Okay Dayna, this is my last hump day hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you have 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?

 

Jim Rembach:    Learning to listen more because I was a talker. I was a talker, I was a mover and a shaker. It was the eighties and rock-and-roll you’re asking me to remember the 80’s and rock-and-roll? Either to listen or to really have appreciated all of the situations I got myself into in the 80’s because I look back now and I was pretty lucky. I was in in rock and roll history in the 80’s it was pretty amazing. 

 

Dayna Steele:    But then but in the 80’s rock and roll the guys were wearing more makeup than the women weren’t they? 

 

Jim Rembach:    Yeah, they were. We shared eyeliner but—

 

Dayna Steele, 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. 

 

Dayna Steele:    Daynasteele.com everything’s there, email I answer it, go for it.

 

Jim Rembach:    Dayna Steele 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

 

 

104: Al Hopper: I was beat physically and mentally

Al Hopper Show Notes

Al Hopper was getting beat physically and mentally. His entire team was down in the dirt. That’s when Al learned about the power and magic of words. When you need to rally the troops and things are going the way you don’t want them to, what do you do?

Al was born in St. Petersburg, Florida. Born as an Army Brat in an enlisted family, Al mostly grew up in Europe and Georgia.

When Al’s family moved he had to learn to adapt to new places and people. Learning how to move between social groups eventually became second nature. His wife, who he met in high school in Germany, still doesn’t understand how Al can walk into a room full of strangers and walk out with new best friends.

After high school, Al went straight to college, like you’re supposed to. Only, he found out he wasn’t ready to be left on his own with his family stationed half the world away. So Al decided to do what he knew best. He went into the Army.

After serving four years in the Army, Al worked at a small business selling and installing pool tables in Augusta, Georgia. Then Al and his wife decided to move to San Antonio, Texas, where he tried selling cars. It didn’t take too long for him to figure out that wasn’t a good fit for my personality.

Al then joined Citibank’s contact center’s inbound personal banking team where he piloted several initiatives before moving to help start a fraud prevention unit. From there Al progressed on to Citibank’s live chat and messaging team and then their social media team. While there Al became a cohost of the weekly #custserv Twitter chat with Marsha Collier, Roy Atkinson, and Greg Ortbach.

In the spring of 2015 Al finished his MBA at American Military University. Through his networking, he met Shaun Williams and became a cofounder of Social Path Solutions in May 2015.

Al is currently Chief Operating Officer of SocialPath Solutions. A digital agency with a focus on social media engagement. There Al is able to leverage his career in Customer service, education in business and marketing, and passion for social media to build a business he’s extremely proud of. Al is grateful to always be learning about himself, his team, their clients, and their customers.

Al still resides in San Antonio, Texas and is happily married to his high school sweetheart, Ursula. They started dating in 1996 and got married in 2001. They have 2 daughters, Ilyana and Anneliese, who are 13 and 10.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

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

“The ultimate goal is to build customer service for customers.” -Al Hopper Click to Tweet

“Customer service is marketing.” -Al Hopper Click to Tweet 

“The better you treat your customers the more they’ll want stuff from you.” -Al Hopper Click to Tweet 

“Businesses haven’t been prepared to use social media as a customer care channel.” -Al Hopper Click to Tweet

“Leadership in places now don’t understand how to use social media.” -Al Hopper Click to Tweet 

“Leadership in most companies forget that people are running the brand.” -Al Hopper Click to Tweet 

“People in customer service are most loyal; they feel the closest to the brand and customer at the same time.” -Al Hopper Click to Tweet 

“Too many executives don’t start in customer care.” -Al Hopper Click to Tweet 

“Sometimes you just have to shut up and do it.” -Al Hopper Click to Tweet 

“Have a plan, get punched in the mouth, refocus, get another plan and keep moving.” -Al Hopper Click to Tweet 

“Just remember, everyone in the room is a person.” -Al Hopper Click to Tweet 

“When things start getting rough, remind people that everyone’s insight is important.” -Al Hopper Click to Tweet 

“Just do what you got to do because that’s the mission at hand.” -Al Hopper Click to Tweet 

“There’s no way I could ever know everything, but my team can.” -Al Hopper Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Al Hopper was getting beat physically and mentally. His entire team was down in the dirt. That’s when Al learned about the power and magic of words. When you need to rally the troops and things are going the way you don’t want them to, what do you do?

Advice for others

Create a plan, move forward with that plan and don’t be afraid of making mistakes with that plan.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Confidence in making the right decision and then knowing if it is the wrong decisions that I can recover from it.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Shut up and soldier because it’s the mission at hand.

Secret to Success

I surround myself with the best people possible. I don’t know everything, but my team can.

Best tools that helps in Business or Life

Being able to talk to people as a person.

Recommended Reading

Starship Troopers

Contacting Al

Website: http://socialpathsolutions.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thealhopper

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlHopper_

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

104: Al Hopper: I was beat physically and mentally

 

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.

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 help 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 about the guest that I have on the show today because he’s one of those folks that just always seems jolly. Al Hopper was born in St. Petersburg, Florida born as an Army brat in an unlisted family. Al mostly grew up in Europe and Georgia. When Al’s family had to move he had to learn and adapt to new places and people learning how to move between social groups eventually became second nature. His wife who we met in high school in Germany still doesn’t understand how Al can walk into a room full of strangers and walk out with new best friends. 

 

After high school, Al went straight to college like he’s supposed to only he found out that he wasn’t ready to be left on his own with his family station half a world away, so Al decided to do what he knew best, he went into the army. After serving four years in the arming Al worked at a small business selling and installing pool table in Augusta, Georgia then Al and his wife decided to move to San Antonio Texas where he tray selling cars didn’t take too long for him to figure out that wasn’t a good fit for his personality. Al then join Citibank contact centers inbound baking team where he piloted several initiatives before moving to help start a fraud protection unit.

 

After there, Al progressed on to Citibank’s live chat messaging team and then their social media team. While there Al became a co-host of the weekly #custserv Twitter chat with Marsha Collier, Roy Atkinson and Greg Ortbach. In the spring of 2015, Al finishes his MBA at American Military University. Through his networking he met Shawn Williams and became a co-founder of Social Path Solutions in May 2015. Al is currently Chief Operating Officer of SocialPath Solutions, a digital agency with a focus on social media engagement. There Al is able to leverage his career in customer service, education and business and marketing and a passion for social media to build a business he’s extremely proud of. Al is grateful to always be learning about himself, his team, their clients and their customers. Al still resides in San Antonio, Texas and is happily married to his high school sweetheart, Ursula. They have two daughters, Ilyana and Anneliese, who are 13 and 10. Al Hopper, are you ready to help us get over the hump? 

 

 Al Hopper:    I’m ready let’s do this. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Al, I’m glad to have you today. 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? 

 

Al Hopper:    Sure. So, my passion really is customer service and to social media being able to bring the two worlds together. One of the things I’ve really been enjoying over the last couple of years is meeting up and tweeting up with a lot of other people in the industry at different conferences and just in general. I just have conversations to see how we can do better for customers, that’s the ultimate goal, is to build customer service for customers.

 

Jim Rembach:    You’re right it is but there’s also different approaches that people take and you seem like one of those folks that come from a place of abundance, where did that come from?

 

Al Hopper:    I’ve just always been a servant leader and I think that that’s really kind of driven my need and want to really help customers get what they want, actually that really helps businesses get what they want to. Because as you can help your customer’s grow and get more results from your products, your business is going to grow. And so, the new toy, the new (3:46 inaudible)is customer service is marketing, and I really kind of believe that, the better you treat your customers the more they’re going to want stuff from you. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Now, we had talked off mic, and you had mentioned how starting SocialPath Solutions, of course it was a natural fit because it had your backgrounds and things in place, you have mentioned to that it has been amazing just in a short period of time how much need there is for what I call social customer care and that is there’s this whole new different channel out there and definitely multitudes of different platforms when you start thinking about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snap chat, we could go on and on but companies really just had a hard time consuming, understanding and navigating all of that, where do you think most of it there or I should say, where is the biggest point of pain that you’re helping solve?

 

Al Hopper:    It’s really just having a plan on how to respond. For years social media has been the realm of marketing and PR and brand protection and if someone says something bad about your brand if you can’t bury it then you just kind of ignore it. But that’s not the way it’s really evolving, customers are reaching out on social media sometimes it’s because they just can’t get what they want from the phones and they feel it’s something that they need to be asked, lay it out to the public. But as new generation comes on people are now digital natives, kids were born with phones in their hands and so the fastest thing that they can do is to type text something whether it’s text a tweet, text on Facebook any other apps that are out there and it’s an on demand service. 

 

I can tell you that I have a problem right now in the middle my problem and then I have to wait for you Mr. business to respond back to me and so businesses haven’t been prepared to be able to use social media as a social customer care channel, as a main channel, it’s always been an escalation channel and where really trying to help change that mindset.

 

Jim Rembach:    You bring up some really interesting points about all of this. I was just reading some statistics associated with SnapChat and its explosive growth for the past 12 months and the age groups that are primarily part of SnapChat and how—they’re really consumers. And when you start looking at most businesses that are being run these are their kids and sometimes their grandkids and they don’t have that real social connection and understanding of their world. So, when you sit down with a particular client, where do you see the biggest barriers are for you to be able to do your work?

 

Al Hopper:    Just like you said it’s just the leadership in place, and now just don’t understand what social media is and they don’t understand how to use it. They don’t use it personally and since they don’t use it personally they have no clue how to use it for their own business.

 

Jim Rembach:    So, if you were to give organizations out there that are struggling with this whole social service/customer service thing, what’s one piece of advice that you would give them in order to help them move forward?

 

Al Hopper:    Create a plan. Move forward with that plan and don’t be afraid of making mistakes with that plan. 

 

Jim Rembach:    So, if you talk about the mistakes that cause people to fall down and maybe not a move forward as quickly as they want to, where do you see those common pitfalls?

 

Al Hopper:    It comes from wanting to be perfect. And I think leadership in most companies they look at it as the brand cannot make a mistake, the brand is perfect, and the brand is spotless. They forget that there are people running the brand and people are not perfect people make mistakes. And at the same time I think it comes to the idea that social media’s been run by marketing and marketers are typically more compensated than customer service, don’t ask me why it’s just the way it’s always been. And there’s a seeming lack of trust with handing over the keys to the castle to the lowest paid organization in the company. 

 

It doesn’t make any sense to me your letting these people talk on behalf of your company on the phone or chat or e-mail but you don’t want to let them do the same thing on social media because it’s in the public’s view, so were phone calls. How many times have you heard now people recording phone calls of cable companies and then playing them back and they go viral? If you would actually take more care of the people that are your brand, then they’re going to be the ones that are the most loyal, no one wants to work in customer service because it’s the lowest paid for any company but they’re the most loyal because they’re the one that feel the closest to brand and the customer at the same time. 

 

Jim Rembach:    You bring up an interesting point ‘cause you started getting into the characteristics of people who are in customer care. And I have found through the course of my 20+ years of being in it that they are some of the most passionate and caring people that you’d ever meet. And I have found and spoke to many executives in organizations who will say things like, “I just don’t understand those people over.” 

 

Al Hopper:    Yeah, and I think it’s because too many executives don’t start there and I think that’s really the problem.  I love seeing stories of startups where everyone does everything at the beginning and as the company grows the executives and the leadership, they sometimes forget where they were and they have to go back. The smaller companies don’t have this problem because, like mine—myself and my co-founders we take shifts doing the job that everyone does and so were very close and intimately link to what our front-line team does. As you get a larger organization and it becomes divisions and different levels of the pyramid, the farther up the pyramid you get the farther away you get from the day-to-day part of the job and you forget about it. And then if you think how, sometimes a revolving door of executives at the very top of these large organizations, they didn’t even start with the company they were brought into be the executive of the company they have no clue where the company’s then. And I think that’s where you’re seeing that kind of conversation where, I don’t know how people can answer the phone three hours a day I don’t want to take a single phone call, they’re not just not trained to do it  it’s not part of your lifestyle.

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a good point. We’ve also talked off mic about this whole connection with the company and being able to provide services in regards to interacting with customers and knowing what the product and building some of that intimacy with your clients that oftentimes I think as you just mentioned executives don’t have. And you talked about a process that you have, can you kind of quickly walk us through what that is?

 

Al Hopper:    Sure. We’ve developed something we call the path to social because we do social customer service and were really helping our client companies on their journey through social media. They may have started social media and kind of send out messages and they’ve engage with the marketing company but now their customers are starting to talk back to them and marketing companies aren’t ready to deal with that, that’s not what they do. And so companies are starting to feel the pain there and what we do is we just kind of have that conversation with them, we learn about their company culture, we learn about their client and customer culture, and then we help define how you would respond in a clear way. It’s not about being robotic it’s about having a goal.

 

So, let’s say we start working with a financial organization that has ATM’s. One of the common things would be, “Hey, bank X, the ATM on Fifth Street isn’t working.” Well, if bank X doesn’t have a plan on how to respond to that then they just ignore it and just pretend it never happened. So now you got a customer that’s asking for help, might be a pretty simple solution could be as simple as, “Thanks for letting us know, we’ll restart the machine” or “Yeah, we know about that one, can you go to this other over here a block away.” You have to create that plan and really understand what the pain is they’re trying to solve and have a protocol for responding. 

 

Jim Rembach:    And that’s a great point. There’s a very simple explanation on something that people probably connect with. When you start thinking about the whole tradition of social media being on the marketing side, a marketing person would have access to any of that information.

 

Al Hopper:    Right, absolutely. 

 

Jim Rembach:    When we’re talking about social media, when we’re talking about just customer care in general, customer experience it could be loaded with a lot of passion. And one of the things that we love on the show is to talk about favorite quotes of folks, because they can do just that and they can provide that passion. Is there a quote or two that you can share?

 

Al Hopper:    Sure. One of my favorite quotes of all time is, Soldier, shut up and soldier. I first read it in Starship Troopers written by Robert Highline in 1954. One of my favorite books I read it quarterly. My dad used it on me one time when he was getting ready to retire and I was starting my career. We’re talking about some of the things that lower enlisted soldiers have to do that just aren’t really fun, it’s not really what you signed up to do. He just said, sometimes you’ve got to shut up and do it, it’s a job you’re getting paid and it’s not glorious. So I looked at that and I’ve used that through my customer service journey over the years. Sometimes it’s really just not fun to sit on the phone for eight hours a day listening to people yelling and screaming and calling you names personally for something you have no control over that your brand can’t fix and sometimes you just suck it up buttercup and do it. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I love that quote, and you’re right. Sometimes we just have a little bit stiffer neck and buckle down and just keep going on and focus on to the next thing and do the best that you can, and it’s a good quote for resilience and perseverance, and thanks for sharing it. And I also, looking at your bio and I’ve had the opportunity to also interview several folks who come from a military family background and they just always have a very unique perspective about different cultures and the what you’re talking about getting used to and connecting to folks rather quickly because you had to otherwise you are always alone. But there’s humps that we have to go through in that process. And when you start talking about going to the university and realizing that, “I’m not ready for that” those are humps. So is there a story that you can share that will help us all?

 

Al Hopper:   Yeah, that’s a great question and I’ve had so many humps in my career. I think the biggest one was really early on when I was still in high school. I was a captain of a football team largely because we only had 40 kids on the team and we were a small school and we’re in Germany so it wasn’t like trying to play football in Texas otherwise I don’t think I would’ve been riding the bench rather than being captain of the team. But we are faced with having to play, some of us had to play both ways play offense and defense some of us even had to play special teams so we would not come up field for 60 minutes. We were getting beaten really bad by this really big school and it was just one of those moments where you see in the movies, we had our huddle in between plays and it was just like everyone’s down in the dirt and we’re getting beaten physically, we’re getting beaten mentally and it was just one of those (16:14 inaudible) moments where you just have to step up and say some magic words and I don’t even recall what of those magic words were but it was like all of a sudden everyone just took a jolt and do something and we are ready to go again. And I’ve always kept that as something special that I’ve been able to do is really rally the troops on anything that I’m doing, whether it’s a phone team, a social media team, my new team at SociaPath Solutions. When things get rough and things start going the way that we didn’t think it was going to go I’ve always really been able to just kind of rally everyone together re-focus them and really just kind of go back to the basics, why are we here? What are we doing? Alright now let’s do that. Another leadership quote, “Everyone has a plan until they get punch in the mouth.” And that’s really been kind of my leadership style and just being able to do that, just have a plan, get punch in the mouth, re-focus and get another plan and keep moving. 

 

Jim Rembach:    You know I think that’s a really interesting thing and thanks for sharing that. I had a conversation yesterday with a potential client and one of the folks that’s on my team and it started going sideways and so there was a whole lot of “we could’s” that  started coming in to the conversation. When you have creative folks that are having communications with one another and talking about a way forward you could spend an entire week talking about what if scenarios and for me I let it go on for a little while and then when I found my opportunity to reel it back in and today I got a note from one of those folks saying, thank you.

 

Al Hopper:    Yeah, you’re right. You get passionate, people in the room and they’re saying either the same things in different ways and they’re just skipping off each other or they’ve come to just an in pass they just can’t get pass whatever it is they’re talking about and it sometimes takes a cooler mind to say, “Okay, guys let’s just put it on the table for now let’s re-focus what do we really having this meeting for and let’s do that. 

 

Jim Rembach:    You know, I think for me, in my younger years, I would just cut it off. However I’ve learned that what I had to do is show my appreciation for the conversation and the information that we had shared at that point and then also showed and told them that it was valuable because it helped us really understand on what we needed to do next. So, I try to be really careful of appreciating their contribution, their efforts and even the time that I could’ve easily said, “Hey, we’re just wasting time here let’s move on” and that’s what I did when I didn’t know any better in my younger years but I made sure that I address them personally before we pitted in or redirect it. What is one particular thing or tip or tactic that you use that you could share with our listeners? 

 

Al Hopper:    Actually, you just said exactly what I was going to suggest. Just remember that everyone in the room is a person they have feelings, they have desires, they have their own set of expertise and when things start getting rough and head start getting banged together you do have to step back and remind everyone that everyone’s insight is important because not everyone sees everything the same way. We had a very similar meeting recently where we’re trying to refocus and try to understand the change that the firm wants to make and one of our employees very passionate about something just kept going and kept going and kept going and he had a great point of what he was trying to present but it was one of those things where the meeting just couldn’t keep going forward we’re going to lose all the momentum we had at that point. So, just like you said make sure that you recognize everyone as a person. And make sure that you recognize them, yes you have a great point, yes were going to listen to you, write it down, share with us later, right this moment it’s not the right time. And it just solved so many problems in this meeting, we were able to move forward and after the meeting I was able to huddle up with my team mates and he said exactly that, thank you for recognizing that I have a problem or I have a solution to a problem. And your right, we couldn’t keep going the way we are going because we are just turning into a shouting match. And so absolutely the best advice I could suggest is treat everyone as a person and remember that everyone has an idea that may or may not be the right one but they’re going to be passionate about their ideas just recognize that passion. 

 

Jim Rembach:    So you and I had the opportunity to talk off mic about some of the things that you’re working on. I haven’t had the opportunity because the timing to dump in or jump in to the cus-serve Twitter chat, but Marsha’s going to be on the show, Roy’s been on the show and being on the same communities that you have been for quite a while we just haven’t connected, so I’m really glad you’re here, but I know you have a lot of things going on and if you could just kind of give me an idea of what would be one of your biggest goals. 

 

Al Hopper:    Wow, biggest goals. The biggest goal of course is to of course to continue growing the business and try to understand where that’s going to go because that’s affecting not only myself but right now 20 different families internally and that’s not counting all of the businesses and their families and all the customers when it’s just an exponential growth pattern of how many people that we are affecting via this little project we call SocialPath Solutions. So, right now that’s really the biggest thing on my horizon. I think right up there with that is being able to spend more time with my family. My oldest daughter Iliana, she is the orchestra and also participating in Cyber Patriot, which is a really cool programs that has been started to teach young kids cyber defense skills and try to see if that’s a career path that they want to take, she’s really taken to that. 

 

I really want to try to get involved with their team and her school, it’s amazing she’s been doing it since sixth grade and they do things like anti-hacking maneuvers in Windows 7 and Linux and all these things, I’m blown away. When I was in college I made a small living programming websites but that was 20 years ago and it’s so different now and the things that she’s learning. We grow the business large enough and strong enough that I can step back and spend some more time with the kids. 

 

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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Jim Rembach:    Alright here we go Fast Leader legion, it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Al 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 move us onward and upward faster now. Al Hopper are you ready to hoedown? 

 

Al Hopper:    Let’s do it. 

 

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

 

Al Hopper:    Confidence. Confidence in making the right decision and then that if it is the wrong decision that is not going to be something I can’t recover from. 

 

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

 

Al Hopper:    We kind of talk about it earlier. Soldier shut up and soldier. Just do what you’re going to do because that’s the mission at hand. 

 

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

 

Al Hopper:    I surround myself with the best people possible. I don’t know everything, there’s no way I can know everything but my team can.

 

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

 

Al Hopper:    Just being able to talk to people as a person and not forgetting that that’s what is behind business and behind customer service, people.

 

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

 

Al Hopper:    I definitely would have to say, Starship Troopers.

 

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/Al Hopper. Okay, Al this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you have been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything back you can only choose one, what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

 

Al Hopper:    I’m going to take the cheap way out of this one and I’m not going to take back with me the winning lottery numbers for when I was 26. 

 

Jim Rembach:    That is a cheap way. So, what would that do for you Al? 

 

Al Hopper:    I would be able to hopefully give me the money to be able to all projects I want to do so I wouldn’t have to worry about bootstrapping in your company. I would be able to put my family in the place where they wouldn’t have to worry about wanting for money. And I think that through having that luxury I would be able to accomplish so much more than what I’ve been able to accomplish so far. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Well, I hope that you can still get lottery number. I have to share that you kind of also queued  that we’re going to have on the future episode the author of the book called The Lottery Curse so we’ll see how that turns out. 

 

Al Hopper:    I’m listening for that one. 

 

Jim Rembach:    There you go. 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? 

 

Al Hopper:    Sure. The best way to reach out to me is on Twitter, @alhopper_, please do not forget the underscore because you’ll end up tweeting with someone who doesn’t tweet back and it’s not my fault. And also you can reach out to me on LinkedIn, just Al Hopper. And we also have our website socialpathsolutions.com, we have live chat there as well. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Al Hopper, 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, 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 

 

 

101: Allison Smith: I found them very intrusive to life

Allison Smith Show Notes

Allison Smith was busy pursuing theatre acting but was finding the hours and the income intrusive to her family life. That’s when Allison realized that doing voiceover allowed to her to be creative and gain control. 25 years later, Allison is one of the most recognized IVR voice talents in the world.

Allison was born in Hinton Alberta along with two older sisters and an older brother.

Allison wasn’t a singer but as a child she would sing all the product jingles at the grocery store. She was very of branding/corporate identity from an early age. While most other teens were lip-synching into a hairbrush, Allison practiced reading ad copy from magazines out loud.

And when Allison got into voiceover – paying the bills in between acting jobs – little did I realize that it would take over as her mainstay. Especially voicing telephone systems, which is her niche. Although she always loved calling the time/temperature line and I remembered wanting to be the “time lady”.

As Allison and her husband I are finally doing their it’s occurred to her that she’ll be leaving behind quite a legacy of sound files, which he has appointed a group of trusted clients in the telephony industry to steward and see to it that they’re used responsibly and in an open-source environment. It was pointed out to her that – at any given time – there’s probably one of her telephone files playing somewhere in the world.

Currently, Allison is the CEO/Voice Goddess of The IVR Voice. She’s seeing big growth in my business, and when other voice talent ask how she’s doing it, she says, “I honestly don’t know.” She keeps in her lane. She keeps her head down. She does the best quality work she can. She attempts to give clients the best service she can, and she’s promised herself that if it no longer gives her joy, she shouldn’t do it anymore.

Luckily, after 25 years, that still hasn’t happened, and she can’t foresee the day when she won’t want to walk up to her mic and see what happens.

Allison currently lives in Calgary with her husband and dog Bailey, where she’s lived since the age of 6.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @voicegal to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“There is a skill set involved with anything everybody does.” -Allison Smith Click to Tweet

“The acting background actually gives me a little leg up.” -Allison Smith Click to Tweet

“Because of websites, anybody who calls in, is going to be a specialized customer.” -Allison Smith Click to Tweet

“There will always be room for an IVR.” -Allison Smith Click to Tweet

“People tolerate being on hold less and less.” -Allison Smith Click to Tweet

“If their time is spent on hold, there better be valuable content that they’re listening to.” -Allison Smith Click to Tweet

“IVRs can be used for so much more than just a mechanism to sort callers.” -Allison Smith Click to Tweet

“The phone system is an extension of the company’s brand.” -Allison Smith Click to Tweet

“People don’t see the phone system as something that should stay consistent with their brand.” -Allison Smith Click to Tweet

“A lot of meaning gets lost when it’s not in the spoken word.” -Allison Smith Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Allison Smith was busy pursuing theatre acting but was finding the hours and the income intrusive to her family life. That’s when Allison realized that doing voiceover allowed to her to be creative and gain control. 25 years later, Allison is one of the most recognized IVR voice talents in the world.

Advice for others

Make sure your voice system connect your website and your brand.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

Confidence

Best Leadership Advice Received

Keep your voice low, keep it slow, and don’t say too much.

Secret to Success

Keep your head down and stay in your lane and do your thing.

Best tools that helps in business or Life

Tenacity

Recommended Reading

Self-Promotion for the Creative Person: Get the Word Out About Who You Are and What You Do

Contacting Allison

Website: http://theivrvoice.com/

Email: Allison [at] theivrvoice.com

LinkedIn: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/allisonsmith3

Twitter: https://twitter.com/voicegal

Resources and Show Mentions

Leslie O’Flahavan

Call Center Supervisor Success Path

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

101: Allison Smith: I found them very intrusive to life

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.

How do you get higher contact center agent performance? It’s when customers grade the call and their rating and comments are used to motivate and coach agent. Uncover hidden secrets and replicate your best agents with the real time insights from the award winning External Quality Monitoring Program and Customer Relationship Metrics. Move onward and upward by going to customersgradeacall.com/fast and getting a $7500 rapid results package for free. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader Legion today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show that I guarantee you’ve heard but never seen or known. Born in Hinton, Alberta along with two older sisters and an older brother Allison Smith wasn’t a singer but as a child she would sing all the product jingles at the grocery store. She was very aware of branding and corporate identity from an early age. While most other teens were lip-synching into a hairbrush, Allison practiced reading ad copy from magazines out loud. And when Allison got in to voice over paying the bills and between acting jobs, little did she realized that it would take over as her mainstay especially voicing telephone systems which is her niche. 

 

Although she’s always loved calling the time temperature line and she remembered wanting to be time lady as Allison and her husband are finally doing there wills it occur to her that she’ll be leaving behind quite a legacy of sound files which she has appointed a group of trusted clients in the telephony industry to steward and see that they’re used responsibly and in an open source environment. It was pointed out to her that at any given time there’s probably one of her telephone files playing somewhere in the world. Currently Allison is the CEO and Voice Goddess of the IVR voice. She’s seeing big growth in her business and when other voice talent ask her how she’s doing it, she says, honestly she doesn’t know. She keeps in her lane, she keeps her head down, she does the best quality work she can, she attempts to get all clients the best service she can and she promises herself that if it no longer gives her joy she won’t do it anymore. But luckily, after 25 years that hasn’t happened and she can’t foresee the day when she won’t want to walk up to her mic and see what happens. Allison currently lives in Calgary with her husband and dog Bailey where she’s lives since she was six years old. Allison Smith, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Allison Smith:    I am definitely ready. Hello, Jim, thanks for having me, I’m so glad to be here. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I’m excited to have you here because…I’ve known you for a very long time and I chuckled with you when we chatted off mic about the fact that—I mean, I find myself making phone calls both personally and professionally to companies and I hear your voice, that makes me laugh. 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?

 

Allison Smith:    Well, you know my passion happens to be this niche that I’ve gotten into—voicing telephone systems. And it seems to be something that just has recurring consistency and recurring revenue. Once you you’ve voice telephone prompts for a company and they want that consistency of the same voice, which hopefully they will because it gives them nice move, creative fee, hopefully they will return to the same voice talent again and again. So, I’ve blogged about it to other voice talent saying, “If you want really good recurring revenue and a good customer base that seems to grow year by year, telephone voicing is a pretty good niche. So I’m blessed, I have so many clients that comeback, Pet Smart is just one of many, many companies that I worked for. 

 

Jim Rembach:    And you also worked for the company that I work for, Customer Relationship Metrics, and you’ve been doing our survey files for many, many years and definitely it’s one of those things where the consistency is so important. When you start thinking about a lot of companies wanting to do their own personal brand and a lot of times they’ll have like that executive records the voice prompts and things like that, where have you seen an issue with that occur versus using someone who’s not in that role?

 

Allison Smith:    It’s such a great question. A lot of people think I speak, I can do this voice prompts, everybody speaks and it’s not seen as necessarily a specialized skill until you start to voice your own voice prompts and realize that there is actually a skill set involved. As with anything anybody does there is a definite skill set involve in voicing prompts that are clean, consistent, edited well, recorded professionally. And not only that if you get somebody in your company to voice the prompts as many people will do they’ll just grab the receptionist, she answers the phone anyhow let’s just get her to do the prompts, she may not be available to do things like updates she might get promoted, she might quit the company. Then if you just keep grabbing people on staff to do the voicing you’ll end up with a big mosaic of voices. I always tell the example of Shaw cable which is a really big cable entity here in Canada, if you’ve ever called for support, I think last time I called because we’re having issues with our DCT box I counted 15 different voices on their telephone system, which in my opinion sounds a little amateur and really doesn’t sound professional at all. 

 

Jim Rembach:    One thing that a lot of people don’t realize unless they are into the audio at a higher level is you start dealing with bit rates and mono and stereo and file sizes and all of those things, it does get quite technical. 

 

Allison Smith:    Sure. Oh, yeah. and you know you mentioned customer relationship metrics which is great company and when I do those surveys you have to realize that there needs to be a little bit of a mood or attitude change when you’re voicing an intro prompt as opposed to—“I’m sorry to hear that you’re dissatisfied with our company, please leave a message and let us know in which ways we can improve.” So they’re needs to be almost a little bit of care taking and management of customer dissatisfaction, if it does come up. So, this are the kind of little emotional changes that can be made in the telephone system that a lay person may not know how to maneuver around, if that makes sense. 

 

Jim Rembach:    It makes total sense to me being in the industry for a long time and I think all of us from a consumerism perspective, we’ve probably listened to hours and hours of those prompts as well as on hold messaging and telephone systems by the time we hit my age, which is almost 50, if I tabulated that all up it’s been probably hundreds of hours.

 

Allison Smith:    Oh, sure. Easily. Yeah, yeah. And you know I did one day of recording where I did the IVR for the Archdiocese of New Orleans and then right after that I did a customer satisfaction survey for Victoria’s Secret, it couldn’t be more different. And those two different clients required such a different treatments to record for. So, yeah, I’m happy to say that the acting background actually gives me a little bit of a lay gap. A lot of voice over people come from a broadcast background which isn’t bad but it’s amazing how options be acting sensibilities are drawn into even doing IVR voicing.

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a really interesting point that you make because I think also from just a customer care and support perspective more and more organizations are starting to be more in tuned to the words that are being said, yes, but then also how they’re being said because right now everybody talks about this whole empathy issue. And trying to create rapport and build relationships with customers and how agents are people who are on the phone working for company’s sounds like it’s a scripted empathy. 

 

Allison Smith:    Exactly. It drives me crazy when they say, “Well, I’m sorry to hear you’re having that problem that must be very frustrating, well, I’m here to help you to that problem.” It just sound so rehearsed and so scripted. Yeah, it’s just one of those things. And also here’s something that I always mention in presentations when I’m talking about IVR’s best practices, think about the last time you pick up the phone to call a company because you had to deal with something chances are you’ve already been to their websites, you’re already familiar with what they do and your request is so specialized or your question has not been answered by any of the material you read on their website. So, if more people design telephone systems without understanding that anybody who calls him is going to be a very specialized customer or unfortunately sometimes it means they’re unhappy and they need to speak to an actual person to get to the bottom of their issue. If more systems were designed with that in mind, I think it would be kinder to the caller and would frustrate them less. 

 

Jim Rembach:    You know that’s a great point that you bring up with the impact of mobo and a lot of people think that people are using voice prompts and IVR and those systems less and less, people don’t want to call anymore they want to self-serve, they want to chat, they want to do all that. Have you seeing a downturn in your business because of the increase in mobo?

 

Allison Smith:    Actually no. I think there will always be room for an IVR and especially one that’s so intuitive that it is self-driven as you say, people are very self-serve specially the younger generation they want to be able to transact and take care of this without having to explain their issues to a live agent. So to answer your question, no, I don’t think self-serve pushes IVR out of the way at all, in fact, I think if anything it might impact the “on hold” industry because people tolerate being on hold less and less. And if their time is vent on hold it better be valuable content that they’re listening to. I like on hold systems that engaged the caller and ask them to participate in their care, while you’re on hold, make sure you have your contract number and blah-blah-blah, that sort of thing involves the caller a little bit rather than—“we’ve been in business for 40 years, we make widgets and here’s why are widgets are the best”—you know what I’m saying? 

 

Jim Rembach:    I can imagine from a customer experience perspective you just have a wealth of insight talking about that skill set as well as that the person who’s just picking up and recording a particular prompt has no visibility and understanding of really the—I don’t want to date you but you’ve been doing this for a couple of decades now. I can imagine the bank, the knowledge base that you built on doing this and also understanding all of those nuances that we talked about is quite significant.

 

Allison Smith:    Yeah. And you know  I think I had kind of aha moment, it was like an epiphany a few years ago, when I realize that maybe my job is a bit more complex than just recording telephone prompts and sending (11:21 inaudible)to the client and collecting the check. More and more clients are asking me for my opinion about—why are we having this big caller drop-offs? Why are people hanging up? Why are people thinking that perhaps our phone menu is a bit too labyrinth, if I could say. And yes, so it occurred to me that through blogging, through speaking at telephony conventions and doing things like this, kind of a podcast, hopefully it’s educating people a bit more about how IVR can be used for so much more than just a mechanism to sort callers, which is how it was explained to me when I first started doing it. They said it’s almost like an escalator that takes all the people in white jackets and sorts them off to the left and all the other colors go off to the right and then you’re not right facing stream there’s further sorting of other colors. I guess that’s a good way to explain it and yet I think IVR should be used for so much more than just organizing colors into the various departments. 

 

Jim Rembach:    In addition to that, what I hear a lot is people saying how you can divert people into low-cost self-serve options. But if that’s your mindset, what you had stated as well as it’s a cost cutting tool you’ll find that it’s a volume increasing tool and a customer defection tool.

 

Allison Smith:    Absolutely, there’s no question about that. Yeah, yeah. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Having a theatre background and being in this business so long and getting exposed to so many different types of environment you talk about the diocese and Victoria Secret, all these different clients that you’re dealing with, I’m sure you’ve been exposed to a lot of different cultures and ideas and thoughts and we have the opportunity to pull inspiration and things like there and on our show we look at quotes in order to help inspire us. Is there a quote or two that you can share? 

 

Allison Smith:    Yeah, you know I think I read a while back and it seems really resonates with me, the quote goes something like, “People will forget what you say and they might even forget what you do but they will never forget how you made them feel.” And isn’t it true that when you meet someone sort of leave almost like a little bit of a vapor trail behind you have that sort of scents memory of what it was like to deal with that person. So I always try to keep that in mind in any of my interactions whether it be professional or personal, I think you can leave someone with a very good resounding impression or it could negative it might as well be a good one. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I don’t have a massive sample of leaders in regards to guess who’ve been on the show but that particular quote by my Angelou has been the most memorable quote and recommended quote by guest on our show. The impact that that has and the depth that it has been tremendous and even fits into what we were just talking about a moment ago with what you are saying as far as it isn’t just a voice recording that’s on your system, it’s a way for you to leave a trail, make a connection and have an impact.

 

Allison Smith:    You know if I think about the idea of calling my bank, I instantly get a pit in my stomach because I think—ugh, great—and the I have to car (14:48 inaudible)probably 20 minutes to a half an hour to call, they’re going to ask for my PIN numbers several times during the process, they’re going to ask for my language selection because I’m in Canada and they’re going want to confirm that I still  English and not French and it’s exhausting, it’s never an easy call to make. What if Royal Bank of Canada, I’ll just say who they are, what if they decided to do things like other financial institution that I’ve voiced for in which they are trying actively not to appear to be intimidated, not to appear to be formal and to demystify money and to get people over there fear of talking about money. So that’s an example of an industry where they’ve had a certain way of doing things and now people are breaking out of that tradition and being very warm and very accessible. I think people will remember how a company made them feel when they’ve called them once, oh, yeah, frog-box recycling that was fun last time I had to call them I just honestly think that the phone system is the extension of the company’s brand but too many people don’t see the phone system as something that should stay consistent with their website personality and any sort of media buys if they do any radio or TV buys. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I had the opportunity to sit at the call-center conference and demo session that was done by Leslie O’Flahavan, she has been on the show as well and she specializes in writing and she was doing a session on brand voice, and what you were just talking about right there is brand voice. Having a consistent brand voice in everything you do whether it’s that scripted e-mail that you have to send, whether it’s a website page, whether it’s your IVR voice, your brand voice has to come through and be consistent so you don’t have that inconsistency which translates into an unprofessional feel and look throughout your different customer touch points and your interaction points. So, definitely brand voice, IVR voice they go together.

 

Allison Smith:    Absolutely they do.

 

Jim Rembach:    So, when you start looking at, gosh…getting into this business and doing what you’re doing in itself was getting over a hump. You talked about it feeling in between acting jobs, but there’s other humps that we have to get over life and they teaches a ton, is there a story that you can share with us when you got over a hump?

 

Allison Smith:    Gosh, I think I came to a realization when pursuing acting job got really, really difficult. And when I did get them I found them very intrusive to life, basically, because especially if you’re working with theatre it eats up your evenings and your weekends and that kind of compromises family time. So it just became clear to me at one point that this fill-in job of voice over was actually take over as my mainstay which was fantastic because the hours are better, quite frankly, the money is better  and just as a general lifestyle choice it just is so much kinder to my life and my family’s life. I make a firm rule, unless clients are really, really stuck, I make a firm rule of not recording in the evenings or on the weekends. 

 

Again, I will help clients out of there jam and I’m sensitive to other time zones. I did the IVR for a sandwich shop in Saudi Arabia, of all voices, and had to accommodate their time zone. But apart from that this is a fantastic way for me to stay creative and yet still have some control over my life. Even film I will do some commercial and the occasional some gigs if they come my way but they can eat up your entire day. I guess that that’s what I would consider to be a hump to get over, would be this idea of giving up acting is not necessarily a bad thing it was like a gentle redirect in another area that  just feels completely 100% right to me. And as you said in the intro, I can’t foresee a day that I won’t be doing this. I realize the voice changes overtime but as long as I still sound like me, I can’t really foresee a day when I won’t want to record every day.   

 

Jim Rembach:    It’s interesting that you said that, thanks for sharing. A lot of people when they often record they refer to hiding their own voice. I can’t stand the way I sound so I would dare to say that you probably called and talked to yourself in a sense more than anybody I know. So, what is it like when you talk to you or call you at a business? 

 

Allison Smith:    Yeah. It happens all the time. I ordered a hotel wake-up call in Dallas, Texas and I’ve forgotten that I did the wake-up system for the hotel chain and it was me waking me up. My husband also had the experience of downloading a workout program for a smart phone that keeps you motivated at the gym which kind of like having your own personal coach, I think you know where I’m going with this, they were a text to speech engine that I voice so it was me saying, “Come on five more sit-ups, you can do it.” And, you know, he actually had that changed to the Australian male. I think he didn’t want me pestering him at the gym, which is kind of crazy. But to get back to what you’re asking about, almost everybody hates the sound of their own voice because you’re hearing it muffled through home network of bone and tissue. And when you’re hearing your voice recorded you’re hearing yourself speaking to yourself. I on the other hand have this sort of detached view almost like a ballet dancer looking at their alignment in the mirror and going, “Opps that’s a little bit off.” They’re very clinical and I too because I listen and edit my sound files all day. So I do have that kind of that almost detached view that is almost like a product that I’m working with as opposed to being self-conscious about how I sound. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I think that’s a very  interesting point I found myself going through that same transition luckily by the time I started doing podcasting I had hurt my own voice so many times that it was like it wasn’t me. 

 

Allison Smith:    Yes, exactly. Another interesting are that I’m starting to get in to is vocal coaching. And specifically to the yoga community because I’m a big yoga practitioner. I’ve noticed that many yoga teachers will come in with an agenda, as in they want to sound like the mystical yoga teachers, but they actually come in with their persona also many of them are younger women who seemed to be prone to vocal affectation such as Upspeak where do you ends of all the sentences, sound like a question you probably heard younger women speaking like that. Also things like vocal fry, which is where they sort of sound like that and that seems to be almost like a trend with younger women, so, it’s interesting. I was actually hired by some yoga studios to come in and coach their teachers on how to use their voices more effectively, so I find that extremely rewarding. 

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s super interesting point because I was reading a study that was talking about the perception of somebody’s IQ and they were specifically referring to that whole Upspeak that you’re taking about. You end a sentence with ah, and then you do that, and they were saying how that people are actually do that as part of their habit that they’re perceived to be less intelligent that those that do not, so it does have an impact.

 

Allison Smith:    Yes. In fact I think it sounds the opposite of confident, I think it sounds like you’re questioning everything you’re saying and you’re asking for approval from whoever it is you’re talking to. It’s interesting though because as soon as I pointed out to someone—I actually did have a yoga teacher that was almost speaking in a valley girl kind of cadence she would say things like, “Move your leg. Move your head” the minute I pointed it out to her, she said, “Oh, my gosh, I do that” and she stopped doing it, so, there’s a good awareness that comes with monitoring your own speech patterns. A certain amount of affectation is normal and some of it is regional depends on where you live, but yeah, speech is fascinating to me. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Like you’re saying it has a much larger neuro scientific impact but then we really are even aware of. The way that our brain processes and interprets and perceives we still are at the very, very early stages of understanding all of that.

 

Allison Smith:    Absolutely. Speech we are so attuned to final nuances and accept that you cannot get across in social media and typing over email. So a lot of meaning gets lost when it’s not in the spoken word. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Absolutely. Yes, you been doing this for 25 years, however you talked about expanding and doing some other things, doing some of the coaching work, doing some of that—but when you start looking at all the things that you have going, what are some of your goals?

 

Allison Smith:    I think I will struggle with that question because really what I want to be doing is what I’m doing maybe on a bigger scale. I look at a contract like Siri, oh, my gosh! It would be incredible to be on that scale. So that’s always what I’m striving to is to be kind of like a Siri type voice, although many people have said I’m probably like a lesser known version of Siri because I do show up everywhere, it’s amazing how many different places I show up. I actually took a ticket out of a parking garage kiosk dispenser and it was me saying, “Please take your ticket,” just extremely treepy. So, yes, my goal would to do more of the same and also to leave my sound files as a legacy in a responsible way. I actually found an organization who I’m currently in touch with, they supply voices to disabled people and people who have lost their speech and they are after lay people all over the world even people without broadcast experience to contribute to their voice bank. And when I contacted them and said, “Well, you know, I have audio drives upon audio drives of sound files and what do I do with them after I’m no longer here? And they’re extremely interested and perhaps integrating my voice into their compendium of sounds, so it’s interesting. 

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s an interesting legacy.  

 

Allison Smith:    Yes, I would say so. 

 

Jim Rembach:     And the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now, before we move, let’s get a quick word from our sponsor. 

 

Max on contact center agent performance is impossible unless your customer’s involved in grading and coaching agents. So make it simple for you and customers with the award winning External Quality Monitoring program from Customer Relationship Metrics. Get over the hump now by going to customergradethecall.com/fast and getting your $7500 rapid results package for free.

 

Jim Rembach:    Alright here we go, Fast Leader Legion, it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay Allison, the Hump Day Hoedown is a 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. Allison Smith, are you ready to hoedown?

 

Allison Smith:    I’m scared but ready. 

 

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

 

Allison Smith:    Confidence. 

 

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

 

Allison Smith:    Keep your voice low. Keep it slow and don’t say too much. 

 

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

 

Allison Smith:    Keep your head down, stay in your lane and do your thing.

 

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

 

Allison Smith:    Tenacity. I really don’t see myself doing anything else so I’m determined to keep doing this. 

 

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

 

Allison Smith:    Oh gosh! Actually one of my go to, is a book called, Self-Promotion for Creative People or the Creative person. It was written about a dozen years ago, it’s fantastic. 

 

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

 

Allison Smith:    I would say to 25 year old Allison, “Don’t worry so much.” That was my big thing, is almost seeing too far into the future and worrying and anticipating, it’s all going to shake out exactly as it should and it’s going to be better than you ever imagine it could be. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Allison, it was honor to spend time with you today, can you please share with the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you?

 

Allison Smith:    Absolutely, my website us theivrvoice.com, I could be emailed at allison@theivrvoice.com and on the Twitter machine I am @voicegal. Please connect with me I’m trying to reach a certain number by the end of the year, so I hope I’d get that. 

 

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

 

END OF AUDIO 

 

 

067: Brad Cleveland: It was the deepest anguish I’d ever experienced

Brad Cleveland Show Notes

Brad Cleveland was in his 20’s and traveling helping clients build their customer service organizations. He had more work than he could handle and things were very exciting. Then one day after visiting a client site his wife called him with news of a swollen lymph node and a strange spot on her skin. After many tests, the news was not positive. Listen to Brad tell his story of getting over this horrible hump.

Brad Cleveland grew up as the third of four children in Nampa, Idaho, a small town about 20 miles outside of Boise

Eventually, Brad found his way to Point Loma College in San Diego, California, where he met Kirsten, his wife of his wife of 27 years.

After working with a few organizations in their customer service operations, Bard and Kirsten moved to Annapolis, Maryland where he became a founding partner in the International Customer Management Institute. As CEO, Brad grew ICMI into a recognized brand in publishing, training and consulting, eventually leading to a successful acquisition by London-based United Business Media.

Brad Cleveland is known around the world for his contributions to customer service strategy and management. He has worked across 45 states and in 60 countries, authored 8 books, and appeared in media ranging from the NY Times to the Wall Street Journal and NPR’s All Things Considered.

His clients have included many service leaders like Apple, American Express, USAA, Google and others.

Brad maintains a busy travel schedule, and has logged an estimated five million miles in travel, speaking and consulting to organizations around the globe on customer service and how to shape it and get it right in the fast-emerging omnichannel environment.

Brad is also is a private pilot, enjoys skiing and mountain biking. Today, Brad lives in Sun Valley, ID near one of America’s iconic ski resorts, with Kirsten and their daughter Grace.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @bradcleveland to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“Maybe the technology is a little bit ahead of where we are in managing it.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet

“Focus on what’s important and not letting clutter get in the way.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“We’re not guaranteed tomorrow, but I’ve got today.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“What can I do in the next three hours to move something forward.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“Money, travel, success, none of that all of a sudden mattered.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“My heart goes out to others who are facing severe trials.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“I will forever be more sensitive to the challenges that so many face.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“Every day is an opportunity, every day is a gift.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“We’re all here together for a little while, let’s make the best of it.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“Let’s go at the possibilities with everything we have.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“Don’t make these things more than they are but make them everything they can be.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“Every day is an opportunity to push something that matters forward.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“Life’s what happens to you when you’re making other plans.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

“In all of the clutter, chaos and challenges…enjoy the ride.” -Brad Cleveland Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Brad Cleveland was in his 20’s and traveling helping clients build their customer service organizations. He had more work than he could handle and things were very exciting. Then one day after visiting a client site his wife called him with news of a swollen lymph node and a strange spot on her skin. After many tests, the news was not positive. Listen to Brad tell his story of getting over this horrible hump.

Advice for others

Focus on the next three hours, it’s what we all have, move something forward that matters.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Clutter and distraction; devices that go bing.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Focus on the next three hours, that’s all we have, move something forward.

Secret to Success

Kindness

Best tools that helps in business or Life

Setting fewer priorities.

Recommended Reading

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond

Contacting Brad

Website: http://www.bradcleveland.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bradcleveland1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bradcleveland

Resources

Cleveland Clinic –  Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care https://youtu.be/cDDWvj_q-o8

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

Brad Cleveland: It was the deepest anguish I’d ever experienced

 

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.

 

Maximum contact center agent performances is impossible unless your customers involved in gradient coaching agents, so make it simple for you and customers with the award winning External Quality Monitoring program from Customer Relationship Metrics. Get over the hump now by going to customersgradethecall.comforward/fast and getting your $7500 rapid results package for free.

Jim Rembach:    Okay Fast leader Legion, today I’m excited because I get the chance to share with you somebody who I’ve known of for a long time and have greatly respected his work and he’s here. Brad Cleveland as the 3rd of four kids in Nampa, Idaho, a small town outside of Boise. Eventually he found his way to Point Loma College where he met his wife Kirsten of 27 years. After working a few years with organizations in our customer service operations Brad and Kirsten moved to Annapolis, Maryland where he became a founding partner in the international customer management institute. 

As CEO, Brad grew ICMI into a recognized brand in publishing, training, and consulting eventually leading to a successful acquisition by London based United Business Media. Brad Cleveland is known around the world for his contributions to customer service strategy and management. He’s worked across 45 states and in 60 countries, authored 8 books and appeared in media ranging from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal and MPR’s all things considered. His clients have included many service leaders like Apple, American Express, USAA, Google and others. Brad maintains a busy travel schedule and has logged an estimated 5,000,000 miles in travel, speaking and consulting to organizations around the globe on customer service and how to shape it and get it right for the fast emerging Omni channel environment. Brad is also a private pilot, enjoys skiing, and mountain biking. Today Brad lives in Sun Valley, Idaho near one of Americas iconic ski resort with his wife Kirsten and their daughter Grace. Brad Cleveland are you ready to help us get over the hump?

Brad Cleveland:    I am Jim, thank you

Jim Rembach:    Well thanks for being here. I’ve given our listeners a little about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?

Brad Cleveland:    I am so interested right now on this whole multi-channel environment. In fact the Omni channel, it’s just fascinating out there, all the ways that we communicate and the expectations around that with the organizations and between organizations and our customers and our personal lives and maybe the technology is just a little bit ahead of where we are in managing it and it’s just a really interesting opportunity.

 

Jim Rembach:    You know you bring up, oh wow, I mean just a whole diverse slew of questions in my mind when you even mention the word Omnichannel, right. So for many years we’ve all been focusing on this whole multitasking issue right but then when the science comes out and tells us that if you want to actually be effective and be more efficient that you shouldn’t be doing all these multitasking stuff because you can’t focus, a lot of issues associated with switching from one thing to the next. So when you start thinking of Omnichannel that could be frightening, what comes to mind when you think about that?

Brad Cleveland:   When you were going through the introduction I was tiptoeing around my office trying to turn off all the devices and I’ve forgotten to switch to silence. Omnichannel is really from an organization’s perspective giving customers choice and ensuring all those channels work together and you can switch from one to the next and it all just works, it’s transparent. But yes, we have to be able to focus and I think that’s a great challenge of our time is to get these channels out there at an individual level and really at an organizational level, being able to focus on what’s important right now, not letting clutter get in the way.

Jim Rembach:    You know you bring up a really good point about what’s important and making sure that the clutter clears way out of our minds and a lot of times we lean on leadership quotes at the fast leader show because sometimes they help  provide that clarity that otherwise we just don’t have. Is there a quote or two for you that you can share that helps gives you that clarity, can you share it?

Brad Cleveland:    You know I remember something the late Robert Townsend used to say, the former leader of Avis. He usually ask question, what can I do in the next 3 hours? And that helped me so much over the years I figured it often, we’re not guaranteed tomorrow but I’ve got today, what can I do in the next 3 hour to move something important along? I have to say Jim that’s one of the quote that often comes to mind.  I’ll just throw these , Dory the fish in Finding Nemo, and you’re going through a really tough and uncertain times she said “just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming” I’m not sure what that says about me but that one comes to mind as well.

 

Jim Rembach:    Well I think both of those, kind of fit in to what you were talking about a moment ago with regards to that focus in clearing away the clutter is that just keep swimming right. I’m a huge fan of the Carolina Panthers and they just talked about Keep Pounding that’s one of the things that they keep referring to and I think again that’s one of those quotes or phrases or something that provides that clarity and makes you more mindful in regards to what you have to do and focus on.

Brad Cleveland:    Yeah.

Jim Rembach:    So when you start thinking about—even yourself when you’re referring to the whole Omnichannel, logging almost 5 million plus miles globally and having to be able to manage and lead a business and even now you’re doing a lot of your own work in regards to speaking and authoring and all of that, there’s a lot of humps that we have to get over in order to be able to keep focusing and swim, swim, swimming and going the right direction, is there a time for you where you’ve had to get over a hump because maybe you weren’t going in the right direction, can you share that story with us?

Brad Cleveland:    Yeah that’s a great question. Let me mention a story that, I’d be remiss not to, I don’t tell this very often or at least I haven’t told it very often. There was a season over a couple of decades ago now that really was a point demarcation for me. I was working with my business partner at the time going to Piece in Junior, running the International Customer Management Institute. By the way Gordon was a great mentor-friend, amazing visionary, he retired in 96 so this was a handful years before that. When we were in a hyper growth mode, every alert organization was beginning to realize with the advent of the Internet browser and other new ways to connect and engage that service was becoming more critical by the days so we hit the timing just right we’re out there helping organizations with our strategy and getting our service operations in place and (7:15 inaudible) we had clients worldwide we had more work than we can handle, we had airlines, financials, and government, and it was exciting I’m in my 20’s and travelling and conference rooms and that was fun. 

And I got a call from Kirsten one afternoon when I was leaving a client site, she said “There’s something on the back of my hand that doesn’t look right and I’ve got an enlarged lymph node under my arm” and we didn’t think it’d turn into much but after many tests it turns out it was melanoma. And she’s beautiful fair skin young Scandinavian descent kind of a demographic for this horrible disease and the stats for lymph node involvement were bad, its variable it can go in any direction, the doctor sat me down and said she may have five years. And my outlook changed in an instant—money, travel, success, all the trappings that we think of success, none of that all the sudden mattered, I would’ve given anything for her, it was like deepest anguish I’d ever experienced. That was over 20 years ago and by the grace of God we got through it and today it’s 100 percent behind us and she’s vibrant, healthy, she can outrun and out hike me any day. And seven years after that, our little girl Grace came along, Kirsten’s treatment didn’t impair her ability to have a child, so our daughter’s name is Grace because she truly is a gift of grace. I don’t tell that story often, my heart goes out to others who are faced with severe trials and some far worse than ours and with different outcomes but I will forever be more sensitive to the challenges that so many face and forever more balanced. I mean every day is an opportunity, every day is a gift.

Jim Rembach:    Thanks for sharing that story. I mean as you were telling that story, gosh, I started finding some of myself going through some emotions with someone who doesn’t like me to talk about it, who’s very close to me. It’s amazing when you start talking about what we’re even talking about a moment ago and that whole focus piece and the omnichannel and all these things coming at you it’s just really gives you a total different direction and understanding of keep swimming, keep swimming.

Brad Cleveland:    Right. And you know for me the whole experience changed my priorities and my outlook and executive boardrooms and tough projects and challenges in the economy and leading organizations through some tough times, none of those things are any bigger of a deal than they need to be it may sound like a contradiction but I enjoy my career in helping other organizations and others even more. I can go with these opportunities with gusto because there’s not a lot that intimidates me, it is what it is, it’s no more than that, we’re all here together for a little while let’s make the best of it, let’s go out these possibilities, let’s go out these initiatives with everything that we have and make them as great as they can be. So that’s one of the things I love about customer service, it really is about serving. If you’re an organization you get things in place the right way, you can make things easier for a lot of people. But I’ve enjoyed my career even more, I’ve never wished an experience like that upon myself or anybody but it gave me such balance and such focus that don’t make these things more than they are but make them everything they can be.

Jim Rembach:    Thanks for adding that additional piece because it got me to thinking. And that’s really—even a conversation I had earlier this morning with my wife talking about somebody at work who is having a little bit of a struggle with them developing their work groups and working with others and we often don’t really stop and think about it but as much as 60-80 percent of our jobs are really entangled and contingent upon the strength, the relationships that we have at work and with partner organizations and with our customers.

Brad Cleveland:    That’s right and I think understanding and being sincere, this is a lifelong learning thing for any of us. Understanding and being sensitive to what others are going through, the challenges, the opportunities they have and viewing everybody through their potential, wow, that gives them to give back in so many ways.

Jim Rembach:    And you know, you also brought one thing to my mind that there was a video that was done, I think it was by Cleveland Hospital, where it really brought out those things. So when you start thinking of a patient or a family members or someone like that walking through the doors of a hospital, you don’t know what floors they’re going to, you don’t know if they’re going to be excited and go to the maternity ward or be totally crushed because they’re heading to the ICU or you know, you just don’t even know what they’re going through and they crafted such an impactful video, I’m going to try to put a link to it and make sure it’s on your show notes page because you brought that to mind. I think that’s a really important consideration for all of us is that—we’re talking about serving, what is the other person going through? What are they thinking about? What do they need? Because ultimately, collectively that’s going to help us all move to a better place.

Brad Cleveland:    That’s right.

Jim Rembach:    So when you start talking about—I mean we even mention as far as the travel, the authoring, the family all those things that are so positive and impactful in your life when you start looking in all those, what are some of your goals?

Brad Cleveland:    I really am back to the top fascinated by the omnichannel environment that’s taking shape so quickly. So on the professional front that’s really the next leg out for many organizations and it involves the totality of people and processes and technology and its all-encompassing, it expands the organization. So I’m working with some great companies, doing some keynotes, I’m having a lot of fun and I’m not, I never have in my career been tied in any technology or solution so I really can provide and then depend a perspective and balance things around and I never seen more opportunity for so many organizations to really differentiate and see the benefits from that. On the home front, our daughter Grace is in the 8th grade, she’s going to the 9th this coming year and Kirsten and I are having so much fun being a part of her world which is so full. I’m doing some mountain biking and skiing and trying to get out there and stay healthy, which is so huge, so it’s been fun. I’ve got a lot of things I want to do and every day is an opportunity to push something that matters forward.

 

Jim Rembach:    And that 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, Brad, 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. Brad Cleveland are you ready to hoedown? 

 

Brad Cleveland:    I’m ready.

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

 

Brad Cleveland:    Clutter and distraction. Devices that go “Bing” all day, ignore them, turn them off, and get something done.

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

 

Brad Cleveland:    Focus on the next three hours, that’s what we all have, move something forward.

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

 

Brad Cleveland:    I think kindness. I’ve had the opportunity to work with people from all over the world and you’re laughing with them and taking an interest in them and basic manners and the humility that we’re all in this together, that goes so far and I’ve found that to be true across any culture.

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

 

Brad Cleveland:    Setting fewer priorities, not more, fewer but those that really matter.

 

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

 

Brad Cleveland:    Well if I could mention two, Getting Things Done by David Allen which is great for focus on what matters to you, very well written and I’ve picked up a book called Younger Next Year which has been out there for a while but it’s by Chris Crowley, he’s a retired attorney, he is funny, it’s on health, I think he’s close to 80 read it whether you’re 20 or 80 or any point in between it’s just really well done and health is an essential enabler.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader listeners you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to the fastleader.net/Brad Cleveland.  Okay, John this my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you have been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skill you have now back with you but you can’t take everything you could only choose one so what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

 

Brad Cleveland:     I think perspective and perspective without having to go through a crisis to get there which I guess some of us need and along with that enjoying the journey. It’s that old saying why sweat happens to you when you’re making other plans and all the clutter and chaos and challenges and the (17:41 inaudible) of the day today, enjoy the ride, enjoy every day.

Jim Rembach:    Brad 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? 

 

Brad Cleveland:     You bet. So bradcleveland.com—cleveland spelled like city. Twitter is @BradCleveland, you’ll find me on LinkedIn and other channels, and email is Brad@bradcleveland.com.

 

Jim Rembach:    Brad Cleveland, 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

 

  

 

 

065: Blake Morgan: I wasn’t a trust fund baby

Blake Morgan Show Notes

Blake Morgan moved to New York City as a young southern Californian girl. While many of her roommates had family nearby, Blake found herself with no support system and found herself needing to make her way. Listen to Blake tell her story of how getting over that hump affected her career and life.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience adviser that has worked with Intel, Verizon Wireless, Verizon, Newmark Knight Frank Retail, One Medical, Misfit Wearables (Shine), Pega Systems, Clarabridge, Zendesk, Sparkcentral and more. She’s highly involved with SOCAP where she serves as the VP of Marketing for the North West chapter.

She loves “customer experience” because as humans we are feeling, sensing beings. Our most vivid memories are powerful experiences. Today brands understand that creating a knock-your-socks-off digital experience is the way to the customer’s heart.

Outside of work she volunteers with Hop-a-long Animal rescue managing their Twitter account–helping dogs get fostered and adopted in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In a past life she lived in NYC for five years–then met her now husband at a CRM conference and moved to the bay area in under two weeks. Good thing it worked out! Today she loves calling the bay area home.

Other fun “Blake” facts, she once ran a marathon in San Francisco. She takes Russian Language classes so she can understand her husband’s family.
Blake enjoys hanging out with her husband and Yorkie, Athena in Oakland, CA.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @blakemichellem to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“Companies are only willing to build relationships when it’s cost effective.” -Blake Morgan Click to Tweet

“They’re lying saying they want to improve the customer experience but not willing to walk the walk.” -Blake Morgan Click to Tweet 

“I want to do business with brands that treat me like they really care.” -Blake Morgan Click to Tweet 

“You don’t want people working for your company that don’t have it in their blood.” -Blake Morgan Click to Tweet 

“You don’t want people that have customer facing roles that don’t have it in their blood.” -Blake Morgan Click to Tweet 

“You want people who are really proud to represent the brand.” -Blake Morgan Click to Tweet 

“There’s a lot of benefit to taking a breath and thinking what’s the best way to respond.” -Blake Morgan Click to Tweet 

“Learning to listen can mean the difference between a great day and ruining a relationship.” -Blake Morgan Click to Tweet 

“Working at a big company, people don’t really know who you are outside the company.” -Blake Morgan Click to Tweet 

“Even if you do work for an employer, it’s so important for people to have a brand.” -Blake Morgan Click to Tweet 

“Feel comfortable in your own skin because that’s really attractive.” -Blake Morgan Click to Tweet 

“Being a good listener is so important and so under appreciated.” -Blake Morgan Click to Tweet 

“When you listen you really hear for that golden ticket.” -Blake Morgan Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Blake Morgan moved to New York City as a young southern Californian girl. While many of her roommates had family nearby, Blake found herself with no support system and found herself needing to make her way. Listen to Blake tell her story of how getting over that hump affected her career and life.

Advice for others

It’s so important for people to have a brand. It’s really important to have your own personal brand.

Holding her back from being an even better leader

Scalability

Best Leadership Advice Received

Be yourself. If you’re trying to be someone else it’s really obvious.

Secret to Success

Longevity in the business.

Best tools that helps in business or Life

Being a good listener. Listening is everything.

Recommended Reading

Thick Face, Black Heart: The Warrior Philosophy for Conquering the Challenges of Business and Life

Contacting Blake

Website: www.blakemichellemorgan.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/blakemichellemorgan

Twitter: https://twitter.com/blakemichellem

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: 

Click to access edited transcript

065: Blake Morgan: I wasn’t a trust fund baby

 

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 tennis 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. Go to beyondmorale.com/speaking to learn more. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader Legion you want to make sure that you go to iTunes and download and subscribe The Fast Leader Show if you haven’t already because the guest on the show that we have today, her quick wit and get to the point style is sure to help you cut through the clutter in your world. Blake Morgan graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz and with a focus in Journalism and on a whim moved to New York City, and now Blake is a Customer Experience advisor that has worked with Intel, Verizon Wireless, Verizon, Newmark Knight Frank Retail, One Medical, Misfit Wearables, Pega Systems, Clarabridge Spark Central and more. She’s with highly involved SOCAP where she serves as the VP of Marketing for the North West chapter.

 

Blake loves customer experience because as humans we are feeling, sensing, beings our most vivid memories are powerful experiences. Today brands understand that creating a ‘knock your socks off’ digital experiences is the way to the customer’s heart. Outside of work she volunteers with hop-along animal rescue managing their Titter account and helping dogs get fostered and adopted in the San Francisco Bay Area. In a past life when she lived in New York City she did it for five years and that’s where she met her husband at a CRM conference and moved to the Bay Area in under two weeks— good thing it worked out.  Today loves—both her husband in calling the Bay Area home. Blake Morgan are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Blake Morgan:    Hey, Jim. Good morning, I’m ready. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Alright, thanks. I’m glad you’re here with us today. 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?

 

Blake Morgan:    My current passion I would say is dogs. Because last night I actually have someone drop off a little puppy, to my house that needs a home, and I just couldn’t say no. She’s the cutest, five pound New Yorky mix, with this devilish little eyebrows and so I just got dog crawling all over my house right now and I would say that’s my passion. 

 

Jim Rembach:    It’s definitely my kids passion too, they keep asking me to have one. We were chatting earlier before we got started here today and I was mentioning how my neighbor has adopted for long time for many years and it’s definitely something—it takes a lot of effort that that he takes a lot of effort it’s not simple. I’ve even seen situations where people going through a very stringent screening process to actually be one of the adopters and foster parents, but it’s so valued. When you start thinking about that passion and where it comes from, why dogs?

 

Blake Morgan:    Well, dogs actually were once wolves. And they figure it out that if they could cozy up to humans, back in the caveman days that human would feed them, they would provide protection and comfort to humans and humans would feed them and it was a nice kind of symbiotic relationship. Thanks how actually how dogs evolve from wolves, so now they’ve somehow become cuter. I think they figure it out if they were cuter they would get better food and better homes. There’s a long history of dogs and humans being friends and I’ve just always loved dogs. We had dogs when I was a kid, just wonderful, they’re very calming and just such a nice break from the hassle, buzzle of the day to just come home and see this wagging tail so happy to see you no matter what. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Listening to you talk, I started also thinking about some of the work that you do talking about customer experience, customer engagement, and that whole evolution piece and the need to connect, I started seeing really a correlation on how you started talking about that evolution. While it’s maybe not politically correct to talk about humans as animals or in that way but do you see some connections there with regards to how we actually do what you just said?

 

Blake Morgan:    We are actually animals, Jim, so it’s okay, I think it’s correct to say that we are. There are leaders, the interesting things you can pull out from that, I mean people have always travelled in communities and the best they contribute to society in the way that they can, and it’s all about survival. And while we do have the Internet today, we have links in the Facebook—really it’s still about survival, it looks very, very different than it did say, 5000 years ago.

 

Jim Rembach:    It’s a good point. I could still say that we’re always looking for that inspiration and some of the joy that absolutely pets can bring us including our human relationship. One of the things that we focus in on the Fast Leader show is leadership quotes or just quotes, I should say, that could give us that kind of inspiration and connection and really tap that emotion. Is there a quote or two that stands out for you that you can share with us?

 

Blake Morgan:    There’s a recent on I’ve been kind of fixated on from Warren Buffet and what he says is that: “Trust is a very expensive gift do not expect it from people who are cheap.” And the reason I like this quote about being “cheap” is because I believe it has a lot to do with brands today and where they are mis-stepping with customer experience and their efforts to build relationships with customers. We all have experiences with people on our lives that they don’t really like to spend money, they’re risk averse, they don’t like to pay their half of lunch maybe, they don’t like to go out they’re just scared, but how does that relate to a brand. For example I was recently on a flight to Melbourne with United airlines and United Airlines has recently announced that they are now serving a better coffee. They basically had a string of announcements about a customer experience initiative one of which was the coffee.

 

I’m a huge coffee fan I love coffee, the flight from Melbourne to the US or vice versa is 14-16 hours, it’s grueling, so I knew about this announcements from United and I went to the stewardess and I said, “Hi, can I have some of this Elli coffee I hear of?” And she just looks at me and said, ”Oh, sorry we’re using the rest of the old stuff until we get the new stuff in because….you know of course it’s more cost effective. And for me this has sent a message of—you know the airlines and other companies are only willing to really build relationships with their customers when it’s convenient or cost effective for them. And in a way it’s like lying in a way they’re kind of lying like saying, “Oh, we want to improve customer experience” but really they’re not willing to ‘walk the walk’. And so, for me I want to surround myself with not only people who are spiritually wealthy and have this air of wealth, not literally I’m not talking about money I’m talking about generosity and kindness, same with the brands that I do business with. I want to do business with friends that treat me like they really care about building relationship with me and they’re willing to spare an expense, not like with United Airlines who tell you anything to save a dollar at the expense of the relationship. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I think you bring up something that’s even more than a marketing campaign like you were saying. I had the opportunity to interview John Wolski from Zappos and he was talking about how human centric can be something to do, you actually have to pull up within your DNA. 

 

Blake Morgan:    Yeah, I love it. And Zappos’s absolutely gets it there the first. Tony Hsieh is the genius, he’s super bold. The things he’s willing to do are just wonderful without really have care for the industry. Everyone is like looking at him, people are writing all kinds of rumors and gossips with the holacracy right now where Zappos remove managers from their system, basically, he still moving forward showing the world what can be, what is possible. And I think that’s wonderful for Zappos, I’m really happy for them. 

 

Jim Rembach:     I was just reading something talking about their holacracy change that certain percentage of employee took the buyout because it’s one of the things that Zappos does which is to me I think is totally unique and weeds out the ones that don’t want that connection that you are referring to earlier. And the piece is talking about how people left but that isn’t necessarily something that is a bad thing.

 

Blake Morgan:     I totally agree, Jim. You don’t want people working for your company who don’t have in their blood especially when like Zappos where your living in Las Vegas the people who worked there it just a day job, they have a community there they’re always doing happy hours together like weekend, party, parades, running events, it’s really a way of life, so Tony only wants people who are really committed. You really don’t want especially people in customer service or customer facing roles that don’t have it in their blood. You want people who are really proud to represent the brand and love what they do and feel like, “Yeah, this is where I’m supposed to be.”

 

Jim Rembach:     That community has some power, why the dogs travel in packs?  Why do they connect with humans? Humans have that high integrity in the things that you were talking about, want to bond together as well. Hello, we all need to definitely ground ourselves. I know for me, I had situations where I’ve had to get over that hump. Where I was…especially in college talking about the Fraternity and the rushes and things like, that is that, I’m going to be a GDI which is a something-something independent, I’m going to be anti-fraternity. And for me, knowing where I am now like this hindsight, I’m like that was just a bad mindset, it was. I’ve limited myself some opportunities to grow network at an early age that I just avoided. I wish I could turn back—but I can’t. So, I know that was a hump, right? I didn’t get over. I didn’t realize it was a hump at that time. But there’s a lot to learnings in there throughout our lives. Can you think about a time where you’ve had to get over the hump where it helped you with your learning? Can you share that with us?

 

Blake Morgan:    I would say my experience moving to New York as a young person. A lot of the kids that go to New York are from the tri-c area, I was from Southern California, right? In the tri-c area you’ve got a lot of old family names, you’ve got a lot of old money, so I always have roommates whose parents would bring them furniture and food and take them shopping, and I was everything myself because I didn’t have family around. I wasn’t  a trust fund baby, I have a job and a lot of my friends and I were living paycheck to paycheck, which was fun, we didn’t feel bad about it because we we’re all struggling we are all trying to make it work in New York. I think that experience of just really learning to hassle and work hard, I’m not sure I would have learned that had I not had that experience of living in New York city at such a young age. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Being able to make that move and just go there without those connections, you and I had talked about boldness and that was some the things that is of interest to you and it is for me as well. And we also talked about it sometime boldness didn’t serve us well and that happens and so finding that middle ground is really an important piece. Have you done something or kind of ground yourself in a way so that you find that middle ground a little bit better?

 

Blake Morgan:    I would say that meditation has been very helpful for me and just learning to slow down because I do like to respond quickly to things. I make calculations in my brain very quickly and decide things, but you know what, sometimes there’s a lot of beauty and benefit to just kind of taking a breath and thinking, okay, what is the best way to respond? And the beauty of meditation, even just 10 minutes a day is it really slows your brain down and allows you to be calm, to be focused, and in a business environment that’s everything. Just learning to kind of be quiet and listen for even 30 seconds can mean a difference between you having a great day at work or kind of ruining a relationship with someone I work, so, I would say meditation has been really key. I do a lot of other things just throughout the day, make sure I’m fresh like going to walk with my dog and exercise and taking good care of myself. You know see a lot of people in business who don’t how to take care of themselves, they don’t set up their lives so they get enough sleep, they don’t eat well and things that hinders their work. You can tell when you meet people and you them really, really umpth up like they’ve just been on social media way too long. Like scheduling tweets, and you’re like, okay—you obviously need to have some on our time, that on our own time is really important when you meet people face to face, or you’re interacting with them and they can tell if this person seems crazy, or this person seems calm and rooted. 

 

Jim Rembach:    That’s a very good point. You mentioned something earlier for me that I’ve had it, kind of check myself on and that is, coffee. While I’m not somebody who necessarily looks for the unique brands and stuff, I’m good with just a regular roast type deal, but it’s when I have more than I should have that kind of causes me to have problems with that whole stopping and thinking before it comes out, so I got to watch that. I know you got a lot of things going on, the animal rescue piece, the SOCAP, the writing for Forbes, doing your own podcast, of course your hobby, all those things and fitness—when you start thinking all those things, what are some your goals?

 

Blake Morgan:    My goal right now is to build my brand. I have been working for other people mostly for 10 years. I did my own consulting thing for about two years before I went to work in Intel but when you’re working in a big company people don’t really know who you are outside of the company so I been trying to build my brand. Even if you do work for an employer I think it’s so important for people to have a brand because, especially in the Bay area a lot of this jobs are short term and even if you are working for someone else it’s really important that you have your own personal brand. So, right now for me I just want people to know who I am. And so part of that is just being a content—like every week publishing YouTube videos, podcast, articles, engaging online, and it matters I get emails from people who’ve read a certain article even just one article that resonated with them can turn into a job project. So that’s basically what I’m focusing on, building my company. 

 

Jim Rembach:   And the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick work from our sponsor. 

 

Leaders in organizations with high emotional intelligence make more money and perform than those with lower EQ. So get over the hump now by leveraging the 54 emotional intelligence competencies and your human centric leadership and organization development. Download the complete lists for free at beyondmorale.com/EQ.  

 

Here we go Fast Leader listeners it’s time for the Hump day Hoedown. Okay Blake, 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. Blake Morgan, are you ready to hoedown? 

 

Blake Morgan:    Sure. 

 

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

 

Blake Morgan:    Wow! Scalability. I’m just one person so when you’re working for yourself you’re doing everything yourself, so scalability is task.

 

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

 

Blake Morgan:    Be yourself. If you’re trying to be someone else it’s really odious. Being yourself someone will appreciate who you are and what you stand for, so don’t ever try to be fake and feel comfortable on your own skin because that’s attractive. 

 

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

 

Blake Morgan:    I would say just longevity in the business. I’ve been in this business for a while now people know who I am and I think just falling in love with one thing and learning everything there is to know, for me that’s actually been customer service. Since about 2008 and now people know who I am and it’s wonderfully, built a relationships that really last. 

 

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

 

Blake Morgan:    Being a listener is so important and so unappreciated. Listening is everything. When you listen you really hear for that and I’ve golden ticket and people appreciate you more because people don’t listen. 

 

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

 

Blake Morgan:    I would say a book called Thick Face, Black Heart, especially for women in business. It’s just a great overall person development book and a book about business as well especially for young women who needs to learn how to kind of be tough enough and have thick skin.

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader listeners you can find links to that and other bonus information from our show today by going to fastleader.net/Blake Morgan. Okay Blake 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?

 

Blake Morgan:    Oh, confidence. You know in your 30’s especially as a lady, you have certain confidence you cannot have when you’re 25. And I just wish I could bring my younger self a little more confidence and everything would be a little better but you can’t do that that’s life. 

 

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

 

Blake Morgan:    Absolutely. Feel free to visit my website at blakemichellmorgan.com or Twitter, I’m Blake Michelle M. and would love to hear from you.

 

Jim Rembach:    Blake Morgan 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.

 

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