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Dan Gengiss Winning at Social Customer Care

200: Dan Gingiss: There’s really only one thing to do here

Dan Gingiss Show Notes Page

Before becoming a social media expert, Dan Gingiss decided to join a friend in taking the GMAT. On standardized tests he typically does better on the math side and struggles on the verbal side. But during the test Dan got stumped on a question that caused him to not complete the math portion of the exam. That left him with only one choice.

Dan Gingiss was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, meaning he had to declare at birth whether he was going to root for the Cubs or the White Sox (Cubs all the way!). His parents are happily retired; his older brother spent decades as a newspaper reporter and now works for a Senator; and his younger sister is a PR executive.

Dan’s parents always pushed him to be successful but in a fair and nurturing way – “A’s, B’s, and C’s are your problem; D’s and F’s are our problem” was a favorite refrain of Dan’s dad. And he was also constantly encouraged to try new things, be it different types of international cuisine or school subjects meant only to broaden one’s thinking (like art history and music). This created an open-mindedness in Dan that has served him well in his career, as he is often referred to as an “idea man” and always enjoys considering new ideas from others.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Psychology and Communications, Dan naturally turned to marketing (Really, it was anything but natural. He had no idea what he wanted to do, but in hindsight, marketing is the perfect combination of psychology and communications). He worked as a product manager at The Danbury Mint, a direct-to-consumer collectibles company. His focus was on sports and automotive collectibles, and he quickly learned the ins and outs of direct mail, newspapers, and magazines.

He decided to apply to business school (more on that later) and at the Kellogg School of Management, he took his first marketing class and finally learned that what he had been doing for four years had names, frameworks, and structure behind it. Post-Kellogg he spent some time at a B2B financial services company, then nearly 10 years at Discover Card – where he played a key role in them winning their first-ever J.D. Power Award for Customer Satisfaction, one of Dan’s proudest achievements. After stints at Humana and McDonald’s, Dan decided once again to try something new and joined a marketing technology startup called Persado.

In Dan’s “spare time,” he has taken his love for customer experience to the stage in keynote speeches, to the airwaves with his Experience This! Podcast, and to the bookshelves with his book, Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media.

Dan still lives in Chicago with his two kids and one cat, and is hoping for another Cubs World Series Championship soon!

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @dgingiss to get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet

“There’s no longer any such thing as an off-line customer experience.” – Click to Tweet 

“Companies have to be aware of everything going on in the customer experience, whether it’s online or off-line.” – Click to Tweet 

“The thing with digital and social together is that the only constant is change.” – Click to Tweet 

“Technology plays a roll but humans play the most important role.” – Click to Tweet 

“You don’t have to be in every channel, you just have to be where your customers need you.” – Click to Tweet 

“Social media transferred the power from the company to the consumer.” – Click to Tweet 

“It not that the customer’s always right, but we should always hear the customer.” – Click to Tweet 

“AI, machine learning and chatbots are becoming part of the experience, how do we maintain a human element in that?” – Click to Tweet 

“The best use-case for bots is helping agents.” – Click to Tweet 

“You can learn anything from anyone and in particular you can probably learn the most from the frontline.” – Click to Tweet 

“There’s usually a solution out there, you just have to look for it and you have to be open-minded.” – Click to Tweet 

“Everybody’s valuable, try to figure out the strengths of the team.” – Click to Tweet 

“One of the toughest advancements in a company is to become a manager of people.” – Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Before becoming a social media expert, Dan Gingiss decided to join a friend in taking the GMAT. On standardized tests he typically does better on the math side and struggles on the verbal side. But during the test Dan got stumped on a question that caused him to not complete the math portion of the exam. That left him with only one choice.

Advice for others

Lead people to open your career opportunities.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Having the leadership to lead leaders.

Best Leadership Advice

You can learn from anyone. Everyone in the company plays an important role so stay open minded-

Secret to Success

A sense of humor and a laid-back attitude.

Best tools in business or life

People leadership.

Recommended Reading

Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media

Never Lose a Customer Again: Turn Any Sale into Lifelong Loyalty in 100 Days

Contacting Dan Gingiss




Resources and Show Mentions

Call Center Coach

How Leaders Can Best Lead Leaders

Show Transcript: 

Click to access edited transcript

200: Dan Gingiss: There’s really only one thing to do here


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.


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Jim Rembach:   Okay Fast Leader legion today I’m excited because I have somebody on the on the show today who actually brings in some childhood memories for me and then also ideas about the future and what it can be. Dan Gingiss was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago meaning he had to declare at birth whether he was going to root for the Cubs or the White Sox and he says Cubs all the way and I’m a White Sox fan. His parents are happily retired. His older brothers spent decades as a newspaper reporter and now works for a senator and his younger sister is a PR executive. Dan’s parents always pushed him to be successful but in a fair and nurturing way. A’s B’s and C’s are your problem D’s and F’s are our problem was a favorite refrain from Dan’s dad and he was also constantly encouraged to try new things be at different types of international cuisine or school subjects meant only to broaden one’s thinking like art, history and music. This created an open-mindedness and Dan that has served him well in his career as he is often referred to as an idea man and always enjoys considering new ideas from others.


After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in psychology and communications Dan naturally turned to marketing. Really it was anything but natural he had no idea what he wanted to do but in hindsight marketing is the perfect combination of psychology and communication. He worked as a product manager at the Danbury Mint a direct-to-consumer collectibles company. His focus was on sports and automotive electable and he quickly learned the ins and outs of direct mail newspapers and magazines. He decided to apply to business school at the Kellogg School of Management and he took his first marketing class and finally learned that what he had been doing for years had names, frameworks and structure behind it. 


Post Kellogg he spent some time at a b2b financial services company then nearly 10 years at Discover Card where he played a key role in them and then winning their first ever JD power award for customer satisfaction one of Dan’s proudest achievements. After stints at Humana and McDonald’s, Dan decided once again to try something new and joined a marketing technology startup called Persado. In Dan’s spare time he has taken his love of customer experience to the stage and keynote speeches to the air waves with his experience this podcast and to the bookshelves with his book winning at social customer care, How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media. Dan still lives in Chicago with his two kids and one cat and is hoping for another Cubs World Series championship soon. Back to the south side Dan, but Dan Gingiss are you ready to help us get over the hump?


Dan Gingiss:      I am thank you for that great intro and very excited to be here.


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


Dan Gingiss:      Absolutely. My current passion is the connection between customer experience and social media. These are two of the things that I really love and I think they have a very circular relationship. What I mean by that is that there’s no longer any such thing as an offline customer experience. If you think about it we used to get on an airplane and sit down in our seats and mind our own business and now all sorts of stuff happens on an airplane that the world sees because somebody’s taking a video of it and sharing it live on Twitter. So what that means for companies is that we have to be aware of everything that’s going on in the customer experience whether it’s online or offline once the beginning of the experience the middle or the end and we have to be ready for that experience to come online and be shown front of the world. You have to ask yourself is this an experience that I want shown to the rest of the world? Is it one that I’m proud of and that will make my company look really good? Or is it something that I probably would not like shared? And then the flip side of that which is really what my book is about is how companies respond once those experiences are shared on social media because that moment becomes a key point back into the customer experience that’s why it’s circular. Is that when people come to social media and share complain maybe compliment ask questions what a company does next is really, really critical to how people think about them both the person that is posting and all the people that are their followers and friends that are sort of watching the conversation as it’s going on. 


Jim Rembach:      Okay, I appreciate you sharing that. And as you’re talking I really started thinking about even though you’re kind of talking about an entity the company the organization really what I’m hearing is a whole lot of personal touch points personal interaction points emotion transparency the whole lot of things were just kind of running through my head and then I started thinking about really the appearance or the perception of where we are with this whole social aspect of the marketplace in the business of society. It seems like, hey we’ve been doing this for a while, smartphones have been around for decade or more and the whole video capabilities and sharing capabilities and we even talked just a moment ago about how even on LinkedIn I’m seeing so much more video just within the past couple months I’ve ever seen and it’s just like, hey we’ve been doing this for a while. However, when we start thinking about the marketplace b2b b2c where do you kind of feel that we are as far as a maturation level is concerned? Are we at the beginning are we at the middle where do you think we are? 


Dan Gingiss:      Well the thing with digital and social together is that the only constant is change. It moves so fast that it’s almost impossible to become totally mature at it which is why I stopped anybody that refers to me or anybody else is the social media experts, I don’t believe that exists that you can’t be an expert because tomorrow your expertise is on a date. Just look at especially Facebook how often they’re changing their algorithm or they’re adding new ad units or they’re changing the experience in some way it’s always changing multiple times a year. So I think the technology certainly maturing what a lot of companies that I am seeing are finally starting to figure out is that technology plays a role but humans play the most important role. You mentioned those words, empathy and understanding and a human element that to me is the part that we cannot miss as this technology gets really good. Great example would be chat BOTS. Chat BOTS can have a very positive role particularly for questions to a call center or a contact center that are fairly common or frankly could be answered via Google. I worked at McDonald’s for a little while when people said how many calories are in a Big Mac? That’s a factual question that you don’t really need a human to answer so a BOTS great. But the bots can’t answer really complex questions about a credit card charge that you want to dispute because X Y & Z happened and this product didn’t show up and this person did this and whatever you get these issues that people have with your service that are just simply too complex to be talking to a computer not to mention that most people want to talk to a human. Even in social media the expectation is that it’s not the brand writing back to you it’s a person at the brand writing back to you. That’s why you see so many companies the agents sign either their name or their initials at the end of even a tweet because it’s to indicate to you I am a person I’m not a robot I’m not an ivory tower that is responding to you I’m a person. I think that to me is the piece that is maybe conflicting with this matter with this maturation because of course human capital is the most expensive. It’s a lot easier for us to just put technology and to do stuff that the humans were doing before but that alters the experience in a way that I don’t think is positive. 


Jim Rembach:      What you’re saying is something that even from me from a personal perspective I kind of see play out so if I’m looking for a particular product or service or something of that nature and I get the appearance that essentially they don’t want me to have a communication or connection with them via voice so it’s other words you fill out this form you can’t find any type of contact number you don’t see a whole lot of interaction and dialogue there’s not a lot of openness in regards to contact us and how to contact us and they really force you down a particular channel or you can’t make that human connection I abandon it. 


Dan Gingiss:      Yeah, a lot of people do. I get asked the question all the time what channel should I be in in social media? And the answer is what channels are your customers in. You don’t have to be in every channel you just have to be where your customers need you and when you look at it that way it’s a lot less overwhelming. The other thing that I always recommend to your point is these digital channels should not be treated differently from the way we’ve always treated a phone channel. You just pointed out some companies hide the phone number how about companies that let the phone ring off the hook? Or they put you on hold for two hours? These are the worst experiences that we have so why would we let a tweet go unanswered? It’s the same thing as letting the phone ring off the hook. Why would we not even respond to an email? Or not be there when somebody initiates a chat with us? It’s the same concept it’s just transferred into a digital state. I think that what’s happened is as these digital channels have come online they’ve ended up creating more and more silos in the contact center. The companies that are figuring it out are starting to put them back together again. So social media especially, you read about this in my book is that the social customer care team sometimes isn’t even located in the call center it’s so removed from the call center. But then how does that help them access customer files and FA cues and all of the great training that is put together for contact center employees if they don’t have access to that? How are they able to do an effective job as somebody on the phone? 


Jim Rembach:     That’s a really good point. I think from what I’ve seen is that a lot of that issue has come from a couple different perspectives and one of the major perspectives is that the technologies that have currently been in place to support all of these customer interactions have not been integrated to that particular level. So it’s been that, hey, this is my channel for this, this is my channel for that and so on and so forth. However w going to a lot of the industry events that I go to and a lot of the technology vendors that I actually analyze is that we’re seeing that change quite quickly they’re finally coming to the realization that the customer themselves is what I really need to be focusing in on supporting and not the channel and that the customer happens to be going through. It’s a very different shift from a mindset perspective as well as from a technology and programming perspective so going back to that whole change thing you were talking about I think the changes are even going to be more rapid like you were talking about like who’s going to be an expert at this? I think the whole channel management interaction management all of those things is really going to shift quite substantially within the next couple years and I think you might find that some of these companies who have been struggling with this digital transformation have been struggling with being able to provide an experience across multiple channels they’ll now be unable to do that. 


Dan Gingiss:      Yeah, you hit the nail on the head and I actually credit social media for this. What social media did was it transferred the power from the company to the consumer. For years and years and years the companies held all the cards. Even in marketing I love to say that—one of the things that made me fall in love with social media’s is the first marketing channel, and I’ve worked in almost every marketing channel there is, it’s the first one where people can talk back to you. You can’t talk back to a billboard can’t talk back to a TV commercial can’t talk back to a direct mail piece but all of a sudden somebody puts a Facebook ad in front of you and you are able to comment, post, complain, put a picture, respond in any way and that completely changed things because it shifted all of the power over to the consumer. And as we look at customer experience and all of the things that we’re trying to do it’s for that consumer and so I do think it’s a positive change. It took a big disrupter which turned out to be sort of a combination of Facebook and Twitter in order to do that but I do think now we’re headed in the right direction. It’s not that the customer’s always right that was the old mantra but it is that we always should hear the customer. The customer is our most valuable asset because without any customers or clients if you’re b2b you don’t have any business. 


Jim Rembach:     Yeah. And I think that’s the ultimate no finality right there. In a book you basically are laying out a roadmap for organizations to be able to do a significantly better job of serving customers via that social channel. You go as simplistic as just explaining what a customer experience is what that’s like and what the role is and oftentimes social media we don’t often hear about the whole social customer care component but there’s a lot of solutions that will help with the whole interaction management as well as the whole research and discovery component in that response piece. You even have some case studies in the book like with Delta Airlines and a couple others put together really well however for me I always like going to the back to the book because that’s kind of where it summarizes some things and I do that rather quickly when I go through and read a book. You talk about the future of social customer care and that the marketing of customer service and talking about what’s next. You even said yourself you don’t like people talking about being an expert in this because it’s changing so rapidly. However, I’m going to put you on the spot Dan, talking about the future where do you kind of see things heading?


Dan Gingiss:      Well, there’s no question again the technology is having a big impact and so AI and machine learning and chat BOTS are becoming part of the experience. And the question is going to be how do we maintain a human element in that? Let me tell you a quick story, I was asked to present to a company’s client council so I was invited to speak and they wanted me to talk about customer experience and particularly about social care and the coordinator asked me to bring a good example of a chat bot in Facebook messenger and I sort of laughed because I told him I thought that might be an oxymoron but I would do my best. I went to find one and I ended up landing on one, by the way one thing you should know about me is with both of the podcasts that I’ve done I like to highlight the positive so I like to highlight brands that do things well I don’t like to talk negatively about brands that are failing because there’s enough people out there doing that, so I’m going to keep the brand silent here but you probably figure it out. This was actually a company that Mark Zuckerberg held up at the F8 conference as being one of the leaders in chat bot technology within Facebook messenger, it was one of the first brands to be on Facebook messenger. So I said, well if Mark thinks it’s good and I might as well I might as well believe that and take a look. It’s a retailer and I basically went through the process of ordering and it’s basically hand-holding you through what is essentially a website experience it’s just asking you questions like, what sort of product do you want? How much do you want to spend? Etc. etc. well it asks me, when I would like the product delivered? And this was a gift for somebody and it gave me three dates and none of those dates were correct because actually I wanted the product delivered when I was giving the speech and the speech was two weeks out. And so I didn’t know what to do because the bot’s giving me three dates and none of them are right and I can’t see anything else so I type help. And it responds back and it says, oh, are you looking for customer service? I said yes I am. So far so good. Then the bot responds that it says well customer service is closed. I’m like, awesome, terrific. Right after that about five seconds later a live agent pops on and says, hi, I’m Samantha how can I help you? And I said, I thought customer service was closed, who are you? And in response to that response both Samantha and the bots start talking to me. The whole thing starts as a pretty decent experience holding my hand through an ordering process and then completely devolves into chaos simply because of one step which was that date that I couldn’t figure out and now all of a sudden I’ve got an experience that’s laughable that I can talk about on stage. The challenge is that there’s a lot at stake here and there’s a lot of pieces to the experience. In this particular case it was about, how does the bot hand off to the human in a seamless way? Obviously the bots should have known that customer service was open once I said I wanted customer service it should have said, sure let me introduce you to Samantha the bot shuts up Samantha helps me and we move about our way and that’s got to be totally seamless. This was not seamless and I’m afraid as I look at more and more examples that’s the norm so far we’re having a very difficult time. What if the agent wants to send it back to the bot and how does that work etc. etc. that I think is we’re a long way from figuring out how that experience is really nice. 


Jim Rembach:     I think you bring up a really interesting point is that there’s a lot of different capabilities of chat bot technologies and different generations of chat bot technologies and the majority of them right now are very much rules based and driven. In other words if the customer says this, this is my response, and I go to access this information for a customer service hours and it’s more like a hard-coded scenario. Now, they may lay over some natural language processing and some other things on that and try to make it a better and more realistic experience but for many them they’re falling back to that coding and if it’s not coded well if the tool does not have the ability to do some of that sensitivity transfer capabilities like, hey, if I get a confusion of a particular point don’t make it difficult on the customer immediately go out, there’s a whole lot of different technologies out there and I think that’s where we are right now. We’re going to see a whole lot of consolidation all kinds of uplift with the different AI technologies and some of the companies that are going to have some of the better tools are going to win with that whole chat bot experience. It’s not it’s not as simple as it seems when we start talking about AI also when you’re referring to the uniqueness of a company’s particular products like, hey, we have branded products that  have these names and maybe refer to a couple different things. I feel the pain that you were talking about in that customer experience and I think we’re going to see more and more of that it’s going to be more and more prevalent for sure. 


Dan Gingiss:      Even if you roll it back just a little bit further the whole reason why companies are focused on this may be the wrong reason. A lot of companies are looking at it as a cost savings measure if we can get the humans out of the way it’s going to cost us less to service people. To me that’s exactly the wrong way to look at it. What bots should be able to do they should be able to take away some cost for the questions that are easily answerable but I think the best use case for bots actually is helping agents be smarter. Imagine an agent that’s sitting next to IBM’s Watson that’s got the answer to every question or Google is got the answer to every question in the world plus everything that’s ever happened on that customers account and it’s right there it doesn’t have to be searched it doesn’t have to be scanned that could make agents much stronger at being human and doing the things that we need them to do that the machines can’t do. 


Jim Rembach:     That is actually the best case right now especially when you started talking about the whole complexity issue that is the best way to be able to support a customer interaction by deploying in that fashion. Okay, so what we’re talking about here the whole disruption being disrupted being a disruptor rapid change all of those things it’s just riddled with a whole lot of anxiety and emotion. And one of the things that we look at on the show to help keep us focused hopefully and grounded and pointed in the right direction are quotes, is there a quote or two that you like that you can share? 


Dan Gingiss:      Well Jim, I’m not sure you’re going to like this one because I’m actually going to provide a quote from the World Series champion, Chicago Cubs manager Joe Madden, who I believe is going to eventually retire from baseball and become a business consultant because most of his quotes about baseball are amazingly applicative to business. And my favorite one of his is only three words I was hoping I might set the record on your show for the shortest quote his quote is, Do simple better.  And what he’s talking about in baseball of course is running hard to first base on every hit—the simple six four three double play should always be made not dropping the ball out of your glove. It’s when you do the simple things right then there creates some space to make mistakes on the more complicated things. But I take do simple better and I look at it from a customer experience perspective and it is almost always the answer to the question whatever the question is it is do it more simply and it’s going to be a better customer experience. So that’s one that I come back to all the time and I love sharing examples of doing simple better. One that I just experienced that I loved, I was in this restaurant that had two different parts there was a pizza side of the restaurant like a more Italian side and so two different seating areas and they were separated by these two swinging doors back and forth doors. And I’m watching this because there’s tons of people going back and forth between these doors there’s customers, there’s waiters with big trays of food and what is astounding to me is no one’s running into each other I’m like, why is this working so well? I go up and I look at the doors and normally when you come to any sort of door you see one of two words you see push or pull and you also know that most people screw that up or many people do they’re two very similar words they both start with PU—you’re pulling this door like why doesn’t worry because it says push these two doors did not say push and pull one of them said yes and the other one said no. And it was so simple that no one had to think, they actually didn’t even have to break strive in which door to go through and not one person messed it up. I thought that was a great example of do simple better because what’s simpler than yes and no. And yet the first time I’ve ever seen doors labeled yes and no because millions and millions and millions of doors are still labeled push and pull. 


Jim Rembach:     I think that’s a great example. I do have to get props the only issue that I have with Joe Madden is that he’s on the wrong side of town. 


Dan Gingiss:      Fair enough. 


Jim Rembach:     Okay, so he talked about that whole childhood memory thing and I got to bring it up. Growing up in the South Side of Chicago, Gingiss Formal wear was the place where everybody went and got their tuxedos and I have three brothers, my older brothers are six and seven years older than me and I remember getting fitted at Gingiss Formal wear, what’s the relationship? 


Dan Gingiss:      So you are actually—all the interviews I’ve done you’re the first person to ask me that, so thank you for that. So Gingiss formal wear was a formal wear rental and retail shop at its peak it had about I think it’s about 250 stores throughout the US. It was actually founded by my grandfather and then run by my dad who was the president from 1971 to the late 80s. I was always a very popular kid around prom time in high school I don’t know why, maybe not as much with the girls as I want to do but the guy certainly wanted to get to know me, but, yeah it was really interesting to sort of watch this family business now it was sold before I was old enough to be in the workforce. Certainly a lot of the things that I have learned about business and still use today are things that I learned from watching my dad. 


Jim Rembach:     I know when you start talking about having that influence as far as from your dad, when you start thinking about the executive level, which is where he was, and that actual frontline level how much do you remember or recall your dad being able to really give you an understanding of the frontline instead of the executive view? 


Dan Gingiss:      I’m glad you asked that because that’s one of the key things that’s probably the best leadership advice I’ve ever received which is you can learn anything from anyone and in particular you can probably learn the most from the frontline. So two things that my dad did, one that remember because I saw him do and then one that he’s told me about. The one that I remember is he walked into his office every single morning and he walked by every person’s desk and said good morning. Even as the company grew even if it took him 15 minutes when he walked in the door he made the rounds every morning to go say good morning to people. He knew everybody’s name they knew his name and I think that was a really great personal touch. But the story that he tells me that always sticks out is that there was a plant on the west side of Chicago where they cleaned all of the garments, because there’s a rental business, and so it was out of the downtown area, and he would go visit the plants and obviously he talked to the plant management and what-have-you but he always made sure to go down to the floor and talk to the guys operating the press machines and all these things. 


What he tells me is he remembers this one guy that’s operating this machine and he’s sweating like crazy and he starts talking to him and the guy tells him that the air conditioners broken. And my dad says, really how long’s the air conditioner broken? And he said, it’s been broken for months and the manager of the place didn’t want to tell his management because he knew it would be an expense and all that sort of stuff. And my dad said, I would have never known that the air conditioner was broken or that my employees were uncomfortable because of it had I not talked to this guy because management wasn’t going to tell me that and I thought that was really,  really important that I’ve always tried to make sure whether it’s a secretary or somebody who’s just a junior entry level person I’ve always taken a lot of time especially discover to mentor folks right out of college and people who are just starting off in their career and sometimes need advice even on what to wear to work w simple questions like that nobody tells you. And so I’ve always really tried to value—when I have younger people work for me I always make sure they know that I think their opinions just as important as anybody else’s opinion. I’ve found many people are shy about sharing their opinion. One of the things that I learned that I thought was super important is about understanding the people all the way down to the customer-facing level.


Jim Rembach:     I think that’s a great story. I love the part that you even shared about your own personal experience and making sure that you’re expanding yourself meaning that w you’re giving that coaching and that mentoring to the next generation and that’s something that I think we all have to focus in on continually doing. Even if we’re an emerging leader we’re a new leader there’s still—even yet a younger generation out there that could learn from you.


Dan Gingiss:      There always will be.


Jim Rembach:     Always. Alright, so when we start talking about this whole transition—talking about to the university, going to McDonald’s working—all these different things and even where you are today Dan Gingiss:      I’m sure there’s humps that you personally have had to get over that taught you a lot, can you share one of those stories with us so that we can learn? 

Yeah, so I was thinking about what story to share here and I wanted to pick one again that I’ve never shared on an interview because I thought it’d be interesting and hopefully people can learn something from it. So you mentioned in my intro that I went to business school that wasn’t really on my to-do list either. I was really enjoying my job at the Danbury Mint I was learning a lot I love the people I love the products and it was just fun. But there was a young woman in my apartment building who I actually went to college with and we became good friends in the apartment building and she decided to take the

GMAT. And so I said, alright well I’ll take the GMAT with you good idea, sometimes you just need a little nudge and so she’s the nudge, and I’m studying for the GMAT and for whatever reason and it’s always been a little strange to me because I’ve always enjoyed writing and spelling and grammar and all this but in standardized tests I always do better on the math side, not sure why, so I’m taking these practice tests on the GMAT and I’m crushing the math side like near-perfect scores on the math and I just have like ooover confidence on the math side and the verbal side I’m struggling and I just like I hate the reading comprehension stuff and reading these boring passages falling asleep and then not being able to answer the questions and all it is just a struggle and a struggle. And so my total score ends up pretty good very good but it’s miss weighted because it’s just so heavy math and then the verbal kind of picks up the rear. 


One of the things they tell you before you take the GMAT, I think this is true the LSAT and other standardized test is that there’s often test questions that don’t count they’re sort of testing for future versions of the test to see how people answer and how hard they are and whatever. So I go in on the day of the GMAT and the math side is first, I’m going in there with all this confidence, about halfway through I hit a question and the thing is just driving me crazy and it’s multiple choice so I’m sitting there calculating I cannot come up with even one of the answers in the multiple choice and I’m sitting but not only that I like I never lost my confidence I was like I’m come crushing this question. The question took me at least a half an hour and I don’t know to this day whether I got the question right I’m pretty confident that it was a test question that didn’t count because I’ve never seen this format before. Well, PS I didn’t actually finish the math section on the GMAT. And so we take the break and I’m like this is disaster this is like that was the section I was supposed to ace and now it’s the hardest section I’m dead I’m not going to business school this is over. 


And I just sort of sat there and—you know you mentioned the word bootstrapping it was like I just sort of sat down and I was like, well there’s really only one thing to do here I got to crush the verbal section I’ve never done it before her and it’s my Achilles heel but I got to just pick myself back up and I got to go do this. And I ended up having my best verbal score I’ve ever had and my total score while not as high as I would have liked it to be and not as high as my practice tests was high enough to get into Kellogg. And what I learned from that is that there’s usually a solution out there you just have to look for it and you have to be open-minded. And again you in my intro you mentioned that I’m often referred to as the idea man, I love throwing ideas up against the wall a lot of them don’t stick a lot of them are crazy and outlandish but I believe that that spurs on a different way of thinking that sometimes it’s just the nugget that you need to lead to that great idea. And I lean back on the GMAT story just because it was one of those scenarios where I was sitting there for a few minutes thinking I’m just doomed there’s no answer I’m finished and ultimately there was an answer it was that I had to dig a little bit deeper and I had to just spend a little bit more time paying a little bit more attention to those passages that were boring and read them and get them done. I think the fact that I was able to do it convinced me that this concept of always looking for a solution even when one doesn’t seem to exist is the right strategy.


Jim Rembach:     Well thanks for sharing that story and I’m glad you were able to regroup so darn quickly. I think that in itself is maybe a little bit hard wiring that came from the Gingis lineage somewhere. 


Dan Gingiss:      Maybe you’ll see. 


Jim Rembach:     Hopefully you’re passing that on to your kids. Exactly. Okay, so when I look at—the book, when I talk about your consultative work your speaking   you’re doing a lot of different things but if you talk about one goal, what would it?


Dan Gingiss:      Ironically the goal I would say is to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Because I do a lot of things on the side that are separate from my job but there are things that I’m interested in and passionate about I don’t know whether eventually I make a career out of that or not but one of the things I’ve also learned is you should follow your passion. Because when you’re doing things that are fun that you’re passionate about you do a good job with them and they make you happy. And that all said I was never one of those people to like write down a five or ten year plan for my career I don’t know why it just never felt comfortable to me, and so I still don’t have one. I think that my goal is to really figure out like, okay, I’m sort of in the middle of my career right now I’ve been working for twenty years and although early retirement definitely sounds great I’m not sure that it’s happening so that goal really is like, what do I want to do where I can show up to work every day and have fun and be passionate and love what I do? It’s like—I forget what the quote is, but basically, do what you love and love what you do, it is basically what I think and that’s my goal. 


Jim Rembach:     And the Fast Leader legion wishes you the very best. Alright, here we go Fast Leader legion it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Dan, 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 but your job is to give us a robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Dan Gingiss, are you ready to hoedown? 


Dan Gingiss:      I am ready. 


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


Dan Gingiss:      I’m going to give you this link to include in your show notes there’s a great article recently called How Leaders Can Best Lead Leaders and it felt like it was talking to me in terms of the things that I want from a leader being empowered focusing on what leaders are good at believing in them to lead etc. I think the thing that would make me an even better leader is having the leadership to lead leaders both as myself but also the people above me. Finding the right people above me to help lead the leader that is Dan. 


Jim Rembach:     You had mentioned it before but I’ll ask again, what is the best leadership advice you’ve ever received?


Dan Gingiss:      I think the best leadership advice is that you can learn from anyone and everyone in the company plays a role an important role, whether they’re at the bottom of the org chart or all the way up at CEO and so make sure that you stay open-minded to learn from everyone. 


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


Dan Gingiss:      I think a sense of humor and a laid-back attitude especially at work. When work gets stressful it’s no fun and I always try to create a fun atmosphere for my teams and be laid-back enough to allow people to do their thing but also hold them accountable for accomplishments. 


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


Dan Gingiss:      I would say people leadership. I consider it one of my strengths and I think if you talk to people that have worked for me at every job that I’ve had they would say that I was a one of the bosses they really liked. And again it’s about understanding that everybody’s different on a team everybody has different skills everybody likes to work differently but that everybody’s valuable and figuring out how to really take advantage of the strengths of the team. 


Jim Rembach:     What would be one book that you’d recommend to our legion it could be from any genre, of course we’re going to put a link to Social Customer Care on your show notes page as well. 


Yeah, I’d actually like to throw out my podcast partners new book, Joey Coleman wrote a book called, Never Lose a Customer Again, and as we’ve been talking about my passion for customer experience I think that this book does a great, great job of identifying some of the key reasons why customers or clients leave companies usually very early on in the relationship and how to stop that from happening. So I think it’s very practical guide good read and Joey’s just a great guy.


Jim Rembach:     Okay, Fast Leader legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to Gingiss. Okay, Dan, this is my last hump day hump day hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity go back to the age 25 and you can 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?


Dan Gingiss:      Very quickly before I answer that question. I once went to bartending school and I just wanted to do it for fun but when I went to go get my first bartending job I ran into a problem which was that bartending jobs were really only available for people who had been bartenders before which begs the question of, well then how do you ever become a bartender? So the thing that I would take back is people leadership skills. Because that’s a very similar thing one of the toughest advancements in a company is to become a manager of people because usually they’re looking for people who have managed people and so how do you ever get to be a manager if you haven’t managed people? And so I was lucky enough to manage people on my very first job but I didn’t really know what I was doing I sort of went with what seemed right and I think now with 20 years of experience I would take that back and be an even better people leader.


Jim Rembach:     Dan it was not her to spend time with you today, can you please share with the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you?


Dan Gingiss:      Absolutely. I am very active on Twitter @DGingiss that’s you can also hit me on LinkedIn, my website is winning and definitely come listen to us on the Experience This Show, we have a great time it’s a super fun show and I promise you’ll learn something to be able to bring back to your business.


Dan Gingiss 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!


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