The Nonprofit Exchange: Leadership Tools & Strategies








February 2017
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Dr. David Gruder, Ph. D. is an organizational and developmental psychologist. Hugh and David discuss how the Jung definition of shadow limits our effectiveness as nonprofit leaders.

Direct download: DavidGruderInterview.mp3
Category:Nonprofits -- posted at: 11:14am EST

Hugh Ballou interviews Russell Dennis on 

7 Crucial Steps to Take When Starting a Nonprofit in the #nonprofitchat series of engaging nonprofit leaders in conversations on relevant issues facing nonprofit leaders today. For more information

Direct download: nonprofitchat02142017.mp3
Category:Nonprofits -- posted at: 1:22pm EST

Hugh: Hey, it’s Hugh Ballou. My guest today is my dear friend Bill Stierle. He has got a lot of skillsets. I have seen him work marvelous things with groups of people that are in conflict. I have seen him get a group of people in a classroom excited about discovering things about themselves. Bill, you have a pretty diverse background. Tell folks a little bit about your background before we get into the content of leadership as a pathway to profit.

Bill: For the last 23 years, I have worked both as a business and organizational development consultant, and for 13 years of that, I have included high-conflict mediation, which is the ability to come into a room full of individuals, let’s say a city council with 250 screaming people, and I can get them to be quiet and functioning. Somewhere around 17 to 23 minutes, I will have them working together.

Hugh: Do you walk on water?

Bill: Not quite. It’s a good set of tools that is teachable and transferable.

Hugh: That’s what I want to hear about.

Bill: You can be able to get some knowledge transfer. Teaching leaders how to speak and think in this way can really make a big difference.

Hugh: All of that noise blocks our pathway to revenue. In this series, for the charities, I am encouraging them to listen to people in business about business principles. It’s a tax-exempt business that you are purposing toward the good. You throw out benefits and disbursements.

I have seen you work with people in conference calls for CEOSpace, and they identify their personality traits and preferences, and you give them colors. In the last 30 years of working with boards of churches and charities, there is a lot of conflict that is created because of the short-sightedness of the leader. We have set it up and made it worse. We are unaware of the consequences of our actions. Consequently, we don’t attract the revenue we need to build our business to serve our clients or to serve our members. Speak a little bit about what we do as leaders and what we need to do to unlock some of these things or discover some of these things to create this negative stuff in the culture.

Bill: Sure. The first thing has to do with our perspective and our perception. If we can start adjusting our perception and our perspective and then start empowering other people to have superpowers in certain ways, that could make a big difference.

Hugh: Superpowers.

Bill: Superpowers, absolutely. So if I have a CFO or Chief Financial Officer, somebody that is really focused on the finance part of it, that type of logical/analytical thinking is very different than my salesperson or Human Resources person or my volunteer coordinator in a nonprofit or my community organizer. Those are two very different kinds of thinking. I don’t want either of them to swap jobs because that doesn’t go very well. If I have someone who is very strong at organizing things and structuring things—and that might be in business a COO or Operations person, and in a nonprofit, this is the person who is the executive administrator or the organizers or the event coordinator who is really good at planning and orchestrating things and putting things in a set sequence—that person is very different from my vice president of marketing or my person that is out there  broadcasting things to the world or the idea generator, the artist, the creator person, and even an entrepreneur who sits out there. Organization and creativity sit opposite. Logic and interpersonal think very opposite.

For me, what I try to get people to do is sit in the middle and learn how to speak four languages. The language would be like: Am I speaking in a very brief, clear, precise information? That appeals to that logical person. Or am I speaking in an empathy and consideration for the needs of ourselves and others? That is more like my Sales/HR person. Am I speaking in an overview or conceptual framework, or even frequent spontaneous tasks like that marketing person is doing? Or am I doing things in a step-by-step, unfolding of the topic, written schedule, action plans, consistency like my implementer? These four primary components and the one primary leader in the center can really make the wheels spin. Usually what happens is there is one person missing, so there is a flat tire. Or the leader thinks they are going to dominate the space or cover one of those spaces, and they are pulled out of the leadership position because they are in the doing position.

Hugh: That’s a big problem.

Bill: A big problem, let alone one pesky word. I am going to say it, and your audience will not want me to say it. The word is trust. It’s trusting self and then trusting others. Man, is that the Achilles heal of leadership.

Hugh: Why?

Bill: Because what happens with trust is if I don’t have trust in myself, then I will say all kinds of sentences. Oh, I gotta do this more. If I don’t have trust in others, then I am going to come and cover what they are doing or oversupervise or underhire my skillset at one of those four positions. All of a sudden, if I don’t have trust with that thing, I hire somebody with less skillset to prove that I can’t trust that type of person.

Hugh: That is an invisible piece. I run across this overfunctioning, and the reciprocity of course is underfunctioning. I find leaders who hire people less than the quality they ought to just so they feel superior. My saying is if you are the smartest person on your team, you need a new team.

Bill: That’s right. The way to think about this is whatever skill you have as a leader, think about it as if you are building a professional basketball or football or sports team. What you want to do is have other skilled people in the positions to play so when you are throwing them the ball, they are able to catch it. If you are Peyton Manning or Tom Brady or other great quarterbacks, you want someone on the other end who has just as much skill as you do at their position. All of a sudden, it becomes talent transfer or playing on the same court.

Hugh: You have uncovered some amazing topics that we could talk about for hours. This is a short snippet. We will have a course around this we are going to offer through SynerVision. I see that leaders create all of this noise, and they set up problems, the wrong people in the wrong places. When you are talking about that, what I was thinking of is the dream of having a French chef, a British butler, or a German mechanic, and the nightmare is having the English cook, the German butler, and the French mechanic. You put the wrong people in the wrong slots. How often do we do that? We spend all the time and energy unraveling the problem or micromanaging the things when we really can’t go for the gold. This is not about the greed of money. This is about having enough fuel to run the car. We built this great car, and we need to get to this destination, which is achieving our vision and mission.

Bill: Yes, getting to the point of energy exchange, getting to the point of taking our product or service and exchanging it with their energy. I am providing you with something that is natural, giving, and you are providing something back to me, natural. What this means is that the value exchange is something we can both agree upon and enjoy about. Now the transfer has a lot of value.

This is the one I really like. This little metaphor is fun. Does Serena Williams want to play tennis with me? The answer would be never. No, they don’t. why? Because they have skill, and I don’t. I’m not going to ask them to go play tennis because quite frankly they would not want to play tennis with me. There is no challenge. I am the wrong person on the wrong court. Why then do we hire a person to come on the court that has less skill than us and then hit the ball to them and then complain about them not hitting the ball back?

Hugh: That happens as leaders.

Bill: Over and over again. That is called projection. I think that you’re better at that thing than I am. I don’t know if you are or not, but I think that you are more organized than me, therefore I am going to hire you for that position.

Hugh: You just did that for your business. You got somebody to come on and help you with that organization piece.

Bill: I am adding one to my team, and I have to vet and then revet, interview and then reinterview. What I do is if I am in a hiring process or if I am designing something, because I have done this for car dealerships, is I start with the performance evaluation first before I ever hire somebody. What do I want to see them perform in the first six months? Then I write the job description. The job description matches the performance evaluation. Then I write the interview questions that matches the job description that matches the performance evaluation.

Hugh: We should start with the end in mind.

Bill: Start with the end in mind. Then I write the ad for the job.

Hugh: Brilliant.

Bill: One HR person said, “I get 250 resumes from this ad I put up. They are all people that when I sort through this, I get the wrong people.” I say to write the ad for the real job based on the performance evaluation because you want them here six months later. This is what they are going to look like. The primary element of this customer service job is to answer phones. The secondary is they are going to listen to a sick person speak because it was a health care product, and this sick person is going to tell them a story somewhere around 15 minutes, maybe 12. Then you are going to offer them some things during this process because this health care product is really valuable to them. You are going to be listening to them on the phone and then make an offer and then close the sale or ask them what to do net.

Hugh: This is so helpful.

Bill: Instead of 250 resumes, she got 17. She was able to hire four of the seventeen. She was not sifting through the pile of bad resumes hoping this one was going to work. She already knew the person had an agreement. I am going to be on the phone for 15 minutes per client. I am going to talk to 21 people a day for 15 minutes each. I am going to make some offerings. Then they are going to buy or not buy.

Hugh: This is where it starts. I know you and I have interviewed people at this conference over the years. I am going to hire this person because I resonate with them, I like them.

Bill: Oh God.

Hugh: I am going to put people on my board because I like them.

Bill: Ugh.

Hugh: It’s a disaster from the beginning. That’s a factor at the end. If you hate them, you don’t want them in your space. That is the last one. All of these things are so valuable. We are so much aligned in that. That is where leaders begin to set up a problem that costs them a huge amount of money. I talked to Jeff Magee in this series, and he referred to the Gallup poll that said 56% of corporate employees are disengaged, and 16% are actively disengaged. That is 70% combined, and that is costing the workplace $500 billion. I said to him that we don’t have stats for the charity market, but I bet you that 90% of the workplace is underfunctioning. I have just come off a 19-city tour doing leadership empowerment, which is about strategy and recruiting and building boards. The #1 issue that they are dealing with in all of these cities—social entrepreneurs, clergy, nonexecutive directors, and small business entrepreneurs—is burnout. #2 is team underfunctioning. Those are both set up by the leader. Third is lack of sufficient revenue.

Bill: Let’s talk about how the brain works on those three items.

Hugh: Okay.

Bill: The brain works and the way it is set up is this. The front part of our brain is where we have logic and functioning. This part of the brain has 400,000 neural connections per micron. It’s the newer part of our brain, and it occupies 40% of our headspace approximately. Back here, the limbic part of our brain has 4.3 million connections, and it is where emotion and safekeeping and habit are. What is important about this is it is a 10:1 ratio. One here, logic and future thinking. Ten here. This sentence rings true.

Watch how weird this one is. If the person has any conflict, or if language is not integrated, what happens is emotion and habit always wins over logic and future thinking. Always. Because this is like an elephant, and this is like a rider sitting on top with a little stick. The elephant goes wherever it wants to in regards to habit. This is why our rider can say the following sentence: You know what my New Year’s Resolution is? I am going to lose ten pounds in the next two months. As soon as we go to the New Year’s party and we walk by the cookies, the elephant, the emotion and the habit, has the cookie in our mouth before we know it. Now the cookie is in our mouth, and this is what our brain does. It goes up to our language center and says, “I will start tomorrow.” It rationalizes what the elephant did.

In leadership, one of the things that is so valuable in dealing with this rider/elephant is the following sentence: Small messages, a handful of peanuts, to get the rider motivated. Do not tell your individuals the big picture as much. Tell them: Here is what I think we are going to be doing in the next week. Here is what I would like to see accomplished. Small messages. No explanation. Reduce problem solving.

Hugh: These are extremely valuable.

Bill: Reduce problem solving. Use more empathy, compassion. Small messages to the rider. Handful of peanuts. It will be really great when we can get this thing completed this week. Imagine what it will be like. Handful of peanuts.

Hugh: You have hit on some really important topics. You have been a contributor to the magazine, and we have also put a Blogroll article. Hopefully you will give us more. We are creating some content pieces on these topics. I am going to strongarm you to get you to do one of those. This is introducing several topics that we can have. Members of the community will get these webinars at a discount. They are open to others, but because members are part of the community, there are extra benefits. is where that is. How can people find out more about what you do?

Bill: The best place is on my website There are several videos and information there. My phone number is (310) 433-8380.

Hugh: Bill Stierle, I make it a habit of hanging around smart people. I look better when I am next to smart people. Having more hair doesn’t hurt either.

This is in a series of interviews for social entrepreneurs. Thank you for taking time out of this conference to do it. As we close this out, what is the thought for people to have in their mind? What tip do you have for them to empower themselves to do some thinking before they get into some of these traps?

Bill: The first thing is to notice when you are on the gerbil wheel, when you are saying or setting the same intentions over and over again. That is how you notice the elephant is running the show. The elephant is running the show because it’s familiar, because it’s a habit, because it looks bigger and harder to change and do something new. The brain works best when it does it in small messages and has small achievable pieces and then small choices. Gosh, I see that cookie, but I am picking this thing over here. Or not right now, I am just going to put it aside for a second and go over here and do this.

What winds up happening is these small messages nurture the elephant into a new habit. When we are nurturing the habit, we are laying down the pathway to change inside our own consciousness. We are actively making it safe for the elephant to walk down the new path. Why doesn’t the elephant walk down the new path? It has some beliefs and thoughts about it: the belief and thought about money, the belief and thought about standing out, the belief and thought of worrying about new responsibilities, the belief and thought that I am going to have more anxiety and nerves. The mouse is the thought. It can be on the road, but remember, when your elephant is moving, the mouse doesn’t want to hang around and be underneath the foot of that elephant. But the brain doesn’t know that. It keeps going for pattern, habit, validation, safety. Even trauma patterns get stuck here, to the habit or safekeeping part of the brain. It could be the smallest sentence.

Hugh: Your thinking directs your results.

Bill: Results and word selection make a huge difference. Word selection can give the power to the other person in leadership. Word selection can hold the power back on your side. That robs them of their own leadership, that deflates motivation on their own side, just by word selection. Gosh that sounds really good.

Hugh: We have to watch what comes out of our mouths.

Bill: Pretty much. You can have the thought of it and actually move the thought. I remember doing a workshop for 35 Buddhist monks where I was teaching them how to speak and use language to be mindful. If you think about that, what did you just say? The conflict mediator is coming into this group of monks and is teaching them how to use language. Yeah, they were great in their own space and talent of meditating, but as soon as you come out, language comes back.

Hugh: You just identified multiple ways that leaders tie up knots, and we cut the energy that takes us to receiving the revenue that we need. I have identified about ten subsets of webinars that should come out of this.

Bill Stierle, you’re a good man. You’re really good at what you do. I’m happy to be your friend. Thank you for sharing with this wonderful audience today.

Bill: It’s a joy to be here. I’m glad I can contribute, and any way I can be of support.


Category:Nonprofits -- posted at: 5:33pm EST

Hugh: Greetings, it’s Hugh Ballou. My guest today has been a really wonderful friend. She knows how to write the right message. The first time I met Cheryl Snapp Conner, she interviewed me. The next thing I knew, there was this article about me online on Forbes. She understood what I do. When people asked me what I did, I just sent them to that article because in one hour, she got it. We have an important topic to talk about today. Instead of wasting time telling you today about Cheryl, she is sitting in her office today in Salt Lake City, SnappConner PR. Cheryl, welcome.

Cheryl: Thank you. Happy to be here, Hugh.

Hugh: I have all kinds of people on this interview series, and I am going to ask you the same question I asked them. What makes you qualified to talk about this topic? Tell me what the topic is. How are we going to tell people what this subject is?

Cheryl: We are going to talk about communications, which is essentially everything. I am an expert in communications. It’s how I make my career. What a fortunate thing. It was only my minor in college. Most people are not aware of that. I had a different major topic. It was the minor that saved my career bacon. I thank my entire career and every gray hair I have earned in the field of communications. It matters. It is what has been essential to my career, how I have supported my family, and how we have developed our business. It is the core of every business.

I have been an advocate and proponent of what we call thought leadership communication. From the very core, it was not always known or understood. Even in the earliest days of technology, where I got my career start, it was vital. If you think about those early technology products, they did not have an audience. There were IT people who attempted to communicate to each other, but that was only so useful. In fact, the very reason I was hired by my first technology job—actually second, I was an editor for IBM—but Novell, the leader that premiered local area networking, had a concept in place called networking of PCs. People who needed it or could benefit from it didn’t know what it was. I was specifically chosen as someone who could communicate well and didn’t understand a thing about technology so I wouldn’t have lost my ability to talk about these topics in a way that the general public could grasp and understand. Press releases, not that helpful. Feeds and feeds of something people don’t care about or know about anyway is not going to help. We began by telling the stories of real businesses: law offices, medical practices, education organizations. What do you do? What was the problem? What were your choices? The kind of things you tell your best friend. As you make this decision, who did you have to convince? How much did it cost? If you did this over again, what would you do better next time? Those are meaningful discussions, and that helped. The same is true for every company since. Every entrepreneur has a topic. They have things they are experts in that others could be very pleased to know about.

Hugh: I invite people to go to Forbes and search Cheryl Snapp Conner. You have a whole series in this entrepreneur channel. Those articles are just so helpful. You really helped me understand what communication is all about, especially with words. You talk about being outside of the technology so you could talk about it differently. Our audience is social entrepreneurs. They are running a business, and we are so intimate with everything that we don’t know how to tell people about it. It seems silly, but we don’t. It’s the same thing with churches and synagogues and local charities. We do great stuff, but the world doesn’t know about it. You are sitting in SnappConner PR. Is it

Cheryl: Yes, But if you just Google my name, you will find it quite easily.

Hugh: You have a team of highly skilled entrepreneurs. You are strategically placed in a very nice facility, a very good, warm, friendly workplace. I was quite impressed with you and your staff when I visited last week.

There is also a gap between the professional agency that does it for you and how to raise the bar on creating our own. That is a passion for you: helping all those people who are out there and don’t need a full-time agency as they aren’t ready for one. Content University.

Cheryl: The legions of entrepreneurs, particularly social entrepreneurs, shouldn’t hire an agency, as they can’t afford it yet. But they do need a bit of savvy. If they do what they can that is free or very low-cost, that is what they should do for as long as they possibly can. Get the help where it is truly needed. Don’t over-spend. That applies to every entrepreneur. Too many will either ignore communications and PR entirely because they feel like they will do that when they become profitable, and then they never do. Or they make mistakes that are just costly or hard to recover from. Or they go whole hog and spend way too much money on the wrong things. That is a waste in another way. In part, it is a waste of the impact you could have had if you used the investment more frugally and with more savvy in the first place.

Hugh: Well put. These leaders run a charity like a community foundation or a purpose-based charity; they run a church or a synagogue; or they have a small business. We are thinking outside the box. We are doing something innovative. People need to know either to buy from us or to be volunteers or donors for our organization. What is the single most important thing to learn about developing and publishing content to make sure that their vision is really clear?

Cheryl: I am so glad you asked. There is one thing, but that one thing has two components. One is to really pan down your message and understand it yourself, to verbalize it in the best way possible before you begin. If you think about it, your messaging—and I have a template that I provide free of charge for anyone who’d like it—if you have the best words possible to express what you do and the value proposition for those who should participate, that is a big key. Do that first.

If you are in the press two or three places, you have probably moved the needle right there so long as those places are credible and the message is consistent. If your message was random or, heaven forbid, conflicting in those places, you could have done a negative to yourself. Think about how frustrating it is for someone to be in my chair and ask, “Hugh Ballou, what do you do?”

And if you paused and said, “If you have an hour, I could tell you. Anything less than that and I would be selling it short because it has so many facets,” you’d be absolutely right, and I’d be absolutely annoyed. I would not be able to walk away and write that article.

I would say, “Figure it out. Come back and send me a note when you’ve got it figured out.”

Having that message clear, which we have a template for, and—this is the golden rule of communications—think about your readers, your listeners first. So many people just can’t get over this author’s ego. It’s my voice, it’s my persona. I need to be true in my authentic voice. Nobody cares what you dreamed about on your motorcycle trip, even if it was inspiring, or your innermost thoughts about Martin Luther King. Yes, again, inspiring, but your readers care about what’s urgent and high-priority to them. That could be that they want to make difference in an area you are passionate about. Okay, tell them how. Give them something to grasp on. Give them something they can do, something they can know, and a way for them to get on board that is not a hard sell but an invitation that allows them to go as far as they’d like.

Another aspect of getting over that ego is thinking about where it should appear. Maybe your ego and your credibility would be well-served if you are an author for Forbes. That is great, but the people who say, “I need that. What’s it going to take? Hook a fella up. Make that introduction because I need the credibility of the masthead next to my name. I need that marketing megaphone.” That is the very reason that publication would flee from your presence. They are not there to provide you with a marketing megaphone; they are there to serve their readers, just as you should be. So yes, maybe several articles, like the one you gave the interview to me for. That is an anchor. That is a great thing.

For the bulk of your communication, put it somewhere where people can more readily engage with you on LinkedIn or Medium, where legally and appropriately you can put a full italicized paragraph (so you are not misleading people that it is a part of your article) that lets them know what they can do next to reach you, engage with you, and subscribe.

Plus, people who get onto those platforms are ready for a dialogue. They didn’t have to go register for a profile on a magazine where they are kind of semi-nervous or embarrassed and their comment is likely to be, “Nice article. Thank you.” They are ready to engage in a dialogue, and they are more than halfway down the path to getting on board and actually doing something with you.

There is a gentleman I wrote about recently. You can find my article about him; his name is Benjamin P. Hardy.

Hugh: I saw that one.

Cheryl: One of the three most-read writers on Medium. 50,000 subscribers that he gained in a period of 16 months. He made some mistakes in that process, which he was open about. That is key, too, that he was authentic about it. What he did and how he did it, he gave me in this interview. That is gold information. Golden information. One of the things he said is while he has been published in Fortune, Business Insider, and Huffington Post, that is not where he got his subscribership. 99+% came from Medium. Isn’t that interesting?

Hugh: Fascinating. I heard a couple of things there. One being a Scottish Presbyterian, I heard the word “free.” Could you send me the link? Or send them to where they can download the document. Also, I heard “consistency.” That is something we as entrepreneurs are not very good about. If we want people to buy our product or service, or we want donors to stay donors and raise our donations, we need to be sending them consistent content about what is happening. I encourage leaders who are building organizations to have what I call “advocates,” people who are so important that you send them updates. They are successful people who are in a position to connect you to other successful people. They need information. We call that top-of-mind marketing. They remember you because you stayed in touch.

Cheryl: I call that influencer marketing.

Hugh: I love it.

Cheryl: Those advocates have power; it’s exponential. Everybody wins. They win if they share valued information, and if you are the conduit of that, everybody gains.

Hugh: What we talked about in my interview in 2013, I reframe leadership as influence. People think that a conductor is a dictator. We cannot influence people with a little white stick, but you can influence them, too. Leadership is influence. Being able to articulate that in words is a great gift.

This is so helpful, thank you. How do we measure results? We send stuff out, and it just goes out there. How do we know it’s working?

Cheryl: There are multiple metrics. In the final analysis, it’s going to be the growth or success of the program. But to know where I am specifically getting my best return for the efforts I am making, there are multiple things you could consider. One would be increasing subscribership. In the case of Benjamin Hardy, he noted that even when he was getting 10,000 new subscribers a week, a lot of them were passive participants who were interested and compelled by what he had to say, but that was the extent of it. So he developed a process.

First of all, he recognized that when he had a really viral, home-run article come out, several hundred thousand people would be hitting his website. He said that his website sucked, he was not prepared, and he had no way to gather in the traction. Now he has learned. Instead of sending people direct to his homepage, he sends people to a landing page that says, Here is how to subscribe. If you do, you can have my free e-book. His e-book is really good: Slipstream Time Hacking. He put a lot of thought and energy into that book. It is high value.

Give something of high value when people subscribe so they are compelled. In his case, he sends people five email notes in sequence after they have subscribed, describing five of the principles he considers important for productivity. On the sixth mailing, he sends them an invitation to purchase his first product. It is an intro course that is $19. It teaches his seven productivity principles but does so in a high-level way. It’s not like he is giving away a store of everything he could provide. It is high-level, but it is high-value. People get on board and have purchased something. Now he has an active, engaged audience that he knows.

For example, he is a big proponent of the principles of Stephen R. Covey. Those were an influence for the most viral article he wrote. While he doesn’t have a business or an agenda yet, he knows that he will, and he knows that it is a foregone conclusion that he will need to write, so he is honing those abilities. He is 28 years old for one thing. With that massive audience that he has amassed, those who have subscribed and those who have purchased something, whatever book he introduces next is ordained to be an instant best-seller.  Imagine what you could do with that level of influence. What kind of change could you enact with that power behind you?

Hugh: When I work with people building out these enterprises, we redefine leadership as influence. Underneath that is building relationship. I will also tell them that underneath communication is building relationship. What you have just described is him building relationship with a tribe of people.

Cheryl: He has.

Hugh: We tend to want to rush and get to the sale rather than creating value for people. That is what I heard you say in that. He has created some unique value for people who are now poised on the edge of their seats for the next piece.

Cheryl: Another influencer, Dean Graziosi, is in the area of real estate. But there is social entrepreneurship in some of his thinking and some of his offerings. His motto, which I love is, “Provide insane value.” Insane value, isn’t that cool. Because he has been successful in doing that, he has attracted people. It’s inevitable.

When you get that much traction, there are going to be a few vocal people who disagree, who have a bad day and need a hug, or maybe who are just plain turkeys. He says never to ignore that vocal minority. Listen to them. While it is painful, what is the kernel of what they said that maybe you should learn from? Consider that. Consider the source, but also consider that maybe there was a kernel of a message in there that you really did need to hear. That is a little humbling, but important as well.

Hugh: I like to go another step and have dialogue with them. Sometimes it’s not the words that is the meaning, but something behind the words. Understanding building relationship and value in that communication.

Cheryl: Sometimes they just want to be heard. They know that you heard them, that you cared, that you listened. Maybe that’s enough. Often it is.

Hugh: You don’t have to debate the issue. Just say, “Thank you.” Getting over ourselves, as you said earlier, not everybody is going to hear us the same way, and that is so helpful.

You mentioned earlier thought leadership. Digging deeper, what separates that? Do organizations have more than one thought leader?

Cheryl: That term maybe is jargon to some, but the term “expert source” is another. “Influencer” is another that everybody understands. Thought leadership would mean that you are somebody with authority who is regarded, who has a following that respect and anticipate and listen to what you say.

In fact, there is good reason for there to be multiple thought leaders in an organization. For one, suppose there is only one thought leader, who is the CEO, and the CEO leaves or makes a misstep. Think about that. If there are multiple employees, there is another name for that kind of phenomena that not everyone understands, but I think it is powerful: the term is “employee advocacy.” Yes, if there are people in your organization that not only are allowed, but also are invited or compelled to join with you, they gain authority and skills that make them promotable, and they are magnifying your message in a way you could not achieve on your own.

I have told this story a few times, but I think it bears retelling. A Salt Lake organization had a successful IPO. A new Global Vice President of Communications comes in who is a powerful woman. She observes around her that her sales VPs were publishing on LinkedIn unbeknownst to anyone; they had gone rogue. Not because they were trying to be rebellious, but because it was working. They were gaining sales. Imagine how much better and safer that could be, now that they have SEC requirements to think about. But if they are given the ammunition to keep their brand and message consistent, it saves them the work of having to reinvent every wheel to decide what they are going to write about and share.

One individual I so admire is John Bowen. He works with financial coaches. He conducts an extensive study every six months so the people he councils and teaches are not having to think, “You have taught me what to do. I need to think of a topic.” It’s handed to them. It’s golden. Now they are walking within the brand, but they are creating their own influence, those power relationships, in a very effective way.

There is research currently that shows brand advertising. If you see me holding a Diet Coke, you would think I like Diet Coke, and you’d be right. That is not as effective as account selling, where you have a relationship with an individual or there is an environment of trust that is a head start of what you want to do next with that individual. Foster that, and foster as much of it as you can.

It’s also a reputation protection. If that message is told consistently by multiple people, and you will understand this, there is a polyphonic sound that occurs. There is an orchestra of outcome, not a lone voice. That is powerful. If somebody makes a mistake, we are human, and gets into a reputational mess, you are better protected that way because the whole organization and message did not come down on the back of one flawed individual.

Hugh: You have a symphony or choir of high-performing individuals, which you nurture. That is why I have reinvented leadership because what we have been taught is not working, is not right.

You have time constraints today, but I wanted to talk about Content University, your passion behind that, and content marketing.

Cheryl: We developed a program. The editor I wrote for for four-and-a-half years at Forbes, when Forbes moved headquarters, he took the jump into entrepreneurship and joined my team. He developed with us a curriculum. It’s not a lengthy curriculum; it’s ten lessons. My thought was: How could we put Tom Post in a box and provide that kind of counseling to everyone because they can’t afford it? We made it affordable. That program, which we have on a video book, online, and workshops with people, be it either in person or via Zoom as well, is $1,000. Thought leadership in a box. Every person or organization can manage that. It is honestly less than the price of one article you would engage with an agency to write for you, let alone get it published. Most people can complete that training in ten hours or less. We do provide some direct coaching with them to help make sure they succeed. At the end of that, not only have they completed an exam that gives them our certification—we are working with Hugh to see if we can get an Advanced Continuing Education credit for as many verticals as possible—and a completed publish-worthy article that we would help that individual publish if needed so that they know what to do with it. Even as valuable as a great piece of writing is what to do with it to advance your vision, your mission, your business. That is available and low-cost.

The last thing is our Snappington Post newsletter. Any of our columns or website will tell you how to subscribe to that. It’s free. That word you love. You just have to subscribe to it. It won’t over-burden you. Every other week, we will send you an email of the articles we have created of value. We are going to start to add to that the best of Content University, the best writing that comes out of our constituent base.

Hugh: That’s great. We just don’t know how to tell our story. That is priceless.

Cheryl: Yes. Or Content U. Either way.

Hugh: Cheryl, as we wrap up here, I want to invite you to give people a tip that is going to help them revise or rethink their whole communication strategy. But first, it’s or or Cheryl’s articles can also be found in SynerVision’s Nonprofit Performance 360 Magazine and lots of other places that are important on the web. Google her name and you will see some amazing articles. Just a few that she has referred to are important to learn from, but there are many more.

As we wrap up this great interview, I am inspired and want to go write something. As we wrap up this interview, what is a tip you like to leave people with? What do you like to tell people so they can go out and do something different? Give them a good tip.

Cheryl: You can do it. One of my favorite writers I met on LinkedIn, Chris Spurvey, 14 months ago had never written a thing in his life. Nothing. He became a best-selling writer of a self-published book. In the first 30 days, which was in last December, he sold 10,000 copies of his book himself. It’s Time to Sell by Chris Spurvey. Follow his story. I wish I could say he was a Content University graduate, but he intuitively discovered the principles and used them. He writes and shares freely how he did that. You can do it. If he can do it, you can do it.

Hugh: Cheryl, you are wonderful and amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your tips and your time today.

Cheryl: Thank you, Hugh.

Direct download: CherylConnor.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:28pm EST

Hugh: Hey, this is Hugh Ballou. My guest today is Gaydon Leavitt. His friends call him G. G, I hope I can call you that. I am your friend, right?

Gaydon: Absolutely.

Hugh: I met G recently, and I was just blown away by the level of his expertise in marketing and the level of the programs he has to offer those of us who are social entrepreneurs. We are working in a vacuum sometimes, and we think everybody ought to clamor to our door. But we really have not developed a marketing strategy to attract those people to the value that we have. G, welcome today.

Gaydon: Thank you for having me.

Hugh: We have a very dedicated group of social entrepreneurs who are changing the world. We don’t have a corporate job by choice because we have a value proposition that is just awesome. But we are stuck. Tell us a little more about your background. Why is it that you are qualified to talk to us about marketing? I know, but give us a little snapshot for people that are listening today.

Gaydon: Marketing is the only thing I have ever done. There’s that. I worked at Ford doing the digital agency movement. This was in 2004-2006; this was before social media if you can imagine. At that time, I was really in charge of building an Internet department, getting CRM up and running. That was back before CRM was common. Everyone knows what a CRM is these days usually.

Hugh: Tell us what that stands for.

Gaydon: Customer Relationship Management software.

Hugh: Is that Ford Motor Company?

Gaydon: Yeah. This was at a regional group of dealerships. I was working for them and basically getting infrastructure in place. The punchline is that I did that for long enough—CRM, website, search engines, all that stuff. I was at the forefront of that. Once I got it set up for them, I knew that everyone else needed it. I started a digital agency. Back then, it wasn’t called a digital agency, but now it is. These days, digital agencies are really commonplace. A lot of companies do websites, search engine optimization, and social media. I was at the forefront of all that. Most people who know my background know that the real driver for what I’m doing is always being on the bleeding edge of the market, the innovation side of the market. When it comes to marketing, I am always looking for where it’s going and try to steal ahead.

Hugh: Let me get this straight. You do things that work in real life. This is not just theory?

Gaydon: Not at all. To give you an idea, I started my company January 1, 2007. It was actually January 2 because the city office wasn’t open January 1. The point is, 2007 was not the greatest year to start a business, it turns out. 2008 rolled in, the recession took its toll, but I grew our company 235% four years in a row. We did 700 client engagements, well over a million dollars. We were having a ball. We were having a good time. What happens was through the middle of a recession and growth, I became one of the top people in my field in the West, as it were, certainly in our state, which is the marketing capital of the universe.

In 2012, I woke up. After having done strategy and digital services for 700 customers, I had really curated a case study. The 700-business case study. I knew what was going on because I was knee-deep in strategic marketing relationships with these 700 businesses. What I did was I compiled the data as it were. I put together the things that I knew were a problem. I knew people were missing. I did what I called root-cause analysis. This goes back to theory of constraints and other things I studied. I did a root-cause analysis to figure out what are the real problems in the SBM or small entrepreneurship space. What are they doing wrong? Who are they hiring? Why are they hiring them? Why are the engagements working? Why are they not working? What happened in 2012 was I wrote a plan to solve those problems. Between then and now, I have stopped those digital services and really dedicated myself to solving the problems I have found.

Hugh: I do a one-day leadership empowerment symposium in one city every month. I am coming to your neighborhood, but I haven’t put it on the schedule yet. But I find there are common things: leader burnout. They are doing way too much. They don’t even have time to think about marketing. Their board is underfunctioning, their staff is not functioning at the level it should, and they are not making the revenue that they need to achieve their vision. You have done this real-life work, which matches with what I’m seeing. We are talking to the leaders of these movements. These people have great ideas. What is the leadership decision? Why shouldn’t someone just hire someone to do marketing and then forget about it? What do leaders need to know about marketing in order to make an intelligent decision about getting someone like you engaged for their enterprise?

Gaydon: The first thing they need to know is that hiring a marketing agency and then turning your back—in other words, outsourcing and allocating your responsibility to grow your organization—doesn’t work. Nine times out of ten, it just does not work. The phrase we like to use is: You cannot outsource what you have given yourself the responsibility to do.

The first question you need to ask is: Who is wearing the CRO or the CMO hat? CRO is Chief Revenue Officer. CMO is Chief Marketing Officer. The point is, somebody has that hat on right this second. Who has that hat? What I am saying in no uncertain terms is if you give that hat to someone who does not work at your company or is dedicated to that function and you give it to an outsource provider… I am not saying you can’t bring in a part-time CMO or CRO that serves that purpose that is technically a 1099. That’s fine; that can work. To hand it to an agency and think they will run the growth of your company the way you want it to is fallacious at best. So who wears the CRO hat?

If that person is defined, the next question is: Do they have the skills to play the role? I like to follow that up with a little bit of philosophy. At the end of the day, Peter Truckers’ quote rings in my ears, and it should ring in everyone’s ears who is listening to this call. “The business enterprise has two and only two basic functions: marketing and innovation. All the rest are costs.” The spirit of what he is trying to say is the purpose of the enterprise is to gain a customer. Marketing’s job is to gain a customer. I use customer loosely. We are talking customer, client, patient, donor, whatever it means. I’ll use customer loosely. The point is that is the purpose of your enterprise. If you have a social enterprise and the purpose of it is not to make a profit, that’s fine. This isn’t capitalism necessarily for you. But you will never change the world with your social entrepreneurship if you can’t make money. You can’t accomplish your mission without the cash, and you can’t get the cash without the marketing.

We say marketing in academic terms. Marketing is the process by which we take what we have to the market. It’s not advertising, it’s not PR, and it’s not sales. It’s the holism of all of that. How are you going to get what you have to the audience you want to have it? The science of that is really the spirit of what I do. It’s your responsibility unless you have given it to somebody else. In that case, we are talking to that person. But the conversation needs to have a place where the buck stops. Somebody is wearing the hat. That’s where I start.

Hugh: You have distinguished a number of different things. For 30 years, I have worked with charities doing my vision of strategic planning, which I call a solution map. Where do you want to be, and how are you going to get there? A traditional component is the same components for normal companies, but it is modified for charities. Part of it is realizing that nonprofit is a tax classification, not a philosophy. The other one is to build into this marketing strategy, which is not an area of my expertise. That is part of why we are talking today. I do have other collaborators in experts and sales and PR. People tend to confuse all of those things. You have distinguished what those are.

You highlighted a really important leadership paradigm. It’s the piece of delegation. People who are leaders think they know about delegation. Here, do this and they forget it. That’s not delegation. There is a mentoring piece that goes with that. There is a championing piece. There is an accountability installation. There is a follow-up piece, which is way different than micro-managing. Whether you are hiring someone internally or externally, I would like to add that I agree with all of that. We still as leaders want to define the outcomes, and then we work with whomever it is for them to tell us what the metrics are and the tactics we are going to use to get there. We as a leader still nurture and approve that. If we are not engaged at any level as a leader, that is a problem. The trick is not to overfunction and to find someone gifted and to be engaged enough so that we can tweak it. Who knows more about our vision than us? Who understands the outcomes more than us? We as leaders are not clear on the outcomes, and we are not clear on how to delegate or manage a process. How do you feel about that?

Gaydon: I totally agree. From the context of marketing, I see the problems that you are talking about but from the marketing angle. That’s the lens that I view things from because that is my subject matter of expertise. Let me make this real tactical for you, Hugh.

Once we define who that CRO/CMO is, and for those of you who are listening, you just felt a tremendous responsibility realizing that that hat is on your head. If that is the case, I want to relieve you because that is the first step: realizing that it is your responsibility. Once you know that, the good news is that the case study I was talking about, with 700 businesses, here is what we found. The CRO/CMO position should be a strategic one. Customer acquisition, donor acquisition, whatever you want to call it, marketing departments function best when there is a strategic person whose responsibility is strategy and high-level decision making. When there is someone who is not charge of strategy and is operational, they are in the weeds. The good news is if you are wearing the CMO hat today, you can do that responsibility with as little as 20-30 minutes a week.

Hugh:  That’s awesome.

Gaydon: I have engineered a system for that. I am not saying it’s easy. It took me a long time to build something. But the punchline is that you don’t need to be overwhelmed by the responsibility. You just need to take it seriously. I have built what some people call the CMO’s toolkit to enable that person who is playing the CMO role part-time as it were because they are wearing ten other hats to do that job well. The mistake people make in my world, and I don’t know if it adapts itself to the other areas that you focus on, is they think of the CMO as the end-all be-all. They don’t think of them as the strategic outlet. They think of them as strategy, execution, the kitchen sink. The CMO should not be in the weeds communicating with every single vendor, trying to figure out all the details, editing the site, writing all the copy. That is not what CMOs should be doing. The mistake people make is they think they need marketing, so they think they can hire a CMO. Maybe I can hire a marketing manager. That person inherently has skills. Marketing is too broad to give it to someone and expect them to do all of it. You have to get more intelligent about that hire, that function. Whether you are hiring or not is really irrelevant. The function of that role is really what we are talking about. Strategy versus implementation or management, those are two different things.

When I am looking for a marketing manager, someone to work under a CMO, I look for an ops person, someone who is operationally savvy. This is someone who never lets anything fall through the cracks. They are super OCD. They never show up late. You know the type, right? They are not the person who you peg as a marketing person. They are more of an executive assistant who happens to understand the marketing strategy well enough to take it to execution. Those are the best marketing managers.

The punchline is if you have one of those people, and it was your responsibility to be the CMO, all you have to do is a 30-minute-a-week meeting with a marketing manager who knows how to run marketing, who knows how to do all the tactics. I don’t mean tactics from the perspective of a marketing manager as a copywriter or a programmer or a designer. Those are functions you need to hire out. Outsource those effectively to the right programmer, to the right price. Live with the consequence. Have the marketing manager do all of that. There is a system. It’s almost like you were getting into human capital hierarchy. That is probably pretty similar to what you are talking about.

Hugh: It is. I spent 40 years as a musical conductor, and the image on the podcast is me in my tails. It’s Orchestrating Success. What you just defined is orchestrating success. I would hire the best players. I hired members of the Atlanta Symphony when I was in Atlanta who were very skilled. They were also union members. Downbeats when you start, and two hours later, you get paid for a two-hour gig, and they are either leaving or you are paying overtime. My job as a leader is to define the results and make the most out of them. You don’t micro-manage them. You don’t hire the best oboe player and tell him how to play the oboe. You do tell him what you want and you do shape the process. I bet most people haven’t even thought about a CMO, that it hasn’t even entered their consciousness. To have the best oboe player who knows how to play the oboe, well, they need the music. Maybe it’s not music you wrote. Maybe there is a sketch or some improvisatory piece. It might be jazz. But we have a very rigid structure. We have a very clear outcome, and we know where we are going. It’s my job as a leader. It’s pool leadership; it’s bringing the best out of all of these distinct players. Here is the barrier. “I can’t afford that” is going to be the number one objection. How do you respond to a leader’s comment of, “That sounds great, but I can’t afford that”?

Gaydon: It’s interesting that you would say that because people call me a marketing scientist, and I get accused of being a mathematician because so much of what I do is the mathematics behind the customer acquisition system. In your world, it might be a client or a donor. It doesn’t matter what the nomenclature is, but you need to know the mathematics of your business. If we think of nonprofits in a nonprofit sort of way, they don’t really thrive. If we think of them as businesses, they can thrive. Business economics, venture capitalists call it unit economics, and for this purpose, I would call it acquisition economics. You need to know your acquisition economics. You need to know what a donor or a customer is worth to your business. When you know that number, you can reverse engineer yourself. To say you can’t afford it is saying I got a blindfold on and don’t know mathematics well enough to know what I can spend to acquire more donors and customers, etc. You have to take the blindfold off, expose yourself to the mathematics, and understand that this is a business and it is based on math and it’s really simple. Dollars in, dollars out. In the marketing world, it’s customers in, acquisition cost out. In other words, how much am I willing to pay to get a customer knowing how much they are going to pay me to be a customer? The multiple between what they are worth to you and what you are willing to pay to get them is where the magic is. That is where the private equity firms focus their energy. That is what venture capitalists want to know before they acquire a big company. In your world, it’s probably not any different. You may just have not audited before. But you have an acquisition cost right now. You have a marketing budget right now. You have a CMO right now. You may just not have defined it that way.

Hugh: The social entrepreneurs are the COE, the Chief of Everything. Part of that is their problem. They are trying to be experts in everything, and they are trying to pinch pennies. I am a recovering Scottish Presbyterian. I am just as guilty as anybody. We know how to bend a penny. But there is a practical side to this when we need to find really good people and get out of the way. The reason we don’t have money to do that is because our marketing sucks. The client acquisition of the church or the synagogue would be members or community foundations. We want to have members. Those members are our local charities. They are members in mission. They are members in servant leaders in the community. I abolished the word “volunteer” when I worked with organizations like that because it is a different dumbing-down mindset. We are leaders in action.

Reframing the thinking, even though we are a nonprofit—like I said, it is not a philosophy, it is a tax clarification—it is a tax-exempt charity, it is a social benefit organization. We don’t treat our systems as important as our mission is. Our mission has got to make a huge difference. We dumb down on the money part. With charities, we want to save the whales; we don’t care about money. Wait a minute. You are going to build a car, but you haven’t learned to drive it, and you haven’t put gas in it. How is it going to go anywhere? We need to be good stewards on all the resources, including the cash flow. We can’t achieve our mission without the fuel in the car, which is your cash flow. Churches tend to backpedal on that. Sales is evangelism in the church.

I told you I grew up as a Scottish Presbyterian. The old joke is when you cross a Presbyterian with a Jehovah’s Witness, what you get is someone who knocks on the door with nothing to say. Most of us don’t even knock on the door. I’m not cutting out any particular sect. But there is a pattern of knocking on the door and marketing your message, which is what they do in that denomination. But we don’t do that very well. We are closed in on this enclave. We are not a cloister or a monastery.

Rethinking how we do church and charities and enterprise as a small business owner is where I live. This series of recordings is about leadership paradigms. What you have just uncovered is a huge paradigm. It’s taking it off my plate, finding someone competent, and working with them to let them do what we need to have done. Part of it is getting out of the way, and the other part of this is how to select a good marketing person. Part of my work is working with leaders selecting the right team, whether they are board members, staff, or people like you and me who provide goods and services for this organization.

If somebody is selecting a marketing expert, even for a CMO or higher, what are the questions they should ask?

Gaydon: The question I always ask: Who is in charge of growing the business? In a smaller organization, that is usually easy to answer, whomever that is. May I make two comments before I get to your question?

Hugh: Absolutely.

Gaydon: The question you have to ask yourself is this: Do you actually have a growth goal for the organization? Is that even the topic of conversation? Are we trying to grow membership at our church? That is an example. If that is the case, this is the next question you ask yourself: What would it mean if I were to hit that target? I don’t know what that target is. That is on your plate. Did I hit that target last year? If I did, that’s great. How much did you hope it would have grown last year? My guess is if I grew last year, it probably didn’t grow as much as you wanted it to. If it didn’t grow last year, are you willing to do anything to solve the problem? If you’re not willing to do anything to solve that problem, there isn’t really a lot of what we are talking about that it is going to be able to solve.

So I’m going to say anecdotally that you want to grow membership 10%. For those of you who are listening carefully, you may want to think, “Man, what would it mean for me to grow membership by 10% this year? What would it mean for me to grow membership 10% this month?” I grow businesses up to 235% a year. I know what it means to grow the business over 10% per month. It’s a big deal. You have to ask yourself whether that is actually a goal for you, a realistic target for you, and if you actually want to do it. But it does cost some money. The investment will be worth it.

Hugh: Let me comment on your comment before you answer the question. May I?

Gaydon: Please.

Hugh: If somebody is going through my strategy process, somebody is going to go through my goals. We tend to run around and do a lot of stuff as entrepreneurs. We implement tactics in the absence of an overall strategy, which is what we do with marketing as well. We try this and try this and try this, and it didn’t work. I say to people, “I tried to exercise one day last year and it didn’t work, so I stopped.” There is this limited experiment that is also we are doing the tactic piece. What you are talking about is a very important leadership paradigm. Have a plan.

Sorry, that is a commercial for me. If you do your strategy, you will know what your end goals are. That is a great question. I wanted to affirm that question. Let me stop interrupting you.

Gaydon: I love it. I’ll be honest. If you don’t have a growth goal, or if growth is not at the top of your priority list, then they don’t need me. They probably need you, but they don’t need me. I’m the growth guy. I’m the profitable growth guy.

If you do want growth, there is so much data that I have in doing this for 12 years in a case study environment as a marketing scientist figuring out all the reasons why it didn’t work. I know why it didn’t work, Hugh. That’s the punchline. They could hand me that case study and say, “This is what I did. Tell me why it didn’t work.” Within two minutes, I will know why it didn’t work.

A little golden nugget is if you have been in this space long enough, 90% of marketing activities that fail fail not because of the medium or the tactic of choice. What most people think is, “I tried radio. It didn’t work. Radio must not work for me, my business, my industry, my geographics, whatever.” The reality is, the magic is never in the medium; it’s always in the message. If you are writing something down, write that down: The magic is never in the medium; the magic is in the message. The message is an overly simplified way to say the magic is in your entire marketing infrastructure that leads to the message the person hears. I’m not saying go out and rewrite a message a million times. I’m saying the message is born of your audience itself. If you don’t target the audience and segment it well enough, that is your first mistake that will come out in the message.

Another thing is your drivers. What is your audience motivated by? What are their problems? What keeps them up at night staring at the ceiling wondering how they are going to solve this? What are their hot buttons? Knowing the audience, their desires, motivations, drivers, etc., really leaves you to say, “Okay, if I understand that audience, let’s keep looking externally and figure out if there is anything about the industry, its competition, its solution alternatives, and other things at play that might affect my ability to speak to them on that level and get them to want to join me in my mission, my quest, and my social entrepreneurship in the purpose of my company.” There might be competitors at bay who can beat you on price and other things. You have to look at those.

Once you define that audience, those industry drivers, those competitive drivers, you start to look internally. Who are we? How are we going to prove our viability to this particular audience? How are we going to position ourselves to that audience? Are we the Lexus in the market? Are we the Toyota in the market? Are we the Scion in the market? Are we the Smartcar in the market? Are we the Tesla in the market? Who are we? If it’s a church and about membership, it’s still relevant. Everybody is positioned. You are positioned relative to the competitors and the space, and you are positioned in relation to the things that differentiate you that you can message to.

When you look at audience and drivers and competition and how that leads to positioning and differentiation, eventually, if you go through the whole process, that frankly I have codified, you get to the message. Nine times out of ten, the marketing activity fails because of that message. It’s not because of the person who you hired to write the message is incompetent as a writer. It’s usually because you are not competent as a strategist.

Hugh: I love it. Of course I think you are brilliant. That’s great. Say this again. It was profound.

Gaydon: The reality is, the magic is in the message, not in the medium. The message is failing not because the writer who wrote it is incompetent, but because the strategist who was behind it is incompetent.

Hugh: It would occur to me that if you got 700-something clients in the recession and you grew your business exponentially in the recession, that you understand marketing. You understand how this client acquisition thing works. Any of us in any of these institutions need critical mass to do what we are doing, and we need to continually grow it because we are growing our vision, which is usually way bigger than we can achieve. We are visionaries. Several people who are entrepreneurs say, “Do all of you suffer from insanity?” I say, “Heck no, we enjoy it.” It’s a way of life. You are one of us, so I just put us in the same bucket. We are individuals; however, the very things that drive us are also the thorns in our side. Our assets are our liabilities. We don’t want to participate in this corporate structure; however, we need the discipline of working within structure in order to let the full creativity of our vision materialize. We tend to poo-poo the discipline and system parts of it because we want the freedom of our entrepreneur.

As a musician, I know this. Once we got the music, once we have rehearsed it, once we have done all the hard work, then we are free to be creative. There is a pathway to creating the strategy, which you so eloquently articulated. There is a discipline part of this. As you said earlier, there is work in this. There is no easy button. I tell people that there is no easy button in the work I do, but there is an easier button. When people try to do it themselves, it takes way longer and we make it way harder and they spend a whole lot of money, especially money they don’t have, and they don’t have time, so they have to go redo stuff.

This is all great stuff. The question was: If somebody is going to hire a marketing specialist internally or externally to advise a plan to help them take their brand to the market, what are the questions they should ask?

Gaydon: That’s a hard question to answer because of the levels that we are talking about it on. In the context of you are the CMO/CRO, the person listening to this, the first question you need to ask…

Hugh: The person listening is going to be the top leader in the organization, and they are going to be bringing in a marketing person. How do they qualify that person, whether it is internal, external, or using a service like yours? How do you know it’s going to be the right fit for your organization? We are talking about smaller organizations here.

Gaydon: I’m making the assumption, Hugh, that these are small enough organizations that we are talking about here that they are not going to hire that CMO. Correct me if I’m wrong. They are wearing the hat. Anecdotally, I have to help them wear that responsibility or hat well. I’m going to take the next five minutes to figure out how to do that better. They are not going to shell out the four, six, or eight thousand dollars a month to bring in the right marketing ninja, right? I hate to say ninja because samurais are probably more tough than ninjas, right?

Hugh: I think the majority of people fit the category you’ve described. If you educate them on that piece, it would lead them to enough revenue to hire the person you’ve described.

Gaydon: Exactly. The cadence of this usually looks like you are wearing the CMO hat because you haven’t given it to anyone else yet. Once you grow the company to a certain point, you can, which is brilliant because you really want to be the leader, and you probably don’t want to wear the CMO hat long-term.

Under the guise of you are wearing the hat, and you are not about to give it to anyone else soon, the first question you need to ask yourself is: Do I know how to write a strategy? I codified a process by which you just use an iPad and peg-leg your way in. I will stop using pirate analogies. You really don’t need to be a samurai. I don’t mean this to be a commercial at all. If you ask yourself how do I write a marketing plan, and you don’t have a step-by-step process, you will write a bad one. That is what this comes down to. It is just too complicated of a subject. Do you feel comfortable writing an enterprise-level strategy to grow a business if you don’t have any training on the subject? That sounds ludicrous. That would be like me trying to train a dog. I know nothing about pets and animals. I chase mountain lions for fun in the back country in the hopes they will eat me. That is my preferred way to die; I want to get eaten by a mountain lion. The problem is, I can’t find one, dang it. The point is: If you are wearing that hat, you have to know how to write a strategy.

If you wrote a strategy that works, that is really engineered for profitable growth, that you are confident and clear on, now the next question you ask is really important. Now you want to say who can be in the weeds on this thing? Who can manage this strategy on a day-to-day perspective in terms of all the deliverables? You don’t necessarily need to hire a full-time person to do that, but let’s call that person the marketing manager.

The first question I would ask is: Do you have the ability to hire a full-time or part-time marketing manager to do all the dirty work so that you can continue to be the leader, and you can put on your CMO hat for just 30 minutes a week? If you can do that, here is what I recommend you do in terms of asking questions around hiring a marketing manager.

You basically put up a job description for an executive assistant. Sounds counter-intuitive. If you ask for a marketing person, here is what you are going to get. You are going to get a yellow personality that is a little bit ADD, super creative, will have a ton of ideas and no follow-through. That’s what you want. Don’t post a job anywhere that says “Hiring marketing…” People will hear that. What you want to do is post a job that says to the effect of, “Looking for an executive assistant,” and then say, “Skills need to include operational efficiencies, doing things on budget, doing things on time, not letting things fall through the cracks.” Then what you do is as you interview the executive assistants, you will find one or two that has a little bit of marketing experience. That is your golden goose. That person will say, “I’m really good at operational stuff, making sure nothing falls through the cracks. But actually I like marketing.” It’s your perfect hire. If you don’t want to do all that, we can talk later, and we can talk on another podcast where I can point them to part-time marketing managers who are certified marketing managers that you don’t have to train or look for or hire. You can just turnkey, boom. A couple grand a month, and they are in your organization helping you out. Most of them work remotely. The point is you can outsource that function. You are really just hiring a 1099 person. That is the real possibility.

The next level underneath this marketing manager who gets everything done is this specialist, the tactician, the copywriter, the designer, the programmer, the person who has that subject matter expertise that is so specific that you need to bring them in to do that specific job. A really common thing is someone to administer the CRM. Let’s say we are using InfusionSoft or something like that. InfusionSoft is really complicated. You probably should not administer it yourself. Maybe your marketing manager will have those skills, but probably not. So it might make sense to find somebody who has very specific skills administering InfusionSoft that you can pay an hourly rate to whenever you need them.

The same goes for your graphic designers, your logo people, your website people, your hosting people, your programming people, a data scientist, YouTube experts, LinkedIn experts, anything.

What I am teaching you to do here is outsource effectively while insourcing effectively. What all your insourcing is is the responsibility you already have. It’s that responsibility you haven’t given anyone else yet. While not changing the scenario, you are changing the paradigm with which you look at it. But you can insource without adding a bunch of costs by just assuming the responsibility to write the strategy. You can definitely insource a marketing manager or hire a 1099. You can outsource effectively by finding specialists.

What people do, Hugh, and I know you have seen this, is they get opportunistic. Think of a continuum. On one end is opportunist, and on the other end is strategist. The opposite of a strategist is an opportunist; the opposite of an opportunist is a strategist. The number one plague in small business is we get opportunistic. I know that resonates with you because you teach leadership. What an opportunist does outside of marketing is they say, “We need to grow. Let’s go find someone to do that.” They hire an agency and turn over the car keys, the wallet, the house, and everything and say, “Run it for me.” It doesn’t work. I can prove to you that it doesn’t work.

More than that, some of them will say, “I don’t know if that’s the right idea. We should hire a CMO.” Then they make the decision of thinking the CMO is some deity of marketing, and they can do the strategy, manage the execution, do the execution, do the reporting, report to themselves, and be accountable all at the same time. How opportunistic does that sound? Yet people do it all the time. I ask people, “Who is running point on marketing?” “Our CMO.” “What does he do?” “Everything.” “Wait, hold on, everything?” Then I interview the CMO, and the CMO says, “Gee, the reason why I don’t dare tell this to the CEO, and the reason I can’t do my job, is because I am writing copy, and I am doing design, and I am managing vendors, and I am looking for proposals, and I am managing our events, and I am writing the strategy, and I am editing the strategy, and I am doing the reports.” All you did by hiring that CMO is duplicating your problem of having too many hats on someone else.

Hugh: Oh that is so spot-on. I talk to people every day that that fits. You have come back to a lot of the themes without even knowing that I teach. My whole paradigm is to reframe leadership as a pathway to profit. This series is converting a passion to profit. You have just tagged a lot of the major leadership decisions that lead organizations to generate recurrable income. Managing that becomes profit. Nonprofits need profit. It’s not for profit; we don’t distribute it individually. But we have to be in the black to achieve our vision and mission.

I think we have given people a lot to chew on today. I think we can probably talk for hours on these topics. How do people find you and your company?

Gaydon: I’m not terribly hard to find. My company is called Savavo. G Leavitt or Gaydon Leavitt. If they are really looking for something to take from here forward, I recommend we put up a freebie for your audience to go to What I have there is a five-part video training course that essentially gives you the basics of how to start to formulate the strategy. If you go there, you will see the videos that will walk you through sequentially, and I think it will help your audience go on the right trajectory.

Hugh: That’s generous. G, you have demonstrated a much higher level of competency than other people I have spoken with. I think you hit a sore spot for 4-12 million companies that are stuck. I find that one very good leadership trait is making a decision to get out of your comfort zone and do something different with different results. Your marketing sucks. You have heard Jeff Magee that says, “SUC is halfway to success.” We don’t get there because we suck. We don’t get there because we are not getting out of our comfort zone and making intelligent leadership decisions that are going to lead us to that profit. That is a generous offer.

As we pull this to a close, do you have a parting thought for the audience to think about?

Gaydon: I’m glad you asked that because I think people tend to get hung up if they don’t feel comfortable building a strategy or even spending a dollar to build a strategy. I think the best thing I could give them is the who we are platform. I’ll illustrate this for you right now. This is a tool you can use to immediately improve your pitch, your messaging, and your ability to get a donor, a patient, or a customer immediately using a challenge you are already using. So I will give you mine in hopes you can model mine and create your own. I will give you the four or five steps that are part of this model.

It goes something like this: I believe marketing is the reason businesses fail and the reason they succeed. I also believe it is the only way they will grow properly. At the rate at which a company or organization is growing is directly related to the marketing acumen, knowledge, or skills and the infrastructure that organization has. I also believe that marketing is a science, not an art, not a lottery, not a crapshoot. You are not at the casino. It’s a process. If you know the process, you could have success with it. Do not think of it as a science. I believe it as a process.

Because I believe all of these things, my mission and purpose as an organization, as an entrepreneur, as someone who is trying to provide value to the world, is to turn marketing into a science and into a predictable, followable, learnable, masterable process for people. We believe we are doing that.

The benefit to that process is clarity, confidence, and ultimately return on investment. It creates ROI. It creates bigger companies, faster companies, and better companies. The question that I have for you is: How clear are you about how to turn your marketing into predictable, profitable process?

Hugh: Gaydon Leavitt, very well-spoken. Thank you for sharing your intellectual property with my listeners today. Hope you have a great day. I look forward to the next conversation.

Gaydon: Thank you so much.

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