083 Wayne Mullins on Full Circle Marketing

Wayne is the founder of Ugly Mug Marketing and author of Full Circle Marketing: Transform Your Marketing & Turn Customers Into Evangelists.

Wayne’s parents got him some Zig Ziglar CDs (he still needs to ask his parents why they got him this gift) and wanted to get into sales, but wasn’t very good at it. But he realized that sales provided instant feedback, if you could separate the emotional response. He got better at sales by focusing on the prospect’s perspective, rather than his own.

As he got better at sales, he decided to start his own firm, in the only other skill he had: lawn care.

His lawn care clients started to ask him for marketing help because they were impressed with his growth. When he sold the lawn care business, this turned into Ugly Mug Marketing.

The Ugly Mug name comes from David Oglivy, who said, “I would rather you show me an ad that’s ugly and effective over one that’s beautiful but isn’t.” Wayne wanted the ultimate goal to be client results, not beautiful ads or creativity awards.

His first clients were clients of his landscaping company, who wanted to know how we was growing so fast.

Here are some of his tips:

  • He started by creating a Top 100 prospect list by driving around town.
  • Then he brought dozens of boxes of donuts to those businesses about once per month. When the manager would complain about the lawn, the staff would refer Wayne’s company. (He had a big sticker with his business info on the top of the boxes.)
  • He picked up the phone and called. Don’t hide behind your inbox. The best way to connect with humans is face-to-face, then video, then phone.
  • Don’t think of marketing and advertising as the same thing. Advertising is a part of marketing. So is the way your lawn looks, the way you answer the phone, etc.
  • What are you doing to create raving fans for your business? Buying donuts and birthday gifts created evangelists. Taking care of your customers and ignoring the fads is much more cost-effective than trying to get new customers.
  • Your customers carry a contact database and social media access in their pockets. What are you doing to encourage them to use that on your behalf?
  • Create great experiences for your customers. (Wayne does this for clients based on not only their direct spending with his firm, but their referrals and referral potential.) The idea is to make people feel special.
  • Educate your customers to help them succeed in adjacent spaces. (One client would send a single email follow-up to leads that included phone numbers.)
  • Focus on the problem, not just the demographics of “who”? If we focus too much on “who” instead of the problem, we sometimes target the wrong people. What problem does your offering solve?
  • Magic Journal Exercise… you should know your ideal customer so well that you can write the journal entries for them.
  • Full Circle Marketing: move strangers to friends to clients to evangelists.
  • Opportunities in print and direct mail, if you can personalize it.
  • Eugene Schwartz: “enter the conversation that is already taking place in the mind of the prospect.” Look for places to tie your messaging to what they are already doing. (Breakthrough Advertising: https://breakthroughadvertisingbook.com/)
  • How do we turn customers into evangelists? What does a reasonable person have the right to expect. Expectation Litmus Test. On the left, right down all the steps someone goes through doing business with you. What should a reasonable person expect during each step. What does it look like if we don’t meet expectations? Now you can test if you’re actually meeting expectations.
  • Bain surveyed 4,000 small businesses and 92% of the owners said they provided the highest level of services. Then Bain surveyed the customers. Only 8% of the customers agreed with that assessment.
  • You have to hit those expectations, at a minimum, to turn customers into evangelists.
  • Call those evangelists and ask them if they know other people who are dealing with the same problem you helped them fix.

The Wine

Reuben enjoys Para Maria Syrah/Petit Verdot blend from Santa Barbara county.

Wayne is sipping on his trusty water bottle.

Where to find Wayne


Where to find Reuben

@Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

Want a way to make sales and marketing fun, without being “salesy”? Try Mimiran, the CRM for elite solo consultants who love serving clients but who hate “selling”. (It also tracks referrals and how much business you get from them and makes it easy to follow up and have conversations, just like Wayne suggests.)

Get alerted when there are new episodes (1x/month):

079 Mark Firth on YouTube video marketing

Mark Firth is a traveler of both virtual and physical worlds, moving from London to Bogota and now on to Florida. In Colombia, he realized his Spanish wasn’t good enough for local business, and his attempts to teach English were getting commoditized by the web.

He started a remote digital marketing firm, focused on LinkedIn. Initial results were good, but as the platform got flooded with spam (and LinkedIn services became more commoditized), Mark realized he needed to have more control over this destiny.

In this episode, learn how:

  • The YouTube algorithm is different from other social media sites
  • To get started producing video, without fancy equipment
  • To combine online video and your existing mailing list
  • Be patient and “find your voice”
  • To grow beyond the control of anyone else’s platform
  • The best way to show that you can help people

Of course, we had to put the YouTube video here. 😉

The Wine

Reuben enjoys some Devil’s Corner Tasmanian Pinot Noir (never tried wine from Tasmania before– quite nice– a lot of cranberry), while Mark has some cold green tea.

Where to find Mark

And the book Mark mentioned: The YouTube Formula: How Anyone Can Unlock the Algorithm to Drive Views, Build an Audience, and Grow Revenue, by Derral Eves.


Where to find Reuben

@Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

Want a way to make sales and marketing fun, without being “salesy”? Try Mimiran, the CRM for elite solo consultants who love serving clients but who hate “selling”. It tracks referrals and helps you grow and nurture your network. Plus, the “Mission and Positioning” screen will help you refine your message, and give you lots of ideas for videos.

Get alerted when there are new episodes (1x/month):

078 Michael Buzinski on Doubling Your Business with the Rule of 26

Michael Buzinski didn’t take your typical path to digital marketing. He was a professional jazz trombonist at age 13. He realized he could go as far as he needed in sales without a college degree, but not in marketing, so he joined the air force. He started a recording studio in 2005, but realized that starving musicians were not great business prospects, so he pivoted to serving business owners.

He grew a multimillion dollar agency, with hundreds of clients. Yet growth and scaling are two different things, and the rapid growth caused more problems than it solved, especially because they weren’t charging enough.

So Michael created a new virtual agency, helping small businesses grow beyond word-of-mouth. Michael is the author of The Rule of 26, which shows how a 26% increase in 3 key metrics leads to a doubling of revenue.

(The math is straightforward: 1 x 1.26 x 1.26 x 1.26 = 2.00. This is the magic of compounding.)

Listen to the episode for more details, but here are the 3 KPIs:

  • Average revenue per client
  • Conversion rate
  • Traffic

In this episode, learn:

  • Why you want to start with average revenue, then work your way to conversion rate, and then traffic.
  • How to get pricing advice from your best clients.
  • How to make your website better at converting visitors (and why most websites are not set up to do this).
  • And much more…

The Wine & Rum

Michael has some Kona spiced Hawaiian rum. And I’ve got some Brave Cellars pinot noir from Willamette Valley Oregon.


The Rule of 26 For Service-Based Businesses: Three Steps to Doubling Website Revenue, by Michael.

Where to find Michael Buzinski


Where to find Reuben

@Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

Want a way to make sales and marketing fun, without being “salesy”? Try Mimiran, the CRM for elite solo consultants who love serving clients but who hate “selling”.

It tracks referrals and helps you grow and nurture your network. And it can help you implement Michael’s ideas about converting visitors to leads and conversations. (Get a list of 25 Lead Magnet ideas here.)

Get alerted when there are new episodes (1x/month):

077 Jonathan Stark on Ditching Hourly Billing

Jonathan Stark is a former software developer turned consultant who hates hourly billing and helps people “ditch hourly” and do value-based pricing.

And somehow, I didn’t know about him until recently. (Jonathan made the observation that we’re climbing up the same mountain from different sides.)

If you’ve ever stressed about pricing a project proposal, don’t miss this episode, where Jonathan shares:

  • How he had an epiphany when he worked for a consulting firm about why hourly billing had to go. He spent weeks trying to figure out why his “best” consultant was the least profitable.
  • Why the problem was hourly billing.
  • How he started his own firm because he needed to get rid of hourly billing, and made more money in his first year.
  • How hourly billing transforms your client relationships.
  • Why hourly billing goes sideways (and why it tends to start sideways, because you ask different questions in the initial meeting)
  • How to do things in the right order– figure out the value first, including the success criteria (and can you even satisfy them?), then the price, then scope.
  • How to let people unburden themselves– let them brain dump, then ask the structured questions, as needed, to fill in the details.
  • How do paid roadmapping sessions to gather information
  • How to get 100% payment upfront (and what to do if you can’t)
  • Fixed price is not the same as cost-plus
  • How do deal with unknown scopes (and the real scopes are always unknown), v
  • How to use explicit guarantees to reduce risk for the buyer, without changing how you operate.
  • How to ask questions like a doctor. (Doctors don’t tell you to jump on the operating table when they first meet you.)

The Wine

It’s a California Pinot Noir kind of episode, with Jonathan enjoying some La Cream and Reuben having a glass of Grevino.


Hourly Billing Is Nuts, by Jonathan.

Value-Based Fees: How to Charge and Get What You’re Worth, by Alan Weiss. (Catch Alan’s Sales for Nerds interview here.)

Where to find Jonathan Stark

  • LinkedIn (he doesn’t really do LinkedIn)
  • valuepricingbootcamp.com— 6 day free email course
  • JonathanStark.com (by the way– check out this website not just for the awesome info, but the awesome example of how to create a great consulting website.)

Where to find Reuben

@Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

Want a way to make sales and marketing fun, without being “salesy”? Try Mimiran, the CRM for elite solo consultants who love serving clients but who hate “selling”. It tracks referrals and helps you grow and nurture your network. And it can help you implement Jonathan’s ideas about offering different options, crafting a value-based story in your proposal (you can get a free proposal template, too).

Get alerted when there are new episodes (1x/month):

075 Julie Brown on networking the right way

“Networking” evokes thoughts of small talk and getting stabbed in the eye with business cards, at least for some of us. But it’s essential to so many relationship-based businesses. How can we grow and nurture an awesome, helpful, fun network without feeling icky?

In this episode, Julie Brown, author of This Shit Works: A No-Nonsense Guide to Networking Your Way to More Friends, More Adventures, and More Success (and host of the This Shit Works podcast), teaches you how to grow a great network while having fun and staying true to yourself, including:

  • You can build a big network– over time, not over night.
  • How Julie treats friends and colleagues
  • The “shortcut” to meeting lots of the right people.
  • How Julie’s network helped her husband launch his architecture firm, amidst the 2008 crash, how it helped Julie launch her business, and how you can apply it your business.
  • Why traditional icebreaker questions are terrible, and what to ask instead.
  • How to handle follow up.
  • Whether we should be happy and/or sad about the Celtics season (OK, that’s a bit of a tangent).

The Wine

Julie enjoys some “cougar juice” (how have I not heard this term before?), in other words, some buttery chardonnay, while I have some Nine Hats Pinot Gris from Washington (it’s over 100 in Texas, and I’m drinking white).

Where to find Julie


Where to find Reuben

@Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

Want a way to make sales and marketing fun, without being “salesy”? Try Mimiran, the CRM for elite solo consultants who love serving clients but who hate “selling”. It tracks referrals and helps you grow and nurture your network.

(Including the more powerful than ever Free Edition.) Mimiran can help you implement a lot of Shaily’s ideas not only more efficiently, but more effectively, including telling your Origin Story, coming up with your Superhero Name so you’re unforgettable and more referrable, and much more.

Get alerted when there are new episodes (1x/month):

072 Rick Terrien on starting a business at any age

Rick Terrien started his first business in college, but he believes that people can (and should) start businesses at any age, particularly later in life. He started the Center for Ageless Entrepreneurs, and wrote Ageless Startup: Start a Business at Any Age.

He comes on Sales for Nerds to share his story, and tips for taking control of your destiny later in life, to work on things that are meaningful to you, including:

  • What you should be doing around 40, 45, and 50 to launch your business.
  • How to set yourself up for success.
  • How Rick looks at markets to find promising niches.
  • How he found his latest inspiration to help older entrepreneurs.
  • Why you should be thinking about a “lifestyle business” as a positive, not an insult.

(This episode, like Melisa Liberman’s, also builds on Liz Steblay’s wonderful advice on leaving the corporate world for independent consulting in episode 70.)


Ageless Startup: Start a Business at Any Age

The Wine (& Beer)

Reuben is enjoying some Bergevin Lane Moonspell Cabernet Sauvignon fro Washington State.

Rick is having a Yuengling (the oldest brewery in the country– started in 1829) Black and Tan.

Where to find Rick


Where to find Reuben

@Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

Note, speaking of stories, a good proposal is a story, not a brochure– get your “Fill in the Blank” Consulting Proposal Template.

Want a way to make sales and marketing fun, without being “salesy”? Try Mimiran, the CRM for elite solo consultants who love serving clients but who hate “selling”. (Including the more powerful than ever Free Edition.) Mimiran can help you implement a lot of Shaily’s ideas not only more efficiently, but more effectively, including telling your Origin Story, coming up with your Superhero Name so you’re unforgettable and more referrable, and much more.

Get alerted when there are new episodes (1x/month):

070 Liz Steblay on starting your independent consulting business

Liz Steblay ProkoConsulting PICA Network Sales for Nerds

Liz Steblay had it all– maybe a little too much. A successful career at a Big 4 firm and young daughter. When her boss noted that missing evening meetings to care for her child was “not sustainable” for her career, she agreed, and started off on her own.

In this episode learn:

  • How to manage money and finances (don’t make the mistake that I made, and that I see people repeating all the time)
  • How to get clients and build awareness.
  • How to keep your sanity.

This episode is aimed at people contemplating leaving their corporate careers to strike out on their own, or folks who have just made the leap, but even if you’ve been an independent consultant for years, you’ll find some helpful wisdom here.

The Wine

Reuben is enjoying some Acha Pinot Noir from the Santa Maria Valley in California.


Irrestible Consultants Guide to Winning Clients

As mentioned by Liz, and seconded by Reuben, the Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients, by David A. Fields (check out his Sales for Nerds episode).

Where to find Liz


Where to find Reuben

@Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

Note, speaking of stories, a good proposal is a story, not a brochure– get your “Fill in the Blank” Consulting Proposal Template.

Want a way to make sales and marketing fun, without being “salesy”? Try Mimiran, the CRM for elite solo consultants who love serving clients but who hate “selling”. (Including the more powerful than ever Free Edition.) Mimiran can help you implement a lot of Shaily’s ideas not only more efficiently, but more effectively, including telling your Origin Story, coming up with your Superhero Name so you’re unforgettable and more referrable, and much more.

Get alerted when there are new episodes (1x/month):

065 David Newman on Marketing for Consultants

I got introduced to David Newman through Ellen Melko Moore (check out her episode on using LinkedIn effectively) and have loved his newsletter and webinars, so I asked him to join me on Sales for Nerds because he has a wonderful way of explaining marketing concepts in “plain English” that’s not only clear and compelling, but also entertaining, cutting through the haze of B.S. that fogs up most marketing advice.

But David took a long, strange path to get here, getting weeded out of pre-med, then earning a theater degree (one of my regrets is not returning to this in the interview), before getting into consulting and training.

In this episode learn:

  • How David learned to listen to people who were trying to give him money (and how that transformed his business and accounts for 98% of his revenue). This also gets back to the importance of having real-life conversations…
  • How and why he moved from corporate training to helping other consultants.
  • How we built a thriving business despite terrible timing (starting out on his own right before 9/11, publishing a book on speaking right before COVID) and struggling to find his niche at the beginning.
  • Why he (and you) needed help (“nobody does anything great alone”).
  • How to stop treating sales and marketing with disdain, while avoid the “ickiness” that comes from treating service sales like product sales.
  • How to avoid “same-o lame-o” websites and create compelling proposals.
  • How to separate yourself from the bad consultants who have burned your prospects in the past (“clients rarely get a chance to commoditize consultants– consultants are too busy doing it themselves”).
  • How to be an effective “professional irritant” (“if you don’t risk turning some people off, you can’t turn anyone on”)
  • How to market well (and be referable): make sure your prospects and partners know exactly what you do, and can repeat it. (“If you’re not repeatable, you’re not referable.”)
  • Why great copy isn’t written, it’s “listened”

And again– we’ve actually got video for this episode. See below…

Audio only…

The Wine

David enjoys some Spindrift Pink Lemonade seltzer, while Reuben enjoyed some Willful Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon.

Books and More

Do It! Marketing. Just go get David’s book. (Just do it, you might say…)

Where to find David


Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com, the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”. You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

Note, speaking of “plain English” proposals, you can also get your “Fill in the Blank” Consulting Proposal Template.

Want a way to make sales and marketing fun, without being “salesy”? Try Mimiran, the CRM for elite solo consultants who love serving clients but who hate “selling”. (Including the more powerful than ever Free Edition.) Mimiran can help you implement a lot of Michelle’s ideas not only more efficiently, but more effectively, including tracking referrals, maintaining relationships through conversations, and more.

Get alerted when there are new episodes (1x/month):

054: David Priemer on how to sell the way you buy

David Priemer, author Sell the Way You Buy

David Priemer was supposed to be a chemical engineer, not a sales guru, but he found that the rules and connections he loved in science also applied in sales. After he fell into the start up world, and then his firm got acquired by Salesforce, he started thinking more about the disconnect between how people typically sell, and how we like to buy. This led to his book “Sell the Way You Buy”, and him being a great guest for this podcast.

Listen (or read the transcript below) to David dishes on:

  • Why we don’t buy solutions (and what we do buy).
  • Polarize the market to avoid the sea of sameness. People connect with your stories and the feelings they invoke, not product features (even for seemingly unemotional B2B purchases). Whatever you provide, it’s not for everyone.
    • (David talks about how his previous company offered performance review software for people who hate performance reviews, similar to how I created a CRM for people who hate selling.)
  • Help buyers make decisions more easily– sometimes the flood of information we have now makes it harder to figure out what to do.
  • This information means there’s a battle for your customers’ and prospects’ attention. Do some research and and value. Don’t just commit “drive-by selling”.
  • Get into the mind of the buyer and figure out what percentage of the time your solution is “objectively” the best one they could buy. It’s not important what the number is, but that you understand what’s really driving buying decisions. (For example, a web developer might target solopreneurs with a message like “I understand you have better things to do with your time than update your website.” There might be no difference between this developer’s offering and everyone else’s, but there’s the sense that they get me.)
  • The experience is the product.
  • Do “mindful discovery”– make sure prospects understand why answering your questions helps them get what they want, not just you.
  • Order questions by starting with a quantitative question (“what percent of your reps made quota?”), followed by subjective questions (“how do you feel about your sales team overall?”).

Most importantly, sell the way you buy. Use tactics that you want other people to use with you. Forget the “Cobra Kai” tactics.

054 David Priemer teaches you to sell the way you buy.mp3 – powered by Happy Scribe

Hi Reuben Swartz here your host and chief nerd welcome to Sales for Nerds. I try to distill years of struggling with sales and marketing so you can learn the easy way. Plus get the scoop from other folks who have accidentally ended up in sales and learned that it doesn’t have to suck.

Now, as a software person who hated conventional CRMs, I ended up creating my own for folks like me in professional services who would rather be doing client work than sales and marketing.

It’s got a whole new take on lead magnets to the way to think about conversations and referrals, proposal automation, e-signature. And if you’re the only one in your company selling or maybe the only person in your company, it’s got features so you don’t feel so alone. Start your free trial at www.mimiran.com.

That’s M-I-M-I-R-A-N dot com. And even if you’re not looking for a CRM, you’ll find proposal templates, checklists and more to help you grow your business. Now let’s get to it today.

I’m super excited to have with me David Priemer. He is the author of Sell the Way You Buy, which just sounds like the kind of sells book you actually want to read. Congratulations on that. He’s got a chemical engineering degree and actually started his career with test tubes and differential equations. And then he almost got a sales job at IBM and didn’t and he kind of fell into the startup world, went through, I believe, four different start ups, three of which got acquired. Am I getting that right? You can correct me now. It’s great. And then one of his startups was acquired by Salesforce.

He became a sales leader at Salesforce, which led him to start Cerebral Selling and writing Sell the way you Buy. David, welcome to Sales for Nerds.

Oh, thanks for having me here, Reuben. It’s great to be here.

Excellent. What do you have in your glass?

You know, as I said, we’re we’re in isolation mode here, so I’ve amped up my you think alcohol content, but no, I’ve amped up my my water hydration content. I’m just drinking lemon water today.

That’s that’s got a lot of lemon slices in there. I do a slice of lemon lemon water. This is lemon juice. Well, we’re recording late in the day.

And so what, what tends to put a couple of slices in and then I ran out of water and then I add more water, I add more lemon slices, but I don’t take the old ones out. And then I guess by the end of the day, I just have like a full lemon sitting in a glass with no water.

OK, awesome.

And I’ve got some Châteaux Labadie Bordeaux from Médoc. And this is a merlot driven blend. And I meant to do a bunch of research on Medoc and the blends and the percentages and whatnot before we got on. And I said I’m just going to tell people it’s delicious. And as usual on this show, it’s probably one of those things that I got at Costco for like fifteen bucks. Cheers and welcome.

Well, I think you’ve already done the first lesson of selling, which is as you’ve taken something, you know, that you got at Costco and you made it sound really enticing and very, very elaborate. So that’s lesson number one.

Good for you. All right. Go to Costco, resell wine. You said that’s.

So how did you go from chemical engineering to. I’m writing a book about how to do sales the right way, if you can get that sat down to five or ten seconds.

Yeah, my goodness. Well, you know, sales and engineering are are similar because in engineering there’s like systems and practices and laws and rules and equations that govern how things work.

And it’s not that selling is all science by any stretch. There’s definitely a lot of art to it, but there are rules and there are systems. And so I found that kind of making that transition. I was able to kind of take that very call like analytical, scientific approach to to, you know, my engineering career, being in academia and then translated into the sales world, which, by the way, I got thrust and thrust into you by accident like everyone.

And no one no one purposely makes that transition. But that’s how it happened for me and fell in love with fell in love from there.

You know, it’s funny, you talk about the rules and systems as being the part of engineering that applies to sales. And that’s maybe the part that I’ve always struggled with. The part that I find is the bridge is it’s about problem solving. Right? When you have an engineering problem, you’re trying to solve that in sales. You’re typically trying to solve some kind of business problem. And so I can think of it as well. They’re both problem solving.

What kind of rules did you take from the engineering world into the sales world?

Well, it’s interesting. It’s it’s true that the goal of a buyer is to hopefully solve a problem, or at least that’s the that’s the sense we have a problem when we, like, seek solutions to those problems. There’s people who sell those solutions.

But what I found over the course of time is that we actually don’t buy solutions. I think that’s one of the biggest misnomers. We do not buy solutions to problems we have.

We buy one thing first and foremost, which is feelings in everything that we buy. I don’t care whether it’s be to be buying a service, ordering something for lunch. And I think that great example you talking about systems and rules. So you’re talking about wine. Hey, now, one of the things I talk a lot about is that everything that you say about your product can either increase or diminish its value and think about like, what’s the cost of a bottle of coke?

How much would you pay for a bottle of Coke? What if I were to ask you, how much is a bottle of Coke? How much are you willing to pay for?

That depends if you’re at the grocery store or the ballpark 100 degree day. Right.

There you go. So there’s there’s this element of like, OK, what’s the. Environment, maybe if I’m at an airport or a sporting event, like the value of the Coke is different, but like what if I started telling you like a story know, like our our researchers spent, you know, like, let’s say I’m trying to sell you a bottle of water.

You can go buy a bottle of water at Costco for twenty five cents. But if I told you this, this unique bottle of artesian water was was plucked from like the mountain tops in Fiji and carefully in small batches. Now, all of a sudden, I’m just I’m talking about this water. But all of a sudden now in your mind, you’re thinking, oh, my gosh, this water is like super valuable. And so, like, back to your Costco wine, you can start wrapping an amazing story around that.

And at the end of the day, people aren’t buying the wine. They’re not buying the water. They’re buying the story and the value you’ve created around that product. And it’s no different. So there’s there’s certainly an art to telling that story.

But the idea at the end of the day that we’re buying solutions, I feel is a misnomer. We buy feelings at the end of the day and there’s still rules that govern how those feelings can be bought and sold.

So some folks listening are gonna say, that’s great. I understand how that works if I’m buying wine or buying water. But I deal with these really hard nosed business people and they have spreadsheets and they enter numbers and they tell me I’m too expensive and these people don’t even have feelings.

So. Right.

What do we say to those people? Are they right or their feelings that maybe we’re just missing?

You ever hear the phrase no one got no one ever got fired for buying IBM, right? Yes. What do you think that means? That means people feel secure when they buy IBM, even if everything goes sideways and it’s a disaster, they can’t get fired.

Yeah, or even if that’s true and even if IBM is not the best solution for them. Right. Like, I won’t get fired. So, like what you’re saying in the in the hardest news organizations, when people are biasing towards safety and security and established vendors, those are feelings that has nothing to do with the ability of that solution to solve the problem. You know, it’s a proxy for it. But there could be, let’s say, for example, a tiny startup of five people who has a much better solution to solve your problem.

But if you get it wrong, you’re going to get fired. Right. So now you’re buying feelings.

So a lot of the folks listening to this are more likely to be part of the five person startup than IBM. What are they say to that person or are they just in the wrong room and they should get out? Well, you know, it’s funny.

So as you mentioned, I’ve done for startups in my time over the last 20 years, and I love the startup environment. I just love building things. I almost love the uncertainty a little bit. I love, you know, I love the agility.

And so one of the tactics I talk about in the book, and this is like an objection now we’re getting into like, objection handling. Someone says, you know, Reuben, I love your solution, but I’m just a little wary about working with a company that’s like five people in a garage somewhere.

Right. So now there’s lots of different ways you can respond. And one of the way so I would I would put a couple of things to you. Number one you actually want customers that align with your vision, with your way of doing business.

And so if someone wants IBM, then they’re not a good fit to buy you and you probably should not invest the time to convince them that they are right. So one of the ways you can kind of separate out those customers is to say, look, hey, look, you know, we’re not for everyone. Certainly, you know, it’s interesting.

A lot of our customers love working with us because we’re a five person agile startup because they have access to our product roadmap, our executive team. They can speak to us whenever they want and they love that. Right.

And you’re part of that core and you’re going to love working with us. Right. And so, again, we’re not solving world peace here. But that’s one way it’s I call this turn weakness into strength. You kind of challenge the customer, but you also align them with the kinds of customers that will be most successful with your solution.

And I forget the phrase you use in the book, but you kind of recommend that you can pick a fight with somebody. Right, and make people come down on one side or the other. Either you’re out of our camp and we shouldn’t waste time with you because you need IBM or, hey, you should come over here and hang out with us because we’re not beige and boring like IBM.

It’s true. So I call it polarization. Right. And so the idea is when someone asks you what you do and this is actually it’s not just when you’re handling objections, but even when, you know, let’s say, for example, some you meet someone like what do you do?

And you say, I don’t know, I train salespeople and they smile and they say, that’s nice. And they just go on with their day.

Because the reality is, whatever it is you do, there is a million people that do what you do. Right. And to your customers, you all just kind of sound the same. So one of the ways you breaking out of what I call that sea of sameness is to say something that’s a bit more polarizing, a little different. Right. Something that makes your customer decide whether or not they’re on your side of that argument or another person’s side.

So the example I give and I give in the book, my third startup, this is the one that was acquired by Salesforce. We were a basically a performance review platform for companies that hated performance reviews. Right. So for Millennial, like no one loves, I’m not here to crap on performance reviews, but that’s what we did.

We picked an enemy and our enemy was performance reviews. We said, look, performance, you suck. The data, like all the data coming out of companies, is saying that people use the word hate to describe performance reviews.

So if you love feedback, but you hate performance reviews, we should talk. And and in anything that I just said to you now, I didn’t. And I haven’t even explained what the software actually did.

But if you love feedback or your people love feedback and they hate performance reviews, you’re going to lean in and say, tell me more, because no one’s saying that and I’m invoking your enemy. So these are just really simple ways of getting customers onside with these polarizing messages.

As funny, you say that because my CRM tool is the CRM for people who hate selling. Right. Like who wants a CRM? If you hate selling well, the people who are like, gosh, I hate selling, tell me more. That’s the whole point of that. I mean, that’s it’s all true.It’s all authentic, just like your performance review software was. But but it’s not you’re not describing everything, but you’re sort of letting people associate or disassociate tribally based on what you’re telling them you’re about, right? That’s right.

You know, the idea is that whatever service you provide, you’re not for everyone, OK? You have some very happy customers that align with your mission and values and then some that don’t. And ask yourself what would happen if you started selling to the wrong kinds of customers, like what would happen to your business, to your your pipeline, your cost, your reputation. So the idea is we always want customers that align with what we do. And so the best way to do that oftentimes is to put out like that enemy to help your customers kind of gravitate.

But I totally hear what you’re saying. I actually have a blog post on my website. Called How to sell if you hate selling, that’s probably very relevant because you know a lot of entrepreneurs now this is an interesting thing. So we talked to earlier, one of my favorite sales books is Dan Pink’s To Sell is Human. And he asked people in that book, he said, When I use the word sales are selling, what’s the first word that comes to mind?

And now you don’t have to like you’re talking to the guy here. If you go on my website, the first piece of copy it says is, do you ever wonder why you don’t like talking to salespeople? Right.

And my website is for salespeople. Why would I say that? It’s because I bet that most people don’t like talking to salespeople, including salespeople. And Dan Pink proved that out in his book. And so there’s a lot of entrepreneurs. He talks about this like a lot of entrepreneurs who don’t classify themselves as salespeople but have to do selling in their job. And so the thing is, well, how do you overcome that? That’s a great point.

And I mean, whether or not there’s sales in your title, if you own a small business sales is your responsibility. And even if you spend all day in engineering meetings, there’s a certain amount of persuasion that has to go on if you’re going to do your job effectively. And you’re right, we’ve got all these, I think in some ways deserved bad connotations around selling because we hate being sold.

We like to buy. We want someone to help us buy. And I think in the old days, the salesperson was the repository of information and taking your order, stuff that you couldn’t do on your own. Now we can do all that on our own. And my view of selling is it’s helping us solve a problem that we can’t fix on our own. Right. Okay. So if we can do it on our own, we don’t need the salesperson.

What it’s like when I call my my telco because my home Internet isn’t working and they try to deflect me by saying, you know, a lot of common problems can be rebooted by fixing fix, by rebooting your router and by doing this.

And so what they’re trying to, like, move me out of their process.

And I keep thinking to myself, I wouldn’t be calling you if I if all those things weren’t the case. Right. But, yes, there’s there’s a lot of that where where I wouldn’t be having to engage with a salesperson if I could just do it myself, like if I could just go online and do the research and figure it out and maybe I could. What actually happens, like what the research shows is that because there’s so much choice now, let’s say you want to go online, you want to book a vacation or a flight or whatever it is.

So you say, I want to go to the Caribbean.

Gosh I want to do that right now,

I know it seems like a pipe dream. I want to leave my house now, but so you want to book a vacation. So you go online and say, I want to go to the Caribbean. You do a search and like a million resorts come up and now you’re thinking to yourself, I don’t know which one to pick, OK? They all look like they got four point three stars, which is OK.

And now I start reading the reviews and I start looking at the one star reviews first to see what people hate because I really I’m drawn to that. And then what happens is like an hour, two hours later, I’m like, I don’t know what to do, you know, I don’t, you know. And so what happens is what they refer to as purchase. Like the ease with which I’m able to make my decision is actually compromise. It’s very hard for me to make a decision.

And then when I do, I’m not sure if I made the right one right. And that’s kind of like the old school way of selling.

So you’re right, the purpose of the salesperson is to help the customer kind of work through the decision. But, you know, when you’re when you’re on TripAdvisor, there’s no salesperson there. Right.

And so it’s incumbent upon, let’s say if I was the salesperson for these resorts or even a travel agent. Right. Imagine then I start hitting you up and I say, you know, Reuben, I’m a travel agent. I specialize in working with people who want to go on vacation but are completely bewildered. But I by all the reviews they see online, am I right right now?

I’m not even telling you what my services are, but I’m now I’m talking about the enemy, which is your frustration, researching things online. So anyways, it’s a full circle. These are the all the information that we have access to is actually, in many ways, hurting us.

When there’s a chapter in your book called The Battle for Customer Attention, which I think is so important, and you talk about how we all get these stupid calls and emails and LinkedIn requests that are, to borrow another one of your great phrases, Cobra Kai tactics right there, like slam into, you know, mercy. We don’t care about you. We’re trying to go somewhere. Get out of my way. What should people be doing to get people’s attention? Because if we can’t get people’s attention, we can’t really do much, right? Yeah.

I mean, there’s lots of things and some of it we’ve already spoken about, like talking about the enemy. Right. Because people are so desensitized about being pitched on products and features and what’s new. And eight-Dot-0 like no one cares what’s new in 8.0, but they care about like their enemies, some of the problems that they’re solving. So lead with the problem first and foremost. One of the other things I talk about in the battle for customer attention is just like try using different media.

I mean, people are used to picking up the phone and calling, which is great emails. Great LinkedIn is great. But I’ll tell you, like I get a million emails a day and million LinkedIn invites and everyone just sounds the same. So I remember there was one time in my last VP role where I had a BDR reach out. To me, this is like a business development rep who sent me a letter in the mail and like a handwritten note.

And he said in the note, he said, you know, I think nowadays people don’t respond to voice mails, but the jury’s still out on handwritten notes. And I still to this day, I still remember it because and I got back to him and that’s the beauty, is that if you do it the right way, try, you know, try video calls, write video has a much higher open rate because I waste time watching cat videos on Instagram all day.

But like, I’ll watch Reuben for 60 seconds, make a fool of himself on a video. Right. So it’s a video LinkedIn voice, snail mail. All of the stuff is unique and differentiated. And even if even if they don’t buy your solution in the end, most time they’re going to get back to you because they appreciate the effort you put in.

So other than mixing up the media. What about the actual content of the message itself? Yeah, so the key is a number one, not just two things, not to sound the same as everyone else.

So if I was starting a financial services firm and I said, you know, Priemer Financial, we specialize in providing world class service at very low look like I’m laughing as I’m saying it, like no one’s going to argue that that’s a good thing.

But you just sound the same as everyone else. And I actually I told this guy today on LinkedIn, I get maybe a handful of LinkedIn messages a day saying, hey, David, we specialize in lead generation and we have a unique proprietary method to get you high quality leads. You know, is it worth a chat? And I and I actually engage with these people because I feel it’s partially my duty because, you know, back to the Cobra Kai tactics, if you’re just out there, if salespeople are continuing to be out there and using these, like, horrible old school generic tactics, it’s going to make it really hard.

They’re going to ruin it for everyone.

They’re going to make it really hard for the good salespeople to get their attention. So the first thing is don’t sound the same as everyone else. Right? Lead with the problem. And and one of the other things they talk about is reciprocity, like add some kind of value.

Show me that you did a little bit of research into what I what I did. I actually wrote an article a couple of weeks ago was called Do Your Homework three scientifically proven reasons why it makes sense to do your research before you reach out. And and oftentimes you get these generic outreaches.

And so you talk about how to get people’s attention, do a little bit of research. If I cited a recent thing that you wrote or the city that you live in, or even better yet, like I say, I noticed something on your website. I’ll tell you, like when people find, like, typos in my blog post and they reach out to me, like I feel indebted to them. Right. And so all of these things are are not easy to do, meaning they require efforts.

You can’t be lazy. But the extra effort you put into personalized lead with the enemy, reciprocity, add value, try different medium are all amazing ingredients to help you get your customers attention.

So you’re saying actually try to be helpful to people?

It’s a novel idea as well, and I don’t think it’s necessarily novel, but it’s just like the volume of crap can always be higher than the volume of quality stuff.

And so we’re inundated with these automated messages and we don’t get the handwritten card very much. We don’t get the person saying, hey, there’s a typo in your blog on page three or whatever, very much. But those people are there. They’re just sort of like subsumed in our consciousness because there’s so much B.S. out there. That’s my theory.

No, it’s it’s true. There’s a lot of people who practice, drive by selling. I actually I don’t blame them. You know, I don’t think these are bad people. They have families. They play sports. They have friends like everyone else. But they just go out and someone obviously told them to go run these tactics, which are are ineffective and serve to damage their personal and corporate brand when they use them.

So a little bit of effort and actually I mean back at Salesforce, we would we would use kind of even for our smallest customers, a tiering model. So, yeah, I understand you can’t put the same amount of effort into every single person you reach out to. So take a look at the people who you could potentially reach out to and tier them. So here’s my tier one customers that I’m going to spend more time customizing the message because I know they’re right, my sweet spot all the way down to kind of, you know, tier three or four where I might use something that’s a bit more generic in the hopes that, all right, maybe I pull something back into the net.

That’s a great point. And one of my favorite quotes that actually I got from my guest on this podcast, Maura Thomas, who’s also a friend and customer of mine, but she cites this guy, Herbert Simon, who wrote, “What information consumes is rather obvious. It consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.” And this was like in the 70s that he wrote that. And it’s like that just that quote helps me make sense of so much of the world today, because that’s what’s going on. And instead of doing what you’re recommending of, hey, it’s like let me actually give somebody something that that’s going to resonate with them and show that I’m worth their attention. It’s like, well, let me press this button and just throw more books out there and see what sticks.

Yeah, no, I mean, that’s that’s a recipe for failure for sure.

You talk about getting into the mind of the buyer and a magical question. Let’s let’s talk about the magical question. That sounds great.

Yeah. Magical question is this not I’ll phrase it. And so I call this the solution fit paradox. Right. This idea that people buy the best thing for them at the end of the day. And the magical question, let me let me phrase it like this. If I were to ask you to write down maybe your listeners as you’re listening to this, if I were to ask you to write down everything that you ate for lunch in the last month, hey, now, I told you I’m going to take that list.

I’m going to give it to your doctor. I’m going to ask your doctor, what percentage of the time did this person eat the best thing for them for lunch? And I say best as defined by calorically food groups, portion size, these kinds of things. What what percentage might you come back with?

Over a month. Yeah, the best. How, how, how how rigorous are we being about the best?

The best, like the number one thing, right? Like the top 10 percent of what you could have eaten.

For me, I would say 75 percent of the time.

That’s good.

I’m pretty healthy for lunch. That’s right.

And you know what? I think some of us, now that we’re at home and away from food courts and all these kinds of things are being a little healthy. But I know that when I ask this question, I’m sure some of your listeners are kind of cranking on it. Sometimes people say five, 10, 20 percent. Sometimes people laugh and they say, can I pick like a negative number? Right. Right.

And so here’s so this is the magical question.

The magical question is what percentage of the time when your customers buy your solution, would you say that they bought the best solution for them? Now, again, I want you to think about you’re the doctor, OK? You’re your objective. You work for Deloitte. You’re auditing this decision. You have no no horse in this race. You don’t care about the customer. You don’t care about the vendor. You’re just there to say, hey, look, did they make the best decision?

And oftentimes when you think about that, like even think when even when a customer bought your solution, what percentage of the time? Like, I go into a menswear store to buy a sports jacket, I leave with a sports jacket. What if there is like, you know, I don’t know who the Mecca in fashion is, but like if they said, would David buy the best sports jacket for him out of the spectrum of sports jackets, you could have gotten like what?

What what percentage of the time? The percentage is low, OK?

The percentage is low.

And even when we talk about our solutions, I don’t care what you what you sell, you sell software, you sell a service, you’re a vendor of some kind. Doesn’t matter what percentage of the time it’s it’s low. Right. And so this question like, so then why do people make those investments and solutions that are not the best fit for them? And that comes back to this question of like feelings and value, which are discretionary and subjective.

They’re not objective value and ROI.

They are not the same thing. So that’s the magical question is to really think about like, how often do people, when they choose your solutions, they make the best decision. And yet they were quite happy with the decision they may like I ask people about the lunch question and I said, okay, so maybe you you were happy fifty percent of the time. Twenty percent, whatever it is. Right. But the rest of the time when you agree and admit that you made the not the best decision, were you angry like were you upset, were you cursing yourself for the rest of the day.

Probably not. Right. Like you ordered that, you know, that that cheeseburger at the end of a long day because that’s what you want. You felt like it. You’d said I deserve a nice glass of Costco wine, whatever it is.

Right. That’s what you felt like. And so this idea like so when your customers are not necessarily making the most optimal decisions for them, what are they basing it on? Feelings. OK, well, what are those feelings?

And start peeling that back so you can understand how you can start selling to them along those emotional pathways.

That’s actually in large part what sell the way you buy is all about.

So what percentage should you be getting? Should it be one hundred should if it’s one hundred, are you being too narrow? Is it does it matter?

No, there’s no there’s no target. And in fact that if you said thirty percent of the time your customers are making the best decision for them, I’d say then that’s great. It means that 70 percent of the time you’re selling them based on your feelings and emotion and and subjective feelings of value. So we’re actually not trying to improve that number or diminish that number. We’re trying to understand this idea that people aren’t buying the best thing for them. Like when you go out and let’s say, for example, you want to buy a coat, OK? Walmart sells lovely coats, right? They provide thermal protection. Right. They provide coverage.

So if that was if all we were looking for was a coat, provide thermal protection, we would just all shop at Walmart. Why would someone spend one hundred two or three thousand dollars on a coat? That’s insane, right? Well, they bought they spent that money. And think about something that you spend money on in your life that someone else would look at and say, that’s ridiculous. I don’t know. Why are you spending money on that?

Right. Could be vacations, clothes, cars, stamp collection, whatever it is, we all have those things. And so it’s really important to understand this. This magical question is trying to figure out for your customers what are the things that they subjectively value so you can sell to them along those lines.

So maybe it’s safety and security. Maybe if you’re IBM, you don’t have to compete on product.

You’re I.B.M., right? That’s what people value when they buy you. So focusing too much on the product. I mean, products. Great, focusing too much on the product. That’s not why people are buying at the end of the day. So really being honest about why people buy your solution.

So I guess maybe there’s there’s a different set of criteria. One is you bought the absolute best thing you could possibly buy and then maybe you bought something that’s interchangeable with a bunch of other things but you’re happy with. And then there’s you bought something that you really shouldn’t have because you screwed yourself. And we don’t want to be selling in that last category, I assume. But the middle category is interesting, right? Because they’re going. Be just as successful with this product or that product or whatever, but they want to be like Mike, so they bought the Air Jordans or. Right. They would have been happy with all the other shoes. But Nike figured out how to make you extra happy. Am I understanding correctly?

Yeah. Like you felt. Now, you know, it’s hard for us to say, as you know, as the third party, what what you know, what you should spend money on. So, for example, let’s say you go to the mall and you bought those Air Jordans and you keep them nice and clean and you just you never really, you know, use them to play basketball, but you just walk around with them because it makes you feel good.

You know, everyone it’s like maybe it’s like a status symbol or maybe, you know, you always wanted them growing up and you can never you never could afford them. And now all of a sudden you have money. Now, like that’s like that’s what it’s meaningful to you. And in fact, you know, I, I work with this high end retailer. And one of the things they talk about, they sell these like very high end handbags.

And they said, you know, it’s interesting.

People think that when you come into our store or the people that shop in our store are very rich people with just lots of money. But one of their leaders was telling me a story about a woman who was doing like an MBA or business degree, shouldn’t have a lot of money, but she was kind of pushing her way through school and she said, one day I’m going to come into that store and I’m going to buy my fancy handbag.

And she came to they told me that she came to the store like every month or every couple of weeks to visit her handbag. They would let her take the handbag out, walk around with it. You know, they would put it back. And they said two years later, she came in and she bought the handbag and and she’s in the they they they they told that story to drive home. The point is that, you know, when it comes to spending money on things, it’s not, you know, let’s say expensive things, not rich people who buy things.

There’s actually a large cohort of people who save and save and save. So they can have that experience because that’s what they’re they’re buying their bling at the end of the day.

So you can’t say. And then so when you bought the handbag or it was that the best thing you could have spent your money on? Probably not.

But if you reap all this enjoyment from it, right, your Air Jordans, whatever it is, then then that’s value.

Every time you look at those shoes, you’re going to be like there’s a story behind it, right. That you’ve saved and, you know, so that’s what people are buying at the end of the day.

Well, it’s funny because I was doing a video call with a buddy who just had a birthday and he bought himself a pair of Air Jordans that he could never had when he was a kid. And now he’s got him and he’s happy.

So but people are going to say, OK, that’s great if I’m selling handbags or sneakers or whatever, but I’m selling business solutions to business people, none of this stuff applies. What do you say to that?

Can I say bullshit on your show?

Yeah, you can you can say that.

OK, good. Yeah, I said it’s bullshit then. Yeah. Look, people buy things even in the B2B world for all sorts of reasons. You know, you never someone never got fired for buying IBM. You know, think about this. So, you know, I’m a solopreneur and I don’t are some of your listeners might be solopreneurs out there? Individual.

Yes. Consultants and so on. And so one thing things the solopreneur is I only have a fixed number of hours in the day and I do everything in my business.

Right. So I, I invoice the customers. I build the website, I write the blog post. I stand and stand and deliver and do all those things. And so what’s what’s valuable to me. Right. So what’s valuable? If you want to sell me something or service, what would be valuable to me? What’s valuable to me is time savings. Right, because I can’t do everything.

And so if you were, let’s say, you know, an accountant or a bookkeeper or whatever it is that you do that potentially you could help me.

You design websites. You say if you came to me and said, oh, I build awesome websites, can I help you? I’d be like, OK, you just sound like everyone else. But if I said if you said I work specifically with small businesses and solar printers who realize that their time is much better spent doing other things in the business and building their website, all of a sudden now I’m paying attention to you, even though what you may do might be the exact same as everyone else.

You’ve spoken to me in the language of pain that resonates deeply with my situation. So absolutely you can be and and you will rise above and I will engage with you. Now, maybe people are listening now.

I’m going to get a lot of you on a web design, but no, but like that’s the idea is that if you can say the right things to align with your customer, you will disproportionately invoke those feelings. Right. And there’s lots of science behind how you use data and stories to kind of, you know, invoke those feelings.

But the idea is that no, in B2B you know, there’s a huge component, which is feelings based. If there wasn’t, for example, there would be no websites like G2 crowd or Trust Radius, like there would be no reviews online, you know, because then we would just judge all of our solutions by the intrinsic merits of their, you know, what they have to offer versus like the feelings that their customers surround them with.

So you’re saying that the feeling that you might, for example, get from saying, gosh, I’ve got an extra 10 hours a week, that’s sort of like the feeling you might get from having that fancy bag that you’ve always wanted or the feeling of I’m the busy executive and I’m actually going to leave at five o’clock every day and go to my kid’s soccer game, assuming we have soccer games at some point.

Right. As opposed to. Right.

That there is some there’s always some emotional life connection to our identity or aspirational identity wrapped up in these business decisions?

Absolutely. Well, I think about this the lottery, OK, why do people play the lottery spoiler? You’re not going to win. OK, so you’ve spent your five bucks to play the lottery. What have you bought with that? What have you bought with that?

As someone who doesn’t play the lottery. I assume it’s entertainment.

Me neither. Right. So so there’s a certain entertainment value. So, like, here’s the thing. If I pay my five bucks to buy the lottery ticket, I now get to think about all of the things I would do with the millions of dollars that I would win if I won the lottery.

And the that excitement lasts from the time I buy the ticket until the time I till they announce the numbers. It’s funny, a friend of mine who is an entrepreneur, he said, you know, growing up I always wanted to Porche like this was a big aspiration I wanted to push.

So we had an exit from his company and he finally had the money to buy a Porsche.

And so he he he gets the Porsche. He drives over my house and he says I said, oh, nice.

How’s the car is like, oh, it’s OK. Like, what do you mean it’s OK.

He says, well, you know, when I’m inside I’m like, I’m driving. I can’t speed because I live in the city. I’m on the Bluetooth talking to my mother just like normal. He said, you know what the best part of the car was? He said it was from the time I ordered the car to the time the car arrived. That was the best part of the car.

It’s like it’s it’s the feeling that you get and and you don’t get to have that feeling unless you buy a lottery ticket or buy the car.


Does that mean that we’re supposed to disappoint people with what we actually deliver?

No, no. In fact, you know, the the objective is to delight people, because I actually do believe that that sales doesn’t end once they sign on the dotted line. You know, if you bought an iPad and you love the iPad and then all of a sudden you call support and the support sucks, right. You would now hate the iPad, even though it might be intrinsically a good product. So one of the things I talk about in the book is this idea that the experience is the product.

And so I actually do believe, especially nowadays, where a lot of services are subscription based and cyclical. You know, I can I’ll use you every month or every year when I need you. You want to create that amazing possible experience so that you maintain that that feeling throughout the lifecycle.

So you definitely don’t want to oversell and under under deliver.

OK, great. Just making sure I didn’t think you were suggesting that. But, you know, the Porsche story had me worried.

Now let’s suppose we actually we use our messaging, we get through to the right people. We’re having conversations. How do we ask sales conversation, ask sales questions the right way so that we get the information that we need. But at the same time, we’re doing it the same way we would want a salesperson to speak to us. How do we do? Mindful discovery, as you put it.

Yeah, well, I’ll give you here’s my my my first mindful discovery tip, because discovery has a lot to do with mindset. So, for example, if I said Reuben, how much money do you make?

You want to tell me your business? Yeah, right. When you don’t want, tell me the answer to that question, that’s like a personal question. And so oftentimes when we go out and we do discovery with our clients and our customers, like I’m not a doctor like I in a doctor patient relationship, you come in and you’re there’s something bothering you.

I say it’s a Reuben what’s going on? You unload, you tell me everything that’s bothering you. And I get to ask you very detailed, intimate questions that you answer immediately. And truthfully, that’s the nature of the relationship in sales and business.

We don’t enjoy that same level of disclosure with our with our clients.

Probably for the best.

Probably for the best. You don’t need to know the whole story. So the question is, when I ask you a contentious question, so Reuben, what’s your budget for this project? Reuben, who’s going to sign this contract? You know, Reuben, are you looking to move forward today? You know, and I ask you these questions, these are normal business questions.

But oftentimes as a customer, you’re thinking in the back of your head, well, what does he want to know this for? And what if he if I tell him what the budget is seeking it, it’s going to change his numbers. Like, I don’t I don’t want to give that information.

Like I said, you go to a car dealership and they car dealer’s like, what’s the budget for your you have your car that usually represents like the minimum threshold.

And so one of the easiest ways that you can get people to open up is very, very simple. You actually you you tell them what you’re going to do with the information you give them.

So you might say something like, you know, Reuben, how much money do you make? The reason I ask is because this is what you say. The reason I ask is because I was actually thinking of getting into your kind of line of work one day. And, you know, I have a good job now. I’m just wondering about taking a pay cut or Reuben. What’s your budget for this project? The reason I ask is because a lot of my clients sometimes don’t have budgets set aside for this kind of thing. And if that’s the case for you, no worries. I can help you create some budget.

And so that’s one of the easiest ways to get customers to open up is just give them reasons and context for the questions you’re asking.

So basically, going back to what we said earlier, being helpful to them and not looking like you’re trying to screw them.

Transparency. Yeah, exactly. Because as a salesperson or even a non sales seller, you’re a business person. You’re trying to sell your services.

People are always worried. You know, people are actually nowadays very sensitive to being pitched. Do you have kids Reuben? You’ve mentioned your son’s playing video games?

Yeah, I’ve got twins. So I get pitched all the time.

All the time.

So when one of your kids comes up to you and they’re about to hit you up for something like they want a permission to play a game or to download an app, how long does it take you to tell that they’re about to hit you up when they approach you?

Generally, about a nanosecond.

There you go. Just by the way, they approach you like that. And like the answer is no. Whatever you what’s your question? You start with this position of defense.

And so we’re very perceptive when people are about to pitch us, even when we go into a company’s website and start reading their headlines and taglines like human beings don’t talk to each other using this language. Right. And so in sales, when you start asking quote unquote, sales questions. Right, it can make our customers very, very defensive. So providing transparency is very important. The other thing that you can do to get customers to open up is just make it OK for them to say no.

This is a really important concept. You know, oftentimes, let’s say, for example, let’s say you go into you’re in the mall and you go into a clothing store and you’re thumbing through the merchandise and a salesperson walks over to you and says, excuse me, sir, can I help you find anything?

No, I’m just like, I can say no, even if even if you do need help. Right. Because because you’re saying, well, if I say yes, then I’m letting you do all your sneaky sales things to me. And I don’t want that. So I’m just going to start from the position of defense. And so what they actually do, it’s interesting in retail, as I’ve kind of studied this a bit, what do they do to make it less, you know, come off as seeming less pushy?

They usually have, let’s say, a person at the front of the store, folding clothes, refolding clothes, like there’s no reason why someone needs to be at the front of the store folding clothes, but they look busy. Right. And so it’s almost as though they’re not there to greet you. They’re they’re just doing their job. And so you feel less pressure to engage. And so this idea, it’s actually a psychological principle known as reactance. It’s people’s tendency to to to lash out when they feel that their freedom to choose is being restricted.

It’s why when you see a sign that says don’t walk on the grass, the only thing you can think of is I want to walk on this grass so badly now because the signs that I couldn’t do it or wet paint, that’s the bet. You see a sign says wet paint.

What do you want to do?

Touch the paint?

I want to touch the paint.

That’s right. And so the idea is the same thing in sales. Right. So we can take the pressure off our customers. You know, for example, there’s lots of different ways we can do this. I can say, hey, look, you know, I provide accounting services to small businesses like yours. I’m happy to to talk about what is we do.

I really focus on working with solopreneurs to help save them time in their day. And but look, if we decide it’s not a fit, if you don’t think it’s a fit, then no worries. Like, we don’t have to have a conversation right now.

You feel free to say no. And it’s more like we want to give you the freedom to say no, that you’ll come back and engage and that if you actually do say no, you avoid it maybe. Yes, I know it is common in sales parlance to say that yes is the best answer. No is the second best answer maybe is the worst answer you can get.

Now you have something else in your book about how you can order questions to get better information. Can you talk about that briefly? Yeah.

So this is I’m going to warn everyone. This is like a very advanced tactic and even just to kind of wrap your mind around. But the reason this works, so imagine this, I’ll make it simple.

Let’s say you’re a kid and you come home with a bad report card and now you have to the teacher says you got to show this report card to your mother and get get your mother to sign off. So what do you do?

OK, you’re like, OK, my mother’s not going to like this one bit.

So you take the report card, you put it behind your back and go to your mother and you’re like, Mom, did anyone tell you you look beautiful today?

Right now, your mother probably knows kind of what’s going on, but that’s actually a psychological principle. Again, it’s based on the principle called self perception theory. And the idea is that when you can put someone in a temporarily, for example, good mood Reuben, you look you look very handsome today.

Why thank you.

Before I ask you for a loan, right. All of a sudden, that micro moment when you were in a good mood will now color the feelings you have to the rest of the interaction just for a moment. And so when we talk about the order in which we answer, ask our questions, there’s a similar principle that’s in play. So if the example I give in the book, and I’ve stolen this from one of my favorite thinking books called Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winner.

Great book.

Heavy read if you’re into it. And he references a study where they asked these German university students, they said, how happy are you these days? And I ask you this, how happy are you these days? That’s like a hard question to answer because it’s dependent on so many different things, your happiness. But then I ask you, how many dates have you been on in the last month? And they wanted to see, was there a correlation?

Like, if I if you said you were happy, then maybe you’ve been on quite a lot of dates in the last month. They actually found one to ask the question that order. There was no correlation. And the reason is because how happy are you is actually a kind of a hard question to answer. But when they ask the questions in reverse correlations off the chart. So if I ask you, how many dates have you been on Reuben in the last month?

And you say, oh, quite a lot. And I’ll say, well, how happy are you these days?

You’re more likely if you had a positive response to the first question to answer positively. So to give you an example, let’s say I’m a personal trainer. I’m trying to sell you on some training services, I might say, how happy are you with your overall health Reuben?

And you know, and then I might I might ask you that question then may I ask a follow up question? So how many times you’ve been to the gym in the last month?

OK, how happy are you with your overall health is actually a multifaceted question. Like I could be happy with some parts and others, but how many times you went to the gym? You know the answer to that question and you know whether or not that’s a good answer. A bad answer. So if I were to ask you the questions in reverse, Reuben, how many times have you been to the gym in the last month?

And you said, oh, not quite. Not a lot.

And then I said, well, how happy are you these days with your level physical fitness? Now, you’re more likely to say, actually, you know what? I could probably use a bit of a fitness tuneup. So that’s what I the order in which you ask your questions is, again, I told you it was going to be a bit more advanced, but there’s actually quite a lot of psychology in science that goes into how you get people to feel based on the order in which you ask.

So basically, you ask a specific quantitative question first, even if they’re not going to know the exact answer. And then you ask the qualitative subjective question. So you might go to a company and say, what percentage of your reps made quota, then how do you feel about your sales team? But if you start by asking, how do you feel about your sales team? And like, oh, they’re great, I love these guys.

That’s right, exactly. Or for example, are you how many times do you have to call your current vendor for support over the last month?

Oh, quite a lot. Oh, how happy are you with your current vendor? Right. That is a lot more effective in terms of the line of questioning than the reverse.

We’ve got this notion of when we’re doing outreach, we want to be specific and helpful and interesting and polarizing. We want to get into the mind of the buyer. We want to understand that they are buying experiences and feelings, not stuff. And we want to as an advanced topic, we want to ask them a specific quantitative question, followed by the more open ended subjective questions. Anything else that folks should go away with after this?

You know, the one thing that I often just tell people is sell the way you buy, meaning empathetically OK, very bit. Just don’t use tactics that wouldn’t work on you. You’re about to take an approach about to reach out to a customer, send them an email, call them on the phone. If that tactic wouldn’t work on you, then don’t use it on them. And then the other part of it is just kind of explore these pathways, explore the.

Pathways by which you make purchasing decisions in your normal everyday life doesn’t have to be to be the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the food you order, all of those things are clues to how you buy. And the more you can align your, if I can call it selling motion with how you buy and how you make purchasing decisions, the better and more successful you will be doing those same things with your clients.

That’s a great tip of what’s funny, because I rack my brain over the subject a lot. I realize that there are a bunch of people who have been really helpful salespeople for me, but I can’t recall them because they didn’t make the buying experience about them. They just helped me do the thing I wanted to do. I can bring up a bunch of horrible salespeople, like decades later I’m like, that guy was such a lying, sneaking jerk.

But I can’t remember the probably the more numerous situations where someone was great and just help me buy stuff because they were doing it the way I wanted and they were helping me.

That’s exactly it you know, I love sales, but I never I never obviously never thought of myself as a sales person being in, you know, in academia and being research scientist.

But I love helping people and I have a natural conviction around certain things. And that’s also, you know, I talk a lot about this in my content is like, how do you manifest that conviction and passion around what it is that you do, even if what you do is normal? You know, we’re not saving children in Third World countries here, but how do you manifest the conviction? Because that conviction is very intoxicating. And, you know, when when you think about, for example, this idea of how do you sell if you hate selling, I always come back to this quote from Shoe Dog Phil– I think Phil Jones was Phil Jones, the CEO of Nike.

Phil Knight.

Phil Phil Knight. That’s right.

Great book.

he and he says, you know, I never thought of myself as a salesman. I just loved running. And I thought that if everyone ran, people would be better off. And so I was just sharing my passion and conviction with people. So the key is like, if you have that natural passion, conviction for what it is that you do, then you are going to be you’re going to be in great shape. Yeah. You’re going to be great shape in terms of being able to to convince and convert others.

That’s a great point. And I think what a lot of people do, they have that passion and conviction. And if you’re talking to them in a situation that they don’t consider a sales situation, it comes across beautifully. And then as soon as they get involved in, quote unquote, sales or marketing, they slathered a bunch of bullshit because that’s what they think is involved in sales matters like, no, you actually have everything you need.

Just leave the bullshit out and you’re all set, right?

Absolutely. And that’s what we refer to as like the Cobra Kai tactics. Like you’re just doing it because some jerk taught you to do this thing, but you never thought about why you were doing it or how effective it was. And that’s when you start getting calls from like telemarketers and stuff. And again, these are not bad people, right? They’re just doing their job someone told them to do, even though it might go against their better nature.

And I’ve been you know, I haven’t done telemarketing for a job, but I’ve been one of those volunteer telemarketers raise money for this great cause, blah, blah, blah, blah. And, you know, however great the causes, no one likes getting those calls.

We do not because we’re interrupting and bothering people. In fact, I remember seeing a talk in a conference. I was at New York City with Gary Vaynerchuk, you know, Gary Gary V and he he asked this question that blew my mind, actually. And I’m trying to recall if I put it in the book, but I talk about it a lot.

He said, show of hands, there was a thousand sales and marketing executives in the audience. He said, who here hates it when another human being calls them on the phone?

That was it wasn’t like, oh, your mother or telemarketer, just another human being calls them on the phone. Forty percent of people raised their hand and he said, you know why you say that is? Because nowadays the most precious commodity to you is your time. When someone calls you, they’re they’re stealing your time. They’re calling you on your time. Right. To interrupt you. And so in the world of modern selling, if you’re going to interrupt someone, which is what you’re doing, they’re going to take your call.

You better have something good to say and some value to add. Otherwise they’re going to hate you.

David, thanks so much for sharing your time and your wisdom. I appreciate it. And I think people are going to get a lot out of this.

Cheers. Thanks so much, Reuben. Pleasure to be with you.

Thanks for listening, if you have a friend who would benefit from this episode, please pass the word along, have a friend who wouldn’t benefit but you haven’t talked to in a while. Give them a call. iTunes reviews are great to get the word out and help me create the show that’s most useful to you. And if you’re frustrated with your sales and marketing process or lack thereof, check out Mimiran the CRM for people who hate selling until next time. www.mimiran.com

The Wine

David had some lemon water and I hate some Chateau >>>>????

Where to find David…

Sell the way you buy

Other books mentioned:


Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com, the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”, (Mimiran also makes it easy to track and grow referrals). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

Want a way to make sales and marketing fun, without being “salesy”? Try Mimiran, the CRM for people who hate “selling”.

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053: Chalmers Brothers on the language of happiness

Chalmers Brothers started out getting an engineering degree before getting his MBA and joining Accenture, but that’s not why he’s here. He’s on Sales for Nerds because he wrote one of the most fascinating books I’ve read, Language and the Pursuit of Happiness. If you haven’t read it, you should, even after you listen to/read this discussion.

This is a bit of a different episode– there are no “sales tactics” or “marketing tips”, but I think you’ll find it very worthwhile– it will change the way you have conversations– both with others, and in your own head.

Chalmers shares wisdom how:

  • We are not hermits, we live with other people (even us introverts).
  • We live in language like fish live in water. We use language not only to describe but to generate our world.
  • We are all unique observers. If we walk down the street with someone else, we will see different things.
  • Leaders (and sales people, and business owners) are paid to have effective conversations. Most of our relationships are conversational, after all.
  • We see with our eyes but we observe with our distinctions.
  • Chalmers is trying to move people away from right/wrong orientation to working/not working.
  • We constantly make assertions about the world (“I am 5 foot 10”)– assertions are statements that someone can verify or invalidate.
  • We also constantly make assessments (“I am short”, “she is reliable”), which are subjective.
  • The big problem is confusing these two types of language, and not realizing that our assessments are not assertions, and that they may be disconnected from reality. (“sales is slimy”, “he is unreliable”).
  • Assessments aren’t bad– they just need to be conscious and have standards and connect assessments to assertions.
  • Declarations are powerful, generative acts (“I am good at sales”/”I am bad at sales”). Are you creating empowering or disempowering conversations with yourself?
  • If you want to design your own life (the only one we’ve got), start by being conscious of your assertions, assessments, and declarations.
  • We sometimes think that “I don’t know” is disempowering, but it’s actually a very powerful declaration, which really means, “I know that I don’t know”, which opens the door to learning. As the world changes faster and faster, the ability to learn becomes more and more important. (Brothers quotes philosopher Eric Hoffer: “In times of change, those who are prepared to learn will inherit the land, while who already know will find themselves equipped to face a world that no longer exists.”)
  • If you’re going to have a difficult conversation, what can you do so that you have the fewest regrets?
  • We use language to collaborate and manage commitments with others via requests, offers, and promises.
  • An effective request has 4 elements: a committed speaker, a committed listener, future action/condition of satisfaction, including a deadline and context, and mood.
  • Such a request has 4 valid responses: yes, no, commit to commit (“have to check my calendar, but I’ll have a response by 5PM tomorrow”), or a counteroffer.
  • Another important distinction is between a promise broken and a silent expectation unmet. If someone breaks a promise, you can make a reasonable complaint, but resentment comes when someone fails to honor a request you never made.
  • Think about what proportion of your interactions at work (and at home) come from clear commitments or from unspoken expectations.
  • Given the results you want, are your explanations serving you? (Events/assertions are not the springboard for actions, it’s the assessments/explanations that we use to interpret them.) If we don’t even know we’re doing this, it’s very hard to get it right.
  • Biology predisposes us to negative interpretations– they helped to keep us alive– that may not serve us well now.

053 Chalmers Brothers on the Language of Happiness.mp3 – powered by Happy Scribe

Love helping your clients, but its sales and marketing, but somehow you ended up with sales and marketing responsibilities. And this is the podcast for you. Hi, chief nerd Reuben Swartz here. And I spent a long time learning these lessons the hard way. And I want to help you learn the easy way by sharing my experiences and talking with brilliant people who have figured out how to hack not just the code, but the sales and marketing process as well.

Of course, as a nerdy person who hated struggling with complex theorems, I had to create my own CRM for people who actually hate selling, which sounds like an oxymoron. But if it sounds interesting to you, check it out at Mimiran.com. That’s M-I-M-I-R-A-N.COM. And whether or not you need a new CRM, you’ll find proposal templates and sample lead magnets to help you grow your business.

Now let’s get to it today.

I’m really excited to have with me Chalmers Brothers. He is the author of Language and the Pursuit of Happiness. Well, that’s actually his first book and the one I’ve read. He’s also the author of Language and the Pursuit of Leadership Excellence. And this these books have been adopted at places like Georgetown and Harley Davidson. He’s been on the speaking circuit for Vistage. But really, it’s kind of funny because somebody recommended language in the pursuit of happiness to me.

And I read it and it was really mind blowing. And then somehow a couple of months later, Chalmers connected with me on LinkedIn. And I thought it was a sign from the universe like, how did he know that I was reading his book and really wanted to come on my podcast. But it took us, I don’t know what, but two years to actually get this thing scheduled.

So he’s finally here and I’m really excited about what he’s got to say. Chalmers, welcome to Sales for Nerds.

Thank you so much. Reuben. It’s a pleasure being with you. And it was a roundabout way of connecting, but we made it happen. So so thanks for the invitation.

Truly awesome. And most importantly, what do you have in your glass?

I have Balvenie fourteen Caribbean cask.

Oh I love that one. It’s got that little bit of rum in it right from the broadcast.

I’m blessed and fortunate to be able to say that my wife and I and four of our dearest friends went to Scotland recently my first time, and I was introduced to the world of Scots in a way that I wasn’t before. And that’s one of the ones that we had over there before the trip. I had not had it, and I really like it. It’s wonderful.

and I’ve got some Oban eighteen, not the the fourteen that I tend to to drink more regularly. But I picked up a bottle of the eighteen recently and it is a lot like the fourteen, but as you might expect, just a little bit mellower. It’s still got that like honey and caramel. But yeah, it’s quite delicious.

So you, you, you have an engineering background and you’d like to say you’re an accidental engineer. Most of the people here are accidental salespeople and we’re not necessarily going to talk about sales per say the way we usually do. But I wanted to talk a little bit about your book, and this is so timely because I’ve been thinking a lot about how the stories we tell ourselves are so important.

And you say a lot of things about language that once you read them, you’re like, oh, that’s so obvious. But why didn’t I think of that before, both in terms of how we speak to ourselves and, of course, how we communicate with other people.

Yes, yes. And I have to say, Reuben, I am standing on gigantic shoulders. Everything in both books really is from my great fortune, from meeting and learning, from two incredible groups of people. One is called the organisation is called Education for Living. It’s in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And the second one, and more specifically is the new field network in Boulder, Colorado. And I have to say, Julia Aliah is the founder of Nuffield and he is the most influential teacher person in my life.

And a great many of the ways that I understand these distinctions, the way I frame them, I’m sharing my version of what I got taught by Julio. And it’s been I did that work long program in nineteen ninety five called Mastering the Art of Professional Coaching. And since January of ninety six, this is all I’ve been doing. Our program is based on, as you mentioned, right this way of understanding language and more specifically the power of language that if you ask, for example, 100 people, 100000 people, what is language, what does language for the gigantic majority.

Right. Will answer with? Well, a tool for communication or some variation of that and Reuben that is such a widely held way of understanding language that most people don’t see it as a way of understanding language. They see it as a definition of language. And the work that I do now and what I was taught is that language, in addition to, yes, we do describe with language, but in addition to that, there’s a generative capacity to to our thoughts and our speech and is understanding the way in which we create and generate with language that really makes the difference.

When you look at leadership, for example, lots of my work is around leadership, but the same, I think, could be applied to sales. If I ask and I do this all the time in my work, I have a room full of leaders in front of me and I say, guys, when it’s all said and done, what do you get paid to do? Right. I mean, of all the things you have to do in your job as a leader, what are the most important one or two or three things that you say you get paid to do?

And as you might imagine, they answer with things like, I get paid to retain customers, I get paid to shape the culture of the company. I get paid to groom the next generation of leaders to ensure continuous process improvement. I get paid to ensure satisfied customers. I get paid to to drive excellence in execution and innovate and inspire and motivate and coach and listen all these things. And when you actually look at it, what would a camera see you doing as you’re doing all of those things?

Right, what is the human being who is doing all of those things actually doing and when we think about it a little bit, well, that human being is engaging with other human beings, talking and listening leaders get paid to have effective conversations. And I would say the same question could be asked of salespeople of all the things you have to do to be a successful salesperson. Right. Everybody does a thousand different things, and that’s fine. But what are the most important and Reuben your background may be much stronger than me here.

If you ask a bunch of excellent successful salespeople, what are the most important one or two or three things you say you have to do to be successful as a salesperson, what are one or two or three or four things that that they would respond to you with?

Well, I think they would probably say one, two, three and four are all I need to talk to prospects and customers.

Exactly, exactly. And it’s interesting how how obvious this is when we look at it is that it’s about relationships, it’s about relationships. And most of our relationships are not physical. They’re not sexual. They’re conversational.

It’s so funny you mention that I’m literally staring at that highlight right now in my notes because I wanted to make sure we touched on that. And then there’s another sentence and then it says, change them and you change the relationship, stop them and you stop the relationship. And I think that’s a really powerful way to look at it. And we don’t always take the time to be intentional about those conversations.

No, you’re exactly right, you’re exactly right and and broader than that, the framework that I was introduced to it and now is central in the work that I do is broader than that. All organisations themselves, when you really look at them deeply, all organisations can be understood as networks of conversations, networks of commitments, people making and managing promises with each other. Right. Big ones, little ones, informal, formal in writing orally. And once you understand that the company itself is composed of a network.

Of internal commitments, these conversations, again, given the creative dimension of language, they create quantitative and qualitative results. Productivity is the result of very quantitative profitability, obviously, as a result. Very quantitative market share. Absolutely. But your organizational culture is also a result of your public identity, how you show up in the world as a result, the nature of our most important relationships. These are results and any more. When I look at the way my career has evolved over the years, almost all the work I do inside organizations now Reuben, broadly speaking, can be understood to be supporting the leadership team and creating and sustaining the certain type of corporate culture that they say is most conducive to the results that they want to produce.

There is a Peter Drucker years ago, leadership guru, he said culture eats strategy for breakfast. Right. Culture eats strategy for breakfast, and this is largely the work I’m doing now is all about culture work. And for this we don’t need functional or technical competencies. We need conversational, relational and emotional competencies. Right. These are the types of competencies that we need if we’re in the business of shaping this physical but very real thing we call organizational culture.

In fact, lately, a lot of my clients are starting to use the term threshold competencies to refer to functional and technical competencies. But these are considered to be the cost of admission. But this is what it cost to even play the game. What really separates us organization from organization? It has to do with the organizational culture, and this is built by sustained by conversational, relational and emotional competency. So, you know, all of my work is around these these competencies.

All of my clients are way smarter than me functionally and technically, all of my work is around conversations and relations.

Now, could we extend this model or could we include under the the umbrella of organization, a family, a network of friendships, a nonprofit, a church, whatever?

Absolutely. I mean, think about it. There’s a lady up there named Bernie Brown, and she’s a powerful speaker. She’s from Houston, I think, a researcher and extremely motivational. She talks about the power of vulnerability. And she’s widely known and is a spectacular human being. And she talks about human beings are hard wired for connection. Right, I mean, think about it. Language itself is acquired socially. Right, it’s not a quiet as an individual, it’s a quiet if I was born in a different country, of course, I would learn a different language because I was in that society, that culture, this notion in my work, I say that we are not hermits.

Basic claim, right, we are not hermit’s, which means we do already big, big, big chunks of our life already with and through people, and because we’re not hermits, because we do so much of our life with and through people, how you dance with people matters, but how you show up matters. How you coordinate action like this broad definition, big C, big A, how do we coordinate action with all the other non hermit’s that we coordinate action with in our lives?

Because the way that we do this basic coordination of action impacts a huge variety of our quantitative and qualitative results.

Now, one of the interesting things you talk about in the first book, Language of the Pursuit of Happiness, you sort of you you have a lot of you delve into distinctions.

Right. And the more distinctions we can make, the more we kind of understand something as a as an amateur or I get asked all the time, what kind of trees are there in my backyard? And I say, I don’t know, they’re green.

And you mentioned in the book that the forester or the woodcarver or someone else see as those trees completely differently. And one of the things that you say is interesting that I think it’s easy to get sucked into. You talk about different types of thoughts or ways of communicating, and he says non hermit’s, our ability to keep assertions and assessments separate and distinct from each other is critical. And I think that’s really important. But can we talk a little bit about assertions and assessments and why that matters?

I would love to. And in fact, before I do that, I want to go a little bit broader with distinctions, because this is a gigantic topic. What we’re talking about here, Reuben, is the fallacy of objectivity that we do not we are not objective in any way, shape or form. Now, yes, there are certain and we’ll talk about this with assertions there are certain historical and biological facts, but in a broad, broad way, the this notion of the scientific paradigm.

Right, that we we see things as they are. Well, a as you mentioned, a forester and a wood carver do not by definition see the same thing when they look at the same forest. Right, they have different distinctions. My wife is a physician, a Western trained physician and an Eastern trained physician do not see the same thing when they look at the same patient. Right. We observe, we see with our eyes, but we observe through our distinctions.

You give me new distinctions in the domain of forestry. My next walk in the woods is different. Right, you give me new distinctions in the domain of language, my next walk in the world is different, right and right write these distinctions, make us a unique type of observer. So a basic claim in both of my books is that we human beings, by definition, we are unique observers. You and I could walk down the same street at the same time, look at the same things.

And when you ask us afterwards, what did you notice on the trip down the street? We’re going to have a very different report. Right, and and one of us isn’t right and the other one isn’t wrong and Reuben moving people away from this right wrong orientation is one of my central one of my central themes in my life is this notion that and it’s interesting how thickly we come from the right or wrong orientation, the right or wrong background. But to help people understand, you know, you’re not wrong just because you don’t have the same distinctions.

I do. You’re just a different observer. Right. And different observers see different possibilities, can take different actions and produce different results. And one of the most powerful sets of distinctions I was ever shared was ever taught. And now I get to share is assertions and assessments. And so at a basic level, there’s a little activity I do with folks and I have two statements on a page. On the left side is the statement, I am a man and on the right side I am stupid.

So the question is, what’s the difference between those two statements? And underneath, I am a man, we have other things like John is six feet, five inches tall. The building is one hundred and twenty seven feet across, it’s 72 degrees Fahrenheit today in Naples, Florida, and on the right side under I am stupid. We have things like John is an excellent CEO. Maria is a fabulous dancer. The building is chilly. Right. So I am a man, John is six foot five.

The building is twenty seven feet across. These are assertions what we historically call facts on the right side. I am stupid. Maria is a great dancer. All of these are assessment’s what we typically call opinions or personal judgments and Reuben. Our ability to keep these separate is gigantic. These are not the same thing at all and there are very different results that get produced whether we use these will or use them poorly. And in my work, when I do a long program with folks, we absolutely talk about assertions and assessments.

And it’s interesting, let’s you and I right now try to have a conversation only using assertions. Oh, OK. OK, all right. So here we go. I’ll start. I’m sitting in a chair. I’m standing up.

I am five foot 10 inches tall.

I’m five foot 10 inches tall, too.

I live in Naples, Florida.

I live in Austin, Texas.

Is this not a ridiculously, horrendously dull and stilted conversation, we should be far more judgmental and throw some assessments in there.

So what that means is we don’t do this. All of our conversations are peppered with personal judgments, personal opinions. And, of course, assessments are not bad. We must make assessments. The problem is not that we make assessments. The problem is we begin to hold them as the truth, them as assertions. The assessments we make about ourselves can paralyzes. The assessments we make about other people orient us toward them in certain ways that we can close possibilities and be completely unaware that we’re doing this.

Right, have to guess that, right, we are assessment machines, but a crucial distinction is can we make grounded assessments? Can we make assessments that are connected to assertions, facts in a way that we can connect the dots? And also do we make assessments based on any standard they consciously declared standard? So a simple example. If I say John is unreliable, right. For that to be a grounded assessment, I have to have some times in which John did make an appointment.

On Tuesday at two o’clock, he said he’d be here. He didn’t show up on Wednesday at four o’clock. He said he’d be there. He didn’t show up on Saturday morning at eight thirty. He said he’d be there. He didn’t show up three assertions. Absolutely. Now we can talk about what is my standard for reliability. Well, my standard is if you miss two meetings in a six month period and don’t call me ahead of time, I ask you, is unreliable.

I put you in an unreliable box. Right. But it’s interesting how many of the assessments that we make are not at all done in that with that kind of rigor. Right. Right. We don’t have a consciously declared standard for laziness or ugliness or excellence or high quality. And yet we go ahead and make these assessments nonetheless. And my work is this. That’s fine. But let’s have both eyes open because assertions belong to the past and the present.

John missed two meetings in a row in February. That statement sits there, but once I say John is unreliable, did you feel it now swing toward a prediction of his future behavior?

Right. And it’s going to be a lens through which we now manage interactions with him.

If it is Reuben and you know why, I’m going to find evidence moving forward every single time he’s unreliable or late, it’s going to register. Absolutely. I’m going to see it very clearly and I’m going to write off as an aberration or miss entirely when he’s on time. Right. You know why? Because human beings love to be. Right, right. We love to be right. And our assessments are absolutely this is a linguistic trap, it’s a linguistic trap, but if we don’t think we’re making assessments in the first place, none of what we talked about makes any sense at all.

Right. If you think you’re seeing it like it is, I alone have cosmic objectivity in my eyes or like clear panes of glass allowing me access to native reality. Right. You know, Reuben, when I when I first started this work, when I was introduced to this work in nineteen eighty seven, I have to be honest, I actually thought and I was twenty six, twenty seven. I thought in my heart of hearts that if you didn’t, if anybody didn’t see things the way I did, that they were stupid, there was something wrong with them.

I actually thought in my heart of hearts that the way I saw things was the way they were, look, you have eyes, it’s right there, open you right. There it is. And interestingly, I grew up in southeast Louisiana, public school education, kind of a normal family upbringing, kind of a suburban, little bit rural environment, but close enough to New Orleans that we were in New Orleans quite a bit. And so nothing extraordinary there.

But somehow and nobody taught me this explicitly, but somehow I was convinced that I was objective, that the way I saw things was the way they were. And I remember I think there was somebody at that initial workshop, one of the instructors said something like this to me. He said, look, Thomas, you’re a good guy and all that stuff. But if you keep operating this way, you’re going to dramatically limit the number of quality people that will ever be in your life.

Because they’ll go away. And I said, I don’t want that to happen, they said, let’s stay in his workshop, it’s his workshop. But Reuben I mentioned it because I don’t know why I felt it that strongly, but I did. And nobody taught me that it was never part of a school class. It was never part of anything that I experienced. But I just felt it so, so strongly that I was objective. Well, I think we’re all kind of wired to think that we see the world correctly, right?

We want to have belief in our interpretation of the world was introduced to me and now is is central to my work. People of goodwill can and do interpret things quite differently than I do. Absolutely. All the time. And that is simply the way we are. There’s there’s some biological roots to this work, which is called ontological coaching, that by definition, there’s nothing in the human biology that allows me to claim that I know how anything is outside of me.

All I know is how it is for me. And this is whether it’s Albert Einstein and other folks have said a version of this, we see the world not as it is, but as we are right, that we see the world right. And so people wait long, long ago have been pointing to this. Right. This is part of several wisdom traditions that this is. It goes way back. But I just find it interesting that for me, I just felt so acutely that I was objective.

And, you know, you give me a new set of distinctions. I promise you, I see things differently. You put me in a different mood. I see things differently. You do. You do something different to my biology. Like give me a scotch. Right. Right. Right. Absolutely. Absolutely. So there’s these three domains, right? The domain of our language, internal and external conversations, the domain of our moods and emotions and the domain of our physical body and biology.

And all of these are obviously interdependent, interrelated with each other. But this notion that we are unique observers, well, we’re not a walking, talking eyeball observer. We are a walking, talking bundle of coherency and bundle of congruency between our language, which is internal and external conversations, our moods and emotions and our physical bodies. And we have all experienced this firsthand. I mean, think of it. How many of us have ever felt better, which is mood after we exercise, which is body.

Right? We do. And then when you exercise and feel better now we go to language. Do you not interpret the same flat tire or often comment differently? Absolutely. Right, but it’s this notion that each of us is a unique observer, these three dimensions are central interrelated, and the way that we observe is based on all of them. Of course, distinctions, right. We can have linguistic distinctions. We can also have felt biological distinctions, meaning I live on a little dock here in Naples, Florida.

I can tell when I go fishing, I can tell within five seconds if I have a Jack Krieble or redfish on the line. Because I have distinctions, right, the jackrabbit shakes the head, you can feel it bump up, up, up, up, up, up on the rod tip and people are way more experienced than I am in fishing. Have way more distinctions than that. All right, so we have felt distinctions, you have linguistic distinctions and auto mechanic in a garage, right?

You take your car in and you say, you know, the car’s not running, right? And he says, start it up. Open the hood and he says, look, you hear that ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. I said, No, no, I hear I hear a motor is a no, no, no. Listen, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.

They have distinctions, right? There are there are lessened distinctions, audible distinctions, visual distinction, linguistic distinctions. And all of these, obviously, coupled with biology, moods and emotions, they impact the way that we observe. And from the way we observe, we take action. And from the actions we take, we produce results both quantitative and qualitative.

So I want to take a moment and split this into two separate branches because I feel like there’s one is the conversations we have with ourselves and then, of course, the more complex conversations we have with other people.

But I want to start with the conversations we have with ourselves, because I think a lot of what you write is really important to folks listening who might say, for example, I’m going to make an assertion that I’ve never had any formal sales training or whatever and then make the assessment. Therefore, I can never be good at sales and.

Right. And it sort of spirals from there.

And boom, you have created a world where you cannot be good.

That’s correct. That’s correct. And so there’s a notion, some basic claims of looking at language this way is number one, we live in language Reuben, we live in language. And by that we mean the little voice inside is rarely silent. Right, I ask a room full of people, I said, who here today has the little voice inside? But every hand goes up. I mean, I want to say, what’s he talking about? That’s what I’m talking about.

That’s the one Mark Twain had a great quote. He said, I’m always in conversation and sometimes other people are involved. Right? Right. And so it’s not just Mark Twain or schizophrenic’s. It’s all of us. So basic, basically. Number one is that we live in language, no exceptions, basically. Number two is that language creates and generates. It doesn’t just describe. Right. And when you put those two together, because we live in language and because language has a creative dimension to it.

Well, that means we’re always creating or generating something. It just may or may not be what we say we want at the other side of our mouth and any any kind of I’m not or I am statement. And it was taught to me this way, not just with this body of work, but in spiritual traditions as well. If you say I am stupid, I am no good, I am excellent. Any kind of I am statement. Get ready for the creative power of the universe to kick in because I am.

Statements are profoundly powerful. Declarations and declarations create individual and organizational context. And if I have a declaration that says I’ll never be good at this, I don’t have I don’t have the background to be successful here. What happens is we set ourself up, as you mentioned, for failure. I find evidence to make myself right. Right. I love to be right. And all the things I do, I’m looking through a lens, not a physical lands, of course, but a linguistic lens, an emotional lens that distorts everything that I’m saying.

And so this notion that that the internal the internal narratives that we live in are profoundly creative. And it’s interesting how and I ask this to people say, look how many of us in this room today, we’re all successful people, professional people. How many of us in the room today have ever found yourself from time to time living in unpalatable conversations? But every hand goes that Reuben, right, everybody has done this right, and that’s because our language is connected to our moods.

A mood of resentment, for example, has stories of victimhood, internal narratives of I’m the victim. This is unfair. I’m going to get you back whenever I can. All this stuff right. Resignation, nothing I do matters. I think I’ll just stay on the couch. All that. There’s a such a strong connection with their moods and our internal narratives. That and again, back to the Big I self-awareness focus. Many of us are terrible observers of our own moods.

And so we really can’t talk about internal narratives without talking about moods, without talking about the gigantic impact that moods have on our internal narratives and that our internal narratives have on our moods.

So this whole notion of, hey, I’ve never done formal sales training, I’m bad at sales, I’ll always be bad at sales. I just had a sales call that went poorly. Now I’m in a foul mood. It all kind of builds on itself. How do we break out of that and have a more powerful conversation with our or empowering conversation with ourselves?

You know, the first step to me is being aware that we are the authors of our internal narratives to begin with. Right. There’s a great expression, Reuben, that event does not equal explanation. Right. The events happen in our lives, the events with with the potential customer, events with our spouse, events on the turnpike, events on the shop floor, write events, events, events, events. And here’s what we do as human beings.

Number one, we make up stories about these events. Number two, we hold these stories to be the truth. And number three, we forget that we made them up.

So what an event be sort of analogous to an assertion, would and our interpretation be analogous to the assassination?

OK. And this notion that and again, it’s not wrong that we make up explanations. We have to because we live in language. Right. It’s what we do. The problem is we don’t see that we’re doing this right. Problem is right. We begin holding our explanation as it is, as if it is the event. We begin holding our assessment as if it is an assertion. And depending on the nature of that assessment, depending on the nature of that interpretation, it can paralyzes.

But none of this makes any sense at all. If you don’t see yourself as the author to begin with. Once we begin to see that we I’m not just reading this, I wrote them, then we can have a different conversation, huh? Isn’t it interesting of all the possible interpretations I could have formed? Isn’t it interesting I found this one? Huh, let’s talk about that, let’s talk about that right? And now is when hopefully coaching can come in, right?

Help can come in from a colleague, a friend, a spouse and say, listen, Reuben man, here’s what just happened and here’s the way I’m interpreting it. Here’s why I’m holding it not with my hands, but with my interpretations. Let me bounce it off of you and let’s talk. Do you see other possibilities here? And I have to say this, Reuben, I’ve been fortunate to speak for over twenty two years to peer groups and the Vistage community, Vistage peer groups, and that’s the power of a peer group, right.

Because you get to say, hey, listen, guys, ladies, this is what happened to me. Here’s the way I’m interpreting it. What do you think? What do you think, are there other possibilities here, because by definition, I’m a unique observer, right? I have a certain set of distinctions. I’m living in certain spaces. I have a certain genetic heritage and biological predisposition. And this is the interpretation I came up with. But this is what I’ve learned over the years.

The movement, the shift from not being able to see that you are indeed the author of your own interpretations. And those interpretations form the basis for your actions. And those actions influence and drive your results. The shift from not being able to see that and being able to see it, it’s an it’s an ocean. It’s a substantial expansion of awareness to be able to acknowledge and accept, see that we are indeed the authors of our own interpretations. It’s a but but that step to me, that’s the threshold.

That is the minimum level of self-awareness that we need to really be conscious about designing our own lives.

When it’s interesting, you mentioned threshold, because one of my other notes that I thought was really powerful out of the book is saying that ignorance is not the opposite of learning. It’s the threshold of learning. And so much of us about trying to always be right.

Being right means that you don’t want to allow yourself to be ignorant. Right. It’s perfect, is perfect.

And instead, we want to be able to be ignorant because then we get to learn stuff and that’s kind of fun. And then we get to see the world in new ways. Spectacular.

I mean, think of it this way. And this notion ignorance means I don’t know what the capacity and again, the power of language I don’t know is a profoundly powerful declaration. And when we declare right. When we declare internally or externally, I don’t know. We’re not describing a state of affairs nearly as much as we are producing something. What we’re producing is called a context or an opening for learning, not physical, utterly and completely real. When we declare, I don’t know either to ourselves or out loud, we create this nonphysical but very real space, this emotional space where now everything else being equal learning is ridiculously more likely.

There’s a and again, looking back, I’m looking at your little emoji or your little symbol, right. The Yin yang. Right. For your your podcast. This is this goes back, back, back, back, back. There’s a Buddhist expression. You can’t pour water into a glass. It’s already full. Right. Right. And this this capacity and when we say when we declare I don’t know, what we’re really saying is I know that.

I don’t know. And that is what we call ignorance, blindness is I don’t know that I don’t know. Right. So a quick and dirty formula back to my engineering days. A quick and dirty formula for learning is we got to get from blindness. I don’t know that. I don’t know to ignorance. I know that. I don’t know. And the way that we do that is we declare it into being we simply speak it. So I don’t know right now something is different.

But, you know, as we think about I don’t know, we live right now in a time of ongoing, relentless change. And given that background of ongoing, relentless change, our ability to learn as individuals and organizations, it’s a ten out of ten. It’s a ten out of ten is gigantically important. There’s a great one of my favorite philosophers around, I don’t know are around learning to learn a guy named Eric Hoffer. He said in times of change, those who are prepared to learn will inherit the land, while those who think they already know will find themselves wonderfully equipped to face a world that no longer exists spectacularly compared to yesterday.

They are. They say the Pentagon is always fighting the last war, and so many of us are make fun of the Pentagon for doing that. But we do a lot of that in our own lives.

We do. And maybe this is men more than women. But again, back to Brené Brown, right? The power of vulnerability, women to use the term vulnerability. Men often use the term authenticity. But it’s the same thing, right? It’s this capacity to be real, to be present with other people because we have a good B.S. detector, Reuben, and we also have an authenticity detector. And the older I get, the more obvious this is my public identity is enhanced, not diminished, when I acknowledge areas that I don’t know.

Right, because everybody has a good B.S. detector. Like I do, like I do, and it’s just taken me sixty one years. To get clear on this, but again and again, when you look at the power of language here, right, we declare beginner hood into being, we speak it so kaboom. And it matters. It really matters

That really struck me a lot reading the book. Sorry to interrupt. I want to because I feel like I’m probably not the only one who has this experience. When you get out in the world and you’re an expert in whatever services you provide, you don’t want to say at least I didn’t want to say. I don’t know. When it comes to questions pertaining to what you do, you’re supposed to be the expert. You’re supposed to have the answers. At least this was the narrative in my head. And as I got older and realized that I didn’t have all the answers and that that was actually OK, and I could say, hey, let me ask a bunch of dumb questions. Everything got so much easier.

It really does. It really does. And I had the same experience Reuben in my work and I think a lot of people do. And it’s just modeling it right. The ability as a leader to model this level of authenticity. Now, I don’t know what I found out by Tuesday and now it’s Wednesday. We’re not talking about that. Right. But we’re talking about the first time it raises his head. Is it OK to simply acknowledge, you know, in this moment?

Reuben, I don’t know if we can talk about next steps. We can talk about finding out. We can talk about a lot of things. But in this moment, I don’t know. That’s a great question. You know, there’s a lot of expressions for it, but I think I’m now comfortable enough in my own skin. I’m comfortable enough where I’m able to acknowledge I don’t know, we’re in ways back in my thirties, perhaps it would have been more difficult for me.

And it takes so much pressure off.

And it makes that relationship easier because like you say, people kind of know when you’re not sure or you are afraid to raise up a bunch of questions because you don’t want to admit that you don’t know. So you leave not understanding what you really need to understand.

You know, it’s interesting. You’re right. And as we think about this, this notion of I don’t know what we’re pointing to is authenticity. Right. And meaningful conversations. And the older I get, the more obvious this is, is authenticity is never let me down. And I want to share with your listeners as we’re talking about authenticity, this notion of what is one thing that we can do to be more successful and what have historically been difficult or challenging conversations, because virtually all of us have our version of challenging or difficult conversations.

And so there’s a couple of ways that what we’ve been talking about here over the last. Five or ten minutes, I think, can be applied here, number one, as we think about this. Conversations of self disclosure are powerful. Right, when we declare I don’t know when we share that, that’s a powerful thing. We know that conversations of self disclosure are powerful in our personal lives. I’ve been married almost thirty four years. Right. Being authentic self disclosing where I’m at right now with my wife, it’s a powerful it’s a relationship building competency.

Right. But in our difficult conversations, one of the things that was taught to me is this. If you have a difficult conversation tomorrow, think like this. No. One, there are no guarantees in any conversation. Be comfortable here. No guarantees in any conversation, given that there are no guarantees in any conversation, the preparation may include something like this. OK, OK, I got this conversation tomorrow morning at 9:00. There’s no guarantees. I know that.

What can I do, therefore, in tomorrow’s conversation that no matter what the ultimate outcome turns out to be, I will have the fewest regrets. So no one, no guarantees, No. Two, OK, what can I do in tomorrow’s conversation such that 10 minutes or 10 years later I can look in the mirror and be OK when we really think about it? And I ask this to people all the time, how would that preparation influence you in the conversation?

Most people say, oh, I would be authentic, right? I would I would lay it out there. Hey, listen, Reuben, I’ve avoided this conversation for two weeks, and that’s my fault. And I apologize. I avoided it because I wasn’t sure how to start it. And I also had a little notion in my head that if I had it with you that that you may misinterpret me and that you might quit. I don’t want you to quit, but the status quo cannot continue.

And I’m just struggling with the way to share that with you. And at the same time, have you understand how much I value all these other aspects of your work? Or some version of that, right? Because we’re saying the same thing, this capacity to declare I don’t know is flexing the authenticity muscle. Right. OK, right, we’re just we’re sharing outwardly what we already have inwardly, and so the notion of speaking into your concerns as a conversational competency to create this powerful conversational space, if you have a background concern upstairs that has led you to avoid a conversation, the conversational competency is to speak into that concern overtly and out loud with that person right up front to create a different context for the conversation.

Well, that’s a good segue into some of the other language distinctions you make. I want to talk a little bit about requests and offers and promises, commitments and agreements. Are we talked about assertions and assessments and declarations. Now we want to change how the future works, basically. Right. And that’s what those other distinctions are about. Did I catch that correctly? Yes.

And they’re also about they are the building blocks, the nuts and bolts, the blocking and tackling of collaboration. Right, there are, by definition, what we use to do things with and through other people, you can make assertions by yourself, you can make assessments by yourself, you can make declarations by yourself. But by definition, when you’re making requests, offers and promises, you’re engaging, interacting with other human beings. And over the last 30 years, my work in this area, in organizations is all around execution, coordinating action, accountability.

How do we actually do what we do with and through other human beings? Well, the way organizations coordinate action, the way they actually do what they do is through people making and managing promises with each other. Right. And my wife’s medical practice all day long, you know what they’re doing? They’re making and managing commitments at General Motors all day long. Know what they’re doing. They’re making and managing commitments in neighborhood pizza joint. They’re making and managing commitments.

And the way that we make and manage commitments is not with magic, is with requests, offers and and and promises. And a lot of my work Reuben has to do with sharing people, sharing with people. How do you actually coordinate action? How do you actually collaborate inside your organization?

And can this also saken this also involve collaboration between a client and and a provider? It is.

And the same thing is exactly the same thing. It’s the mechanism by which we do anything collaboratively. Right now. We can coordinate with other human beings. Well, we can coordinate with other human beings not so well, but we can’t not do it because we’re not hermits. Right.

So let’s let’s walk through these requests, offers, promises, commitments and agreements. How should people think about these different types of language?

Well, there are elements of an effective request that I share with folks. There are four valid responses and there are tools for accountability, like the responsible complaint, and there are also distinctions that are important. So let’s start with elements of an effective request for a be considered effective. I like to say we have a committed speaker, a committed listener. We have future action and specific conditions of satisfaction. We have a time frame. We have context of the the request and we have the mood at the request.

Right. So committed Speaker, are you committed? Are you standing in the request? Are you actually getting the other person’s attention or are you throwing the request over your shoulder as you’re leaving the room? Right. Committed listener. We know what this looks like. The other person is not texting somebody else in that moment. They’re looking at you. They’re engaged in future action. What do you want me to do? And conditions the satisfaction. What are the specific criteria that if you saw that on the back end, would allow you to say, I’m satisfied the time frame.

When do you want it? It’s interesting, right? How many of us are we assume there is a background of obviousness around future action conditions and time frame. And sometimes we misgauged. We misjudge it. That was obvious to me is not obvious to you, the context of the request, right? Is it a context of care foundation? I really care enough about you to step into this with you. This is important Reuben the context also has to do with why I am I making the request, help the other person understand this is what’s going on in the background.

This is the why the move to the request. Right. Often if this is the third time I’m making the same request, same person, maybe playfulness is not what we need. Right, right. So being specific. So these are all in the book. They’re actually in both books. But these are distinctions, right? Distinctions around. These are conversational competencies and elements of an effective request. These are distinctions. How can we make an effective request of a colleague and effective request?

A loved one? Valid responses. Yes. No commit to commit and counteroffer. Right, these responses, yes, is a response, of course, after we all after we talk and all the give and take, I end up saying yes, in which case we now have a promise. This is great. Another option is, after all the talking, all the give and take, I end up saying no, which case? We do not have a promise.

We may have learned something, but no commitment is in place. Option three Reuben to understand your request, but I need to check my other calendar. Let me check it. I’ll get back to you. I’ll have a yes or no by 5:00 p.m. today. Not I’ll get back to you later. No, no, no. A yes or no. By 5:00 p.m. today. Commit to commit and finally counteroffer Reuben understand your request. You want for this by Tuesday.

I can’t do for I can do three or I can do for by next Wednesday. Can either of those get us to a Yes counteroffer and Reuben all we’re doing, we’re bringing some rigor. Right, some discipline. We’re bringing a little bit of a shared vocabulary to the blocking and tackling that goes on every day, the actual nuts and bolts of collaboration. And as we’re moving toward the end of our time here, one more thing I have to say is that a one of the most powerful distinctions I was ever taught is this a promise broken is not at all the same thing as a silent expectation unmet.

These are not these are not at all the same thing. I tell folks, look, if you’re married, this will serve you right. This will serve you.

If you break a promise to me, I’m going to make a responsible complaint. We have a trust issue. I’m having this conversation. But if you just don’t magically fulfill my unspoken expectation. I had zero grounds to make a complaint of you zero. Now, I may certainly make a request of you, absolutely, but very different energy and tone and emotion around a complaint than a request. Right? She’s not just that, but think about this resentment is that which arises when you fail to honor a request I never made.

And how how many resentful people are walking around because then their life didn’t magically fulfill their unspoken expectations. So one of my life lessons here, Reuben, is that what percentage of interactions at work or at home? Are occurring via clear commitments versus unspoken expectations. And the ability to dramatically minimize dramatically limit expectations as a vehicle for collaborative action. Is absolutely on the top of my agenda, right, let’s. That makes a lot of sense.

Now, let’s can we go into the distinction between promises, commitments and agreements? Because they sound very similar to high level for me.

I use them interchangeably now if I use it completely interchangeably. But I know there are some folks that use commitments as a more I need to hear you say I commit Reuben. I commit. Right. And and I’ve been with people that have slightly different distinctions in this area. But for me, I use them exactly the same. If you say yes to my request, we have a promise. We have a commitment to have an agreement or an agreement.

OK, perfect. Now, one thing that I wanted to ask you about as well, because I feel like there’s this very powerful notion in the book and I kept in my head strong, sort of a two by two matrix. And most of us are stuck. And I certainly spent my fair share of time stuck on the right versus wrong access. And you introduce this notion of the working versus not working axis and they’re not necessarily in a quadrant. But I think that’s a really powerful pivot to say, let’s stop thinking about who’s right and wrong and let’s think about what’s working and what isn’t. Now, you also write that we sort of have this tendency to create stories that disempower us instead of the stories that are going to lead to working. Why is that and what can we do about it?

You know, first, the right or wrong grid. If we if we have this notion that all the events occur in our life, we make up explanations about these events. We hold our explanations to be the truth and we forget that we made them up. The notion is most of us, if not all of us, grew up with the understanding that our explanations are either right or wrong, our interpretations either right or wrong. And this body of work has everything to do, as you suggest, with substituting the right wrong scaffolding with the works.

Doesn’t work scaffolding does your explanation Reuben does it work or not work, given the ground you say you want to cover these next 12 months, does your interpretation, your explanation, Maria, does it serve you or not serve you, given what you’ve already said you want to be, do or have in this organization and this relationship is your explanation? Is it effective or ineffective, given what you’ve already said your goals are over these next six to nine months?

Right. Always with some version of given the results you say you want never in a vacuum because everybody is making up explanations and interpretations all the time, because we live in language. And these explanations and interpretations are the springboard for our actions is never the event. It’s always the explanation. And because they do this, moving away from the right wrong orientation is very powerful. We haven’t even collectively agreed on what constitutes right or wrong to begin with. But just like I said earlier, Reuben, I alone have cosmic objectivity.

I see things as they are the reason it feels so strange to talk about effective, ineffective or powerful and powerful or helpful, unhelpful when we’re talking about our explanations, our interpretations.

The reason that the reason that feels so strange is because the right wrong grid is so firmly embedded. Right, the right wrong come from is so obviously they’re so already so firmly and ethically present that moving away from it feels strange. It feels strange, but that’s where this is, that’s where we need to be to be conscious designers of our life is to give up the right wrong framework and to adopt the works. Doesn’t work because we’re doing it anyway, right.

We’re already making up interpretations and taking action based on we’re already doing this. We’re not talking you and me right now about whether we’re doing this or not. Know that the the horse left the barn. We’re already doing this. The only thing we’re talking about is do we see this about ourselves? That’s the starting point, because think about it. If you do not see yourself as making up interpretations to begin with and then you couple this with you not producing some important result that you say you want in those situations, the option for you of authoring a more powerful interpretation, it will never occur to you.

Right, it’ll be off your radar screen because if you don’t see yourself as doing this now, there’s nothing to update. Right, you’re trapped, you’re you’re trapped, there’s nothing to update. So back to the big guy, self awareness metaphor, right? The first step, the first step is we have to be able to see we have to be able to acknowledge. We have to be able to to understand that we are we live in language.

The little voice is rarely silent. And that those interpretations that we live in, that we made up, that we hold to be the truth and and that we now forget that we made up those interpretations. These are the drivers of the actions we take in the world. And the actions we take in the world produce results in the world, quantitative and qualitative results in the world, but it all begins. It all begins with our interpretations. But none of what we’re talking about makes any sense at all.

If you don’t see yourself as doing this to begin with. Sure, why do we tend to make up stories that disempower us instead of ones that are going to work well for us? You know, I do not know. I do not. Well, I will share this. Somebody mentioned this to me, taught this to me. And it has an interesting, interesting thought. Go back to prehistory. Go back to when human beings way, way, way back before written history, human beings way, way back on our planet.

Human beings were first, I guess, living in caves or doing whatever we did right way back, way back, back in those days, if you heard a rustle in the reeds. And assertion, and you had the assessment, it was a mouse. You often got eaten, right? So over time, people with artificially ungrounded rose colored assessment’s, they didn’t make it to the gene pool. So there is a healthy skepticism, people that kind of interpreted kind of and thought that maybe it’s the worst thing, they tended to live.

They tended to live because they didn’t get eaten, and I have no idea how much this actually plays out in our lives as modern people, but I do know that scientists and geneticists will tell us that we carry a genetic history with us. Right. We carry in our genes and our biology in those three circles, mood, body language. We carry genetic predisposition and biological history. And so I don’t know Reuben. I don’t know. But I think that that makes sense to me.

I think that’s a great interpretation. And I think it also has something to say about some of our interpersonal reactions, because as social creatures, not only is there a risk of being eaten by a lion, but there’s a notion of getting rejected and losing status within a group that can lead to lower chances of survival and reproduction and so on. And I think we carry some of that with us into our conversations, especially conversations that we think of as hard, where there’s a chance of what we consider rejection, sales, relationships, whatever it may be.

Well said. I am thankful for the invitation to be part of your your podcast. It’s been a pleasure meeting you and getting to know you. And I have to say, I’ve never been on a podcast with a sip of scotch before, so this is fantastic.

Well, you know, I’m all about opening up new distinctions and new ways of seeing the world. Thank you so much for your book. In your time, we’ll have the show notes up. Check it out. Language in the Pursuit of Happiness.

Chalmers Brothers, thanks so much, sir. We’ll talk to you soon. Thanks for listening, if you have a friend who would benefit from this episode, please pass the word along, have a friend who wouldn’t benefit but you haven’t talked to in a while. Give them a call. iTunes reviews are great to get the word out and help me create the show that’s most useful to you. And if you’re frustrated with your sales and marketing process or lack thereof, check out Mimiran the CRM for people who hate selling until next time.

The Wine Whisky

Chalmers enjoyed some Balvenie 14 Carribean Cask (picks up some rum flavor from the barrel– I don’t even like rum, but this is probably my favorite Balvenie).
I had some Oban 18. Yum.

Where to find Chalmers…

Language and the Pursuit of Happiness

Also, if you liked this episode, you’ll probably enjoy Oscar Trimboli’s discussion of Deep Listening.


Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com, the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”, (Mimiran also makes it easy to track and grow referrals). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

Want a way to make sales and marketing fun, without being “salesy”? Try Mimiran, the CRM for people who hate “selling”.

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