Onward Nation

America's best podcast for learning how today's top business owners Think, Act, and Achieve. Onward Nation is a five-day-a-week podcast hosted by Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI. Business owners share the most influential lessons learned throughout their careers, including insights into their daily habits, their most vital priorities that have contributed to their business and personal success, and the most challenging time or situation that could have devastated or even ruined their businesses or careers. Business owners share their "recipes for success" including those systems they wish they had put into practice inside their business when first starting out. Each episode concludes with guests sharing two or three practical and tactical strategies they would recommend to brand new business owners in order to best ensure success in their new business and careers. Onward Nation provides business owners with the strategies and tactical step-by-step "recipe" that will help anyone make their business more systematic, predictable, measurable, and repeatable.
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Jul 24, 2020

B. Jeffrey Madoff is the founder of Madoff Productions, based in New York City. Madoff is considered a storyteller and incisive interviewer. He has used those talents to help position major brands such as Ralph Lauren, Victoria’s Secret, Radio City Music Hall, Harvard School for Public Health, Weill Cornell Medical College and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts to name a few.

Madoff began his career as a fashion designer. He was chosen one of the top 10 designers in the U.S. then switched careers to film and video production. He has since expanded his reach to include teaching, book and playwriting, and theatrical producing.

He is an adjunct professor at Parsons School for Design, teaching a course he developed called Creativity: Making a Living with Your Ideas. Every week Madoff has a conversation with a guest from a wide variety of fields, from artists and entrepreneurs to venture capitalists and business leaders. A book about his class, entitled Creative Careers: Making a Living with Your Ideas, is being released June 16, 2020 by the Hachette Book Group.

Madoff has been a featured speaker at Wharton School, NYU Steinhardt, North Carolina State, SXSW Brazil, Vision Summit, Rise: Barclay’s Bank Accelerator, XRB Labs, Mastermind Group, Google Next and many others.

He has written and is producing a play based on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend, Lloyd Price. Its world premiere will be at People’s Light Theater in May of 2021.

Madoff graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in philosophy & psychology. Madoff was also on the wrestling team, which combined with his academic studies prepared him for a life in the film and theater business.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • How Jeff got involved in the design and manufacturing of clothing, and how his career journey taught him key lessons he was able to apply to other businesses as well
  • How Jeff’s New York experience began with a buying position for the company he worked for
  • How Jeff overcame the fear of moving to New York and starting out with no job or housing, and why he chose to take a chance on himself in spite of the risk
  • Why not being paralyzed and instead having the courage to pivot and go after what you truly want, especially in light of the global pandemic, is critical
  • Why Jeff felt compelled to write his book, Creative Careers, and why he chose to name his book after the college course he was teaching
  • Why Jeff believes “creativity” deserves a much broader definition than it gets, and why he defines it as “the compelling need to affect change”
  • What key concepts Jeff wrote about in his book, including learning how to overcome obstacles and developing your perseverance
  • Why Jeff views his parents as his most important mentors, teaching him how to value people and treat them well
  • How a great early work experience taught Jeff important lessons about business and leadership


Additional Resources:

Jul 22, 2020

Mike Makredes is from Fresno, California. He has been in sales all his professional life, and currently working in the Ag industry for the largest melon, broccoli, and corn grower in the US. He handles sales for over 12 million cases ($150 million) of produce per year.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • How Mike’s family’s sacrifice, splitting up the family to move to the US from Greece to build a better life for their kids, pushed him to build a legacy for his family
  • How the residential real estate market today differs from the market after the 2008 crash, and how Mike’s real estate investing business has evolved
  • Why now is a great time to sell your home, even despite the global pandemic, as some markets are at all-time highs and supply and demand seem to be stable
  • Mike defines a “terms deal” and explains how it benefits sellers while also helping buyers who wouldn’t necessarily qualify for a mortgage loan today
  • How Mike and his team value residential property, and how the added time a buyer receives from a terms deal can help build up their credit and a positive track record
  • Why business owners specifically often find it challenging to prove their ability to pay a traditional loan, and why terms deals may be ideal for home-buying business owners
  • How selling a home through terms can save you as much as 9-15% of the value of your house that you would lose through fees and commissions by selling traditionally
  • Why a staggering 80% of people wouldn’t be able to prequalify or qualify for a traditional mortgage right now
  • How Mike’s terms business allows him to market to a much larger buyer pool than sellers would be able to through a traditional real estate agent
  • Why “rent-to-own” often has a negative connotation, and how Mike and his team structure their deals to benefit and protect everyone involved as much as possible


Additional Resources:

Jul 17, 2020

Good Morning Onward Nation — I’m Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI and your host. Thanks very much for taking the time — please know — it’s always an honor to have you here.

Today’s episode is going to be a solocast — where it will be just you and me exploring a topic with some real depth. And this episode is Part 2 of the solocast from several weeks ago that I entitled, “How to Market Your Way through the Crisis.”

If you missed that episode — click here to listen to Part I.

I will start off with a quick refresher of the highlights from Part 1 and then we will take a deep dive into what I wanted to share with you today so that you can continue marketing your way through the crisis — and — to put yourself in the very best position possible to come roaring out the other side.

In Part 1 — I shared a number of 3rd-party research sources that showed the importance of not freezing in place as a result of the crisis…how to keep you imaginative skills running at full capacity…and…that the companies who came roaring out of the last 6 recessions where the ones who made progressive decisions and were not prevention-focused.

The progressive companies smartly reduced operating expenses in order to boost financial efficiency — and — 75% of the companies did not reduce the workforce because they realized that to do so…would mean cutting into the muscle of the operation and would negatively affect their ability to come roaring out…when the economy was on the rebound.

Instead — the progressive companies doubled down by making significant investments in R&D, marketing, equipment, facilities, and a variety of other strategic investments. I shared multiple examples back in Part 1…Episode 933 in case you want to look it up in your listening app…and again…the link is in today’s show notes.

We also took a deep dive into the forms of marketing where progressive companies made their investments. Because what they didn’t do was spent loosely on advertising or other sorts of broad promotional tactics. Instead — they focused their efforts around strategies that would help them build trust in their brands…plant their flag of authority even deeper in the niches and industries they served.

Which was super smart and synced up perfectly with the recent research study that my Predictive ROI team conducted alongside our research partner, Susan Baier, founder of Audience Audit. There is — without a doubt — a direct financial correlation between your authority position and financial ROI.

And much of that is due to the critical importance your prospects and clients place on TRUST.

So let’s peel this back a little bit more so we can explore it.

We are entering the era of the authority. While you may already be tired of the phrase of “thought leader”, the truth is there aren’t that many of them…and there are even fewer occupying that status in the niches you and your team serve.

Thought leaders don’t write content that any other agency, coach, or consultant could claim. Thought leaders don’t write about anything and everything — and thought leaders don’t compete on price.

And their time — your time — is now. Why am I saying that so definitely?

For the last 20-years — the global PR agency, Edelman has conducted research that examines who and what consumers trust and how that trust influences buying behaviors.

I shared some of the results of their special March study during my Market Your Way Through the Crisis webinar several weeks ago…

But if you weren’t able to attend — you can find the free replay here and I also included the full slide deck…all 199 slides that I used. No email required — happy to share it with you and your team.

Some of the biggest takeaway’s from Edelman’s research is that consumers assign a high level of trust to people they believe are “just like me.”

When you think about how ratings, reviews, and influencers affect their audiences — you can see the power of that belief.

Now — it’s also important to not get hung up on the fact that the study involved 33,000 CONSUMERS from 27 countries.

First off — that’s a huge sampling of people — and second — even if you are selling B2B — which my guess is you are — people are people…so if people put this much emphasis on trust in their personal lives…you better believe they behave the same way while at work making even larger buying decisions.

But — here’s what’s interesting.

Edelman’s research isn’t about celebrity influencers. Edelman is documenting the rise of the common man and woman influencer. It’s noteworthy because it gives statistical validity to the idea that real people as influencers and the impact they can have on behalf of their business.

The research asked participants to rank what attributes made an influencer believable and trustworthy. The relatability of the influencer was nearly twice as important as the influencer’s popularity. In other words…when consumers see themselves in an influencer, they were far more likely to follow and trust that influencer.

So — it’s not about having a million followers…it’s about being someone you can relate to and connect with.

For this very reason — if you’ve been avoiding putting together a content strategy where you share your depth of expertise in your niche — I recorded this solocast just for you — so that you rethink that decision.

Onward Nation — the data is all on your side.

Now — let’s continue to peel back the curtain to get a look at some of the attributes of someone who is a true authority.

If you were asked to think of an authority on any subject, who would come to mind? What about them designates them as an authority? What’s true about them? And what does someone have to do to earn and keep the title of authority?

My co-author of Sell with Authority, Drew McLellan, CEO of Agency Management Institute, and I would argue that there are 10 Truths to someone being seen as an authority.

Let’s do a quick review…

Truth #1: They have a focus area or subject matter expertise.

Truth #2: They don’t just repeat what everyone else is saying.

Truth #3: They have a public presence where they share their expertise.

Truth #4: They don’t stray from their area of expertise—think specialist versus a generalist.

Truth #5: They aren’t equally attractive to everyone. In fact, they probably bore most people to tears.

Truth #6: They’re significant—which is different from prolific—in terms of content creation.

Truth #7: They don’t create any generic content that someone with far less knowledge or experience could have just as easily written.

Truth #8: They’re perceived as an educator in some way.

Truth #9: They have a passion for their subject matter.

Truth #10: They have a strong point-of-view, which is the foundation of all of their content.

A true authority has something specific to teach us, and they want to be helpful or illuminating.

They’re eager to share what they know because they have a genuine passion for it, and they don’t fear giving away the recipe to their secret sauce (or so it’s perceived).

That confidence and generosity are contagious. Their expertise is something specific groups of people (their sweet-spot prospects) are hungry to access.

So Onward Nation — to call them an expert, a thought leader, an authority, a sought-after pundit, advisor, or specialist…doesn’t matter. They’re all words for the same thing — a trusted resource who has earned that trust by demonstrating and generously sharing the depth of their specialized knowledge over and over again.

Now — let’s hook this back to the Edelman research for a moment.

Want to know what made an influencer even more compelling to the research participants?

The one attribute that ranked higher than the trust we have in “people like me” is the trust we have in highly educated experts. The only three groups of people we trust more than people like ourselves are company, industry, and academic experts.


Because experts are often afforded the highest level of confidence and trust because they have a depth of knowledge in a specific industry or niche.

So why in the world wouldn’t you capitalize on that, Onward Nation?

Instead of writing generic content that look like every single one of your competitors, which is what many agencies, coaches, and consultants do because it’s so much easier and they feel compelled to create something and don’t want to invest the time necessary to go deep, deep, deep.

Or — they feel that they should be paid to share their smarts and don’t want to just give it away for free.


My hope is that as we get started in this solocast — my words are serving as a very loud battle cry for you. My hope is you see that now is the time to share your smarts and to double down on being helpful to your niche.

Now is the time for you to jump into the trenches alongside your prospects and clients — who are just as concerned as you are about everything going on — and to begin giving away the best of what you’ve got — and when you do that — you will build so much trust that it will be difficult for you to contain it.

There’s a huge upside for you and your team to do this now. As I said earlier — there are very few thought leaders (and even fewer in the niches you serve)…which means if you can still be one of the early adopters if you commit and boldly step out into this strategy right now.

Okay — now let’s turn our attention toward Part 2…how long will this effort take — and — how do you go about doing it?

Drew and I are often asked, “How long does this take?

The answer is yes.

Meaning — we can’t give you a precise time frame for you because it’s different for everyone.

There are many factors, including:

The consistency of your content creation
The quality of your content — are you saying something fresh or just repeating old news?
The amount of time and effort you spend promoting your content
The hunger of your audience. Some are starving and will gobble up everything you share, others will only consume the tastiest of offers

But — building your authority position is clearly not a get rich quick scheme. At a minimum, you should count on it taking six months to a year before you reap any significant benefit from your efforts.

By year two — you should be dancing a jig at how well it’s working.

And by year three — you should be well-established as the authority you are.

On occasion — a single podcast episode, video, or book will catapult someone into the spotlight and earn them a huge payout. But that’s the exception, not the rule.

Don’t count on being the exception or you risk being super disappointed and it could derail all of your hard work.

So — I’m going to make an assumption here…that all of the data I have shared with you during Part 1 of this solocast…as well as the 75-minute webinar that I taught several weeks ago…along with everything shared up to this point in this episode has shown you the very significant upside to you doubling down and building your authority position.

If so — awesome — so let’s turn our attention toward some of the key things you will need in order to make that happen.

There are three essentials to building your authority position.

And they are: 1) narrow niche, 2) a strong point-of-view, and 3) being findable in multiple places.

Let’s take a closer look at each.

Narrow is Gold

The first essential in creating an authority position is recognizing that the narrower your audience, the better. It allows you to be quickly discovered and identified as someone your target audience needs to pay attention to, all because you’re speaking their language.

Ultimately, this means you can build an audience much faster. Once you’ve built the audience, and you genuinely know them and what they need, you can provide additional value by creating products and services you can sell.

If you choose to keep serving everyone as a generalist, you can still absolutely monetize a more generic position of authority (say you’re a business coach, for example), but if you want to get to this more quickly, you need to be ruthless in terms of focus.

I agree — it seems counter-intuitive.

Most business owners focus on quantity in terms of audience. Many believe they need a massive audience to hit their sales and financial goals.

But — the data shows that this isn’t true.

You’re actually in a much better position if you’re in front of the right micro audience where nearly everyone is aligned with your ideal client avatar. Would you rather speak directly to 100 of your right-fit prospects…who are perfectly aligned with your ideal client avatar — or — be on stage in front of 10,000 people where there is zero probability that any of them are your prospects?

And yet, when it comes to business development, most business owners toss out a huge net, hoping that the right species of fish will swim in so we don’t go hungry.

Intellectually, we get it, yet our choices often suggest we’re still focusing on quantity, not quality.

Here’s the reality — you don’t need a million downloads to get your podcast sponsored.

You don’t need to speak at 50 conferences to have someone walk up and ask you some questions that lead to a proposal.

And you don’t need to be on the bestseller list to use your book as an amazing biz dev tool. You just don’t.

Most agencies, coaches, and consultants get this completely backward.

They create broad, generic content as opposed to something that captures the interest of their ideal prospects.

The content is fluffy and doesn’t invite anyone to ask questions or lean in to learn more.

But if you were to hone in on your specific audience and ignore the rest of the world (remember, one of the traits of an authority is that most people could care less about their content), the audience does lean in. They do ask questions, and they will eventually put you on a shortlist of prospective partners to consider.

And when you do it exceptionally well, you will be the only one they consider.

You Need a Strong Point-of-View

Here’s what we know for sure. Your industry (no matter what it is) and the world around us are both experiencing change at an unfathomable rate, and it’s only going to get faster.

How you communicate nowadays, at best, is on the fly.

But the one thing that will not change is that unique cocktail that defines our authority position.

It’s the combination of our area of expertise with the strong point-of-view we apply to that area of expertise. Our point-of-view is what we know to be true, and it’s this truth that defines how we approach the work and how we add value.

For example, Predictive ROI’s point-of-view is the most agencies, coaches, and consultants go about sales in the less productive, most painful way possible. They get thwarted by gatekeepers at every turn. As a result — they cannot build long-term relationships with their Dream prospects.

When we layer that point-of-view, on top of our knowledge and expertise around how to grow an audience, nurture leads, and increase sales by helping our clients Sell with Authority, it’s easy to see how and where we can be of help. It tells us who to serve and how to best serve them.

That’s evergreen. You and your team should have a similar combination.

You need to have an opinion about the work you do on behalf of your clients. You need a strong point-of-view about the marketplace, your audience, or your product or service.

As you fight for a prospect’s attention, you must differentiate yourself.

You’ve got to plant a flag in the ground and claim ownership. You need to stand out against the sea of competitors. That authority position—your area of expertise plus your strong point-of-view—becomes the flag you plant.

It’s you laying claim to what is uniquely yours—the ability to serve a specific industry, niche, audience, etc., because of what you know and what you believe.

It holds you firmly in place no matter what else changes. It becomes part of your differentiation equation. And you need both halves of the whole.

Without the point-of-view, even industry-specific content becomes claimable by others. Granted, it narrows the field, but there are certainly others who work in the same industry or niches that you do.

If you can take your content (blog posts, white paper, podcast interviews, etc.) and swap your competitor’s logo for yours without anyone noticing, your content isn’t as unique to you as you’d like.

That’s what we mean by claimable.

But don’t get too finite about this. I’m not suggesting you’re going to create an authority position no one else can replicate.

Odds are, no matter what your authority position, a handful of others could claim it, too. But that’s your goal—a small handful, rather than every competitor out there.

Just to be clear, your point-of-view is the truth you overlay onto your niche or industry-specific expertise. It’s an insight that influences the work you do.

The ideal scenario for building your authority position is one in which you have the one-two punch of a point-of-view paired with that narrow audience or topic area. That’s a powerful combination.

You can carve out a more superficial authority position with just one of the two elements, either a point-of-view or niche expertise, but the consequence is, if you’re going to only include half of the one-two punch, you’re going to share your unique position with more competitors.

At some level, you probably already know what you point-of-view is — but you don’t recognize it as such. Odds are, you either take it for granted because you talk about it so often, or you just need to dig a little deeper to find the gold in what you’re already teaching, talking about, and using to build the recommendations you make to clients.

You just have to peel the onion back several layers to get to something that’s genuinely different enough that you can own it.

You Can’t Be a One-Trick Pony

Essential number three is that an authentic authority is not a one-trick pony.

Meaning — you can’t create content so narrow it only works on one channel. An expert doesn’t have just one book. Or just a podcast. You can’t place all of your bets on one horse (or pony).

The problem is that whatever pony you rode in on is not going to be the popular pony forever, and you can’t rely on all of your prospects consuming that specific channel.

You need to be more findable, which means you need to have your authority-positioned content in more than one place. If you’re going to build an authority position — you have to answer the question, “How does my point-of-view come to life across multiple channels?

Your goal is to create the impression that you’re everywhere. The good news is that it doesn’t take that many channels to make that happen. You need a cornerstone channel and some cobblestones.

When Drew and I wrote about cornerstone content in our book, Sell with Authority, what we meant was content that’s big and meaty, so it can be sliced and diced into smaller pieces of content—what we call cobblestones.

The definition of cornerstone is that it is the first stone placed. If you were constructing a building, you would carefully set that first stone because you know all the other stones will be set in reference to the cornerstone.

When you take that cornerstone content and break it up into infographics, quote cards, blog posts, tweets, guest appearances on someone else’s podcast, etc., that’s your cobblestone content. The combo of your niche expertise and your unique point-of-view should be woven into every piece of content you create.

In some cases, it will be overt, and in other cases, subtle. But it should always be present to some degree.

Some experts or influencers try to be everywhere, but that stretches them pretty thin pretty quickly.

All you need are a few channels spot-on for your audience that you consistently feed with new content. You need a single cornerstone and at least two or three cobblestone channels. From there, you can use your social media channels to spotlight both.

Just remember, your cornerstone is the primary channel through which you consistently deliver useful content that helps your audience do their jobs better. And it needs to be meaty enough that you can slice and dice it into multiple cobblestones.

Think of the cobblestones as info-snack-sized pieces of content like a quote graphic featuring your podcast guest that someone might stumble upon and be interested in enough that they are led to your cornerstone content. New York Times best-selling author Jay Baer shared the importance of info-snacks during Episode 305 of Onward Nation.

You need both cornerstone and cobblestone content.

But you don’t need dozens.

Cornerstones, by their nature, require a much more significant time investment. Which means you don’t have time to create too many.

Far better to do one exceedingly well than to stretch yourself too thin, and better to be consistently present in a few places as opposed to occasionally showing up everywhere.

And — you want to build something you can sustain for the long haul, and unless you’re going to make being an authority your full-time gig — it’s better to start with one.

Your cornerstone, and at least a few of your cobblestones, need to be built on media you own and control, not on someone else’s platform. That might be your website, a book you write, research you conduct, or your own podcast series.

You can use channels like Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn to highlight your efforts, but your cornerstone content shouldn’t be housed there. You don’t want to go to the effort of creating content only to have some third party (like Facebook) decide to take it down or charge people for accessing it.

While you don’t want to build your cornerstone content on a media channel you don’t own, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to be on other people’s channels.

If your cornerstone content is targeted and tied to your point-of-view, and you’re consistent in creating smaller pieces of content from that cornerstone, you’re going to get noticed.

That’s all you need to get invited onto other people’s channels.

One of the key elements about being an authority is that you don’t want everything to remain on your owned channels. You want to leverage other people’s spheres of influence, and when you appear as a guest on their show or whatever channel they own and control, now they’re endorsing you, telling other people how smart you are, and introducing you to an entirely new audience.

That amplification expands your audience exponentially once you have built the foundation that earns the invites. But they will roll in, in a variety of ways.

You’ll be invited to:

  • Speak at conferences
  • Be a guest on podcasts
  • Write bylined articles for publications
  • Sit on a panel of experts
  • Serve on a board
  • Write a regular column
  • Teach a class
  • Be part of a webinar series
  • Be interviewed as a source by the media

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

On occasion, your cornerstone channel will shift. This shouldn’t be because you’re getting bored or are indecisive. It should be driven by your audience, reactions to your efforts, and potentially, media consumption trends.

The content itself doesn’t shift, but how you deliver the content might.

When I started executing this authority strategy for Predictive ROI, book writing was my cornerstone channel. I was creating a lot of content for publications and was being published in publications like Forbes, The Washington Post, Inc. Magazine, and other media about once a month.

And much of that content was sliced and diced off of my books on search engine optimization and social media that I wrote while I was teaching at the university.

But then in May 2015 — when we ran into revenue challenges at Predictive — and that pushed my team and I to launch the Onward Nation podcast as part of our pivot.

And the growth of the podcast quickly eclipsed my written content and took over as our cornerstone content channel. And then we have added some cobblestones into the mix with our YouTube channel, weekly emails for our community, as well as conference presentations. And — we’ve even worked the cornerstone content process backward…with several episodes being instrumental in helping me write our bestselling book, Profitable Podcasting…and after 3-years…is still one of the best selling podcasting books on the market.

For a complete breakdown on how to create cornerstone content — I encourage you to go back to my solocast in Episode 676 of Onward Nation.

Okay — let’s come full circle and bring this in for a landing. Nothing about this recession has been — or will be easy. To come roaring out of it on the other side will take a lot of hard work, discipline, and generous spirit in doubling down to be helpful.

But if you do — the data is on your side. If you take this time and commit to building your authority position…you will put yourself and your business in the best possible position when the sun begins to shine once again.

This is the time, Onward Nation for you to grab hold of those silver linings — they are there — if you’re willing to look hard enough.

Thanks for taking the time to be here and for sharing a portion of your 86,400 you have today…with me.

I’m grateful and I look forward to you being back for our next episode.

Until then — double down — and onward with gusto!

Jul 15, 2020

As I was mapping out and thinking through this episode — I wanted to be sure the content would be super helpful as you continue to navigate your way through the choppy waters that COVID has created for all of us.

Because what’s especially challenging about COVID actually isn’t just the uncertainty — it’s that the uncertainty…is a continuously moving target.

We’ve all seen so much ebb and flow to what is taking place — and because of that — your team, your clients, your audience, your vendors…all of your stakeholders…are looking for guidance. And…dare I say — they’re also looking for leadership. In fact — some are desperate for it.

Because of that — I invited bestseller author and leadership expert, Steve Farber to come back for an encore interview.

Steve and I are going to focus this conversation around how his Extreme Leadership principles can help you and your team navigate your way through COVID — or any crisis for that matter — and come roaring out the other side.

And what I love about Steve is he asks the tough questions — and those questions are asked out of love — but they also might make us squirm a bit in our seats.

And sometimes getting uncomfortable is the point.

Because here’s the reality, Onward Nation.

The data is clear…if you and your team double down and make progressive decisions…if you invest in the right areas while ensuring your operating as efficiently as possible…you will find the silver linings to COVID and you will come roaring out of this recession just like other companies have done after the last 6 recessions.

The silver linings are there — IF — we’re brave enough to look for them and courageous enough to step into them. All of which requires Extreme Leadership from you as the business owner.

That’s why Steve Farber is here.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • Steve shares what he means by Extreme Leadership Principles, and he shared why he named his methodology Extreme Leadership
  • Why too often we use “leader” as a position title rather than a descriptive term for the person filling that role
  • How the LEAP methodology powering Steve’s Extreme Leadership is composed of four principles: cultivate Love, generate Energy, inspire Audacity, and provide Proof
  • How love, energy, audacity, and proof are invaluable leadership tools that can inspire your team to new levels of success
  • Why the entire LEAP leadership framework is powered by the first principle of cultivating love first and foremost
  • Why it is important to learn as much as we can from the challenges and changes brought about by the global pandemic and then to take bold, decisive action
  • Why leaders demonstrating love by connecting with their teams during this difficult time is critical
  • Why being open, reaching out and being a receptive listener can help you build profound relationships
  • Why it is important to decide now what we want our businesses to look like five years from now in a post-pandemic world
  • Why too often when the present becomes challenging, business leaders forget about preparing for the future


Jul 10, 2020

Before he became a company president, John Robertson was a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force who oversaw an $8 billion program. Today he coaches C-level executives on how to take advantage of the coming future tsunami of artificial intelligence.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • How John’s career began with joining the Air Force after college, before progressing into the business world and real estate
  • How the 1985 economic crash brought John’s business to a screeching halt and left him $2 million in debt with no way out
  • How John came out of financial disaster through perseverance and intentionality, and how he now teaches others to prepare for the future
  • Why John titled his book “Focus Forward Leadership” after realizing that business of all size often struggle to focus on future progress
  • Why maintaining discipline and using quarterly meetings to map your plans for the future are critical steps you can take to stay focused
  • Why business leaders often struggle to be clear in communicating exactly what their goals and expectations are and what results they are looking for
  • John shares five key action items from his book “Focus Forward Leadership”, and he shares why these key action items will make a difference in your business
  • How the numbers “4, 12, 365” are the keys to helping maintain your focus on your goals without getting distracted by the day-to-day
  • Why consistency is vital for every role within your organization, from the CEO down to frontline employees


Additional Resources:

Jul 8, 2020

Master message coach and copy expert Lindsay Hotmire loves to work with coaches and leaders who know there’s nothing formulaic about authenticity. To date, Lindsay has helped 200+ clients (and counting) ditch one-size-fits-all frameworks and formulas so they can simply and genuinely align their message with their beliefs, their values, and (ever-so-importantly) their audience.

Once upon a time (before Google changed the world), Lindsay was a high school English teacher. And while she still gets a bit nerdy over sentence diagrams, she adamantly refuses to take sides on the Oxford comma. These days, she unapologetically geeks out over introducing a little bit of woo to a whole lot of science, and she’s used her intuition, creativity, and slightly dusty math skills to help her clients create $10,000 to $1M campaigns all without losing sight of their true, authentic selves.

Find her at or connect with her on Instagram @lindsayhotmire.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • How Lindsay began as a high school teacher before working on a variety of projects, and how she got into her current work helping entrepreneurs tell their stories in new ways
  • Why Lindsay believes that stories have the power to change lives, and why stories can create authentic human connections
  • What a “validating circle of inquiry” is, and how it relates to a concept called the “phenomenological nod”, and why this is the goal of storytelling in marketing
  • Why assumption bias, leading with what we think we know, is a real problem in modern-day marketing
  • Linsday shares examples of costly assumption bias marketing mistakes from major brands Pontiac and Walmart
  • Why many entrepreneurs and business owners are being forced to pivot because they didn’t put in the time to do the values work pre-pandemic
  • Where Lindsay recommends you begin doing the important value work, and how a tool called the Authenticity Inventory can help determine what work you need to do
  • Why your behavior must align with your beliefs, and why too often we think we’re aligned when we really aren’t
  • How the global pandemic has changed people’s needs and has altered the world of business coaching as a result
  • How a staggering 86% of consumers are looking to brands to fill the gaps that the government doesn’t fill
  • How real diamonds and fake diamonds differ, and how that applies to your company’s right messaging


Additional Resources:

Jul 3, 2020

Jennifer Peek provides clients with key strategic insights while helping them develop plans to profitably execute their visions. At Peek Advisory Group, she consults with business owners identifying business gaps and opportunities to increase value and prepare them for the next stage of business evolution from growth to varied exit strategies.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • How Jennifer left her corporate career ten years ago and started her own company, Peek Advisory Group, bringing corporate experience to small and midsized companies
  • Why the type of economic and social recovery we will see in a post-COVID world is impossible to anticipate
  • Why developing the right mindset, seeking out strategic opportunities, and doubling down can help you through this crisis
  • How the lens you view the world through determines your outlook, and why the widespread belief that businesses are all in survival mode isn’t always the case
  • Why the Harvard Business Review’s article Roaring Out of Recession is worth reading, especially during this challenging time
  • Jennifer explains her “opportunistic mindset” and shares the importance of expanding your social outreach efforts
  • Why you don’t want to be losing ground or staying stagnant during this crisis, and why you want to work to position your business to capitalize on opportunities in the future
  • Why recognizing your clients’ or customers’ changing habits can help you develop new product and service offerings in the future.
  • Why this is the ideal time to be doubling down on content and on reaching out to new potential clients with helpfulness, not sales
  • Why the most important lesson Jennifer learned from a mentor over the course of her career is the need for a willingness to shut everything down and start over


Additional Resources:

Jul 1, 2020

Jeff Koser is a successful entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in executive sales management, consulting, and business strategy. He wrote the book on it. Actually, an award-winning book, Selling to Zebras. Jeff has appeared on some of the largest B2B sales podcasts over the past couple of years and he always leaves listeners with something that increases their sales effectiveness.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • Jeff explains what a “zebra” is, and he shares why working for a foreign-owned company with no prior sales in the US became the foundation of the zebra philosophy
  • Why identifying the ideal client should be just as easy and recognizable as spotting a zebra
  • Why zeroing in on the ideal client helped Jeff and his team close a deal with 90% of the new clients they pursued
  • Why recognizing critical business problems for potential prospects and focusing a content strategy around those pain points is the best way to survive challenging times
  • Why your content should revolve around seven key attributes, and what those important attributes are
  • How Zebrafi is beta-testing software that connects to Salesforce and can help identify prospective clients that match the profile of your existing top customers
  • Why focusing on pipeline close rate, average deal size, and length of sales cycle are the three key metrics that will supercharge your sales
  • Why Jeff believes that focusing on a high volume of prospects is actually detrimental to the success of your business and a waste of your money and time
  • How your proven success with customers like your zebras can help you land business with your zebras


Additional Resources:

Jun 26, 2020

Stacey Kehoe has worked in digital marketing and brand development for the last ten years. She is also a podcast host and chief editor of the small business magazine, The Vault, which has gained her countless media features and award nominations. Since establishing her first business, Brandlective Communications Ltd in 2012, Stacey has built over 500 websites, brands, and marketing campaigns.

As a highly-sought-after expert, social media trainer, and speaker, Stacey has developed the one-of-a-kind Gamechanger Six-Step Digital Marketing Methodology after being approached by client after client who were dissatisfied with other agencies. She published this methodology in her newest book ‘Get Online: 6 Simple Steps to Launching a Digital Marketing Strategy For the Non-Tech Savvy’. The method also forms a core part of Brandlectives services, facilitating campaign development and enhancing the speed at which its clients gain stellar results.

Stacey believes those with an entrepreneurial spirit should have the resources to rise above the noise, stand out from the crowd, and show their audience who they really are. These beliefs tie-in with her commitment to equality. She currently leads a movement called #1MillionDays: an initiative to reduce inequality through social, economic, and political inclusion of all people.

Originally from New Zealand, Stacey lives in London. She loves to travel and spend time with her family and friends.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • How Stacey and her team at Brandlective Communications launched their #1MillionDays initiative to align their agency with the UN’s global goals
  • How Stacey’s own experiences with inequalities after moving from New Zealand to the United Kingdom in 2006 informs her passion for reducing inequality
  • What global projects Brandlective has become involved with, and how they have aligned their efforts with their work
  • How Stacey and her team traveled to some of the destinations they have been supporting to meet the organizations on the ground, and why taking the team with her matters
  • Why Brandlective doesn’t reveal their efforts as part of their marketing strategy but rather discusses their social work with clients in their welcome packet
  • How the #1MillionDays initiative and Brandlective’s global efforts have had an impact on the company’s culture
  • How the team at Brandlective have managed to navigate the challenge of the global pandemic, and how they have worked to support their clients through the crisis
  • What digital strategies and key advice Stacey would offer to business leaders, and why identifying and reaching out to your ideal client is key
  • Why identifying the problems and pain points your ideal prospects are experiencing and then creating content to help solve those problems can be powerful
  • Why Stacey recommends focusing on four key types of content: visual (video/graphics), audible (podcast/audio snippets), written (blogs/articles), and actionable (interactive)


Additional Resources:

Jun 24, 2020

Craig Cody is a Certified Tax Coach and the owner of the New York City based accounting firm, Craig Cody & Company. Craig belongs to a select group of tax practitioners who’ve undergone extensive training and continued education on various tax planning techniques and strategies. Craig is passionate about helping business owners understand the difference between tax planning — and tax paying — by helping them save significant money. Craig is also the co-author of the Amazon bestseller, “Secrets of a Tax Free Life.”

What you will learn from this episode:

  • How the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan has changed recently, and what you need to know about the program
  • What further changes Craig anticipates the government making to the PPP loan and forgiveness requirements
  • How the government has created new options for partnership business that could result in those businesses getting still more money
  • How to reach out to Craig if you have any other questions or need clarification on these new changes
  • Why additional money for business partners may not have any cap, starting at around $40,000 for the first partner and going up
  • Why Craig sees the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) as “cheap insurance” to help protect against whatever may happen in the near future
  • What changes Craig believes might happen to the EIDL, and why it is taking a while for small businesses to get approved for EIDL
  • How the use of the EIDL funds can potentially increase your business tax liability due to the use of EIDL funds cutting into your tax deductions
  • How many of Craig’s clients are operating under business-as-usual with relatively minor changes, with the exception of restaurants which are still struggling
  • How to access Craig’s free course “The Five Simple Ways to Save Thousands on Taxes and How Business Owners Can Start Today”


Jun 19, 2020

Greg Dickerson is a serial entrepreneur, real estate developer, coach, and mentor. Over the past 20 years, he has bought, developed, and sold over $200 million in real estate, built and renovated hundreds of custom homes and commercial buildings, and started 12 different companies from the ground up. Greg currently coaches some of the top entrepreneurs, real estate investors and syndicators in the industry today.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • How Greg has always had big entrepreneurial ideas starting from a very young age, and how he found his way into construction and then real estate development
  • How Greg built a $30 million real estate development business in just seven short years, and what key lessons he learned during that period of building and scaling
  • Why leading, delegating, motivating, effective marketing, and a focus on developing his employees have been critical components of Greg’s success
  • How Greg “leads by numbers,” relying on KPIs to measure progress throughout the organization to ensure that the company is always moving the needle
  • Why Greg sees his thought leadership efforts as a naturally occurring, organic extension of his business leadership
  • How Greg has broken into thought leadership and content creation, and what important lessons he has learned about creating a competitive business edge
  • Why being generous with your expertise can position yourself as an authority that your audience knows, likes and trusts
  • What benefits Greg has received from his thought leadership efforts, and how he is building out his platform
  • Why Greg tackles each day with intentionality and immediacy, and why a sense of urgency is vital for business leadership
  • How developing yourself as a leader and understanding the people around you can help you improve your interactions with them


Additional Resources:

Jun 17, 2020

Sara Taylor earned a master’s degree in Diversity and Organizational Development from the University of Minnesota. She served as a leadership and diversity specialist at the University of Minnesota for five years and as director of diversity and inclusion for Ramsey County, Minnesota for three years.

Sara is the founder and president of deepSEE Consulting and has worked with companies as large as Coca-Cola, General Mills, 3M Company, AARP, and numerous others. She has a new book, “Filter Shift: How Effective People See the World,” that explores how our unconscious is actually making choices and decisions for us, all without our knowing — and how to change that.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • How Sara’s own experience as a white woman in a mixed-race family has helped drive her passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Why Sara created a recent episode of her podcast around what she wishes she had known earlier about racial injustice, in an effort to process her own pain
  • Why Sara struggled with some of her own stories, and why we as humans naturally hold onto our pain and trauma
  • Sara shares an exchange she had with another small business owner that led to racist comments directed at her husband
  • How microaggressions can build up over time to create painful traumas that have lasting repercussions in our lives
  • How an episode of John Quiñones’s “What Would You Do” series titled “The Bike Thief” highlights how we all experience the world differently
  • Sara shares some of the shocking disparities and inequities that people of color experience in the United States
  • How our societal systems have created these inequities and have done exactly what they were designed to do
  • Why “equality” and “equity” aren’t the same thing, and why we should be pursuing equity, not equality
  • Sara explains and defines cultural competence, and she shares the five distinct stages of cultural competence
  • What steps business owners can take to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace within their organizations


Additional Resources:

Jun 12, 2020

Brian Gill is a computer scientist, entrepreneur, and angel investor. Brian currently serves as Chairman of Gillware, which provides cyber risk assessments, data recovery, incident response, and digital forensics services. He is a co-founder of Phoenix Nuclear Labs and served on PNLs board from inception to when it decided to spin-off SHINE Medical Technologies. Those two companies have raised over 100 million dollars of venture capital and employ hundreds of people in Wisconsin.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • How Brian first began a successful data recovery business before getting involved in funding nuclear science technology research
  • How the rise in ransomware attacks has helped position Brian’s data recovery business as an industry specialist spinoff of the main business
  • How ransomware works, how criminals can gain access to your network, and how “social engineering” scams are the keys they use to get in
  • How criminals will encrypt all the data in your network and then blackmail you into paying large sums of money to release your own data
  • Why many of these criminals work for state-sponsored criminal syndicates and aren’t even breaking the law in their local jurisdiction
  • Why too many business owners are reticent to spend money on security systems, leaving their businesses vulnerable in ways they may not even understand
  • How investing into your data security now can help you stave off or minimize costly financial disasters later
  • Brian shares some of the early challenges he encountered and mistakes he made and discusses the key lessons he learned
  • Why choosing your investment partners to raise capital for your business is vital, and why the right investors can bring more than just money to the table
  • How Brian uses both internal and external marketing and thought leadership as a powerful way to repurpose content and connect with existing and new audiences


Additional Resources:

Jun 10, 2020

Darren Virassammy is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of 34 Strong, a team that believes everyone deserves a great place to work and that any workplace can be great. A leading expert in the global employee engagement community, the 34 Strong team leverages the Strengths-Based approach to human development to create massive shifts within organizations, both culturally and on the bottom line. He and his team have created sustainable change in small microbusinesses, all the way up to large organizational teams at the FDA, Bank of America, American Licorice, and The California Department of Public Health. Recently, Darren has served as keynote for Hitachi Global Women’s Conference, The Rotary World Peace Conference, The Professional Grounds Management Society, and Author Mike Michalowicz Profit Con (where he also closed down the conference by performing a solo bass guitar piece he composed titled Metamorphosis as a tribute to the journey of entrepreneurs) Darren’s 34 Strong Business partner, Brandon Miller is the co-author (with his wife Analyn Miller) of a Strengths-Based Parenting book titled: Play to Their Strengths due out in July of 2019.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • How a transformational moment with his young daughter awoke Darren to his own potential and forced him to reevaluate his life and goals
  • Why Darren’s personal experiences feeling simultaneously engaged and disengaged between two different jobs helped to inform his work today
  • Why Darren chose to name his company 34 Strong after being inspired by Gallup’s Clifton StrengthsFinder 2.0
  • Why business owners too often minimize or devalue the power of their own strengths, and why leaning into your top strengths is the key to success
  • Why as much as 70% of an employee’s level of engagement or disengagement is tied to their manager
  • Why 82% of promotions into management roles are based on technical skills and tenure but neglect the importance of talent and training
  • Why playing to your strengths and managing around your weaknesses can help improve engagement across your organization
  • How Darren’s “Grind, Greatness, Genius” cycle can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and determine where to focus your time
  • What key lesson Darren learned from a Grammy award-winning bass musician mentor that can be applied to daily habits within your business
  • Why joining a mastermind group can be a powerful resource to give you a fresh perspective on your business


Additional Resources:

Jun 5, 2020

Gideon Shalwick is a serial entrepreneur who’s been creating content in the online video space for over a decade. His entrepreneurial journey started about a decade ago, when he felt unfulfilled in his career. He had a wonderful job in New Zealand, but felt that something was “off.” After leaving his job to work for himself, Gideon and his wife decided to start over, and on a whim they moved from New Zealand to Australia. With this fresh start, they found a renewed energy to focus on their life as an entrepreneurial family.

After learning a few lessons from The Entrepreneurial School of Hard Knocks, Gideon found his niche in video marketing. He honed in on his passion for video content creation, learning all he could about leveraging exceptional video content to reach the right audience in today’s increasingly-noisy digital world. Since then, Gideon has kept his finger on the pulse when it comes to trends in social media and content marketing, and he knows how crucial it is for brands to connect and engage with their online communities through video.

When Gideon realized that 85% of viewers watch video content on silent mode, he realized the importance of captions — and not just native captions, but real, personalized captions that add value to video content. So he launched Splasheo, a video captioning service where his team of real people manually transcribe the videos of brands and influencers, and burn those captions directly into the video using engaging layouts. Because of the human touch, the result is exceptional: appealing videos, free of distracting typos/grammatical errors, to help engage your audience and make an impact.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • How Gideon’s entrepreneurial journey began by being stuck in a job that wasn’t making him happy, and how he and his wife decided to immigrate to Australia and start a business
  • How writing a successful book taught Gideon the importance of learning to run a business, and how chance and good fortune led him to beginning his work in the video space
  • Why video is a unique and empowering medium that allows people to share their message like never before in history
  • What issues Gideon recognizes that often holds business owners back from making the jump to video, and why great video content is about authentic messages and connections
  • Why Gideon believes we are all motivated by four core drivers: connections to others, feeling significant, the need for freedom, and feeling in control
  • How Gideon and his team built the four core drivers into their business model, and why helping clients build significance is the company’s main focus
  • How Gideon’s realization that 85% of viewers watch video content with the sound off was important for the success of Splasheo
  • How Splasheo users have seen significant gains in their engagement statistics by adding captions to their video content
  • Why video captions trigger mental images in viewers, adding an entirely new level of visual element to viewers’ experience
  • How video content can be sliced and diced and repurposed for many different uses, and why creating video content is easier than it might seem


Additional Resources:

Jun 3, 2020

Paul Jarvis is a writer and designer who has had his own company of one for the last two decades. His latest book, Company of One, explores why bigger isn’t always better in business.

He’s worked with professional athletes like Steve Nash and Shaquille O’Neal, corporate giants like Microsoft and Mercedes-Benz, and entrepreneurs with online empires like Danielle LaPorte and Marie Forleo.

Currently, he teaches popular online courses taken by over 14,00 students, hosts several podcasts, and develops small but mighty software solutions.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • How Paul’s career started in boutique web design before shifting to creating products like books, courses, and software
  • How Paul made the transition between web design and thought leadership over the course of 2 1/2 years
  • Why giving up working with long term clients was challenging for Paul, and how he realized that the changing nature of his business required saying goodbye
  • How the first product Paul decided to offer was a cookbook that did surprisingly well in sales, helping him enter the product lane
  • How Paul listens to his established audience and then designs products such as courses that answer their questions and address their needs and problems
  • How Paul was able to use response data from his mailing list to prove the value of his book Company of One to a publisher
  • What key concepts Paul’s book shares with readers about why “growth for the sake of growth” isn’t always the best way to run a business
  • Why up to 70% of businesses fail because they can’t sustain the resources they need for their own rapid growth
  • Why prioritizing growth can often cause you to make poor decisions for the long term health of your business
  • Why every business has an “organic size” that they need to be to operate, and why staying at the organic size of your business is critically important


Additional Resources:

May 29, 2020

Michael Redbord is the General Manager of the Service Hub at HubSpot. Prior to that, Michael scaled the HubSpot Customer Support team from 20 people in a single office with single-language phone support to more than 200 people powering a global, multi-lingual, multi-channel support experience. In doing so, Michael turned HubSpot’s customer support team from a cost center to a profit center and one of HubSpots greatest engines of growth, with an unimaginable revenue retention rate of over 100%. Essentially, the revenue the sales and marketing teams generate is worth more because of the customer success team. Michael is a noted writer, speaker, and former competitive classical pianist.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • How Michael got started at HubSpot while it was still relatively small in 2010, and how the company rapidly scaled to the powerhouse it is today
  • How many of the business leaders at HubSpot got started in the sales, support or customer service areas before advancing to leadership positions
  • Why working directly with customers helps anchor the team at HubSpot, regardless of their role, and helps maintain focus on the customer experience
  • How Michael navigated a difficult period in HubSpot’s life and managed the complexity of a situation that he refers to as an “acute crisis”
  • How the need to rapidly hire new frontline employees helped HubSpot clarify and streamline their interview and hiring processes
  • How the HubSpot team learned to scale their business and particularly to hire at scale, building out their team by hiring as many as 20 employees per month
  • How doing hundreds of job interviews each week became a primary focus for HubSpot, and how Michael viewed interviewing as his primary job responsibility during that time
  • How HubSpot transitioned from single-language phone support to offering global multilingual support, and what challenges they faced during the process
  • What tips and recommendations Michael would offer to help you fill your open positions with people who have the right skills and passion for the role
  • Why simplification and clarity are the keys to scaling, solving problems, and dealing with crisis situations


Additional Resources:

May 27, 2020

With a talent for creating special events that blossomed while working for her dad’s car stereo shop, Nicole Mahoney got her start in marketing at Frontier Field in Rochester and she began serving as the executive director of the internationally known Lilac Festival. Later on, Nicole headed the Canandaigua, New York Business Improvement District while also performing projects for the tourism promotion agency Visit Rochester.

In 2009, Nicole founded Break the Ice Media, with more than 20 years of experience in tourism marketing. She now hosts “Destination on the Left”, a highly successful tourism marketing podcast.

As a business owner, Nicole knows what it takes to be successful. She founded BTI to help businesses tell their brand story through public relations, digital and traditional channels. Nicole has the ability to uncover unique marketing opportunities and develop marketing and public relations initiatives that help clients build long-term success.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • Why the onset of the global pandemic pushed Nicole and her team to “double down” on their thought leadership and content creation
  • How Nicole’s investment in her thought leadership has paid off in an overwhelmingly positive response from her audience
  • How Nicole’s clients within the travel and tourism business have been significantly impacted by the pandemic, and how she is working to help them through the challenge
  • Why focusing on being a great partner, establishing goodwill, and planting seeds now can help you survive and thrive through the crisis
  • How Nicole and her team navigated the early days of the pandemic, and why transparency in decision-making has been vital as they navigate the challenge
  • How Nicole and her team decided to hold a three-day virtual summit for her community well in advance of the pandemic, and how they have found tremendous success
  • How the virtual summit, already planned to be held in April, was ideal under the conditions of social distancing
  • How Nicole and her team are now helping their clients convert their own events into virtual shows, and how that service is becoming a new offering for Break The Ice Media
  • How the virtual summit gave birth to the idea of offering an online course with modules for clients, and how the team coordinated to create the course
  • Why being completely transparent and showing how they have done their work has been key in better serving their clients


Additional Resources:

May 22, 2020

Melanie Johnson is the CEO of Elite Online Publishing. She is passionate about sharing people’s stories that educate, motivate, and inspire. She and her team market and promote nonfiction books for business owners and athletes to create expert authority status for marketing impact and influence. She is honored to work one on one with their authors to create the best strategies for their book creation, marketing, and social media. Melanie is a five-time best-selling author.

Melanie graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in communications and was the first girl to receive a varsity letter in a boy’s sport in the state of Michigan. She lives in Houston Texas and is originally from Michigan, where she earned the title of Miss Michigan. She is enjoying raising her two sons, who keep her motivated and young. She loves the beach, traveling, and spending time with her family.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • How Melanie’s varied career moved from working as a model and actress to broadcasting, to real estate, and then to the world of publishing
  • How working in communications awakened Melanie to the power of writing and publishing a book
  • How the Amazon author page can be a powerful marketing resource, including adding blog posts and a bio, putting the power of Amazon to work for you for free
  • What obstacles and challenges business owners often get stuck on when considering writing a book, and how Melanie and her team help overcome these roadblocks
  • What diverse tools and resources are available to help potential authors take down their thoughts and develop a book
  • How Melanie and her team’s “ten-by-ten-by-three” formula can help you quickly generate great content relating to the most important questions your audience might ask
  • Why calls to action throughout your book are important, and how to integrate your website into your book and encourage readers to opt in to more content
  • How giving away free copies of your book can be a great way to forge new relationships and create business opportunities
  • Why a book has incredible longevity and can help keep you top-of-mind with your prospects and potential business relationships
  • Why publishing a book has many benefits that other forms of marketing tools lack, and why it can be sliced, diced and repurposed in many different ways


Additional Resources:

May 20, 2020

Robert W. Mixon, Jr. is a retired U.S. Army Major General, former President of a manufacturing company, EVP of a diverse, innovative not for profit company, and Leadership Consultant. He serves as a faculty member at the Thayer Leader Development Group at West Point and various premier business schools including The Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester, The Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, and the Cox Business School at Southern Methodist University.

Robert served his country for over three decades in various military leadership roles before deciding to bring his high-caliber leadership style and values to the corporate world in 2007. Robert is an expert in the field of Change Management and has made it his mission to develop cultures defined by trust and empowerment.

He co-authored the best-selling book, Cows in the Living Room: Developing an Effective Strategic Plan and Sustaining It, and founded Level Five Associates, a change management consulting company which helps organizations develop strong leaders and unique cultures through the use of their trademarked “Big 6” Leadership Principles. He’s a recent recipient of a Business Leadership Teaching Excellence Award from SMU Cox School of Business.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • General Mixon shares how a football scholarship led to attending West Point and finding his military calling and a sense of belonging
  • How General Mixon left his career in military service and reentered the private sector, first with a nonprofit organization and then as an entrepreneur
  • Why General Mixon considers leadership to be a privilege, not a right, and why he believes in leading by example
  • How General Mixon and the team at Level Five Associates work with their clients to customize leadership training programs and workshops
  • General Mixon shares his “Big 6” Leadership Principles and defines each, explaining why they matter
  • How the team at Level Five Associates helps leaders evaluate, score, and adjust their Big 6, and how doing so improves their leadership abilities
  • Why success requires the ability to have frank discussions and the willingness to work toward sustaining your progress
  • Why believing in your culture and “walking the talk” in a transparent and authentic way is vital
  • Why the most important lesson General Mixon learned was that “it isn’t about me, it is about us”
  • Why, to achieve your full potential as a leader, you must commit to the leadership journey of learning and listening


Additional Resources:

May 15, 2020

Drs. Brandon and Heather Credeur are two of the most successful Functional Medicine practitioners and entrepreneurs in history. Their passion, entrepreneurial acumen, and good ole fashion southern work ethic allowed them to build one the largest, if not the largest, single office cash practice in the history of Functional Medicine.

More importantly, their business success allowed them to be able to help tens of thousands of chronically ill patients return to health and escape a broken and destructive healthcare system. The Credeurs are steadfast proponents of functional medicine and getting to the root cause of disease. They are fierce advocates for this model of healthcare in their day-to-day actions and efforts, and they have been healthcare warriors at the regulatory, legislative and legal levels.

Through their coaching, consulting, and mentorship their expertise and wisdom have also been used to train hundreds of FM providers in what they call The FM Success Formula. Drs. Brandon and Heather Credeur believe that Functional Medicine should be Fun, Successful, and most of all Impactful.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • How Brandon and Heather discovered their focus on Functional Medicine, and why Heather’s own experience with health issues served as motivation to follow this passion
  • What early difficulties they faced after starting their practice, and how they had to discover a working business model and learn to run a business
  • How they realized they didn’t know business leadership skills they needed, and how they sought mentorship and training to fill in those gaps
  • How Brandon and Heather decided to pivot away from a traditional practice/Functional Medicine hybrid and focus on their passion, and how doing so created powerful growth
  • How they turned their focus to three interconnected niches in Functional Medicine: patients with type II diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and cognitive decline
  • How Brandon and Heather transitioned to coaching and coaching other doctors in the practice of Functional Medicine through their FM Shift platform
  • How their coaching business hit the ground running and has since grown and expanded beyond their expectations
  • How the FM Shift business scope has changed over time, and what the business and training platform looks like today
  • How Brandon was confronted with a tough reality that made a huge impact and helped him course correct and get out of his own way to becoming an expert
  • What important mentoring lesson Heather learned that taught her to reframe her mindset and create new opportunities


Additional Resources:

May 13, 2020

Shay Rowbottom is the co-founder and former COO of a Facebook agency that worked with companies like Petco, Yahoo, Verlo, and dozens more in creating content and devising content strategies for social media. Since joining the LinkedIn platform in May of 2018, Shay has grown to over 90,000 followers, garnered over four million views of her content, and generated seven figures in sales for partnering media companies. Now, she is ready to share her strategies with you and produce the same kind of results for your brand.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • How Shay realized she needed a career shift and discovered the value of monetizing social media content and building a following
  • How Shay brought her vast social media experience to LinkedIn and had generated more than six figures in revenue in just two months on the platform
  • Why video is becoming an increasingly valuable resource on LinkedIn to help you stand out and gain attention
  • Why showing authenticity and vulnerability in your content can help your audience better identify with you
  • Why people often struggle to go “off-brand,” and why breaking the habit of sticking to your comfort zone can help you break through the noise
  • Why offering free value is a valuable way to spread your message and raise your brand awareness, and why hoarding your knowledge isn’t the good idea it might appear to be
  • Why sharing content for free can actually be more profitable in the long run that charging for the same content
  • Why consistency in creating content is more important than having a high production quality, and why a cell phone is a great tool when you’re just starting out
  • How to create great video content that attracts attention and gets people to pay attention to your message
  • Why Shay frequently remixes and reposts high-performing content, and how she comes up with ideas for fresh, valuable content every day


Additional Resources:

May 8, 2020

Ryan Tansom became a business junkie early in life as he watched his father grow a small technology company into one of the market leaders in Minneapolis. He joined Imaging Path full-time during the financial crisis when the business was in rough shape. Ryan started in sales and eventually worked his way up to Executive VP after helping turn the distressed company into a profitable B2B technology provider.

In 2014, he and his dad decided to sell their business to a local competitor for a multitude of reasons. The exit process was an unexpectedly difficult undertaking, but the lessons that were learned have proven to be invaluable and he has taken his experience into multiple business ventures.

Ryan is now a serial entrepreneur, podcast host of Life After Business, Co-Founder of Growth & Exit Planning (GEXP) Collaborative, speaker and soon to be author. He has devoted every waking minute since the sale helping owners grow and exit their companies by developing a framework that guides entrepreneurs through the process.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • How Ryan inherited his father’s entrepreneurial bug, and how he learned firsthand the importance of proper exit planning
  • What particular factors help make a business salable, and why 80% of businesses have glaring weaknesses that make them unsellable
  • Why buyers assume significant risk when buying an existing business, and why outside factors can quickly devalue a business after a new owner comes in
  • Why research shows that 75% of business owners who do successfully sell their businesses are unhappy and regret the sale twelve months later
  • Why it is important for business owners to be clear on how they personally define success for themselves and their companies
  • Why knowing what your business is worth today and what it will need to be worth to give you financial freedom when you sell it is vital
  • How each exit option has a direct impact on the value, how much money you will get up front vs. over time, and what relationship you will have with the business post closing
  • Why creating a stable, predictable and transferable cash flow for your business is the key to increasing its value, and why you need a team of advisors to help you sell
  • Ryan explains the difference between “two-dimensional thinking” and “three-dimensional thinking”
  • Why you need to see improvements to your business as a worthwhile investment, and what steps you can take to shift your thinking about your business


Additional Resources:

May 6, 2020

Polly is co-founder and Chief Strategist at A Brave New, a Seattle digital marketing agency focused on helping businesses accelerate their growth through inbound marketing, branding, and web design. She specializes in working with clients to identify barriers to their growth and overcoming them with strategic content and marketing tactics. She has more than fifteen years of experience in digital marketing and branding.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • Why Polly and her business partner Josh decided to become entrepreneurs and found A Brave New, and what areas of marketing they specialize in for their clients
  • Why Polly and Josh wanted to move away from nonprofit organizations and specialize in the B2B space when they founded A Brave New
  • What early challenges the A Brave New team faced when making the jump to B2B, and why Polly and Josh had to learn to believe in the value they were offering
  • How trial and error and experimentation helped Polly and Josh fine-tune their area of focus and helped them develop and grow the firm
  • How mentorship and good advice became the foundation of A Brave New’s direction, and why having mentors believe in them was a strong motivator for Polly and Josh
  • Why Polly believes it is important to be intentional and focus on a clear plan for the future, even if you are busy with the day-to-day grind
  • Why you shouldn’t try to start from scratch but should learn from established business leaders who have already gone where you hope to go
  • Why Polly and the team at A Brave New used their own company as an experimentation space to develop new offerings for clients
  • Why focusing on helping and adding value can help new clients discover your company, and why the A Brave New team developed a new level of discipline in decision-making


Additional Resources:

Apr 29, 2020

Good Morning Onward Nation – I’m Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI and your host. Thanks for coming back – and if you’re new to Onward Nation – please know – I greatly appreciate your time and it’s wonderful to have you here.

Today’s episode is going to be a solocast – just you and me exploring a topic with some real depth.

And sort of a house-keeping heads up – this may very well be one of the longest solocast I’ve ever recorded – if not the longest. In fact – during one of the morning kick-start meetings with my Predictive team this week – I shared with them that I felt like I was back at the university getting ready to teach a half-day session on campus.

For the last several days — I’ve been writing on my whiteboards…erasing…starting over…scouring through literally 400 pages of research reports…and then refining my thoughts.

This will be a long one – but my hope is that when you and I are finished walking through it – you’ll feel it was well worth your time.

As I considered topics that would be helpful to you and your team — I thought about the daily phone calls I’ve had over the last several weeks with business owners…or the emails I have received from owners within our Onward Nation community…business owners just like you…who wanted some help brainstorm strategies, or to have an opportunity to get a sanity check on the next steps they were considering, or to help them talk through decisions they were thinking about making within their business.

Here’s the reality, Onward Nation – without question – we’re facing new and historic challenges

But – even though sometimes the challenges may seem insurmountable – I’m telling you – they aren’t.

I get it — none of us have ever had to deal with something exactly like COVID-19 before – but – we have certainly worked through and navigated some very major crises before…and we survived through it all.

Look – you know that I’m not a rah-rah, blow inspiration your way in order to make you feel better kind of person. I like data. I like examples. I like research. I like proven methods.

So I built the content of this episode from the ground up to be a resource that you and your team can use to market – yes, market – your way through the crisis.

I’m going to share some big golden nuggets from the research that I have curated from a variety of sources – and special thanks to Drew McLellan and Susan Baier for helping me knit the data points together.

I’m grateful for how you always generously share your smarts.

So that’s what you and I are going to talk through today – how you and your team can proactively market your business through this crisis – and at the same time – get through to the other side in a healthy position and ready for the rebound in the economy.

Make no mistake. It is not a quick fix. It isn’t easy. It will take hard work. And it may require that you make some difficult decisions. But — if you do all we talk about in this solocast…you will not only put your business in a position to make it through to the other side…but you will have also future-proofed your business for when the next crisis, challenge, or recession lands on our doorsteps.

Okay – so that’s the plan for today. Deal?

But – before we dive into all of that…I feel like I’d be remiss if we didn’t squarely address the emotional side of what we…as owners…are dealing with right now.

I hope you’ll forgive me here – because the next several minutes might sound like venting…because I kind of am…but my guess is…you might take this opportunity to vent right alongside me as I share this.

Candidly — part of what drove me to do the research, to write, and record this solocast was my own anger — my own frustration, my disappointment, and my sadness around what is happening right now.

I will tell you — there have been some days where I’ve felt bruised, battered, bewildered, and quite frankly…exhausted. My lens through which I normally view the world is to always look for the silver lining – and there are indeed silver linings with today’s crisis – but I admit…it’s taken me longer than normal to see them.

These are some big emotions so I wanted to tackle each of them in front of you because I know many of you have felt the same. You’ve shared that with me in our calls and emails.

Or – maybe you’re wrestling with or feeling something entirely different. Either way – maybe we’ll find some common ground here together.

I’m going to start with sadness.

I’m so sad for all of the families here in the United States and abroad that have had to say goodbye to a loved one, way too soon, because of COVID. I have several at-risk family members and friends — as I’m sure you do, too — and we’d be devastated if we were to lose any of them…ever.

My heart is also broken for business owners who have had to shut down…who are now questioning the livelihoods and the livelihoods of their employees. And to make matters worse — many owners played by all the rules when seeking financial assistance…and yet…they were left out in the cold.

How could this possibly happen?

And — I’m embarrassed to admit…when I think about my feelings of sadness…they quickly transition to anger and frustration.

Even as I thought through and then wrote out what I wanted to share with you today — I felt my eyes welling up as I reflected on my sadness and then I heard my fingers pounding on my keyboard harder and harder because my level of tension grew.

I’m angry and frustrated when I hear of instances where our courageous healthcare workers and first responders who were asked to run toward the fight…yet had to do it at great personal risk because they didn’t have the gear they needed. And yet – our brave men and women didn’t stop — they did their duty because we all needed them to.

Or – I feel myself get angry when I hear politicians on both sides of the aisle and bureaucrats seemingly make decisions with their own best interests in mind and not their constituents. With the end result being that many small business owners were left out of the original stimulus – and have been forced to dangle in the wind and hope they get the assistance they desperately need — because someone, somewhere, was playing favorites.

Yet through it all — as I talk with business owners, Onward Nation – as I’m hearing similar emotions felt — I will tell you what I’m NOT hearing…and that’s the word QUIT.

Out of all of those calls — and all of the emails I have received — literally — not one person has said to me that they had decided to throw in the towel and quit. Not a single person. And that is one of the many reasons why I love business owners as much as I do.

You’re some of the most tenacious, generous, and committed people I know. You give, you sacrifice, and you lend support wherever you can. I love that about you.

So when the roles are reversed and support is promised to you…and you’re told by a big box bank that they’ll be there for you…and then we come to find out that that was never their intention…you bet, Onward Nation…that makes me really, really angry.

I’m angry for every business owner who was given a promise and then that promise was broken. Yes, I get it…life isn’t fair but I was hoping that during this crisis we would have demonstrated that we learned some important lessons from the mistakes of the past.

I’m frustrated that the answers and next steps for business owners have been few and far between.

So – I built this solocast as a way to provide a roadmap for where we as owners can and should go next in the coming weeks. What can we do to rebuild — and if we work hard at it — could it be possible to come out of this crisis in a better position than when we went in?

And that’s is what drove me to do the research. To look back through past recessions, past recoveries…to study the winners and the losers…and to share with you what they did…so we can all take some lessons out of their playbooks and put them to work right now.

I’m going to give you the data points and examples to show it’s possible. And — I’m going to share the next steps that you and your team can take and apply.

Okay — two final housekeeping items before we dive in.

First — thanks for listening to me vent — and I hope you were able to blow off a little steam in the process, too. We all need to give ourselves the grace of being able to do that from time-to-time. Yes, our teams deserve the best leadership and direction we can provide. But — you’re also human — you’re not a rock and sometimes we need to remind ourselves that it’s okay to take a step back and to honor the fact that this is an emotional time…even if that’s for 5 minutes. So thank you for giving me that grace just now, Onward Nation.

Second — all of the citation and references sources that I have included can be found in the endnotes section of today’s show notes on

And third — as I mapped out all of this content on my whiteboards and worked through the written drafts — holy bananas — I quickly saw that there was no way I could cover everything in the level of detail necessary within one solocast. It would be too long and too overwhelming.

So today’s solocast is Part 1 of 2. But by the time you listen to this episode — I will have likely finished up Part 2 so we will be airing it very soon.

Stepping through the research…

Okay, Onward Nation — with all that said — let’s start stepping through how to market your way through the crisis.

And we will start off by reviewing three research studies and articles published in the Harvard Business Review. Again all linked within today’s show notes.

Okay, Onward Nation — with all that said — let’s start stepping through how to market your way through the crisis.

And we will start off by reviewing three research studies and articles published in the Harvard Business Review. Again all linked within today’s show notes.

The first article is entitled “Preparing your business for a post-pandemic world”, which was published by HBR on April 10, 2020 and was written by Carsten Lund Pedersen and Thomas Ritter, both professors at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark.

I decided to pull golden nuggets out of Pedersen and Ritter’s work and share it with you because of their emphasis on planning before and during a crisis — and how if your planning process was sound, Onward Nation — that the end-result could be that you will not only survive the current crisis but you will have future-proofed your business so you can survive and thrive future threats.

But in order to prep the proper response plan with smart strategic decisions, you must first understand the position your business holds in the market. You can do that by asking yourself and your team some fundamental questions like, “who are we in our market”, “what role do we play in the market? (Are we price-sensitive suppliers, are we market leaders, do our clients and prospects see us as thought leaders, etc.?).” And — what if we make immediate course corrections…could we emerge as a market leader fueled by developments, new ideas, service offerings, or new markets that we invest in during the lockdown? [1]

Onward Nation — we all know that a plan is a course of action pointing the way to the position you hope to attain. But — the right plan should also map out what you need to do today to achieve your objectives tomorrow. And this is where business owners get snagged. Their plans consist of either lofty ideas without any of the tactical detail their team can challenge, make better, and then implement — or often times — there’s no plan at all because the business owner relies on winging it. Winging it may work during good economic times — but it doesn’t work during a crisis.

And yes, I think Mike Tyson had a point when he famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” And that is exactly why when the U.S. Navy Seals create a mission plan along with 13 contingencies for each mission they execute. They recognize that there will be ebb and flow to the mission plan as the situation evolves and changes with new data points, variables difficult to predict, or sudden changes. But if they didn’t have a plan – they wouldn’t know what gear to take, how much gear, transportation, extraction, and the litany of other things that need to be considered.

And yet – I know many business owners who bristle at planning because they don’t want to feel boxed in or the constraint on flexibility. The Seals would tell you that it is because of the intensity of their planning process that they can be more flexible on the battlefield because they have already anticipated their options – and – have everything they need to proceed with a new direction.

Here’s the reality — and I think the authors of the article were spot on when they wrote, “the lack of a plan only exacerbates disorientation in an already confusing situation.”[2]

Yes, this crisis is confusing. It’s stressful. And there have been times when working with my leadership team at Predictive when I felt overwhelmed and just wanted to start doing things to see if anything would stick. But — we didn’t until we had a plan. I encourage you to take a step back…have discipline…look around…ask yourself and your team questions…look at today…this week…this month…and map out in writing the steps you intend to take quickly for both the short-term — and — identify how those steps will set your business up for success in 12-months as it relates to your 3-year mission.

In addition to the planning process that you and your fellow leaders within your business need to be working through — you also need to communicate the plan as well as the process to create the plan — with your entire team. If you or your leadership team works through the planning process in a vacuum and doesn’t share highlights, milestones, or progress as the plan is evolving — I’m telling you — your team will feel lost and your culture will suffer.

Your team is just as confused, scared, and concerned as you are. And many of them might be super scared and concerned for you – way more so than their own job security. So — I’m not suggesting that your entire team needs to be involved in the creation of the core plan.

But what I am suggesting is that you take a lesson out of the book, “Extreme Ownership” where you and your leadership team create the core plan — brief your entire team on the objectives and intent of the plan — and then ask junior members of your team to meet and work out the tactical details for implementing the plan.[3]

Your job is to make sure you are clear on the objectives and the intent of the plan. Then set your expectations for the timing for the completion of the plan — quickly…like 24- to 48-hours — and have each of the junior team members present their portion of the plan back to you and your leadership team. Then everyone asks questions and in doing so – does some stress testing of the plan. It’s crucial to create space for the plan to evolve but that doesn’t mean your planning process needs to take weeks. It can be days and you will be off and running.

I assure you — your greatest challenge during the planning process will be to prioritize. You need to be careful that you don’t start numerous projects that all depend on the same critical resources. If you do — you will burn out your team and nothing will get done with excellence. Instead — take your five, six, or 10 great ideas…apply pressure to them…and distill them down to one to two great ideas with clear steps for the next 30-days. And then keep a list of all of the other ideas and come back to it in 30-days and re-evaluate what should be next.

Okay — before we move on to another ingredient in the planning process – I want to give you a warning so you don’t fall into a mental trap. I learned this lesson during my mentorship with Darren Hardy, former publisher of SUCCESS Magazine when he was on our board of advisors at Predictive. And one day he shared some marketing strategies and tactics with me…and candidly…while he was sharing them with me…I was arrogantly thinking to myself, “Yes, good ideas, Darren but I’ve heard these before.” And then came the two-part question from Darren.

“Stephen – you may have heard these ideas before but…”

Question 1: Are you doing them?

And as soon as he asked me the question – I immediately felt embarrassed. When he was sharing the ideas – I was affirming my own smarts in my head because I wanted to show myself that I had similar ideas to Darren. When instead I should have been thinking… “Yes, I have heard this before…and why aren’t we doing this?” So his challenge landed exactly the way he wanted it to land.

And then the second question…

Question #2: If you are doing it…can you do it better, greater, with more excellence?

So – if you’re already planning…rock solid awesome. I commend you because most business owners aren’t planning right now — they are reacting without a plan, which is dangerous because it forces them to aimlessly wandering through the wilderness while trying to wing it.

So my challenge to you is — can you take a nugget out of what Pedersen, Ritter, and the Navy Seals do for planning and make your planning process even better?

My guess is…we all can.

Now let’s shift our attention to imagination — because we need it now more than ever.

Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller, both part of the Boston Consulting Group’s Henderson Institute, wrote a brilliant article entitled, We Need Imagination Now More Than Ever which was published by the Harvard Business Review on April 10, 2020. A link to the full text of the article can be found in the endnotes section of today’s show notes.

Reeves and Fuller put forth the argument that imagination — in the face of uncertainty, economic crisis, and the historic challenges we are facing right now as a nation/world — is exactly what we need to solve the problem. But it is difficult to apply imagination and all of its benefits when we are in full-on crisis management mode.

Why? Because when something unexpected and significant happens our first instinct is to defend against it. Then we later move to understand and manage whatever caused the crisis so we can get back to the status quo.
But we may not be able to return to our familiar pre-crisis reality. Onward Nation – no one knows for sure of course – but if I had to guess – I’d predict that COVID-19 is going to permanently change attitudes, needs, behaviors, and industries.

The authors believe – and I agree – “that your capacity to imagine…to create, to evolve, and to pursue ideas — is a crucial factor in seizing and creating new opportunities, and finding new paths to growth.”[4]

But the challenge is — and my guess is when I impressed upon you the importance of planning a few minutes ago — you felt the pressure to act and may have said to yourself “Stephen…there’s no time for planning – I need to take action now.” Same thing with imagination — because of the pressure of COVID-19 — it will be one of the hardest things to keep alive within your business right now.

However — imagination — re-thinking how you can double down in being helpful to your clients and prospects right now is exactly what can help your business survive this recession.

For example — in recessions and downturns, 14 percent of companies outperform both historically and competitively because they invested in new growth areas. Apple released its first iPod in 2001 — the same year the U.S. economy experienced a recession that contributed to a 33 percent drop in Apple’s total revenue. Still – Apple saw the iPod’s ability to transform its product portfolio so the company increased R&D spending by double digits, which sparked an era of high growth for the company.[5]

Later in today’s solocast — I will share with you some data points from a special coronavirus report from Edelman, which shows that what your clients and prospects want from you right now is to be helpful. Share, communicate, educate, teach, and be supportive. Onward Nation — you cannot do any of those things at a high level, with excellence, by reacting…by winging it…without a plan…and with no imagination.

The authors also surveyed more than 250 multi-national companies to understand what leaders were doing to manage the COVID-19 epidemic and its impact on their businesses. Interestingly, only a small number of companies are at a stage where they’re identifying and sharing strategic opportunities. I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising since big companies take longer to pivot than what our teams within our small businesses can do. But it also paints a picture of opportunity, too, doesn’t it?

If you can rally your teams — create an imaginative plan that everyone buys into because they had a hand in building it — you will likely be way of ahead of your competitors.

And yes I get it – you likely don’t own a multi-national company and you don’t have an R&D budget like Apple did back in 2001. But think of it this way – if multi-national companies that have budgets capable of doubling down on R&D – yet aren’t because they are in reactive mode – just think of the possibilities if you could actual reimage what’s next for you in your industry.

You might be the only one serving your niche that is actually thinking about how best to double down on being helpful. The rest of your industry might be thinking about that next promotional push…something…anything in order to get in a few dollars to survive. But you can imagine a completely different path. One that shares your smarts, your insights, the best of what you have in a generous way while everyone else is reacting and frozen.

You may have a blue ocean of possibilities in front of you if you can take the time to imagine all that can be.

But how do you do that? Let me help by giving you a push from the authors. Instead of asking yourself and your team passive questions like “What will happen to us during this crisis?” — flip the script — by asking active, open questions like “How can we create new options?”

Or — “How can we double down and be even more helpful to our clients and prospects during this crisis?”

What could we teach?

What research could we share?

What online event, webinar, or forum could we host for our audience that would share the best of what we’ve got to help them navigate what’s next?

I know — there are no easy solutions. And my Predictive team and I have wrestled through many options when we were building out our 30-day Priorities. Rest assured — we have worked through everything I’m recommending to you…I have seen it in action. But through it all – in order for this to work for you – you need to be open to new possibilities and not constrict the funnel.

Okay – the last nugget I want to share with you was a game-changer for me. I have been a student of mindset, attraction theory, and the power of the mastermind for years. I am a firm believer in that which we focus on we get more of. Perseverating over negative thoughts produces negative results and I have seen the reverse happen, too. And when blended with a great plan, intentional execution, and hard work – that within the plan becomes reality.

But what I learned from this article and wanted to share with you is how this actually plays out in the world of statistics, too.

For example — “when we lose hope and adopt a passive mindset, we cease to believe that we can meet our ideals or fix our problems. In statistics, Bayesian learning involves taking a belief about a statistical distribution – prior results – and updating it in the light of each new piece of information obtained. The outcome of the entire process can be determined by the initial belief. Pessimism can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”[6]

So – if you focus on being imaginative, being open to the possibilities, giving your team grounds for hope, encouraging them to be innovative…and all of this is done with the intent of being helpful to your clients and prospects in a way you never have been before…you will make progress. Meanwhile – your competitors will be bogged down in the thickness of things and trapped in a short-term survival mentality that requires them to TAKE from their clients and prospects…and it won’t work.

Onward Nation – as a leader in your business – ask yourself whether you are giving people grounds for hope, imagination, and innovation, or whether you are using pessimistic or fatalistic language, which could create a downward spiral in organizational creativity. Dealing with real risks involves taking imaginative risks, which requires hope.[7]

Trust me when I say that the trench you are fighting in every day – that trench of pressure, doubt, fear, anxiety, and at times…overwhelm…yes, I know that trench well, too. And I’m right there with you…slugging it out, too…and working hard.

But one thing I’m grateful for is that we quickly built a plan at Predictive, we prioritized, we mapped out how we could be helpful to clients and prospects…and we did all of that from the spirit of imagination…and then we shared it with our team. Now – taking you behind the curtain in full transparency…we did all of that in 48-hours. This is not a 4-6 week process. Don’t get bogged down…get moving.

Let’s keep up the momentum of the planning process and begin to think about how you should deal with the myriad of business pressures right now. Do you cut operating costs, do you furlough employees, do you work to open new markets and invest in R&D, or some other combination of strategies? And – is there an ideal combination or blend of the strategies – and if so – what have been the result outcomes from other companies as they worked to navigate past crises.

Thankfully – there is some excellent research available on all of the above. With that said – it might seem a bit odd that I am going to now turn our attention toward an article / published study in the Harvard Business Review from 2010. Why would I pull from an article that is 10-years old?

The article is entitled, Roaring Out of Recession and was published in HBR on March 3, 2010. I’m recommending you and your team study it because the data points within the article provide a whole lot of context that matters during today’s crisis.

Back in 2010 of course – the country was looking for any and all help in pulling itself out of the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009. But in order to make smart recommendations to their 2010 readers – the authors went back and gathered data from the past three global recessions: the 1980 crisis (which lasted from 1980 to 1982), the 1990 slowdown (1990 to 1991) and the 2000 bust (2000 to 2002). They studied 4,700 public companies, breaking down the data into three periods: the three years before a recession, the three years after, and the recession years themselves.[8] It took the researchers over 12-months to complete the research project and they focused on publicly traded companies because of the availability and access to data.

At the high level — and I will slice the big nuggets apart in just a minute — but as a business owner this data is helpful because right now you are in the heat of battle. You are a battlefield general. You’re commanding your troops…you’re asking for the best intel…and you and your fellow leaders are trying to react and respond. But without taking the time to plan…to imagine…to think about long-term positioning…I assure you…you will be busy tackling short term priorities and your outlook on the future will continue to be obscured by the fog of war.

Here are some of the highlights…

Seventeen percent of the companies in the study didn’t survive the recession.

About 80 percent of 4,700 companies in the study (3,760 companies) had not yet regained their pre-recession growth rate for sales and profits three years after the recession.

Forty percent of the 4,700 companies (1,880 companies) hadn’t even returned to their prerecession sales and profits levels by the end of the three years post-recession.

So for the majority of the companies – the financial impact of the recession were long lasting.

Only nine percent of companies flourished after a slowdown, doing better on key financial parameters than they had before and outperforming rivals in their industry by at least 10 percent in terms of sales and profits growth.

Interestingly — companies that cut costs faster and deeper than their competitors didn’t necessarily flourish. In fact – these were the companies in the study with the lowest probability — 21 percent — of pulling ahead of their competition when the economy rebounded.

Counter-intuitively — the company leaders that decided to double down and boldly invest more than their rivals during a recession also didn’t fare well. They only enjoyed a 26 percent chance of becoming leaders after a downturn and then into an economic rebound.

And most surprising to me was learning that 85 percent of growth leaders heading into a recession are then toppled because of the crisis. So if you’re not currently the leader in your niche – the current crisis could absolutely be your opportunity if you lead your team correctly over the next several months.

The post-recession winners were companies that mastered the balance between cutting costs to survive today and investing to grow tomorrow. And the proof is in the results with 37 percent of the post-recession winners breaking away from the pack.

“The post-recession winners were the companies that cut costs selectively by focusing on increasing operational efficiency — meanwhile — they invested relatively comprehensively in the future by spending on marketing, R&D, and new assets. This is the best antidote to a recession.”[9]

The researchers called the segment of companies that had taken this strategic approach, “Progressive.”

Progressive companies deploy the optimal combination of defense and offense. Conversely — the “prevention-focused companies” in the study were the ones whose leaders quickly implemented policies that reduced operating costs, shrunk discretionary expenditures, eliminated frills, lowered headcount, and preserved cash. They also postponed making new investments in R&D, developing new businesses, or buying assets such as plants and machinery to expand their capacity. Prevention-focused leaders cut back on almost every item of cost and investment and reduce expenditures significantly more than competitors.

Focusing solely on cost-cutting causes executives and employees to approach every decision through a loss-minimizing lens and pessimism permeates the organization.

Post-recession profits for prevention-focused enterprises typically rose by only $600 million, whereas for progressive companies they increased by an average of $6.6 billion. Prevention-focused companies were the ones that suffered the most during the recession – and – took the longest to recover. Or – never recovered to their pre-recession levels for sales and profit.

So let’s flip that — is doubling down on promotion is the right strategy?

Unfortunately – no – it’s not that simple. A focus purely on promotion develops a culture of optimism that led companies to deny the gravity of a crisis for a long time. They ignored early warning signs, such as customer’s budget cuts, and were steadfast in the belief that as long as they innovate, their sales and profits will continue to rise. They didn’t notice that because the pie was shrinking, they must capture an even larger share from rivals to keep growing. And this typically leads to intense price competition and a zero-sum game. No one wins in a race to the bottom.

However — progressive companies — which is where I’m urging you to begin thinking, Onward Nation — they are the companies that cut costs by improving operational efficiency rather than by slashing the number of employees. Only 23 percent of progressive companies cut staff — whereas 56% of prevention-focused companies do—and they lay off fewer people.

And the offensive moves by progressive are even comprehensive. Progression companies develop new business opportunities by making significantly greater investments than their rivals in R&D and marketing, and they invest in expanding their capacity. Progressive companies develop new markets and invest to enlarge their asset bases. They take advantage of depressed prices to buy property, plants, and equipment.

All of that combined is why the post-recession growth in sales and earnings by the progressive lead companies was the best among the 4,700 within the study.

Okay — let’s do a quick recap from what we have covered so far. First — by the data — you need to have a plan that involves your entire team – you cannot afford to wing it through any crisis…and definitely not this one. Second — you need to find ways to stay open to imagination and letting it impact your R&D and how you approach doubling down on being helpful to your clients and prospects. And third — if you want your business to make it through the other side of this crisis…and potentially…be in an even better position than when you entered it…now is the time to be progressive. Yes, reduce your operating expenses to boost efficiency…keep your team intact the best you can…and make investments in your marketing and R&D.

Let’s take the ROI around marketing investments a bit deeper with some data points collected from a study commissioned by the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI).

“ASI studied 2,662 firms from 1970 – 1991 to determine the effect of marketing on a company during a recession. Firms that marketed during a recession increased in value and got more marketing bang for their investment. In some cases – up to three years after the recession had ended. It seems like common sense – if you market when everyone else stops marketing – your message is more likely to be noticed due to a less cluttered market and your business is more likely to be remembered once your competitors begin marketing again.”

In my opinion, Onward Nation — this crisis is the time for you not to be silent. You need to be in front of your clients, prospects, and audience — and yes — that is marketing. But — this isn’t the time to be selling. This is the time to be helping. So yes — I want you to have a progressive mindset about how to lead your business to the other side of this but I want you to be very thoughtful about the content you and your team create and shares.

This is why I also want to share some highlights from a recent special report from Edelman because the context here will help guide the context of your content.

You can access a full copy of the report from the Edelman website using the link at the bottom of today’s show notes.

Edelman is a global communications firm that partners with businesses and organizations to evolve, promote, and protect their brands and reputations. Edelman employs 6,000 people in more than 60 offices. And they have been studying, researching, reporting on the topic of trust for the last 20-years. Their report has become the standard for excellence on the topic.

Edelman just conducted a 12-market study on the critical role brands are expected to play during the coronavirus pandemic, completed on March 26. We interviewed 12,000 people in Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, and the U.S. This follows on a study that we released two weeks ago on the role of the private sector during the pandemic.

I’m going to walk through a high-level overview of the key points…

If you were ever in doubt that your brand(s) mattered, this new data reveals the power and necessity of brand as well as the urgent need for you to act.

You and your team need to find solutions (think “imagination” – remember that from earlier in this solocast?) instead of selling passion or image.

Your solutions need to be tangible and fast, not impressionistic and conceptual.

Respondents recognized the need for specific actions to help address the societal challenges posed by COVID-19, from protecting the wellbeing of employees to shifting products, services, and pricing to create a sense of community. This crisis is indeed an opportunity for you to step up in a whole new way to be helpful in your niche.

Sixty-two percent of respondents said that their country won’t make it through this crisis without businesses playing a critical role in addressing the challenges. At the same time, 71 percent agree that if they perceive that a business is putting profit over people, they will lose trust in that business forever.[10]

So Onward Nation – if you’re not smart about your context ensuring it’s on-point – you could cause more harm than good from your marketing effort.

Businesses must focus their messaging on solutions, not selling.

Eighty-four percent of respondents said they want brand advertising to focus on how brands help people cope with pandemic-related life challenges.[11]

Seventy-seven percent said they want brands only to speak about products and services in ways that show they are aware of the crisis and the impact on people’s lives.[12]

And Onward Nation — the study showed that there’s a deep desire for expertise. Eighty-four percent of respondents globally said that they want businesses to be a reliable news source that keeps people informed. They want to receive this information from multiple sources, in part because they are skeptical about any individual medium given the epidemic of fake news. The most credible combination is mainstream media plus email.

Taking that further — eighty-five percent of respondents want you to be an educator, offering your audience instructional information about the virus and its effects and how to protect yourselves from it.

With the said — I’m suggesting that you play doctor or infectious disease expert. But what I am recommending that you do is pick up the torch and lead the conversations in your niche about the business impact the virus is having on your customers, your vendors, your industry as a whole. And — champion the distribution of resources, research, or anything else you think will be helpful to your community of clients and prospects who are desperately seeking answers.

If you’re on our email list – you’ve likely received updates from me with PPP resources, calculators, applications, etc. Our expertise isn’t in the public health arena – but – we absolutely believe we can be helpful to business owners within our community by sharing resources we have curated. And the response from our community has been incredible because we shared the right resources, at the right time, with absolutely no expectation of return.

Helping – not selling, Onward Nation.

The team at Edelman believes that this global crisis will fundamentally change how we think, behave, and consume. There will not be a rapid return to normal. And the new world will have trust at its core, with the brand mandate expanded to solve problems for all, protect all, care for all, collaborate with all, and innovate in the public interest.

Business owners that act in the interest of their employees, clients, prospects, and other stakeholders will reinforce their expertise, leadership, and trust and immeasurably strengthen those bonds. Your community is looking to you to share your thought leadership and expertise – and you can’t do that by shrinking or by being quiet. They want you to demonstrate your authority.

Don’t be promotional – be helpful. Don’t focus on selling – but be solutions focused. Double down on sharing your expertise like you never have before. We’re all faced with economic challenges right now – no one is immune – and if you can resist the temptation to sell…I assure you…creating an authority position will deliver a financial return on your investment.

In an upcoming episode of Onward Nation — Susan Baier, founder of Audience Audit – an exceptional research firm and our partner on a recent study on the ROI of Thought Leadership will join me to walk through the findings with you. I will tell you – the results are shocking. Yes, there is an ROI on your thought leadership when done well.

For example…

When a prospect chooses to work with you and your team instead of a competitor – 62 percent of the time that choice was made because of whether they consider you to be an authority or not.

Susan and I are preparing an executive summary with some of the biggest findings from the research. It will be available soon. If you’d like to ensure you receive it when it’s available – go to our Resources Library at and download one of the resources to ensure you’re on our mailing list – or – you can also email me directly at and I’ll make sure you get on the distribution list.

Okay – let’s begin to wrap up an come in for a landing by circling back to the Edelman data and then some additional framing about what makes someone an authority.

Onward Nation — all of the data points to the fact that we’ve entered the era of the Authority…even before COVID-19…and now even more so as a result of the virus. And while you may be sick of the phrase “thought leader”, the truth is there aren’t that many of them in the niches where you have decided to focus your business. If you haven’t yet niched down – I highly recommend you listen to Episode 930 where Eric Lanel and I talked through the importance of claiming your niche.

But what makes a thought leader a thought leader?

Thought leaders don’t write content that anyone else could claim. Thought leaders don’t write about anything and everything. And thought leaders don’t compete on price. And because of COVID, the data from Edelman, the data from our own ROI of Thought Leadership study, and many other relevant sources — I will argue — that the ideal time for you to double down on your own thought leadership to build your authority in your niche is now.

Churning out generic content to get ahead in Google rankings may have worked 20 years ago – but it doesn’t work today and it’s not helpful to your audience.

In our recent book entitled, “Sell with Authority”, my co-author, Drew McLellan, and I shared highlights from the 2019 Trust Barometer study from Edelman, a global PR agency, which has conducted the study each year for the last 20-years. It’s a worldwide study with 33,000 consumers participating in 27 countries.

One of the biggest takeaways from the study was that buyers assign a high level of trust to people they believe are just like themselves. When you think about the impact that ratings, reviews, and influencers have with their audiences, you begin to see the power of that belief.

But Edelman’s research isn’t about the celebrity influencer. This study documents the rise of the common man influencer – business owners just like you and me, Onward Nation. It’s noteworthy because it gives statistical validity to the idea of real people as influencers and the impact they can have on the beliefs around a brand.

The one attribute that ranked higher than the trust we have in people like you and me is the trust we have in highly educated experts. The only three groups of people we trust more than people like ourselves are company, industry, and academic experts.

Experts are afforded the highest level of confidence and trust because they have a depth of knowledge in a specific industry or niche. So why in the world wouldn’t you capitalize on that? Instead of creating generic content that looks and sounds like everyone else during this crisis – take the opportunity to create thought leadership content that is unique, different, and helpful – not promotional. Your competitors aren’t. So you should.

Now more than ever — you can own an authority position – you can do it – and it will help you future proof your business. There has never been a better time in history to start.

The data is all on your side.

The 10 Truths of an Authority

If you were asked to think of an authority on any subject, who would come to mind? What about them designates them as an authority? What’s true about them? And what does someone have to do to earn and keep the title of authority?

Truth #1: They have a focus area or subject matter expertise.

Truth #2: They don’t just repeat what everyone else is saying.

Truth #3: They have a public presence where they share their expertise.

Truth #4: They don’t stray from their area of expertise—think specialist versus a generalist.

Truth #5: They aren’t equally attractive to everyone. In fact, they probably bore most people to tears.

Truth #6: They’re significant—which is different from prolific—in terms of content creation.

Truth #7: They don’t create any generic content that someone with far less knowledge or experience could have just as easily written.

Truth #8: They’re perceived as an educator in some way.

Truth #9: They have a passion for their subject matter.

Truth #10: They have a strong point of view, which is the foundation of all of their content.

A true authority has something specific to teach us, and they want to be helpful or illuminating. They’re eager to share what they know because they have a genuine passion for it, and they don’t fear giving away the recipe to their secret sauce (or so it’s perceived).

That confidence and generosity are contagious. Their expertise is something specific groups of people (their sweet-spot prospects) are hungry to access. Call them an expert, a thought leader, an authority, a sought-after pundit, advisor, or specialist. They’re all words for the same thing—a trusted resource that has earned that trust by demonstrating and generously sharing the depth of their specialized knowledge over and over again.

One way to recognize an authority is the ability to define them in a single sentence, like Simon Sinek. He’s “the why guy.” Brené Brown is “the dare-to-be-vulnerable woman.” They’ve so narrowly and so carefully defined their expertise that we can capture it with a word or phrase.

Does Simon Sinek talk about other things? Of course. But he always ties it back to his thing—the “why.”

Does Brené Brown write about additional topics? Absolutely. But she always loops it back to being vulnerable and the power that comes from being brave enough to embrace vulnerability.

Beyond that, Drew and I would argue that a true authority has a strong point-of-view or belief that influences how they talk about their subject area. A narrow niche, a strong point-of-view, and being findable in multiple places are the hallmarks of an authority position.

And — they have a plan for creating content that is helpful to their niche and not focused on selling. All of the data points to the validity of leveraging your own thought leadership as your core strategy to proactively market your way through the crisis and to make it through to the other side in a stronger position than when all of this happened. You need a plan, with some imagination, some hard work, progressive ideas, and the willingness to invest your time and attention toward execution.

But if you do that – and your clients, prospects, and audience can see that you are being helpful and not selling…when they are ready to enter the market again…you will have put yourself in the best possible position for a new trajectory of growth.

Your plan – will need to address what my team and I call the 6 tenets of how to Sell with Authority. And I will cover those in full transparent detail in Part 2 of this solocast series.

Okay – whew – was that a lot?

Holy bananas – it sure felt like a lot.

And remember — all of the research sources can be found in the endnotes in today’s show notes on

As always — I look forward to your feedback. The emails you send me — and your comments on social media — all help us get better every day — so thank you for that Onward Nation and keep them coming.

And if you need me — you can reach me directly at Rest assured — that’s my actual Inbox and I read and reply to every email.

Okay, Onward Nation — this is the time to double down like no other in history. But — be smart about it. Invest in the right areas. Make progressive decisions. And if you do all that — you will market your way through this crisis.

I look forward to seeing you on the other side.

Until our next episode — onward with gusto!

[1] “Preparing Your Business for a Post-Pandemic World”, Carsten Lund Pederson and Thomas Ritter, Harvard Business Review, April 10, 2020.

[2] “Preparing Your Business for a Post-Pandemic World”, Carsten Lund Pederson and Thomas Ritter, Harvard Business Review, April 10, 2020.

[3] “Extreme Ownership”, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, St. Martin’s Press, 2015.

[4] “We Need Imagination Now More Than Ever”, Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller, Harvard Business Review, April 10, 2020.

[5] “We Need Imagination Now More Than Ever”, Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller, Harvard Business Review, April 10, 2020.

[6] “We Need Imagination Now More Than Ever”, Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller, Harvard Business Review, April 10, 2020.

[7] “We Need Imagination Now More Than Ever”, Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller, Harvard Business Review, April 10, 2020.

[8] “Roaring Out of Recession”, Ranjay Gulati, Nitin Nohria, Franz Wohlgezogen, Harvard Business Review, March 3, 2010.

[9] “Roaring Out of Recession”, Ranjay Gulati, Nitin Nohria, Franz Wohlgezogen, Harvard Business Review, March 3, 2010.

[10] “Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic”, Richard Edelman, Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, March 30, 2020.

[11] “Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic”, Richard Edelman, Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, March 30, 2020.

[12] “Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic”, Richard Edelman, Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, March 30, 2020.

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