Who wants to read, listen, or watch almost eight hours worth of content about entrepreneurship, marketing, and idea-sharing? Well, a few hundred folks in 2019 … but if you’re looking to start your year with all the best business advice in the quickest way possible, this blog is for you. We’ve compiled the best of our interviews with entrepreneurs, start-up marketers and bleeding-edge thinkers from our Catalyst Podcast, in order to equip you with actionable tools to grow as a business leader and a human.
People must always come first, in business and life.
We’ve discovered a theme among our esteemed podcast guests, and it’s this: centering your focus squarely on your customers, your team members and your loved ones will never steer you wrong.
Dan Tyre, sales director of HubSpot and long-time business visionary, gave us the following perspective on the matter: “The great thing about being 60 (is) you see what the breadcrumbs are for. You see that all that stuff you obsessed about, like eight years ago, all the stuff that you get worked up about. It’s all just bullshit. It’s just business. What really matters is the relationship you have with people and how you make them feel. And everybody has strengths. Everybody has weaknesses, right? Everybody should lean into their strengths. And if they got weaknesses, they should find somebody that can support them to help them through those weaknesses so that they can get through.”
Carlos Hidalgo, founder & CEO of VisumCX and author of “The UnAmerican Dream,” gave us a glimpse into his own story and how he came to realize the importance of the people in your life: “I pretty much start work, same time every day… and I pretty much shut down the same time every day. But what I have found with those hard, fast times is, I’m giving the best of me to my work and to my clients, my productivity is off the charts, better than it’s ever been before. And then I’m giving the best of me to my relationships as well. And (my wife) can talk to her husband, and the kids can talk to Dad without a phone in his back pocket ready to be interrupted the minute it buzzes because he has to be ‘on.’”
He continued: “And my clients know this, my partners know this. I make it very clear with my prospects. I don’t work on weekends, which I’ve had some people tell me is not doable, and I used to believe the same thing. But again, because I’m so defined in what I do, what used to take me eight to 12 hours, I now get done in three to four. So I’m working a whole lot smarter.” He finished by saying that “as long as your closest of relationships, whether that’s a spouse, significant other, boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever that is, as long as they’re right there in lockstep with you” – you’re doing well.
Conviction matters more than being right.
We’ve seen this truth play out in our lives, but there’s a bit of misconception about it in the business world. There’s an idea that the big winners in business have made the right calls, created the right products and followed the right path to success. But this is almost never reality. Instead, most of the folks who succeed are those who are so invested in their vision that they’re willing to be wrong along the journey. Here’s the best business advice we heard about grit…
Nick Lisette, founder & CTO of Black Pearl Mail, along with Tim Crown, chairman of Black Pearl Mail’s board said: “I’ve been in over a hundred deals and no deal (has) gone the way the business plan is set, ever. There’s always a pivot… I call it either the pot of gold or the wall scenario. There’s an enormous wall you can’t get over, or ‘why are we going two miles away when there’s a pot of gold right next to us? Let’s pivot the company. Let’s do something different.’ And a lot of that is attitude, openness, but it’s also a desire to win and a desire to not have a fixed mindset. And so when I see a guy like Nick and I see that passion for winning, we’ve got to balance that a little bit sometimes with, ‘Hey, you want to win, but you’ve also got to really think your steps ahead.’”
He went on: “You cannot show weakness in this particular area. And it’s a leadership training thing that we talk about constantly. It doesn’t mean you’re not realistic, but you have to have confidence in yourself and confidence in your team that, ‘Hey, we’re going to go figure this out. I don’t care if we end up pivoting to a whole new business.’ It’s like Slack. Slack didn’t start out as what it is, but they became that. Why? Because they had conviction. The investors had conviction. The CEO had conviction. And so with a guy like Nick, that’s what you want to see is somebody that’s going to go over there and he’s not going to give up until he wins.”
Clate Mask, co-founder & CEO of Keap (formerly Infusionsoft), also echoed the idea of conviction, especially when it comes to building a strong team. He said: “You need people who are scrappy and think (with a) small business startup mentality… We look first and foremost for people who align with our purpose. Our purpose is to help small businesses succeed, our mission is to simplify growth for millions of small businesses. So we have to bring in people into the company who are aligned to the purpose and the mission that we have, and then who embrace the values that we have. So when we hire or make a decision to part with somebody, or when we see somebody who’s not performing very well, we need to coach them up… in terms of the purpose, the values and the mission of our company. That’s critical, when we do that well, we have people who make things happen, who are great catalysts for growth, not only in our customer’s business, but also in our business.”
Your trustworthiness can make or break you.
Anyone who’s had any sort of interpersonal relationship knows the value of trust. Therefore, it’s likely not surprising that some of the best business advice we heard related to trust with customers.
Jennifer Wong, head of marketing at Convoy, said: “There is so much more trust when a customer tells your story… versus you telling your story, no matter how authentic your storytelling really is. I think being able to be really in tune with customers also helps spark the best marketing ideas, so being able to understand why did customers choose your business or trust your business over anybody else? For me, it’s especially interesting if you’re a startup company as well because you don’t really have that reputation or credibility yet, but (customers) are taking a leap of faith, so being really close to those customers and really understanding why they chose you, what value are they receiving and be able to collect those stories and then syndicate those out to the next cohort of customers works.”
Brian Dixon, co-founder and director at hope*writers, shared his best business advice for repairing a poor reputation with a his story of burned bridges. He said he had made numerous apologies and was speaking at a conference when he saw a lady he had wronged. When he later emailed her with an apology, he said: “Unlike the other emails where people just wrote back right away and said, ‘Hey, no problem,’ she said, ‘If you’re really serious about apologizing, would you refund my deposit?’ So it just hit me, and I’m like, ‘Okay, if I really want to take this thing seriously, if I really want to start with my people, if I want to grow the kind of business that I’m proud of, that my kids can look me in the eye, that kind of business, then I need to own this.’ (The refund amount) was a pretty big number. We were going into the holidays. We already had plans for that money. It hurt a little bit because sometimes making things right isn’t easy, right? Sometimes, the hardest things are the right things. So I refund the deposit, and I sent a little note in the PayPal like, ‘Hey, here you go. I hope to move forward and make this right.’”
He continued: “And the email she wrote me back…was one I’ve literally printed, and I have it in a drawer, and I look at it every once in a while, especially if I’m having a bad day. And in the email, she said, ‘I’m lucky to know that there are people in the world like you.’ And so in that moment of refunding that deposit and saying, ‘I’m sorry,’ I turned an adversary into an advocate. And so that’s the importance of reputation is it can lead to obviously better relationships, but also better ROI, right, better results because of keeping those short accounts and repairing broken and burned bridges.”
Here’s another great snippet from Brian’s interview:
Best Business Advice Recap
You can see why these nuggets of truth resonated with us, and hopefully they do with you too. So as you prepare to make your visions for 2020 a reality, keep them in mind. And we challenge you to ask yourself these final questions:
- Which important people in my life (family, friends, team members, customers, vendors…) have I been failing to prioritize? How can I give them more of my time, care and presence?
- What boundaries do I need to put in place to help me make this shift?
- How strong is my conviction in my business? If it’s lacking, do I need to reassess my career path? If it’s plentiful, am I willing to double down on it or pivot as needed to find success?
- Do my customers have trust in my business? In me?
- Is there anyone I’ve wronged? How can I make it right?
Spending time in reflection about these questions is our best business advice, because checking in with yourself on your journey can catalyze meaningful change in the year to come. We wish you happiness, but more importantly, we wish you growth.
Meet Andrea Lechner-Becker
Andrea Lechner-Becker’s bio reads like someone who filled out a what-should-I-be-when-I-grow-up quiz and decided to try every option. Fueled by endless curiosity, Andrea has never met a problem she didn’t want to solve. This led her to managing sales and marketing at an art gallery, then loyalty and email marketing strategy for an NBA team and arena, then the delivery team at LeadMD, followed by a stint as a novelist and culminating with her current role as CMO of LeadMD. With a decade of experience in dynamic marketing roles, Andrea has had the opportunity to work with the most brilliant marketing minds at the best companies in the world. #hugemarketingdork