Author and business coach, Brian Dixon, had two catalysts for changing his approach to business and life. Both have to do with taking a stronger focus on people. Listen or watch his advice for leaders looking to truly impact their teams and businesses by creating meaningful relationships with your people.
Subscribe to the Podcast to receive alerts as new episodes post fortnightly (every other Tuesday).
Time Stamped Show Notes:
01:15 – A car accident changes the trajectory of Brian’s life forever
05:02– Brian’s an onion, who continues to actively peel back the layers by asking for a 360 assessment from those closest to him (personally and professionally)
09:35 – Brian got 50+ survey respondents. How do you make the responses actionable?
11:20 – “What are you working through?”
14:14 – How do you manage your reputation?
20:45 – How do you create moments of impact for people around you?
24:35 –What holds back leaders from achieving their potential?
31:20 – Tell us about your book, Start with Your People
33:15 – Wrap-Up
3 Key Points:
- Be Vulnerable. Like the Emperor with No Clothes, every business owner has blindspots that many times people are too nervous or afraid to expose (no pun intended), and so it’s up business leaders to take the first step toward vulnerability and create environments that foster transparency.
- Don’t get wrapped up in the “should”. We all have perceptions of what someone “should” do or how they “should” preform the task, but only what they did matters in the end. Get out of your head and focus on what you can do to better understand the other person’s perspective and move toward resolution.
- Leverage help. Don’t be a hero. Leverage people on your team and outsourced resources to get things done better, faster and more economically.
Our favorite quote from the episode:
“There’s something you’re doing in your business that you’re holding onto because you want control of it all, but somebody else can do it better, faster, and cheaper than you. And that’s the only way to scale is to empower and power your team. And so that would be a big mistake I see entrepreneurs making.”
Looking for more episodes? Check out more of our best practice podcasts!
Justin: Hey. Hello. Welcome again. You’re back on Catalyst. Joined today by another great story. I’m excited to dig into this one because it’s definitely unique based on the track record for the season so far. So I’m excited to welcome Brian Dixon to the show. Brian is the co founder of hope*writers and also the author of Start With Your People and has really just an awesome story about change and one that I think we can all learn from here today. So Brian, welcome to the show.
Brian Dixon: Justin, thank you so much for having me. So excited to be here.
First Catalyst Moment: The Car Crash
Justin: So I mentioned that you’ve kind of got this really impactful moment that took place in your life but give us kind of a brief background as to who you are, maybe a little bit about where you’re coming from, your day-to-day, and then we’ll hop into something that I think our listeners are really going to resonate with, which is just a really powerful exercise in personal awareness. So kind of give us a brief rewind.
Brian: Yeah, man. I can’t wait to dive in. It’s so fun. Way back in college, I wanted to be a rock star. So I was in a band-
Justin: A literal rock star.
Brian: A rock star, right, in a band and touring the world. And my freshman year of college, I was in a life changing car accident. Three doctors told me I should have died and that I would never walk again. I had three people tell me I’d never walk again. They had to use the jaws of life to get me out of the car. I was in the hospital for five days. No hope of surgery or anything. It was sort of wheelchair for life.
Brian: And then they happened to have an orthopedic surgeon convention in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which is where this accident happened. And the keynote speaker had an afternoon off and said, “Are there any strange cases, and can I help anybody?” And so this guy, Dr. Irving, came to my room, I was 18 years old, and was an awesome guy, top of his field. And he said, “Hey, I’m willing to do some experimental surgery to get this kid back in place.” 26 breaks in my hip and pelvis, and he did five and a half hours of surgery. And I saw the x-rays. I mean, they are wires and chains and bolts. I look like Frankenstein, but he put me back together. And I’ve actually run five marathons, four triathlons. I ran three miles this morning. It’s just a normal part of my life now. But I just believe that we’re here for a purpose, and we don’t let somebody else’s diagnosis become our death sentence.
Brian: The accident also caused me to think about my why. Why am I really here as an 18 year old? And I realized that the one time in life that I really felt like I was in the zone and I was really living my best life and really serving people well was when I was a teacher. So I taught Sunday school. I taught summer camp. I taught guitar lessons, and I thought, “Instead of the rock star dreams, what if I were to turn towards people and to become a teacher?” And so for 14 years, Justin, I was in K-12 education first as a classroom teacher, and then I eventually founded a charter school. It was an entrepreneurial venture.
Brian: And as a result of that, I wrote a book, and I started speaking at conferences, and I just fell in love with the idea that you can work from anywhere. You can live life on your own terms, and you can serve a global audience of people by sharing your message online. So that’s what I do now. I help people figure out their message, figure out their audience, and also develop products that will serve people well. And that’s what the book’s all about, is starting with people, serving people well.
The Second Catalyst Moment: 360 Surveys
Justin: So what I think is really interesting here obviously is that this moment that you just described is a life changing moment, right, in every way that we can talk about, physically, emotionally, mentally. But that’s not really your largest catalyst moment either. So tell me, you’ve got this new purpose. You’ve got an awareness that a lot of 18 year olds obviously don’t have, right? We’re not forced at that point in our lives to have these big questions around what is my existence going to mean, and what is my why, as you mentioned. So tell me a little bit about that, the journey. Obviously, you spoke a lot about getting into education and impacting people’s lives in that manner, but there was still kind of another moment waiting around the corner.
Brian: That’s right. It’s like layers. It’s like layers of the onion. It’s like we all have these blind spots, and I think it’s just a continuous process of just removing these blinders so that we can really see. And that’s what maturity is, right? Maturity isn’t getting older. It’s being more aware of what are we doing, what are some of the limiting beliefs, but also what are some of the habits and practices that are getting in the way of us really serving people well.
Brian: So I started my own business. I started helping authors and speakers with marketing. I started speaking at more conferences. I started launching online courses and helping people with their online courses. And I was so focused on launching these products, right, really project focused. And I was working with a business coach because my business had sort of flatlined in terms of revenue. And some people listening right now, that’s where your business is. You’re like, “Why isn’t it growing? I’m doing all the things.”
Brian: And so I was working with him, and he said, “Well, have you ever done a 360 assessment?” I was like, “I don’t even know what that is.” So for those that are unaware, a 360 assessment is essentially, imagine people 360 degrees around you, people that you work with, people you used to work with, people in your family, people in your life, people from church, your community, people all around you speaking into your life and saying, “This is what I see. This is the good I see. This is some of the negative habits I see, and these are some of the blind spots.” And so working with this coach, we created this 360 assessment. It was a anonymous survey link. I emailed it out to a bunch of people, even people that I knew had a negative impression of me or maybe we had a project that had failed, and so they had this not a great taste in their mouth when it came to Brian Dixon.
Justin: I would assume that that’s probably one of the keys to make this exercise impactful, right? I mean, even if you ask people anonymously, I assume your friends are going to have a generally positive [crosstalk 00:08:50]
Brian: That’s right.
Justin: … trying to wrap their feedback in this positive wrapper. But asking folks that you know you’ve not had good experiences with and really trying to tap into the understanding of their perception I’m sure is so critical to this exercise.
Brian: So critical. That’s a really good point. So sent this survey out, and I still, to this day, I don’t know exactly who took it. There’s some things that were said that I’m like, “I think I know who that person is,” but mostly, I don’t know exactly who took it. Because once they took it, it would give them the opportunity to also share the survey, so they could have passed it on to other people who had a negative opinion of me or a positive one. And so they had five days to take it.
Brian: And once we received the feedback, my coach and I, we shared a screen, and we went through it. And I was controlling the mouse, and so I scrolled right through all the good stuff like, “Fine. They can think whatever they want. I want to know what can I do to improve. Where are my blind spots?” And it was like highlighter on a screen. There’s this one comment that said, “Brian often puts projects over people,” and Justin, I was a teacher, right? I was in this life changing car accident. I was giving a second chance at life. I wanted to put people first in my life, and yet, they saw a blind spot for me. And I realized in that moment that I needed to go repair some burned bridges, right? I needed to rebuild some relationships, but also, I needed to find a way to still scale my business and still lead my team without leaving broken pieces of relationships in my wake.
How do you make 50+ surveys actionable?
Justin: Especially as you’re trying to build a business, right, success, even though we want to put people first, we want to put the experience that we’re having, certainly if we’re working with folks on projects, and we’ve got those deliverables at the end of the day, that is where we have the tendency to place the majority of the focus certainly as we’re defining success, right? We’re a consultancy, and that’s one of our biggest challenges, which is talking about the deliverable versus talking about how we got to that deliverable. So it sounds like that sounds like a very similar situation, right?
Justin: And so you got 53 surveys back in this anonymous format, and you parse through that with your coach and so on. How do you make that actionable? Obviously, there’s some things that really stand out there that take your breath away, and you’ve got that awareness. But I think there’s also the tendency to kind of, “Yeah, that’s great,” and maybe for a couple weeks or maybe a couple months you’re hyper aware around those certain areas, but they tend to kind of trickle away. Certainly, again, as you’re running a business, other priorities pop up. So how did you make that a lasting impact?
Brian: Oh, that’s such a good question. There are two questions that I try to ask every day as a result of that survey. The first one is, what can I do to make your day? And it sounds like a fast food question, right? It sounds like, how can I serve you? But if you really ask it, ask at other people that you work with, even your home team, even asking your spouse or your significant other, “Hey, I’m about to hop on a call but just really want to check in with you. What can I do to make your day?” I ask my wife Julie that every single day like, “Julie, what can I do to make your day?” And most days, it’s really small, but she knows one thing I can do to make her day, right?
Brian: And maybe if you’ve never asked your spouse that or if you never asked your team that, they’re waiting for you. They’re waiting for you to finally see them, see them for the first time. One of my team members, I asked her this about an hour ago, and I said, “Hey, I know you got a lot on your plate. What can I do to make your day?” And she called me on my crap, and she’s like, “How about you log into our project management system and do the one thing I’ve assigned to you today?” I’m like, “You got it. I will do that.” So sometimes, it’s really obvious in front of us, and sometimes, it’s unspoken, and they don’t know how to ask it. And so that’s the first question’s, what can I do to make your day?
Brian: And the second question is a little more out there. It’s a little less ROI focus, the direct business result. But I actually think it’s the pebble that leads to the ripple that leads to the longterm effect. And that question is, what are you working through? If we just ask people in our lives like, “Hey, what are you working through?” Literally, Justin, the lady at Target, we’re checking out, and she says, “Hey, how are you?” And you say, “I’m great. What are you working through?” And this happened to me two weeks ago, and I asked this lady, “What are you working through?” And it caught her off guard. She said, “I’m fine.” And she said, “Wait, you asked what are you working through? What?” She goes, “Actually, my teenage daughter’s home for the summer, and we’ve been fighting. And I thought it was going to be a good time, but we’re just not getting along.” And I said, “That’s really interesting. Thanks for sharing that.” I said, “I used to be a teacher. I used to work with teenagers all the time. Is there anything I can do to help?” And then she started telling her story, and I gave her a couple little suggestions.
Brian: Now, she’s not a coaching client. We didn’t go on to build a business together. It was just a personal interaction. But I really do believe the way you treat one person is the way you treat everybody. The way we show up for the people in our lives is the way we’re going to show up for the other people in our lives. So imagine if you’re taking the trash out, you see your neighbor, and you say, “Hey, man. How’s it going?” They say, “It’s going fine.” And you say, “Hey, by the way, what are you working through?” And they say, “I’ve got a big presentation at work today.” And if you’re a person of faith, you say, “Awesome. Can I pray for you today?” And if you’re not, you can say, “Awesome. Let me follow up with you. I’ll think about you today.”
Brian: And just that little action that we can takes to start with our people, it makes all the difference. And I can just tell you, as a fact, that leads to speaking gigs. That leads to consulting projects. That leads to referrals. The return on investment is there, but sometimes, it takes a little bit longer than we’re willing to wait.
Justin: So I mean, there’s so many key points there, and you hear successful people, entrepreneurs, business leaders talk about them all the time, which is, it’s how you make people feel, right? And we have so many opportunities to do that through the day, to your point, and we just don’t capitalize on them. We’re thinking about, “Hey, how do I get through the line at Target and get off to whatever I’ve got next in my day?” Rarely are we thinking about… Number one, I think customer service these days has gotten so spiraled out of control to where we don’t even value those interactions any longer. So it’s a really interesting tool to kind of capitalize on that one-to-one interaction.
How can you manage your reputation?
Justin: I think the other aspect is… I was actually interviewing someone else yesterday for this podcast, and we were talking about the value of relationships and probably being, I truly believe, it’s the number one currency. And as we were prepping for this podcast, you talked about kind of, reputation, and I think that goes hand in hand with relationships and the need to manage that reputation from venture to venture, project to project. Talk to us a little bit about that nuance and kind of how you’ve leveraged that with this perspective.
Brian: Oh, that’s such a good question. For years, I didn’t understand the value of a reputation because here’s the reality, we are all connected. I am Facebook friends with my 93 year old grandmother and three kids that went to elementary school with me. And I move a bunch of times growing up. So think about that social network that we have, that connection that we have. People know people, right? And we know, basic business principle, people do business with people they know, like, and trust. And how do we know that we trust somebody is we ask for referrals, right? We say, “Hey, have you ever done business with this person?”
Brian: So I do this 360 assessment. This is two years ago now, do this 360 assessment. It led to me actually apologizing to a number of people saying, “Hey, the way that I handled this business deal or the way that I handled our partnership wasn’t my best self. Do you forgive me?” And most people are cool, and they’re like, “Yeah, no problem, Brian. I forgive you. Thanks for apologizing.” And then a few months later, I’m speaking at a big industry conference, and I’m on stage, and I’m right in the zone. I’m delivering this strategy to the attendees.
Brian: And as if a spotlight shone on somebody, way in the back of the room, there was this lady that I saw all the way across the convention hall, and it was somebody that I had even forgotten about. It’s been two, three years. We did business together. She worked for this company that I did a project with, and it was like, “Uh oh. There’s a burned bridge there. There’s an unresolved conflict there.” And the truth is, the reality is, we’re going to have unresolved conflict in our life, right, especially for us hard-driven entrepreneurs, A type personalities, right? We just want to conquer the world. We want to go six to seven to eight to nine figures. We’re going to crack some eggs to make the omelet. That’s just the way it is, but as we’re doing it, maybe a little bit more delicate with the relationships in our life.
Brian: And so I reached out to her, and I said… Actually waited until after the conference. Wasn’t a man enough to walk up to her and say, “Hey, are we cool? I’m so sorry about the way I handled that situation three years ago.” So I sent her an email. And 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?” This is three years ago. I’m like, “I didn’t even remember the number, what the deposit was,” right?
Brian: 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.” So I go check in with my wife, and I was like, “Hey, I might have to refund this deposit from a couple of years ago. Are you okay?” And she’s like, if that’s what you need to do. So married an awesome person, right, who is on the same page
Justin: Right, yeah.
Brian: So she said, “If that’s what you need to do,” so I come back upstairs. I send the email, and I say, “Okay, I’m in. How much do you want? What would make it right?” So she gives me the number, and it was a pretty big number. We’re 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.”
Brian: And the email she wrote me back, Justin, 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’s people in the world like you.” What I discovered in that moment, and I’ve talked to her several times since because she’s still in my industry, so I’ve seen her a few times since, is that she was managing my reputation. That when people thought about working with Brian Dixon, they asked her, “Hey, you’ve worked with him. What’s he like?” And they were about to sign a deal with me, and then they asked her, and she didn’t even have to say a lot. All she had to say was, “I wouldn’t recommend. I wouldn’t recommend working with him.”
Brian: And it turns out, she told me later, turns out there’s at least three clients that she had recommended that I not work with or that they not work with me, and they ended up becoming cold leads, right? They suddenly disappeared. And I’m like, “What happened?” It was her. But it was because of the way that I treated her. And so in that moment of refunding that deposit and saying, “I’m sorry,” I turned an adversary into an advocate. And since then, since that moment a few years ago, she’s referred business to me. We’ve worked on a project together. 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.
Justin: It’s interesting because when we talk about relationships or making connections, everyone always gravitates towards the big connection, right, like “How do I get in touch with this rainmaker, this change maker in my industry,” and rarely do people think about just those pedestrian conversations that we have every single day, the interactions that we’re currently having, and how those can kind of echo into our success or failure. So it’s a great reminder how those seemingly small interactions or even things that we can kind of brush aside do… Even if they don’t come back from a business perspective, that’s kind of that personal… It’s almost like a swear jar, right? You’re kind of building up that negative karma, and it’s certainly impactful, and you mention a lot of ways that it can be impactful.
How do you create impactful moments for others?
Justin: I’m curious because you’ve had really these two monster moments of impact, right? And I think one of the natural, or I hope one of the natural tendencies, is to try to create those moments for other people as well. So I’m curious how you take the stories and the events that have happened in your life and try to create those for people around you as well.
Brian: Yeah, it’s such a great question. I don’t think that you need to have a car accident in order to relook at why you’re here, and I don’t think you need to do a 360 assessment in order to start turning towards people. And so I think leaders go first, right? Leaders are learners, and leaders go first. And so I think if you want to be a leader, doing a few of those things, doing a 360 assessment, asking your people, “Where am I stuck? What can I do to improve,” is a really good strategy.
Brian: But in the same way, if the only thing you guys get from my story is the vulnerability, right, is just being willing to hear that there’s this gap. It’s like the old, the story of the emperor who has no clothes. Nobody had the guts to say, “You’re naked.” And in the same way, we are naked in our business. There are things that we’re doing right now. There’s words we’re using, especially in 2019. We’re both white male. 2019, finally, the culture has said to us, “Listen, the way you’re coming across, maybe you could fix that one a little bit.” And so instead of blaming other people, what I’m learning to do is go, “Am I good? Are we good?”
Brian: Yesterday, literally yesterday, one of my team members sent this message. We use a tool called Voxer, which is a voice messaging app, like a walkie talkie app. And she was kind of complaining. She was complaining about this project. And my first response, Justin, was, “Suck it up. Just move on.” So in a nicer way, but not the nicest way, I said in a Voxer in front of the team, there were three of us in this Voxer message, and I said, “Hey, it sounds like you’re having some trouble with this. What can I do to help?” And then I kind of explained away why she should be feeling that way, which is not the way to handle it. I was like, “Listen, it’s not that big a deal. It’s going to be fine.” And just even in my tone, I’m like, “Uh oh, I need to… ” I already sent it.
Brian: So then I waited about maybe 20, 30 minutes, and I thought, “You know what? I think I’m okay, but maybe I’m not.” And so then I sent her another message, just privately, just one-on-one over Voxer. And I said, “Hey, just checking in just in case I was a little hard on you about that project. I want you to know that I think you’re awesome. I think you’re going to figure it out. If there’s anything I can do to help you, please let me know.” That was it. And she responded, and she said, “It was a little harsh, but I really appreciate you reaching back out to me. And don’t worry, I’ve got it.”
Brian: And it was almost like I was calling her to a bigger version of herself, but my words weren’t motivating. They were deflating until I followed up. And so I think that’s the big lesson for you guys listening right now. Our words are our most powerful weapon we have just like a knife in our drawer, right? We can use the knife to murder someone, or we can use the knife to cut a delicious steak or prepare a delicious meal. And so how are we using our words to build people up and to help move them forward? And that’s the most strategic thing you can do.
Why do leaders fail at this today?
Justin: So as you’re working with entrepreneurs and business owners that are trying to get better in this realm, do you find that there’s a common thread there in terms of the things that are holding them back from achievement? Is it that type of self-awareness, or what do you find is the constant thread?
Brian: Oh, that’s so good. Yes. There’s a few that I see. I think I could probably say there’s three big blocks that I see. The first one is, they have the habit of shoulding on people like, “It should be this way.” And there’s a great book. I recommend it all the time. It’s a relationship book, but not a business book, but let’s face it, business is relationship, right? There’s a book called Loving What Is. And basically in the book, the author talks about how we just need to acknowledge reality for what it is. Reality’s reality. There’s nothing you can do about it.
Brian: And so we should on our team and our clients all day long, “They should have returned my email,” right? “They should show up early.” “They should care just as much as I do,” but if they don’t, you’re only hurting yourself, right? You’re only hurting yourself by having these expectations. An expectation for somebody else is a promise you’re making on their behalf that they’re unaware of. And you feel like they’re lying to you, but they just don’t even know that that’s your expectation. That’s number one is, am I shoulding on people, and how can I stop that? And the answer is, it’s reality.
Brian: This happened the other day. I had a coaching client who didn’t show up for a call, and she should have showed up. But here’s the reality, she didn’t show up. So what does that mean? That means some kind of negative things. That means she doesn’t value my time. That means maybe she’s feeling unsatisfied about our coaching agreement. That means maybe something’s going on in her life that I’m unaware of. So what’s my response? Now, I have power again, right? Now, I have agency because instead of shoulding on her, I can take ownership of it, and now, I can do something. So for me, it was just a quick followup Facebook message just like, “Hey, are we good? You missed our call. Is there anything I can do to support you better?” And she had a long list of reasons of why she didn’t show up but instead of being in my head. So that’s flaw number one.
Justin: That’s funny. I don’t mean to interrupt you, but so many people with that situation send that email. It’s like, “Hey, it looks like we missed our call today. Let me know when we can reschedule,” and they walk right by that opportunity to be informed really. So yeah, I think what I’m hearing is, it really comes down to those small interactions that we normally step over, that we have to create the awareness to capitalize on.
Brian: Yeah. And what if it was something negative? What if she was unsatisfied, and she felt like she wasted her time and her money by working with me? I kind of want to know that. I don’t want to know that, but I need to know that, right? So I’d say that’s number one.
Brian: Number two, especially with entrepreneurs, is you guys are doing too much. We live in 2019 when we’re recording this. There are incredible people from around the world that will do amazing work for you. So as an example, okay, the cover of my book, I know not everybody’s going to see the video, but the cover of my book, there’s all these avatar pictures. There’s these animated pictures or cartoon pictures but all real people because I believe we start with our people. And so it’s a picture of my wife, and then all the people in my mastermind, some of my clients, some of my colleagues, some influencers all in the cover.
Brian: When I first had the idea of that cover, Justin, I’ve never used Illustrator before, Adobe Illustrator. But I logged into illustrator, and I started changing the pictures of this stock image that I had. And it hit me about an hour in, “Wait a second, this is not my zone of genius. I bet you somebody else could do this faster, cheaper, and better than I can.” And so I went to upwork.com. I made a little video, a screenshot video explaining exactly what I wanted. I had 50 people from around the world say they’d be willing to do the work for me. I hired a guy for 50 bucks, and he was done by the time I woke up the next morning. And it would’ve taken me weeks to customize all those avatars for the book cover, right?
Brian: So in the same way, there’s something you’re doing in your business that you’re holding onto because you want control of it all, but somebody else can do it better, faster, and cheaper than you. And that’s the only way to scale is to empower and power your team. And so that would be a big mistake I see entrepreneurs making.
Justin: Just again, right back to self-awareness, right? Certainly as you’re starting a business, you get that kind of that hero complex, and “I’ve got to do this stuff because no one else is available, and no one can do it to my standard.” And letting go of that has been one of the biggest lessons in my life certainly, and I think a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with the same.
Especially for consultants, ask for the business.
Brian: Absolutely. Yeah. The third one I’d say, and this is true for so many people, especially coaches and consultants, if you guys have thought about being a consultant or starting a consultancy, this is something that I struggle with as well. And those broke consultants out there, this is your number one issue. You ready for it? You’re not making enough offers. You’re not providing value for somebody. So the concept of make it positive is go fix what’s broken. And as a consultant, you have a little bit of expertise, right? You can look at a business, and you can go, “Wow, you guys aren’t getting any leads. Let me teach you how to get leads or let me go get leads for you. That’s broken, but I know how to fix it, and I would love to work with you, and here’s how much it costs to work with me,” and actually asking for the sale.
Brian: I have a friend right now. It’s been a year, almost a year and a half, and he’s just playing business. He focused on his logo for the first three weeks. Then he got his website after the next three months. And he thought he was doing business, but he wasn’t because he wasn’t fixing what’s broken. He wasn’t going and finding somebody with a specific problem, specific pain, and saying, “Hey, would you like me to solve that pain for you?” Because people pay for the pain to go away.
Brian: And here’s the cool thing. It’s not antithetical, right? It’s not projects versus people. It’s actually the projects, this is what I learned from this process, the projects that we can do are for people. So if I had a time machine, I would go back, and all those projects where people said, “Brian puts projects over people,” I would just turn it around and go, “Hey, are we good? How is this helping you,” just checking in with them and realizing that the reason they hired me is to solve their problem. And if I just focus on the problem that they have, they would have paid more. We would have worked together longer, and they would have been even more satisfied because I was focusing on where they were stuck and helping them move forward.
Justin: That’s awesome. Brian, I really appreciate you joining us here today and sharing your story. It’s obviously multifaceted, and you’ve had the fortune to be a part of some really cool, impactful moments. I know you’ve got the new book out. Plug the book. Let people know where they can go pick it up or connect with you.
Brian: Oh, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Guys, I would love to help you skip the line, skip that learning curve of the struggle that I had to go through. So there’s three specific chapters I’d love to recommend to you. One of the chapters is on your spouse or your significant other. I truly believe that the person across the table from you at breakfast can be your superpower and not your kryptonite. And I think a lot of us entrepreneurs, we harbor these feelings of resentment that our family’s dragging us down and preventing us from living our dreams. And the truth is, Julie, my wife, has insight into me that I don’t have myself. And so what if I were to turn towards her and say, “Hey, honey. I’m about to hop on a podcast. Any advice you have for me,” or “I’m about to go on a speaking gig. Is there anything I should know?” Because often, she has a word of wisdom for me that I wouldn’t have had if I tried to do it solo. So there’s a chapter on that in the book.
Brian: There’s a chapter on clients in the book, so how do we really serve our clients well, and how do we grow our business? And then third, there’s a chapter on difficult people. Because the truth is, there’s somebody in your industry or somebody in your family or somebody in your company right now that you just don’t get along with. And the answer isn’t keep not getting along with them. The answer is to try to figure that out. So I have three strategies I share in that chapter, that’s chapter nine, because I’ve dealt with some really difficult people. We all will deal with difficult people, but the obstacle is the way. How do we move forward in working with them to grow our business, to serve people well, and to show up as a better person, that increases our impact and our income?
Justin: Critical. Again, Brian Dixon, co founder, Director of Growth over at hope*writers and the new book out, Start With Your People. Brian, thanks again for joining us here today.
Brian: Thanks so much.
Justin: And of course, you guys can always check out past episodes over at leadmd.com/bestpractices. If you like this, give us a review, give us a subscribe. And remember, never pass up an opportunity to be inspired.
Meet Justin Gray
Justin is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of LeadMD, the world’s largest revenue operations agency having implemented over half of the Marketo user base. Justin has made a career of launching successful companies and scaling them, with successful exits of over 200MM+ in the last decade. Justin’s latest endeavor launched in 2016 when he co-founded Six Bricks an online learning startup designed to combat employee and customer churn through experience-based education. Over the past 10 years, Justin has emerged as a strong voice for entrepreneurship, marketing and culture. As a recognized speaker, Justin has been published over 350 times in industry publications and holds his own column, Tribal Knowledge in Inc., while writing for Entrepreneur, Tech Crunch and others. Justin and his wife Jennifer met over marketing and three years later welcomed their son, Grayson, into the world in April of 2017.