Steve Fredlund – Your Brand Amplified Transcript

00;00;01;05 – 00;00;21;16
Anika

Welcome to Your Brand Amplified. The podcast where we interview marketers, publicists and brands to learn their stories, what makes them tick and tips and tricks that make a difference. Hello and welcome back to Your Brand Amplified. I’m so excited today to have Steve Fredlund as a guest on the show. Steve, welcome to the program.

00;00;21;26 – 00;00;23;11
Steve Fredlund

Thanks, Anika. I’m excited to be here.

00;00;23;15 – 00;00;50;23
Anika

Yay! So one thing that really stood out for me about you as a potential guest was your non-profit background and your work in Africa. So I don’t think you know this about me, but I have a non-profit that I started shoestrings, small, all volunteer. We work in Ghana, and we have we focus on children’s education. And we quickly realized that some of the kids also don’t have a place to live.

00;00;50;27 – 00;01;09;10
Anika

So we built an orphanage, which, you know, comes all these things come with a lot of issues that you if you don’t think them through, if you’re just trying to be a Good Samaritan. Right. And then now we’ve also have organic farming and we’re looking to expand that. So then it can create self-sufficiency and fund everything because it’s been really difficult.

00;01;10;07 – 00;01;23;15
Anika

And so I but I think it’s really interesting to talk about how you went from being a humanitarian. I mean, you still are right now and doing your work overseas and you’re with your career and entrepreneurship. So

00;01;23;15 – 00;01;43;14
Steve Fredlund

I love that you’re doing that. I mean, that is exactly it. And, you know, it’s community transformation ultimately, it’s really hard to just choose one topic and say, oh, we are going to help with, you know, food security or clean water or microfinancing or whatever the one issue might be because it’s so integrated with everything else. It really has to be this community transformation work.

00;01;43;14 – 00;01;58;20
Steve Fredlund

And so that’s the same thing that we found to as we started getting involved. And for us, it was sort of the end of 2009 was when we took our first trip. It was a couple of years of preparation for that of figuring out how do we have the most impact over there while having impact over here as well.

00;01;58;20 – 00;02;06;20
Steve Fredlund

So I love to hear that you’re involved in a different part of Africa, but sub-Saharan tons of needs. I mean, we could talk for hours about that.

00;02;06;20 – 00;02;28;14
Anika

Yes. We could. We’re going to have to. We’re going to have to stay in touch 100% and maybe have you back on this podcast or another podcast to talk more about these issues. But what drove you to introduce yourself to our audience, talk about your story and what drove you to do that while you were also still making really impactful you know, work in the United States?

00;02;28;17 – 00;02;45;25
Steve Fredlund

Yeah. So long, long story short, I’ll try to give you the high level overview because I’m a I’m a multi passionate person, so I’ve got a lot of things that I’ve been involved with, but I worked in the corporate world for about 25 years. So I’m an actuary by trade, so highly analytical, mathematical piece of that. So I did that for about 25 years in different roles.

00;02;45;25 – 00;03;05;00
Steve Fredlund

Investments in finance and HR, those pieces. And then about four years ago I launched out on my own. So I do business coaching. Business consulting is focusing really on small businesses and like we call it small small business because those are those are my people, right? The mom and pops jobs, the aspiring entrepreneurs, the people that don’t usually get the level of support that they need.

00;03;05;00 – 00;03;27;16
Steve Fredlund

But yet they are so critical to their communities. And so that’s where I focus there. And then I also do a fair amount of speaking. But then in the middle of all of that, I’ve got a lot of nonprofit work that I’ve done. So I’ve been on a lot of boards. But this specific thing in Rwanda was started with really a passion in me, kind of the mid to thousands around the AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa.

00;03;27;16 – 00;03;45;07
Steve Fredlund

And that’s where I started researching. I started getting involved, but not really. You know, I give some money, but I’m like, I just felt like that was sort of my thing to get involved. With, you know, there’s millions of potential causes, but that was the one that really struck home for me. And then finally about 27, I went to a conference.

00;03;45;07 – 00;04;00;20
Steve Fredlund

I’m like, I got to figure out how I can get involved in this thing a little bit more deeply. And I went to this conference in Minneapolis, and I live in rural Minnesota. And at this conference were two other gentlemen from my same community. And I said, Well, what are you doing here? And what are you doing here?

00;04;00;20 – 00;04;18;02
Steve Fredlund

You know, none of us knew each other. We’re going to be there. And we were all in that same place where we felt like we wanted to do something, but we didn’t know what to do. Yeah. And we also wanted it to be something for our community to get involved with. And so that started these conversations of saying, how can we actually not only have impact over there?

00;04;18;12 – 00;04;37;02
Steve Fredlund

And somewhere in Africa, we knew we wanted to get involved somewhere. We didn’t know exactly where, but also have impact over here. Which was in east central Minnesota, because we were suffering from a lot of divisiveness. There’s a lot of, you know, whether it’s political or spiritual or schools or whatever it is, there’s a lot of you know, animosity and a lot of side choosing at the time.

00;04;37;02 – 00;04;59;20
Steve Fredlund

So we thought, well, maybe there’s a way we can unite our community to respond to the issues over there. And do two things at once. And so that’s that started us down this journey of forming an organization that was really dedicated to doing just that. And so once we figured out what we wanted to do that it was a matter of figure out who’s our partner on the ground to do some of that work and where was it going to be in all of those things.

00;04;59;20 – 00;05;10;13
Steve Fredlund

But that’s a long answer to your question. That’s sort of the genesis of that. And that was also run you know, that was all done in parallel to having my corporate career and doing some other things.

00;05;11;09 – 00;05;30;15
Anika

Well, I think that’s the lesson that we still need today. Right. And that’s a tactic that we should be using because we there is so much divisiveness and especially during COVID, we have the have nots is just it’s the barrier-

00;05;30;15 – 00;05;32;09
Steve Fredlund

The past few years have been so devisive.

00;05;32;13 – 00;05;58;29
Anika

Yeah. And then as you know, I mean, prices of food are rising for us. Well, imagine what’s happening in Africa and the prices of everything there, the inflation, it’s insane. And it’s really disheartening sometimes. So what makes you stay focused and stay impassioned and not just throw your hands and say, OK, I’m going to give up because we’re such you know, we’re little drips in the bucket of life.

00;05;59;27 – 00;06;19;22
Steve Fredlund

I’m not I’m just not a giver-upper like that is just not my thing. And maybe I should be in some cases. But no, I think, you know, you touched on the disunity or the divisiveness and that sort of thing. And what I decided as a problem solver for my perspective is now I’ve tried to get people from different sides of issues into the room and have meaningful conversations.

00;06;20;00 – 00;06;36;12
Steve Fredlund

It doesn’t work like at my experiences, it doesn’t work because the only people that are really willing to do that are already people that are empathizing with the other side and making adjustments and, you know, sort of understanding the people on the sides, on the real tables aren’t really going to do that in an effective way. And that’s their right.

00;06;36;13 – 00;06;57;05
Steve Fredlund

Obviously, they have the right to do that. And so what I found is the most effective way to unite at least our community, is to find something that’s a higher level up that we can all engage with regardless of these things. So finding something that going global poverty like, yeah, of course not everybody’s going to engage that. There’s resistance, of course, because, you know, why are you involved in Africa?

00;06;57;05 – 00;07;34;29
Steve Fredlund

And we have problems here, and I understand that. And I would have those conversations and I know how to talk through those conversations. But when you find something that’s a level up where you’re not actually talking about these issues, you’re talking about this bigger issue, that’s when some of that sufficiency rolls. And what I would have you know, we have big annual gatherings and do these different things, and I’d always kick it off with saying all right. I know. Let’s just, I know right now in this room there are Republicans and Democrats and Christians and Jews and atheists, and there are gay and straight and there’s old and young and there’s male. And I, I know that we know that if you look around, you’re going to find somebody different from yourself. This is not new.

00;07;34;29 – 00;07;54;03
Steve Fredlund

This is obvious. Look around. People are different from you, and people think differently. And they’ve different perspectives, they’ve different strengths and different personalities, we are all different. But for the sake of the people, the children in Africa tonight, we are one community just for tonight. That’s all I’m asking is just for tonight. For the next few hours. We are one community.

00;07;54;03 – 00;08;11;18
Steve Fredlund

And I think that just people resonated with that. It just gave them a chance to say, you know what, I can engage, I can have a hallway conversation with somebody that maybe come Monday I’m going to hate again. But I can talk to them tonight about what’s going on in Africa. And I think, you know, at least for a season, this is really a 12 year project for that 12 years.

00;08;11;18 – 00;08;30;25
Steve Fredlund

I think we made a huge impact in our community in terms of having people overcome that, at least getting an idea of what is it like to actually have conversations and to work with something with somebody that I don’t necessarily agree with. So I mean, my hope is just that some of those seeds that we planted, some of that taste that we gave people stuck with them.

00;08;31;00 – 00;08;54;24
Anika

Mm hmm. Absolutely. And that’s such a good point because when you’re thinking about a bigger cause, the greater good, right That is something that hopefully unites people and gets them to realize, oh, you know what? Our petty issues or our divisiveness, it’s just here. But if we all want to succeed as humans, it’s like we’re in a global community.

00;08;54;24 – 00;08;57;06
Anika

So we have to work together. And I think it’s a great-

00;08;57;08 – 00;08;58;11
Steve Fredlund

Oh, sorry. Go ahead, finish

00;08;58;11 – 00;08;59;08
Anika

No, please.

00;08;59;08 – 00;09;12;01
Steve Fredlund

I was going to say, it’s a great lesson for leadership. It’s why I’m convinced that, you know, as we continue to go forward and I’m seeing it, some of the best leaders in the corporate world, in business are coming out of the non-profit’s sector because you’re leading, you have to lead with a vision.

00;09;12;10 – 00;09;35;16
Steve Fredlund

And it’s the same is true in like the corporate world, right? If we can- people want to belong to something that’s bigger than themselves. They want to have an impact. If you’re working at Medtronic, you don’t necessarily want to do your job. You want to know that you’re saving lives and helping having people have a better quality of life or wherever it is that you’re working and I think, you know, the best leaders are able to cast that vision and say, all right, I know you’re all different and we have different strengths.

00;09;35;16 – 00;09;53;08
Steve Fredlund

I know that you might be feuding with this person or feeding with that person. And they’re getting the good lunch or whatever it is that your issues might be, you know, small or big. But here’s what we’re doing. We are changing lives by doing this if you’re working in the financial services sector, maybe you’re helping people retire better.

00;09;53;15 – 00;10;14;10
Steve Fredlund

You know, you’re helping people if they lose a loved one, having them have financial security upon their death by having life insurance, like whatever it is, like you can you can bring it back. And I think lead with that sort of vision. And I think it unites people and it helps them become less, less divisive in that. So I think you can see the same application in your small business and a large business and a non-profit or wherever.

00;10;14;22 – 00;10;45;08
Anika

Well, and that was my next question is, did because you come from an actuary background, which is fantastic, but you now shifted to helping small small businesses, which I wish that when I had had my small small business during the pandemic that I had known you. I come to you for advice, but do you think that your work in the non-profit world is why you decided to shift your career and help small businesses?

00;10;45;08 – 00;11;03;21
Anika

Because you saw that, gosh, a lot of the needs that they have are those needs of somebody just being there to help them and walk them through the process and help them succeed. And as you said, because I’m also very passionate about helping entrepreneurs and small businesses and so many of them need so much, but they don’t have the budgets.

00;11;03;21 – 00;11;08;12
Anika

And a lot of times in business, right. We say, well, if you don’t have the budget we can’t help you.

00;11;08;29 – 00;11;33;04
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, no, that’s 100% true. It definitely influenced that. And I think, you know, I was on a constant quest of trying to find a where my happiest I’m trying a constant quest of who can I serve, how can I help, how can I make my impact in the world. So this is not the journey that we’re on. And I definitely learned some things through my work in Africa and through the non-profit work to figure out, OK, who are my people, who can I help, who do I resonate with, who can I have the greatest impact on?

00;11;33;04 – 00;11;50;13
Steve Fredlund

And so, yeah, I think ultimately leaving the corporate world about four years ago and doing this work is ultimately a result of thinking, oh, these are my people. Like I was in the corporate world, but and they’re great people, great jobs, great companies, but they really weren’t my people. My wife and I are both. We’re fifth generation in the same small town in east central Minnesota.

00;11;50;19 – 00;12;08;11
Steve Fredlund

Kids are sixth generation. Like, these are my people, right? And I know the impact of small businesses in community in terms of community vibrancy. I mean, ultimately, what I want to see, I want to see communities become more vibrant, right? I want music coming from the park and people on the street corners chatting and like just it’s a sense of community.

00;12;08;11 – 00;12;25;10
Steve Fredlund

And we’ve lost that a bit even pre-pandemic because of, you know, interstate bypasses and, you know, losing downtowns and some of those things. So not that we have to go back to the way things always were, but I want that sense of vibrancy. And so when I was searching, where can I have the greatest impact on helping communities become more vibrant?

00;12;25;21 – 00;12;43;26
Steve Fredlund

I surround myself with the right people and really it was help these small businesses, healthy small non-profits. And when I say the small, I mean the small small, you know, the mom and pop shop, the solopreneur, the aspiring entrepreneur, these people that normally, like you said, don’t get the level of service, don’t get the level of support that the other businesses get.

00;12;44;00 – 00;12;59;10
Steve Fredlund

All they have is they get the free support from, you know, a small business administration. And these people that are they’re good hearted people trying, but they don’t really have the same level of experience to give small business owners the experience and the breakthrough that they’re looking for. And so that was the niche that I’m trying to fill.

00;12;59;10 – 00;13;16;17
Steve Fredlund

And so then part of it is, oh, OK. Well, most business coaches, most business consultants are so expensive. I mean, you just talked about that as well. And I run into and I hate that like I’ve done a whole video thing on this because it’s their right to charge what they want. But I always feel and I’ve got my own issues right, like I’m the kid in the playground.

00;13;16;17 – 00;13;31;02
Steve Fredlund

They didn’t get picked for dodgeball, you know, like I’m Guy. Yeah. And so I have that same sort of visceral response when I approach a like somebody like how of the social media or of my speaking or whatever it is. And I approach them and we have a great conversation. And so I say, well, what would it look like to work with you?

00;13;31;02 – 00;13;48;00
Steve Fredlund

And they’re like, Well, $25,000. I’m like, OK, now I got to take my ball and go home because that’s, that’s not for me. It’s another thing I’m left out on. So that’s my own issue that I have to wrestle with. But I feel that for small business owners, because I know some of them have gone to approach coaches and it’s like, well, it’s $400 an hour.

00;13;48;08 – 00;14;02;00
Steve Fredlund

But yeah, what are you talking about? Like, what are you talking about? How come I can’t do that? So, you know, my whole approach and I’m getting into the weeds. My whole approach, my whole strategy is how can I make what I do in the value I bring accessible to these folks who need it the most?

00;14;02;00 – 00;14;16;26
Steve Fredlund

Because if I can help them become more successful, the communities become more vibrant. It’s a whole it’s a whole strategy, really. But, you know, if I if I just wanted to make money, I would be back in the corporate role. I was like, I was making a ton of cash and like that’s what I could be doing.

00;14;17;02 – 00;14;29;03
Steve Fredlund

And I’m not trying to pat myself on the back with that. But like, this is about life changing my life decisions, like you’re experiencing make decisions that are going to make you happy. They’re going to give you the impact that you want. And maybe money is not a primary objective.

00;14;29;19 – 00;14;33;11
Anika

Yeah. I think in the money will follow hopefully. Right so-

00;14;33;13 – 00;14;48;12
Steve Fredlund

No, I mean, it does, but it’s how much money what you’re actually looking for. And that’s all part of that, that strategic piece. But yeah, getting really settled into what am I actually trying to do with my life, with my business. And yeah, I think I think money does follow passion for sure.

00;14;49;06 – 00;15;07;14
Anika

So do you primarily work with or did you start first working with businesses in your local community and then in the state? You work with people all over the country, all over the globe. What’s your business strategy for your own business? And then that well, I’ll start off stop there and then ask my next. Question

00;15;07;14 – 00;15;24;07
Steve Fredlund

Where I’ve landed I’ll work with anybody anywhere, but I give priority to local the more local it is the more priority gets so and the cheaper the rates are, frankly, because these are these are my people, right? These are people I really want to help. So I work with people in Germany, Australia, all kinds of different places where I have clients.

00;15;24;15 – 00;15;44;20
Steve Fredlund

And then, you know, inside the US, I’ve got an executive coaching I’ve done a Californian and those things as well. But my heartbeat is really the entrepreneur the solopreneur, those folks. So I’ve got different programs that I run where the rates actually get pretty low to help those people. And so some of that is just direct clients. And then I also am intentional about partnering with like the state of Minnesota.

00;15;44;20 – 00;16;01;23
Steve Fredlund

I’m a preferred vendor for a few different programs that they have for people that are either unemployed or they have a disability and they’re trying to start a business and so they work with me and the state then pays those bills so that they can get that level of service and then they’re blown away, right? Because normally they get somebody that doesn’t really know their stuff.

00;16;01;23 – 00;16;19;02
Steve Fredlund

If I’m being completely honest. And so it’s a way for me to get paid, but to also have the impact that I’m looking to have. So just trying to be really creative with how can I serve those people? And then some of that then involves, OK, I’ll do masterminds or I’ll do group coaching sessions where, you know, it makes everything even more affordable, right?

00;16;19;02 – 00;16;38;01
Steve Fredlund

Because now that cost is split a number of different ways. And so it’s about being creative. And I think the people that have been the most successful clients of mine are the ones that are hungry for it. And then we work together. Let’s just talk about how can we make this work where the numbers work on both sides of things, and those are the ones that that work the most because they’re the hungriest, right?

00;16;38;11 – 00;16;55;10
Steve Fredlund

The people that are just say, OK, what does it cost? No, thanks, or let’s just take it like honestly, even some of my clients that that are paying for me, that they’re not really creative about it. They’re not really getting the same value as the people that are just really hungry. So those are the folks I’m looking for that are saying I need some help.

00;16;55;19 – 00;16;56;11
Anika

Yeah.

00;16;56;11 – 00;16;56;20
Steve Fredlund

Mm hmm.

00;16;56;29 – 00;17;24;13
Anika

Wonderful. So what are some of the biggest aha moments that you’ve discovered since going out on your own? Because when I think actuary, I think a certain kind of personality. Right. And honestly, you come across as somebody I would not have thought that was your career. And I don’t normally would think of like somebody who’s that deep into the numbers as going into business coaching and having this heart and soul for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

00;17;24;25 – 00;17;42;07
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, I’m coming into my own. I’m becoming the person I really am. And that’s what funny because, you know, I was an actuary. I consider myself a recovering actuary. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I always was in the actuarial circles, like I’m the Tony Robbins, right. Because I’m willing to talk like in terms of the real world.

00;17;42;07 – 00;17;55;24
Steve Fredlund

Like, I’m not I’m so introverted and those things. But, you know, whenever there was a conference or whatever, hey, Steve, I’ll speak at it. So I would do a fair amount of speaking in those things. And I always found those jobs that were more non-traditional, like because I just didn’t want to do the exact same thing day after day.

00;17;55;24 – 00;18;14;07
Steve Fredlund

So I always was kind of a square peg in a round hole, but that served me well through that career. But yeah, I think I always did things because that’s what I should do. And this is part of my happiness journey is, man, you know, you’re good at math. You should go to college, OK? Yeah. Hey, you’re good at math in college.

00;18;14;07 – 00;18;33;13
Steve Fredlund

You should be an actuary, OK? Hey, you know, you’re good at solving this problem. We’re going to make you a manager, OK? And so all of these decisions and I can’t complain because my life has been good, but it got me further and further away from who I truly am. And I think what I’m seeing now as a business coach, as a mentor, as some of these things like that’s who I am.

 

00;18;33;13 – 00;18;52;13
Steve Fredlund

Like, I just want to roll my sleeves of people, help them solve their problem and celebrate their breakthroughs. And those things so yeah, it’s sort of been a square peg in round hole. And I’ve always found those outlets for other things doing podcasting or whatever it might be. But now I feel like over the last four years, I’ve been giving myself permission to be who I really am.

00;18;52;24 – 00;19;04;28
Steve Fredlund

And again, I’m good at math that doesn’t go away. But this kind of stuff where I sit down with a small business owner say, What are your dreams? What are you trying to do? Like that stuff gives me life like, like no other.

00;19;05;10 – 00;19;24;19
Anika

It’s so obvious. And I love that you said you, you know, you’re coming into your own. You gave yourself permission because I think that is so much of what holds us back so often in our journeys as business owners and entrepreneurs, as we think we have to do things a certain way, we listen to other people. We don’t determine our own paths and listen to our own instincts.

00;19;24;19 – 00;19;42;01
Anika

And stuff like that might not be the right path for me, even though everybody else thinks it is. I have to do it this way. And, you know, I’ve experienced that. I’ve seen a lot of other people experience that where they go through life, start a career that can make them a lot of money and they go, Wait, this isn’t really-

00;19;42;11 – 00;19;42;18
Steve Fredlund

Yeah.

00;19;42;24 – 00;19;46;04
Anika

What I want to do. This isn’t going to satisfy my soul.

00;19;46;23 – 00;20;07;00
Steve Fredlund

I call it The Good Life Trap. And that’s that was sort of my journey 15 years ago. I had my life was great on paper, like amazing. Like I’d just been promoted my marriage was great. My kids relationship was great. Everything was great. I was doing work in Rwanda, like, everything was great, but somebody forgot to tell my heart, you know, and I felt trapped.

00;20;07;00 – 00;20;30;27
Steve Fredlund

I’d be walking across the bridge over the Mississippi River every day going, Why am I miserable? I have no right to be miserable. Which made me even more miserable because I felt like I had no right to be. So it’s sort of that good life trap. And I think as I assess that, as I’ve figured out what causes happiness and those things, it’s a lot of that is that misalignment that you’re talking about where this is an amazing life for somebody else.

00;20;31;06 – 00;20;48;16
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, you know, this isn’t this isn’t my life. This isn’t who I truly am. And so I think the journey to figuring those things out for me started with that moment on the bridge, talking to a mentor, saying, what is wrong with me? You know, that was my perspective. Something’s wrong with me because I’m ungrateful or something.

00;20;49;01 – 00;21;09;28
Steve Fredlund

But then sorting that out and realize what’s happening is I was just misaligned who I am, what I want, how I want to do things was just not lined up with the world that I actually had. And it was a good world, but it wasn’t who I was. I was living somebody else’s life. And I think just the realization there was part one and then part two was, OK, well, what do I need to change?

00;21;09;28 – 00;21;29;04
Steve Fredlund

If I want to change, I need to stay miserable and enjoy the fruits of that. Or I can decide I’m going to start making some changes and be countercultural and have everybody say what is wrong? You know, it takes you ten years to become an actuary and all these things and MBA and all these things. And then you leave that and be like, What are you crazy?

00;21;29;04 – 00;21;39;19
Steve Fredlund

You finally got to the point where you could actually, you know, cash in on those things. Yeah, but I’m miserable. So yeah, it takes intentionality once you figure those want to get clarity on who you are.

00;21;40;13 – 00;22;20;24
Anika

Definitely. And that’s actually one of my words this year is intentional. I want to make sure that everything I’m doing is intentional, that I’m really thinking things through. I think, you know, honestly, as because I emerged my company with another firm in January, but before that, my, my company really started like it blew up during the pandemic. And I wanted to do all these great things and make people full time employees rather than contractors, no matter where they lived until, you know, I didn’t realize, oh, but that means that I have to have certifications and different states because my team was all over the pandemic and oh, tax it like all the taxes and like

00;22;21;05 – 00;22;50;29
Anika

all the complications that I didn’t think through because I thought I was doing the right thing. Right. And so this year, I’m like, whatever I do, it might be it might be baby steps instead. But it’s going to be very intentional in how I move forward. So going back to you, finding yourself in your happy place, do you sometimes start working with a business owner and have to help them discover that for themselves that maybe they’re not doing the right business, maybe they’re meant to be doing something else?

00;22;51;24 – 00;23;05;28
Steve Fredlund

One hundred percent. Like, that is it and I think I drive people crazy at first because they’ll be like, Hey, I got this problem. I can’t figure out, you know, what, I should price my product at or my service or how I should grow and my All right, let’s talk about who you are and what you want out of business.

00;23;06;25 – 00;23;20;03
Steve Fredlund

What are you talking about? I need help with this. I’m like, well, if you want my help, this is the way I can help you. And it starts with asking those questions and getting that deep clarity around who are you and what do you want out of your business. And people think that’s an obvious answer. It’s not.

00;23;20;11 – 00;23;32;21
Steve Fredlund

You start asking questions like, I had somebody like sign up for like they want to do a six month coaching contract and we did a two hour session, and all I did was ask them questions about who they are, what they wanted. At the end of it, we looked at each other. We’re like, We don’t need to meet again.

00;23;32;26 – 00;23;33;25
Anika

Oh, my gosh.

00;23;33;27 – 00;23;49;27
Steve Fredlund

Because now all of the questions, all of the struggles, all the wrestling that they had, that they were trying to figure out what to do with their business, they were all answered once they figured out who they were and what they wanted out of their business, because that is it. So when you ask that question like that is what I love to do is I love to figure that out.

00;23;49;27 – 00;24;05;21
Steve Fredlund

Like, who are you really? What do you want on your business? Because what happens is people start a business a lot of times because they just don’t want a boss. Yes. Well, that’s maybe OK, but the problem is, what else do you want out of it? Because depending on what you want, I mean, do you want to make as much money as possible?

00;24;05;21 – 00;24;25;26
Steve Fredlund

Do you want to create an asset for your kids? You want have impact on your community? Do you want to have reputation and prestige? Do you want to scale? Do you want to have employees? Do you not want to have employees? Like how these things are like changes dramatically. How you build a business. You can still sell the same widget or the same service, but how you construct your business is so radically different.

00;24;26;05 – 00;24;42;23
Steve Fredlund

And if you don’t know what you actually want out of the business, you’re going to wake up one day and go, OK, I’m making money, but I hate it. I hate it. Should I just go get a job? Should I sell this? What should I do? And I think that’s why I love working with people of saying what do you really want out of this thing?

00;24;43;03 – 00;25;04;15
Anika

Well, and that’s the entrepreneur’s dilemma or the want to be entrepreneur’s dilemma is it’s often easier. It’s the grass is greener, right? When you’re an employee somewhere, you say, well, I could do this better. OK, but do you realize all of the other things that come with having a business, being responsible for every facet it’s not just what you’re really good at or what you’re passionate about.

00;25;04;28 – 00;25;20;21
Anika

You know, you might be an amazing baker and want to have a bakery, but you’re not just going to be able to bake all day you’re going to have to do the marketing, the sales, the accounting, you know, the overhead, like all of the other variables that come in to running a business that people don’t think about.

00;25;21;05 – 00;25;36;28
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, this is a preaching to the choir thing because I went through the same thing and it’s sort of a position myself kind of thing because I went through that like, OK, well, well, there’s going to be great, like people going to want to work with me, blah, blah, blah. Now I got to do sales. Terrible. I people I hate selling people like I hate sales.

00;25;36;28 – 00;25;55;04
Steve Fredlund

Like, I hate it with a passion because I’m not confident of talking about myself. Even though I know I can help people. I’m not the guy that’s going to go out there say, Hey, y’all need to work with me. Like, So how do I do sales? That’s congruent with my personality. Like, I hated that and then, yeah, all the finance, all the taxes, all the everything else that comes with that, that’s just part of the deal.

00;25;55;04 – 00;26;14;13
Steve Fredlund

So I think being honest with small business owners or aspiring entrepreneurs, what does this actually look like? What does it actually take? Because sometimes if you present that to them, they realize that, well, maybe, maybe I don’t need to own a small business. Maybe I need to find somebody that’s doing the kind of thing that it’s all that I want to do that likes the business part of it, and I become a partner of theirs.

00;26;14;24 – 00;26;32;03
Steve Fredlund

Maybe not as an employee, you know, maybe there’s some creative solution there where somebody else can do some of that stuff and I can really focus on what I do the best. So. But yeah, you have to you have to you have to, first of all, be aware that those are part of owning a business and then secondly decide, is that something that I’m OK with or not?

00;26;33;17 – 00;27;02;27
Anika

Well, I just think, you know, an easy way to do that is you sell your case studies the people that you’ve worked with. Right? So speaking of, I’d love to hear somebody that you really helped in their transformation, you know, and then somebody and it’s could be the same person or it could be two different companies, somebody who achieved a level of success they didn’t know was possible by working with you and by getting that clarity around who they are, what they want to do, and how to really move forward in their business.

00;27;03;14 – 00;27;18;11
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, I’d say I give you a couple of examples. One is somebody that really kind of found their life back when we worked together, and that was actually the client that had that clarity session because they were trying to do everything. They were just trying to do everything. And I just ask them, what do you actually want out of this thing?

00;27;18;26 – 00;27;35;23
Steve Fredlund

Well, in five years I’d like to retire and move to the Bahamas. Well, right now you’re heading I mean, really, that’s kind of where I came to. So now they’re adding on all of these new things with all of this overhead, all this bureaucracy. And in five years, it’s not going to be a sale, a marketable sale, like, well, this doesn’t make sense.

00;27;35;23 – 00;27;56;27
Steve Fredlund

So how can we, you know, help them get to the point where what can we do right now to to create an asset that you can sell in five years rather than adding all these pieces on? How can we build up your brand? How can we structure things so that it’s marketable? How can we just maybe get your name off of this thing and rebrand this as something else so that when you try to sell it, somebody’s not going to be like, well, the whole brand is your name.

00;27;56;27 – 00;28;12;18
Steve Fredlund

Let’s start to start to move that position so that it’s, you know, Acme Incorporated that has all the stuff, and you could actually just sell it and or keep a percentage of it or however you want to do that. And so what that did for them is it started giving them the ability to actually work on their five year plan, their vision.

00;28;12;22 – 00;28;31;27
Steve Fredlund

What’s it going to look like when we move to the Bahamas? You know, all of those things, whether they do that or not, that was their dream. And so for them, it just gave them freedom and gave them actually more intentional direction on where they wanted to go rather than they were getting further and further into the complexity and like, you’re going to unwind all of this in five years, whatever, you know, if it’s a 20 year thing.

00;28;31;27 – 00;28;52;28
Steve Fredlund

Sure. But five years probably not. So that was one. The other one was actually during COVID. Somebody that I’ve got who does roofs, right. He’s a he’s a roof- puts on roofs of houses. And he was really struggling because, first of all, lumber, all the supplies, the cost went through the roof. Really hard to find workers.

00;28;52;28 – 00;29;11;06
Steve Fredlund

Right. He had tried to find labor to do these roofs and then also the regulatory environment got really difficult. Most of his work was done through insurance companies. And so, like, you know, a hail storm would come through and he’d be able to get roofs and work with insurance companies. Well, a lot of the a lot of that stuff changed, made it more difficult and got paid less and all these things.

00;29;11;06 – 00;29;24;17
Steve Fredlund

So he was just like, what do I do? Like, he was ready to give up. Do I go get a job? Like, what do I do here? And so we said, well, let’s just let’s just take a breath here. Let’s start meeting together and just start figuring out what is actually going on here. And then what do you actually like to do?

00;29;24;17 – 00;29;40;23
Steve Fredlund

And then we just sort of brainstorming solutions. OK, so if it wasn’t insurance companies, who else could you work with? You know, if you had trouble getting staff, what else could you do if supply was, you know, we started really digging in, like, let’s just get creative on this thing. And what ended up was- well not to give away his whole secret.

00;29;40;23 – 00;29;58;22
Steve Fredlund

But, you know, what we found was, OK, there is a market out there of people who are very wealthy, who have lake homes that re-roof their homes probably more often than they need to because they actually like the different shingles and the appearance all these different things. Right now, they’re building they’re building additions and they need roofs and all this stuff.

00;29;58;23 – 00;30;12;05
Steve Fredlund

And money is not really an issue for them if they don’t want to overpaid by a ton. But it’s not really an issue and they’re not reliant on insurance. Right, because they’re just direct paying these people. And so actually they’re going to pay them more and pay on time.

00;30;12;05 – 00;30;12;25
Anika

Absolutely.

00;30;12;26 – 00;30;36;20
Steve Fredlund

And so we’ve shifted their market to be primarily that where let’s actually branded this thing. We’re now you are a terrible luxury home roof installer and renovator and so his business became that way and they would pay. And, you know, now he could have enough money to pay people more so he could get the workers the actual cost of supplies you know, was embedded in the cost that the homeowner was now paying.

00;30;37;03 – 00;30;54;25
Steve Fredlund

And so he could absorb those or he wouldn’t have to absorb those that actually got absorbed into the quote. And we had him actually start quoting rather than just sort of a 1 fixed cost, actually breaking it down, saying, here’s the labor, here’s the cost of the supplies. And so they could see that those things can fluctuate. But then, you know, his profit would be would be more fixed.

00;30;55;03 – 00;31;09;23
Steve Fredlund

And so we moved him in that direction. And now it’s great. Now he’s cranking there. And now what will happen is as things come back, he can actually have diversification in his thing. Now he’s got a couple of different things. If the insurance stuff changes or if he wants to invest there or labor changes or whatever.

00;31;10;01 – 00;31;28;23
Steve Fredlund

So now he has diversification there. So it is more of just getting creative and saying, all right, well, what’s actually going on here? What is the real core problem and what other possible solutions are out there? Who, you know, who exists out there where money’s not an object so you can pay everybody and pay your supplies and you don’t have to deal with insurance.

00;31;29;07 – 00;31;47;20
Steve Fredlund

And we started doing that. And we’re in Minnesota, land of 10,000 Lakes. There’s a ton of lake homes, there’s a lot of executives that either work or they’re retired here that have these homes. And doggone it, they don’t want it to look better than their neighbors. And so that’s part of the branding, right? I mean, have your been it doesn’t work for me, but it works for them.

00;31;47;20 – 00;32;00;10
Steve Fredlund

You know, have your home may you’re let your home be the envy of your neighborhood. Let it be the envy of the lake. You know, people want that. I want to be the envy of the lake. When people are driving around their pontoon, I want them to look at my house. They go, wow, look at that one.

00;32;01;00 – 00;32;05;23
Steve Fredlund

Well, great roof is going to give you that. So that’s right.

00;32;06;01 – 00;32;13;08
Anika

I love that. That’s so creative. To help him reframe his entire business.

00;32;13;27 – 00;32;28;24
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, because he you know, I think he was thinking he’s in the insurance roof replacement business, right? That’s not the business that you’re in. I mean, it’s a business that’s a model you have, but you’re in a business that’s different than that. And so start thinking more broadly.

00;32;28;28 – 00;32;38;14
Anika

Yeah. Mm hmm. Wonderful. What’s some other advice that you would give to somebody who’s thinking about starting out or is on their journey of being a small, small business?

00;32;38;27 – 00;32;59;14
Steve Fredlund

Clarity, clarity, clarity. I’m a big, like, the Einstein quote where he says, If I had 60 minutes to solve a problem, I spend 55 minutes on the problem, 5 minutes on the solution like that. It’s just clarity. OK, you want to start a small business? Why? Let’s just start there. Why do you want to start a small business? There’s so many reasons.

00;32;59;27 – 00;33;14;23
Steve Fredlund

And if your answer is just, well, it seems like the right thing to do. Well, maybe it is. But really, why do you want to be your own boss? Do you want to have financial freedom? You want to make a ton of money? Do you want to work less hours? Do you want to leave a legacy? Do you want to impact in the community?

00;33;14;23 – 00;33;32;14
Steve Fredlund

Like what do you really what are you really trying to do? Let’s forget about the widget. Lets forget about the service, like internally motivated. What motivates you? Let’s just start there and then let’s start from there. Let’s build on what that what that program looks like. But I think that’s my key advice. Who are you? What are you trying to do?

00;33;32;22 – 00;33;45;07
Steve Fredlund

Where are you trying to go? How do you want to get there? Who do you want to get there with? Like, really lock those things in. And I think a lot of small business owners are analytical like me. So we want to go down the road of strategy and pricing and all those things. There’s a time for that.

00;33;45;07 – 00;34;00;23
Steve Fredlund

But if you’re not aligned with who you really are, you’re small business what’s going to happen is going to wake up in two, five, ten years and say, even if you’re successful, say, this isn’t even what I like to do, but I’m stuck. I’m stuck now. So let’s do that work on the front end.

00;34;01;11 – 00;34;21;13
Anika

I love that. It’s interesting because from the marketing and PR perspective, it’s often a journey that we take our clients down as well in a different way of, OK, we need to know who are you? What, what is your why, who is your customer? What are the different you know, people you’re going to be speaking to? And how do we message that?

00;34;21;13 – 00;34;51;09
Anika

What are the different messages for the different audiences? Because you’re going to speak to journalists a little bit different than you are going to speak to customers. And you’re going to speak to potential strategic partners or investors or the bank or whatever. And so we really need to have that information so that we can do our job better and that we know when you’re looking at it in integrated marketing, you know, how are you going to show up on social media versus in an article or on a podcast or on your website or in a newsletter?

00;34;51;17 – 00;34;57;27
Anika

And they all have to weave together to tell a narrative, but they all might have slightly different pieces of that puzzle.

00;34;58;15 – 00;35;16;14
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, and that’s why I love- You brand experts. I mean, I’ve the last five years I’ve learned so much from people that do brand and I have such a great appreciation for what you do and I think a lot of times we start business. I think the branding stuff should almost be the first thing we do, like before you even figure out what your business is, your widget now you know everyone.

00;35;16;14 – 00;35;31;18
Steve Fredlund

So I want to parallel but I think those questions that brand people ask about who you are, what makes you tick, what makes you come alive, how do you want to be perceived, how do you want, you know, how do other people perceive you and how do you want to be perceived and how do you want to communicate and what’s your posture to the world like?

00;35;31;18 – 00;35;47;07
Steve Fredlund

All of those things are so critical and I think like those are almost most important piece. Like if you figure that out as somebody looking to start a business, if you’re like, how are you perceived in who and how do you want to be perceived? Like from there then we can figure out the product. Then we can figure out what the business is.

00;35;47;07 – 00;35;53;20
Steve Fredlund

But a lot of that is so huge. So those things are done in parallel. And yeah, I think I’m, I’m grabbing a lot of the things from brand experts and

00;35;53;20 – 00;35;54;16
Anika

I love it!

00;35;54;16 – 00;35;55;07
Steve Fredlund

Embedding those.

00;35;55;09 – 00;35;55;24
Anika

Keep on going!

00;35;56;22 – 00;36;13;13
Steve Fredlund

Who are you? It’s who are you at your core? Like, what’s your core identity? How are you currently perceived? How do you want to be perceived? And then that is how you’re going to present to the world. Now what is the product? And those sorts of things is almost not really, but it’s almost secondary to some of those things.

00;36;13;13 – 00;36;34;02
Anika

Yeah. Yeah. I mean and especially in today’s world, people want authenticity and you know, they really want your story. And that goes back to why people go to work every day or why people buy the products they do all of that. It’s the same thing you have to have some motivation to do.

00;36;34;03 – 00;36;55;19
Steve Fredlund

But I learned the hard way about branding because that was not really on my radar when I started my business, you know, four years ago. And so now I’ve been working with some brand people trying to sort of retrofit brand into it. And it’s awkward. It’s caused me to change how I do things. It’s caused me to change some of my services, my programs, because of my brand.

00;36;56;14 – 00;37;05;24
Steve Fredlund

And so I wish I would have encountered somebody like you four years ago to help me think that stuff through. So if you’re listening, Dr. Monica- ANIKA, Anika! Ah dang it.

00;37;06;14 – 00;37;25;12
Anika

Well, we’re going to yeah, we’re going to be talking about some things after this interview because I’m like, I have some other ideas. And I often get approached by small businesses who probably aren’t ready for marketing or PR necessarily. They really need to talk to somebody like you first. And they need to find somebody who they can afford honestly.

00;37;25;12 – 00;37;26;12
Anika

As well, right? So-

 

00;37;26;24 – 00;37;43;13
Steve Fredlund

I mean, all I mean, what I do is I’ve got a 30 minute free session for anybody that wants any of your people. 60 minutes. That’s fine. I’m not a sales pitch guy either. So if anybody, you or anybody wants to set up an hour, I mean, I’m, I’m in this thing to try to help small business. I know that sounds like cliche marketing.

00;37;43;13 – 00;37;59;27
Steve Fredlund

Whatever is not like this is, this is what I do. And so, you know, people are listening to this. They want an hour. I’ll give them an hour. And then what I do, I’ll just give you I’ll pull back the onion. I don’t care. What I do is I have something called the Prove It program, which is just a fancy way of saying don’t pay for something unless I prove that there’s value.

00;38;00;07 – 00;38;00;26
Anika

Oh, my gosh.

00;38;00;29 – 00;38;15;09
Steve Fredlund

So then so we do the hour for free and then we say, all right, up to 10 hours, I’ll give you a 10% of my cost. 10% of what I cost 10 hours. If you want to pay me more at the end, if there’s great value, pay me more. That’s great. But there’s no obligation. And so that’s how I do things I would like.

00;38;15;09 – 00;38;27;24
Steve Fredlund

I want to prove the value. And then at that, after that, it’s like 50% of my rates for small business owners. Like I tried to make it as effective as I can. I’m going to do this as many people as I can. I’ve got a number of people doing it. I’ll do as many as I can fit in.

00;38;27;24 – 00;38;40;19
Steve Fredlund

But that’s not that’s just that’s not sort of my style. Like I should not get paid unless the values they’re right. That’s how I’d like the world to work, frankly. Yeah, it doesn’t work that way. But that’s what I want.

00;38;40;19 – 00;38;59;10
Anika

This is so refreshing. I really appreciated this. And one of when you were talking about your client stories, something funny happened. I just thought to myself for the first time in my entire life, I actually want to make a vision board for what I want to do in the next five years. I’ve never wanted to have. I was like, I’m not one of those people.

00;38;59;10 – 00;39;10;13
Anika

I don’t like sitting there and cutting out things in putting- and I’m like, Oh, you just inspired me to what to think in a different way and to actually do that part of the work. And-

00;39;10;23 – 00;39;24;09
Steve Fredlund

You know, I mean, it’s your word, your word of the year, if that’s your word of the year. One of the words of your year. Yeah, yeah. Vision boring is a great way to do it. What? What does that look like? You know, if things work, what does it look like? I think we always ask the question, what if this doesn’t work?

00;39;24;29 – 00;39;39;03
Steve Fredlund

And that’s a fair question, right? From a risk perspective, what if I do this and it doesn’t work? But what if it does work? Yeah, what is it? What is the world look like? Man, let’s go. And then let’s start making decisions that that line up, that.

00;39;39;24 – 00;39;54;08
Anika

So what is next for you? I think you have your hands pretty full. But is there another a new program you’re offering or because I know you mentioned a number of ways that people can engage with you and your services and small businesses.

00;39;54;13 – 00;40;12;07
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, I’m really, you know, I’ve been doing so many different things, but I’m really doubling down on the coaching piece of it and coaching and mentoring is sort of there’s a difference there. But, you know, consulting, you know, if it comes, it comes the speaking stuff. If it comes, it comes, that’s great. I’m really doubling down on the coaching and mentoring because that’s what I really love.

00;40;12;26 – 00;40;34;00
Steve Fredlund

And so that’s really what I’m focused on is these sorts of programs to get small business owners to realize the value of having an external voice, a coach, a mentor, whether it’s me or somebody else, because I think that’s a big gap right now. As small business owners, I go to chamber meetings, I talk to people and they just they don’t think that the coaches can help them because, oh, you’ve never left the house.

00;40;34;00 – 00;40;53;03
Steve Fredlund

How can you help my business? Well, I don’t need to run a house to actually help you with business principles. And getting clarity on what you’re trying to do. But I think there’s that that thing. So I’m trying to overcome that hurdle and you have to get people there. So it’s I’m trying to do more coaching, more mentoring, and the rest of it was just that if it happens, it happens so. Yeah.

00;40;53;22 – 00;41;03;24
Anika

And people can find you is your for your you know, your website is your name. What about your job? Are you on social media as well? Do you-

00;41;03;24 – 00;41;23;07
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, so there’s a couple of websites. So Stevefredlund.com is sort of that’s about me who I am in the world for speaking clients. That’s great. It also links to my kind of my business site which is smallsmallbusiness.com. So small small business dot com that’s got the prove it program. That’s got how you can set up meetings with me and it’s got more information on some of the things that we do.

00;41;23;15 – 00;41;42;01
Steve Fredlund

And then, you know, social media, I’m present everywhere, but I’m most active on LinkedIn so I do something called Steve’s Daily Stool is it’s intentional of people, like you know what that implies? Yeah, but you know what? I’m trying to be who I am which is I’m I try to be a little fun. So I do these little videos every weekday little, you know, two to five minute videos.

00;41;42;20 – 00;41;46;02
Steve Fredlund

So connect out there. LinkedIn is a great way to, to stay connected.

00;41;46;13 – 00;41;53;27
Anika

Fantastic! And I always like to ask I don’t always do it, but I’d like to ask you, do you have a favorite quote?

00;41;55;12 – 00;42;13;26
Steve Fredlund

I will be I say when I use there, I kind of like that, but I’d say it’s a paraphrase because I could give you the whole thing, the whole thing. But it’s too long. So it’s from from Alice in Wonderland actually. There’s this great exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat. And, you know, it goes back and forth, back and forth.

00;42;13;26 – 00;42;31;29
Steve Fredlund

But the way it paraphrases is the cat basically tells Alice, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. And I just I’m such a firm believer in that, like, you can work hard and scramble or whatever, and if you don’t know where you’re going, it doesn’t matter what direction you go. It really doesn’t matter what strategy you have because it’s all random, right?

00;42;31;29 – 00;42;40;18
Steve Fredlund

Yeah. But if you know where you’re going, then you can choose the right road, the right strategies to get you there. So know where you’re trying to go. Yeah.

00;42;40;20 – 00;42;44;14
Anika

Very good words of wisdom. Is there anything else you’d like to leave with our audience today?

00;42;44;26 – 00;43;06;11
Steve Fredlund

No, I just I would say chase your dreams, you know, and. Yeah, OK. The last thing I’ll say with your audience is your dreams don’t have to be other people’s dreams who you are what you want. Let it be profoundly and authentically who you are. Don’t let the world should on you. I didn’t swear there. Don’t we let ourselves be should on all the time.

00;43;06;11 – 00;43;24;18
Steve Fredlund

You should, I should we should, should, should, should, should, should. And don’t, you know, do whatever people expect of you. You know your mom expects you to do this. Your spouse expects- like, this is your life. And you can live it the way that you want. You have more agency, more control than you realize. I wish I had known that 20 years ago, but really just this is your life.

00;43;24;18 – 00;43;31;09
Steve Fredlund

What is your dream? What do you really want? Get clear on that and then take the right next to nice.

00;43;31;22 – 00;43;55;13
Anika

And I think that is a great end cap to this to this discussion. Steve, thank you so much for coming on. I will put your website in the show notes and I highly encourage people to reach out actually I’m going to tell some people to reach out to you who I know could love it, could absolutely get a lot of value out of working with you.

00;43;55;19 – 00;44;02;11
Steve Fredlund

Yeah, I think in an hour we can really crush a lot of stuff and really help you get some clarity or at least put your point in the right direction.

00;44;02;21 – 00;44;15;00
Anika

Yeah, wonderful. Well, thank you to our audience for coming back for another week of Your Brand Amplified. And we were here with smallsmallbusiness.com’s Steve Fredlund. I really appreciate you coming on and I’ll be back again next week.

00;44;15;00 – 00;44;16;11
Steve Fredlund

Thanks

00;44;16;11 – 00;44;23;03
Anika

Want more? Check out AmplifywithAnika.com or follow me on socials @AmplifywithAnika.

Terry Isner – Your Brand Amplified Transcript

00;00;01;05 – 00;00;22;15
Anika

Welcome to Your Brand Amplified the podcast where we interview marketers, publicists and brands to learn their stories, what makes them tick, and tips and tricks that make a difference. Hello and welcome to another episode of Your Brand Amplified, and I’m very excited to have another marketing and PR pro in the room with me. Terry, welcome to the show.

00;00;23;01 – 00;00;26;27
Terry Isner

Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. This is going to be a great, fun conversation.

00;00;26;28 – 00;00;33;15
Anika

I am really excited. Just your energy already is so vibrant. It’s. Yes, this is yeah.

00;00;33;29 – 00;00;35;17
Terry Isner

It’s Friday. What do you expect?

00;00;36;28 – 00;00;58;11
Anika

TGIF. So you are a marketing philosopher, which I love that, brand consultant and speaker who really dives into the human humanistic side and the empathy side of what we do. So first, I’d love for you to share a little bit about your background and your story with our audience and how you got to where you are today.

00;00;59;09 – 00;01;30;00
Terry Isner

Sure. Yeah. You know, it was an interesting journey. I’m a creative director by heart and an artist, so I’m that guy who used to like to be in the dark room in the back of, you know, of the agency or whatever, just designing and listening to my music and really not interacting with people when I bought Jaffe and took over the, the, the, the how am I guess, you know, and, and really started to develop where this brand was going to go.

00;01;30;00 – 00;01;52;13
Terry Isner

And so Jaffe is a PR agency and has been a PR agency for almost 45 years. But I realized from that point that we needed to be a lot more than a PR agency. So I really tried to diversify the agency as much as possible. But my role changed so much that I had to go out of the back, you know, dark room of design.

00;01;52;15 – 00;02;19;07
Terry Isner

Yes. I actually had to speak to people and to start to managing people and to start inspiring people. And I realized that my calling it all of a sudden changed and, you know, years of not enjoying doing speech class and now finding an opportunity to have a soapbox. And I never realized how much I loved sharing and speaking to folks.

00;02;20;03 – 00;02;45;13
Terry Isner

And that really got me into looking at marketing and, and PR and branding specifically from a different angle than the idea of what we had come to love with commercials and what we kind of grew up watching. And the jingles and the way that we connected with brands. You know, I really saw a different opportunity for us to connect at that that human level.

00;02;45;13 – 00;02;47;19
Terry Isner

And that’s kind of what’s driven my career so far.

00;02;48;10 – 00;03;14;26
Anika

I love that so much. Yeah, I’ve been I’ve had a very varied career in marketing and PR as well. And I thought it was funny that you noted that you started as creative director, the person in that back room, because I was just thinking, you know, when you’re working with a market research company, or specific or media buying, those are very different personalities than the digital media marketing PR strategy.

00;03;14;26 – 00;03;40;11
Anika

OK, we got to get out and like really, you know, make sure our team is all in, at least talk to the clients, figure out the strategy. But then when I go visit some of my sister agencies, you know, they’re all market research, they’re all just sitting there typing away and it’s not the same experience. So I love that you were able to transition from being in that room and realize how much you really loved being front and center and really people centered.

00;03;41;08 – 00;04;00;25
Terry Isner

Yeah, it was really amazing to even experience that part of me because it just it didn’t exist. It was fear. And the funny part is what I realize now is I really enjoy being on the stage. I don’t care how many people are in the audience to share that story and to try to connect. It’s when it ends is when the panic still comes.

00;04;00;25 – 00;04;05;12
Terry Isner

I’m not a networker. I have people for that. So I’m not very good on the one on one.

00;04;07;06 – 00;04;25;22
Anika

Yeah. I also like to speak in I like to speak on stage. I like to speak. I have no fear of that love. To get up in front of people and talk about anything, any time. But yeah, that networking piece and I consider myself an extrovert, but that- I think that’s it’s not natural for anybody to get past that.

00;04;26;16 – 00;04;42;22
Terry Isner

Yeah, I’ve seen some amazing people who could talk to anybody about anything, and I love the way that they draw people into them. And they make those connections. For me, I want to make the connection first, and then it’s easier for me to go kind of in and share a bit more because I have a connection with you.

00;04;43;04 – 00;05;04;06
Terry Isner

And I think it’s the sharing that really starts to create the relationships. And I think that’s exactly where for me, marketing, business development and branding has gone. It’s not to be sold to nobody wants to be sold to. Nobody wants to be a client. Nobody wants to be a quota. You know, we’re all people and we want to connect with people and have relationships.

00;05;04;20 – 00;05;25;15
Terry Isner

And that’s the part where I saw this kind of shift and this ability to put humanity in people first in the way that we market and think and not be stuck in the idea that technology is just technology. So I’m going to hit send. What you’re hitting send to is people. And that was the whole different dynamic and where things started to change for me.

00;05;25;15 – 00;05;33;09
Terry Isner

And empathy really became a powerful piece and brand and client relationship and even leadership.

00;05;33;12 – 00;05;51;23
Anika

And all of those things, especially in the last few years, have really become front and center because younger generations demand it and they want to know that the brand is authentic. They want to hear an authentic voice. They don’t like, as you said, they just don’t want to be sold to you. They want to know what your social responsibility is.

00;05;52;03 – 00;06;13;15
Anika

How is your brand helping people as well? How are you showing your everyday values in what you’re doing and what you’re showing to the world? And I think this goes to something we were talking about right before we pushed record, which is, you know, it does map back. I mean, obviously there have to be KPIs. Brands hire us, because they do want to increase revenue.

00;06;13;15 – 00;06;40;28
Anika

They want to be seen by more people. They want to get in front, front and center of their customers. Whether it’s B to B, B to C or their potential investors, you know, donors. So how do you see- have you seen the landscape shift in marketing and branding to help increase revenue, productivity and meet the new world goals of what is being demanded by consumers?

00;06;41;25 – 00;07;03;14
Terry Isner

Well, and you hit it on the head because the change has happened recently. It’s happened because of the pandemic. And if we watched what happened and we watched big corporate America buying ad spots, and those ad spots now showed humanity in action. Showed people coming together. And you started to see that there’s a trend happening now that we’re changing a dynamic of, again, being sold to.

00;07;04;06 – 00;07;31;25
Terry Isner

And what I started to realize and what I started to witness was people didn’t want to buy a brand. People don’t want to be sold by a brand. People want to connect with and build those relationships with people. The industry that I work is the legal industry. So lawyers and law firms and, and legal providers, you know, of, of or supporters of the legal community and so their dynamic was very interesting because they’re lawyers.

00;07;31;25 – 00;07;51;06
Terry Isner

Everything is very pragmatic. Everything is very protected. And you think about in our creative world, everything had to go to legal and then it got destroyed. And then it came back to your desk and you’re like, no, we lost all the creative. So these people I had an opportunity to say, look, these are humans, too. These are real people.

00;07;51;06 – 00;08;14;26
Terry Isner

They’re very creative, they’re funny, they have wonderful lives. And the more I got to understand them, I wanted to break the stigma of that brand alone. But a lot of that is also based on the way those service accounting firms, law firms, they’re built because they’re built through an equity partnership, which is really based on the eighties and nineties, that mentality of a boardroom profit.

00;08;15;10 – 00;08;45;20
Terry Isner

Right. And so for me, I saw that there was a better opportunity instead of thinking of that boardroom profit, to think more about the people. And if you empower the people more than the profits increase. So if you look back at marketing as a whole and you start to think about it and you think, but wait a minute, if we empower our people, if we are more transparent we communicate better, we set goals and share goals, and we also welcome everybody to bring their whole self to work.

00;08;45;20 – 00;09;07;27
Terry Isner

This is the real important part to me, allowing you to be your whole self, but also you being comfortable will be your whole self. Think about that from, you know, profit. Think about that from productivity. If I’m uncomfortable going into the office every day, I’m only going to bring a part of me every day. So that’s not fair to the client.

00;09;07;27 – 00;09;30;26
Terry Isner

That’s not fair to my peers, and that’s certainly not fair to me. Now, imagine if I could come home. The difference in that dynamic, the way that I would become more in tune to the agency, the goal of the company, whatever that it is that you’re working for being part of the team more so you’re going to work more hours, you’re going to have more innovation.

00;09;30;26 – 00;09;50;23
Terry Isner

I mean, without empathy, we don’t even have innovation. So you start to look at the emotional side of this and you start to realize we marketed in one way for years and it worked because we were marketed to and again, we like the jingles and we had fun, but we’re not looking to do that anymore. We’re looking to create relationships and trust.

00;09;51;00 – 00;10;18;08
Terry Isner

And then and that trust, as you said a little while ago, has to be organic. And has to be authentic. And we now have all the tools to call B.S. on all of those things. And that puts the power in a very different place. When we think about ourselves as marketers, we’re not we don’t have that power of big TV and and magazines and stuff to communicate you know, something about our brand that maybe was sticky.

00;10;18;24 – 00;10;23;08
Terry Isner

The stories have to resonate in a very different way, and that’s in an emotional way.

00;10;23;16 – 00;11;01;03
Anika

Yeah. So there are a couple of things that came to mind when you were saying this. One is I have a couple of referrals for you, not that I want to take business away from myself. But one is a law firm in Houston that one of the lawyers said, gosh, we need an app that shows diversity in lawyers and so people can look up any, you know, any state, OK, you want, whether it’s somebody who’s differently abled, somebody who’s a certain ethnicity, certain religion, whatever it is, so that you can find the lawyer that’s going to be best suited to you and to what you need.

00;11;01;13 – 00;11;21;22
Anika

And so that’s a way of be- of showing lawyers as people, not just as, you know, the person who’s billing you how much money to sit and do this work for you. And the second is another are Houston firm know, I don’t live in Houston, but I used to, so I have connections there. And that firm, we did something a little different during the pandemic.

00;11;21;22 – 00;11;44;27
Anika

We started doing a little show that would bring on creatives. And so talking about IP for creatives and how to protect your IP. And I’m sure as a creative yourself, you know, it was really great because we were able to show- and then this law firm started going to like comic book conventions because the main lawyer, he’s a Doctor Who expert, so he’s already going to these things.

00;11;45;06 – 00;12;06;00
Anika

But then he could talk to artists who are doing that, like how do you protect your IP, what can be your IP versus what’s something that is already trademarked you know, by somebody else? And, you know, you can maybe get away with doing some fan art, but you can’t really make that your own. Even tattoo conventions because tattoo artist need to protect their work.

00;12;06;10 – 00;12;18;04
Anika

So I went into all these other things. And is that because of the interests, the personal interests of the lawyers in the law firm, they were able to open up a whole new market of potential clients?

00;12;19;07 – 00;12;35;23
Terry Isner

That’s exactly right. And I have seen more stories of that. On social media’s help with that a lot, because you can now get invested into, like you said, going to the comic book trade shows, going to Comic-Con, whatever that might be. There was a young associate that I work with that was in the FDA, the Food and Drug.

00;12;35;23 – 00;13;24;03
Terry Isner

And so he found himself going to the food markets because his law was dealing with the freshness of produce. And so what happened? So all of the different dynamics of from the farmer to the table and what happens in that loss of freshness, you know, and those kind of things. So he’s at markets with farmers enough and so he started to use Instagram and he started to be a part of the community more. And his business grew. And I think that’s exactly what we’re seeing, regardless of what the industry is, is the more that you allow yourself to get involved in that, to kind of have that empathy, have that connection, but be a part of the process or the need or the service or whatever it is that you’re creating.

00;13;24;09 – 00;13;54;13
Terry Isner

Microsoft is good at this now with their new CEO, Satya Nadella, who, you know, who realizes that empathy was everything coming from a beautiful culture himself and then writing, you know, Microsoft in a way that said, I need to empower people to create things that help people live a better life. And when we think of that and every day you get up and go, I want to help a really great lawyer, help an amazing client, create an amazing thing that’s going to change somebody’s life.

00;13;54;21 – 00;14;02;12
Terry Isner

It changed the way you get up because my connection is with this person who’s helping a person who’s helping a person not selling a widget.

00;14;02;24 – 00;14;03;16
Anika

Exactly.

00;14;03;19 – 00;14;05;09
Terry Isner

That’s a big dynamic change.

00;14;05;10 – 00;14;27;12
Anika

Yeah. Well, and then also how you talked about whole selves, not just for our clients, but also our employees and our staff during the pandemic and even now, the repercussions of that. I had a team member who was who’s really great at I mean, she could do, you know, video, she could do social media. She was really great at pitching and just all the different things.

00;14;28;12 – 00;14;45;21
Anika

And so I thought, OK, this is a chance for her to go into a client facing role. But she’s so painfully shy that was not the fit for her. And she wanted to quit rather than have to do that because she realized she said, you know, I have realized it’s taken me a long time to be OK with this.

00;14;45;21 – 00;15;21;00
Anika

These are my limits and this is what I feel comfortable doing and I will never feel comfortable doing that. And so I said, please don’t quit. Just take some time off. Go regroup, take some mental health time, come back, and we will make sure that the position that you’re in is the right one for you. You know, and I think it’s it it’s not always easy to find that flexibility, but if it’s somebody you really want to keep and somebody you really value as a team member and you know, you see how you can continue working together and building something beautiful, you have to you know, build that in.

00;15;21;28 – 00;15;49;09
Terry Isner

And again, let’s go back to the big keyword that came out of the pandemic, one that was my soapbox, and that’s empathy. So if you didn’t have that empathy, you would have lost somebody that was very valuable to Europe, to your organization and to you and that’s exactly where I think we are. When you think of that whole self, when you think of empathy, when you think of the way that we lead people work with people, mentor people.

00;15;49;27 – 00;16;13;00
Terry Isner

If we’re doing it basically our way, we’re not listening to them. We’re not creating that, that level of empathy. And I just looked at all these different dynamics as a leader also from the same perspective. And you mentioned wellbeing and mental health. And here we are in Mental Health Awareness Month. And, and that’s really important to me.

00;16;13;00 – 00;16;44;13
Terry Isner

I’m the co-chair of the Wellbeing Committee for the Legal Marketing Association, and I find that if we do not eliminate the stigma again of the whole self and the individuals within the workplace and the idea of wellbeing and mental health, we’re going to continue to lose really talented, talented people. And there’s greater value if you step back, there’s greater profit, there’s greater innovation, there’s greater success, there’s greater everything.

00;16;44;27 – 00;17;04;10
Terry Isner

When you can respect the people and the individuals that make up your team. You know, as a leader, I can’t do it all. I have great ideas, but I’m a bad doer and I will tell all of my people, no, no, you need to remind me to do that. You need to remind me you need me. I don’t care if I’m the boss when I’m on your team.

00;17;04;15 – 00;17;27;22
Terry Isner

You’re the team leader. And you need to use my service for what my service might be, branding, creative, whatever that would be. And you empower people to be successful. And we didn’t do that. We had these hierarchies and we had these you know, people afraid to be out sick or they’re running late or whatever. We’re all human every single day.

00;17;27;29 – 00;17;41;03
Terry Isner

Is out of our control of what will happen on that given day. And if we can’t expect that, then you might as well work in A.I. or other areas in which you don’t have to deal with that human control.

00;17;41;26 – 00;17;42;25
Anika

Yeah, absolutely.

00;17;42;25 – 00;17;43;13
Terry Isner

work unexpected.

00;17;44;01 – 00;18;13;29
Anika

So what are some of the ways that you work when you work with a client helping align them with their social good or their, you know, how they want to show up in the world how can people use- Because sometimes I think people think, you know, there’s so many different things people think of PR and some people think, I was just talking to somebody else about this, that there are some people don’t understand all the different facets and what a PR strategy is.

00;18;13;29 – 00;18;34;09
Anika

And it’s not marketing, it’s not sales. It needs to be one part of your integrated strategy, right? Yeah. And you have to be careful about earned media versus paid media. And a lot of people who don’t understand what PR is think, oh, no, but if I’m paying for that article, that’s going to be really great. I’m like, Well, that’s not really a real magazine.

00;18;34;09 – 00;18;54;25
Anika

That’s not really real publication. So you’re going to see it posted there. But if you really looked it out, you would be able to figure out pretty easily or yeah, having a press release go out and it populates on, you know, NBC affiliate in the middle of Kansas. You know, that’s you don’t you can’t really say you’re on NBC.

00;18;56;15 – 00;19;20;03
Terry Isner

That’s exactly right. And a lot of that is the perception right now. Like we work this industry, you know, marketing, PR, branding, and creative advertising. This has been going on forever. And so we they become silos in a lot of ways in the ways that we think. And when we started talking earlier, we talked about integration. To me, that’s absolutely critical.

00;19;20;14 – 00;19;36;14
Terry Isner

But it’s not only critical in the idea that for the goal in which you want to reach, which you’ve articulated to me, we need to do this, this, this, and this and this. I didn’t I didn’t hire you to do those things. I was hired to do this. And they don’t understand they all contribute to that.

00;19;36;22 – 00;19;59;12
Terry Isner

And PR is a great example of that because PR really falls into that vanity category by most people’s perception. So when you think of a large organization where marketing budgets are being shared and a lot of people can control or have a portion of that budget, you’ve got one person over here who’s getting really great traction in media or PR or even social media.

00;20;00;03 – 00;20;28;05
Terry Isner

There starts to be, you know, that jealousy, that sense that this is vanity. So because we were a PR agency first, and then when I altered the brand to really bring in all the other elements, which I thought were extremely important I thought that I need to shift the thinking of PR if I can only I can break down the silos and explain it to you, but you’re probably going to think I’m selling you all these other services without you understanding why you didn’t call me about PR.

00;20;28;05 – 00;21;04;28
Terry Isner

You called me about business development, but I’m bringing PR into the mix and what I started to realize was PR now is directly connected to business development, therefore connected to relationship development, therefore connected to revenue and if I took it from vanity to revenue, and I could explain to you, if you hired three new talented people and you wrote a press release and put that out, you have started their business development opportunity from that beginning the day you write the press release is the day you start to articulate their brand their personal brand and who they are.

00;21;05;10 – 00;21;31;14
Terry Isner

And personal brand is actually where we are today. And that’s the power. It’s in the individual, right? So if you break PR down and say PR is a business development function changes the philosophy of that or social media is part of individual branding, so is PR. So when you start to think of, OK, branding is this, this is who I am, this is what I stand for, these are my values.

00;21;32;02 – 00;21;57;01
Terry Isner

This is my why. OK, that’s great. You’ve articulated that and marketing’s helped you write that. But the world we’re in today, they don’t want you to articulate that they want to experience that. And so you can share and show through things like PR and social media, email marketing, these stories, these case studies, these connections, these real like, authentic organic things.

00;21;57;12 – 00;22;23;09
Terry Isner

And that to me is where the relationship begins with the brand. When you can do that, so much more so. So a lot of it was breaking down years and years and years. Legacy thought about what PR was like, but business development was, what marketing was. And if you do really break it all down, it all is based on one thing; Why am I even bothering wasting my time to help you to increase revenue, end of story, you know?

00;22;23;25 – 00;22;44;28
Terry Isner

And so if you break them all down like that, now you’ve got where you started this integration and now it makes sense because I can reach more people by telling your story through PR. I can validate to other clients they made the right choice through PR, through telling these stories. So we always have a tagline, adapt to change and share your story with the world.

00;22;44;29 – 00;22;48;16
Terry Isner

The two main things I think that we have to do in business constantly.

00;22;49;03 – 00;23;10;28
Anika

Yeah, and what do you say and I don’t know if you have this issue in your world, but people also part of the authenticity is that people want to hear the stories behind the brand. So for a law firm, they want to hear about each person. They don’t want to just hear, OK, this is our big law firm and we’ve won all these cases and they really want to get to know people on an individual basis.

00;23;10;28 – 00;23;31;25
Anika

And sometimes founders or lawyers or whomever are not as comfortable sharing that and probably need some media training and maybe Bio needs to be tweaked to make it a little more jazzy and interesting. But how do you overcome those objections for those founders and entrepreneurs? Who are listening to this right now and really thinking, no I’m supposed-

00;23;31;29 – 00;23;36;13
Anika

It needs to be focused on my brand. And we’re saying No, because you are the brand.

00;23;36;18 – 00;23;56;21
Terry Isner

You are the brand. Yeah. And let’s just go back to the legal community, the law firm community. They’re not buying the law firm. They’re buying- they’re building a relationship with a lawyer. So therefore, if the lawyer leaves to go to another firm that’s revenue generation to the other firm because your client stays with the lawyer with the law firm.

00;23;57;07 – 00;24;20;19
Terry Isner

So think about building that personal brand under the umbrella brand is actually more important than the umbrella brand itself. And so when we think of building those brands and telling those stories, then therefore we’re raising those profiles. And in my mind, in the service industry, that’s one of the things we want to do. But when you think about it from the way that you asked, this is a generational problem.

00;24;22;03 – 00;24;56;01
Terry Isner

And if we have four to five generations working in our businesses right now, you have generational divide. And therefore, leadership looks at the older generations more as the rainmaker, more as those that kind of have paved their way. So they get more of a nod and you’re not focusing on the other generation, so therefore you’re not bringing to them the things they need to succeed or those things that you listed corporate social responsibility, work life balance, apathy in itself.

00;24;56;01 – 00;25;22;27
Terry Isner

You know, all of those things that they’re looking for and expecting in their relationship. You’re still stuck in other generations that have different demands and different thoughts. So my first thing is to say, hey, number one, you have to create a team dynamic because your clients are demanding and looking for team dynamics. Look at Coca-Cola, look at some of these huge corporations that have determine how DNI, you know, will come into play and demanding that.

00;25;23;08 – 00;25;41;22
Terry Isner

And so when you ask that question about, you know, the individual or who holds the client and says, I’m not taking the team in or I’m not introducing anybody to them and I’m not even putting it into the contact management system because I don’t want this one over here to contact them. That whole dynamic has to change because the demand is team based.

00;25;42;04 – 00;26;04;09
Terry Isner

And I just had an opportunity to be a fly on the wall rule and listen to in-house counsel of large corporations, talk to review pitches that law firm did and then critique them and I had a client there in the room and I had some other folks. I just had a presentation the day before and people were kind of referring to it.

00;26;05;12 – 00;26;28;01
Terry Isner

But what I got to take away was a big part of what you just asked. And so people came in with a group of four or five attorneys and they gave a presentation. One person gave the presentation they’re like, We don’t want to hear from one person. We want to hear the story from everybody. We want to hear how each one of those dynamics creates the firm, creates the team creates the solutions for me.

00;26;28;20 – 00;26;48;07
Terry Isner

And so the next firm went up and they did theirs, and they were a bit more integrated in the way they shared that. The time speaking. And this one woman told her story, you know, that when she came to America, it was on an airplane, you know, and so she set the stage, OK, you weren’t born here. You’re not an American, but you’re here.

00;26;48;07 – 00;27;06;07
Terry Isner

You’re American now, and you work for American law firms, et cetera. And she’s told the story and she choked up and the general counsel choked up and they loved it. And they said, this is what we want. We wouldn’t have you here in the room. And this is what I think more businesses need to understand. You’re not called-

00;27;06;07 – 00;27;32;08
Terry Isner

You’re called to the table because they’ve already gone through, done their due diligence. And you can check off the expertise things that they need, the industry knowledge, how long you’ve been in the business, your accolades, your rankings, all those things they can see. What they can’t see is the heart, right? They can’t see the emotional connection and if you think of it from a sales perspective, it’s 95% of any decision we make as human beings is based on emotion.

00;27;32;23 – 00;27;55;04
Terry Isner

So if you think from an RFP or a pitch perspective and they have no emotional connection to any one of the companies that they’re speaking to, they’re going to go to page 72, which is bottom line and they’re going to go based on number. Well, these folks said, no, you know, we want more creativity, we want more sharing of your people.

00;27;55;04 – 00;28;24;13
Terry Isner

We want to hear from everybody. We want have an emotional connection that is way different than what we used to think about and way different from my industry, the legal industry, and think about it because you just don’t allow emotion to get involved in business in that way. And if you rethink that, a lawyer should only be based on creating those empathetic emotional relationships because you have to understand what keeps them up at night, especially if it’s a bet the farm situation you know.

00;28;25;17 – 00;28;49;29
Anika

That just gave me chills and it reminded me of recent experiences I’ve had where- because I love working with a you know, diverse entrepreneurs, startups who are who have some component, whether they’re tech company, Med-tech, health-tech, ed-tech, whatever it is, or a nonprofit they have some component of social justice or trying to help change the way we navigate the world.

00;28;50;13 – 00;29;15;17
Anika

And so that’s my background. And coming into another agency that I recently merged with, we’re more generalist. And a lot of the clients, it’s like, great. So I can bring in some of the clients I would have brought into my former agency that. But people I have relationships with, but just not my expertise. But it has been a barrier when I have those kind of heart centered clients say, Well, I want to meet your whole team who is going to be working on my account?

00;29;15;27 – 00;29;45;09
Anika

Are they invested in who I am? And they sometimes say, That was very professional you know, great. I see that you, you know, maybe you, you and you will do this, but I don’t know that this other person would. And so maybe we went part of the business and we went, you know, none of it. Maybe we went all of it because they did see something and they trust that I’m going to steer that ship correctly, but it breaks my heart when I don’t get those because I look OK.

00;29;45;09 – 00;29;59;22
Anika

How can I help continue to create a cultural shift in my workplace? And I think I would love for you to talk about how you continue to encourage people to be their whole selves and bring that empathy into your workplace.

00;30;00;16 – 00;30;26;09
Terry Isner

It’s a cultural shift, just that. And so the two things that I’d like to talk about is empathy and culture. Have a seat at the table. And so you hit it right. People want to align with cultures that they are comfortable with, ones that are going to empower them to succeed. And I think coming out of the pandemic, that we’re in a talent market, you know, like in real estate, you’ve got the buyer’s market.

00;30;26;09 – 00;30;56;17
Terry Isner

In the seller’s market, we’re in a talent market. So right now people can start to write their own direction of where they’re going to go professionally. Yeah. Because they can shop and find the right culture that best fits them. And in the pandemic, I think we realized either this did not support me and my family, so therefore I’m going to find another opportunity so talent has a lot of power right now to find the right culture that benefits them.

00;30;57;01 – 00;31;16;03
Terry Isner

Same with clients. This culture, your culture is not in line with the culture in which we’re working on from our boardroom perspective. And that’s exactly what’s happening. There’s this real sense of line in the sand and alignment because things are very there’s a lot of contrasts and things that we do today and the way that we operate personally and professionally.

00;31;16;22 – 00;31;45;00
Terry Isner

So culture becomes one of the most powerful thing because that’s what dictate retention and recruiting in so many ways. And it also allows you to understand how relevant a brand is today. And that’s where I talk a lot about adapting to change. If your brand is not adapting, therefore it’s not a relative, you could be a 140 year old brand and still be relevant today because you understand those historical things that created the culture.

00;31;45;00 – 00;32;07;17
Terry Isner

And I like to go back to that idea of the why I even did this in the first place. And if that still exists. 46 years later, you got a strong culture that you’ve built yourself on, but that culture has become, again, directly connected to profit, to revenue growth, to success. So now people are understanding, So what is my culture?

00;32;07;28 – 00;32;30;07
Terry Isner

And you start to now have these wonderful brand and cultural discoveries. And what they also realize is internally you can get a lot of subjective opinion of what your culture is. Externally, you’re going to get exactly what your brand is and culture is perceived to be. Yeah, usually it’s exactly the thing they expect from the brand promise from you.

00;32;30;10 – 00;32;55;01
Terry Isner

So I always say, Look, go out to the client, spend more time with the customer, understand what it is that they gravitated to what became sticky. That is one of your brand attributes. That’s one of your brand characters, not some of those superficial ones that we create and put on a wall right. Culture became taking those core values off the wall and living them, and that’s how we’re measured today.

00;32;55;11 – 00;33;16;14
Terry Isner

So to me, culture is the most important thing. And those cultures of kindness, those cultures of compassion, those cultures that really want to reach down and lift other people up, the whole idea of all ships rise with the tide have made. That’s the relevant, successful culture today. And to me, that’s why culture matters so much. And it’s a hard discussion.

00;33;16;29 – 00;33;36;13
Terry Isner

Here’s one other tip you want to know your culture go as far down into the business that you can get. Get away from your rainmakers, get away from your executive committee, get away from your senior people. Talk to everybody else. Yeah, they’ll tell you exactly what the culture is at your organization.

00;33;38;00 – 00;33;46;14
Anika

It’s a really good reminder to us all. Even as individuals, we have our perception of ourselves, but our perception is not how other people perceive us.

00;33;47;29 – 00;34;12;28
Terry Isner

That’s exactly right. Yeah. And so you create that dynamic. Oh, we’re this and we’re this and we’re this. No, not at all. I don’t experience that at any given day when I come to work for you. And that to me is the transparency, the exposure the openness for people to experience from a more authentic and organic place.

00;34;13;05 – 00;34;38;12
Terry Isner

And for me, that is allowing the people that work there to be the marketing champions to tell those stories, to share their experiences. And it’s only then will you recruit more, you know, unique people that fit your brand and what your brand is. So I really believe culture is absolutely one of the most important factors today of any business.

00;34;38;18 – 00;34;52;21
Terry Isner

And if you’re starting a business, step back and say, what is going to be my culture? What will be those values and can I live them? Yeah, and create them based on that living, because it’s all about experience. That’s what I gravitate to.

00;34;53;26 – 00;35;19;17
Anika

Yeah. And I think sometimes when people re-examine who they are and they take another look at their brand values, they realize that, Oh, this isn’t exactly what I want to be doing. I want to be living in this space over here. So it helps them shift their businesses, therefore their marketing, branding, their messaging, everything to what feels more authentic, to who they are as a person, as a brand and then what will bring in those ideal clients and customers as well.

00;35;19;28 – 00;35;46;04
Terry Isner

Yeah, that’s absolutely right. And all of this now goes back to leadership. So, you know, go back to wellbeing and or go back to any level of empathy in culture. We as leaders, we have to demonstrate that. We have to empower others and free them by our actions. So a good example. Exactly. This time last year, I was in a place for the first time in my life, I’m 58 years old.

00;35;46;04 – 00;36;08;24
Terry Isner

For the first time in my life, I could absolutely say I’m not OK. And whether it was personal work, COVID, all these things piled up on me and I was not. And I’m like, hold on, I’m responsible for a lot here. And so I just wrote a letter one day to my entire staff and business partners and said, I’m not OK, so I’m going to check myself out for a week.

00;36;09;02 – 00;36;09;17
Anika

Nice.

00;36;10;06 – 00;36;34;08
Terry Isner

And I did. I got more respect, more empathy, more appreciation from my team than I could have ever done by simply being vulnerable. Right. By simply just allowing myself to be human. And then I recognized more people did it, and they and they came back stronger and better. So I created a dynamic of allowing people to do that.

00;36;34;24 – 00;36;52;26
Terry Isner

I’m a gay man, and I try to champion the idea that you need to be yourself. If you can’t be comfortable being yourself, go somewhere where you can’t because you’re not allowing yourself to be the best that you can be. You’re not providing the best that you can be for those that are expecting you to bring the best every day.

00;36;53;08 – 00;37;12;27
Terry Isner

So be your whole self. And I challenge that with the way which, you know, the dynamic things are changing with guys painting our fingernails. Are you ready for that to come to work? Well, you better be because they have every right to guess what my toenails are painted right now. So it’s the dynamic that we are in today to say I’m OK with me and I’m OK when I’m not OK.

00;37;13;03 – 00;37;30;11
Terry Isner

To say I’m I’ve got fix me first. I understand what you need from me. I can give it to you better tomorrow. Today is not a great day. I’m going to focus on these things, but I’m going to bring my creativity to the table tomorrow. And if you can’t accept that, that’s not my bad. I was honest with you.

00;37;30;22 – 00;37;53;01
Terry Isner

I told you exactly how I could perform best for you. So it’s this weird dynamic where we have to learn to accept and we have to learn to be. And that’s exactly what I want to champion. Right now, because I think profits will go higher, relationships will be stronger and more authentic, and people will feel a lot more welcomed, a lot more appreciated.

00;37;53;07 – 00;37;57;24
Terry Isner

And we’ll have a little bit of less wellness issues, you know, happening.

00;37;58;02 – 00;38;19;06
Anika

You know, and that’s during the pandemic. I had my own business where a team of all women virtual, we started out just doing PR and then realizing like some team members were better at other things. And those are things that our clients also needed. And but we really I tried to be really consistent with our culture and even the people I don’t work with day to day today.

00;38;19;06 – 00;38;37;28
Anika

We’re all in touch. We all have a great respect for each other. And so I feel really good about that part. There are other parts I would have done differently, of course, but one thing I didn’t human just yeah, they talked about is I was really bad at going on vacation. I would always put myself OK, nope, I’m going to go ahead and take that meeting.

00;38;37;28 – 00;39;08;16
Anika

I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that. And I didn’t give myself that permission. I gave other people on the team that permission. But from the top, you have to be you have to show that we also, like you, just shared, can be vulnerable and that we also need a time out sometimes. So this year I’ve shifted to like my words are really focus intentionality and my actions, my deeds, but also moving from doing, doing, doing to just being and understanding what that means for me.

00;39;09;07 – 00;39;12;17
Terry Isner

I love that and I might even steal that. That’s how.

00;39;12;23 – 00;39;16;09
Anika

It comes. It’s not me. It comes from the Monk Manual.

00;39;16;17 – 00;39;17;12
Terry Isner

Oh, I love it.

00;39;17;12 – 00;39;32;27
Anika

Yes. It’s a great book. That kind of talks about how monks are really present. And so it’s a great, you know, little notebook where I can put things in, but then it makes me take a step back and remember to add that being an element and not just due to do.

00;39;33;11 – 00;39;59;07
Terry Isner

We’re conditioned to do and we’re conditioned to be measured on doing. And that’s again, the generations that are still, you know, running business in a lot of cases have that ingrained legacy thought about what business is and what to be successful in business. But where we’re talking about today is the idea of being and how much more you can bring to the table by just being you.

00;39;59;21 – 00;40;21;07
Terry Isner

And that’s what I’m trying to champion people and understanding in business that that empathy and culture and that whole self that will increase revenue that will grow your business, that will grow your fan base, that will grow your consumer base, that’s going to grow your client base. All of that will happen by allowing people to be first in the boardroom, not profits.

00;40;22;00 – 00;40;31;27
Anika

Yeah, man, you are we are like, you’re my spirit animal. I’m so happy. This is like the best way to end a week workweek because, you know, getting likes. I’m so inspired.

00;40;33;07 – 00;40;51;21
Terry Isner

Oh, I’m so glad because but it’s so natural, right? It’s so easy. You go it’s almost like a domino and you’re like, OK, you know, that makes a lot of sense. My husband and I love to travel. That’s our that’s that’s where the money goes. Like, everybody in my world knows that we will travel and travel a lot.

00;40;52;07 – 00;41;06;04
Terry Isner

I always make myself accessible until there’s a point where I say I always make myself accessible. This time, I’m not. Yeah. And I try to get people because we’re a virtual based firm and we have been for 30 some years. So we know this is.

00;41;06;04 – 00;41;07;15
Anika

Way ahead of. Yeah.

00;41;07;24 – 00;41;31;22
Terry Isner

Way yeah. Like when, when, when the pandemic hit, we were not doing TikTok making bread and hanging out with our family. It was the same day for us, like, wait a minute, we’re still working. But the whole dynamic of the way all of that has started to change for us, you know, and how that we understand that the emotional connection is marketing.

00;41;31;22 – 00;41;58;18
Terry Isner

The most powerful marketing right now, today is emotional marketing. It creates a dynamic in which I get it. I understand that. I understand what you’re either selling to me or communicating to me. I appreciate that. Therefore, I want that or need that. And if we can break down some of that eighties and nineties corporate mentality that does not exist in this world today, it does not exist.

00;41;58;18 – 00;42;25;03
Terry Isner

So shameful if you’re still thinking that and you’re led by the profit, if you can break that mentality down and you can empower your people to go on vacation to check out when they’re not OK. You know, my two business partners are women. The majority of my team are moms, and they work so well in the world because there are these brilliant women who decided they no longer want to conform to nine to five.

00;42;25;09 – 00;42;52;26
Terry Isner

They want to have a family but yet they want to still contribute professionally and grow and have their own personal life, not that of a mommy, you know, fully. They are the most wonderful teammates that I have. I love working with them. I’m very proud to say how diverse our firm is. And by doing so, we attract a lot more opportunities because of the makeup and transparency of who we are.

00;42;52;26 – 00;43;01;07
Terry Isner

I’m very comfortable saying who I am because I’ve worked in situations where I couldn’t bring my whole self and I won’t allow that of anybody else. Yeah.

00;43;02;09 – 00;43;13;08
Anika

Yeah. That’s another word that we didn’t bring up was that you just said, and now it’s just giving me it’s really important to be transparent. Yes. Yeah.

00;43;13;20 – 00;43;45;28
Terry Isner

Yeah. From management down and out back to the client base. So the other thing that I think is important for the listeners and we think about marketing and brand, you can’t sit in a room and say This is the brand and this is our marketing message and it’s all based on an external outreach failure. If you don’t bring it in-house first, if you don’t get buy in, if I don’t know what it is that I’m supposed to say about our brand, if you haven’t shared that with me, how can I be successful of marketing or selling that brand?

00;43;46;09 – 00;44;17;18
Terry Isner

So what I’ve witnessed a lot of is there’s this we’re deciding all this, then we’re going to tell you it. And a lot of people go, they’re not feeling it, right? But if you bring them in to the process, if you ask if you make a team dynamic of this, if you understand generational thoughts and you bring them in and then you unveil a brand, you’re going to get a lot more buy in and a client or a consumer is going to love the brand a lot more when the employees the talent behind the brand loves the brand.

00;44;17;18 – 00;44;45;18
Terry Isner

And that’s why that empathy and culture matters, because you’re creating a culture in which I love where I work I’m appreciative, I’m appreciated and valued. I have the ability and I’m empowered to do whatever I want to be successful for my client. Oh, my gosh, what a great culture to work for. And I’m going to tell you super talented person, and you’re going to come work there and that brand is going to be extremely successful and very relevant.

00;44;45;18 – 00;44;45;27
Terry Isner

Yeah.

00;44;47;06 – 00;44;54;23
Anika

Man. And that was actually going to be my next question is how to continue to stay relevant. I think you’ve answered it pretty well.

00;44;55;26 – 00;45;18;26
Terry Isner

You know, you have to look at what’s happening in the world, your clients, your consumers, and walk the walk of them. It’s almost this. You can’t be selfish about this in any way, shape or form. You have to be empathetic to the need. It’ll make you a better innovator in creating products. It’ll make you a better brand or it’ll make you a better service provider will make you a better everything.

00;45;19;06 – 00;45;48;25
Terry Isner

If you can be empathetic to what it is I provide you and how you need that from me. And and it’s just, I think amazing. Something that was as insane and painful and disruptive as the pandemic was. A lot of beautiful things came out of the pandemic, and I’m a glass half full guy, so I loved being at home, you know, I loved the idea that I could create a dynamic in my show, my cancer.

00;45;48;25 – 00;45;50;06
Terry Isner

So I’m a crab. I want to be.

00;45;50;08 – 00;45;50;17
Anika

Patient.

00;45;51;09 – 00;46;18;05
Terry Isner

And all those things, but what I also loved was watching humanity be respected. And humanity was no longer a trend. It was real. And people were singing to each other from their balconies and helping each other. And the ultimate goal was, how can I help the fellow man and woman out there? And then we look at what’s happening today in the Supreme Court and politics and, you know, the world itself and Ukraine.

00;46;18;05 – 00;46;31;27
Terry Isner

And these are stressful dynamics and these are unpredictable things. And we are just every single day, it seems like since the day we shut down, whether it’s Black Lives Matter, whether it’s Juneteenth, whether it’s gay pride, whether it’s.

00;46;32;08 – 00;46;33;02
Anika

Don’t say gay.

00;46;33;26 – 00;46;56;06
Terry Isner

Exactly. Women’s initiatives, all of these things have really come to a head. And imagine what that’s creating to your people. Imagine that from a well-being perspective and or where does my brand fit into this? And Oh, should I say something should I be a part of this cause or should I not? A lot of struggles going on right now.

00;46;56;06 – 00;46;57;06
Anika

I mean, look at Disney.

00;46;57;17 – 00;46;59;01
Terry Isner

Look at Disney, you know?

00;46;59;01 – 00;46;59;13
Anika

Yeah.

00;46;59;17 – 00;47;26;04
Terry Isner

Look at the power of Disney and I- and we’re big Disney people where we live in Delaware. But yet we have an annual past big Disney super geeky Disney family. And when Disney shut down, you think of a power of a brand. Everybody said, oh, Disney shut down. This is real. When the measurement became that a pandemic was real because a brand chose to shut down, look at the power and the brand.

00;47;26;12 – 00;47;51;05
Terry Isner

Then look at it. And it’s argument against, you know, the gay community, the LGBTQ community and what’s happening with Santos and in Florida. And you look at it from a tax perspective, you look at them all these other things. Brands can be very powerful. Yeah. From that humanity perspective, that political perspective, that cultural perspective. And I think that’s the other thing.

00;47;51;05 – 00;48;00;16
Terry Isner

If you can’t respect what your brand brings to those. Shame on you. Because now you’re brand being led by ego. And we’re getting rid of that.

00;48;00;18 – 00;48;20;01
Anika

And I think that was a good case study for Disney as well, where the employees, you know, saying, wait a minute, why are you not speaking up? Why are we not taking action? I mean, I have a friend who was high up in the Disney parks who is based here in California, who is a gay man. And he sent me a text saying I no longer have to move to Florida.

00;48;20;01 – 00;48;41;15
Anika

And he was so happy, you know, because it’s a thing. It’s a really, you know, not just moving across the country, but also the political climate that he would be around every day of his life. And, you know, the fact that some of the original Disney family members said, well, wait a minute, I’m gay, I’m trans, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is.

00;48;41;15 – 00;48;58;08
Anika

So, you know what? As a corporation, you better as well because we need to support our employees. And so I thought that was a great example of what you’re talking about, of like the employees being able to have a voice and really show up and be authentic in who they are and even go back and say, you know, no shame on you, corporate.

00;48;58;19 – 00;49;05;08
Anika

That’s right. Who we are. Why aren’t you saying something? Why aren’t you showing up with the ideals that you espouse every day?

00;49;06;00 – 00;49;32;18
Terry Isner

So when you give your team, you know, I even hate to call them employees. I really think that, you know, if you can neutralize the level of hierarchy eliminate hierarchy, you even welcome even a greater opportunity of diverse thinking, you know, and more inclusion in the way that we think about the the service offering or even or the product offering.

00;49;33;02 – 00;50;02;26
Terry Isner

And if you put all those dynamics in place, then you’re going to create something that is going to be widely accepted, you know, not narrowly accepted. And I think that, you know, Disney’s a great example of saying our employees have a voice. And if you give a voice to the employees, you’re going to have people give you those those kind of cultural checks, those social checks, those things that we arrogantly think we can solve around a boardroom table of 15 old white guys.

00;50;03;04 – 00;50;25;28
Terry Isner

It isn’t going to happen. You know, you need to have those other diverse voices to remind you that you’re more than this, and I’m here. Therefore, I’m a part of the fact that creates the dynamic that we are more than nest. What are you going to do for me? To me, that’s where all leaders need to be at that exact spot.

00;50;27;19 – 00;50;46;12
Anika

You’ve shared so many gems. There’s so many things any listener could fill out on people, culture, empathy, authenticity, transparency, plus, you know, the nice little marketing things that we snuck in there. Imagery. Is there anything else that you’d like to share with our audience today?

00;50;46;23 – 00;51;12;03
Terry Isner

Yeah. You know, the one of the thing I’m going to say is you we social media, if you incorporate, you know, social media and technology, again, one of those things where we originally started in a way that communicated it and showed it and articulated it, that in some ways created walls. False. Like the idea I said about PR and it being more vanity based when it’s really not if you really three think that.

00;51;13;02 – 00;51;38;20
Terry Isner

And so social media, you know, we had this time on social media only worked if you responded back. It’s a two way street. You have to engage. You know how many people shut down. I don’t have time for that. I’m not going to do that. Well, social media isn’t that you know it’s those that want to expose and share and the voyeur that wants to watch and see and there’s less engaged movement than we expected out of it.

00;51;38;20 – 00;51;57;22
Terry Isner

But there’s a lot more reception to what you give, a lot more reading of your articles, a lot more reviewing of your videos. So I find it to be an extremely efficient and effective and powerful tool that we need to better understand. I worry about Twitter now. You know, I thought Twitter Twitter was very noisy in the first place.

00;51;58;00 – 00;52;29;09
Terry Isner

I’m concerned about what might happen to it now, but I am I’m championing the idea of social podcasts looking you know, what we’re doing, the idea that you can find more ways in which you can share your story with the world. Yeah, I highly champion those. The other is this new dynamic of communication, zoom or whatever else. You know what I’m going to call B.S. on any company that says they cannot find diversity talent because we’ve broken the law, we’ve broken down the rules.

00;52;29;18 – 00;53;02;18
Terry Isner

Bricks and mortar no longer, you know, is is the most important thing to focus on. You want to find that talent, then you have to accept the new business models we have, the new technology we have, and understand your clients your consumers. Everybody else is using the same technology. So it’s time to embrace this new world branch out, find more talent accept it through the use of technologies, grow that diversity and inclusion base and be a relevant company.

00;53;02;22 – 00;53;18;09
Terry Isner

It’s so simple because we’ve been given this beautiful opportunity coming out of the pandemic. It’s how you choose to adapt to that change, right? And then move forward and say, this is who we are, this is what we represent now, and that’s what’s going to happen.

00;53;18;25 – 00;53;24;25
Anika

And that’s beautiful. Do you and hopefully I’m not putting you on the spot here, but do you have a favorite quote.

00;53;25;23 – 00;53;32;08
Terry Isner

God, I couldn’t even think of it right now if I did. No, I couldn’t. OK, I couldn’t. I’m sorry.

00;53;32;09 – 00;53;49;27
Anika

No, you you laid down a lot of gems and I always have one that I keep in my head, which is be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. The Dalai Lama, it’s it’s those are some words that I choose to live by. And I just you know, I always invite people to share a quote or not, I guess.

00;53;49;27 – 00;54;09;02
Anika

I don’t always but I try to of when I remember. But I think you’ve you’ve given us so much great information and words of wisdom. So I really appreciate you coming on today and just thank you so much. Seriously, my spirit animal, it’s awesome. And I know our listeners are going to get a lot of value from this episode.

00;54;09;27 – 00;54;34;22
Terry Isner

Well, I’m going to echo on what you said and it’s funny when you said it because the thing that I say the most when I end anything in social media or anything else is always be kind and be you. And that’s all we can ask of each other. And therefore we will change the world and we will change the dynamic of the way that we work together, the way that we, you know, find opportunities to innovate and grow together.

00;54;35;00 – 00;54;46;27
Terry Isner

It all is based on that idea of compassionate empathy and kindness and the ability to be strong and to say, I am who I am and this is what I bring to the table. And I hope that what we start seeing more in our business.

00;54;46;27 – 00;54;50;07
Anika

Yeah. Wonderful. Terry, thank you so much and thank you-

00;54;50;07 – 00;54;51;26
Terry Isner

Oh my God. Thank you.

00;54;51;26 – 00;55;06;11
Anika

Oh! And thank you to our audience for coming back for another week of Your Brand Amplified. I can’t wait to share this episode with you. And I’ll be back again next week. Want more? Check out AmplifywithAnika.com or follow me on socials @AmplifywithAnika.

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