Our guest today is Jason Goldberg, who is a life coach, international best-selling author, a speaker, and just a great human being.
Q: I have your book here, Prison Break, and let me set the stage for this podcast. I want to use our time today to get some deep wisdom in a fun and non-pressure environment. I also have a selfish purpose here, and this is it: for the last six months or so, I’ve been looking for a business and potentially a personal coach to help me and my team elevate to the next level. I’ve never done a coach interview for myself, so I’m hoping to use this as a discovery mission. Hopefully business owners in my shoes right now who need inspirational leadership from a coach can find this to be a helpful tool. How does that sound?
A: I love that. The only thing I care about doing in life is being of service, so let’s create an intense and massive service for you and your listeners.
Q: I’m defining service as the purpose of life. It’s such an immense satisfaction when you serve someone other than yourself.
A: Yes, but serving others is the most selfish thing we can do in the world. Anyone who tells you they serve others out of the goodness of their heart is lying. The reason being is we can’t help but to feel good about ourselves when we help others. And that’s okay – there’s nothing wrong with contributing, making the world better, and feeling good during the process. It’s an incredible feeling.
Q: You have coached a lot of people, and you have this element of knowledge where you can look inside someone’s brain and help solve their problems. How do you help business owners define what they want? It seems like such an evasive thing. I don’t even know what I want. How do you help people do that?
A: Trying to answer that question becomes this intellectual exercise and one more thing to do on the to-do list. I am a fast person, and one of the biggest transformations in my life was to slow down. That doesn’t mean you don’t still work hard and hustle and do a lot of stuff. I still do a lot. But what I do differently now is I don’t allow the outside chaos of the world to impact the inside chaos of my mind. When you ask a question like “what do I want?” – if you’re trying to answer it from the head space of needing to figure it out, it won’t come. It can’t be pressure-filled and serious. Settle and slow down your thoughts, and mentally close your eyes to visualize it.
Picture a snow globe with a base and a glass and all the fake snow and liquid swirling around. When you shake up the snow globe, it’s beautiful from the outside. People love it. But think about it from the inside looking out. If you were inside the snow globe looking out, you’d freak out. You can’t see anything except the swirling flakes and liquid, and you just want everything to slow down. So, we are inside the snow globe and in that place, we can’t answer the question – what do I want? You can’t see the possibilities. You need to let things settle.
Q: What is it? How do you settle down a snow globe?
A: You have the snow settle by putting the snow globe down and stepping away. When it’s not being agitated, it’s calm. So once everything is calm and the snow settles, you’re inside this glass globe and you can see all the possibilities. When you’re wondering what you want, don’t answer from a place of chaos, but look inside, and settle down and allow yourself to figure out what you want. Look at it through a different lens.
Q: But you have to be purposeful in terms of looking for that answer. Putting things down feels like things are going to be ignored. I’m walking by the globe, but not paying attention.
A: Anything I know is from screwing up. So, you may think you’re walking past the snow globe and ignoring it, but you’re still in the chaotic mind space. Once you slow down, you can figure out what it is you want. Ask yourself what your ideal day looks like. Just an ordinary day, not an amazing day. This is everything from morning routine to how much time you spend with your family to the time you have for exercise or reading to what you do with members of your team to develop them to the time you’re out in the world to your at-home time and the meals you’re eating and the time you go to bed. All this really matters; you have to figure out what your ideal average day looks like. It’s a great first exercise, but the real thing that transforms business leaders is to look at that and decide who they need to be in order for it to be the average day. Who do I need to be? What do I need to cultivate to make that happen? Is it more courage, creativity, empathy, presence, what is it? Everyone knows what is holding them back. That’s something everyone knows, they just don’t give themselves the time and space to figure it all out.
Q: One of the most influential people in my life is Albert Oaten, who was a VP at a company I worked for. He was amazing at this one concept. He always asked “what does success look like?” He asked that about everything, and instead of engineering things as he goes, he actually visualizes them. He helped me to learn that practice, to visualize what the success looks like and then work backwards to achieve it. Is that similar to what you’re talking about? Visualizing your ideal day and writing it down to make it happen?
A: Yes, that’s the doing. There are two parts to success in my mind. It’s the being and the doing. We do ourselves a disservice when we focus only on the doing. I was speaking to a large Fortune 500 company about my plans to speak to their people, and they wanted me to come to a conference. They wanted the first half of the day to be devoted to talking about strategy and practices and hiring talent and social media, and more strategic doing things. Then they wanted me to talk about self-leadership in the afternoon, and I told them I had the perfect name for my session: Why What You Learned the First Half of the Day Will Never Work for You. It’s not that the doing is worthless, but if you don’t focus on who you’re being in the moment and your own level of calmness and connection and creativity and relationship with others, the best strategies in the world will do nothing to grow your business. And even if they do grow your business, it will be done with such a heaviness and force that you’ll never enjoy it. You’ll resent your own success.
Q: Let me ask you a rapid-fire question that may seem silly: how often do you get your haircut?
A: Usually every two or three weeks. My wife trims up the back of the neck and she’ll also trim my part.
Q: You always look sharp in your Facebook Live sessions and I imagine you travel a lot. Is it normal to feel bad between haircuts? I don’t feel great between them.
A: That’s not so silly. A dear friend of mine, Shawn Stevenson, has this practice that he calls the When Life Works list. It’s a list of when life works. There are 15 or 20 things on there, and when he’s doing them, his life just works. I would invite everybody to sit down and ask themselves: when your life is working, what is going on? What are you practicing and what are you doing? There might be 20 things on the list, and as long as you are doing two or three things on that list, life is working. One of the things on my list is to have a fresh haircut. So, I know that when I have a fresh haircut, my life works better.
Q: That’s pretty interesting. I feel like I blunder through it, and just try to help everyone around me. And not go insane. But I like the Life Works list. Here’s a more substantive question. As business owners, we need to tell good stories. It’s podcasts, blogs, conversations with associates and employees; you have to be a good storyteller. Jason, you do Facebook Live sessions and then you surprise me with the depth of these everyday situations that you convert into life lessons. You seem to shift your mind to perceive life differently and get lessons out of it. I used to be a good storyteller. Then when I was 18 years old, I read Dale Carnegie’s How to Influence People. It made me who I am today. But I realize now that I over-corrected. I stopped being interesting and I started looking for other people to be interesting. How do you practice storytelling? Give me some wisdom.
A: Business owners have to create relationships, especially today where social media has removed all geographic barriers. Intimacy with people is the new currency, I don’t care what business you’re in. It could be property management or a yogurt shop. The way to be successful is not your advertising business or dominating your local market. It’s about truly connecting with people online. Storytelling has grown and is needed for all entrepreneurs, whether they are looking for investment money or sharing a message with the world.
I am always looking for unrelated instances that are actually clues pointing me to some place that I need to grow. When I can find that for myself, I know that I am not special. Anything I am struggling with; millions of people are struggling with the same thing. We can be intentional about looking through our day for material to use for storytelling. You don’t have to be Tony Robbins or go to some special school. Just be intentional about looking for lessons in your day. Any small nugget will work. Not everything you share with the world has to be revolutionary. Tell a story that is evolutionary. If you believe one thing and then you hear a story that makes you think something different, that is evolution. It helps you and it’s better than sharing the greatest story in the world. Slow down, see what’s happening in your own life and be evolutionary.
Q: We have customers who can’t get away from a perception of perfection. If we ask them to film videos and get their story out, they feel very incapable of delivering even if they’ve been in business for more than 10 years. How do we help people go beyond this barrier?
A: It’s so simple. I struggled with this in the beginning. Public speaking is the number one fear of so many people. I get nervous every time I go on stage or do a video. They key is simple and illustrates why the being has to come before the doing. The shift is that when you’re too worried about being perfect or being in front of the camera, you need to shift from a place of ego to a place of service. It’s that simple. If you tell me I’m afraid to be on camera and I’m afraid to share my message, and I tell you that a woman will be watching this who has only two weeks to live because she has terminal cancer and all she wants to do is watch someone talk about what they really care about on camera, would you do it? She isn’t a business owner and she isn’t going to buy anything from you, she just wants the relief of watching someone talk about what they really love. Can you help her with that? In that moment, of course you can do it. Why wouldn’t you. That’s the shift from it’s all about me to it’s all about them. Shift from ego to service. Just show up.
Q: That’s incredible to use that perspective. It is ego. You’re afraid to be judged. It comes down to caring too much about your own self rather than putting information into the world and helping others. If you own a Chinese restaurant and a next door a competitor lowers prices by 30 percent to squeeze you out, what do you do?
A: That’s awesome because now they’ve created the ability for me to create a distinction. I’m not going to compete on price; even if I could do that, it’s not sustainable. The race to the bottom is never sustainable. So, I want to up the service level and up the experience level. I want people talking about my restaurant so much that the people next door could be giving away their food and people still won’t go there. There are a ton of different ways to do that. The biggest thing to do is bring creativity to this exercise. How can you create an experience? I want to maybe create some level of exclusivity. Let people feel special when they come into my restaurant. If I want to position myself as a premium restaurant, I might remove half the seats from my restaurant right away. It sounds ridiculous – why would I take away half of my revenue? But as soon as I remove half my seats, it’s 50 percent more difficult to get a seat at my amazing restaurant. And the people who do get in, they will be so grateful they got in, that when I deliver – and you have to deliver – I will create an experience not to be forgotten. You’ll be able to tell people every day that you’re sold out, and word will get around. Then, you can start adding five to 10 seats back in every week, and you’ve earned more business without raising your own prices.
Q: Go for scarcity, deliver a great product, and get the message out.
A: The key is, you have to have an incredible product. These aren’t tactics or strategies. These are ways to help people experience how good you are. When Steve Martin was asked how he got so successful, he said he did the work and he got so good at it that people could not ignore him. That’s how we want to be in our businesses. We want to get so good that people can’t ignore us.
Q: Gamification is a topic in your book. How does it help and how can business owners do it? We run a serious business, and property managers have tenants looking for good places to live and owners who want to earn rental income. How do you introduce gamification and make that work fun?
A: I like that you called your business “serious.” If I was your coach, the first thing I would ask is what that means and I would ask you to prove to me that the work you do is serious. I think you’d have a hard time doing it because unless someone dies from something that happens, not many businesses on this planet are serious. We believe that they are, and if we look through the lens of everything being serious, then everything will seem serious and it’s hard to implement things like gamification. So first, allow yourself to relax and see the possibilities of how you can have fun.
Last week, I had things I had to do that I didn’t want to do, and there are different techniques and strategies I could use to help myself. So, I was making lists and following my strategies, but then I realized that I don’t have to do any of it. I can stop all this and go get a job at Starbucks. So, I realized I can either find the fun and the enjoyment and the possibilities or I need to stop complaining and go get a job somewhere else. And this isn’t to beat myself up or make myself feel bad. It’s to create a sense of freedom and empowerment to see that I am choosing to do these things and that I have the ability as one of the most creative beings on this planet as a human to make everything more fun.
Gamification comes into play because we love games. I don’t have kids, but I have nieces and nephews. If you tell a kid to clean a room, they will pout and scream and cry. But when picking up your clothes becomes a basketball game, and you’re tossing clothes in the hamper, they are more likely to do it. We stopped playing games because it has been conditioned into us that the workplace is serious and not a place for games. Whatever your biggest challenge happens to be, you can create some friendly competition or games to address it, no matter how absurd it may seem. Create games around your biggest challenge, and it immediately becomes more fun.
Q: We manage people’s growth, which is serious. We have to deliver. So gamifying systems and goals is something I haven’t spent enough time thinking about. But I have thought about the jobs I really enjoyed. A lot of it was when things were interesting, and when there was a fun environment. When things stagnated and people became serious, it was dreadful to work.
A: So, you know what that feels like. And the distinction in that chapter of the book is game versus shame. You can’t fix things through shame. Let’s play with this for a couple of minutes. What is one of the biggest challenges Fourandhalf has? Let’s see if we can gamify it.
Q: One of the biggest challenges is the perceived notion of work. If our customers don’t see us doing anything, their presumption is we’re not doing anything for them. So, the business owner knows they are paying us $500 or $1,000 a month and they don’t know what they’re getting. They don’t see us doing specific things on a daily basis. They’ll call us and ask what we’re doing for them. As you grow, that becomes intense. That’s something we struggle with and we need to solve. How do we gamify that?
A: That is a communications issue and an agreements versus expectations issue. So, we probably can’t dive into the distinction between expectations and co-creations, as I call them. I get the difficulty of not having a physical deliverable. That can make it hard to justify the cost, so there are fun ways to gamify the communication aspect of this. The first thing that popped into my mind is an opportunity that 99 percent of service providers miss. Every single correspondence that a client gets from you should raise their level of consciousness and raise their spirits. They should see an email from you in their inbox and be happy. That’s something we don’t slow down enough to think about.
Before we send an email, ask how it will make the person’s day five percent better. It can be a joke, but it doesn’t have to be humor. There are four elements to the perfect correspondence. The more of them you have, the better. One is humor, one is value, one is possibilities, and one is curiosity. If you just slow down before emailing a client to find out if you are providing value, invoking curiosity, or helping them see possibilities, you can decide whether you really need to send that email. Do you ever get holiday cards or letters from people? Friends and family tell you what’s been going on over the last year. That’s fun. It’s like a year in review. So, what if your dedicated account managers were to send correspondence through that lens. Here’s what’s going on in our world, and here’s what we’ve been doing for you over the last two weeks or three months. Don’t just do a check-in. No one forgot about you and if they did, you aren’t serving them, so stop with the check-ins. Give actual value when you’re sending an email. Share an article about a new thing you’re researching for a company. Just give them something – a possibility, a value, a humor, and they will never again question where their money is going.
Q: That’s good. We do a weekly breakfast club where we learn together about a concept or hear a podcast and I think that will be our next breakfast club meeting topic. We can deliver additional value to our communications. Our clients have the same challenge. Their owners don’t hear from them until something goes wrong. As service providers, we are doing a lot of work but we don’t have good ways to communicate it or show it. Instead of focusing on property management as a negative business and worrying that all our clients hear are complaints, we can focus on delivering the highest customer experience. We can remove half those chairs from the restaurant and still grow. I like that explanation. Our challenge is to get to the filming of blogs. Our content sets the foundation of everything else we do. Content is an essential and foundational piece, and we can’t get people to that stage for filming. The ego versus service answer you gave earlier helps us add value to those communications too.
A: Service is really the way to go, and one of the core tenants of my business is a concept of Client Astonishment. I talk about creating clients, not finding them. You must transform some part of their life. If you have a business, you are trying to transform someone’s life or business. So, a lot of people understand Client Astonishment, and then it goes away once the client is signed. Don’t focus on client creation but on client re-creation. For your breakfast meetings, a tremendously impactful thing you can do is to have a small session on client re-creation. All those clients can go into a cup or a glass and on that day, pull out one client’s name and focus on astonishing that client. Do something they never saw coming. When a creative person really focuses on one name and you really get into it, and think about how you can astonish them, you will come up with incredible ideas and you will have that client for life.
Q: My business is based on my clients’ businesses, so this is important. Our problems are similar. Property managers are responsible for a portfolio of clients, so this concept works. Let’s shift to a rapid-fire question. What is the least manly thing you do on a regular basis?
A: Everything I do is non-manly! I don’t like sports and I do like fashion. The least manly thing I do is to shop for socks online. I’m a huge sock person.
Q: Socks are interesting. It’s a bit selfish. People don’t see your socks, only you do.
A: Well as men, we don’t have as many accessory options as women. So, I like coordinating socks with shirts or ties or just my mood for the day. It’s fun for me. Anytime I do cross my legs, people will start talking to me because they see my socks. It starts conversations. I took the thing I love the most – socks – and I used it to astonish clients. Someone wanted to be more bold and courageous in her job at a bank. I found some socks, one of which said bold and one said courageous. She knew that I was a sock person, so when I sent them to her, she wasn’t surprised. But she was astonished that I thought to send them to her. And then we did gamification. Now her challenge was to wear them at least once a week and show them to at least two people at the office when she wore them. It became fun, and she had to be bold and courageous. This created connections with her employees, and she felt like she was being more of her bold and courageous self.
Q: What kind of car do you drive?
A: A 2016 Kia Optima. This is my second Kia and I love it.
Q: My next question was why. Is it just transportation or does a car have more meaning to you?
A: I’ve always liked cars and I was into Japanese imports when I was young. It is a thing for me. I like comfort and technology and it feels good. I’m in the car a lot and I need to be comfortable.
Q: That’s less of a status symbol but an everyday important thing for me. It’s on my When Life Works list. I have a three-mile commute but I have to drive a stick shift car that I love.
A: I love that you’re clear on that.
Q: Let’s talk about the Game Winning Shots. You talked about an interview you had for a speaking opportunity and how instead of focusing on closing the deal and being intense and selling your value, you took the opportunity to shift your mindset and you decided to be relaxed and build a relationship. My question is, how do you do that? If you’re a professional sales person, how do you apply the concept of not every shot is a game winning shot to a daily sales routine?
A: First, it’s a top-down thing. There’s a conditioning in sales. Before starting my entrepreneurial endeavors, I was in I.T. and I worked in the telecom industry. Telecom is very challenging and it’s a race to the bottom. The stress and pressure on the sales people to learn a complex technology and then go out and sell this recurring revenue stream that could be in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars per month and millions over the course of a contract is crazy. The fact that they have to close the deal quickly is something I don’t understand. I hated sales when I became an entrepreneur. So, by slowing down and asking myself what was really going on, I realized I didn’t hate sales – I hated rushing relationships.
It’s a top-down issue. If we had sales leaders or people in leadership saying our goal is to be of service and to find ways to astonish people even if it’s not on the PDF sheet of services and products we provide, we will eventually have all the clients we need. Instead, what’s rewarded are the quotas and conversions. I’m not saying don’t measure them – you need to know what’s working. But I’d rather focus on conversation over conversion. This is a distinction that a good friend brought up to me. To go into deep conversations, we have to go into the conversation saying “I don’t know if I can help you” instead of “I can do this I must close you.” So, it’s a conditioning that needs to be changed. Even if you are in one of those places with expectations and quotas, going into conversation with prospects from a more relaxed place, you will see more opportunities to serve. You will hear what’s going on between the words they say. You can be creative when they say no. Because within that conversation, you’re getting clues to what will turn the no into a yes. If you can be in this relaxed creative place, you’ll see opportunities. Don’t come from a place of scarcity.
Q: My career path was sales. I did gadget sales and software sales and then as a sales person, started my company and did all the sales for many years. I was never a slick talker; English isn’t even my first language. For me, it’s always been about discovery. It’s about being so curious that I’m more interested in my customer’s challenges than anyone else they will talk to. That was my success. I was a top sales person because of that. There was no slick sales strategy. I just listened a lot more. It also messed me up because I’m not as comfortable talking about myself or my stories. I’d rather educate.
A: if we went out in the world and were more of a Sherlock Holmes and less of a sales person, we’d create a lot more business. For sharing the story, I only ever share my experience of life. Nothing I have said today is right. I don’t do right or wrong; there’s effective and ineffective. Productive or unproductive. There’s no arguing because everything I do comes from my own experience.
Q: This has been a great conversation, and I have one more question for today. Abi is our director of sales and she wanted me to ask you: often our clients deal with a client loss. It can be a loss of a client with one property or a larger client with 100 properties. This is a business loss and growth loss. What tips do you have for dealing with that cycle of business?
A: This is a call for more creativity. It’s beautiful when we lose a client because it allows us to step back and ask ourselves what is really going on here? If you lose a client that accounts for a large part of your business, you can come back and ask if you were focusing on the right mix of clients. Were we putting too much certainty or too many eggs in one basket? How can we get more creative? Is this even the type of client we need to be serving? It can be a blessing and a gift. That client leaving will teach us something about how we’re doing business. When we think about customer service as the person who takes the complaint calls, we need to switch that to having projects instead of problems. You’re getting real-time feedback from people who pay you. This is an opening for personal and professional growth. It’s time to sit down and see how you didn’t see the loss coming. What was missed.
Then, have a conversation with the client and ask for feedback for future clients to make sure your service is at its best level. And remember that this does not make the client dead for you. If they are changing and moving to a different service provider, you can stay in contact. Continue providing value. This is not an effort to get them to switch back to you, but to show you that you do care about them. One of my favorite questions that I ask clients any time something like this happens is – what is trying to emerge in this moment? What am I being called to step into in this moment? Am I being called to communicate better, to add more value, or to be more transparent about what’s going on? What is it that I am being asked to step into as a leader?
Q: Jason, this was as interesting as I expected. Thank you for your time. Where can people find you?
A: Thank you, Alex. I’ve set up webpage just for you and your listeners, where everyone can get a free copy of my book, Prison Break. It’s at www.thejasongoldberg.com/fourandhalf. You can follow me and keep up with me there.
That’s gracious, thank you. I approach everything with skepticism, but I connected with the book so I recommend that everyone give it a shot.
Thanks to our listeners, and if you have any questions about what Jason has shared with us, you can contact us at Fourandhalf.com.