What does leadership beyond the crisis look like? During COVID-19 Claire Chandler and Ben Baker teamed up to create a video series, “Leaders Made Here” leadership community and their new book “Leading Beyond a Crisis” to enable companies to focus at least one eye on the horizon and move successfully towards their “what’s next?”
Ben Baker and Claire Chandler have been developing leaders and leadership teams for nearly 50 years between them. They focus on helping organizations and those within them get to next and enable them to engage, retain and grow their most valuable assets. . . their employees. To learn more visit leadersmadehere.com
Leadership Beyond the Crisis – Show Notes
Tim Kubiak 0:00
Good call. There we go. Hi, thanks for listening to Botez in business. I’m your host Tim Kubiak. As always, you can find us on our socials at bow ties in business on Facebook in Instagram and bow ties and bi z on Twitter. You can find me at Tim Kubiak just about everywhere. If you haven’t already done so please subscribe to us on Apple podcasts, Spotify or your favorite service. Today we’re talking to Ben Baker and Claire Chandler. They’ve been developing leaders and leadership teams for nearly 50 years between them. They focus on helping organizations and those within them get to the next level, enabling them to engage, retain and grow their most valuable assets, their employees. During COVID-19, Claire and Ben teamed up to create a video series leaders made here leadership community and now we’re talking today we’re going to be talking about their new book, living beyond the crisis to enable companies to focus at least one eye on the horizon and move successfully forward on what’s next to learn more about their new book, you can go to leaders made here.com. And I love the tagline leadership is a mindset, not a job title. So Claire Ben, welcome to show Claire welcome back against technically.
Unknown Speaker 1:02
Ben Baker 1:04
Hey, Tim, great having you on the show. But let me clarify one thing. Claire was like 15 years old when she started in this business, because there’s no that’s the only way the bath works.
Claire Chandler 1:13
You know, when you when you say it like that 15 years between us. I’m like, Ben take 45 of those. That would be really helpful.
Ben Baker 1:19
I’ll take 40 Okay, great.
Unknown Speaker 1:23
Unknown Speaker 1:28
All right. I appreciate that.
Tim Kubiak 1:29
Yeah, I really did. I was gonna make a joke in the opening, to be honest, and I just let it go.
Ben Baker 1:33
That’s just too easy, too easy. It’s I’d let that train go past the station is just fine.
Tim Kubiak 1:40
So Claire, can you reintroduce yourself to our audience quickly?
Claire Chandler 1:44
Yeah. And Happy. Happy to, to thanks for having me back on. It’s great to be here. So I’m Claire Chandler, I run a company called talent boost, and we help high performing leaders continue to level up by increasing their ability to lead with profitable swagger.
Tim Kubiak 2:02
Right. And Ben, can you introduce yourself, please? And give a little bit of your background?
Ben Baker 2:06
Yeah, sure. My name is Ben Baker, my company is your brand marketing. I’ve been in the marketing branding, communication business, oh, God for over 25 years now. I started off killing trees in the direct mail business about 25 years ago, and very quickly moved into branding and communication. And what I’ve been working on last eight or 10 years is internal communication. How do you get companies to engage, retain and grow their employees. And a lot of that comes down to helping the frontline leaders communicate more effectively be better leaders stop managing people and start actually leading them, and allowing them to understand the brand’s story, their purpose, direction, and where they’re trying to go. So that that’s really what we’re all about.
Tim Kubiak 2:50
What size company do you typically, you know, work with,
Ben Baker 2:53
you know, we tend to work with mid to large sized companies, probably starting in about the $50 million range. We tend to work with companies that are diversified, they have multiple offices, they’re going through change, you know, we work with b2b companies that are seven plus years old. They’ve you know, they’ve gone through that initial, okay, what do I want to be when I grow up stage, and they’ve gotten to a stage where they sit there going, Okay, we want to grow, we want to get better, but we feel something’s wrong. Either. We’re losing people on the back side, we’re not getting the contracts that we want to get. There’s something going on within their company that’s keeping them from getting the success that they want. Usually, there’s a communication part of that. Usually, if there’s internal communication, that’s not people not understanding the brand. Usually, it’s people not understanding the purpose, direction, culture, etc, or not having one to begin with. And we work with organizations to help them through that, and be able to communicate both internally and externally. Their true value of what makes them different in the world.
Tim Kubiak 3:59
That’s a beautiful segue into the video series that you and Claire did together this year leaders made here. So how did that start? And what’s the key takeaways you want people to have from that?
Claire Chandler 4:11
I’m happy to jump in on that. So yeah, Ben, Ben and I are like those beautiful duets that singers make that are on opposite ends of the continent and never meet. So Ben and I were introduced by a mutual friend on LinkedIn. About a year ago now maybe it was in January. And this mutual friend said, you know, Claire, you and Ben, I think you’re just going to get along famously, you need to you need to connect. And and he was right. And so Ben and I had an introductory conversation that led to another conversation that led to, you know, both of us, feeling very strongly about the state of leadership, and what leaders really need should do. One to earn the moniker of leader and not just the manager right and and really lead in a way that their people deserve. And so, you know, Ben had the bright idea after about conversation three, he said, you know, we need to start recording these. Because there’s, there’s a lot of meat here. And so we started to record them, we started to put them out as a series of YouTube videos. And after we wrapped the 12th episode, we looked back at what we had done. And we said, You know what, there’s a lot of gold here. And we originally had focused on leadership in a post pandemic world thinking that when we first started to record these, it was around February, March. And we were still being told that this global pandemic was going to be a very short term inconvenience. And so we thought, well, we’ll put these out into the world, they’re going to have a short shelf life, because if we are to believe our intrepid governments, this is going to go away very quickly, magically, if you will. And so when it didn’t, we said, you know, what we can we can put this together and the nuggets of what we’ve talked about, not just into this video series, but into a book. And so that’s where we, we ended up when we released the book, during the summer. And, you know, it really turned into something I think we can both, you know, both say that we’re very proud of
Ben Baker 6:26
that. Absolutely. It was, you know, it was serendipitous that we got, you know, put together sometime in January, February, and it was one of those relationships where truly Harry Met Sally we never met. And, you know, all of a sudden, we find ourselves on zoom chats together and sitting there going, Yeah, yeah, that you absolutely agree with what we say we got to get this on tape. You know, I’m a podcaster, I’ve been a podcaster. For years, I help companies develop their own podcasts. And I said, You know what, we need to put this down for posterity, not just for ourselves, but to enable other people to learn from this, you know, if I’m not going to make any money over the next month or two months, because nobody’s doing business, everybody, everybody’s got their knees, yo, grab to their chest and rocking back and forth, we might as well give people some tools that they can use to be able to move forward. And, you know, Claire’s, right? I mean, we took a look at this, we transcribed the, you know, the, the podcast, and we started looking at this thing, and when there’s 3540 50,000 words worth of gold in here, what if we edited this down a little bit, massaged it a little bit, and turned it into a book? And it was, it was such a simple process? And truly was it was it was, you know, I’ve written two books. Now, this one was way easier than the first. And, you know, it really came down to the subject matter, the nuance and, and the process. It just it just flowed really naturally.
Tim Kubiak 7:59
Did you see that content evolve as you get deeper into the series and the pandemic?
Ben Baker 8:06
I think so I think it absolutely did when we started realizing that
Claire Chandler 8:11
Yeah, yeah, very quickly. Just
Unknown Speaker 8:15
go ahead, Claire.
Claire Chandler 8:16
Yeah. And I would have, sorry, I, I would agree with that. I mean, I think when we first started, like I said, we really thought this, this COVID pesky thing was going to be a relatively short lived, you know, nuisance. And as we got deeper, and as, you know, the pandemic got, you know, deeper into our lives, we realized this was going to have much longer term ramifications for for leadership for business sustainability, and was truly going to separate the companies that survive from the companies that will thrive, not just through the pandemic, but but afterwards. So yeah, I think there was a, there was a definite evolution from the first conversation through to the 12th.
Ben Baker 8:57
Yeah. And there was also the thought process of Okay, this is not going to be the only crisis people are going to go through. You know, this, we’ve gone through crisis’s before we’re going to go through crisis is again. So even if this material, you know, people don’t listen to it now, hopefully they do. But if they put it on a shelf, and they said, Oh, wait a second here, when the next crisis hits here, you know, here’s a blueprint of some things to be thinking about. You know, it’ll help people as we move forward, because the world’s in flux. And you know, it may not be tomorrow may not be for five years, but there will be another crisis. It may not be global, it may be regional, whatever. But we will always go through those crisises and how we lead people through them, that allow them to people to move out to the other side.
Tim Kubiak 9:46
That’s a really strong point, if we can go a little deeper in that because we’re looking at this crisis where we’re all in today, but businesses face disruption, competitive pressures, changing consumer preferences, client preferences. Staff and technology. It’s a form of a crisis, I think that people are against constantly. Is that a fair assessment?
Ben Baker 10:07
Claire Chandler 10:08
Yeah. 100% 100%?
Tim Kubiak 10:11
So are there specific lessons a leader can take out of the pandemic and apply to those other areas?
Claire Chandler 10:18
You know, for me, I think that the biggest thing, and this was something that evolved throughout our conversations was, the longer that this current crisis that we shared, you know, on a global stage, continued on, the more it became apparent, at least to Ben and myself, that the the old way of doing things, the old marketplace, you know, the previous expectations that customers little employees had, of us as leaders in businesses had permanently shifted. And it’s the companies that not only understand that, but act accordingly, that are going to separate themselves, right. So we likened it in the book, we have this analogy of a tunnel. So I live in New Jersey, I’m born and raised in New Jersey, and you know, driving into New York City, people always ask me, oh, you must go into into New York all the time. And obviously, this is prior to 2020. And I say, you know what, I don’t, I don’t go there that often. But when I do, it’s, you know, that the biggest reason I don’t Sorry, my camera just dropped. The biggest reason I don’t, is it’s a pain in the neck to get there. And so you know, when you’re, when you’re driving from New York, from New Jersey, to New York, you go over a bridge, or you go through a tunnel. And if you go through the tunnel, you know, we New Yorkers in New Jersey ins are legendary for not being very friendly drivers. And, you know, I’m proud to say that, you know, the horn, the car horn is a natural extension of our hands, right? We just instinctively reach for that. And so you know, you know, early on as a driver, that when you’re entering a tunnel, from the New Jersey side, into New York, you’d better know where you’re going to turn, when you get through the tunnel, you have to make a quick left or a quick, right, and you can’t get to the end of the tunnel, pause, weigh your options, and then make an informed decision. You have to know that roadmap ahead of time. And so you know, because the people behind you are not going to, you know, say Oh, she’s new, she’s got to figure it out, let’s give her some time to make, you know, the best possible decision. Life doesn’t work like that, and neither does business. So that was, you know, an analogy that we use, you know, to your point about these shifting market conditions, and customer expectations, and all of that we’ve been here before, but COVID has been a really stark reminder that there is no turning left anymore, we can’t go back to the way things were pre COVID, that ground has permanently shifted. And it’s the you know, it’s the the informed and enlightened businesses that understand that that is not a restriction. It’s an opportunity to reinvent the market we’re playing in.
Ben Baker 13:03
Exactly. I mean, the words that we’ve used over and over and over in the book are adaptability and resilience. If we sit there and say the people and the businesses that are going to thrive long term, are those that think about adaptability and resilience. Sit there, okay, I got hit in the face again. Now what, you know, instead of just sitting there cowering in the corner, sitting there, go Wait a second bounce up, figure out where that you know, where that left hook came from and duck when the when the right is coming at you. We need to be able to look at it and sit there and say, okay, the world has changed, fine. Deal with it. You know, your your employees have got home, you thought they were going to be in the office forever. Deal with it. Your supply chain has changed deal with it. You know, your customers have changed deal with it. What do you do now? I mean, for me three days in March, in the beginning of March, I had keynote addresses planned around the world. I was supposed to spend three weeks in Australia, 10 days in Europe and 10 days in Trinidad and Tobago, and a bunch of jobs across the United States doing keynotes gone in three days, you know, an entire year’s worth of income wiped out in three days. And every single keynote speaker I know of any stature had the same thing happened to them. And it’s how people have sit there and said, Okay, what do I do now? Instead of just sit there going, Oh, my God, my entire livelihood is gone. It’s gone. There’s nothing you can do about it. Those those things may come back, they may not come back. And if they come back, it could be an 18 or 24 months. But the question is, what do you do now? And people who sit there and say, all right, I got thrown a curveball. Let’s evaluate it. Let’s look at it. Let’s sit there and say, Alright, how can I use this to my advantage? What can I learn from this? Now let’s gather the forces and move forward. Those are the people Goodness succeed, the people that are sitting there going, Oh my god, somebody threw me a curveball, I don’t know how to hit a curveball. You know, I’m just going to sit here and wait for a fastball to show up. Those people are going to get curveballs thrown at them all day long. And they’re going to strike out. And a lot of businesses have struck it out. And they’re unfortunately going to be out of business. Because they haven’t adapted. I mean, it’s amazing to me how many restaurants have sat there and said, Oh, okay, people can’t come into the restaurant anymore. Let’s get a thriving takeout business. And they built their entire business moving forward, for the foreseeable future, on being that phenomenal, bespoke, funky takeout business in their neighborhood. And they’ve, you know, they’ve got new customers, and they’ve, they’ve communicated differently, they’ve advertised differently, and they’ve gone on in the succeeded, you know, because the reality has shifted. Other people start to go, Oh, my God, I can’t have people in my come into my restaurant, I might as well just shut it down. So it’s all about mentality.
Tim Kubiak 16:08
Do you find people and I’ve run into this with sales leaders and business owners in my clients set, people aren’t yet willing to fully accept that new reality from a profitability, a revenue perspective, a growth perspective? Right? There’s been a lot of hard conversations in my world about, yeah, well, your industry is not going to grow 30% next year, or order the converse side, the your sales that went up in April through June, because everybody was pivoting to a virtual model. That’s not repeatable. That’s actually the harder conversation I find myself in now. Are you seeing leaders struggle with those kind of things?
Claire Chandler 16:48
Yeah, I certainly. I mean, I, you know, I think it’s, it’s because, you know, we, we’ve got this innate aversion to change as humans, right. And even through a year like this, with a global pandemic, that required all of us to pivot in some degree. You know, even my clients who, who were deemed essential workers, and their, you know, their workforce out in the field, did not substantially change in terms of reporting to a physical location every day, the way that they were enabled and empowered to do their jobs and equipped to do their jobs and supported by the home office obviously changed. You know, I think Ben’s analogy of of the restaurant pivots, the successful restaurants that were able to survive through, you know, the height of this pandemic, by shifting to more of a, you know, becoming the the elite premier kind of sought after takeout. You know, the restaurants kind of figured out what a lot of leaders haven’t, which is, we have to meet our customers and our employees where they are, and where they are, has changed. And it’s not just that they are remote, it’s that they are feeling disconnected. And they are feeling as if we don’t understand that, you know, that that fundamental human need to stay connected. And so I think the restaurant example is a is a prime example of that of how really enlightened businesses did make that pivot to say, we’re going to meet our customers now where they are, they can’t come to us, we’re going to go to them. Every business has to evaluate that and say, there are certain things that we can shed off as no longer either useful to us or viable as a business line. How are we going to supplement that? How are we going to continue to grow, the growth opportunities are out there, if one their eyes are open enough to see them and to those leaders bring their employees into that discovery conversation?
Ben Baker 18:54
I think the the big challenge is that an aircraft carrier is way harder to turn than a canoe. And the problem is, the larger organizations need to start thinking like small nimble startups, because everybody is starting again. Everybody’s starting again, the rules have changed how business has changed, just because you own that client, quote, unquote, air quotes, you know, for the last 10 years, doesn’t mean that somebody 1000 to 5000 miles away, can’t take that client away from you today because they’re more nimble, and they’re able to respond far more effectively to your customers needs. And you can and I think that businesses, large and small, need to start thinking about how can we react more effectively to our customers. And large companies are sitting there, oh, you know, we’re in a pandemic, we’re going to cut this department, we’re going to cut this apart. I mean, marketing departments, sales departments, you know, people on the office floor, it’s cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, because that’s all that they know because they’re just trying to keep it Your stock stock prices up. But if they sit there and say, okay, what’s the long term detriment of doing this because there is, it’s going to be eventually market share, you are going to lose market share, and you’re going to lose customers. And you’re going to lose relationships, because you don’t have the people in house that can take care of your customers. And so large organizations need to start thinking like, okay, let’s stop focusing on on, share price, and let’s start focusing again on customers. And how do we serve these people? How did we grow to be to the size of the first place? And let’s go back to the fundamentals, and really focus on the human beings. And when you build those Reliance’s and you build those relationships, the profits will come back. Sorry,
Tim Kubiak 20:54
oh, no, fine. Um, with that, when you can’t go see customers, how do you get closer to customers? How do you understand the need now?
Ben Baker 21:04
You know, what, we’re building some things for customers, right now I’ve got a sales force of about 150. And that’s their biggest fear, they’re gonna say that I, our teams don’t know how to sell remotely, they don’t know how to build trust, they don’t know how to sell. They don’t actually even know how to pick up a phone anymore, let alone anything else. they’ve, they’ve they’ve, they’ve been so ingrained that you have to go out there and actually see the customer, that they feel tied, because they don’t. And what we’re doing, first of all, is we’re creating these two to three minute, you know, individualized humanizing videos for each salesperson that they can turn around and have on their web page that they can send to customers that they can have on their social media feeds that build that know, like and trust. And it’s not about Hi, how are you, I’m a great salesperson, it’s like, this is what I’m passionate about. You know, this is why I believe in my customers and getting them to answer those questions in a humane way, in a way that resonates with people. It’s about teaching them how to use LinkedIn effectively, it’s about teaching them how to respond to emails, effectively, how to get the customer experience department, to, to, you know, step up and be that beacon of hope and that relationship building with with the customer, and empowering your people to be able to be better. And realizing that you’ll client relations is not just one department, it’s everybody’s thought process, everybody needs to be thinking about customer first. And if we can be thinking about customer first from every single viewpoint, you’re going to build those champions, and those champions will build your company.
Claire Chandler 22:43
And I think the key the key word in all of that, Ben and I echo everything he said, is relationship, right? We’re not in a sales economy, we’re in a relationship economy. And that in that shift had happened long before COVID hit. You know, and it’s interesting, I had this conversation with a client yesterday, you know, they were, there were certain experiences that you cannot adequately replicate, over zoom, right over a video conference, there are there are certain sessions experiences, topics, if you will, that, you know, if you’re trying to get a team that is new to each other, to really gel and to collaborate, it is extremely difficult to replicate that sort of roll up your sleeves, get around the same table and solve a common problem that you can do quite effectively in the same physical room. It’s really hard to replicate that over zoom. So how do you do that some of that takes a lot longer now, right? Because we have to build that up over time. I think Ben your strategy of, of almost spoon feeding a little bit at a time of these, you know, these cells, folks, personality, and what they’re passionate about what you know, internally drives them is a really good one because it isn’t going to happen in one conversation. It never did anyway. I mean, let’s face it, even if we were out there, pounding the pavement, knocking on doors, you’re not going to get you know, convince somebody to do you know, a high value bit of business with you through one conversation. But you know, I think the other thing that has shifted a little bit is people’s relationship with LinkedIn. Right before the we got to the depths of COVID. You know, if you if you reached out to somebody cold on LinkedIn, and then you immediately went into a sales pitch or a Hey, let’s get on the phone and connect. You repelled a lot of people. And while that’s still never The Good, the right approach, I have found that people are a bit more receptive to to truly embracing LinkedIn as a means of establishing a connection, networking a little bit, getting to know each other and knowing that we are all there to You know, to benefit our business in there’s. So I think even not even that platform and even that means of trying to create and start a relationship, you know, has has evolved. And you know, I just I, I keep looking back to our example, Ben of, you know, we’ve never physically met may never meet at the rate that we’re going right. But we’ve been able to, you know, to create a very powerful, positive productive relationship that started with a LinkedIn introduction, and has been, you know, facilitated and deepened through videoconferencing me who thought that was possible before this year?
Ben Baker 25:41
Well, exactly. And you know, it’s teaching people how to use LinkedIn effectively, because as you’re saying, it’s that, you know, hey, do you want to be my friend? By the way, what do you want to buy from me? That doesn’t work, right? You know, I did a post this morning, because I got, I got tagged of one of 185 people on a post that says, You should connect with these people. So all of a sudden, there’s now 185 people, they’ve just hit the connect button, no relationship whatsoever, I have no idea who these people are, I have no idea what they want from me, why I should care about them, whatever. And they’re all trying to connect with me. And I’ll guarantee you, I’ll connect with some of them. I won’t connect with others, based on their on their on their profile. But once I connect with every single one of them, I will send a thanks for connecting, I see that we’re connected through data to the love to find a little bit more about you, what are you passionate about 95% of those people will never respond, ever. They’re the ones that connected with me, they’re the ones that reached out to me. And I’ll reach back. And I will guarantee you that 95% of those people will never respond. And that’s what’s missing. If we’re all we’re trying to do on LinkedIn is build our connection count, if all we’re trying to do is figure out the number of likes that he had on a post, we’ve missed the point. It’s about two way communication, it’s about understanding each other. It’s about relationships, it’s about trust. And you know, the big thing about business today is it’s about how do you solve people’s problems. And people need to know that you care about them before, they’re going to open up about what their problems truly are. And until you understand their problems and have that level of trust, you’re never going to be able to fix it, and you’re never going to get be able to get their business. So it’s it’s a slower, longer road. But the thing is, you may not get as many customers, but the ones that you get, you’re gonna have a far deeper relationship with. And all of a sudden, instead of getting $500 for that customer, you might get 50,000. So it’s looking at the long term ROI. And it’s and that comes from patience comes from understanding, it’s about giving first, before you even have an expectation about receiving something.
Tim Kubiak 28:03
It makes me think of the sales problem that I exist as long as I’ve been in business, and that is the salesperson that shows up at a place, does the meeting will say gladhands it right there and doesn’t send the follow up does, you know, doesn’t call back doesn’t do anything. If you know, and I deal with complex b2b sellers all the time. And they’re like I you know, it didn’t go anywhere. Really your solutions, a million and a half dollar, she thought you were gonna walk out after two meetings. Right? Or not understanding the landscape inside the company. It’s the same dynamic that I see all the time. And salespeople they’re like, Oh, yeah, I guess I should have sent the brochure or done the quote or followed up, or, you know, driven deeper on this point. It’s interesting, because this is the first time I’ve heard it put that way. But that is LinkedIn and a lot of ways. You know, it’s how many people send your yearbook in the way the last day of school right now.
Ben Baker 28:55
Because if you look at it, 20 years later, you go, who are these people?
Unknown Speaker 28:59
It was that Yeah, yeah.
Claire Chandler 29:03
Yeah, yeah. But Tim, I think you’re, you’re you’re 100%. Right, right, the fruit is in the follow up. It’s not in that first connection. It’s not even in that first conversation. It’s how invested Are you willing are you to put their needs and you know, what, what they are struggling with first before an actual sale. And, you know, Ben talks about this all the time. You know, true leaders make their people whether it’s their employees, their clients or customers feel listened to and cared about. And it’s the same thing now. And it’s especially true now because it’s so easy to just through technology, send out some sort of a blast, and blind copy every potential prospect you’ve got, and think that she made a connection. And there’s a huge difference between sending out a one day communication and actually making a connection with someone who’s going to remember you fondly and having you as top of mind, when you have a problem that they know you can solve. So yeah, you know, Ben, as you said, I mean, we’re you have to play for the long game, when you’re a business owner, a people leader, you know, an entrepreneur would have you, you have to play for the long game. Because if you just want to sell dollar widgets, it’s a different approach than if you’re trying to build a relationship where you can bring value to someone, and they can help you to feel deeply fulfilled in return, because you’re playing in your genius zone. And you’re building up this relationship of, you know, mutual respect and care for the success of the other person.
Ben Baker 30:38
Yeah, and two things with that one, you know, to get it to the meeting, there was a great stat from I think it was a study by Florida State University that said, of an hour meeting between a salesperson and a purchaser. How much time do you think that the purchaser actually thought was valuable?
Tim Kubiak 30:58
Six minutes. That’s amazing. And not shocking, six
Ben Baker 31:03
minutes of actual value that they that the buyer got out of that meeting. And you wonder why it’s harder and harder and harder for salespeople to get meetings with buyers? Because they’re not providing value. They’re not sitting there going, how do I solve a problem they want, they want to sell you something, instead of solving a problem. And I think everybody that’s in business, whether you’re leading and it’s your whether it’s your team, or it’s a sales people or whoever within the company, you need to start with the mentality of how do we solve problems for people? Well, first of all, who are the people that we can solve problems for? And everybody else, forget about it? You know, there’s 7.5 billion people in the world, you can’t solve everybody’s problems. These are the people whose problems I can solve, great. How do I communicate with them in a way that I understand what their problems are, and they understand that I can help them fix it. And I think that we need to be able to focus on the people and the problems that we can solve, and stop sitting there going, we can be everything to everybody as a company, because when you do your commodity, and then your low cost, your low value, you’re easily forgotten, and you’re easily replaced.
Tim Kubiak 32:18
And that ties back in my mind, at least, to something you said earlier. And that is everybody’s worried about their share price, right. And let’s face it, and I’m pretty openly critical for a long time, so nobody’s gonna get knocked out of the chair. Right, you can’t live quarter to quarter, you can’t adjust strategy quarter to quarter if you do, you’re going to have what you have, you might have shareholder return value, but you’ll be big and eventually run into issues, I would much rather see a company that’s investing to your point on the real connection, and a long term strategy and be hyper profitable, but at a smaller scale.
Ben Baker 32:55
Yeah, that tends to be, you know, a North American versus maybe even the European or a, or an Asian, you know, philosophy is, is that, you know, being quarter focus being being focused on the decade, you look at, you know, traditional Asian, you know, business, if long term relationship value based relationship, and the little things matter, and they’re not as focused on the day to day operations as they are in the long term relationship. You know, and there’s no, and there’s embarrassment, if you embarrassed your client, you’re embarrassing yourself, you know, and that that tends to be a very different philosophy in business. And I think that we need to get back to the thought process of when we’re focused on the quarter. We’re killing our business. Why? Because we have no way of looking long term instead of going, who do we want to be? How do we want to be perceived? What’s our long term value or long term customers? And how do we help people in the long term? are we sitting going, Oh, no, we got to worry about that quarterly stock price. You know,
Claire Chandler 34:00
there’s this interesting phenomenon that happens every time we get to a decade year. So like, 20 22,010 was the same way 2000 of course, because we survived y2k. We didn’t even know we would still be here. Right?
Ben Baker 34:13
Money On y2k planing about really good money on like UK fear,
Claire Chandler 34:19
but it’s but it’s, you know, it’s interesting when we, when we hit that year that ends in zero, you know, the beginning of this year before COVID was even on our you know, on our radar. So many companies said this is going to be the year we’re going to build a 10 year or more strategic plan. So many companies went ahead and did that. And then literally the first bump they came to which, okay, fine, it came in the form of a global pandemic. Here’s the thing, though. It’s not the first crisis any company has has seen if they’ve been around for any length of time. And what ended up happening was the majority of those companies that decided this was the year we were going to build and commit to a strategic plan, the very first thing they did was put that on the shelf, when COVID became, you know, more than a two week blip on the screen. And, you know, you have to ask yourself, as a leader, and as a business, was that 10 year plan, really sound is my conviction toward moving toward that horizon, as strong as I thought it was going to be. Because at the first sign of adversity, we decided that was no longer relevant to us. And you know, Ben, and I talk about that at length in the book, as we did, obviously, in the video series, which was, you know, the leaders that are going to thrive through 2020. And long beyond, are those who understand that these crises happen, not always on a global scale, certainly. But these crises happen. And if you take one eye off the horizon, and you put both of them on this, this nevermind, quarterly performance, day to day survival, right, and just do firefighting, you’re going to pick your head up at the end of the week, the month or this year, and find that if you were able to keep the doors open, you have lost so much ground to your competitors to the marketplace. And certainly in terms of your brand reputation, because all you did was put your money under the mattress and hope nobody stole it. And you know, so so I, I kind of questioned the the not the logic of doing a strategic plan. I am all for strategic plans. But I but I question the level of commitment that leaders and businesses have, when that first sign of adversity occurs, you have to build a plan. And you have to have that long term vision. and use that as a filter and a lens to say this is how we are going to manage the near term crises, whether they’re local, regional, or global. And we are going to use that lens of our strategic plan that we say we committed to, because that’s where we want to be in five years and 10 years and 20 years, and use that as the lens for making these day to day crisis management disaster response decisions.
Ben Baker 37:09
Well, and it’s if you’re absolutely right, I mean, let’s not negate we need to keep one eye on the day to day, you know, I’m a big believer of you need to have one person in any company, whether it’s a company of one, or a company of 100,000, who’s got their eye on the horizon, whose job is to look 510 years out and sit there and say, What are the things that could be the blips that could come our way? And how do we mitigate that? And how do we protect ourselves against this? And how do we grow and change and augment to be able to do that, but you also need to be looking at the here now. I mean, we sent millions and millions of people home overnight. And that created chaos, you know, and it created band aid and duct tape solutions that needed to be addressed this that so we can’t negate the fact that that needed to happen. But if that’s all you’re focused on, if all you’re doing is focusing on the here, and now you’re missing out on enormous opportunity.
Tim Kubiak 38:11
It’s the picks and shovels versus the Gold Rush, right? Yeah, who made the money? The people who figured out to sell picks and shovels to the people who are gonna dig for the gold?
Unknown Speaker 38:21
Ben Baker 38:21
Yeah. And don’t forget about the sluicing pants.
Tim Kubiak 38:25
Absolutely. And you have to constantly upgrade because the little stuff slides through.
Ben Baker 38:29
Absolutely says we found a better sluicey and here’s a new shovel. We got we got a new shovel for you. It’s new and improve. Why? Because we use hickory instead of oak. Yeah, yeah.
Unknown Speaker 38:40
percent wider. Yeah.
Claire Chandler 38:41
And I’ll give you a perfect example of the modern day pick and shovel vendor. It’s these companies that sell or lease flexible workspace. Yeah. Right? Because we pivoted overnight and a lot of companies decided that they don’t need to have a physical office all the time. And even if they did, their employees don’t want to go back there. They got used to, you know, being able to log in and do their work in in chunks that also worked around feeding their family or helping with homework or walking the dog or going to a doctor’s appointment. And so you know, those those vendors that have been trying out this flex workspace, really, you know, kind of shot into the stratosphere now because these companies and several clients that I serve currently close down their headquarters office and either went into a significantly smaller space at a much lower cost, or they did away with the headquarters office entirely and leased space as they need it. So it’s a it’s a brilliant modern day example of the picks and shovels
Tim Kubiak 39:51
in to build on that it’s not just a big company. So my business partner and the sales opportunity management app. I did Steve, right. He’s had the same space for 15 years lease was coming up. And he had multiple offices, multiple conference rooms, everything. And he literally gave up those 1000s of square feet of space for a flex space office, that’s his full time and then booked the conference room is unique. Now it’s not a new model, some of those folks have been in business forever. But this has changed that he’s lowered, you know, lowered his overhead, if you will, 1000s and 1000s of dollars a month, because he realizes the sales team’s not coming back in and clients aren’t going to want workshops in the office.
Ben Baker 40:32
Well, and this is nothing new. I mean, I remember 2530 years ago, at least 25 years ago, I was working for Xerox and Xerox had this gorgeous, you know, entire floor. In fact, I think they have two floors, on, you know, the 22nd 23rd floor of this building that looked at it downtown Vancouver, you know, absolutely gorgeous, with this huge, you know, presentation space and conference rooms, and this and that their thing. And they took a look at where the economy was going. And they went, this is ridiculous. Half the people that work in this office are salespeople who are never here. And they have, you know, great big desks and you know, all this space, why aren’t we doing it. So they cut the floor in half. And they leased the other half of the of the floor to a building that paid them more than what they were paying for the whole floor. Mm hmm. And what they did is they built these hot desks for the salespeople to come in, you know, gave us all laptops, we came in, we, you know, we can plug in, we could do our phones right out of the laptops, and be able to have those conversations, and then get out. You know, and it was better for us. Because you know, what we were hanging around the office, we were actually out in the field where we actually belonged. But on the other hand, it was freeing up space, it just wasn’t necessary. And it changed the culture a little bit, it changed the dynamic a bit. And all of a sudden, we started getting extra bonuses, because there wasn’t, you know, the, you know, the money wasn’t being tied up in office space. So there was more money to be able to be spent on sales training, there was more money to be spent on your corporate gifts, there was more money to be spent on different things that would benefit both the sales team and also the customers and make it make it easier for us to go around and around to the sales.
Tim Kubiak 42:23
We’ve talked about space, we’ve talked about leadership, is there anything I should have asked you that comes out of the new book that I get? And
Ben Baker 42:33
you know, in terms of the lessons learned from the book, the lessons learned from the book are pretty simple, what I what I like about the book is every, every chapter, at the end of every chapter, we form a question, and we leave eight or 10 different lines, a blank space for you to put in your own answers. And it really turns the book into self reflection. So what we’ve done is, you know, we’ll go through a series of points, and then we’ll ask a question about it, and give you room to put your own thoughts and your own, you know, your own feelings down. And, and I think that that really separates our book from a lot of others. because it enables you to, to not only, you know, learn from our experience, but also incorporate that with your own. And by doing that, by internalizing it, it makes you a better leader. And I think that, that that’s probably the the biggest, you know, there’s lots of leadership books out there, there’s an enormous amount of leadership books, I could probably fill my entire office full of leadership books. But I think that where ours differentiates itself is that we want to sit there and say, okay, it’s not just leading when it’s good, it’s leading when when his stuff hits the fan, when stuff hits the fan, that’s when your true colors come out. And I think that that’s really what people need to be, you know, trying to figure out who says, How do I deal with it when I’m when I’m, you know, wrapping everything in a duct tape and band aid? How do I take off those band aids? How do I take off that duct tape and be able to help my people move forward from here?
Claire Chandler 44:13
Yeah, and I would just add to that, you know, when we when we started our conversations, Ben and I, and they were just the video series, we started out with a how do we not just fill our own hours and keep these conversations around leadership that we’re so passionate about fresh and alive and topical? but also how can we help pull leaders through what again, we thought was going to be a very transient crisis, where we landed though, with the conversation series, and ultimately what the book was, while this was an unprecedented experience for all of us, it was an opportunity for people to truly better prepare for the next crisis around the corner. And you know, I would I would say that The two kind of key words that came out of that, were the fact that you have to look at any crisis, not the least being the global pandemic as an opportunity to learn from it. What can we do better? When that next crisis rolls around? What can we put in place? What can we learn from what we’ve experienced here where we were caught off guard unprepared, flat footed, and were forced to do you know, make decisions that we didn’t want to make? To? How can we learn from that? And the other key word is? How do we better lean on each other? We talk a lot in the book about the hubris of leaders where they they put a lot of pressure on themselves to carry this image, that they are the No, no, you know, all knowing, all seeing leaders, right, that they are infallible, and that they have all the answers. And, you know, we really challenge leaders to use this global pandemic. First of all, if it’s your first opportunity to admit that you don’t know everything, this is a great opportunity to do that, because nobody has all the answers, right. But it’s really serves as a model to get used to leaning into your vulnerability, and leaning into your team and saying, I couldn’t possibly have all the answers to a global pandemic, or the next crisis down the road. That’s why I’ve surrounded myself with a team. That’s why you’re here. Let’s help each other. So those those, you know, concepts of learning and leading, if Ben and I, through our book and through our leadership work, can help more leaders truly embrace those, and truly empower people to be resilient and be adaptable, then we’re going to have much more capable leaders that deserve to be followed, and businesses that can stand the test of time.
Ben Baker 46:43
Yeah. And to just pile on top of that, we also need to sit there and walk the walk and talk the talk as leaders. Too many companies have these mission vision value statements that mean nothing, that mean absolutely nothing their words on a wall that nobody remembers, nobody lives. Nobody cares about, not the employees, not the senior management, not the customers, because they nobody lives them, nobody does anything about it. If we can translate that into a brand story, where everybody in the company understands where you came from, where you are, the good, the bad, and the ugly that got you from point A to point B, where you’re going, who you serve, why you serve them, the true value you have in the marketplace. And why you individually matter, you’re going to internalize it. And if you internalize it, and you can recall it and retell it in your own words, all of a sudden, you’re going to believe in it. And if you believe in it, you’re going to work harder for the company, because you see how your individual effort has purpose and meaning. And whether you’re, you know, a six month employee or a 30 year employee, it gives everybody a rallying point about why do we do what we do? And who do we do it for?
Tim Kubiak 48:06
Guys, thank you so much for the time for anyone who wants to learn more they can go to leaders made here. And if they read the book, and they do the notes at the end, do you have a next step that’s logical for them?
Ben Baker 48:17
I think that they can they can contact us. I mean, the book is the first step we are going to be starting probably in the New Year talking about, you know, either a mastermind or a workshop series or stuff like that. We’re not there yet. You know, the question is we’re listing what we’re doing is we’re listening to our audience right now. We’re taking the time to listen to our audience find out what do they truly need? What are the things that they’re looking for right now. So what we’re doing is we’re, we’re getting people on the leaders made here.com to sign up onto the the group, they’ll get onto the email list. And when we have figured out exactly what’s the best way we can serve our audience the best and how can we add true value? We’re going to be coming up with something probably in the next month or so.
Claire Chandler 49:08
Yeah, there you know, there’s a there’s a reason the subtitle of our book is a conversation about what’s next. And that’s, that’s really the phase that Ben and I are in right? It is, is gathering the leaders who do want to taking next step in their leadership, potentially with us and have those conversations to really design and build an experience that will truly help them to to level up at whatever at whatever stage of leadership they find themselves in.
Tim Kubiak 49:37
That’s fantastic. Thank you again for being here today. And we’ll talk to y’all soon. Thanks, Tim. It’s
Unknown Speaker 49:41
been a pleasure,
Ben Baker 49:42
love, love the conversation. Tim. Thanks for doing it.