The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode · 2 years ago

24. How Failure Actually Benefits Your Customers w/ Marc Rodan


Marc Rodan was unhappy with his life in the Netherlands. And he didn't think it was possible to be happy there. He thought he'd have to create the life he wanted somewhere else. 

But one day he realized that, maybe he didn’t need a change of scenery. Maybe he just needed to change his mindset. He realized that he needed to be willing to experiment and to fail. To just start doing things that would change his situation.

This mindset has a lot of benefits to offer us as individuals. But it can also provide some great wins for companies — and their customers, too. 

Marc joined us on the latest episode of The Customer Experience podcast to talk about cultivating a growth mindset and the benefits it offers to your customers. Marc is Co-Founder of Ninjafy, a company that's all about human centric leadership.

You may be in a certain situation, but just making it whatever you want it to be. It's possible andit's just about, you know, having that growth mindset, having that beliefthat you can. You're listening to the customer experience podcast, a podcast dedicatedto helping today's growing businesses restore a personal human touch throughout the customer life cycle. Get ready to hear how sales, marketing and customer success experts surprise anddelight and never lose sign of their customers humanity. Here's your host, EthanButte. Hey, if you want to learn how to make work and howto make learning more fun, more memorable and more actionable through experimentation, youare in the right place. Welcome back to the customer experience podcast. I'vegot the cofounder of Ninja Fi with me. It's a company that's all about humancentric leadership and a company that was built while it's cofounder was traveling theworld. He's taught corporations how to transform to agile through scrum and conbound andother methods. He made bikes to make street food more sustainable and cost efficient. I'm really excited to learn about the experiments and the results from our guesttoday, Mark Rodan. Welcome to the customer experience podcast. Thanks a lot, happy to be here. Yeah, so I always start with in thesame place with everyone again. My my argument is that customer experience is thesingle most important portant thing we create and delivers as individuals and teams and companies. How do you define customer experience? So, for me, customer experienceit's really all about putting the customer first. You know, I've as consulting.I've seen so many instances where teams were just focus on their product oron their yea, their own internal processes, and they didn't even know who theircustomer was anymore. So for me is just whenever you build a productor whenever you got a company, like I'm doing now, it's just puttingthat customer at the very first place and whatever you do. I think that's, for me, what customer experience all about. Excellent, talk to me, you know, for context for people. What is Ninja Fi all about?You have this Ninja leadership concept. Talk About Ninja FY, what you'retrying to do there? Yeah, absolutely so. What Ninja Fi? Wewanted to do something to pull people out of their sort of bad routines.Right. We looked around as and we saw many people that were just stuckin a job that either they didn't like or they liked but they were justgoing too fast or they were just working too hard or just, you know, yeah, maybe they were working very hard or they can connect and witha company goals. It was just there's always something and that people just kepton doing and maybe sometimes for a year or maybe even ten years, theywere just stuck in a bout work situation. So that's what we're trying to changefrom many different angles. So what we try to do a lot isto look at, okay, we have a big company. How are wegoing to to help them make that transition to making work awesome? And sometimesthat takes particular challenge, but often it's also just about, you know,a smaller setup. So we teach teams and people a lot about what theycan do to take sort of ownership of, you know, their work, becauseit's not up to your manager or to your your bus to improve yourwork. It's up to you. So we give people the tools, thethe learnings and the trainings to do that. That's awesome. One of the thingsI read in a really great piece that you wrote about this philosophy thatthat guides you and the team. It's that everyone has nearly unlimited potential togrow and you blend neuroscience, behavioral psychology, design thinking and agile to help peoplereally unlocked their potential to grow. Talk a little bit about about that. Yeah, so we're really big believers in book. I don't know ifyou've heard of it, mindset by cold wreck. It's a weird thing thatalmost all of us we think certain parts of our life are just unchangeable.And I was like that, you know,...

...when I used to be living inthe Netherlands. Every time I was here I thought like how the heckcan I ever have a good life here? I was just, you know,I thought it was not possible. I had to go away. Andeven quite recently, when I thought I was really working on my mindset toreally, you know think that I can change everything, still I thought Icould never be happy in the Netherlands and I think, yeah, about ayear ago I thought like if I really want to push this, like believethat I can change whatever, I'm going to like have a fun time here. So then I started, you know, just doing things, doing the thingsthat I would maybe do abroad. I started to connect a lot morewith people, I started having fun, I started, you know, expandingmy horizon of possibilities, and I think that's what, you know, havingthat mindset is all about, like, you may be in a certain situation, but just making it whatever you want it to be. It's possible,and it's just about, you know, having that growth mindset, having thatbelief that you can and things will happen. I mean, they will start tochange. Yeah, what I love that I'm hearing here is that youare consulting individuals and teams and entire companies on a problem that you experienced yourself. You worked your way out of it through mindset and through experimentation, andnow that's what you're teaching folks. Let's go into growth mindedness. Obviously it'scritical to the success of an individual, as you've experienced yourself and as you'veprobably seen in a number of the people and teams you've consulted. But whatis the benefit? Well, I guess I'll ask this two ways. Whatis a growth minded company like? What are some of the characteristics and howcan they get started in? And then let's transition to what is the benefitto the customer of working with the growth minded company? How does that growthminded approach of the individuals and teams inside company? How does that benefit thecustomer from a product and service standpoint? So a growth minded company is acompany that had, you know, that sort of embraces failures. It's acompany that doesn't feel like they are hiring talent and that's like telling that isjust like we have this great people, they're going to make this awesome.It's a company that beliefs in the growth of people. So we do thatall the time. When we hire people at Ninja Five, we always lookat, you know, their enthusiasm and they're willingness to grow and to really, you know, give it their best jot, instead of just looking attheir experience or their skills. So what you get then, as a company, if you look at people in that way, is that everybody is justthey start to try things, they start to do things that out of theircomfort Johne, they're not trying to please the boss or to, you know, sort of proof that they're good, but they're really just, you know, growing as an individual and helping the company grow. And I think ifyou want to chieve that as a company. It's really important that you allow peoplethat freedom, that freedom to experiment. Right Way. Talk about experiment,I was permentation a lot, and also the freedom to fail. Andactually that is always very hard because it's not something we'd thought I mean eversince we were a little when we were in school, every test that wasa matter of like failing or not failing, right, it was always a matterof success, and now suddenly it's okay to fail, like, howdo we even comprehend that? So that takes quite no big steps eventually,but leaving that you can grow. It's all about making these tiny little steps, these tiny little experiments forward. So that is really, I think,what that is all about. In Yeah, if you have that kind of company. I don't know that answers your question. They sure you mentioned youknow, it takes some big steps, but it starts a course, withsmall steps. You know, maybe from some of the some of the folksyou've worked with. You know if a manager, let's say, who's listeningto this show, a manager and sales or marketing or customer success or customersupport is listening and they think, okay, I feel maybe a little bit stuckright, or I feel like some of my team members are. Whatare some of the first steps that someone can take toward being actively and intentionallygrowth minded? What does that look like?...

What does it feel like? Youhave any examples? Yeah, so, you mean as an individual or I'dlike for that manager. So, but and as a manager of otherpeople. How can they help facilitate that in others? Yeah, so Ithink one of the first things that you should always start doing is like tojust start asking that question why, you know, why do you get outof bed in the morning? If you ask your people that, and whydo you get out of bed yourself, and what gives you energy? Areyou really happier to work here? What would you change? What could Ido? So for a manager, it's about, I think, facilitating thatto be able to ask that question, not only to US people but tohimself as well, and to get sort of out of that mindset that heshould manage people because he doesn't necessarily know best. I mean the people thatare in it, they probably know. So we talked about this term servantLeadership Alat so, where your management sort of role turns into much more ofsort of a facilitating role, where you give people the space and you givethem all everything they need to grow. And of course there's like you don'tjust step back completely, but it's like sort of the way you go intoa conversation. It changes. Yeah, so if you have leaders in teammembers inside organizations that are that are operating with these questions and being clear ontheir intentions and motivations, I imagine that this is going to bring them tolife. I've experienced the same thing myself. Now let's go back to the customer. What is the benefit of if we get more people inside our organizationsthinking and operating this way and more brought to life, what is the benefitto the customer, to the business in general? Yeah, so for thecustomer, of course, like when people are, you know, willing tofail, it's not just about maintaining the status quo of a company, it'snot just about, you know, making profit or doing as good as wedid. It's about finding new solutions that help the customer better, because thatis eventually why you experiment. You don't experiment, I mean I think there'salways two ways to experimentation, right. That's how I see it. Likeyou have one way to make your own work better and you have one wayto make your product better or your service. So I think we should be experimentingalways on both levels. We should be trying new things on both levels. But that often goes hand in hand. When you can experiment for product,you can experiment this wall for your own work process, and that's oftenwhat we forget. And if you allow yourself that freedom, you often,you know, start you can probably do twice or four times as much inthe same amount of time because you you start thinking about automas, automatization ordifferent ways to make your work more awesome because you don't want to do allthe Tedious Administration Das or you can, you know, just come up witha whole new way to brand your product or two to be out there andspeak to the customer. So I think the benefits for the customer almost endless. Awesome. I love those two layers that you experiment to improve the wayyou're getting the work done or experimenting to improve what you're delivering to the customerin terms of a product or or service. Before we go, I want toask you about a particular experience of yours, but before I do,talk a little bit about Ninja. Why Ninja. What are the characteristics ofa Ninja that you're trying to bring into the work environment or or bring outof people? Yeah, yeah, so there are a lot of like layers, I think, to Ninja. I really like it. I'm one ofcourse. The first thing is that it's, you know, it's been. It'ssort of a counter movement towards all their like boring like Ey and thetraditional consultants. So that's why I love the the Ninja work. But ofcourse the first reason, because, yeah, why we went with Ninja, isbecause of the agility. I mean we live in a constantly changing world. Everything goes so fast just to keep up, to use new phones.There's we are happening, there's blockchain happening.

I mean, what are all theseopportunities? How do we how do we go to, you know,use these opportunities? So, of course an agile mindset next permentation mindset,will help you and that's the main reason for the Ninja. But the otherreason I think Ninja is a powerful world is worked is because, you know, Ninja, they're sort of like you feel like a focus. They're powerful, they're they're cool and a lot around experimentation is very uncomfortable. It's oftenabout you taking that first step and taking a first step in something that youdon't know how it is going to end. It might be success or failure.That's always stuck and I think Ninja sort of, you know, ifI'm a Ninja, I make that step. I just do it and that's that'swhy we went with it. It's great. Now you just touch downagility. They're obviously agile work. SCRUM, con bond and some of these othermethods. I think most people associate them with product and with development.Have you seen successful, and we experimented a little bit with, you know, a quasi scrum method on our marketing team? Have you seen some ofthese applications or ways of working applied in a customer successor in a sales ora marketing environment? or or is it really product indev oriented? No,I mean it's definitely where it originated, right. So it's where scrum andCanada and all those things there were in so for development space. Initially,all these leaders from the support development space made this a gentle manifesto and that'swhere it's sort of developed from there. But no, I was actually,I think this week I was at a marketing team that it was just startingwith scrum. You really see that. It is now being applied in HRas well. So so it really it could work everywhere. But I'm alwaysvery hesitant when I talk about these methods because it's sort of it took ona life of its own. When people talk about Kemban or scrum or evenlean startup, it's like, you know, that's like the way to success,that's like, if you do that, done, you will be a Jele. If you do that, then it's just it's really bad. Ithink that happened. So I would never say that scrum, Moor Cambon isthe answer. I would say there are things from those methods that can bevery helpful for you, but that you should be in charge of experimenting.You should find your own way. So if you're just starting to work agile, I think scrum can be a great way to tell you a way right. So it tells you all the meetings you should have and that can begreat for two months as a starting point, but after that I think you shouldgo your own way. So I've seen this applied successfully often, butoften after a very long time. So you see, you see these asas very, very useful frameworks, but it's frameworks rather than dogma. Thenot to be followed to the letter of the law. There there is nolaw. These just guidelines and processes that you can take and make your own. Yes, absolutely, and I think it's just always simple. Experimentation isabout just starting doing something, like agreeing before and how you're going to doit, like determining what your success is, doing it and then this learning fromit, reflecting on it an then going for the next. It's justworking in these loops. Is that simple. But these frameworks sometimes they make itdamn hard to even just understand what's going on. Yeah. So,so before you arrived in in this type of work and consulting and really turningpeople onto to growth mindedness and agility, you were a pancake entrepreneur in Sweden. Tell me about that. What were you trying to do? What wereyou trying to solve? How did customers respond? Talk to you about beinga pancake entrepreneur. Yeah, so, I also its great that you bringit up. So after my my university, I was like most people. Youknow, you don't know what you've been do. I mean I knewI wanted to be an entrepreneur. I knew I wanted to be abroad,but I just had no clue. So...

I thought, what the hell,I'm just going to start. I think that's where, you know, thatsort of mindset of experimentation start, like if I'm not going to start,I'm not going to even learn. So I just going to start and learnfrom me. And then, yeah, I had a sweet girlfriend at thetime and that's why I moved to Sweden. And I was there and I didn'treally have an idea yet, and then she was like yeah, butit isn't you know those pancakes that you have no all, isn't that something? Yeah, yeah, maybe. So I started baking them for some people. People are enthusiastic. And then, yeah, I just evolved and Ithought like why the heck not? This maybe not my ideal company, butI'm going to do it and I'm going to learn from it. So thenI thought, okay, I need something to bake it with. So Ithought first on a restaurant, but restaurants were this way beyond what I couldafford. Then I thought a food truck, still too high, but then footbike, that was possible. So I'll yeah, foot bike. I'mDutch, so I'm not I created the bike, I know, I designedit, had it shipped over and just went out on the streets and startedbaking. And Yeah, I I really thought it was fun. It wascrazy tough, I mean to get out every day and, you know,do all those things absolutely not easy, especially if you have a mobilecation.But yeah, what I really liked but that experience. It's where I reallysaw the result of what I was doing. So I was standing out every dayon the street making those pancakes. But I wasn't just making pancakes.I was giving people, I have, a moment. I was really providingthem with a smile on their face. I was asking about their day,I was asking like hey, how's going? Like I was giving him a bitof a show, you know, and I just saw about people saysome with joy, and that's that's why I wanted to get up every morningjust for that moment. That's so awesome. It's just such a pure entrepreneurial storyin that you wanted to start something. You had to start in order tomake anything happen. You walked out all the problems where a lot ofpeople get stopped as I can't do it because this. I can't do itbecause that you kept going and then and then ultimately arise where you concluded therewas in this true human connection, in this personal connection. Do you haveany thoughts about where we are with technology and in human connection? Obviously,it allows you and I to have this conversation from where are you right now? Are you in the Netherlands? Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so it allowsus to have this conversation and connect facetoface, but but it also keepsus apart from a lot of people to talk about the relationship that you're observingwith some of the companies that you work within, your own experience, therelationship between technology and in trudirect human connection. Yeah, so it's funny that youask because, of course I started Ninja five when I was traveling right, I needed to get out of the Netherlands and and try something new aftermy consultant adventures. But Yeah, when? The other reason was because I feltlike I needed to allow myself to be more online to create those skills, and that's why I started to create a lot more video, a lotmore elearning and develop that and that's how I actually met my cofounder now becausehe saw a video of mine. So we started working together while doing thesevideo calls like we're having now. So the first time I met my cofounder, I mean I felt like I knew him so well already, but italso like me do like a movie star or something. It was really realstrange experience. So, if you ask me, like where we are withcompanies and the relation with technology, it's like we can build businesses without evenbeing now together. It's is that far ahead, and I'm can imagine whenwe want r gets a bit more in our mainstream, then we wouldn't evenfeel the difference anymore. So I think it's amazing just the way we cantalk right now. So I'm not sure...

...if this fully answers your question,but I think the fact that we can just completely work apart it's awesome.But I have to admit there are a lot of challenges to overcome as well, because that sort of real personal connection, it's almost all ways like you haveto meet facetoface as just a different feeling as just yeah, that's whereyou really, I think, connect and that's where you really see some magichappen, where you really bind people to you and really can do amazing stuff. So I would always recommend that technology is not always the answer. Fully, at least need like quite regularly facetoface, because that's why you get that sortof it's more than just a person then, more than a to dimage, is a feeling. You get them. Yeah, yeah, I'mwith you a hundred percent on that. That it's about. It's all aboutthat healthy balance and video is really powerful for for building that psychological proximity.Even when you don't have physical proximity, you can have that psychological proximity whereyou're feel drawn or closer to someone just by experiencing them in that way.Hey, I want to ask you before we wrap up, and I andI ask a couple of my standard closing questions because I just love all thedifferent responses I get by asking so many smart people the same questions. Youknow, one of the things in reviewing some of your work and your philosophy, you observe that, like a lot of people are working every day,they're toiling away, but they really don't have any idea who they're really workingfor, that there's this disconnection from the customer. Can you talk a littlebit about that like these people are going to their jobs every day and theirwork, work, work, work, work, work, work, butthey have no sight line to the customer. Like talk about that as a problem. Is something you've observed and and maybe a couple ways out of it? Yeah, absolutely. So. Yeah, I think what you describe it asthe way it is right like, especially in these big organizations, wherethere's just teams that are sort of working in a chain where you give youcreate something, goes to another team, they do something with it goes toanother team, especially in when you deal with sort of like banking information orstuff like that, or like tech. So I think that Jil movement alsois breaking that a little, because you have all the members in the sameteam to create something small, but then they're still even then, there areteams that that then are so focused on the product or on their internal stakeholdis that they forget about the end person who's really going to use this thingright and it's really about pleasing them. And when I then see that theydidn't even speak to those to those people, to their customer day, I meanI often ask I was the last time you spoke to customer day,either never or like two years ago or something, when I started working here, I spoke to customer like I think that's just unbelievable to me. Soyeah, there you have already your your answer to your first way out ofit. It's like it's an old saying of the Yota as well, likewho started this Idel sort of movement? You can speak to your customers.So yeah, that is something you can definitely do to break that and I'mthinking about another way. But since we've been talking about experimentation so much,it's I think, yeah, just sit down with your team and think aboutwhat you can do to really and Hans value, because that's why you're working, right, you're doing you're working to provide value to someone else. Soand just sit down, think of your first experiment that you can do,the first small step that you can complete in two weeks time to provide morevalue to that customer, even if it does just, you know, avery, very tiny thing. Almost always seems that like that's just a smallstep, that doesn't that doesn't count. But then at least you're going youget the wheel spinning and from there you can only pick up moment. Thoseare great recommendations and in the Toyota reference is great to the just the wholeToyota way is worth studying for anyone who hasn't done it before. And oneof the techniques in there's is asking the...

...five levels of why. And asyou're asking why, why, why, as you're getting answers to these questions, those are all grounds for theories, right, and then you can testthose theories through experimentation. So relationships are our number one core value here atbombomb and here on the customer experience podcast. So in closing, I always liketo give you the opportunity to thank or mention someone who's had a positiveimpact on your life or your career and to mention a company that's doing customerexperience really well. All right, well, I mean, I think the personthat that is going really having the biggest impact on my life it shouldbe Niels, my cofounder. I I met him only like a year ago, and like a year and a few months ago. That's when we weconnected on Linkedin and since then has been sort of this crazy roller coaster ofa personal growth and learning to work together, because I hadn't found it a companywith someone else before. And you know the fact that through everything andthrough all the heart work and all the heart like problems that we encountered,we're still there for each other, like constantly every day. It's I thinkit's it's something invaluable. So if I would like to thank someone, it'sabsolutely neils and about companies that I look up to that are really inspiring me. I mean this should come as no surprise, but another guy who reallystarted to get out there a lot more is Tom Bill, you with impacttheory. He used to have quests before. He's now a lot more active andin Bacterian. Yeah, he's always like talking about how you can growas a person's he shares our mindset, our beliefs. I think the bookmindset that back Outdrek is his Bible. So yeah, that's absolutely a biginspiration. And Nielsen. I talked about his podcasts a lot with other successfulpeople and I just think it's great that such programs as podcasts are being made. So, yeah, absolutely awesome. I'll drop links to those into theinto the post that I write around this one. This has been an absolutepleasure. Mark, if someone wants to connect with you or with your cofounderor with Ninja Fi, what are some ways that people can connect with youonline. Yeah, so I most active on Linkedin. If you go toLinkedin and find Mark Rodan, I should pump up somehow, and of coursewe are. Are Website Ninja Fi? Doubt me. You kind of readall about what we do there. Awesome, and that's m a arc Urda,and look for them on Linkedin. This has been an absolute pleasure.Thank you so much for your time and really enjoyed it. Thanks a lotof it, and so did I. You're listening to the customer experience podcast. No matter your role in delivering value and serving customers, you're interrusting someof your most important and valuable messages to faceless digital communication. You can dobetter. rehumanize the experience by getting face to face through simple, personal videos. Learn more and get started free at bomb bombcom. You've been listening tothe customer experience podcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribeto the show in your favorite podcast player or visit bombombcom. Thank you somuch for listening. Until next time,.

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