The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode 145 · 6 months ago

145. Establishing Core Principles for Yourself and Your Team w/ John Belizaire

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The key to building a great business and getting a team focused is, first, having a set of consistent core values over time. Once you’ve established core principles around serving your customer, the next step is to continue to optimize around improving that customer experience over time.

In this episode, I interview John Belizaire, CEO at Soluna and Founder and Managing Editor at CEOPLAYBOOK, about building long-term relationships, the wow of customer experience, and his personal mission statement to influence a thousand young entrepreneurs.

John and I also talked about:

- Building a personal mission statement around what you want to be proud about

- Why CEOs should be deeply involved in creating customer experience

- Soluna’s commitment to support green power with global energy

- The relationship between entrepreneurship and storytelling

Check out these resources we mentioned during the podcast:

- John on LinkedIn

- Soluna.io

- CEOplaybook.co

- Luxor Mining

- Interlude NYC

Subscribe, listen, and rate/review the Customer Experience Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play or Google Podcasts, and find more episodes on our blog. Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for the Customer Experience Podcast in your favorite podcast player.

The thing about entrepreneurship is you areconstantly trying to convince people that the picture in your mind will eventually be reality. Right, but it's just a picture in your mind right now, andthat's why storytelling is so important to paint that picture for them. The singlemost important thing you can do today is to create and deliver a better experiencefor your customers. Learn how sales, marketing and customer success experts create internalalignment, achieved desired outcomes and exceed customer expectations in a personal and human way. This is the customer experience podcast. Here's your host, Ethan Butte leadershipwith long term relationships in mind. Today's guest is an incredibly successful leader andentrepreneur who is founded, built, scaled and sold a couple of technology startups. He's founder and managing editor of CEO Playbook, a publication providing practical sageadvice based on real stories from real CEOS. He advises and serves on the boardsof multiple organizations, including the Harlem Academy in the Center for American entrepreneurship. He currently serves as CEO at Saluna, a company operating at the intersection ofblockchain and renewable energy technologies. John Bell is, are welcome to thecustomer experience podcast. Thanks, Eathan. It's a pleasure to be here.Thanks for having me on the show. Yeah, I'm really looking forward tothe conversation. For folks who are listening, we're going to kind of like levelup and talk a probably a little bit above functional stuff that we tendto get into on an episode by episode basis, and John is in agreat position to do so. But before we get going, John into customerexperience in particular, I previewed a little bit in the introduction and I thinkI even understated it. You are involved in a lot of stuff and youhave a family. Like how do you choose what you get involved in,what you have to pass on and how do you balance at all? That'sa great question. You know I have I like to be helpful. Ifan entrepreneur comes to me and says they need my help thinking through an ideaor entering a market or getting connected into my network, I tend to sayyes. If a family member who wants to wants me to help them thinkthrough something, I tend to say yes, and so I've actually have been tryingto say no more, because I am so passionate about not just sayingYes for the yes sake, but to really do a good job wherever Isay yes, and so unfortunate enough to serve on a number of boards andwhatnot. And, to be honest with you, I've selected those because eitherI feel I can have direct expertise that I can share and provide real valueto that board. I can help them think about things differently, or Ihave a real passion for what they're doing and I believe in what they're doingand I would like to help them realize that. And I think the thirdthing that I think is really important for me is the leader in that organization. How helpful can I be to them? And so I tend to evaluate opportunitieson those three factors. You know, is the mission. There's a missionalign with my core values as a person and my personal mission statement.Does my experience lend itself to being helpful? And then can I help the individual, because every organization is run by a leader, and can I reallybe that person that they can turn to and get some sage advice? AndI try to filter everything through those three lenses. It's fantastic. I lovethat framework and perhaps we'll get into actually, let's just do it now, asmuch as you're willing or able, because I think it's so important,especially as a filter for the types of decisions you've already, you know,described, and I think it's people think about, you know, should Istay in my current situation? Should I say Yes to this opportunity? Ithink so many of them don't have as thoughtful a decision making framework as you'vedeveloped. Can you share anything about your personal mission statement or values, likehow did you develop those? When did you develop those? Is that?I assume it might possibly be an organic thing, but there might be somenonnegotiables that you hold fast to. Like just talk about that a little bit, because I think it's really important to the work that we do. Yeah, so, to be honest with you, I wrote my personal mission and statementfor the first time this past year, and the funny thing is I've beenliving it for some time but I never took the time to write itdown. And the reason I did it last year, and I know youknow, everybody went through a whole series of very challenging times in two thousandand twenty, and I did personally. I lost a very close friend andreally lost my mom to covid and so forth, and they really got methinking about life and sort of where I was going. And you know whatmy end goal was, I guess, for myself and my family. Andthere's a long time mentor and Friend of mine that I've known for I thinkit is about twenty five years or so,...

...and I had reached out to himbecause I was in a really tough place dealing with the loss of myclose friend, and I explained to him that I was sort of I felta little bit sort of without a rudder, you know, like where am I? Where am I going, and is that real? And he sentme his personal mission statement. It was a one page document and he saidthis has been something that has helped me in the past because I felt like, you know, I think I needed to write write it down sort ofwhat I'm doing, and it was the best thing you could have ever done. And he's you know, this is a longtime friend of mine. Hisname is bill and he just has his way of just, you know,kind of getting to what I what you need at that particular moment, andthat's that was perfect. So I went through an exercise I actually asked mywife for some time. I am to myself for a couple days and Ididn't actually go anywhere. I just sort of lock myself in one of therooms in our apartment because there was no really place I could go, andI really sat down and started drafting it. And what you'll see in my personalmission statement or the things that I really care about, which is lifelonglearning, being close to family. I'm passionate about travel and I'm really passionateabout building technology companies in sectors that are sort of emerging. But the missionstatement itself is really focused on doing what I do such that I can stopdoing what I'm passionate about and go do what I really want to do,and that is to help young entrepreneurs that look like me, of color,of, you know, diversified backgrounds, to become entrepreneurs. One question,and sort of this founder process to kind of helps you write a personal missionstatement, and one of the questions they ask you to ask yourself is,you know, what do you want people to say about you, you know, after you're dead? It's kind of a morbid question, but it's kindof important than that. Is Helping you sort of think about what you're goingto be proud about in the end, and what I like to be proudabout is having influenced, you know, a thousand young entrepreneurs to follow theirdreams and become entrepreneurs. And so I want to yield a company that's bigenough such that I don't have to be building companies anymore and go help youngpeople build companies and do that with a lot of them. Thank you forsharing that process and I love that you put a number to it. Youknow, I think that. I think that's important and important part of settingany kind of a goal and I think that foreshadows somewhere else I want togo maybe later in the conversation, but let's start with the customer experience.When I say that to you, John, what does it mean? What doesit conjure? I have this view that people really don't value things asmuch as they think they do. So people acquire products and everybody has aniphone and, you know, people buy clothing, they buy different types ofthings and the reason they buy a particular thing, if you will, orproduct or or engage with a service is really about how it makes them feelin the end. How it makes them feel, how I'll give you anexample. I used to. I don't anymore, but I used to usethis service that basically send you clothes, you pick the clothes and you knowif you whatever you like and then they charge you for it and so forth. And if you like, you can actually go into a essentially store sizefitting room, almost where they'll have the different piece of clothing there and youcan select two different items that you might like and so forth. And Iwent to this location, is one here in New York, Raham and Iwent there and it's like this beautiful tacon this big mansion and they have likethis little coffee shop. You go into it's kind of like a giant livingroom and there's a massive closet that you can't see that they're just start bringingstuff out and you can try clothes, clothes on, and there was thisparticular shirt that I was introduced to and it's made with apparently this super engineeredcotton and so forth. And you know, I took off the shirt I waswearing and I put the shirt on and I just went like wow,and the person who's assisting me just was like yeah, right, that's whatI'm telling you. This thing is amazing and I said I got to havethis shirt. Why did I choose that shirt? Is like, okay,it's a shirt, is guy sleeves, has got buttons, but it justgave me this incredible feeling that I will never forget and I'm a huge fanof the shirt and there are everybody I talk to I say like you gotto get this thing and then suddenly it's an experience that becomes part of mypsyche that I can refer to to enhance the way I experience life, andI think customers experiences about that. It's about delivering the wow effect for customersusing your product or service. You know what you exist to do. Creatingthat for your customers such that they have an emotional response to it is isthe way I like to describe it. So while for me, you know, I spent a lot of time reading...

...about Tony Shay and what he wasdoing and Zappos, and I would use that as sort of a platform totell my company what type of experience I want our customers to have. Inthe past, when I ran a offer company, that whole kickoff session aroundthat and I told everyone to read the book and what I learned from thebook was that it's a him his team a long time to sort of figureout what that meant. But once you got to again the emotional experience thatyou want to generate from your customers, positive emotional experience, obviously that's thecustomer experience and that's what it's all about. Yeah, I agree, it ishow we make people feel. Two elements of your shirt story that Iparticularly enjoyed. One is is the obvious, careful choice of the setting and theatmosphere for even being presented with these opportunities. And then the other layerthat came to mind immediately, just the way you described it, was thestorytelling component of it. Right. That is such an important part of framingand advance how you might feel about this thing. This thing has special properties. It's not your normal gotton shirt and so as you put it on,you can't put it on without that in mind and perhaps even having taken iton in some kind of an emotional way. I also appreciate the way you addedin Tony Shay and the way that you brought it into your organization.Just go one layer deeper there. For me, from an operational standpoint,perhaps at first best company that you found it led into an acquisition. Youwere there for about a decade, by the way. was that where asexactly where it was cool and so you said the whole company or some importantchunk of the company. So Ay, how conscious of you were? Wereyou of customer experience at that time? And then, you know, youdidn't say I introduced this to my customer success manager or my customer service manager. You introduced it to everybody, which is kind of the answer to aquestion I often like to follow up with, which is, you know, isthis more functional role, title, person team, or is this likean ethos of the company? It feels like you obviously fall to the ladder. But how did you operationalize that? You said Tony Shay and his teamtook a while to to integrate it. How was the operationalization of it foryou and your team? And maybe we're there steps to that. Yeah,the great question. So the reason I decided to bring this whole concept intothe company is I wanted to so, first of all, taking a stepback. Once a year I would bring the entire company in. We werefairly distributed. Our headquarters were in Boston and we had folks all over thecountry and abroad, servicing insurance clients and so forth around these different regions,and one of the things I did a CEO at the time was I wouldspend about a day a week, so about twenty percent of my time,talking to customers. I would call them and say hello, it's me,it's John, I'm just checking in how we're doing. You know, howare we doing? What's working, what's not working? And I noticed therewas this period where a lot of my calls weren't that great. They weresaying, we're not having a great experience his, what's his? What's goingon? And I expected you guys to do better here or this could haveworked better. And this might surprise people, but I actually like those calls because, number one, it gives me the opportunity to understand where we canimprove, and continuous improvement was a core tenant, the court principle of ours, and number three, it basically highlights where the company is right now.So if you're falling down or things aren't working so well, it's usually becauseyou're sort of going through some sort of inflection point where things used to workswell but then they don't, and usually it's because you're growing faster or theprojects are getting bigger. Something is different and when I went to sort ofdig into it, I know as two things. One was that we weregoing through sort of a different change in the types of projects we were doingin the team hadn't sort of adjusted to that. And then too, therewas this disconnect between who is the ultimate customer and where do the lines getdrawn among the different teams and are in our organization, because we had aimplementation team and then we have sort of at an operational team and they hadto they had different roles from their own perspective, but from the customer perspectivethey had to kind of work fairly seamlessly together. So the customer would seeone experience from one group and another experience from another group. I'm not goingto say where there was good or bad, but the experience was different in thecustomer was unhappy as a result. So I had to in our annualkickoff, make it clear that this particular year was going to be focused onfixing those problems from last year and I had this whole approach that I wouldtake where I would have sort of one word that would fundamentally define what ourfocus was. That year. For example, there was one year where was allabout making implementations simpler. So we...

...were focusing on, you know,we need to simplify or something like that, and this particular year it was aboutcustomer. That was like the one word that I was using. Ithink I've written an article on CEO play books. Of folks can go checkit out and it touches on this whole concept of commanders intent. So it'svery hard for me to sort of go down to each individual person and sayyou must do three, four, five, six and follow this playbook to makethe customer experience better. Instead, where I like to do is givethem the experience of what a good experience looks like and then have them gothrough the emotional connection to that, the empathy that that's driven by that,and then let them make the choices about what's the right thing to do.And so I had to come up with sort of what to bring to themand I didn't want to use our own customer experience. I think it's somuch better to use examples outside of your field, because people tend to besort of blinded by just their own biases and so forth, and so Idecided to choose a Zappos because I was a fan and I was getting theshoes and I was getting into running and and getting some of their equipment andmy wife started having lots of boxes show up. Actually was just raving aboutit and then I just so happened to have seen one of those apples cofounderstalk about the company. So I decided to pick up the book and Iread the whole experience. Not only did I learned that he was building thecompany around the same time I was building one of my other previous companies,but and went through some of the similar pains, but I saw what theywent through and how they what they were trying to achieve in terms of thecustomer experience. And so what I did is is I shared those stories andthen I gave everybody a copy of the book and told them that it wasmandatory reading for that year, and then I put up the one word commandersintent, if you will, the one word focus for the year and whatwe were going to do, and I just told them it would be simplefor me to measure, I call our customers, and we did put ina host series of systems to measure customers. Sat and you know, referenceibility andso forth and a whole series of more quantitative metrics, but I measuredit by just seeing how my conversations changed with the customers and it didn't kickin right away, but over time people really did think differently about, youknow, that customer experience and we saw a significant change. And so Ithink it's so important that, you know, leaders understand that. People are smartonce they know what it is you're trying to do and where you're going. And the best way to deliver that intent this through story, and sois apple's just head up like great stories, and I leverage that in the presentation. Yeah, really good. Thank you for sharing all that and Iwant to go back to the top. I don't know where you're listening tothis as a listener, but I'm guessing there's probably a sixty two back buttonand you could click that like two or three times. What John just sharedthere was so powerful and I love that it's started with. I took twentypercent of my time as the CEO of this not small organization to get onthe phone and talk to my customers and what it made me think of,John, is that you talked at the end about how you set in allthese measures and metrics that allow us. Some of them are leading, someof them are lagging, probably most of them are lagging. But where youare on the phone call, I'll be at every single phone call. Isa sample of one. But over time, if you're doing this consistently, it'sthis pulse on what's happening today and, most importantly, it goes back tothe way you to find customer experience. You were feeling out how the customerfeels, not just whether they're clicking at ten or a six or afour or, you know, thumbs up thumbs down, or three stars orfour stars, but really just their own stories explaining how and why they feela particular way about working with your team and working with your company and workingwith your product. So it's fantastic. I thank you for that. Inthat book remain it mean it's it's a in this kind of style genre conversationwhat we're doing on the podcast in general. That remains a go to for anyonethat hasn't read it. It holds up over time. It's a really, really good read. For folks who aren't familiar. You're now CEO atSaluna. I introduced it at the in the beginning is operating at the intersectionof blockchain and renewable energy technologies. My understanding is that the renewable energy theway that you're doing it, kind of associating it immediately adjacent to a datacenter, probably takes it beyond blockchain. Is probably any energy intensive data processing. But for folks weren't familiar a this is super interesting to me personally.So you can spare no detail that you might want to include, but justtell us a little bit about it. Like who's your ideal customer? Whatproblem do you solve for them? Yeah, so the core vision for Saluna isto make renewable energy a superpower. We believe it should be a superpower, but there are challenges to make it so and those have a lot todo with where the power source comes from.

It's highly intermittent and there's all sortsof regulatory challenges to get through, infrastructure challenges, etc. But weare trying to use computing to catalyze and go as far us to say acceleratethe renewable energy transition, and the way we do that is we look atthe global infrastructure as sort of one giant into rated system. If you will, and what we're trying to do is to increase the percentage of that infrastructurethat's powered by green power. And so when we started looking at that space, it became clear to us that not only is there's a increasing investment inthat area, the technology is getting better. So the cost of deploying that thattype of energy to the global grid is going down, which is excitingfor the first time, and in fact it's going down much faster and makinggreen energy much cheaper than legacy or, you know, fossil fuel based systems. The challenges as you increase more green to your grid. You have agrid that was initially designed for these, you know, coal powered or thermalpowered plants, and now it's a transition to natural gas, etc. Andthey basically are designed to synchronize the load, the power that's being developed and theconsumption of that power such that there is an exact match and balance.And the reason is because you're can control when that power plant comes online andhow long it runs and so forth, whereas with your renewable energy that's notthe case. Right. So you'll have your demand, but then your supplyof power kind of goes like this. It's it's stochastic to some extent,depending on when the wind is blowing, when the sun is out, anddepending on where you are in the world, that disconnect can be more cute thanothers, and so we look for places where there is that acute disconnectbetween supply and demand and we go to the generation companies, the people whobuild the power plants and provide that power to governments or to private enterprises,etc. We essentially deliver them a solution that mitigates the biggest problem that theyrun into. Power Plant costs multi hundreds of millions of dollars, depending onand the cost is going down, but it's a pretty sizable investment and it'susually done by huge infrastructure companies around the world, and those companies build outthose power plants. They run a huge degree of modeling to determine how muchpower that will produce and then they lock in a business model based on whatthey could sell that power for over a twenty five year period. So theseare long lead time projects. These infrastructure lasts for a long time. Theproblem is once they get running, it was all based on the assumption ofsort of what the man was doing and where that wind would show up andand sometimes what you have is you have the wind blowing a lot because youcan't control weather right. You can, you can't really control when the powercomes online. It has its nature is controlling that. So you have periodswhere you know there's demand going out and then you have sort of like thisspilled energy, energy that's not going anywhere, and that spillage is, in technicalterms, called curtailment. It's curtailment because the grid will tell the powergeneration company to basically turn those things off, because I don't have anything to dowith those electrons and because the generation facility is being powered down. Itcan't generate any revenue because that power is basically not going to get any anyrevenue tie to it. And so their financial model for that twenty five yearperiod starts to experience a host series of stress because they're not generating as muchreturn and so forth. What we do is we bring a computing facility intothe same location and we essentially consume that spilled energy. We pay the supplierfor that energy. We also essentially charge them for bringing this this this technology, if you will, and the net result is that we can return themback to what it would feel like financially to have something that's synchronized so thatwe can absorb that. So, from the customers perspective the Independent Power ProducersPerspective, we have delivered a very elegant solution that is very scalable and highlydistributed. Now, you could say I could have just put like a giantfactory there and use that, but it's very hard to power up and powerdown a factory. But computing is a very flexible and globally distributable resource,right. So so by placing a imputing facility local to an area where there'sbuilt power, I can then sell that resource anywhere in the world, especiallydepending on what type of computing it is. So we've done is we've built aflexible type of data center to specifically designed to work in these types ofenvironments and specifically designed to go after applications in a more batch oriented so youwon't we will be running, you know,...

...your you won't be streaming your moviefrom our data centers, but we might be running the model that determineswhat movie you should watch next in that data center. Now, that's whatwe do for the IPP we mitigate their curtailment, which then by improves theirtheir financial returns and allows them to build more projects. But because they cannow build more projects, because we've mitigated that curtailment, more green power willbe built on the grid, which thereby gets us back to our goal andvision, which is to increase renewable energy penetration and from the grid's perspective,because there's an absorbation layer sponge that can balance the power generation with power withthe demand, we actually help to make the grid more flexible to the increaseand decrease in demand and power and so we're delivering a capability that enhances theglobal infrastructure for energy, thereby put you know, increasing our ability to moveto more green power, which helps us fight the effects of climate change.That's what excites me about SALONA. We're doing something super innovative, no one'sever done before, and how we do it is unique, and we've developedthe whole series of technology. For example, we have lots of data centers aroundthese different locations. Then we mesh them together into sort of a globalfabric, so it creates like this giant cloud that's powered by green energy,and so I like to say we we make local energy available cheap green poweravailable locally and cheap green computing available globally. Love it. I have so manyfollowed questions. We already answered a couple of the questions I had alongthe way, which was, as you were explaining. I was like,okay, you have a you have another customer, which you then did anice job of defining, which is really cool that my first thought was you'vetaken one of the primary objections to someone that might be motivated to do this. You know, the inconsistency. You probably overcame another technological hurdle. Myexpectation is that you're overcoming the fact that maybe two problems. One probably notenough battery storage to take all of the sun while it's shining and hold ituntil there's you know, to even out that demand, which is not nearlyas useful, I don't think, or as elegant as what you're doing withflexible computing, such an interesting approach in and the multiple customers there. Iguess my only follow up is for either or both customers. How much doyou think their engagement with you and your team is driven by, you know, because I feel an ethical undertone, perhaps even overtone, to the wayyou're thinking about it. How much of it is driven by a morality oran ethical component and how much of it is driven by this is an inevitablefuture, or this is only going to get less expensive, or some ofthe other more practical kind of Roe driven like I guess in a way,yeah, I did like there's a little bit of a divide there. You'resatisfying both in my view, but you know you as you communicate with customerson both sides of it. How are they thinking about it on whole?So, on the power generation side, the folks would build power plants.The way they think, they think about it is they want to build moreprojects and this helps them to scale. They can take more or Fan offensivestrategies, if you will, to go after projects because now they can bidin lower prices because they know that they have a better mousetrap for dealing withcurtailment and they also have a defensive strategy in case they have a facility thathad unplanned curtailment. They now have a solution for that and that that allowsthem to build better, bigger and more profitable businesses. On the customers side, where we're providing the compute resources to and use a customers that have aninterest in performing more and more of this computing. The demand and interest forthis type of computing is really limitless and it's causing larger and larger hyperscale facilitiesto be built around the world that, because of their size and scale andredundancy requirements, they actually exacerbate the continuing role of legacy fissil fuels and soforth. And as companies move toward a need to demonstrate that they're building moresustainable businesses their meeting SG goals that are going to be more and more importantover time, they have to look at every aspect of their business and everybusiness is a computing business at this point, and so they're starting to look atwhere their compute loads, if you will, are going and are thoseessentially green places, and so what we're doing is helping them to have analternative to other places where it may not be green or they may not beable to assert that it's green. They know it's green here because we're directlypulling the electrons from the Green Resource and...

I think that over time that ethosis going to become more prevalent. Developers will become interested in where they're theirload runs, you know, even though they sort of don't care right now, but they might want to implement a policy in their applications or their applicationcomponents that say, I want you to have a certain amount of your timewhere you're running on a green resource so that I can deliver more sustainably drivenapplications over time. And so we are an interesting dichotomy in terms of howwe approach things as a company and, of course, because of that,how we service our customers is also an interesting dichotomy. But I think there'salignment in that. Both sides of our market place, if you will,care a lot about the compute coming from green resources. But there's one otherfact on the computer side. It's the cost. So when you look atthese types of applications that we're targeting, their batchel oriented. They run fora long time and what we're finding is that there's a tremendous cost that comeswith using the larger facilities for an application that really doesn't need all of theadvanced features of that facility because those those facilities are built for continuous synchronous applicationssupporting things like zoom and things like that. But if you're running a batch application. Why should you pay for all of that infrastructure if you're really nottaking advantage of it? So we've built facilities that that are more tuned tothis type of application, which we believe will allow us to deliver those servicesas at a much lower cost, which ultimately is drives profit for the userand allows them to do more of these types of applications which, ultimately,depending on who they are, should improve their customer experience. Yeah, Ilove it. I love the way that those are both converging. I alsoappreciate the way you described it and for folks who missed any of that atall, in my view, I agree with John, that some of yourcustomers and a lot of your employees are going to care a lot more aboutthis. This had like your suggestion, John, that you know, tofvelopers are going to start to wonder like, yeah, how is who you know? How is all this getting getting run in processed, how is itbeing carried and I think that people are going to care more and I thinkthe more that we can be conscious of how of these how these things aregoing blended with the idea that the cost is only falling, is just reallyfantastic. I think I'm very hopeful about it. I love that you,I love your approach to to the problem on multiple layers and I have severalfollow up questions but I'm not going to ask them out of respect for yourtime. Jod, I want to change gears just a little bit because Ithink it's really interesting. In addition to founding and building multiple organizations, you'realso involved in venture funding. Your investor, you've raised money yourself. Your advisingyoung companies on how to raise what are some of the key factors earlyon that you see are really really important, perhaps related to customer experience, likewhat are you looking for as someone that you want? What should youngcompanies who are looking to participate in some way with you or the expertise thatyou've developed around these things? How should they be thinking about that approach?What things are you looking for personally, and how much does something like customerexperience, the way you think about it, play into that? Well, Ithink customer experience plays in just on every aspect. I always look fornot just the classic sort of investor Lens driven questions. Right, is thisdefensible? What's the ultimate end game? What's the competitive advantage and what doesa team makeup look like that sort of thing. But I am sort ofthinking about sort of does this new capability need to exist in the world andwhat, ultimately, does it change about the world? And I'm I tendto be more excited about those companies that I think really bring something that willexcite people and sort of wake them up to a whole new way of doingthings. I like to say that the thing about entrepreneurship is you are constantlytrying to convince people that the picture in your mind will eventually be reality.Right, but it's just a picture in your mind right now, and that'swhy storytelling is so important to paint that picture for them, because they maynot understand there's a shift that's under way and they don't they don't yet seeit. But the other thing about entrepreneurship is once that's achieved or accomplished,it's kind of boring. You know, nobody really cares, just it's justa thing. You know that everybody does. I like to crack up that.Sometimes I walk down the street in New York City and I see aphone booth and I'm like wow, I remember that. I remember those things. They still have those things. You know. I point that out tomy daughter, she won't know what that is like. Don't you make phonecalls on your iphone? Yeah, and so it's just a thing anymore.And so the suggestion that I have for entrepreneurs when they're engaging either with meor anybody else, is to really think more about you actually, the entrepreneur, and what you're going to need to be be able to do in orderto make things boring right, go from...

...being exciting to boring. And inmy experience, what I have learned from my own experience and watching other entrepreneursis that the secret is that what you need to do is change over timeand as your company changes, how you go to market and the maturity ofthe business and what's happening, it's going to require you, as the leaderof the organization, to go through a series of changes and you have tobe prepared for that. And that's where the anxiety starts to build, whenyou're not aware that that's what's happening, and that's when things start to breakand so forth. So I like to spend time to some extent, testingto see if the entrepreneur is aware of that and teach them about what's goingto be important, what's important now and over time with what's going to beimportant. And most of the time, if they've got a good business,that's a good business idea. It's them that has to change and they haveto be prepared for what that looks like for them, especially if they're goingto be the CEO of the company. Super How much you know. I'veheard you on your own podcast, where you are hosted, on your ownpodcast kingdom, which your number of interesting conversations. How we got super interestedin the work that you while are doing at Saluna to I know that youwill hold a lot of important principles from a leadership perspective and I would guessthat these are the kinds of things as your as you're coaching a young entrepreneur, probably to pay attention to. For example, I would assume just whatI know about you is that you probably have a biased toward a stakeholder theoryover a shareholder theory. You obviously value long term relationships. You have placeda high value on diversity, diversity of thought and diversity of representation in decisionmakingand conversation. What role do you think those play in employee experience customer experienceand successful movement from something exciting that you want to passionately tell stories about tosomething boring. Yeah, well, I would say it plays a big role. You first have to to think very carefully about who you're serving, andthe simple answer is always your customers. But you may not know who thosecustomers are from the day one. Actually most, most young companies don't reallyknow who they're their ultimate customer is. They're trying to find out who theyare. And so what I have found is that the key to building agreat business and getting a team really focused is, number one, having aset of a really set of core values that are going to be consistent overtime. You may add to them, but they probably shouldn't change that much. And so much of that has to do with who you are personally asa founder and what you care about and what you're passionate about. But somuch of it has a lot to do with the type of business that youknow you're going to be going after. For example, for instance at Saluna, we really had to have a real debate around, you know, athe core of our business is, you know, we're able to get areally low cost raw input right asset that we then turn into computing that wecan sell on a global basis. So you could argue that it doesn't haveto be green power, just has to be cheap power and it is soimportant for us that. Well, is that? What's our core tenant like? Do we care about that? And we you have to make a realdecision there and stick to it. And we have had so many opportunities wherepeople try to convince us that this aligns with our goal and we're saying,hold on a second, we have this framework we use. It doesn't align. So we're just going to say no. And it's so refreshing because I couldbe hiking in the adirondacks and I know that the team will make thesame the same decision. So getting to court principles helps you a lot whenyou don't know who your customer is. But once you know who your customeris, you want to continue to optimize around improving that customer experience over time, understanding what it is, what they value, what drives emotions for them, what alternatives do they have, because you know things change right they getboring, and making sure that you're always right there with them. You're inthat conversation on a continuous basis with them. That's why I do the calls andI think it's so important to sort of always be out there in frontof the customer and understanding how you're thinking about things and help them think abouttheir strategy such that you can be a real part of it in the lasttesting. I think. So there's his court, a course set of valuesknowing your customer and spending time with them, so so you have a really coreconversation with them. And then I think the last thing is the people. When you get past the brand, the company, the product, it'splace in the market, the investors and so forth, it's a loosely coupledset of people who volunteer to come to work for this enterprise every day.Spend time understanding what drives them to what drives the emotions for them, howare they wired, what do they care a about and how they engage witheach other, and create an environment whereby...

...there is a strong degree of empathyfor those differences and people understand how to engage and communicate with each other andultimately they'll work much better with each other. Teach them how to make good,solid decisions. You know, use your own experience to do that andteach them how to do that on their own and then encourage them to liveinside of two things. One is conflict. Kind offlict is good. I waslike to say argument is good. Let's argue and then let's be friendsat the end, because it feels like we really work through a decision theright way. And then, I think the second thing is continuous improvement,finding ways to get better at what we do as a group to, youknow, continue to grow as as a business, and it starts by thepeople continuing to improve themselves. So much good advice there again. Sixty twoback button. I say it from time to time, but but you know, I say it because I need it. I'm looking forward to hearing this oneback myself, and so much what you shared. Their reminded me ofthe journey I've been on here at bombomb, software company based in Colorado Springs.You know, I joined almost a decade ago and one of our twocofounders woke up in the middle of the night knocked out a whole bunch ofthese core values that you know, and they started is like short phrases andeventually got cotified into five key words that have, you know, clear understandingout of them. We find ways to celebrate them, but it's been sokey to our success, as has customer contact. We do video, solike a lot of video communication with customers live, like we're doing now,but then also a synchronous lie to and any I think encouraging continuous improvement isthe way that we improve as individuals, of course, and as a group. It's one of my most favorite things about hosting this podcast is sharing itwith my team members. It's awesome to build an audience, but it's awesometo spend time learning from someone like you personally, but it's also this abilityto make it part of our ongoing conversation, just as you shared delivering happiness withall your employee so that everyone is having a similar conversation about a similartime. Sharing a conversation like this, John, with my team members andtalking about is one of the greatest privileges of hosting this show. So forfolks who are who've enjoyed this episode, as I was preparing for it,it made me think about episode one hundred and twenty six with Coal Baker bag. While she's founder of Cool Audrey, she's also chief experienced architect at RedHat software company and we called that episode the role of kindness in your company. She's very focused on the feeling components, the empathy components, some of thethe relationship building, healthy conflict and some of these things that John justshared with us and actually has been sharing over this entire period with us.So That's one hundred and twenty six with cold Baker Bagwell, and then episodenineteen with David Cancel. Multiple Time Software Company found her most recently with drift, but several others, with several healthy exits, and he was a lotof where you were, John. We ended up titling that one. Why? Customer experiences the only differentiator left. You know that emotional resonance, inthat connection that we make with people is ultimately what matters, because that's whatmatters to each of us, is as individual human beings, as groups ofpeople, and then ultimately in the various forms of relationship we have with othercompanies, because companies are just people after all. Yeah, I know he'she's a he's an amazing guy. He's just a great CEO and I've hadn'thad them on my show too. It's great, great conversation. I'm sureI've gotta number. Was that when you said episode nineteen. And so thecool thing about David in this and and you, you know, same withyou. I'm sure, like episode nineteen of the show. I think theour conversation jot is going to be one hundred forty five, well established,a much bigger audience than there was in the beginning. I feel like I'mmaking better shows now that I was in the beginning. Like any ITERANTIC process, I'm always looking to make improvements and David was one of those guys whoobviously, like you, a lot of commitments, a lot of demands onhis time, probably has to say no to more things than he really wantsto, but he said yes, like so many other people early on,before the show really properly existed, said yes, and I just think thatthat spirit of giving and and and the elevation in the conversation to you know, as I felt like you had a lot of thoughts that transcend the immediatekind of practical nature of what we're talking about here, of improving our businessesand providing better experiences for customers. It was the same thing with him too. So I'm glad you. I'm not surprised that you that you know eachother, I'm still very pleased by it. That's great. Yeah, So,before I let you go, John, you even super generous with your time. I so appreciate it. I'd love to give you a couple ofopportunities. The first is to thinker mentioned someone who's had a positive impact onyour life, for your career, and then, secondly, a not ora shout out to a company or brand that you personally appreciate for the experiencethat they deliver for you as a customer. No, that's great. So thefirst person I would like to give...

...a shout out to is my wife. She and I met in college over twenty five years ago. Man,I think it might be thirty years, and we were friends for eight straightyears before we became we felt it. We switched our friendship to loving relationshipand I've never looked back. And it's because I enjoy the opportunity to bemarried to my best friend and it's just been fantastic. And she's now amother of to two girls and we are very blessed. But more importantly,she's also my you know, she's like my sounding board for a lot ofthe decisions and sort of she sees me when I'm sort of holding holding myhead in my hands with tough decisions that I'm making, and she really providesme a great perspective on how to think through things and when to just moveon. You know, I think that's been great for me. A brandthat I would say, as a customer, we are really excited about and happywith the experience is a company called Lux or, Lux or mining.They essentially are cool operator for cryptocurrency mining data centers where you can pool yourcomputing resources into a giant pool and that's how you sort of monetize the assetand so forth. They built a incredible technology, a company that does thingscompletely different, more transparent and open, and they have lots of ideas aboutthe future for how, you know, the role of these types of companieswill will be, and it's just always a joy to talk to them becausethey're really sort of thinking ahead of things. That that's that experience, as Iwas talking about, where I'm really excited about what they're going to doand when they're when they're done and when we're done together, it'll be boring, but then we can focus on the next exciting thing. So look soreas an example of one of those companies that I experience as a customer inour field. Personally, though, there's a coffee shop literally around the cornerfrom where I live. It's it's called interlude, and right around this time, or maybe an hour from now, I usually take my sort of dailyconstitution. I walk. I walk for about an hour to just to meditateand disconnect from Zoom, and I'll stop in there and get a Macha,and the customer experience is a whole experience. Before I even show up, they'realready calling my name. Hey, John, you want the John Matcha. They're already, you know, making I I ordered it a Chi andthey show up with two drinks and I'm like what, I only ordered onedrink and it says, well, we saw you coming and so we startedmaking your match. You know, if you don't like the if you don'tlike to Chi, you know, just you have you know, you knowyou have your fallback. You know, I just felt that that was youknow, that just blew me away again. You know, it's just they understandthat to be a community service like that, you know, providing andthey focus on sort of, you know, really high quality preparation. It's asmall place, so it's not really about sort of hanging out there,but they really focus on the experience being a connection between them and their passion, which is to make homebake goods and and coffee and teas and what not, and the community that they're in, and so it's just amazing. Youknow, I really enjoy them too. It's fantastic. Thank you for sharingboth of those and of course that shout out to your wife for all ofthe well, just the gift that she is to your to your life and, it sounds like, even to your work. So I hope that Ididn't make you late for your Chi or your Macha, whatever you're feeling today. But before I let you go, I love you for for folks whoare obviously stuck around for all this time with us. They obviously might wantto follow up with you or CEEO playbook or Saluna or any of the otherwork that you're involved in. Where would you send people who've enjoyed this?If you are interested in what we're doing it Saluna, you should go toSaluna. Dot ioh. That's well. You're find lots of information about theteam and we're working on in our projects and we're going to be updating thewebsite. So definitely go check it out. And if you want to learn moreabout my views of about leadership and the role of the CEO and ina growing company, please check out my blog. It's CEO Playbook Dot CEO. CEEO PLAYBOOKCO and they are you'll find a series of articles on us ahost of different topics and just choose one and there's a newsletter that comes withit so you can get updates on interesting new ones, and I curate abunch of articles around the web to on a weekly basis. That gives CEOSa bit of inspiration every Mondays. I call it mental candy. So that'swhere I would send folks. Those two places super he's also a great followon Linkedin. The also shares information like some of those. I'll round upall these links, including interlude. Next time I'm in the city. I'llhave to check them out so you you can find video clips links to someof these things that John shared in more at bombobcom slash podcast, we alwaysround these up there John, I thank you so much for your time.We definitely went over time and I just enjoyed it so much and learned aplenty. Thanks for having me than this was great. I really appreciate thequestions and and really enjoyed, really enjoyed...

...the conversation. Clear Communication, humanconnection, higher conversion. These are just some of the benefits of adding videoto the messages you're sending every day. It's easy to do with just alittle guidance, so pick up the official book. Rehumanize Your Business. Howpersonal videos accelerate sales and improve customer experience. Learn more in order today at BombombcomBook. That's bomb bombcom book. Thanks for listening to the customer experiencepodcast. Remember, the single most important thing you can do today is tocreate and deliver a better experience for your customers. Continue Learning the latest strategiesand tactics by subscribing right now in your favorite podcast player, or visit Bombombcompodcasts.

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