The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode 145 · 3 months ago

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


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



- 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 are constantly trying to convince people that the picture in your mindwill eventually be reality right, but it's just a picture in your mind rightnow and that's why I storytelling is so important to paint that picture forthem. The single most important thing you cando today is to create and deliver a better experience for your customers,learn how sales marketing and customer success experts create internalalignment, achieve desired outcomes and exceed customer expectations in apersonal and human way. This is the customer experience podcast. Here'syour host, Ethan bute leadership with long term relationships in mind.Today's guest is an incredibly successful leader, an entrepreneur whois founded, built, scaled and sold a couple of technology startups, he'sfounder in managing editor of CEO Playbook, a publication providingpractical sage advice based on real stories from real CEOS. He advises andsearch on the boards of multiple organizations, including the HarlemAcademy, in the Center for American entrepreneurship. He currently serves aCEO at Saluni, a company operating at the intersection of black chain andrenewable energy technologies. John belisair welcome to the customerexperience podcast. Thanks Ethan, it's a pleasure to be here thanks for havingme on the show yeah, I'm really looking forward to the conversation for folkswho are listening, we're going to kind of like level up and talk a probably alittle bit above, functional stuff that we tend to get into on an episode byepisode basis and Jonas in a great position to do so. But before we getgoing John into customer experience in particular, I previewed it a little bitin the introduction, and I think I even understated it. You were involved in alot of stuff and you have a family like how do you choose what you get involvedin what you have to pass on and how do you balance it? All! That's a greatquestion. You know I have I like to be helpful. If anentrepreneur comes to me and says they need my help, thinking through an ideaor entering a market or getting connected into my network, I tend tosay yes, if a family member who wants to wants me to help them think throughsomething I tend to say yes, and so I've actually have been trying to sayno more, because I am so passionate about not just sayingYes for yes sake, but to really do a good job wherever I say yes and sounfortunate enough to serve on a number of boards and what not and to be honestwith you, I've selected those because either I feel I can have directexpertise that I can share and provide real value to that board. I can helpthem think about things differently or I have a real passion for what they'redoing and I believe in what they're doing, and I would like to help themrealize that, and I think the third thing that I think is really importantfor me- is the leader in that organization. How helpful can I be tothem, and so I tend to evaluate opportunities on those three factorsyou know. Is the mission there's a mission, a line with my court values asa person in my person, omission statement. Does my experience lenditself to being helpful and then can I help the individual, because everyorganization is run by a leader, and can I really be that person that theycan turn to and get some sage advice, and I try to filter everything throughthose three lenses? It's fantastic. I love that framework and perhaps we'llget into actually, let's just do it now as much as you're willing or able,because I think it's so important, especially as a filter for the types ofdecisions you've already you know described, and I think it's peoplethink about you know. Should I stay in my current situation. Should I say Yesto this opportunity? I think so many of them don't have as thoughtful ofdecision making framework as you've developed. Can you share anything aboutyour personal mission statement or values like how do you develop thosewhen did you develop? Those is that I assume it might possibly be an organicthing, but there might be some non negotiables that you hold fast to likejust talk about that a little bit, because I think it's really importantto the work that we do yeah. So to be honest with you, I wrote my personalmation statement for the first time this past year and the funny thing is:I've been living it for some time, but I never took the time to write it downand the reason I did it last year and I know you know, everybody went through awhole series of very challenging times in two thousand and twenty, and I didpersonally, I lost a very close friend and really lost my mom to Ovid and soforth, and it really got me thinking about life and sort of where I wasgoing, and you know what my own goal was. I guess for myself and my familyand there's a long time, mentor and Friend of mine that I've known for T, Ithink it's about twenty five years or..., and I had reached out to himbecause I was in a really tough place, dealing with the loss of my closefriend, and I explained to him that I was sort of, I felt a little bit sortof without a runner. You know like where,where am I going and is that real and he sent me his personal mission statement was a onepage document and he said this has been something that has helped me in thepast, because I felt like you know. I think I needed to write, write it downsort of what I'm doing, and it was the best thing he could have ever done andhe's you know. This is a long time friend of mine. His name is bill, and he just has his way of just you knowkind of getting to what I what you need at that particular moment and that'sthat was perfect. So I went through an exercise. I actually asked my wife forsome time to myself for a couple days and I didn't actually go anywhere. Ijust sort of locked myself in one of the rooms in our apartment, becausethere was no really place. I could go and I really sat down and starteddrafting it and what you'll see in my personal mission statement or thethings that I really care about, which is life, long learning being close tofamily, I'm passionate about travel and I'm really passionate about buildingtechnology 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 isto help young entrepreneurs that look like me of color of you know:diversified backgrounds to become entrepreneurs, one question and sort ofthis founder process to kind of helps. Youwrite a personal mission statement and one of the questions they ask you toask yourself: is you know what do you want people to say about you? You knowafter you're dead, it's kind of a morbid question, but it's kind ofimportant than that is helping you sort of think about what you're going to beproud about in the end, and what I like to be proud about is, having influencedyou, know a thousand young entrepreneurs to follow their dreamsand become entrepreneurs, and so I want to yield a company- that's big enough,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 youfor sharing that process, and I love that you put a number to it. You know,I think that I think that's important, an important part of setting any kindof a goal, and I think that for shadows somewhere else, I want to go maybelater in the conversation. But let's start with the customer experience whenI say that to you John, what does it mean? What is it conjure? I had this view that people reallydon't value things as much as they think they do so. People acquireproducts and everybody has an I phone and you know people buy clothing, theybuy different types of things and the reason they by a particular thing, if you will aproduct or or engage with a service, is really about how it makes them feel in the end, how it makes them feel. HowI'll give you an example I used to. I don't any more, but I used to use thisservice that basically send you clothes. You pick the clothes and you know ifyou whatever you like, and then they charge you forward and so forth, and ifyou like, you can actually go into a essentially store size, fitting roomalmost where they'll have the different piece of clothing there and you can select the different items thatyou might like and so forth, and I went to this location is one here in NewYork, where I am and I went there and it's like this beautiful, it's like inthis big mansion and they have like this little coffee shop. You go intoit's kind of like a giant living room and there's a massive closet that youcan't see that they'll just start bringing stuff out and you can tryclothes cos on and there was this particular shirt that I was introducedto and it's made with. Apparently this super engineered, cotton and so forth,and you know I took off the shot I was wearing and I put this shirt on and Ijust went like wow and the the person who's assisting mejust was like yeah right. That's what I'm telling you! This thing is amazingand I said I got to have this shirt. Why did I choose that shirt is likeokay, it's a shirt is I got sleeves has got buttons, but it just gave me thisincredible feeling that I will never forget and I'm a huge fan of the shirtand every everybody I talked to. I say like you got to get this thing and thensuddenly it's an experience that becomes part of my psyche that I canrefer to to enhance the way I experience life and I think that's someexperiences about that. It's about delivering the wow effect for customersusing your product or service. You know what you exist to do, creating that foryour customers such that they they have an emotional response to. It is the wayI like to describe it so while for me, you knoww, I spent a lot of time,reading about Tony she and what he was...

...doing in Zaps, and I would use that assort of a platform to tell my company what type of experience I want ourcustomers to have in the past when I ran a software company. The whole kickoff session around that, and I told everyone to read the book and what Ilearned from the book was that it took him his team a long time to sort offigure out what that meant. But once you got to again the emotionalexperience that you want to generate from your customers, positive emotionalexperience. Obviously that's the customer experience and that's whatit's all about yeah. I agree. It is how we make people feel two elements ofyour shirt story that I particularly enjoyed. One is: is the obvious,careful choice of the setting and the atmosphere for even being presentedwith these opportunities, and then the other later that came to mindimmediately just the way you described it was the story telling component ofit right. That is such an important part of framing in advance. How youmight feel about this thing. This thing has special properties, it's not yournormal cotton shirt and so, as you put it on, you can't put it on without thatin mind and perhaps even having taken it on in some kind of an emotional way.I also appreciate the way you added in Tony She and the way that you broughtit into your organization. Just go one later deeper there for me from anoperational standpoint, perhaps at first best company that you found inled into an acquisition. You were there for about a decade by the way. It wasthat, where that's exactly where it was yes cool, and so you said, the wholecompany or some important chunk of the company so ay. How conscious of youwere? Were you of customer experience at that time? And then you know youdidn't say I introduced this to my customer success manager or my customerservice manager. You introduced it to everybody, which is kind of the answerto a question I often like to follow up with, which is you know, is this morefunctional role, title Person Team, or is this like an ethos of the company?It feels like you obviously fall to the latter, but how did you operational izethat you said Tony? She and his team took a while to to integrate it. Howwas the operational ization of it for you and your team and maybe where theirsteps to that ye a great question, so the reason I decided to bring thiswhole concept into the company is, I wanted to so. First of all to takin a step backonce a year, I would bring the entire company in we were friarly distributed.Our headquarters were in Boston and we had folks all over the country andabroad, servicing insurance, clients and so forth. Around these differentregions, and one of the things I did a se at the time was, I would spendabout a day a week so about twenty percent of my time talking to customers.I would call them and say hello, wish me it's John I'm just checking in howwe're doing you know. How are we doing what's working? What's not working, andI noticed there was this period where a lot of my calls weren't that great theywere saying we're not having a great experience. His hat is what's going onand I expected you guys to do better here, or this could have worked betterand this might surprise people, but I actually like those calls becausenumber one. It gives me the opportunity to understand where we can improve andcontinuous improvement was a core tenant, the court principle of ours andnumber three. It basically highlights where the company is right now, so, if you're fallingdown or things aren't working so well, it's usually because you're sort ofgoing through some sort of inflection point where things used to works well,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 noticed two things. One was that we were going through sort ofa different change in the types of projects we were doing in the team. Hadit sort of adjusted to that and into there was this disconnect between who,as the ultimate customer and where did the lines get drawn among the differentteams in our organization, because we had a implementation team and then wehave sort of an operational team and they had to. They had different rolesfrom their own perspective, but from the customer perspective they had tokind of work fairly seamlessly together. So the customer would see oneexperience from one group and another experience from another group, I'm notgoing to 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 annual kick off, make itclear that this particular year was going to be focused on fixing thoseproblems from last year, and I had this whole approach that I would take whereI would have sort of one word that would fundamentally define what ourfocus was that year. For example, there was one year where it was all aboutmaking implementation simpler, so we...

...were focusing on. You know we need tosimplify or something like that and this particular year it was aboutcustomer. That was like the one word that I was using. I think I've rittenan article on Co play books, so folks can go check it out and it touches onthis whole concept of commanders in tent. So it's very hard for me to sortof go down to each individual person and say you must do three four five sixand follow this play book to make the customer experience better instead wayI like to do is give them the experience of what a good experience looks like andthen have them go through the emotional connection. To that. The empathy thatthat's driven by that and then let them make the choices about. What's theright thing to do, and so I had to come up with sort of what to bring to them,and 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 I decidedto choose Zappo because I was a fan and I was getting the shoes and I wasgetting into running and getting some of their equipment and my wife started.Having lots of boxes show up and she was just raving about it, and then Ijust so happened to have seen one of those appose co founders talk about thecompany, so I decided to pick up the book and I read the whole experience.Not only did I learn that he was building the company around the sametime. I was building one of my other previous companies and went throughsome of the similar pains, but I saw what they went through and how whatthey were trying to achieve in terms of the customer experience, and so what Idid is is I shared those stories and then I gave everybody a copy of thebook and told them that it was mandatory reading for that year andthen I put up the one word: Commander's intent a few wild, the one word focusfor the year and what we were going to do, and I just told them it would besimple for me to measure. I call our customers and we did put in a wholeseries of systems to measure customer sat, and you know referencin and soforth and a whole series of more quantitative metrics. But I measured itby just seeing how my conversations changed with the customers and itdidn't kick in right away, but over time people really did thinkdifferently about. You know that customer experience and we saw asignificant change, and so I think it's so important that you know leadersunderstand that people are smart once they know what it is you're trying todo and where you're going and the best way to deliver that intent. Thisthrough story and so Zapps just had a like great stories, and I leverage thatin 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 to this asa listener, but I'm guessing there's probably a sixty second back button andyou could click that, like two or three times what John just shared there wasso powerful, and I love that it startedwith. I took twenty percent of my time as the CEO of this, not smallorganization, to get on the phone and talk to my customers, and what it mademe think of John is that we talked at the end about how you set in all thesemeasures and metrics that allow us some of them are leading. Some of them arelagging. Probably most of them are lagging, but where you are on the phonecall ill, be it every single phone call as a sample of one, but over time, ifyou're doing this consistently it's this pulse on what's happening todayand, most importantly, it goes back to the way you define customer experience.You were feeling out how the customer feels not just whether they're clickingat ten or six or a four or you know, thumbs up thumbs down or three stars orfour stars, but really just their own stories explaining how and why theyfeel a particular way about working with your team and working with yourcompany and working with your product. So it's fantastic! Thank you for thatin that book. For me, I mean it's a in this kind of style, genre conversation,what we're doing on the podcast in general that remains a go to for anyonethat hasn't read it. It holds up over times a really really good. Read forfolks who aren't familiar you're now, CEO at Salona, I introduced it, it inthe beginning is operating at the intersection of block chain andrenewable energy technologies. My understanding is that the renewableenergy, the way that you're doing it kind of associating and immediatelyadjacent to a data center, probably takes a beyond black chain, is probablyany energy intensive data processing, but for folks weren't familiar Ay. Thisis super interesting to me personally, so you can spare no detail that youmight want to include, but just tell us a little bit about it like who's, yourideal customer. What problem do you sell for them yeah? So the core visionfor Salona is to make renewable energy a super power. We believe it should bea super power, 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 andthere's all sorts of regulatory challenges to get throughinfrastructure challenges et ce, but we are trying to use computing to catalyzeand I go as far as to say: accelerate the renewable energy transition and theway we do that is we look at the global infrastructure, has sort of one giantintegrated system if you will, and what we're trying to do is to increase thepercentage of that infrastructure. That's powered by green power, and sowhen we started looking at that space, it became clear to us that not only isthere's a increasing investment in that area. The technology is getting better.So the cost of deploying that that type of energy to the global grid is goingdown which is exciting for the first time and in fact it's going down muchfaster and making green energy much cheaper than legacy, or you know,fossil fuel based systems. The challenges, as you increase more greento your grid. You have agreed that was initially designed for these. You knowcold power or thermal powered plants and now it's a transition to naturalgas et CE and they basically are designed to synchronize the load, theempower that's being developed in the consumption of that power such that heis an exact match and balance, and the reason is because you can control whenthat power plant comes online and how long it runs and so forth, whereas withe renewable energy. That's not the case right so you'll have your demand, butthen your supply of power kind of goes like this. It's DUCAS IC to some extentdepending on when the wind is blowing when the sun is out and depending onwhere you are in the world that disconnect can be more acute thanothers. And so we look for places where there is that acute disconnect betweensupply and demand, and we go to the generation companies, the people whobuild the power plants and provide that power to government or to privateenterprises et CETERA. We essentially deliver them a solution that mitigatesthe biggest problem that they run into. Compare plant costs multi hundreds ofmillions of dollars depending on and the causes going down, but it's apretty sizable investment and it's usually done by huge infrastructurecompanies around the world and those companies build out those power plants.They run a huge degree of modeling to determine how much power that willproduce, and then they lock in a business model based on what they couldsell that power for over a twenty five year period. So these are long leadtime projects these infrastructure last for a long time, the problem is oncethey get running. It was all based on the assumption of sort of what the manwas doing and where that wind would show up and then sometimes what youhave is you have the wind blowing a lot, because you can't control whether rightyou can you can't really control when the power comes online? It has itsnature is controlling that. So you have periods where you know, there's demandgoing out and then you have sort of like this spilled energy, energy,that's not going anywhere and that spillage is in technical terms, calledcurtailment. It's curtailment because the grid will tell the power generationcompany to basically turn those things off, because I don't have anything todo with those electrons and because the generation facility is being powereddown, it can't generate any revenue, because that power is basically notgoing to get any any revenue tied to it and so their financial model. For thattwenty five year period starts to experience a whole series of of stressbecause they're not generating as much return and so forth. What we do is webring a computing facility into the same location and we essentiallyconsume that spilled energy. We pay the supplier for that energy. We alsoessentially charged them for bringing this this this technology, if you willand the net result, is that we can return them back to what it would feellike financially to have something: That's synchronized, so that we canabsorb that. So from the customers perspective, the Independent PowerProducers Perspective, we have delivered a very elegant solution that is veryscalable and highly distributed. Now you could say I could have just putlike a giant factory there and use that, but it's very hard to power up andpower down a factory, but computing is a very flexible and globallydistributable resource right, so so by placing a imputing facility local to anarea where the spilt power, I can then sell that resource anywhere in theworld, especially depending on what type of computing it is so we've done.Is We built a flexible type of data center that specifically designed towork in these types of environments and specifically designed to go afterapplications in are more batch oriented? So you want, we will bee running. Youknow you won't be streaming your movie...

...from our data senters, but we might berunning the motto that determines what movie You should watch next in thatdata center. Now, that's what we do for the IPP we mitigate their curtailment,which then by improves their financial returns and allows them to build moreprojects, but because they can now build more projects, because we'vemitigated that curtailment more green power will be built on the grid whichthereby gets us back to our goal and vision, which is to increase renovareenergy, a penetration and from the grits perspective, because there's anabsorbed sion layer, sponge that can balance the power generation with power.With the demand we actually helped to make the grid more flexible to theincrease in decrease in demand and power, and so we're delivering acapability that enhances the global infrastructure for energy, thereby, butyou know, increasing our ability to move to more green power which helps us fight the effects of climate change.That's what excites me about Saloon Er, we're doing something super innovative,no one's ever done before and how we do. It is unique and we've developed awhole series of technology. For example, we have lots of data centers aroundthese different locations. Then we mesh them together into sort of a goblefabric, 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. Gobley love itthat I have so many followed questions be already answered a couple of thequestions I had along the way, which was, as you were, explaining I was like.Okay, you have a you, have another customer which you then did a nice jobof defining, which is really cool, that my first thought was you've taken oneof the primary objections to someone that might be motivated to do this. Youknow the inconsistency you probably overcame another technological hurdle.My expectation is that you're, overcoming the fact that maybe twoproblems, one probably not enough battery storage to take all of the sunwhile it's shining and hold it until there's, you know to even out thatdemand, which is not nearly as useful, I don't think or as elegant as whatyou're doing with flexible computing such an interesting approach and themultiple customers there. I guess my only follow up is for either or bothcustomers. How much do you think their engagement with you and your team isdriven by you know, because I feel an ethicalundertone, perhaps even overtone to to the way you're thinking about it, howmuch of it is driven by a morality or an ethical component, and how much ofit is driven by this is an inevitable future, or this is only going to getless expensive or some of the other more practical kind of Roi, driven likeI guess, in a way yeah. I D, like there's a little bit ofa divide there, you're satisfying both in my view, but you know as you as youcommunicate with customers on both sides of it. How are they thinkingabout it on whole? So, on the power generation side, the folks who buildpower plants the way they think they think about it? is they want to buildmore projects? And this helps him to scale. They can take more orphanoffensive strategies if you will to go after projects, because now they canbid in lower prices, because they know that they have a better mouse trap fordealing with curtailment, and they also have a defensive strategy in case theyhave a facility that had unplanned curtailment. They now have a solutionfor that and that that allows them to build better, bigger and moreprofitable businesses on the customers side, where we're providing the computeresources to and use their customers that have an interest in performingmore and more of this computing. The demand and interest for this type ofcomputing is really limitless and it's causing larger and larger hyper scalefacilities to be built around the world that, because of their size and scaleand redundancy requirements, they actually exacerbate the continuing roleof lie, a CEFALO fuels and so forth, and as companies move toward a need todemonstrate that they're building more sustainable businesses, there meetingSt goals that are going to be more and more important over time. They have tolook at every aspect of their business and every business is a computingbusiness. At this point, and so they're starting to look at where their computeloads, if you will are going and are those essentially green places, and sowhat we're doing is helping them to have an alternative to other placeswhere it may not be green or they may not be able to assert that its green.They know it's green here because we're directly pulling the electrons from theGreen Resource, and I think that over...

...time, that ethos is going to becomemore prevalent developers will become interested in where their their loadruns. You know, even though they sort of don't care right now, but they mightwant 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 moresustainable driven applications over time, and so we are an interesting Dieconomy in terms of how we approach things as a company and, of course,because of that how we service our customers is also an interestingdicotomy. But I think, there's alignment in that both sides of ourmarket place, if you will care a lot about the compute coming from greenresources, but there's one other fact on the compute side: It's the cost. Sowhen you look at these types of applications that were targeting theirbachelor oriented, they run for a long time and what we're finding is thatthere's a tremendous cost that comes with using the larger facilities for anapplication that really doesn't need all of the advanced features of thatfacility, because those those facilities are built for continuoussyncretist applications, supporting things like zoom and and things likethat. But if you're running a bash application, why should you pay for allof that infrastructure if you're really not taking advantage of it? So we builtfacilities that that are more tuned to this types of application, which webelieve will allow us to deliver. Those services is m at a much lower cost,which ultimately is drives profit for the user and allowsthem to do more of these types of the applications which, ultimately,depending on who they are, should improve their customer experience. Yeah. I love it. I love the way thatthose are both converging. I also appreciate the way described it and forfolks who missed any of that at all. In my view, I agree with John that some ofyour customers and a lot of your employees are going to care a lot moreabout this. This had like your suggestion, John, that you know,developers are going to start to wonder like yeah. How is who you know? How isall this getting getting run in processed? How is it being carried, andI think that people are going to care more, and I think the more that we canbe conscious of how of these? How these things are going blended with the ideathat the cost is only falling is just really fantastic. I think I'm veryhopeful about it. I love that you. I love your approach to to the problem onmultiple layers and I have several follow questions, but I'm not going toask them out of respect for your time, the God I want to change gears just alittle bit, because I think it's really interesting and in addition of foundingand building multiple organizations, you're also involved in venture funding.Your investor you've raised money yourself, your advising young companieson how to raise what are some of the key factors early on that you see, arereally 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 theexpertise that you've developed around these things? How should they bethinking about that approach? What things are you looking for personallyand how much does something like customer experience, the way you thinkabout it play into that? Well, I think customer experience plays in just aboutevery aspect. I always look for not just the classic sort of investor Lensdriven questions right. Is this defensible? What's the ultimate andgame? What's the competitive advantage, and what does the team make up? Looklike that sort of thing, but I am sort of thinking about sort of does this newcapability need to exist in the world and what ultimately does it changeabout the world, and I I tend to be more excited about those companies thatI think really bring something that will excite people and sort of wakethem up to a whole new way of doing things. I like to say that the thingabout entrepreneurship is, you are constantly trying to convince peoplethat the picture in your mind will eventually be reality right, but it'sjust a picture in your mind right now and that's why I storytelling is soimportant to paint that picture for them because they may not understandthere's a shift that's under way and they don't they don't yet see it. Butthe other thing about entrepreneurship is once that's achieved or accomplished,it's kind of boring. You know, nobody really cares. Just it's just a thing.You know that everybody does I like to crack up that. Sometimes I walk downthe street in New York City and I see a phone booth and I'm like wow. Iremember that I remember those things they still have those things you know Ipointed down to my daughter. She don't know what that is like. Don't you makephone calls on your ephone, you know, and so it's just a thing anymore, andso the suggestion that I have for entrepreneurs when they're engagingeither with me or any anybody else, is to really think more about you actuallythat the entrepreneur and what you're going to need to be able to do in orderto make things boring right, go from...

...being exciting to boring. And in myexperience what I have learned from my own experience and watching otherentrepreneurs is that the secret is that what you need to do is change overtime and 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 leader ofthe organization to go through a series of changes, and you have to be preparedfor that and that's where the anxiety starts to build when you're not awarethat that's what's happening and that's when things start to break and so forth.So I like to spend time to some extent testing to see if the entrepreneurs areaware of that and teach them about. What's going to be important, what'simportant now and over time with, what's going to be important and mostof the time, if they've got a good business, let's say a good businessidea, it's them that has to change and they have to be prepared for what thatlooks like for them, especially if they're going to be the CO of thecompany Super. How much you know! I've heard you on your own podcast, whereyou ere hosted on your own podcast kingdom, which are a number ofinteresting conversations. How we got super interest in the work that youwill are doing it Saloni to. I know that you hold a lot of importantprinciples from a leadership perspective, and I would guess thatthese are the kinds of things is as you're coaching, a young entrepreneur,probably to pay attention to, for example. I would assume just what Iknow about you is that you probably have a bias toward a stake holdertheory over a shareholder theory. You obviously value long term relationships.You have placed a high value on diversity, diversity of thought anddiversity of representation in decision making and conversation. What role doyou think those play in employee experience, customer experience andsuccessful movement from something exciting that you want to passionatelytell stories about to something boring yeah? Well, I would say it plays a bigrole. 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 whothose customers are from the day, one. Actually most most young companiesdon't really know who their their ultimate customer is they're, trying tofind out who they are, and so what I have found is that the key to buildinga great 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 over time.You may add to them, but they probably shouldn't change that much, and so muchof that has to do with who you are personally as a founder and what youcare about, and what you're passionate about. But so much of it has a lot todo with the type of business that you know, you're going to be going after.For example, for instance, that Salona we really had to have a real debatearound you know at the court of our business. Is You know we're able to geta really low cost raw input right asset that we then turn into computing thatwe can sell on a goble basis? So you could argue that it doesn't have to begreen power just has to be cheap power, and it is so important for us that willis that whets our core tenant like? Do we care about that, and you have tomake a real decision there and stick to it and we have had so manyopportunities where people try to convince us that Dialin with our goaland we're saying hold on a second, we have this framework. We use it doesn'taline. So we're just going to say no and it's so refreshing, because I couldbe hiking in the ADIRONDAC, and I know that the team will make the same. Thesame decision so getting to court principles. Helps you a lot when youdon't know who your customer is, but once you know what your customer is,you want to continue to optimize around improving that customer experience overtime, understanding what what it is, what they value, what drives emotionstoward them? What alternatives do they have, because you know things changeright? They get boring and making sure that you're always right there withthem you're in that conversation on a continuous basis with them. That's whyI do the calls- and I think it's so important- to sort of always be outthere in front of the customer and understanding how you're thinking aboutthings and help them think about their strategy. Socha, you can be a real partof it and the last thing I think so there's so this court courseth, knowingyour 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, its place in the market, the investors and so forth,it's a loosely coupled set of people who volunteer to come to work for this enterprise every dayspend time understanding what drives them to what drives the emotions forthem. How are they wired? What do they care about and o how they engage witheach other and create an environment...

...whereby there is a strong degree ofempathy for those differences and people understand how to engage andcommunicate with each other and ultimately they'll work much betterwith each other teach them how to make good solid decisions? You know use yourown experience to do that and teach them how to do that on their own andthen encourage them to live inside of two things. One is conflict. Conflictis good. I was like to say argument is good, let's argue, and then there's befriends at the end, because it feels like we really work through a decisionthe right way, and then I think that the second thing is continuous improvement, finding ways toget better at what we do. As a group to you continue to grow as as a business,and it starts by the people continuing to improve themselves, so much goodadvice there again, sixty second back button. I say it from time to time, butbut you know I say it because I mean it. I'm looking forward to hearing this oneback myself and so much what you share. There reminded me of the journey I'vebeen on here, a Bombombay company based in Colorado Springs. You know I joinedalmost a decade ago and one of our two CO founders, woke up in the middle ofthe night, knocked out a whole bunch of these core values that you know, andthey started just like short phrases and eventually got codified into fivekey words that have you know clear understanding outer them. We find waysto celebrate them, but it's been so key to our success, as has customer contact.We do video so like a lot of video communication with customers live likewe're doing now, but then also a synchronously to and any I think,encouraging. Continuous improvement is the way that we improve as individuals,of course, and as a group, it's one of my most favorite things about hostingthis podcast is sharing it with my team members. It's awesome to build anaudience, but it's awesome to spend time learning from someone like youpersonally, but it's also this ability to make it part of our ongoingconversation, just as you shared delivering happiness with all youremployees, so that everyone is having a similar conversation about a similartime was sharing a conversation like this John with my team members, andtalking about is one of the greatest privileges of posting. This show so forfolks who are who've enjoyed this episode as I was preparing for it, itmade me think about episode, one twenty, six with cold Baker, Bagwell she's,founder of Cool Audrey, she's, also chief experience architect at Red Hatsoftware company, and we called that episode. The role of kindness in yourcompany she's very focused on the feeling components, the empathycomponents of some of the relationship, building healthy conflict and some ofthese things that John just shared with us and actually has been sharing overthis entire period with us ice hundred and twenty six with cold Baker, Bagwelland then episode. Nineteen with David cancel multiple time. Software Companyfound er most recently with drift, but several others with several healthyexits, and he was a lot of where you were John. We ended up titling that onewhy customer experience is the only differentiator left. You know thatemotional residence in that connection that we make with people is ultimatelywhat matters, because that's what matters to each of us is as individualhuman beings as groups of people and, ultimately, in the various forms ofrelationship we have with other companies, because companies are justpeople after all, yeah, I know he's a a he's, an amazing guy he's just a greatco and an I don't have them. On my show to its great great conversation, I'msure I've got a real. What number was that one? You said episode, nineteenand so the cool thing about David in this and you you know it s same withyou, I'm sure, like episode. Nineteen of this show, I think, to ourconversation. Jan is going to be a hundred, and forty five wellestablished a much bigger audience than there was in the beginning. I feel likeI'm making better shows now than I was in the beginning, like any iterantprocess, I'm always looking to make improvements, and David was one ofthose guys who obviously, like you, a lot of commitments. A lot of demands onhis time probably has to say no to more things than he really wants to, but hesaid yes, like so many other people early on before the show reallyproperly existed said yes, and I just think that that spirit of giving andand and the elevation and the conversation too, you know, as I feltlike, you, had a lot of thoughts that transcend the immediate kind ofpractical nature of what we're talking about here, of improving our businessesand providing better experiences for customers. It was the same thing withhim too. So I'm glad you got I'm not surprised that you that you eachotherstill very pleased by it. That's great yeah. So before I let you go than Yo've,been super generous with your time. I so appreciate it. I'd love to give youa couple of opportunities. The first is to thank or mentioned somebody who'shad a positive impact on your life or your career and then, secondly, a nodor a shout out to a company or a brand that you personally appreciate for theexperience that they deliver for you as a customer. Oh that's great, so thefirst person I would like to give a...

...shot out to is my wife. She and I metin college over twenty five years ago. Man. I think it might be thirty yearsand we were friends for eight straight years before we became you know we fellit. We switched our friendship to a loving relationship and I've neverlooked back, and it's because I enjoy the opportunity to be married to mybest friend and it's just been fantastic and she's. Now a mother oftwo 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 of the decisions and sort of she sees me when I'm sort of holdingholding my head in my hands with tough decisions that I'm making,and she really provides me a great perspective on how to think throughthings and when to just move on. You know, I think, that's been great for me,a brand that I would say as a customer, we are really excited about and happywith. The experience is a company called Luxor Luxor mining. Theyessentially are a cool operator for Cryptoconchoidal senters, where you canpool your computing resources into a giant pool and that's how you sort ofmonetize the asset and so forth. They built a incredible technology, acompany that does things completely different, more transparent and open,and they have lots of ideas about the future. For how you know, the role ofthese types of companies will will be, and it's just always a joy to talk tothem, because you're really sort of thinking ahead of things that that'sthat experience I was talking about where I'm really excited about whatthey're going to do and when they're, when they're done and when we're donetogether, it'll be boring, but then we can focus on the next exciting thing.So look for as an example of one of those companies that I experience as acustomer in our field. Personally, though, there's a coffee shop literallyaround the corner, from where I live, it's it's called inchelium right aroundthis 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 meditate anddisconnect from zoom and I'll stop in there and get a Macha and the customerexperiences a wild experience before I even show up they're ready, calling myname, Hey John. You know the John Mache they already you know making it in fact,the other day I threw him for a loop. I I ordered a Chi and they show up withtwo drinks and I'm like what found ordered one drink and I says: Well, wesaw you come in, and so we started making your Marchin. You know if you don't like to. If youdon't like the Chi, you know just you have you know, you know you have yourfall back. You know. I just felt that that was you know that just blew meaway again. You know it's just they understand that to be a communityservice like that, you know providing and they focus on sort of you knowreally high quality preparation. It's a small place, so it's not really aboutsort of hanging out there, but they really focus on the experience being aconnection between them and their passion, which is to make home bakegoods and and coffee and tease, and what not and the community that they'rein, and so I just amazing, you know I really enjoyed them too. It's fantastic!Thank you for sharing both of those and, of course, that shout out to your wifefor all of the what just the gift that she is to you, your life, and it soundslike even to your work, so I hope that I didn't make you late for your Chi oryour make whatever you're peing today, but before I let you go. I Love You forfolks who are obviously stuck around for all of this time with us. Theyobviously might want to follow up with you or co playbook or Salona, or any ofthe other work that you're involved in. Where would you send people who'veenjoyed this? If you are interested in what we're doing at Salona, you shouldgo to Salona that I oh that's where you find lots of information about the teamand what we're working on in our projects and we're going to be updatingthe website so definitely go check it out, and if you want to learn moreabout my views of about leadership and the role of the CEO, an in a growingcompany, please check out my blog. It's CEO, Playbook Dot, Co. Co Play Bookthat Co and Deloul find a series of articles on a host of different topicsand just choose one and there's a news letter that comes with it, so you canget updates on interesting new ones, and I curate a bunch of articles aroundthe web to weekly basis. That gives CEOS a bit of inspiration every MondayS. I call it mental candy, so that's where I would send folks those twoplaces super he's also a great follow on linked in helse shares informationlike some of those I'll run up all these links, including interlude nexttime, I'm in the city I'll, have to check them out. So you can find videoclips links to some of these things that John Shared and more at bombacealways round these up. There, John. I thank you so much for your time. Wedefinitely went over time and I just enjoyed it so much in Lard a plentythanks for Havin me. Then this was...

...great. I really appreciate thequestions and and really enjoyed really enjoyed the conversation, clear communication, human connection,higher conversion. These are just some of the benefits of adding video to themessages your sending every day. It's easy to do with just a little guidanceto pick up the official book. Rehumanize your business, how personalvideos, accelerate sales and improve customer experience learn more in ordertoday at Bomba Buck, that's B, O m B Tombo fuck thanks for listening to thecustomer experience. podcast remember the single most important thing you cando today is to create and deliver a better experience for your customers,continue learning the latest strategies and tactics by subscribing right now inyour favorite podcast player, or visit Bom Bomo podcast t.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (166)