Behind high level companies are faces and names of people who built it who wouldn’t be recognized with proper personal and corporate branding. Once these people are seen as thought leaders in their industry, they start to get attention and recognition. Some business owners fail at this. Leonard Kim helps these people set their career on all sides possible to elevate their brand and make them look human instead of looking perfect so that they can connect and build working relationships.
The technology of the internet is really amazing in ways of making people connect to each other. Business owners and entrepreneurs can reach clients at the click of a button. But this makes connections feel mechanical in a sense, which is not bad, but there is always that choice to be a heart based business. When you give value and knowledge to your clients, the next decision they make is to work with you. Terri Levine shares the steps of putting heart into your business.
I’ve got Leonard Kim and Terri Levine. Leonard Kim is known for turning his life around. He has become a huge success. You’ve probably seen him on Forbes, Inc., Huffington Post, the list goes on and on. We’re also going to talk to Terri Levine. She is an interesting leadership coach. We’re going to see what she does to help people.
Listen to the podcast here:
A Heart Based Business: Humanizing Entrepreneurs with Leonard Kim and Terri Levine
I am with Leonard Kim who is a firm believer that where you are today is exactly where you’re supposed to be based on the decisions you’ve made. He used to be at the bottom and almost went homeless. He had to work his way up from the bottom. Now, he has over 10 million readers, over 250,000 social followers and he’s featured in leading media publications. He helps people learn how to turn their careers based on what he learned from his experience. He’s a managing partner of Influence Tree, a personal branding accelerator based in Southern California. He’s one of the most prolific voices of his generation. It’s so nice to have you, Leonard.
Thank you so much for having me.
You have a very interesting background. I read a Forbes article on you and a few other things that were really fascinating. I love the honesty of where you were. You said you were sick and tired of being sick and tired. How bad was it and what turned you into wanting to make a change?
Back in 2013, when I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, the reason for that is because I was working at American Honda. I was earning a little more than the minimum wage but I had to take the bus to work and take the bus home. I have about $100 a month that I could spend on entertainment, which in Los Angeles isn’t that much. What happened was my taxes raised about $80 a month and that’s what I was using to buy my $1.63 quesadilla at the cafeteria at work. I was like, “Now what do I do? I can’t have lunch anymore.” I can’t give out the entertainment or else I’ll go crazy. I guess the lunch had to go. I wasn’t able to eat lunch for a while. I didn’t get a raise and I was like, “How long do I want to live this way?” At that time, I made a decision to go out there and make a change. I tried applying for hundreds of jobs. A few interviews but no one hired me. I went back to school but school is a long-term plan and I needed help immediately. That didn’t make something work out too quickly either. I started writing and within six months of writing, it was pretty crazy because I picked up about two million reads on my content. I was like, “How did this even happen?”
I saw you wrote a thousand plus articles in 2015 so maybe that’s a good start. If you’re doing a volume, that’s a lot. What were you writing about?
I was writing about anything and everything; mostly about my life. Someone once told me, “Leonard, no one’s absolutely useless. You can always serve as a bad example.” Right before I even started writing, I was like, “Bad example? That’s me. All I’ve done is failed in my life. I’ve tried different ventures, tried to get back with my ex-girlfriend, tried to do all these different things that none of them worked. Maybe I should tell my story about all these different things that I tried doing that didn’t work so other people won’t have to make the same mistakes.” At first I thought people would be like, “This guy, Leonard, he’s such a loser. He’s such a failure.” It’s funny because the opposite thing happened and they were like, “You’re so inspirational.” I was like, “Really? I just talked about how much my life sucked.”
You’re a pretty young guy. What generation are you in if you don’t want to say how old you are?
I’m 32. I thought I was Gen X then this new millennial word came out. Someone’s like, “You’re a millennial,” and I’m like, “No, I’m not.” They’re like, “Yeah, you are.” I’m like, “When did I become a millennial?”
We’ll put you in the millennial category because you’re called a youth marketer. What is that exactly, do you think?
A youth marketer is someone that is able to motivate the youth and understands how the youth purchasing decisions were because like people who are in their twenties, their buying patterns are a little bit different than people who are maybe in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s. They’re driven more towards value, what they’re learning from things. They like the educational type approach where they’re not just price-driven where it’s like, “This thing is $50 and this thing is $40. I’m going to buy the $40 thing. It doesn’t matter where it’s made from.” They look at it and be like, “We want it to be American. We want it to be environmentally friendly,” and so forth. Understanding those concepts of what the youth is looking for, that’s what a youth marketer does.
I’m curious on your background. Did your families promote education? Did they try to get you out and do certain kinds of jobs or they pretty much let you do what you want? What was your background?
I was raised by my grandmother and grandfather by the time I was one or two. That’s basically how I was raised. My grandma was a strict person who would yell at me and wanted to slap me if I did something bad. My grandfather was a person who was like, “Everything’s okay. Let’s go to McDonald’s and get you ice cream.” They were two polar opposites I was being raised. I like them both equally, I’m scared to my grandma. After I lost my home and everything and had to go live with her, I was scared because when she yells, I go, “I remember my childhood.”
That was a motivation to get you into the workplace.
They were like, “Do whatever you want.” I got to play video games until I played for eight hours straight then my grandma would yell at me. They were like, “Study,” but I got good grades so I never really want to study. They put me into different activities like art class, which I drew stick figures at. Piano, which I have no clue how to play still and all these random stuff I wasn’t good at.
What were you good at as a kid? Was there something that was a clue that you’d be great at writing blogs or social media?
When I was in high school, in English I would always get Cs on my papers and everything. I never even thought I was good at writing. It’s something that came to me later in life but I always liked it. I liked writing poems. I like sending love letters to girls and they’d be like, “Why are you sending this me for?” No one’s ever liked my writing. I’m just like, “Maybe I’ll just keep trying and one day it’ll work,” but then one day someone was like, “This is such a trash,” and he threw it away in front of me then I stopped writing for a decade. I was good at tetherball but tetherball doesn’t pay.
It’s interesting how you found a way to get paid and you have strategies. You help people. You help them get from completely unknown to being an international success. Is that what I understand you do?
There’s a lot of high-level executives and big companies who are going out there. Most people recognize the company but when you see their name, they’re like, “Who is that?” We basically blow them up as thought leaders within their industry, showcase their expertise, build up their social media following, help them get featured in publications and so forth so they can go out there and have all the different sides to their career set up. Whether they stay with the career, it helps elevate their brand and the company’s brand or as they move into a different career, they have everything set up too for long-term success and success with that particular company.
Are you still the social media specialist at the Keck School at University of Southern California?
You teach personal branding as well not just corporate branding, correct?
Both personal and corporate but more on the personal side. Personal is a lot more important to me. What happens is in the sales process, if you think about it, the process is step one, meet and greet. Step two, sell yourself. Step three, sell your company. There are so many businesses out there doing it the opposite way where they’re trying to sell their company first then sell their people. If I buy in to your company, then I had to buy in to you person and I don’t like them, chances are I’m not going to do business with you. If I buy in to you as a person and looking for the service that you have to offer, chances are I’m going to buy it because I’ve already built trust in that process. We flip it around and make it more into the regular process in the sales of how it should be.
That’s an interesting reversal and it’s so important to know personal branding. I’ve worked with some branding courses and dealt with some of this stuff. I love your sense of humor and I like that your self-deprecating, which is so funny but you’re true to what it takes to be a branding to develop your personal brand. Do you have any tips that you can give people that can help them to start to develop their personal brand?
The first thing I would say is don’t go out there and call yourself the best because people will be like, “Who’s this cocky, arrogant person who’s trying to tell me what to do?” You have to get other people to vouch for you and say that you’re the best at something. Otherwise, it just doesn’t work. How do you do that is you have to start with the positioning. What I like to start with is the exact foundation because your positioning matters. If you want to go out and create content, if you want to go out there and do anything, the first thing you have to do is look in your own backyard. Usually, that starts with your own personal website. One thing your website should have is a very colorful limits that showcases you doing something that you love whether it’s basketball, football, eating cupcakes like me, surfing, skiing, whatever it may be. It has to have that personality there because what you’re doing is you’re selling yourself. If I like cupcakes and you have a picture of you eating a cupcake on your site immediately is the first thing I see, I’m going to have that instant connection with you. I’ll be like, “I like cupcakes too.” The next thing you need is you need a clean headshot so you could have a professional image that you can shop around but more importantly, it’s on your website. That’s going to be taken by a professional photographer. Not a selfie, not anything creative like that but a professional headshot so that you are who you say you are. You have a sense of professionalism about you and that showcases you.
The next thing you need is a bio. What I like to do is I like to start bios with accolades. If you don’t have any accolades, you don’t have to have any in there, which is fine either way. But I go maybe, “Dr. Diane Hamilton was recognized in XYZ at this.” That’s what the first sentence would be. That sells instant credibility for what you do. The second sentence should be like what you do, “Dr. Diane Hamilton is a XYZ in XYZ,” so people immediately know what you do. Next thing you want to do is you want to tell a story about how you got into doing exactly what you’re doing. Then, I put in to the first person and be like, “My name is Diane and I’ve been going out there and doing XYZ. I got passionate about this topic. Ever since I was a child, this is all I’ve ever wanted to do.” Then, talk a little bit about your journey on becoming who you are. You want to add in some heartbreaks, some failures, some tough times and turmoil as well to humanize yourself and make you not look like you are the perfect figure out there. When you see someone and you’re like, “This person is like a Greek goddess. She’s got this fully-tuned chest. How can I ever be like her?”
If you can’t picture yourself being like them, you can’t relate. It creates a disconnect there. What you do instead is you talk about some of your hardest moments so people are able to go, “This person is just like me. They feel and experience failure just like me as well.” Then, what you want to do is you want to add in some of your interest and things that you like. One of my clients, he works at Cisco and he’s one of their VPs. He heads up their IT department. At the age of seven, he went up to his dad because he wanted to buy video games and he was like, “Dad, I want to be a paper boy when I grow up.” Imagine just starting a story like that. He’s one of the biggest leaders. His dad just looked at him, stared back and was like, “This can’t be all you want to do in your life.” Another one of my clients wants to portray that he’s hardworking. I’m like, “You don’t have to say you’re hardworking. You just have to describe what you do.” Back in college, he was going to school, he was working and at night, he’d stay up until 2 AM to deejay to pay for his own tuition. I’m like, “Let’s incorporate that into your bio because it automatically says you’re hardworking,” because who stays up until 2 AM because they want to deejay? No one.
I’ve done that a little bit when I say I’ve taught more than 1,000 business courses. People also will go, “You must be doing something.” You can take a number of something that you’ve done and you can say it without saying what you want to say. You, obviously, have become a hardworking guy. I know what your motivation was. You got sick and tired of being sick and tired, but is there any chance that you’ll relapse and want to go back to not doing things? Did this spark something that you think you just like when it’s set in motion?
Bad things happen in life. Good things happen in life. All you have to do is balance it out. What I look forward now is whenever something bad happens, I just know that something good is right around the corner. In that moment, I’m going to be sad. In that moment, I’m going to be miserable and I’m going to need some help to get over it. I just know that over that rainbow, there’s a golden pot waiting and everything’s going to be happy.
I love how enthusiastic you are about life and I’m sure that you probably get a lot of people asking you about millennials. You obviously are a youth marketer. We’ve got people that are old people like me. What do you tell them about how to motivate people of your generation?
The biggest thing is when you get older and older like me, when I became 30, I was scared of a lot of things. You become scared to go out there and do what you’ve always dreamed of because you become so conditioned to society. You’re like, “The last time I brought up an idea in that last meeting, it was shut down. I don’t want to bring up ideas anymore.” What happens is the more you deal with rejection over and over throughout your life, the less you want to do the things that you want to do. It becomes really scary and it becomes fearful. A lot of people, whenever they senses a feeling of fear, they’re like, “I have something great. This happened last time.” They get scared and they don’t want to go out there and share exactly what they’re doing. I like to follow a three-step process to overcome it. One is to recognize the fear and go, “I’m scared of talking about my idea.” Why is that? Because I got rejected the last time. You figure out exactly what it is that you’re scared of.
Two is you have to face it and go, “Even though I got rejected last time, this is something I’m going to have to do.” You’re going to want to run away. You’re going to want to freeze up or do something. Like me, I always want to run away. I always want to freeze up because it’s like I’m looking the devil straight to the eyes and no one wants to look at the devil straight in their eyes. You just have to go to step three, which is DSAI or Do Something About It. Go out there and close your eyes and do what it takes to say your idea, start writing your first post, whatever it may be because the only way you’re ever going to move ahead is by taking action. You have to let your fears guide you not be stopped by your fears. Usually, your fear means you’re on to something great. You’re on to something that’s going to connect with the world. You’re on to something that’s going to relate to someone else but you’re scared to tell it because of how society has conditioned you to become.
The society has changed a lot in my lifetime and my kids are your age and I’ve seen that the social media has scared off people from doing certain things because there are haters out there. We didn’t have to deal with that when I was your age. There was no social media. There were no computers there. How hard is social media on people? Does it stop them from wanting to do things as they’re afraid people are going to bad mouth them or make them look bad?
Yeah, people are scared of that. That’s what I was scared of at the very beginning. I thought, “I’m going to put this post up. People are going to call me a loser. They’re going to block me, ridicule me and all these other things.” Here’s the thing, it’s all in their own heads. We’re predicting the future in the worst way possible. Then when we actually do something, the future is going to come out a different way.
Didn’t they do that to you at the beginning, though?
After I hit 2 million reads, the haters came out and started attacking me. In the very beginning, no one’s going to attack you unless you start doing anything.
I’m a virtual instructor. I teach online classes so I see students will just be a lot more aggressive and say things. I don’t think they would say if they had to say it right to your face. That’s how society is now a little bit more. You’re a youth marketer so do you always deal with millennials and younger? Who is your typical customer?
The typical customer I work one-on-one with is 40 to 50 years old, mid to senior level executive at a company or CEO, something like that. We have two different courses. One is for people who are experts, who wants to go out there and build their personal brand because they don’t know how the internet works and they need guidance on how to go out there and position themselves in the best way possible without looking like those other examples I described. The second course we have is for people who are like seventeen, and they want to be expert one day but they know they’re not an expert. They want to go out there and figure out how to get into the best college, figure out how to get a mentor, connect with people in the industry that they want to work with. People who take that course are usually around sixteen, seventeen and eighteen. Other personal branding course is maybe 25 to 45, somewhere in that range.
How did you get involved at the University of Southern California? I’m curious how they found you. Was it through your success and being written up in Forbes and different areas? How did that happen?
At the time, I was working at American Honda, still making $16.24 an hour, which is nothing. I was barely earning any money. I was making some side money here and there because my writing was starting to pick up and I would get some freelance work here and there. One of my friends was like, “You hate your job, right?” I’m like, “Yeah, why?” He’s like, “There’s an opening you should apply for.” I was like, “Okay.” Two weeks pass by and he’s like, “Did you apply for that position?” I’m like, “No.” He looked at me with this look that’s going to disappoint me like, “What are you doing, Leonard?” I’m like, “Okay, I’ll go apply.” I applied. They called me. I got no sleep the night before for the phone interview. I failed it completely but then I’m like, “I failed this. I need to go send them a text so they know what I’m talking about.” I made it that night and sent it to them the next morning. They invited me for a follow-up interview and asked me a few questions. I’m like, “New job.”
What was your title with this job?
Social media specialist.
What did that mean exactly? Were you going to be teaching classes? What was that?
The biggest problem was at the time Keck Medicine of USC accounts had maybe 4,700 followers on Twitter and 4,300 followers on Facebook. Not really a lot of people knew exactly what the brand was because other brands like UCLA had hundreds of thousands and it was the new player on the block. There was no direction on what kind of content was being created. It would be like all the way in the far left one day, far right and it would be this weird mix that would make no sense and disorganized. I had to go in there and organize everything out, create different themes, the content calendar, figure out how to get different resources to pull from, pool professors to do this and that. Within a year, we were able to grow the social media following up to 100,000 people and increased the viewership of all the pages by eightfold as well.
You’re making it sound easy but it’s very difficult to do all that what you do because I’ve taught courses of what you’ve had to do. How did you teach yourself how to do all this? How were you qualified to have this job? What did you write in that follow-up text?
I have no idea. What happened is they looked at my social media at the time and I had 50,000 followers on Twitter. They go, “If he could do 50,000 for him, he could probably do some for us.” I had a few other examples and they saw that I was writing, for the time, for Inc. magazine. I guess that made them go, “He’s writing for Inc. magazine. He probably knows what he’s talking about.”
You have an interesting way of telling a pretty amazing story. What you do is tough. It’s fascinating to talk to you because I was reading some of these articles about you. I’m like, “This guy is so interesting.” Have you ever taken a Myers-Briggs personality type or any of those tests to see what your type is?
It’s a switch between ENTJ and INTJ, depending on my mood. I did it and it was something completely different. It was ISFJ. It was something so far-fetched I’m like, “What is this?”
It’s supposed to not change throughout your life, basically, unless you have a super heavy-duty experience. Maybe this was considered that life changing experience. It might have altered you. It’s fascinating what you’ve done and coming from having millennial daughters, I wrote a book with one of my daughters about personalities and all that. It’s fascinating to see just the different personality types out there in the workplace. What you do is important. If you can’t do branding, you get lost in the shuffle and it’s so important. I hope everybody checks out your information. I just was hoping you would share with how they can reach you and find out more about what you do.
If you want to reach out to me, you could always email me at Hello@LeonardKim.com. My company is called Influence Tree. We have training courses on how to build your personal brand, how to go out there and strategically pitch your network and all these other great courses. If you have a big budget and you want us to do everything for you, just let us know and we’ll be able to help you with that too. I’m on Twitter @MrLeonardKim.
Leonard, this was so much fun. I appreciate having you on the show. Thank you.
Thank you so much for having me.
I am with Dr. Terri Levine who founded the coaching and mentoring company, Comprehensive Coaching U, Incorporated and is one of the top professional coaches, business consultants, mentors in the industry. She also founded a leading coach training school, Coach Institute, an internationally-recognized program that provides business coach training and is founding partner and owner of the Business Consultant Institute providing business and marketing help to consultants. She is the popular keynote speaker, bestselling author and international authority on creating business success. She’s got a new book. She’s the author of Turbo Charge: How to Transform Your Business as a Heart-Repreneur. Welcome, Terri.
Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be with you.
I’m excited to find out what a heart-repreneur is. What is that?
I didn’t coin the term but now I have trademarked it and branded my company under it. Several years ago, I was with my publisher and I was looking on this new book for him and he looked at me and said, “You’re a heart-repreneur.” I said what you said, “What is that?” He said to me, “I’ve been watching you over the years and you literally take people and teach them how to do business with heart.” I loved it so much that I went out and trademarked it, branded it and changed the name of my company.
What do you do that makes that to be the case that you are a heart-repreneur?
I don’t do any marketing at people or selling to people. Instead, what I do is I connect with people. I create relationships with people online and offline. I give content value education. From that, people simply raise their hands and they want to perhaps work with me in some capacity or be on a journey with me. It’s the same way that I treat our vendors and treat our employees and treat our contractors. Just heart to heart, transparent, authentic, with integrity, no sales, no marketing.
What do you think people do the most incorrectly when they do sales and marketing? What do you think is the biggest problem with it?
They talk at people. I was just doing a live event and I said they throw up on people. It’s non-stop, “Here’s what I do. Here’s why you need it. Here’s why you should have it.” I even was looking at a social media post from someone and it was just constant sales. It’s not the way that people want to be approached. Give people value. Give away your best content. Give people education. Give them tools. Give them strategies, tips, template. Share and allow people to take you and try you on and they’ll make a decision to work with you or hire you.
You said you just saw one. What were they doing wrong? What did you see that was so salesy?
I’ve been training people on marketing for about 40 years. I really started to notice how businesses were treating me as a potential consumer and a prospect and I’m like, “I don’t like this.” When newer clients were coming to me over about the last 10 years, they were sharing their sales and marketing process with me and I said, “That just did not feel an integrity. It doesn’t feel right.” I knew that I wanted to teach people how to do it differently, which is why I wanted to write the book. I didn’t realize I’m so passionate that I actually want to create a whole movement of heart-repreneurs and people changing the way we do business today.
Where would you start with that? What would you do for the first change?
I started a movement on Facebook. We’re the Heart-repreneur group, it has about 800 people in it that are wanting to do what I’m doing. It’s to help people change the way business is done, to be aligned, transparent, authentic. Those 800 are transforming their own businesses and then passing it forward to those they work with. The movement has begun.
I was in sales at least 30 years or more and it’s interesting to see what we were taught in the past and how it’s changed. How do you think social media has impacted how people interact in sales environments?
People believe that social media doesn’t mean social. They believe it means, “I can sit behind my computer and I can throw messages at you out all day hoping that something’s going to stick and land.” That’s not what the intention is. Social media is being social, create relationships and create value. Social media has made it easier for people, particularly people who want to sit at home and hide and not go out and network with people and create value, just sit there and constantly message people and throw messages at people to buy, buy, buy.
You look at some of these sites like Twitter, for example. It’s hard to determine who’s reading and following what everybody is posting. Is it just like a select bunch of people that they all are friends and they all just see each other stuff but they’re not getting new people? How is it working, do you think?
I’m not a Twitter expert. I have some clients that are. They love Twitter and they use it. For me, when I go on Twitter, it’s a lot of people advertising their events, their books, their stocks. I’m not a big fan. I love LinkedIn because I can find like-minded people. I can message them. I can get on a chat with them on Skype or in my local neighborhood and build a relationship. I’m a ridiculous Facebook fan. That is my area of expertise. I’ve done well over $1 million without any Facebook ads and without selling. Facebook is a great place to be social, create value and be in relationship with people from the big, big Facebook fan.
What have you sold? How have you done that? Are you doing Facebook Live? You said no ads. How are you doing that?
Yeah, I don’t do ads. I do several things. One is I have a very niched to group. I own about 25 groups. Facebook is where I truly create a lot of value and content just for my niche and I put documents in there and free training and webinars. In addition, I go into Facebook Live regularly. I stay on as long as somebody would for a webinar. I answer questions. I interact. I create tons and tons of value and literally afterwards if people are interested, I just tell them how to reach me. They can message me. They can email me. After a Live, I’ll usually get five or six people that raised their hands. I don’t know if I can help them or not so I get to chat with them for a few minutes and if I can, I’ll offer them in. If I can’t, I’ll still see if there’s another resource or person I know of to refer them to. That’s all I do. That’s it. There’s nothing else.
It’s interesting because Facebook Live, people are talking a lot about it on my show. I think it was Viveka von Rosen who was talking about that LinkedIn was going to get something that she just received the beta version to look at. Would you be doing more of that type of thing on LinkedIn? Would that take away your focus from Facebook or do you see them both just equally as important?
I always tell people to pick one social media strategy to get really good at whatever that is and just stick with it. Facebook is my go-to and it will be unless for some odd reason that would stop working which I don’t believe for the last six years. It’s a big, big way of getting clients and getting into relationships and making a lot of money. Facebook is going to be my go to. LinkedIn, I do use to invite people to come to events. I can find the exact audience based on group sign-in and I can say, “I’m doing an event in Philly. Would you like me to set aside a ticket?” LinkedIn works for finding that audience. Facebook groups for me is where I will continue to do my live.
I’ve looked at some of the webinar platforms. I like Zoom a lot. I know you can connect it with Facebook Live and some of the other platforms. Do you go strictly with Facebook Live or do you do Eventbrite or anything else or you stick right there on Facebook?
I’ve tried all the different things like BeLive and Zoom and BlueJeans. If I’m going to interview a second person, I will usually use Zoom or BeLive. I like both of them. I have these BlueJeans off and on as well. They’re all fine. 99% of the time, it’s just me going live. As soon as you add another thing to Facebook even if it’s a reliable source like Zoom, it makes the platform less stable. My choice is not to add anything in and to go straight to Facebook Live unless I am interviewing someone. If you are interviewing two people who are verified Facebook celebrities, you can if they’re both using the Facebook Mentions app. You can interview them on Facebook Live with two people, if they have to be a mentioned person and not that many people in the world are verified celebrities to do that way.
It’s interesting to see what the technology brings about for entrepreneurs. There are so many ways to reach people. I’m interested in your book, the help you provide for heart-repreneurs or entrepreneurs. What do you think is going to be the most surprising thing people would learn from your book?
What I’m really wanting people to take away from it is you can have a lot more freedom in your business. You can enjoy your business more. You can overcome all of the stuff that you’ve learned. I just want to raise that out of your head about sales and marketing and this is a very simple process. You’ll literally just follow in my footsteps. I’ve been doing this. I’ve had 5,000 clients through the process. It clearly works. I’ve owned six multimillion dollar businesses. Just follow literally step by step and you’ll get more heart based. You’ll get to know in your community. You’ll get known as the celebrity in your niche without promotion, without a lot of hype and it just happens in a natural organic way.
If I wanted to increase my reach, what advice would you give me?
The first thing I would tell you to do is going to be online. Online, I would tell you to create one closed Facebook group that’s just going to be for people that are in your tight circle of clients or what I like to call my client family members. Then create an open group with your exact target audience. For example, I have one called Entrepreneurs and Solo-Preneurs. The exact words of who my peeps are. Start that group, invite people, go do lives and put documents in there, do training and give them value and that group will grow quickly. The second thing is offline and really important strategy is you want to be at the hub of something in your local community. Start a group whether it’s a meet-up, whether it’s in organization and association. I don’t care what it is but start something. I am a managing director for Polka Dot Powerhouse. Do something.
What is Polka Dot Powerhouse?
It is a women connection group and it’s international now. Go to PolkaDotPowerhouse.com. If there’s a chapter near you, you can join. If there isn’t, you can do worldwide connections. In a nutshell, what I did in my local community is first of all, online it has about 2,000 women but offline in my community, I started a chapter. I brought together in the beginning about 38 women. Those 38 women kept bringing people. Now, we’re about 80 women. We meet once a month for the purpose of lifting each other up, supporting each other. Naturally, because I just happened to be the leader of the group, people see me in a leadership role. People get to know me, like, they trust me and like they do on line, they raise their hands and say, “How do I get to work with you?”
Are your main clients going to be a woman or do you work with men as well?
I do work with men as well. The average is about 80% to 83% women in my business. I focus on my group in person in a women’s group.
I’m curious about your background. You have a doctorate. What is your degree in?
I started out as a speech-language pathologist. I have a master’s degree in speech-language pathology. I went on to get a PhD in clinical psychology. I’ve owned lots of different businesses before I started my coaching and consulting about 21 years ago or so. I feel like I have a firm understanding of business, organization, development, people, sales and marketing and I’ve had to unlearn a lot of that to do business in a more heartfelt way.
When you’re in sales, you sometimes are taught to not do these things in a different way. At least, we were. What kind of things have you had experience selling?
My very first business was speech-language pathology. I was selling speech-language pathology services. Then I went on to own a home art show business, original oil paintings brought into people’s homes. Then I went on to do a startup rehab company, occupational, physical and speech-language pathology services to nursing homes and hospitals. I took that from zero to $88 million in less than six months. Then I went on to be president of the National HealthCare company. I’ve had a lot of different backgrounds along the journey. By far, this is where I belong. I’m at home doing what I do now.
I’m curious how you made so much in six months. What was the trick to that?
We had a great concept, first of all, which was to have nursing home, hospitals, assistive living outsource their physical occupation and speech-language pathology services and made a great model for it. Nobody was doing it. I’m not shy about going in and talking to nursing home directors and owners and showing them our programs. I hired two other people and the three of us literally for just about six months, day in and day out, went and visited nursing homes all up and down the East Coast. The nursing home loved what we had to offer. It saved them a ton of money and put the shoulder of responsibility on us. It was a very quick, easy sale and developed relationship with one nursing home that would introduce you to somebody who brought in six more. That person would perhaps own a chain of 20 or 30 and then things spiraled very, very fast. It was a really good business.
It’s so interesting to see how each business is so unique. When you’re dealing with all these entrepreneurs, is it challenging to try and understand all these different industries or is there a common thread?
I remember years ago when General Electric hired me and I thought, “I don’t know anything about the stuff they produce. I’m not into that.” Then I realized, “I really could have got it. I don’t have to know that. I’ve worked with over 240 different kinds of businesses.” It really doesn’t matter because I find myself saying the same things over and over again because there are common themes in business. It’s probably better that I don’t necessarily know every single thing about your industry because I can look at it with fresh eyes. Does that make sense?
Definitely. I serve on some boards and I see a lot of people come in from different industries. They don’t know the problems in the same way so they can look at it with fresh eyes. It’s so challenging for a long of entrepreneurs out there. I don’t know if it’s different by generation but sometimes they’re hoping to get instant success. They hear about your kind of story, in six months you made all that money that it’s going to be easy. It’s not easy. How do you get people to learn grit, to hang in there?
I tell people right off the bat, “Your story and my story will probably not be the same. My ability that started my coaching and consulting business and gotten 30 clients in 30 days is probably not going to be your experience. I am very different when it comes to how excited I get about relationship marketing and the amount of hours that I put into it and time commitment. You’re probably not going to have the same result that I have.” I tell people, “The people who make it in business in my experience keep at it day in and day out because business is cyclical.” You may go to a networking meeting and say nothing happened and I’ll say, “I don’t care and go back.” You go back the next time and you say, “I’ve got a couple of leads.” Go back and you go out and get me this week. Go back. Whatever you’re doing, you have to be able to do it consistently and you have to be committed. If you don’t have that kind of a passion for the business that you’re doing either you shouldn’t be in business or you shouldn’t be in that business.
There are so many people that end up being successful as entrepreneurs but they failed in the first few times they tried it. Some have failed miserably but they come back and they do these amazing things. Do you think you have to fail to be successful? Have you had anything that you’ve done that you go, “That really was awful but I learned so much from it”?
I haven’t had one of those failure stories that lots of people have. I’ve been really blessed in the world of business. It’s been really good to me. Everything that I started has launched and done well various kinds of wealth and ridiculous numbers to good numbers to average numbers. I don’t think you have to have a failure, I really don’t. We all have dust in our background, in our lives that we’re all going to have our day-to-day challenges. What we need is we need to love what we do so much that it’s such a passion. You wake up in the morning and you can’t wait to do it and it’s natural for you to share it. I don’t have to think to myself, “Who could I tell about my business?” I can’t stop talking about what I do because I love it. I love teaching people, helping people, sharing. I don’t care if you make a widget. If you’re in love with it, you won’t be able to stop talking about it and it will be contagious. You must have, in my experience, that kind of passion and that kind of love for whatever it is that you’re doing.
There are so many people that take entrepreneurship courses and I’ve taught several myself. I find that a lot of people that are trying to become a successful startup, they get so wrapped up in the first part of how complicated it is to get funding. Do you help them with that aspect of it? Crowdsourcing or any of that venture capital, do you give that kind of advice?
I will refer them out to people that are real specialists in that. I have several people that are amazing at that. I actually don’t do that. I will help them secure a loan if they need smaller term loan. I’ve got a lot of sources for that. If they need crowdfunding or they need Angel investors or something like that, then I’m going to refer them to people who specialize in that.
I like the psychological aspect of all these maybe because we have a similar background with doctorates and sales. We have a lot in common. Emotional intelligence is part of my dissertation. A lot of people sometimes lack some of the soft skills like empathy and interpersonal relationship building. Do you help with that the most? It sounds like that’s where you’re focusing and a lot of that soft skills stuff, right?
Yes, very much. I bring in some emotional intelligence. I bring in some positive psychology. I can’t help but blend that I have a client who is amazing. She’s doing a one-woman show and it’s going to be going all over the U.S on tour and already booked to some huge venue. She’s so into her funk literally because people are pushing her to create websites and all this other stuff and all she wants to do is focus on her show. We got on the phone and I said, “We’re not going to talk about your business. We’re going to talk about you. We’re going to talk about what’s going on. We’re going to figure this out.” Instantly, I took her down that path. It was more important than giving her more tasks to do. I’m sensitive to what I call the inner game as well as the outer game of action.
Some people are just more tactical thinkers and some people are just more strategic thinkers. We talk about that in my courses. We think of leaders as strategic and managers as more tactical. Do you think entrepreneur needs to be one or the other or are they usually a combination of both? Does it matter?
It’s a combination of both works faster, easier, better. We just can’t make people that way. We’re not always going to find that. I try to help to bring that blend to people. If not, maybe they’re the type of a person who would be better with a business partner or at least having some people on their team to do some of the things that they’re not the best at.
I’ve had so many people on the show that would agree with that. They just say you got to hire the people to do the things that you’re not good at. You can’t be great at everything. I remember when I was interviewing Ken Fisher of Fisher Investments, I’d ask him on, are leaders born or made? Do you think that entrepreneurs are born or made or that goes along with that same thinking?
Entrepreneurs have part of this little thing in them that you have to have or you just can’t be it, which is this craving desire to bring whatever it is out to the world. “I’ve got to do that.” There’s this burning passion inside of an entrepreneur. I don’t think necessarily they know the how-tos and they necessarily don’t have the skills. My first business, I was clueless. Believe me in college, they did not teach me how to start a speech pathology business. They taught me how to be a speech pathologist. I had to learn. They need mentoring coaching and consulting for those pieces and they must have that spark within them. You know what you have or you don’t.
I don’t know why they don’t teach doctors business. They teach them everything but that but they’re entrepreneurs. It makes no sense to me. I do a lot of talks on soft skills and emotional intelligence and some of that stuff for organizations. It seems like the biggest issue that people wanted me to talk about are they’re great with the hard skills like knowledge but they just have to work on the stuff you’re talking about, the soft skills, the interpersonal relationships and all the squishy stuff that it’s hard to put your finger on.
It’s the soft skills that in my experience make the biggest difference. When I literally stopped using all the sales training that I had been given by a gentleman that others call like the god of sales, the guru of sales way back when. One day I said, “I’m not going to use any of that. I’m just going to talk from my heart. If something doesn’t make sense for somebody to buy, I’m not going to recommend it.” I ended up that year having the highest amount of sales that I had ever had. I felt so good and so happy and knew I was making a difference for people. I believe that soft skill is how do you communicate authentically, transparently without an agenda. People don’t know those things and that’s what they need to learn and that’s what heart-repreneur is about.
That’s a good place to ask you to share how people can find out more about your book.
They can definitely get a copy at Amazon and it’s Turbo Charge: How to Transform Your Business as a Heart-Repreneur. If they go over to TodaysCoaching.com, they can get some free resources directly from the book to launch them right away.
Thank you so much, Terri. This has been so much fun.
My pleasure, thanks for having me.
I really want to thank Leonard Kim and Dr. Terri Levine; what a great show. I learned so much from both of you. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope everybody take some time to go to your sites. I hope everybody comes back for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
About Leonard Kim:
Leonard Kim is a firm believer that where you are today is exactly where you are supposed to be based on decisions you have made. He used to be at the bottom and almost went homeless. He had to work my way back up from the bottom. Now he has 10m+ readers, 250k+ social followers and features in leading media publications. He helps people learn how to turn around their careers based on what he learned from his experience. Now the managing partner of InfluenceTree, a personal branding accelerator based in Southern California, he’s one of the most prolific voices of his generation.
About Terri Levine:
Terri Levine founded the coaching and mentoring company Comprehensive Coaching U,Inc. and is one of the top professional coaches, business consultants, and mentors in the industry. She also founded a leading coach training school (www.CoachInstitute.com) an internationally recognized program that provides business coach training and is a founding partner and owner of The Business Consultant Institute (www.businessconsultantinstitute.com) providing business and marketing help to consultants. Dr. Levine is a Social Media Master and created The Rapid ROI Model and the 1,000 Leads Program helping business create more revenues and profits using her proprietary social media systems. Her passion is helping entrepreneurs become more profitable using her processes. Terri is a popular keynote speaker, bestselling author, and an international authority on creating business success. She is featured regularly in the media. Terri also founded a charity for children with Reflexive Sympathetic Dystrophy (www.TerriLevineFoundationforChildrenwithRSD.org).
- Leonard Kim
- Influence Tree
- Forbes article interview with Leonard Kim
- Keck School
- Training courses
- @MrLeonardKim Twitter
- Terri Levine
- Coach Institute
- Business Consultant Institute
- Turbo Charge: How to Transform Your Business as a Heart-Repreneur
- Heart-repreneur Facebook group
- Entrepreneurs and Solo-Preneurs Facebook group
- Polka Dot Powerhouse