The pace of the society of today is proving to be too fast for the school systems to catch up. But this is the same technology that has become the pace maker of society that kids these days are using to get information and knowledge about anything and everything. Two decades ago kids just played video games. There is now learning, interaction and communication. Today, education can come from video games too. But more than this new mode of learning is the online technology that can transform schools into an entrepreneurial education system. Cameron Herold and Ryan Foland understand that this is a huge change and a huge challenge. If done right, it can democratize education and allow students to learn on their own, show what they’ve done, and show how they’ve learned. And when these kids become business experts and entrepreneurs, it will now be about what problem they can solve.
On this show, I’ve got Cameron Herold and Ryan Foland. They’re both so interesting. Cameron Herold has been called the best speaker he’s ever heard by Rich Karlgaard, who is a friend of mine and a big editor at Forbes. Ryan Foland is a master communicator. He’s got The 3-1-3 Method that rival any elevator pitch lessons that you’ve ever heard. Between the two of them, you’re going to find that this is a really fun and interesting show.
Listen to the podcast here:
Entrepreneurial Education System, A Change And A Challenge with Cameron Herold
I am with Cameron Herold who is known around the world as the business growth guru. He’s the Founder of the COO Alliance. He’s the mastermind behind hundreds of companies’ exponential growth. He earned his reputation as a business growth guru by guiding his clients to double their profit and double their revenue in just three years or less. His company has landed over 5,200 media placements in six years including coverage on Oprah. Publisher of Forbes magazine, Rich Karlgaard, stated, “Cameron Herold is the best speaker I’ve ever heard. He hits grand slams.” He’s the author of the global best-selling business book, Double Double, which is in its seventh printing and in multiple translations around the world. It’s so nice to have you here, Cameron.
Hi, Diane, thank you. I really appreciate it.
I am friends with Rich Karlgaard and we were chatting about you. He says you’re the best. He stands by that.
I’ve actually decided to switch the moniker that people have been calling me for years as the business growth guru. Rich started calling me the CEO Whisperer and I like that better.
I watched your TED Talk about raising kids to be entrepreneurs and I loved it. It’s interesting how you say you were raised to be one. I love some of your stories about your father and his influence on you. Like you said, we need to teach them to fish rather than give them a fish and you gave some advice. Do you still talk a lot about what we need to do with our kids or are you on to new things? What’s your focus these days?
That TED talk, I did that about seven years ago now, but it’s still on the main TED.com website and it’s been viewed a couple of million times. It’s not what I do for work. It’s not what I do to make money. It was simply a passionate plea that I had at the time that I still carry today where I felt discriminated against in the school system and by the medical community. I definitely have all the traits of attention deficit disorder. I have ten of the eleven traits of bipolar disorder. I’m on the spectrum for Tourette’s, which includes thinking out loud. According to the medical community and the school system, I would have been told to sit still, pay attention, get educated and try to be like everybody else and work harder. That’s not possible for me. I wasn’t supposed to be like teachers and engineers and doctors. I was supposed to have the traits I have, and they actually make me a very successful entrepreneur. I’ve done that talk a few times since, but it’s more of just a passionate plea for people to realize that people that have some of these traits, unless they’re so far out on the spectrum where they’re going to harm themselves, maybe they’re not a problem at all. Maybe they’re just not right for you. The medical community actually calls bipolar disorder the ‘CEO Disease’. They even recognize that most entrepreneurs have it.
I’ve seen Joshua Walter’s TED Talk where he talks about just crazy enough. I don’t know if you’ve seen that one. I thought it was a wild thing to watch. I’m like you, I’m very hyper. I probably fall in all the scales of what they’d probably want to medicate. A lot of people want to put people into a box of “This isn’t what you should be” because they aren’t that way. You would lose a lot of the great minds out there if you did that, so I was glad to see your talk. I love that you admitted you cheated in the university. I love your honesty.
It was the only way I was going to get through university, but I also realized that I was never going to be able to apply for a job and using my university degree for anything, so I rationalized it myself. I hate that I did it. I went back to my high school reunion and I talked to one of my teachers and I said, “I feel bad. You were my favorite teacher in school teaching me physics, but I cheated on almost every test.” He looked at me, he smiled and he said, “Cameron, you were all cheating. Every one of you was out there cheating. Did you not notice that I had my head down during every test?” I said, “Yeah.” He goes, “I didn’t want to catch you cheating so I just kept my head down the entire time. My job was to get you excited about learning and get you to go through the material and learn what you could. I didn’t really care how you got there. If you had to write down a few things to help you, that was okay.” I’m like, “Why didn’t you say anything at the time?”
Nowadays, kids don’t have to memorize anything because it’s all there. It’s interesting that we were almost at the inflection point of education shifting from needing to memorize everything, which we did back then, to nowadays, you don’t need to memorize. You need to know how to find the information, how to access the information. You need to know how to use the tools and how to collaborate. The education system is broken right now as well.
They definitely have changed it. I remember when I took statistics for my bachelor’s. It was so different than when I took it for my master’s and my PhD later because in the first class, they made you figure out all the formulas and then later, it was pretty much computers doing everything for you. It’s sad to see them do that because who’s going to figure it out if everybody starts at that point, if we’re giving everybody that? A lot of people would not admit what you admitted, so I love that. It’s interesting how you’ve focused on so many things about what we need to help kids do. I know that’s not your main focus now, but I’d like to touch on that just because I deal with emotional intelligence quite often, I wrote my dissertation on that. I just don’t know how well they’re really preparing kids that way with social skills.
I don’t think the school system is preparing children that well, but I think it’s very hard for a system and this big machine to iterate and catch up with the way society is working. Kids are actually learning a lot more today from using their iPhones and playing video games online. It’s incredible to watch the collaboration, team building, problem solving, sharing of ideas, talking with each other and planning that happens. Listening to kids play live with each other online versus fifteen years ago or ten years ago, you weren’t playing with other people, you were playing by yourself. I’m starting to see kids learning more that way. I’m also seeing that kids are really learning more on their own. They’re becoming self-learners. They’re hitting the Khan Academy, they’re looking up information on their own, and they’re realizing that they don’t need to be the smart person in the room. I was asked by my sixteen-year-old, “Is university a good thing?” I wasn’t entirely sure what to say because I look at it in some realms and think, “I don’t know. Four years just going to get education and socialize with a bunch of kids your own age, you could do that in the workforce and come out with no debt and lots of experience and lots of theories as well.”
It’s interesting, because we talk about that a lot because I work for several different universities about what the future of education is going to look like. Right now, that’s what employers value. If you’re talking about entrepreneurs, it may be different for what you need than if you want to go to work for a company, don’t you think?
It depends. A lot of the bigger companies are starting to shift against some of the classical education now are going after students’ with experience. I was talking to a CEO of a major company, one of the Fortune 100s, and he said they have a strong bias against the MBAs now, because they’re coming in with so much theory and so many of these case studies, and so much research that they’ve done but no experience. What they would rather have is somebody who’s coming in with experience, with skills, with the ability to collaborate with lots of people and make decisions as a team, versus somebody who thinks that they’re smart on their own. They’re finding a lot of the MBAs coming in feeling like they’re almost the know-it-alls of 30 years ago.
Tamara Eckles, a few other people I’ve talked to, have said similar things that their companies have said. That was helpful to me when I was running the MBA program. I was a program chair for a while. Just to know what we needed to incorporate and what we needed to just get rid of. It’s going to change a little bit to more bits and pieces of content eventually instead of full degree programs, but I don’t know if we’re that close to that point yet. It’ll be interesting to see.
My next TED Talk would be a challenge for credit programs where we literally democratize education and allow students to learn on their own, show what they’ve done, show how they’ve learned, and they get points assigned to them by the community essentially. Businesses say that they will hire 10% of their workforce who don’t have any classic education but have gone through this challenge program to work on their own. It’s a very entrepreneurial look at the education system. Maybe this is because I’m Canadian, but I don’t understand why anyone would go to university and pay $25,000 a year for four years to come out with theory and $100,000 in debt, to then work for $80,000 a year and be able to take home maybe $20,000 net tax and expenses, to spend five more years to pay off their education. They’ve gone nine years to get to a net zero. The math doesn’t work for me. Why don’t we apprentice? Why don’t we go and work somewhere for minimum wage and get experience and hang out with a bunch of twenty-year-olds and live with them in spaces where we want to live? Why don’t we get our experience without having to pay?
It would require employers to look at how they value an education. People are doing it because that’s what’s required of them. How do you change the employer’s perspective then?
Part of it’s societal. Part of it is it just becomes part of the narrative. I go to the main stage of TED Conference every year, and it’s pretty amazing the number of successful people that don’t look at classic post-secondary education as the way to go. So many people are pulling their kids out of the school system and homeschooling now, and homeschooling quite successfully. Whereas twenty years ago, home schooling, you were a bit of a quirky, crunchy granola, and now it’s being done by everyone. It’s becoming very mainstream, and the resources are there to actually homeschool. I’m intrigued by the opportunities in front of us with that. Here’s where it’s also probably coming from. I felt like I was very discriminated against by the school system for my eighteen years in school, and I felt like I was told every single day that I was stupid and that I wasn’t going to add up because I was getting 62%. I was a C minus with a 2.4 grade point average. For me to go to school every single day for eighteen years and have a system emotionally beat me up, I’m like a battered husband or a battered wife. Eighteen years of that in that system changed me against the system. I looked at friends who were in the top 5%, who were getting 95% on everything, and they felt good about school because they were getting good grades. I’m like, “What about the rest of us where the system destroyed us emotionally?” I don’t think that’s a good system.
What would you change about what you had experienced then, if you could have changed the system you were in?
The system has changed now because back then you had to memorize everything. You had to go to the library and use the Dewey Decimal System or pull up a book. What I would switch now is that every student gets an A, every student works in groups of six, all projects and all tests are done by the group, all projects and all tests, you can use open book or a computer. It’s about working together, collaborating, finding the information, coming up with the best possible solutions, working together as a group, and feeling great about your results. I would also allow the groups to decide what they want to learn about and apply the things that we’re trying to teach them to that. Why are we trying to get every kid in Canada learning about the native Indians from 200 years ago when they don’t give a shit? My kids would be voracious readers if you told them, “For the next two months, you have to read everything about the history of video games.” They’d be like, “I’ve won the lottery.” They could do math about the history of video games, and science about the history of video games, and projects on it. Why are we getting them to focus on who the coureurs de bois were, who cares? I would have the system set up that way, and that’s the way the workforce works. You collaborate, you work together, you’re not supposed to get a smart person. Anybody in the workforce who is like the braniac and puts their hand up and always have the answers, they get ostracized by the rest of the team. In the business world, that’s how I would have it work. I would focus a lot more on the apprenticing program as well where you work around smart people and you get them to give back into the system versus sitting in a classroom all day long.
How do you overcome the extroverts walking over the introverts in these teams and some people not wanting to pull their weight if you make it up like that?
That would be great stuff for the kids together as a group to work on and to read about and to learn about how to get the groups of extroverts and introverts or how you get the dominants, expressives, analyticals and amiables, or how to get them all to do their Myers-Briggs profiles or their Kolbe profiles and learn about each other and learn how to work together. Imagine if we taught kids in grade six, in grade seven, and grade eight about personality profiles and how to work better as a team and that is the project instead of learning about the War of 1812.
I actually serve on a board at Leader Kid Academy, which is set up to do that for K-12. It’s important to develop soft skills and a lot of the stuff that they’re not doing emotional intelligence and all that. It sounds like you didn’t suffer too much. Your dad helped you really learn some amazing skills. I was listening to some of your stories of the things you did as a kid and your entrepreneurial spirit. I’m sure that helped you develop your current companies and things that you’ve done. You have this COO Alliance and I’m curious about that. What made you want to develop that? I understand it’s a place for COOs to share information and to network, correct?
Yeah. I’ve been going to groups of entrepreneurs for years. I have been going to Young Presidents’ Organization or YPO, Entrepreneurs’ Organization or EO, Vistage and Genius Network, with all of these groups with entrepreneurs that are amazing. People would show up to them as the second-in-command and try to learn and fit in but they didn’t really fit it. There were groups for lawyers, doctors, engineers and marketers, but there was never a place for the COO, the true second-in-command of an organization. Their personality profiles are different. Their skills and strengths are different. They needed a place for them to be able to figure out how to grow the companies for the entrepreneur they were working for or for the CEO they reported to. I wanted to create a place for them to mastermind together, work on themselves, and work on their businesses. I realized that from a very early age, I was always that second-in-command. I had my father as an early stage mentor. My first business, I was actually a franchisee. I was with a group called College Pro painters. I was taught how to run their systems. I learned at a very early age about how to run great businesses. When we built 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, I was the second-in-command for seven years. In building all of these companies and always being that second in command, I just saw a need for that. I then wanted to create a group for them to be able to work together.
What’s the biggest they want to know that they’re not going to get maybe if they go to a Genius Network or something for CEOs?
One of the interesting ones that we got was we had Kathy Kolbe from Kolbe profiles. We had their team come out and do Kolbe profiles on all of the COO members and all of their CEOs as well. We learned about a personality profile trait of all the CEOs and we mapped them, and then we had all the COOs. It was amazing to see the complete difference between the two. Most entrepreneurs were very high quick starts, and most of the COOs were very high fact-finders and follow thru. All of a sudden, their eyes just started to open up and they started laughing going, “I thought it was just my entrepreneur that was crazy.” They realized that that’s what makes entrepreneurs entrepreneurs. They are bipolar, they are ADD, they are quick starts, they do have Tourette’s, and COOs typically don’t. What was really beneficial for them was to see that they’re not supposed to be like them. They’re supposed to be the yin and yang. They’re supposed to complement. We talk about how to build trust in the relationship, how to build communication in the relationship, how to effectively grow the teams, how to build great company cultures, and then they share a lot of their best practices. They’re typically running companies between 50 and 500 employees. That’s the current base. We meet five times a year. They select three of the five events to come to. They’re sharing best practices, presenting to each other, helping them stick each other, and then learning about the idiosyncrasies of the relationship with them.
I could see why you and Rich Karlgaard would get along because he’s a very big fan of complementary teams personality to counterbalance the whole psycho Steve situation, and that it’s true. It helps to find somebody that has the qualities you don’t.
It’s the qualities and also the skill sets of the parts of the business that you don’t like or that drain you of energy, or that you’re not good at. When I was building 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, it was my best friend who was the CEO and founder, I came in as the fourteenth employee. When I left six and a half years later, we had 3,100 employees system-wide. I had been the COO to Brian, and the trust was extraordinarily high, but my job was to make him iconic. My job was to make the brand iconic. My job was to take all the stuff off his plate that he didn’t like or wasn’t good at, and as long as I had those strengths which I did, we became a really strong team. There’s always that kind of divide and conquer with implicit trust. It’s the most important role on the executive team with the CEO as well. The other C levels aren’t always the pure yin and yang. If the CEO was in hospital for six months, effectively the COO comes on and runs the company, like what’s happened with Tim Cook taking over Apple.
It’s interesting to see how the media portrays leaders. Have you been watching Billions? What do you think of how they’re portraying it?
I have not watched it yet.
It’s interesting to see how the media portrays how leaders treat employees. It’s a very cut-throat show. It’s interesting to see everybody’s perspective of what we need to do to make people motivated and what we need to do to keep employee engagement up. Do you talk about those things in your COO Alliance, about engagement and those types of issues?
We do. We actually spent a lot of time at the last event talking about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and how you map Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to the organization and make sure that you’re taking care of employees at all five levels. The key is to make sure that you’re not that Machiavellian CEO, but you have to really understand the core values and the core purpose of the organization. Even Enron had core values, but Enron didn’t live them, they didn’t care about them. There’s some truth to the fact that some entrepreneurs or some CEOs are definitely very Machiavellian or very cut-throat or very mischievous, and they’re really manipulative. They’re using culture as a way to do something versus creating a great company for the sake of creating a great company.
There are other leaders out there, Dan Price from Gravity Payments or companies that I’ve coached that rank as the number one company in their country to work for, that are really doing it for all the right reasons. They realize that if they focus first on employee satisfaction, second on customer satisfaction, third on profitability, that the revenues will all come from those. That’s what I try to do at the COO Alliance as well, is to get everyone be obsessed about employee satisfaction first. Not because we can trick them, but just because it’s the right thing to do and we can wake up in the morning and feel great about what we’ve built. If we really obsess about happy employees, they will obsess about our happy customers and that’s where the profit and revenue come from.
It’s interesting what you said about the Maslow’s Hierarchy, because if you take the engagement parts that has Gallup at least, measures them, you could put them in the same pyramid shape and it’s foundational as it goes up. It’s an interesting way to look at it and I agree with everything you said. A lot of people have struggled with culture and how to actually live it and do it the right way instead of the way Enron did it. If you ever watch Billions, you’ll see they did it the absolute wrong way, in my opinion, but they’re trying to make a really bad example of it. It is interesting to look at all these aspects of what makes people successful. Speaking of success, you’ve been very successful with your book, Double Double. Can you give me the version of what you intended with that book, in case somebody hasn’t read it?
The core purpose for writing Double Double, and that was my first of the three books, was to give companies the very easy-to-implement systems to double their revenue, double their profit, and double the amount of free time they give their employees for vacation, and for themselves. It’s systems that are so easy to put in place that you don’t require an MBA to figure it out. It’s all of the systems related to proper vision, alignments, people, the interviewing, recruiting, the culture, how to retain the right people and get rid of the wrong people, all the content related to meeting rhythms and leveraging PR and leveraging technology. It’s all of the systems that we use to grow 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, Gerber Auto Collision, and College Pro Painters and this private currency company that I had built and sold seventeen years ago, and that I’ve been using literally all over the world at coaching entrepreneurs. It was trying to give them those systems to grow their companies.
You’ve written three books. Can you just tell the titles of the other two in case anybody is looking for them?
The second book that I wrote is called Meetings Suck. That was written because people were complaining about meetings but I realized that most people had never been trained in meetings. 30% is how to run them, 30% is how to attend and participate at meetings, and 30% of the book was what meetings you need to have to run highly successful fast-growing companies so that meetings don’t suck. That’s been really widely adopted. People are buying it by the caseloads for all their employees. The third book is very entrepreneurial. I co-authored The Miracle Morning For Entrepreneurs with Hal Elrod. That’s more for the entrepreneurial community but it’s all of the success habits to start and continue your day and build great companies.
You really have been successful and I’m sure a lot of people are going to want to read your books and know more about how to reach you. Can you share just how they can do that?
Thank you, Cameron. It’s been so fun to talk to you. I really appreciate you being on the show.
Thanks, Diane. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.
Entrepreneurial Education System, A Change And A Challenge with Ryan Foland
I am with Ryan Foland who is a master communicator and was named a Top Youth Marketer in 2016 by Inc. He coaches leaders worldwide on the art of simplifying spoken and written messaging for greater impact. He’s the inventor of The 3-1-3 Method, which is a process whereby pitches begin as three sentences condensed into one sentence and then boil down into three words. Ryan works for the Office of the Vice Provost at UCI and is a managing partner at InfluenceTree.com. He writes for Influencive and has appeared in Entrepreneur, Huff Post, Fortune and more. An entertaining speaker and emcee, he serves as a public speaking mentor for a variety of thought leaders. It’s so nice to have you, Ryan.
It’s great to be here as well.
I did watch your TEDx Talk, How Not to Get Chased by a Bear and I loved. You are an entertaining guy. Tell me the title of your other one.
The other one is Borderline Millennial Disorder.
Tell me what that was about.
It’s about my struggle as someone who is right on the cusp of a Gen X and millennial borderline, which seems to be always moving. The story of growing up without technology, or being in a situation for my career that I needed to leverage technology. There’s a certain point when I got called into my boss’ boss’ office and I thought I was going to get fired, but they actually were excited about the use of social media and all this technology and they promoted me and gave me a lot more responsibility. That’s when I had that internal light bulb that went off than I am a Gen X with millennial tendencies. That’s what I own and using that as part of the launch pad for my personal brand. I looked inward and decided to communicate outward. Since then, the last two years have just been small successes stacking upon each other. I talk about the three main lessons. One is to focus, focus, and focus when it comes to using digital platforms. The second one is to not look at social media and technology as a distraction, but more as a tool of attraction. I’ve connected with more people. Look at us here now, using a digital platform to connect instead of to distract. Finally, encouraging people to not try to be ideal but to be real. That authenticity is still probably the biggest component or keel to any type of social media boat that you’re trying to sail.
I love to look at the different generations and how people try to categorize people in a way. I am more of a boomer with the millennial tendencies.
You’ve got borderline boomer disorder.
I am borderline boomer Gen X, in terms of where I sit on that scale. You don’t meet a lot of people that are boomers that love technology as much as I do. I’m fascinated by it. It’s interesting to look at how each generation gets along in the workplace. I have given some talks about that so I’m definitely going to watch your TED Talk on that. I’m curious about this 3-1-3 Method. Just give me the whole background on that, because everybody would learn a lot from that.
It’s something that’s been in development over the last five-plus years and it’s gaining more and more traction. I just got back from China where I spoke about the 3-1-3. Before that, across the border in Hong Kong. Before that, I was in Haiti speaking specifically about the 3-1-3. Before that, in Portugal. Before that, in New York and a lot of places here locally as well. It was a theory that developed out of necessity. I was brought onto the University of California, Irvine originally to start their first undergraduate entrepreneurship program. I had a unique opportunity for a couple of years to meet with, sit and talk to some of the brightest minds that had the most difficult time explaining what their idea was. It was over and over and over. Six or seven times a day, you meet with students, they’re all excited and I would say, “Tell me about your idea.” They would take the biggest breath possible and they would go on and on. I’d sit back in my chair and then I’d try to use all of my body language skills to let them know that they had confused me, that they’re continuing to confuse me. Honestly, I had a better idea of what they did before they even answered the question than afterwards.
If you’ve dealt with entrepreneurs, this is a classic problem. Also, they’re so excited to share. As soon as you give them permission, like, “What is it that you’re up to?” They take that and they just run with it. Even from a practical standpoint, I started to rephrase my question and I said, “I want to know what you do but try to tell me in the fewest amount of words possible.” They take a deep breath and they would go on again. There’s no filter. I started to break it down even more. I said, “Let’s play a little game. How about you don’t tell me what you do, just tell me the problem that you’re solving. Think of this as a little game. I want to guess what you do.” I started to get people to focus on the problem that they were solving. Once they did that, I said, “How are you solving that problem?” After maybe a sentence, I would say, “Stop. I think I know what you’re doing. Let me repeat it back to you.” I was able to shorten the amount of time that they were able to communicate their idea. I created this pattern and rhythm and over hundreds and thousands of times, it boiled down to the problem, the solution and the market. What’s amazing is that this is something that has been told and retold in every business book across every curriculum forever. Those are the three main components. What I’ve done is I’ve taken them and I’ve put limitations on them and I’ve created a methodology around it in order to explain your business in three sentences.
The 3-1-3 stands for your ability to explain your idea, you as a person, your business, things that you have a need for communicating what it is. With the 3-1-3, you can explain it in three sentences and then one sentence and ultimately three words. That’s the 3-1-3. It sounds simple but it is so fun to see people just squirm and squeamish and just not be able to answer these three questions. The three questions are, “Can you state the problem, the one problem that you’re solving, in one sentence?” The second question is, “Can you state what your solution is in one sentence?” The third one is, “What is your market in one sentence?” I can spend ten minutes, I can spend ten hours with somebody depending on how much they really know about their core idea, we get through those three. With those three, there’s a way to combine them into one sentence and then transform them into three words. That’s the core of what it is.
It’s gotten massive popularity because people have ideas, but they just don’t know how to explain them. A derivative of this theory is the 3-1-3 sandwich. It’s a way of taking the 3-1-3 method and turning it into a pitch. It can be a 30-second, expand to 1 minute, to 2 minutes, 6 minutes, 45 minutes. It’s the same structure, it just expands and retracts. It’s such a powerful tool. I was just talking with AngelHack, they contacted me and they’re looking to bring me on to their HACKcelerator, which is this global platform where they do hackathons all year and they bring out the top people. Even at that level, the challenge is for those individuals to communicate their idea in two minutes is crazy brain damage for them. You can have the best idea, but if you can’t explain it in a short amount of time, then you’ve got problems. That’s what I do, I solve that problem.
How is this different than an elevator pitch?
It is the opposite of an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is rehearsed, it is memorized. It is a point A to point B, I have this in 30 seconds then I’m just going to smash this out. The problem with elevator pitches is that people know they are rehearsed. I like to say that the more you speak, the less people listen. The less you speak, the more people ask questions. The question is what drives conversation and conversation is what convinces people. If you talk to someone or ask someone with an elevator pitch, you don’t give them any chance to respond, react or interact. You get eye rolls about 30 seconds into it because there’s no connectivity. Here’s a great simple example of a huge difference between an elevator pitch and using the 3-1-3. If somebody asked you what you do and you have an elevator pitch to describe what you do, you literally blurt out just about everything possible in the shortest amount of time. That’s the deal.
Some of the elevator pitches I’ve heard are succinct so it depends on the person I’ve heard it from.
In a general premise, the idea is to fit the most amount of relevant information into the smallest period of time and then deliver it. With the 3-1-3, it’s way more focused on interaction. Let’s pretend that we just met and you asked me what I do.
What do you do?
It’s not what I do that’s important. It’s the problem that I solve.
It makes me want to know what is that problem, so I ask, “What’s the problem?”
The problem is it’s actually what I believe to be the single biggest pain point, the bloodiest gaping wound on an early entrepreneur’s body that they can’t seem to plug up.
What is that?
It’s the fact that they cannot explain their idea in a short amount of time such that they don’t get funding, they get a divorce and their life is ruined. What happened there is that I haven’t even told you what I do, but I’ve got you interested in the problem that I solve. That’s a good example of it. Another version of the example is a lot of times people ask what you do and people answer that question with how they do what they do. There’s a big difference. If you are a doctor and somebody says, “What do you do?” You can say, “I’m a doctor,” period. They’ll be like, “What kind of doctor are you?” Now you can continue on. Even before that, you can say, “How much do you know about my type of profession and my field?” The 3-1-3 allows you to be nimble and create conversations based on intrigue by getting someone to want to figure out what you’re doing.
Another big difference between them is if you tell someone an elevator pitch, you’re talking at them. If you use this 3-1-3 as a concept, you’re talking with them. The most powerful thing that you can do in explaining your idea is getting somebody else to come up with your idea before you completely explain it. The totally opposite of my experience with early entrepreneurship. If somebody is standing here and telling me and I’m like, “I’m not sure. You’re telling me this. I don’t really get it,” versus setting them up and saying, “It’s not what I do. It’s the problem that I solve.” Now they’re thinking, “What’s the problem?” “The problem is the biggest problem entrepreneurs have.” When I tell them it’s their inability to pitch, then now they’re maybe thinking, “How is he coming up with the strategy to do this?” As soon as I say, “It’s a simple method called the 3-1-3 where I help people structure information in a way that creates interest,” I can even still keep it a little bit vague. At a certain point, the best thing that can happen in a conversation is somebody looks at you while you’re explaining and they go, “I got it.” You’re trying to create something that does this and then you go, “You are so smart. You’re brilliant.” What it does is it gives people ownership in your idea. If you’ve ever worked in a group environment and you have a team goal and you’re coming up with a PowerPoint presentation, it doesn’t matter what it is, and your image is chosen to go on the slide or the team runs with your idea, you’re all of a sudden energized and you’re excited about it. When you tell people with an elevator pitch, you’re just telling them, “This is what it is.” With this 3-1-3 conversation-sparking tool or system, it’s really a Jedi mind trick because you eventually can put your ideas into their head.
Your doctor example interested me. My husband’s a plastic surgeon, so if somebody asks him what he does, what should he say?
What he should say is what he does and wait for people to ask how he does it or ask more. The mistake would be, “I’m a plastic surgeon and I work on this and this is how I do it,” if you were to sit there and explain way into detail. What I’m guessing he probably does is he might say, “I’m a doctor.” Then they might say, “What kind of doctor?” “In plastic surgery.” If he waits, then they’re going to go, “That’s fascinating. What type of body work?” If you deal with an entrepreneur and you ask them what they do, they will tell you how they do what they do including the asset they’re building, the problem that they’re trying to solve, the market, all that stuff in this unstructured jumbo emotional blah. The idea is to get people interested in what you’re doing by saying less and getting them to ask more questions.
It even gets more Jedi because once you tell them what you do and they ask you how you do what you do, the trick is to spin it back on them.
Let’s say that you’re talking to somebody and you tell them that you’re solving some problem and then they’re interested and you tell them that you’ve built a mobile technology to solve that problem. Then you stop. Then they go, “How does the app work?” Most people would explain how the app works, but if you think about it in this whole 3-1-3 methodology to create more interest, you would say, “Before I tell you about my app, how much do you know about apps? What kind of phone do you have? Do you use apps right now? What kind of stuff do you do?” They’re going to be like, “I’m totally for it. I’ve got hundreds of apps on my phone. I’m addicted to apps.” The person would then go, “You already know what an app is, so I’m not going to explain all that, but I’m going to pick out maybe the one or two things that you wouldn’t know about what my app does.” You save tons of time and you haven’t disrespected the person. When you tell somebody something that they already know without you asking that they know or not, it’s a form of disrespect. That’s why so many people get tuned out in conversations when they’re at networking events because they talk to people as though people don’t know. If you get someone to talk, they feel more connected.
This is an interesting concept. There are some studies done where they put two people in a room and they hadn’t met each other before and they would just interact. They would just have to come up with conversations, awkward or not, but they would have to engage with each other. On the exit survey, they would ask people a variety of questions and how they felt and how connected they were and their emotions during the time. They found a very strong correlation that the person who talked the most, felt the most connected in the conversation. That’s a great piece of information because if you’re talking with someone and you want them to feel connected, you want them to talk more. That happens by asking questions, giving them small bits of information, and giving them just the basics so that then you can cater the rest of the conversation to them. If I explained my whole business in three sentences and pretty much stopped, then the conversation is guided by what my audience is interested in about my idea.
A fun derivative of this whole thing is this concept I have called Permission-Based Pitching and Binary Sales. Binary is either this or that, 1 or 0. Permission is when people give you permission to continue. Embedded in this process is a permission-based pitching system. If I tell you that I’m solving a problem at the end of the day and then I eventually explain to you this is the singular problem, singular is important. A lot of people solve multiple problems but when you’re communicating, for this to work you’ve only got to communicate one. After I explain the problem, for example, my problem, “I believe a huge problem is that entrepreneurs don’t have the tools or ability to know how to explain their idea in a very short amount of time,” I would ask you, “Do you think in the world that this is a real problem?”
Yes, I do.
You personally, “Is this a problem that you have?”
Yes, I have had it.
Is this something that you’re actually interested in making moves towards solving for yourself?
Yes, I would like that.
Then I can help you out.
This is very helpful. From my sales background, I could see so many people could definitely use this.
What just happened right there is that I just got you to admit. People don’t admit that they have problems. You first admitted that it’s a problem in the world. Then I asked you, “Is it a problem that you have?” and you told me, “Yes.” Then I said, “Are you trying to solve that problem?” You say, “Yes.” I say, “I can help you out.” Granted, you don’t even know what I do, but I’ve now got you to give permission for me to tell you and you’ve already told me that it’s a problem that you’re trying to solve. If you were to say, “Ryan, it is a problem in the world, totally, but it’s not a problem that I have,” I would say, “That is so awesome. Do you know anybody else who has that problem?” Immediately, I’ve taken the pressure off of you. If we’re going to continue in conversation, you know that I’m not trying to sell you. You know that I’m just giving you information so that you could pass it on to another friend that might have a problem that I might be able to help. Too often, especially in this elevator pitch, you don’t get a chance for that check-in or that permission, so that person who you give an elevator pitch to, if they don’t have the problem, there’s a very low likelihood that they will ever refer you to anyone because you were pitching them when they didn’t need you to pitch them. You can move the conversation into focusing on the idea and the value of the idea for other people. It creates this permission-based binary pitching method and you get people to identify that you can help them out before you even tell them what you do.
Is this in a book?
It is in a book. I’ve been writing it for about four years and at its largest point, it was over 70,000 words. I had this moment with myself when I said, “This whole process is about simplicity. I’ve got to start hacking it down.” I hacked it down from 70,000 words to 7,000 words. I’m working on a couple of pieces of design and I’m going to launch it as an e-book or a whitepaper. My goal is to try to get enough traction with it from a download standpoint that I can then walk into a publisher in a couple of years and be like, “I’ve already had a couple however many 100,000, 500,000 downloads. Let’s look at this as something that turns into the One Minute Manager or Who Moved My Cheese, a nice little skinny pocketbook that could change the way people communicate.
Have you named it yet or is it just 3-1-3?
The 3-1-3. I have a few different verticals. There’s a 3-1-3 for your business, a 3-1-3 for your personal brand, a 3-1-3 for your website, a 3-1-3 for relationship communicating. It has all these parallels because the simple concept is three, one and then three. The magic comes with the three words. You’re essentially describing what you do in terms of things that have nothing to do with what you do. People like puzzles. They love crosswords, they love Sudoku, they love movies that are cliffhangers and that they have to patch together what happens. When you describe your business in terms of something completely different, this is not a tagline and you use relational terms, you can create these vivid connections of mental mind maps that help people formulate whatever you do as an imaginary idea in their head. If you do it right, you can get it pretty accurate. That’s the voodoo of putting your idea in other people’s heads.
Could you talk about why they call you The Ginger MC? Maybe I could find out about your personal branding course for juniors in high school, and if you could also share your website and how people could find out more information about those things.
I am ginger. That means I’ve got red hair and freckles. It typically has come with this connotation that we’re high energy and have a positive outlook on life, and that’s very true. The freckles give me energy. We are the most underrepresented minority in the world, but I like to think of ginger as a state of mind. We can all be a little more ginger. I’m the Ginger MC because I take that freckle energy and I host events, I MC events, I control the mic, the mic control MC, and I run local events, national events, conferences. The problem that a lot of conferences have is that people in the audience fall asleep, so I’ve created a number of clapping technologies that I bring to conferences and get people excited about not getting bored or falling asleep at conference. That’s the #GingerMC. You can you can Google #GingerMC and see me in action.
From an Influence Tree standpoint, I partner with Leonard Kim and we’ve put together a personal branding course for people who want to be known as experts. We’ve recently been approached by a few organizations that want us to develop a course for high school students. It’s a lot different to brand yourself if you don’t know what you want to be. We’re launching a future experts course for sophomores and juniors in high school to help them start to develop the personal brand earlier. We’ve brought in ten millennials and Gen Zs to help us teach the lessons because they are right there right now doing it. Leonard and I have coordinated that. Essentially, if people want to learn more about how the 3-1-3 can be used to develop and communicate yourself or your personal brand, the 3-1-3 is a huge component and cornerstone to our personal branding course. It’s a course that explains everything you need to know. For real high-end clients, I like to say that we’re throw up in your mouth expensive for our time, which we are. We work with a couple of VPs, major consulting firms and stuff like that, but that’s on a very selective basis. The course is available to everyone.
I really enjoyed this, Ryan. You had some great information. Thank you so much for being on the show.
Cameron Herold, thank you. Ryan Foland, thank you. You both were so entertaining and so interesting. loved this show. I hope all of you did as well. I hope you come back for the next episode of Take the Lead Radio.
About Cameron Herold
Cameron Herold is known around the world as The Business Growth Guru. He is the founder of the COO Alliance. He is the mastermind behind hundreds of companies’ exponential growth. He earned his reputation as the business growth guru by guiding his clients to double their profit and double their revenue in just three years or less. His companies landed over 5,200 media placements in six years, including coverage on Oprah. Publisher of Forbes magazine, Rich Karlgaard, stated “Cameron Herold is The Best Speaker I’ve ever heard…he hits grand slams”. He is the author of the global bestselling business book, Double Double, which in its 7th printing and in multiple translations around the world.
About Ryan Foland
Ryan Foland is a master communicator and was named a Top Youth Marketer in 2016 by Inc. He coaches leaders worldwide on the art of simplifying spoken and written messaging for greater impact. He is the inventor of 3-1-3 Theory, a process whereby pitches begin as three sentences, condense into one sentence and then boil down to three words. Ryan works for the Office of the Vice Provost at UCI and is Managing Partner at InfluenceTree.com. He writes for Influencive and has appeared in Entrepreneur, HuffPost, Fortune, and more. An entertaining speaker and emcee, he serves as a public speaking mentor for a variety of thought leaders.
- Cameron Herold
- COO Alliance
- Double Double
- Cameron’s TED Talk
- Joshua Walter’s TED Talk
- Leader Kid Academy
- COO Alliance
- Young Presidents’ Organization
- Entrepreneurs’ Organization
- Genius Network
- College Pro
- Gerber Auto Collision
- Meetings Suck
- The Miracle Morning For Entrepreneurs
- Ryan Foland
- The 3-1-3 Method
- Ryan’s TED Talk How Not to Get Chased by a Bear
- Ryan’s TED Talk Borderline Millennial Disorder
- One Minute Manager
- Who Moved My Cheese