Profitable Brilliance: Changing The Business Landscape with Jay Baer and Bruce Rogers

Business owners and entrepreneurs need someone in the frontlines who can answer every question from a customer correctly so they can keep that customer. Founder of Convince and Convert Jay Baer believes that customer service is the new marketing. Responding to reviews and making a habit of it results into a tremendous free marketing research tool that can help companies to do better on the things they know they are bad at. Another way to gain and keep customers is through profitable brilliance. Bruce Rogers defines this as switching from creating ads to creating content that tells a story and can be shared through social media. Bruce explains the evolution and paradigm shift of advertising and ways of optimizing content creation abilities.


TTL 88 | Profitable Brilliance

We have two experts in marketing and customer service. First, we’re going to talk to Jay Baer. He’s the most retweeted guy ever. Bruce Rogers, who’s the CIO for Forbes.

Listen to the podcast here

Profitable Brilliance: Changing The Business Landscape with Jay Baer

I am with Jay Baer, who is a renowned business strategist, inspirational keynote speaker, and the New York Times bestselling author of five books. He travels the world, helping business people gain and keep more customers. Jay has advised more than 700 companies since 1994. He’s the Founder of Convince and Convert. It’s so nice to have you here.

I am delighted to be here. Thanks for having me.

Are you the most retweeted person still?

I don’t think they’ve calculated that lately, but at one point I was the most retweeted person amongst digital marketers, which of course is a fairly small subset of humanity.

I was watching some of your videos. I love the Tequila Collector. You had cute things that you had on your sizzle reel. What’s the Tequila thing?

I am from Arizona originally. I grew up there, went to school in Tucson, spent time across the border here in there. Tequila and Margarita are fairly popular in Arizona. That’s where I first got into it. I live in Indiana now. My tequila supply is somewhat truncated by geography, but I do the best I can.

You deal a lot with customer satisfaction. I loved the thing that you say about, “95% of dissatisfied customers never mention it.” I always have this conversation with my husband. I say, “The doctor, or whatever I went to, he’ll never know I didn’t like him because I never go back, and he thinks he’s got this great record.” Doesn’t that work the same way with companies?

It’s a critically important piece of research. It’s been replicated a number of times through the years. What it points out is that dissatisfaction is typically not voiced to the business. You may tell your husband or your friend or somebody else that you didn’t like a particular business, whether it’s a doctor or a sandwich place or a hotel or rental car or anything else. Only 5% of unhappy customers ever complain in a way that the business itself can find it. That’s across all the different ways that they could do. That’s phone, that’s email, that face-to-face, that’s Twitter, that’s a Facebook, that’s Yelp, that’s TripAdvisor, that’s all of it. Five out of 100. What this underscores is that there is no such thing as an isolated occurrence. There is no one-off when it comes to complaints. Every time somebody complains, and the business finds it mathematically, nineteen other people had that same problem but didn’t say anything.

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Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers

Do you think more people are saying things that they can say things?

Yes, absolutely. I did a lot of research on that topic for my book, Hug Your Haters. We found that there’s a lot more “complaints” in general because it’s so much easier to do so. You can grab your phone and say something snarky on Facebook or Twitter or Google reviews or all these other places that does not require you to have an interpersonal conflict moment. Whether it’s, “I’d like to see a manager” or “I’d like to call into this business and yell at somebody” or send a long complaint-filled email, which takes some time and angsty. The internet and smartphones has made us all a little bit passive aggressive. Because of that, it allows us to complain about things that ordinarily would have been, “That wasn’t ideal, but whatever.”

What impact are the chatbots having on this? You want to complain, but then you’re stuck talking to a chatbot for a while. Do you finally just give up?

Not a huge impact yet, but it’s absolutely going to be huge. When they’re programmed well, chatbots can be terrifically useful for both sides of the equation. It can bring cost down for business and can actually get consumers the answers they need quickly and efficiently. However, some of the chatbots are not well-programmed because it’s still early days and people are trying to figure out what’s the best technology and how to do the chatbot to bill person a hand off elegantly and on time. They’re not quite ready for prime time yet in some circumstances. We believe that ultimately, we’ll think of chatbots as a regular part of customer service the same way that, “Press one for sales. Press two for support,” is today. We don’t even think about the Phone Tree and the IVR systems as being unusual, but at one point those were brand new.

I was watching your e-pharma videos just because I was a pharmaceutical rep forever and I was curious with what you have to say about that. You were telling them that they can have a little more time to respond on Twitter, or if there’s some problem in some of the other industries because it’s not so instantaneous that people want responses right away. Are there certain industries other than pharmaceuticals that you can have people that maybe aren’t technology-based experts or pharmaceutical-based experts at the front line?

You want to have people on the front lines of any business who can answer the most possible questions. If they don’t know the answer, they have to go find the answer. If they have to go find the answer, then by definition, their response time goes down. Where this comes into play most critically is in social media where businesses say, “Let’s go get somebody who is right out of school. We’re going to put them in charge of social media because they “grew up with this stuff.”You have somebody answering customers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. who may be very good at that technology but doesn’t know much about the company or its history or what likely customer problems are. Every time they get a question that’s beyond the very most basic questions, they have to stop, go ask somebody for the answer. That slows down the process. The better practice is to find people in your organization who know the most about your organization.

It’s much easier to teach somebody Twitter than to teach them your organizational history and policies and procedures. That’s a better way to go. In terms of response time expectations, we also discovered in our research that those differ tremendously by industry. If you were in the cable television or cellular telephone-type business, Telco-type industry, you have no time at all. People want an answer immediately because their TV doesn’t work, or their internet is down, or they can’t use their phone. Those industries have massive consumer expectations around response time. Other industries have a much easier road there. In some ways, traveling tourism has had it pretty easy. The consumers don’t expect hotels to respond to a complaint immediately because in most cases, those complaints are created after the fact. You might complain to a hotel while you’re in your room if you have a grievous issue, but most of the complaints about hotels happen after you leave. You go on TripAdvisor or a place like that and leave a negative review. You don’t expect to hear back about your negative review in an hour.

What do you do if it’s something you can’t do anything about?

It’s shocking how many businesses still ignore reviews entirely. If they’re paying attention, it’s casually and they never respond. When you make it part of your business processes to find reviews, to take that information to heart, and then to respond back, what you actually have is a tremendous free market research pool. I wrote an article about this idea of the magic of a 3-star review. Most reviews are not three stars. Most of reviews are five stars or a one star because polarizing experiences tend to cause people like you, who don’t review consistently, to review occasionally because they feel like, “I need to warn somebody,” or “This experience was so fantastic. I want to tip other people off.” That’s a very strong psychological motivator to change our typical behavior, which is not to review something. The 3-star review, the one that’s like, “It was fine,” can be powerful for businesses because it gives you a lot of information about what people find to be okay but not great. What you can do to make your business operations meaningfully and marginally better is to fix those. Most businesses know the things that they’re bad at. The difference between good companies and great companies are the great companies know the things that they’re pretty good at but not perfect and they fix those things. Reviews can be in a petri dish for operational improvement.

It’s not just hug your haters. Hug your moderate haters.

The book is called Hug Your Haters because it’s a good book title. The real thesis is answer every customer, which is a terrible book title. Every customer who says something to a business is incredibly valuable because so few customers say anything ever.

It’s a lot cheaper to keep customers than get new ones.

As my friend, Shep Hyken, said a fantastic customer service speaker, author, and consultant says, “A customer that you don’t answer is a customer you should be prepared to lose.”He couldn’t be more right about that. What I found in the research is that a third of all customer complaints are never answered at all. Those customers are very likely to give back because no answer is an answer. No answer is an answer that said, “We care so little about your dissatisfaction that we won’t even acknowledge it.”That’s not a good way to run a business.

Why do you think that they don’t bother answering? What’s behind that?

One is they don’t look hard enough because so many customers choose to complain in ways that might be considered non-traditional. In our research, we found that about four out of ten complaints occur in a public online forum like social media review sites, discussion boards, places like that, which are outside the traditional telephone, email, letter, face-to-face complaints continuum. A lot of businesses aren’t set up to find the customer feedback in these newfangled communication channels, which was a huge mistake. As a customer behavior changes and young people become the dominant purchasing cohort, they prefer those digital spaces over writing a long letter and certainly over sitting on hold and talking to a live person. That has to change. Some of it’s not looking hard enough. Some of it is frankly not valuing customers and saying, “If they’re unhappy, that’s okay. We’ll, replace them.”

I interviewed a gentleman in the book who owns a number of fast food franchises in the Southeast. He said, “I don’t care if somebody is dissatisfied because somebody’s going to come through drive through 30 seconds later. Doesn’t matter to me.” He was an unabashed, unashamedly say, “It doesn’t matter.”In some cases, there’s that attitude. In some cases, businesses still think about customer service using yesterday’s playbook. For a long time, maybe thousands of years, since the days of Pompeii, customer service has been, for the most part, a necessary evil. It’s something you have to do because it’s part of business. It’s viewed as an expense for businesses. How can we reduce that expense by getting people off the phone faster using automated voicemail system and such? With more and more customer contact taking place in public, Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and these places. What happened is that customer service has become a spectator sport.

In this environment where lots of other people can see how you handle your customers or how you ignore your customers, the economic implications of that grow considerably. It’s not about the revenue that that one customer represents. It’s a revenue that that customer representative plus the revenue represented by all the people who are looking on from the sidelines. That’s why we say that customer service is in many ways the new marketing. It is a revenue driver. A lot of companies haven’t quite figured this out, which is why I wrote the book. What we’re seeing and what we need to see is companies spending less on marketing and more on customer service.

You had given an example of some great customer service in one of your talks that I saw. It was somebody from Belgium. They had a café. Can you share that story?

There’s two pieces to the story. Le Pain Quotidien is a chain of bakeries and cafés. They’re a breakfast, brunch, lunch place. They’re based in Brussels. They have 220 locations or so, many in Europe. Quite a few a few dozen in the U.S., Northeast California. There’s one in Indianapolis. Their director of marketing and customer service, a joint role, Erin Pepper is her name. She’s since left. When she started there three years ago, she called a meeting of all the executives, CMO, CRO, CTO and said, “Here’s my plan. What we’re going to do is we’re going to triple the number of complaints that we get.” The CEO said, “I think we’ve made a terrible hiring decision. It’s bad. What are you talking about?” She said, “No, hear me out. We’re good. Everybody agrees around this table that we’re in good business, that we’re a good business, that we’re one of the better bakery and café chains in the world. However, we are not by any stretch of the imagination, perfect. The only way we’re going to improve beyond where we are is to know the things that we’re not doing perfect. We need our customers’ help to accomplish that.”

Erin went through and she audited all the different touch points that the business has with the customer. Email, website, social media, signage inside the restaurants, table pens, scripting for cashiers, etc. Each of these different touchpoints, she built in a nudge for feedback. Something along the lines of “Here at Le Pain Quotidien, we’d like to be the greatest chain of bakeries and cafés in the world, but we need your help to get there. We are listening in all the places that you choose to reach us. We desperate would like to know how your experience was. You can call us, you can text us. You can hit us on Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, smoke signal, email, letter, fax, whatever you want. We’re listening.”They got three times more complaints, as predicted. When they analyze those complaints, they found several things that they didn’t know they were doing wrong. They have this whole issue where people were complaining about the lemonade. That was puzzling to them because they’re known for their lemonade. They did a bunch of analysis and realized that there was one part of the chain, one geographical division, that was using an old recipe. They fixed that. Fixed a bunch of other little things on the margins, and guess what happened next? All the complaints went away.

What Erin understands that most people don’t understand is that to get fewer complaints, you first have to get more complaints. It’s a two-step process. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve been a consultant and a business owner for 25 years almost. I’ve learned one thing if nothing else, which is that praise is massively overrated. It’s most overrated thing in business and the most overrated thing in life. Every time somebody says to you, “You’re so good at this. You’re so great at that” it makes you feel terrific, but it doesn’t teach you anything. We already know what we’re good at. What makes you a better different person, a better marketer, what makes you a better wife or mother or friend or a volunteer is negative feedback and criticism, which is why good companies run away from feedback and great companies run toward it.

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Profitable Brilliance: Good companies run away from feedback and great companies run toward it.

You were saying that we spend so much on marketing and not enough on customer services. Is that number starting to change? Your 2015 stats were like you’re spending $500 billion on marketing and $9 billion on customer service. What is it now?

There a research published on that particular split. I certainly hope that that is happening. We’re also seeing not only additional emphasis on customer service, but from an organizational standpoint, more and more circumstances where marketing and customer service are being brought together in the company. The marketing team and the customer service team aren’t separate, siloed island with different managers and budgets and bonus structures. We’re starting to think holistically about the customer experience. The customer experience starts when they first learn about your brand and it lasts forever. The way it works is marketing gets you interested, sales takes your money, and customer service gets involved.

A better way to think about this is that one team satisfies whatever your needs are for the entirety of your relationship with that brand. That makes much more sense intuitively, economically. For every other reason, it should fit because of the way business was developed in this country and elsewhere. It has typically worked like that. We’re starting to see people break down those barriers and more marketing directors and chief marketing officers be in control of the entire customer’s experience, including post-sale customer service. I think that’s for the best.

You said you want to know more about things other than emotional intelligence or empathy side of customer service. What were you looking at psychologically? Can you share some of that?

You mentioned this idea of why people not answer complaints. I gave you a business answer, but the other side of that is that it’s too hard. It’s too emotionally difficult. This becomes particularly true for small business. For small business, when somebody complains about your company, it feels like somebody is telling you that your baby is ugly. You have so much of yourself in that business. it’s very difficult to separate a personal attack from an attack on your business. We wanted to probe that a little bit more for the book. I interviewed a number of psychologists and psychiatrists on this point. What we discovered is that when you confront negativity, you confront somebody asking to see the manager, or you read that one-star review, or anything along those lines, it creates some fairly significant brain chemistry changes. It triggers what is essentially a fight or flight response, which is why A. you see people ignoring negativity or B. somebody leaves a negative review, business takes umbrage, then slammed to the customer and then gets into this back and forth, increasingly hostile, sometimes humorous, but uncomfortable tit for tat in public forum, which may feel satisfying at the time, but it’s probably not a very good business outcome.

It’s so frustrating for a lot of people that I talk to that don’t know what to do when there’s something out there that maybe they shouldn’t have said or that somebody wrote about them. You could respond to it and people can see that, but it’s still always out there.

You should respond in public because it is a spectator sport. You should not get into a back and forth. My rule in the book is to reply only twice. You should never ever under any circumstances as positive, negative or neutral, answer a customer more than twice in a public forum because nothing good will come of it. If you need to take it beyond that, do it in private. Say, “We’ve asked and answered. You still have an issue. Let’s get on the phone. Let’s do this via email. Let’s do this via private message.”You do not want to get into the public back and forth because there are no winners in that circumstance.

In your Belgium example, she did both?

Yes, it does in a sequence, which is the best way to do it. When Erin would get negative reviews at Le Pain Quotidien, she would answer them back as you should and say, “Thank you for taking the time to let us know how you feel. We are disappointed that you were disappointed. We’re going to take these things to heart. We do appreciate it. We know that other people don’t take the time to let us know. We appreciate that.” She would let it sit for a couple of hours. Then, she would send them a private message, something along the lines of, “I’ve been thinking, I answered you in public. You probably saw it. If not, check there. You’re an unusually perceptive customer. You see things that other customers don’t see. You have a gift for this. What I’d like to do, with your permission, is I would like to send you two gift cards per month. With each of those gift cards, I’d like you to visit one of our Le Pain Quotidien locations. I’d like you to fill out this detailed survey of your experiences. Here’s a link to it online. You can do it from your phone. Would you do that for me? Would you give us consistent feedback twice a month? Because you do see things that other people would completely ignore. The only way we can get better is to have people like you help us get there.”It totally worked. She has150 secret shoppers working for her while she was there, doing this kind of program, filling out detailed surveys of their experiences, total cost of that program, some gift cards. If you were going to go hire a secret shopper firm to do that kind of work, it would cost you many thousands of dollars. She turned hate into help, which I think is pretty remarkable. Something that almost anybody can do. Take the people who have the biggest problem with you and time co-op them to your side. It’s a tactic that is in reach of everybody.

You’ve written so many books. Are you writing another one?

The new one is about customer experiences and how strategic operational differences can create word of mouth. When that happens, you get customers for free. The Cheesecake Factory spends five times less money on advertising than any other restaurant chain in their competitive set. They do that because they have strategic operational differences that they have purposely put into the market. I called them Talk Triggers because they create word of mouth. The talk triggers at Cheesecake Factory are three folds. First, they have an enormous menu. The menu at Cheesecake Factory is 5,910 words long. My first book was 40,000 words. It’s 15%, 20% of a book. They have enormous portion sizes. A steak sandwich at Cheesecake Factory is the size of a baby. The third thing is they have 33 different kinds of cheesecake. If I asked you to name all the kinds of cheesecake that you know of, you could not get beyond ten. You couldn’t get past ten. They’ve 33. All of those things are so unexpected and so unusual that people talk about them to their friends. When they do that, it creates their next wave of customers at no cost. Think about the rental car industry. There’s tons of car rental companies. Only one has a talk trigger. Do you know who it is? Enterprise, because they’ll pick you up. Enterprise will pick you up. Nobody else will. People talk about that. That’s their unique operational differentiator.

I know a lot of people would love to find out more about your books that you already have written. How can they find out more and how can they reach you?

Best place to find me is at, which is the main website for my consulting firm and our digital marketing resources, blogs, podcasts, eBooks, webinars. is my personal site for speaking. All the books are available in all the places that books can be purchased. Hug Your Haters is at all of the airport in the United States. If you’re on the road, you should go and grab Hug Your Haters at an airport near you.

Thank you so much. I appreciate you taking some time to be on the show.

100% my pleasure.

Profitable Brilliance: Changing The Business Landscape with Bruce Rogers

I am with Bruce Rogers, who writes a column on thought leaders changing the business landscape and is the Chief Insights Officer for Forbes Media. He’s responsible for managing Forbes Insight Thought Leadership Research Division, as well as Forbes CMO Practice. He’s also the author of Profitable Brilliance: How professional services firms become thought leaders. It’s nice to have you here.

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Profitable Brilliance: How professional services firms become thought leaders

Thanks so much for having me.

We worked together at the Forbes School of Business to create brand publishing courses based on the work that you were a part of. Can you talk about that a little bit?

I have a great, good fortune, and privilege to speak with hundreds of world-leading CMOs through my research. They come to our events. When I ask about what the challenges are, what keeps them up at night, one of the things that came up was this evolution and change in the real paradigm around advertising. Advertising was shifting from an impression-based broadcast mode to discoverable content. Content that is shareable across social media and that fills up the owned media channels and digital channels and was a different way of looking at the customer journey and content needs around managing that very complex customer journey. Switching from creating ads to creating content, by content, I mean storytelling. It turns out, that was not a skill set that most marketers had. It was not a skill set that their typical partners, advertising agencies, PR firms we’re not very good at it either. How do they ramp that up? How do they scale that capability? There were a lot of questions around it.

We spent some time developing a research, creating, understanding what the state of affairs were within the marketing community, around the capabilities for the creation and optimization and distribution and measurement of that content. It’s amazing how far the borough moves and how fast things change. We’ve come a long way since then. We produced 127-page report called Publish or Perish. It was all about creating a capability to optimize the content creation capability and supply chain. It’s a supply chain issue, like advertising is. You need a repeatable, efficient process in place to be able to do it and to do it at scale. Especially the scale that’s required by social media, which is sort of insatiable channel to fill. That was a fairly successful initiative that gave us the opportunity to work together on the curriculum that we’ve created at the Forbes School of Business and Technology. A course structure that takes the findings from the research, the foundations from the research, and turn that into a teachable moment and create curriculum around that, that folks could go through and learn how to do that at a foundational level.

Not only are you looking at CMOs, you’re profiling CEOs. You’re talking about all the different C-level executives. There’s a lot of disruption happening and it’s in the data and analytics space. There’s not enough data scientists. Is that what you’re working on now? Talking about that kind of thing?

I write typically about Founding CEOs, who are building disruptive business models. That is corollary to but separate to what I do in the CMO Practice and running our Insights Research Business, which is a division of Forbes, which creates research, helping to understand the pain points in the C-Suite. We are engaged by outside companies like KPMG and Eli and Google. I began to help them understand what those pain points are and provide them with the storytelling capability to bring what that research findings are to light. What I’m doing both on the research side and what I’m doing with our CMO Practice, which is research editorial content and events for marketing leaders, is the next phase of what I call the four Cs of what marketing is all about.

It’s not meant as a replacement of the four Ps because the four Ps are still foundation to everything in marketing. The four Cs is culture capability, content, commerce. I wrestled the content issue a little bit to the ground. It’ll be an ongoing issue over the next decade as those systems continue to mature and evolve. There’s lots of ferment on the technology side behind that to make that whole process easier and a lot of the innovations. That’s not going away. The paradigm shift didn’t begin and end. It’s an ongoing thing.

We did some research and foundational work around culture and what it takes to be an agile, innovative marketing organization. We did a lot of work around capability on the idea that the marketing organization to look at org charts. The org charts, a hierarchical org chart, head of marketing at the top, head of promotion, head of strategy, head of research promotion, etc. That hasn’t changed in 50 years. Everything we do in everything we do every day as a marketer has changed. The organization changed. We spent years working on research to help understand what the future of that organization may look like. It’s a lot more of a matrix viewpoint with the head of the organization, not necessarily being the expert on something. The orchestrator of a very complex process. They likened it to a conductor of an orchestra. You want virtuosos to play every instrument. You don’t have to be a virtuoso, yourself, in all the aspects of marketing. Data and SEO and digital distribution. You have to be expert enough to know how to get everybody onto the same page and know what great music sounds like. We created some structures and examples of how CMOs might think differently about their organization. That was the capability part.

I wasn’t sure when and how I would approach the commerce part, which to me, apart from my interest in the alliteration of the four Cs, was the idea of connecting business marketing activity, marketing investments to enterprise value. Not connecting it to e-commerce or bottom funnel activity, which are incredibly important, and a skill set that’s all part of the digital transformation initiative throughout the organization. That’s ongoing. How does what I do as a marketer contribute to enterprise value and what are the tradeoffs in investments that I need to make, that the organization needs to make, at the board level to understand where you should invest and spend less money? There isn’t anything out there. It’s a little bit uncharted category. There’s a lot of incredibly great work on how brands contribute to enterprise value, evaluating brands. The tremendous amount of academic work in that area need to undercut that work that’s been going on for many years on that great work.

It comes down to the idea that there’s no language that connects the world of marketing to the world of finance. The conversations that CEOs have at the board and the CFO on investment, you start to break down at that level. Everyone understands accounting rules. Everyone understands capex. Everyone understands long-term investment. When it comes to marketing, it’ll all start to get a little squishy.

There’s a lot done that you can’t track. It’s, it’s tough, don’t you think?

It’s very tough. As a result, this started my thinking on this. According to some great research that one of our contributors, Kim Whitler, who’s an assistant professor at the Darden School of Business at Virginia, showed that less than 3% of the members of the boards of publicly traded companies have marketing background. It’s incredibly low. The research we do among CEOs shows that one of the biggest concerns and competitive points of differentiation is understanding the customer, putting the customer at the center of the organization. The whole digital transformation journey that most companies are going is the painful process of being able to do that, put the customer at the center, and the culture that you need to build around that, the technologies that you need to connect the data, that you need to have to underpin that. “Who is the person at the center of that discussion of who owns the customer within the organization?” is not in that conversation. It’s mind boggling.

How do we get it in there?

It’s a real disconnect. The disconnect comes because there’s no real consensus ways to measure marketing performance. There’s no consensus on the language that you use. There’s no consensus on how to frame that conversation. It’s like you go to the marketing people, it’s like, “You go do those ads, but the adults are in the room deciding how we spend shareholder money. We’ll let you know afterwards how this work out.”That means. “You’re not going to get it. Your budget’s going to be like it was this year or you’re going to get a 10%increase.” The idea that, “If we did this, we can increase the value of our company.” That means the value to shareholders, the value to how we all get compensated. The value to why we’re in business.

It’s all very complicated. In marketing, I’ve seen a lot of people throw money at marketing and not even consider, “This was how it was always done.” I see more people having to have this strong analytic background to understand what they’re even looking at. Is it the same when you first got in? You were the CMO right before what you’re in now? How has it changed?

It’s definitely changed since I’ve given up that role. Even though it was always research-focused on understanding your customer, it’s more about a real time data perspective. That is different. It’s different because it’s possible now. You have the data. You have the systems that allow you to look at data in something that came to real time. I worked for a digital media company. Everything is real time. That’s truly driving organizations, including our own, in a way that was vastly different. Years ago, we’re beginning to talk about cloud computing. We’re starting to talk about SaaS. still existed but was in growth mode. It hadn’t come to dominate the world like it has today and how the ability to innovate and create technology solutions that don’t require eighteen months installations and a three-year investment. Basically, “Here’s my credit card. I’m up and running using some marketing automation platform overnight.”Nothing’s ever that easy, but technically speaking that is possible.

You talked to so many CEOs. When you look at all these companies that are going through all these changes, what was the most interesting transformation that you’ve witnessed?

There’s two things. One is who is creating the most transformational technology. Two, who is transforming? From my perspective, this is definitely still an ongoing work in progress, is my favorite example is GE. GE is making a pretty dramatic change in its business model. It’s becoming a software company. They make turbines. They make locomotive engines. They make hospital equipment. Yet at the end of the day, what they recognize the ability to manage the data that comes out of those mechanisms is more valuable than the machinery itself. That is software. Shifting the company from heavy industry to software and services, for a company that’s over 125 years, is a pretty amazing transformation. The investment community may be a little skeptical on the change and hasn’t quite moved in a direction that shows that their transformation is paying off. It’s a stunning change.

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Profitable Brilliance: Shifting the company from heavy industry to software and services, for a company that’s over 125 years, is a pretty amazing transformation.

I had spoken to Steve Kerr about GE in the past. It would be interesting to see what he thinks of that. I’ve been seeing a lot of changes in companies. I see a lot more C-level jobs. Steve was the first CLO. Are you seeing that there’s a lot of new jobs in the C-Suite? Can we have too many? When do you have too many?

The short answer is yes. The longer is I think this is either emblematic or symptomatic, depending on your perspective. One of these moments of tremendous change, I don’t see an end to the change, but I think what is happening is that traditional roles are breaking down within the C-Suite. The digital technology is the Shiva of the modern world. It’s creator and destroyer all at once. It is creating lots of opportunity, but leading others in its wake. The challenge for CEOs and boards is they’re looking for someone to speed the clock in the organization and move across silos, the traditional silos. That’s leading to new roles like Chief Digital Officer, Chief Data and Analytics Officer, Chief Customer Officer. It’s all about either how do I get closer to the customer, how do I break down walls between organizations because you can no longer do anything without connecting to technology. In the past, those were at loggerheads and organizations move faster than the IT organizations could move. It’s a little bit trying to put the pieces back together. You have a lot of C-Suite roles that maybe they’re transitional in my mind, whether that turns out to be true or not, remains.

There’s so much disruption and things going on in the markets. What do you think is going to be to be the biggest disruption? Is it still retail?

Retail is still on to be disrupted. Its demise is greatly exaggerated. Amazon can’t own every retail transaction however much of a juggernaut it is. It still represents actually a pretty small percentage of all retail. It’s another transitional moment. The retailers forgot what the things that made them great retailers and therefore, we’re ripe for disruption. You could say that about almost any industry. It’s the thing that made you who and what you are, you forgot what that is, you’re going to be disrupted. It’s too easy to take the pain out of a transaction. There’s restriction involved, there’s pain involved in doing business with you if it’s not a great experience. The whole idea that organizations that have customer experience at the forefront of their strategy are either being the disruptors or creating the immunities against disruption.

A lot of people would want to know how they can read what you write and maybe find your book. Can you share how people can learn more?

You can go to You can search for my name in the search box or you can go to You’ll find 350 profiles that I’ve written for entrepreneurs and CEOs. Go to Amazon and search for my name and my books will come up.

It’s so nice of you to be on the show.

It’s always fun to talk to you. Thank you.


About Jay Baer

TTL 88 | Profitable BrillianceJay Baer is a renowned business strategist, inspirational keynote speaker and the New York Times bestselling author of five books who travels the world helping business people gain and keep more customers. Jay has advised with more than 700 companies since 1994, including Caterpillar, Nike, Allstate, and 35 of the FORTUNE 500. He is the founder of Convince & Convert ~ a member of the Inc. 5000 list of Americas fastest-growing private companies ~ a strategy consulting firm that helps prominent companies through the smart intersection of technology and customer service. His Convince & Convert Media division owns the world’s #1 content marketing blog, multiple podcasts – including Social Pros, Content Pros, InfluencePros, Business of Story, and Marketing Marvels – and many other education resources for business owners and executives.

About Bruce Rogers

TTL 88 | Profitable BrillianceBruce Rogers writes a column on thought leaders changing the business landscape and is the Chief Insights Officer for Forbes Media responsible for managing Forbes’ Insights thought leadership research division, as well as the Forbes CMO Practice. He is the co-author of “Profitable Brilliance: How Professional Services Firms Become Thought Leaders” now available on Amazon as the previously published “In the Line of Money: Branding Yourself Strategically to the Financial Elite”.


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