Companies are beginning to see that they can succeed financially while creating a positive impact on the world. Dr. Diane Hamilton’s guest is Bill Novelli, the author of Good Business, who has a distinguished career as a corporate and non-profit world leader. In this episode, Dr. Diane and Bill discuss Bill’s book and how you can make a dent in the universe wherever you are in your career right now. You can help improve not only the organization you’re working in but even the country you’re living in. Join in the conversation and discover how soft skills are the secrets of success, what it means to “talk, fight, win,” and how we can use social marketing to impact environmental and social problems.
You can use the brokenness and challenges you’ve experienced as rocket fuel to motivate you in building your future. In this episode, Mike “C-Roc” Ciorrocco, the CEO of People Building Inc., shares his journey from suffering mental and psychological abuse to using it as a spark to light up his passion for success. Dr. Diane Hamilton discusses with Mike what it means to be unstoppable, the importance of assessment for elevation, and how his sales background helped gear him up for success. Due to his experiences, Mike’s current passion is to create unstoppable people. Tune in and learn more on how to become unstoppable!
I’m glad you joined us because we have a Bill Novelli and Mike C-Roc Ciorroco. Bill is the former CEO of AARP. He has a book, Good Business. C-Roc is the CEO of People Building Inc. He is the author of Rocket Fuel. We’ve got some great books to talk about running businesses and reaching your full potential.
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What Leads To A Good Business With Bill Novelli
I am here with Bill Novelli, who is the author of Good Business. He is also the former CEO of AARP. He is the Founder and President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, EVP of CARE, President of Porter Novelli. The list goes on and on. He has a distinguished career at Unilever and beyond. I’m excited to have him here. Welcome, Bill.
Thank you very much.
I was looking forward to this because your background is fascinating. I know you’ve written several books before Good Business. You wrote Managing the Older Worker and 50+. Are you still teaching? I know you’re a professor at Georgetown.
I’m teaching in the MBA program at Georgetown.
I want to get a little background on you to find out how you reached this level of success because people are always fascinated by the path people take. Can I get your backstory a little bit?
When I started way back when, the idea was to get a job with a big company, do well, get into a corner office, earn a pension and retire. That’s what I set out to do. I was at Unilever. I was working on laundry detergents, margarine and toothpaste. I went to a hot ad agency in New York, Wells, Rich, Greene, which was run by probably the most famous and flamboyant woman to ever had a Madison Avenue agency. I was working on kids’ cereal, dog food, cat food and whatever. At the end of every day, I would be going home and I’d say, “This is good. I’ve got a young family. There’s no heavy lifting here but I am having real trouble finding any social relevance in this.”
I got lucky and I got assigned a new account and it was public television. They were hiring an ad agency to build an audience. The first thing I did was to go to a press conference. It was put on by a woman named Joan Ganz Cooney. She said to the media, “I’m here to tell you that we’re going to revolutionize children’s television.” She was talking about Sesame Street. I had this epiphany and I thought to myself, “She’s an educator for sure but she’s also a marketing person. All this marketing that I’ve been doing on packaged goods and other things, we could apply this to ideas, issues and causes.” That was my lightbulb moment and I built a career around that.
That’s quite an interesting background. I’m thinking of growing up with Sesame Street, all of us have. All the people and the things that you were involved in, did you know it was different than anything in the past at the time? Did you go, “This is cool?”
Are you speaking of Sesame Street?
Sesame Street and what it led to.No matter where you are in your career, you can make a difference. Click To Tweet
Sesame Street turned out to be what she said, it was revolutionary. My problem was I couldn’t figure out how to turn that into a real career. I then got another piece of luck. I was invited to go to the Peace Corps. I don’t mean Mozambique, Columbia or whatever. I mean Washington to market the Peace Corps. These were back in the days when host countries love the Peace Corps as they do now. What they were saying to the Peace Corps was, “We need more people who understand agriculture. We need more MBAs, nurses, older volunteers and we would like to have some people who look like us.” The idea was to try to reposition the Peace Corps along those lines and that’s what got me going.
What an interesting career path. How did you end up at AARP?
It was part of the trail. It was a winding trail, not a straight line. I went from the Peace Corps and I started Porter Novelli. We built it into a global public relations agency. We started it to apply marketing to health and social issues. Back in those days, that was unique. It was a pioneering step in terms of social marketing. From there, I went to CARE and worked on CARE in 40 developing countries on girls’ and womens’ education, agriculture and all kinds of fascinating things. I then started the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and fought the tobacco wars, which was grueling. I went from there to AARP.
I worked for AstraZeneca for many years and part of it was in agriculture and pharmaceuticals. I am tying in all the things. Like you, I went to work thinking, “I do have a pension.” You don’t meet many of us, do you?
I know you’re also a professor.
I am. I have worked as an MBA program chair, a dean, a doctoral chair. I’ve worked in all areas of business but my focus has always been on behaviors. My research is in the area of curiosity, perception and soft skills in general. I’m fascinated by what leads to good business. I am interested in your book. I want to hear about your book because I know you’ve dealt with the older workers, 50-plus in your other books. Is this one focused in that direction? Your title is Good Business: The Talk, Fight, Win Way to Change the World.
It does have older workers and an aging population as a key part of it. There are several threads to it. Number one is that companies are seeing that they can do well by doing good. They’re seeing that they can create financial success for their stockholders by creating social and environmental value for the rest of us. That’s a trend. I talk about that in the book. The second thing is no matter where you are in your career, wherever you are in whatever organization, whether you’re starting, mid-career or whatever, you can make a social difference. You can make what I call a dent in the universe. The third thread of the book is that we have a great country and we know we have problems. Our obligation is to make it better and to pass it on. The last chapter, which I devoted a lot of effort to, is what do we owe our grandchildren?
I want to touch on each of these. I’ve taught a lot of Mackey in the courses of Conscious Capitalism. I teach a lot of servant leadership and all that. How much did those impact what you’re talking about in terms of doing well by doing good and still be profitable but do good things?
It had a big influence on me and the book. We have a program at Georgetown in the business school, which we call Business for Impact. We do partnerships with companies, nonprofits and government along the lines of what we’re talking about. There are a lot of examples of companies that are striving to do this. I’m not saying all companies are. Some of them are behind the curve but many of them are figuring it out.
In my research for curiosity, that’s what I mostly work on. People hire me to speak about soft skills on these things. I started to look at curiosity because I’ve had many people like you who are super curious. They do these amazing things and they go on to the next level. I looked at the things that keep people back from being curious. What is interesting is what comes first. Is it curiosity, motivation curiosity or engagement curiosity? I kept coming back to what comes first. Did curiosity play a big role in your life, success and your leadership? Where do you see that in the business setting?
You’re right on target. Curiosity is one of the most powerful motivators there is. There’s no question about it. When you were talking about soft skills, you and I know that those soft skills are the secret to success. You need to understand accounting, marketing and whatever, but it’s the ability to listen, to lead, to build teams and to be curious. The best question we could ask ourselves is what’s next?
The question asking thing is critical. It’s such an interesting time. Before I ask you more about the book, I wanted to ask you about following that vein of where companies go. For me, curiosity was about getting out of status quo thinking. Sometimes I look at AARP and I think, “I would love to see this and that.” How is that company since you left in 2009? Do you see that it’s ripe for reinvention? I would love to see so much more from them. I sometimes think, “I want to contact them.” I have all these great ideas. I could be the face of AARP by this age. What do you think of how they’re handling innovation and keeping up?
I stay close to AARP and I’d be glad to introduce you. They’d love your ideas. AARP is an interesting organization. It’s large. It’s got almost 40 million members. The membership is so big that it represents all of 50-plus America. It’s got the same percentage of Democrats, Republicans, Independents. I think of AARP as a social impact organization. They try to focus on financial security for older people, health and healthcare, independent living and all those things. To do that, they got to work on policy change, all the things that the country is facing. I think of them as innovative but they could certainly be more so.
I’d like to see a little more hip. The financial security thing is interesting to me. I used to work in banking and all that. The 50 and older crowd are a lot hipper now. You’re getting to the bottom of the Boomer generation but also getting into Gen X. We work with more tech-savvy people. I always wanted to know more about that. I gave the subtitle. I want to know what you mean by talk, fight, win.
I’ve learned some lessons along the way. I’ve worked in several different areas. I fought at the tobacco wars. I worked with the pharmaceutical industry, food and beverage, and all kinds of things, the alcohol industry. What I believe is that today’s social and environmental problems are way too big for endless combat. We need to get everybody at the table. I’m talking about business, civil society and government. Of course, we’re not always going to agree. We’re going to have to talk and we’re going to have to fight to get somewhere. My thought is that today’s opponents could be next week’s allies. There are no permanent enemies. We should only have permanent principles and values. That’s what I mean by talk, fight, win.
There are a lot of talking that’s not leading somewhere. What do you think social media is doing to how everybody’s communicating? Are people listening?Soft skills are the secrets of success. Click To Tweet
Lots of people have written and talked about it. Social media is an enormous breakthrough in communication. At the same time, it presents many difficult problems. All the misinformation and all the disinformation that’s out there affects everything from COVID vaccinations to immigration to infrastructure. It’s causing problems.
It’s interesting because I’ve had people on the show and we’ve talked about mask-wearing versus not mask-wearing and different things. One woman I talked to was in a different country and she said that it’s politically divided here in the United States. She sees that other countries are divided for different reasons that had nothing to do with politics. I was selling computers in the ‘80s. Back then, we used to think completely differently than we do now, your reach and where you can connect with people. How can we use this social marketing to impact all these environmental social problems? You talked a bit about that. What can we do differently?
The essence of social marketing is to take the basic principles of marketing, the basic practices of marketing and apply them to social change and behavior change. If you do it right, you’re trying to do two things. One is to benefit the individual and two is to benefit society. I was in a discussion with somebody who is leading the big COVID communications program for the US government. She’s a contractor and they have done terrific research. They’ve done all kinds of interesting segmentation. They understand what the hesitancy is about vaccines. They’re trying to make a difference. That’s a good example of trying to apply marketing to behavior change and it’s not easy.
It’s interesting to look at marketing. I love teaching marketing. It’s one of my favorite things to teach. I meet many people who are on social media. You’ve seen the Facebook movies and the things talking about how they show what you’re interested in on some of these platforms. You get that confirmation bias to a lot of extents in one way or another. How do we get where people are listening to all sides of everything? Is that possible?
I don’t know if it is. Here’s my thought, I call it crossing the aisle. I’ve worked on Capitol Hill and gotten beat up by all of them up there. Some of these policymakers are good at crossing the aisle. I give these two good examples in my book, Bill Frist who was one time the Senate majority leader, and Olympia Snowe, a senator from Maine. Those two people were champions at being able to go to the other side and say, “What can we do? How can we get something done?” That concept of crossing the aisle is something that you and I, and everybody have to do. I have people in my family that I can’t talk politics with. We can talk football. We can talk family. We don’t talk politics. My thought is that in our churches, synagogues, workplaces, universities, we’ve got to go out of our way to try to find common ground. We may not agree on who won the election, but maybe we can agree on something else like education or infrastructure. That’s the only way to break this toxic mess that we have, in my view.
I had Steve Forbes on the show in the past and he was talking about politics. You used to be able to go to dinner parties and talk about it and he goes, “That’s one way to clear the room now.” Do you think it’s ever going to change? Do you think this is the direction that we’re going, to become more divided? You talked about what we can do but if enough people aren’t doing it, it’s hard.
It is going to change. I’m an optimist. These tough moments in American history are cyclical. I lived through the period of the Vietnam War. I can tell you, that was a brutal time. People couldn’t talk to each other then. There have been many other times in American history where we’ve been on a real downslope. We’re going to get past this, but we need leadership, we need to cross the aisle, and we need to hold people accountable.
I’m sure these topics come up in your courses and all that. I want to know what you teach in the MBA program at Georgetown from having run an MBA program in the past? What courses are you teaching?
I started a course in Corporate Social Responsibility. I teach two other courses, one is Ethical Leadership and one is called Building the Enterprise. You’ll appreciate this. These MBA study and all these technical things whether it’s finance, accounting or whatever. Would it be nice if they could apply all this to running an organization? That’s what that’s about. The Ethical Leadership course is my favorite. I am happy with today’s students. They’re tomorrow’s leaders. The one common thing that they talk about is they say, “I want purpose as well as a paycheck.” One of them said to me, “I got a lot of student debt. I need to pay that off. I want to have a family. I want to buy a house. I want to have a nice career but I don’t want to lose my sense of purpose.” That bodes well for the country.
Teaching Ethics is such an incredibly fun and challenging thing. I wrote an Ethics course once for another university. The subjectivity of it, people get nutty when they start debating. The fun part of teaching it is you get to play devil’s advocate and play the opposite side of all platforms. Do you get to do a lot of that in there?
I love to play devil’s advocate. In my syllabus, I have a reading called Get Rich Cheating. I have to say in parenthesis, this is satire. A lot of these foreign students don’t understand that it’s satire. The gist of this is everybody’s cheating. Everybody’s making money cheating and you can do it too. You can get rich cheating. I have a heck of a time getting the students engaged in this because they reject the idea out of hand. I had this one student on Zoom and she said, “Excuse me for a minute.” She came back with a baby in her lap. She said, “This is why I don’t cheat.” I thought that was powerful.
I taught in the Ethics class. I would make them put themselves in Ken Lay’s shoes and do it like, “What’s he thinking? Why is he doing it?” I want them to do it in a positive way. I know what you’re talking about. They did not do it that way. In my research for curiosity, I give examples of companies that have come up with great ideas based on curiosity and one of them was Monopoly. I found out that 50% of the people who play Monopoly cheat. They created the Cheaters Edition of Monopoly where you try to cheat and you end up going in that direction. It might be a fun thing to do in your class. That was their second-biggest launch after the initial launch because they got tired of the cats and the dogs Monopoly.
That’s brilliant. You know yourself from your work that a lot of cheating comes from pressure from the top. That’s why it’s important for the C-suite people to live the message, for them to have the right tone from the top. Otherwise, the pressure drips down on the middle management people and the people below them.
We saw a lot of that with Wells Fargo. You get that pressure.Use the challenge to build upon rather than destroy. Click To Tweet
That’s a good example.
It’s interesting to do these case studies. I’ve had many great people on the show. Kotter has written many management books. He’s been on this show. Doug Conant and what he did with Campbell Soup, you name it. They’ve been on my show. I love to talk to people about all this stuff. I wanted to touch on your other books because you wrote Managing the Older Worker and 50+. In one of the first talks I had to give at Forbes, they asked me to speak about generations in the workplace and about the challenges. How sick were you learning about Boomers and Millennials not getting along and stuff? After a while, you start to hear a little bit too much. There are some issues in different generations. Are you seeing that people are getting along or not getting along? How is it managing the older worker?
People are getting along better. The analogy that I give is one of the problems is younger supervisors managing older workers. Put this image in your mind, you’ve got a 35-year-old supervisor and she’s looking across the table at a 66-year-old woman. The supervisor is saying, “Can I manage this person? Can she learn?” The older woman is looking across the table and says, “This supervisor looks like my kid. Can I report to her?” The analogy is to think back years ago, men were standing around the water cooler saying, “Can I report to a woman?” That question has been answered. Women are running universities, Army units, companies, you name it. The same thing is going to happen with the generations.
I was thinking about one of the bosses I had. I was quite a bit older and he was younger. When you’re older, you’re much less sensitive to things. You handle things a little easier. I remember he asked me to do something. I never had to do anything for any company. I said, “I don’t know how to do that. How do I do that?” He looked at me with such disgust and he says, “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that.” He’s this kid. He’s trying to pump himself up. I felt bad. It was supposed to intimidate but instead, I’m like, “It’s ridiculous to say that to somebody.” We see that sometimes. It’s hard because they know you have more experience, you’re older or whatever. What do you tell the young person who’s trying to manage me or somebody like me who has been around a long time? It’s hard.
You’re talking about the Gen Xers and so forth. I have a whole chapter in the book devoted to an older population. The reason I do is that the oldest of the Baby Boomers turned 75 years old. We’ve got 10,000 people every day becoming eligible at 65 for Medicare. What’s happening is that these older people are moving into the health care system and many of them have multiple chronic diseases. They’re on a downward trajectory. There’s a big gap between what people want when they are seriously ill and what we give them.
The research shows us that they want to be at home with their families. They want to have their pain managed. They want to have their spiritual needs addressed. Number one, they don’t want to bankrupt or impoverish their families. In our wonderful healthcare system, we often give them the opposite. We give them all kinds of aggressive treatment but they don’t understand that they don’t want it. It doesn’t prolong their lives. It doesn’t improve their quality of life. Oftentimes, they die in the hospital or institutions. It adds huge expense to their families and the country. What I’m working on and what we need to address is how do we close that gap?
That’s a big area of research. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with because I agree with you. I have seen so much trouble that people have faced in costs. Hopefully, in your next book, we can talk about that on the next show. This has been fascinating. A lot of people will want to read Good Business and find out more about you. Is there some site or someplace they can reach you?
Go to BillNovelli.com.
That’s easy. I hope everybody does that. I enjoyed having you on the show, Bill. Thank you so much for being my guest.
Thank you so much for having me, Diane. I liked it.
It was fun.
Creating Unstoppable People With Mike “C-Roc” Ciorrocco
I am here with Mike C-Roc Ciorrocco who is the CEO of People Building, Inc. and the powerhouse behind the What Are You Made Of? Movement. He has his podcast and a book coming out, Rocket Fuel. I’m excited to have you on the show, C-Roc. Welcome.
Thank you, Dr. Diane. I know you don’t want to be called Dr. Diane but I have to respect you because I know what goes into that. That is important to me. I want to make sure that I honor that. I want to start the show by expressing gratitude for the opportunity to be here.
You’re welcome. I’ll answer anything but that’s nice of you to give me that. I’m fascinated by what you’re working on and what you’ve done. I want to get a backstory on you. I’ve said a little bit about you but for those who aren’t familiar with your show or your book, what led you to this?
I grew up around a lot of broken people, brokenness and a broken mindset. Everybody’s broken to some extent. Some of the things that I went through had challenged me. I chose to use that challenge to build upon rather than destroy. For the most part, we all go through phases in our life that are destructive to an extent. I don’t remember my parents ever together. I came from a broken home. I did the “every other weekend” thing. Custody battles and child support, I’ve dealt with all that conflict. You add step-parents into the mix and then that adds another level of conflict. I grew up in that environment. If those that are reading have been in that, they understand what I’m talking about and/or at least seen it in friends of theirs.
From 8 to 11, I decided to live with my dad because my mom was getting ready to marry her third husband. I didn’t want to learn the rules of another man’s household. At eight years old, I’m trying to figure my way through this, which has allowed me to mature pretty quickly. I decided to try my dad and he was getting married to his first wife after my mom. I said, “What the heck, let me try this.” I did and it started great. For three years, that 8 to 11 range, there were a lot of conflicts that came about because my mom and my stepmom didn’t get along for whatever reason. My stepmom was dealing with issues herself.
I don’t like to judge people. I’m not telling the story to bash anybody. I know people go through difficult times. Sometimes they don’t know how to deal with it. I want to preface this by saying that this is not to bash anybody. It’s my story and I want to share with you where the spark got lit. During that time, I went through a lot of mental abuse, psychological abuse and threats. My mom was threatened when my step-mom and dad would be fighting. I would sleep with my baseball bat at night because I was scared. I was going to defend myself and I didn’t know what was going to happen.
During that phase, I started to go in a direction of thinking that this can’t be normal. At first, I thought it was ordinary. I didn’t know any different. I started thinking and being around people and I realized it wasn’t ordinary. I came home one weekend to my mom. We’re going over these hills in Southeastern Pennsylvania. My stomach was getting tied into knots. I’m like, “I don’t want to go back.” My mom sensed this and she said, “This is not ordinary. You don’t need to be dealing with this.” I finally shared with her. A lot of times abused people have a hard time sharing this because they don’t know what’s going to happen when they do release the information and if anybody’s going to believe them. Believe it or not, people care about the abuser sometimes. What’s going to happen to them?
We take a lot on ourselves. My mom said, “I’m going to file court papers. If I do this, you cannot flip-flop. You need to stick to your guns. When you believe in something in life, people will try to talk you out of it. They will try to match their agenda and talk you out of it. They will be threatened by your advancements in life. You need to stick to your guns.” That was a great lesson to learn at 10.5, 11 years old. I carry that to this day. Everybody calls me stubborn. I looked up the definition of that in the Merriam-Webster dictionary and it says, “Perversely unyielding.” I’m thinking to myself, “I like this.” If I want to get something in life and I’m perversely unyielding towards it, I’m going to make out okay.
Inexplorable, that’s another word I learned. I’ve heard that word before but I was reading something and I like to look up words and definitions. I’m like, “Inexplorable is a good word to use.” Going back to the story, my mom filed the papers. It was like a ticking time bomb. I was waiting for my dad to be served. I didn’t share the information. One day, I came home from school and he was holding these papers and he told me to go to my room. My dad was my hero. He was a Mason. He had his own business. He’s successful. He laid brick, block, concrete and had big forearms and rough hands. I always looked up to him for how hard of a worker he was. He always used to carry this wad of $100 bills in his pocket with a rubber band around it and he’d flash it and show me. I thought that was the coolest thing as a kid.
When he came and confronted me, I remember my mom saying, “Stick to your guns.” He said, “I don’t understand this. Why would you want to live here? We have everything you need here. Your mom’s marrying her third husband. They’re poor. They don’t have any money.” We were poor. We lived in a $25,000 to $30,000 house. We went on vacation but we went to the Jersey Shore and stayed in this musty, one-room motel. There were six of us. We had black trash bags as our suitcases. I know we could have had it worse. In contrast to my dad, it was nowhere close. I said, “I’m not discussing this. I’ve made my mind up. It is what it is.” He said, “Okay.” He takes that wad of $100 bills out, that I always looked up to him for. He peeled one off, crumpled it up, threw it at me and said, “You’re going to need this when you’re living on the streets with your mother.”
Let me remind you, from 8 to 11, I was maturing a lot at that age compared to most kids. I said to myself, “No way. I’m not going to need that money. I’ll show you.” I looked at it as a challenge but there was a spark that lit right there. There’s more to the story but in the essence of time, 30-some years I’ve been driving off of this spark. I did a self-assessment because of some events that took place and I said, “What is going on in my life that no matter what happens to me, setback, discouragement from people, screw-ups of my own, why are my graphs still going up?”
I found out what the reason was. It was that I was taking everything that would stop or slow down the normal human being. I was storing it in my tank instead of my trunk where it would weigh me down. I was converting it into rocket fuel from my future. Once I realized this, my graphs didn’t go up a little bit anymore, it took a rocket ship trajectory. I came up with the Rocket Fuel Law. It’s powerful. It’s all about becoming unstoppable by removing everything that would stop you and convert it into rocket fuel for your future. That’s a little backstory.
It made me think a little bit of Elon Musk’s story. His father told him he wouldn’t amount to anything. He had that “I’ll show you” attitude. It fascinates me because I’m a researcher in the area of curiosity. Many people are held back. The four things I found that hold people back from being curious are fear, assumptions, which is the voice in your head, technology and environment. The environment is such a huge one where it could either help you or hurt you sometimes, mostly hurt in a lot of the cases of curiosity. What do you think it is that made you be more like Elon and not the person who would be held back by it?
A couple of things. My mom, at a young age, I remember 3, 4 or 5 years old in that range, she would he used to tell me all the time, “You’re going to be an inspiration to people. You’re a leader. You inspire me.” I don’t know if my mom was aware of what she was doing. My mom’s crazy as far as fun. We call her crazy. The kids call her crazy. The thing is that she grew up in a problem-filled upbringing as well. She knew, subconsciously, that she was going to have to prepare me to go through some tough times.
Your environment did help you then in a way. One was enough.
She was preparing me for battle. I look back at that and I think she did a wonderful job at that because everything I did, I filtered through. I’m going to help, inspire and lead people. Subconsciously, I always tried to do that. I wasn’t okay with people being the way they were with the troubles that they had. I always thought that there was a solution, even when they didn’t want to be helped. As you know, you can’t help someone that doesn’t believe help is a good thing or doesn’t believe in help. That’s where it started. As I’ve gotten older, my purpose has shifted to creating unstoppable people.
What is an unstoppable person in your mind? Having attended Joe Polish’ Genius Network, I remember we did this moonshot exercise. If you had no boundaries, what would you create as your product? Where would you be? I had Naveen Jain, the billionaire. He always talks about your moonshot. He has a company that goes to the moon. He has all these things. Is it about creating a moonshot? Is it about being the best you can be? What do you mean by that?
We don’t know what our potential is. I have not met a person yet that knows what their potential is. Why would we limit ourselves? I keep things simple. I don’t like to complicate things. We’ve been put on this planet by a creator. Whatever you believe, somehow you got here and you have an unknown potential. I don’t know what mine is. I don’t know what anybody else’s is. Why not go higher than you think you’re supposed to and see what happens? When I say unstoppable, if you say, “I’m going to be a billionaire,” that’s not guaranteeing you that you’re going to be a billionaire. What I’m talking about is become unstoppable going towards it.
It’s interesting because I teach many entrepreneurship courses. When I ran the MBA program at Forbes School of Business, I was thinking about how do we train people to know when to cut bait? Sometimes, a company is not the best way to go. Sometimes you learn your best things through failure. How do you know when to pivot and when to quit? It’s something that’s going to be not the best thing. Isn’t there a time when you want to stop at some point?
Keeping things simple. I always start with people with a purpose. From that purpose, you’re filtering things. It’s either going towards or away. This is what I teach my clients and the people that work with me. You make decisions. Your thoughts, your words and your actions, either go towards building that dream or that purpose or away from it. When you’re into something, a business and you start to see that it’s not going towards that direction. You either need to correct that direction or if you don’t see the way to correct that direction then shift. They say pivot, that’s a common word now. I’m not a fan of that word because it’s used so much. I love space analogy. I love the rocket fuel. If you’re going into space and you have a planet that you’re going towards and you get off course a little bit, it could be half a degree, you have to change direction back to where your purpose is. To me, it’s waking up every day and realizing, “Am I going through this mission whether it’s a business or whatever it is? Is it in alignment with my purpose?”You can't help someone that doesn't believe help is a good thing. Click To Tweet
How do you know when you’re off track? I’m envisioning Star Trek and the way he’s going towards that hole. They’re trying to get into the next ship. You could barely be off and you’re not going to make it. How do you know?
I know and everybody knows some parts on their own by doing an assessment. Elevation comes from assessment. Elevation comes to proximity. It comes from proximity to hire people that can see things you don’t see. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. This is my favorite stuff to talk about. A coach needs a coach. A therapist needs a therapist. Everyone needs something that they’re trying to do for them to be able to see their blind spots and see where they may be missing things. If you’re in a rocket ship going to a planet, you have Houston like, “Houston, we have a problem.” You have Houston watching, guiding and seeing it from behind or on radar or whatever they use on the satellites to make sure that you’re on course. Too many people do not ask for help and do not look for help. Help is important. Help does not make you less valuable or less smart. It does the opposite. That is the key.
I created a lot of assessments and I wrote a book about a lot of these different assessments. That can be an important thing to do. If you don’t know where you are, how do you know where to go from there? You don’t know your baseline. When you talk about assessments, are you talking about a physical assessment like the kind I write? Are you talking about being assessed by somebody else? What do you mean by that?
Do you create assessments? I’m curious.
No. I’ll give you an example. I have a coach, Richie Dolan, that coaches me. He’s one of my coaches. Prior to getting real deep with us, I didn’t have it planned in my schedule. I thought I was going to be meeting with him. He throws these assignments at us and I’m like, “I got to get this figured into my calendar.” I live by my calendar. Now I had to figure out, “I’m going through this. I need to figure out what I need to get rid of.” If you want to gain something or get into something new that’s going to benefit you, you have to figure out what you’re going to let go of. I did that. He asked 300-plus questions before he even started to do any coaching or what have you. That’s an example of an exterior assessment.
What questions was he asking you?
Anything from purpose all the way through finances, where we are, and making sure that we knew exactly where our passwords were for everything that we had in life. It was an overhaul financial life plan assessment, and also to become a better coach, guiding us in those directions. It was pretty much all-encompassing. Finances were a big part of it and purpose and making sure that we knew exactly where we are currently so that we know where our starting point is. If it’s going to be going somewhere, you have point A to point B. You need to know where your point A is. That’s what he was doing.
I’m sure you did great on the finance part. I noticed that you’re number one on the list of top mortgage professionals at Yahoo Finance. We have that in common, we were in the mortgage business. Are you still doing that? Was that part of the direction you took?
Yes. From 2006, after getting out of real estate, I got into mortgages as a loan officer. I developed the team from there. I still have a team of under 40 employees. I run a division for Nations Lending. I’ve taken three of my best friends, my little brother and another lady that’s been with us from day one, and formulated a leadership team to run the day-to-day operations of the team. I work on the business and not in the business. I have taken that and that is running. They’re great. Everything I do outside of this, my partners take advantage of as well. I go do what I do as far as coaching, the book I wrote, Rocket Fuel, the podcast. Also, we’re getting into the tech space.
Everything I do is on the outside because they’re running the day-to-day operation. We’ve formulated a partnership in this. We’re all in this together. I keep writing my goals every day to remind myself. Whether they have a success of what they’re doing or if I have more success than them, I take my homies with me. By the way, that’s not taking an entourage of people that are weighing you down and draining you. I did this on purpose and intentionally because I wanted people around me that encouraged me and are celebrating and rooting me on and picking me up when I go down. I do the same thing for them. I might take less money in what I’m doing on each thing that we get into. To me, the whole is so much bigger.
Justin Breen has been a guest on the show and he introduced us. How did you know Justin?
I made so many connections through different people and I don’t remember off the top of my head. It might have been through Dr. Greg Reed.
Justin has been a great guest on the show. I know he had good things to say about the work you’re doing. As I was looking at our backgrounds, we both have podcasts, we both work in mortgages. We both have similar things that we speak, coach, author and some of these things. What I thought was always interesting to me is how important having a sales background can be in many different areas of success. What did having that sales background do for you?
A lot of people say they had a lemonade stand. I sold golf balls when I was eight on a golf course but that doesn’t count. I got in in-home sales in 1998. I was going around driving an hour and a half each way and go into houses. I was testing water and selling water treatment systems to the people who needed them. We would go in for 2 or 3 hours and show the people the difference in the water. We had a nice filtration system with us and we’d show them the difference. If they wanted to buy, we signed them up. We had to close deals, build rapport, handle objections and all that jazz. I hated that business by the way, but I got good at it anyway. When I got into real estate in the mortgages, it was easy compared to that. To me, sales are everything. To me, sales is leadership and influence. That’s the way I’ve relayed that. I keep things simple. If I want to lead people, influence people and if I have a good sales background, that’s going to allow me to do that.
It’s foundational. I was in mortgage sales after I’d been in pharmaceutical sales forever. I sold computers and different types of sales. I went into mortgage sales because I love paperwork. I’m the biggest nerd on the planet. I thought, “What’s the most paperwork-driven?”
Good for you because I don’t.
No one does. No one in sales like paperwork. I was the only one. When I was a pharmaceutical rep, I used to get excited to do my expense report and they thought I was insane. You can’t get more paperwork than in the mortgage business. I loved it. It was the hours that were killing me because we had to work nights sometimes. I did like it. It’s a great business to be in. I want to touch one more time on your book, Rocket Fuel because I want to know who you think that this book is made for. Who are you writing this for?
The more I think about this, I wrote the book for people that aren’t as further along as I am, maybe in life as far as age or their career. One of the biggest things is I allow people to steal my dreams for so many years. I let people get in my head and was worried about what they would think. I was compromised. As Tim Storey says, “I was compromising instead of rising.” That bothers me. I see it in my son. He’s on a football team and he’s allowing the other players around him that are older to make comments and bother him. I’m working with him to make sure like, “They’re just talking about themselves. It’s not the same that they’re talking about. They feel bad inside. It’s not you. You’re fine. You keep on going. Use it as fuel.” This book is for anyone that is struggling and feeling unable to move forward to the life of their dreams.
There are a lot of people that fall into that category. Unfortunately, there’s so much that sometimes we don’t know. A lot of people are going to be interested in finding your book, finding you and learning more. How can they find you, C-Roc?Elevations come from assessments. Click To Tweet
Come find me because I have some big things coming. We have a tech product. I’m a Cofounder of a company called Blooprinted. I’m excited to get this information out to people that are entrepreneurs or anybody that’s had success that is able to reverse engineer their success in a project management format, step by step, algorithmic instead of a digital training video platform. It’s telling people the steps. What to do first? What to do next? This product is disruptive. It’s coming out with an MVP. Follow me. Instagram or LinkedIn are the best places. Instagram, I’m on there @MikeyCRoc.
The book will on Amazon. They can look for that as well, Rocket Fuel.
Grant Cardone is one of my mentors. He wrote the foreword for the book. He also shares what that Rocket Fuel Law has meant to him in his business in life.
That’s quite an endorsement. A lot of people can get a lot from this. Thank you so much for being on the show. I’m looking forward to reading your book.
Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.
I’d like to thank both Bill and C-Roc for being my guests. We get many great guests on this show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, you can catch them at DrDianeHamilton.com. We’d love to hear from you. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope you join us for the next episode of Take the Lead Radio.
- Bill Novelli
- Mike C-Roc Ciorroco
- Good Business
- Rocket Fuel
- Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
- Porter Novelli
- Managing the Older Worker
- People Building, Inc.
- Steve Forbes – Past episode
- Conscious Capitalism
- Business for Impact
- Doug Conant – Past episode
- podcast – What Are You Made Of? Podcast
- Naveen Jain – Past episode
- Justin Breen – Past episode
- LinkedIn – Mike C-Roc Ciorrocco
- @MikeyCRoc – Instagram
About Bill Novelli
Bill Novelli, author of GOOD BUSINESS, has a distinguished career as a leader in the corporate and non-profit worlds. He was CEO of AARP, founder and president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, EVP of CARE, and president of Porter Novelli, the global public relations agency. He began his career at Unilever and also was Director of Advertising & Creative Services at the Peace Corps.
About Mike “C-Roc” Ciorrocco
Mike “C-Roc” Ciorrocco is the CEO of People Building, Inc., and the powerhouse behind the “What Are You Made Of?” movement.
He is a performance coach, author, dynamic public speaker, visionary and thought leader. He has been featured by Yahoo! Finance as one of the Top Business Leaders to Follow in 2020 and is on a mission to build people. He is driven to Inspire others and he measures his success on how he is able to help others achieve greatness. C-Roc had a fire lit in him at an early age. That fire has ignited him with a fierce desire to compel people to see the greatness inside themselves using past life events to fuel their fire.
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