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EP83 Serial Entrepreneur: Secrets Revealed!

[00:00:00] You are on Startup Club. We have a very exciting announcement today. We clocked over 900,000 members and if you’re not already a member of Startup Club or you are listening to this in podcast, feel free to join us every Friday at two o’clock Eastern.

And this is episode number 83. And we’d really like to see more of you on stage. Cause if you, when you come on stage, it really invigorates us. It makes the discussion a lot more interesting. And if you’re in the audience right now, you wanna share this with others. Feel free to do cuz today is going to be very exciting.

We have a best selling author, we have a top worldwide guru who’s gonna share with us some of his philosophies on how to create meaningful connections. And Michelle, you’ll do an intro in a minute here as well, right? But if you haven’t already gone to our, or listened to any of our podcasts, [00:01:00] feel free to do that as well.

We have 83 shows and I would often say that if you listen to every one of these episodes, you’d get an MBA in entrepreneurship. We’ve had so many great authors on including the gentleman today, Mark Sharon Brock, and I’m gonna pass it to you, Michelle, to to do the intro and we’ll kick this off.

Excellent. Thank you so much and congratulations to all of our members. We’re now 900,000 strong. Here on Clubhouse at Startup Club. So we’re so pleased to be able to bring Mark Sharon Brock to our members today. Mark is an amazing speaker, but above all that he is an expert in helping people individually and personally create meaningful connections that permeate [00:02:00] into their business life as well as their personal life.

He speaks all around the world. Mark is actually a Hall of Fame member of the National Association of Speakers, and he is an Emmy award writer and producer. So that’s just a few of the accolades and awards to give Mark. But today we’re really gonna focus on his expertise and how do we create meaningful connections that, also translate into culture, right?

Culture in your business, culture in your personal life. So we’re very excited to have you to the stage mark. And I’m gonna kick it over to Collin real quick here. And he’s gonna actually start with the first question. So Collin, what is your first question for Mark? Mark it’s a fascinating book.

Nice bike. And I was just curious how it came about, like how did you come up with the idea and the concept? [00:03:00] It’s so simple, but yet, so life changing.

And Mark is new to the platform. As you can see, he’s got his party hat there. Mark. The bottom right hand corner is the mute button if you un unplug. There we go. We’re good. . All right. Very good. Thanks Colin. I love it. Hey Michelle. Thanks for the kind introduction. Colin, great to be with you.

Thanks for reading. Nice bike. I’m glad you picked it up as far as what nice bike means and how we deal with others. I had a speaking presentation north in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I live in Minneapolis. Flew from Minneapolis to Milwaukee, rented a car drive North, and I realized immediately that I just landed in the Harley Davidson motorcycle 100 year anniversary.

There were half a million hardcore black leather serious bikers. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a Harley guy. Never have been. But that day in my beige Ford tourist or Mavis driving through seeing all those Harleys, I wanted a Harley wanna be a part of that [00:04:00] tribe. So I’m, as I’m driving through, I see all these venues going on and I’m curious.

So I pull over and I’m walking around and I see this one guy standing next, this midnight blue, huge, beautiful Harley. He looks like a Game of Thrones character. Big, huge beard, all tattooed, looked like he was about six, seven feet tall. A guy walks past him, glasses over and says, ah, nice bike. And immediately this conversation began.

The guy started talking about it. His, he and his father was the deal they had together, how they worked on Harley since he was a kid. And there was just something magical as I continued to walk around seeing different people. And I kept hearing nice bike and the conversation always followed. And so nice bike is become my metaphor about how we connect with others.

That’s where that started, Colin.

Oh that’s pretty cool. And it’s interesting for me I have to say, One of the hardest things for me [00:05:00] is sales is my person. I don’t have that high social personality. I’m a bit of an introvert, I’ll say. And so your idea of this concept of making a compliment but I think it really helps entrepreneurs like myself in business cuz that’s, that, that concept of, you can break the ice, you can crack it.

Can you talk a little bit more about how to make it authentic? The key is curiosity. There’s a great quote from Barbara Jordan, first black woman from the great state of Texas elected to Congress. And I heard her years ago and her quote changed my life, she said, It’s more important to be interested than interesting.

I think a lot of introverts, I think a lot of people think that to connect with others, they’ve gotta be interesting. They have to have a hook, they have to have something going for them, [00:06:00] something interesting to share. Whereas it’s just the opposite. It’s how you’re interested in others, how you’re curious about others.

I, if I’m with a brand new group of people or if I’m on an airplane or talking to somebody, I don’t know, I’m just curious. And so I’ll start asking them questions. Nine outta 10 people will answer every question I ask and considered a great conversation. One outta 10 will say, how about you?

What’s your story? And ask the questions equally back. So I think the first step for anybody is to know that everybody has a story. And it’s to be curious to find out what that story is, where they came from, who they are, where they’re going.

Yeah. We lost you a little bit at the end, mark. Okay. Are you back with me, Michelle? Yes, we are. And I think you were saying, and may maybe you were ready to transition, [00:07:00] is that it’s really about curiosity and I loved what you said about it’s not about you, yourself being interesting, but being interested.

I think that’s really, says it all right? It shows where your heart is and it also shows other people that, like you said there’s some level of caring. , I’m a Minnesotan and I, growing up I never felt terribly interesting. People from LA and New York are interesting and Minnesota were just cold a lot of the time.

And so I think to take an interest in others to be curious like Barbara Jordan said, to be more interested than interesting is the real key. Yeah. I love that. I think now, like it’s especially hard for people right now. Colin said, some of us intrinsically feel like, oh my gosh, I’m embarrassed, I’m gonna embarrass myself.

Or I don’t know what to say. That’s a good guiding principle, but what do you [00:08:00] suggest, in today’s world, I think it’s particularly difficult. And I actually just saw a study that came out, which was, I thought, disturbing. It was like a 20% drop off, and the number of people that actually said they had 10 or more close friends, like our society is becoming less and less dare I say engaged.

And I don’t know if it’s just because of proximity, but I’d be interested in advice that you have for us. A lot of us work remotely, or we’re having to deal with clients remotely. Like how would you apply that principle? In this kind of digital world, one of my favorite quotes actually came from a sales rep that I knew who said, never forget a friend and never let a friend forget you.

It depends upon if you have friends, dear friends or acquaintances or people you just, that are in your network or you’re connected to. [00:09:00] I I just attended a birthday party for a 90 year old named Harvey McKay, Harvey’s from Minnesota, author of a New York Times best seller swimming with his sharks and not being eaten alive.

Harvey had about 300 people that flew into Phoenix to attend his birthday. And I couldn’t hire 300 people to attend my funeral. And it was a who’s list of people in the speaking business, in the publishing business, and major players in both Arizona and Minnesota. The, what Harvey does that’s different than other people is that he invests in his friendships goes out of his way.

And, there’s a difference between networking and connecting. I think, I oftentimes, when I’ve thought of networking, it was about what can I get from other people? And I think to connect with others like Nice Bike is that you’re giving something to someone else and expecting nothing back, helping other people [00:10:00] along the way.

Complimenting people along the way, or TSA says, if you see something, say something. That works in the positive light too, to recognize others for their efforts, for their gifts, for their uniqueness.

So I, and going back to that authentic comment and this is interesting because Clubhouse is a new platform and. I think some of this could be deployed or used in Clubhouse as well. Like I can look at somebody’s profile and say, wow, isn’t that nice? Or, but let’s just, can you talk a little bit more about the authenticity of it?

Cause I think that’s important. Cause you can’t just fake it, can you? Is that what you’re saying? No, not at all. It’s taken in genuine interest in others. It’s, the golden rule. Treat people like you want to be treated to treat people with dignity and respect. Not that they have to earn it right off the bat, but you give it off the bat.

If you’ve ever traveled up in Alaska I love the people up there at their attitude because they go out of their way to help people. Because someday they might be in a similar [00:11:00] situation where they’re gonna need some help because it’s remote. And so it’s, I think to be authentic is an attitude of giving and expecting nothing in return.

That really says it all right? It’s like that is what being authentic is. And if we really come from that good part of ourself I can see how this works, right? So maybe you could give us a couple of examples, of how you’ve put that into play or how you’ve seen other people very successfully put that into play.

think for the people in the clubhouse for everyone else out there, in the next couple, next time you see a Harley rider at a gas station or at a convenience store, wherever it is, I just want you to walk up to them and in a sweet voice to say, oh, nice bike. And then pause and see the reaction and see what they have to say.

And you’ll have that sense of giving them this nice affirmation. And you’re gonna give back a lot more than you gave the next time you go to a a fast food restaurant and [00:12:00] get outta your car out of the drive through and walk up to the counter and the person that’s working on the counter, no matter what age they are.

And instead of just treating them like a robot and ordering a number five with a Coke look at them, take a pause, find the name on their name tag and say, Hey Michelle, how’s it going for you today? And just slow it down. You’ll be amazed at the reaction you get back from somebody that’s been treated like a robot, like a vending machine treated like a human in how they respond.

Tho those are the easy ones. But a sweet part that’s in my nice bike story that you might have read Colin, is about I met David Wagner. Who’s the CEO of Jude Salons. I met him. I spoke at a national conference for all people that work on the hair world. And we were discussing and he gave me his card.

And on his card underneath ceo, it said, day maker. And it’s not a curiosity, I said day, but it’s his day maker in your card. I’ve not seen that before. What’s that mean? And he told me the story about [00:13:00] how he was working in the salon. He had one of his regulars come in and he was working on her hair at the end, he just said, ah, you look absolutely marvelous today.

Thanks so much for coming in. She had left and about a week later, he got a card in the mail thanking him because sadly, she had hit a really difficult time in her life and her only solution was to take her own life. And she wanted to look nice with a hair done. When someone found her. Because of what David did with his affirmation, validation, how he nice biked her, it made her feel good about who she was.

She found some help and thankfully did not take that drastic action and is living a full life today. And so she thanked him for being his, her day maker. And so we put that on his business card from that point on to be that kind of person that, whether it’s a client, a customer, a friend, a stranger to be a day maker to see something in good in those around you and support them.

Now how do, I can see that, I [00:14:00] can see what you’re talking about with strangers. How about with people we know, our kids, our spouse people we maybe see at work every day. What about how can we change the way we interact with them? To help them have a a great day. I think Colin, first of all’s age is to take inventory.

How well do we know these people? What do we know about them? What do we know about their joys or their challenges or their struggles? When we find out more about those that are in our lives and we go a bit deeper, to find something, to support them. If they have a, here’s a, okay, nice example of a grocery store in Minneapolis where Dale, the owner, one of his baggers, a young lady named Gabby, a name appropriately given because she was just a chatter.

No matter what went down that she was bagging, she’d ask about it anyway Dale taken an interest in her, [00:15:00] found out that she absolutely. This guy called the Dog Whisper. I forget his name. I think it was Caesar something. Yeah. So he was coming to Minneapolis for a lecture and Dale, the owner of the store, called her parents, thought out if they had the date available, got three tickets for each of the parents and for Gabby.

And in a conversation, Hey Gabby, I know that you love Caesar. He’s coming to Tom Minneapolis. I got three tickets for you, your mom and your dad to go and employee of the month picture up on the wall is sweet. But to know your friends, your team members, your, the people that you’re with, and find out what their hot buttons or interests are, and to support that with some action is a great way to approach others.


Oh, great. Very good. And I just wanna let you know if you’re in the audience and you would like to ask Mark a question, or maybe you have. Your own nice bike moment that you want to talk about, please raise your hand and join us on stage. It’s Friday afternoon, we like to have fun in the afternoons, and also if you like the topic, [00:16:00] the second button from the end.

And Michelle, I don’t know if you shared the room yet, either or Mimi, but the second button from the end, from the left hand side, you can click that and share on Clubhouse, and I just did that myself right now. And that will go out to some of your followers on Clubhouse as well. So Mark, let’s go back to my anxiety and boat.

We go to either a party or you’re going into a trade show and there’s often these events that they have, like a sort of like a party at the first day and you’re walking in there, you’ve got your t-shirt on with your logo and we want to be effective, like we want to go into these shows.

They’re very expensive to attend, obviously, and your time is very limited. But we want to go and we want to meet as many people as possible and do it in a way that we can still form a meaningful connection. I know I get a lot of anxiety when I try to do this, but I was just hoping you could add, give us some advice around breaking the ice in [00:17:00] large groups like that.

I’m gonna go back to the basics, Colin and that’s to be curious about others. And instead of having 10 different questions that are rehearsed in your mind to ask people, it’s a matter of going deeper and deeper. Where’d you grow up? What high school did you graduate from? What was our mascot?

What were you involved in high school back then? What did, what, when you’re in high school, what activities helped you? What you’re doing today, what did you think you’re gonna be when you graduat high school? Did you think you’d end up in this position? I think it’s to, instead of bouncing from topic to topic to topic to find out about others, what makes them tick, what’s their story?

What are some challenges they’ve had? I just find darn, everybody I meet fascinating. Because there’s always some gem there inside someone to share. And the best is when they start to ask questions back then when it turns into a conversation. But as I said, nine outta 10 people will just answer your [00:18:00] questions.

One to 10 will ask questions back. So I think it’s a matter of constantly trying to find out about others. And, when the conversation ends, and you are networking, connecting with others, it’s, Hey, this is what I do. If there’s anything I can ever do to help you in any way.

Just ask the answer will be yes to give people some support back. I think that’s works well. Yeah. And I think the one thing that I’ve noticed, and it’s happened in my own companies too, don’t get me wrong, is that you see the sta the people who are at the show, like we went to the, went to the pet expo in Orlando last year, and I saw in our staff with the shirts on, and all they were doing was talking to themselves.

It’s a little bit of a pet peeve of mine that, you go to a trade show and all you do is talk to yourselves. Yeah. That’s interesting. Very cool. Michelle, do you have a, I know you had a number of other questions that you wanted to ask as. Yeah, I’m [00:19:00] just gonna add on to the being in a business situation and finding something to talk about.

For me, something that’s also worked is, yeah, like just ask ’em where they traveled from and are they enjoying the show and what in particular are they finding, interesting. Like that in itself can, lead to some really nice conversations where, you know, both of you actually can really get something out of it.

You might learn something that you didn’t know and you’re making some kind of connection. I don’t know about others in the room, but I’m always happy when I go to a show if I’m a able to, have a meaningful, intelligent conversation with people. And I’m sure that’s the same for other people because you’re representing your company and you need to take information back to your team.

Which kind of leads me to my next question, mark. Something that you said is, what is one that I think people really failed to do quite a lot, [00:20:00] and I’m also including myself in that is, is to continue to nurture those, relationships that you started to establish. A lot of people get back to the office or you’re at home and you’re busy and you just think, oh, I don’t wanna bug them, and I don’t have anything meaningful to say.

I’d be interested to hear some of your thoughts on that because, like Colin said, making that first connection for a lot of people is the most difficult. So it’s like when you have a good customer you worked very hard. You might have spent a lot of money to get them. So how do you like keep the relationship go growing and going when you take an interest in others?

And you find out what interests them what is it that they, and this is, it’s not a new piece of advice, but because I know when I’ve talked to people and after the meeting I’ll receive something in the mail and an article like on the Minnesota Vikings because we had a conversation about the Minnesota Vikings, and this person [00:21:00] takes the time to say, Hey, enjoyed meeting you.

Had a great conversation. Enjoy talking to you about the Minnesota Viking football team. Here’s an article that I thought you might find interesting, and they send it along, be it an email, be it a snail mail to, to again, go back to the quote, never forget a friend and never let a friend forget you to constantly investing in large and small ways to support that person.

, is it too bland or too basic? Just to say, to be a nice person? Why did we love for those of you to watch Ted Lasko the American football coach coaching, soccer football in England? Why did we like that character so much? It was a covid show. A lot of us saw it, and we liked the show, I think because Ted was just incredibly nice, did nice things for others, was thoughtful.

Not a schemer, not trying to gain in any way himself. But one of the great scenes was every day that his boss loved these bars that he made for her and he kept making for I, I think [00:22:00] that’s , nice bike is all about being nice, a decent person to others. That’s cool. I think one of the topics I like to bring up with people, like maybe because, one of my companies is a pet company.

I know Michelle has a cat company. We have a dog and I often would try to bring, when the, if they have a pets, ask them about the pets, ask them to see a picture of the pet. And it’s just everybody loves to show pictures of their pets. I’m telling you. It’s to me, that’s an easy icebreaker.

Or a topic of conversation that you can have with somebody you don’t really know. But if you can figure out if they have a pet, you can really break the ice with that one. No question about it. . We live in apartment in Minneapolis and in the elevator. We have a pet of the month every month.

And people take great pride in their cat or dog hitting that elevator wall with their picture. It’s a big deal. Yeah. To find out what other people are interested in is what it’s all about. [00:23:00] Yeah. And then there’s also the whining and dining. Michelle and I, our last company we had traveled to about 50 countries and it was a company

And what we would do is we’d go to these companies and sit down with them until try to develop a relationship with them. We’d have dinner with them and we had some really killer dinners and some very cool spots in the world. And over time they become your friends and they’re still friends of ours today.

Which actually I think helps. Helps with the distribution as well. It’s fascinating to see how that evolved. I don’t know, Michelle, if you have any thoughts about our trips and our travels and No, but all the dinners, and you bring up a very good point. However, saying that, and we really, you we were the front us Jeff, myself and Colin were, the forward, front facing people of the company.

So for us, we tend to get it more. One of the things that we did struggle a little bit with mark, and I think it goes back to [00:24:00] your point about culture is oftentimes people in the company, they would struggle with oh my gosh, why do you need to go to China? Why do you need to go to Paris?

Why do you need to do these things? Almost not almost, they would say, you’re wasting company money. Like, how do you deal with those kind of, dare I say, politics in an organization when us up here talking the three of us, like we know we, we’ve lived it, we’ve briefed it, we know how absolutely critical it is.

What would you suggest for people in our audience, they’re at startups, they’re working for a startup, they’re doing a startup, and they oftentimes have to justify these kind of like face to face interactions. What would your suggestions be for them? I think for everybody that’s listening, they know how important face to face is.

They know how important breaking bread is with other people. One of the, one of the lessons that we, I hope we learn from c o. We learned that we need to adapt quickly. We learned that and [00:25:00] we also learned, expect the unexpected, but most of all, how important human connection is be it a wedding, be it a funeral, be it the best at times, the worst at times.

We need to share those times with other human beings. And it’s, social media is great. Zoom calls are good, but look at it this way. There’s one, it’s, I like George Clooney. I think he’s an amazing human being. It’s one thing to see a picture of George Clooney. It’s another thing to see him on the big screen, but to see him in an elevator and stand right next to him is a whole different experience.

Not that I’ve had that experience, but I think Clooney’s pretty cool. It’s, we need to be face to face at the company events that I’ve been speaking at since Covid, every last one of them has been like a family reunion. To spend time with people face to face, to break bread, to celebrate moments with them.

It’s a phone call is good, zoom is better. Face to face is everything. So I think [00:26:00] when we’re with people in a room, sharing that time with them, I mean it’s, that’s very important time. And also even when, let’s say it’s a Zoom meeting and I’m not good at this. I get written the point, I’m direct. I’m like that, okay, whatever.

But should we take a minute or two at the beginning to try to build that rapport?

That’s a great question, Colin. And I’m not on Zoom all the time doing presentations. My, my best presentations are live with an audience. To have that, that live interaction. It’s kinda the difference between, for me sitting in a movie theater and watching a comedy with two other people in the theater, or 2000 people in the theater.

It’s a lot funnier with 2000 people, that human interaction. But, so I’m not an, I wish I could say I’m an expert on Zoom calls, but I like your idea that to take a moment to share it to people depending upon how large that group is to share an opening statement [00:27:00] and throw a moment around one of the things, okay.

Thanksgiving coming up next week. For those of you listening right now, one of the things that we always do with our family, when everybody’s together, the kids, their spouses, the partners, the grandkids, we always do table topic where at the end of the meal, one of us, and now our grandkids throw out a table topic where they ask a question.

Go around the room and the rules are let that person talk for about two to three minutes. Nobody interrupts them and says, oh, what? I had an idea. Just like that. Just let them have their time and we go around the room and everybody shares their thoughts and it’s become that Thanksgiving Turkey and being appreciative and grateful has become the highlight of our time together, of that table topic of sharing time.

Yeah. And I’ve I’ve done that with at my cottage. When I have guests we actually, there’s a cube and you pull a card and each person pulls a different card. And every time I’ve ever done that, [00:28:00] everybody loves it cuz everybody likes to talk about themselves. And they just love it and they have a real fun time with that.

That’s interesting. What gears? Yeah, I didn’t I didn’t look I should have you must be Canadian. Yeah. You caught that a. I moved to, not a Lauder in Minnesota, we in Minnesota we call a lake place a cabin in Canada. They always call it a cottage. That’s correct. And I moved to Fort Lauderdale in 2001, but apparently I do a bit of a distinctive Canadian accent.

I can’t tell of course, but others can. No, it’s a great country. I still have a place up there. We go there every summer. And but this idea of sharing and going around the table table topic. It’s something that’s worked well for my family as well. I love the idea.

And see you’ve got that Canada Nice thing. Still going Minnesota. We’re like the 11th province. Exactly. We’re more similar than you are from other states. The Midwest, the very nice [00:29:00] Canadians. Nice Minnesotan. Let’s shift gears a little bit here and talk a bit about company culture. I know that, we’ve had some shows on company culture before, but I’m just curious to get your take on how do we build, like how does a startup build a really good culture?

Hands down it’s, it depends upon that leadership team. You did a great presentation or a great program on core values. You’ve had a couple of them. And one of the great opportunities I have as a professional speakers to sit in the back of the room and listen to leadership team, especially the CEOs get up and talk to their company about where they’ve been, where they want to go and what’s happening.

The companies. The CEO talks about the core values of that company. This is who we are, this is what we believe in, and this is what’s gonna, this is our moral compass and what’s gonna guide us moving forward. The CEOs that take time to talk about the core values versus the CEOs [00:30:00] that just show pie charts and numbers.

There’s a remarkable difference in the culture between those two, two different types of companies where the leadership team has stated core values. They believe in them, they guide them, and they actively live them instead of just putting them in. Employee handbook reviewed once a year are completely different than those that make it up along the way.

So the first part of my answer on that corporate culture has to do it. I just, I can’t overstate enough about how important core values are in the companies that I work with that I have as customers, and that I’m a customer of. And I think at Doc Club we started our core values right at the beginning.

We actually laid them out in phrases so that they would be memorable. I know Bern Harish has done a lot of work in this area and talks about, you want phrases that become the language of the office or the language of the company. And a lot of those core values interestingly do link back to your own personal values.

So I’ve [00:31:00] actually gone through the exercise of creating my own personal values and at each company creating a set of core values. And it’s interesting to see two or three sometimes move over. The one in particular that I was in most of my companies is Integrity over Money. And that’s a, when you say it isn’t just a, it’s not just something on a poster.

What we’re talking about here is actually making decisions and firing people based on. If they do not have the integrity or they chase the money, but they do something that they shouldn’t do in order to get that money. We’ve been faced with that problem a couple of times and we had to fire some sales people over some of the things they’ve done so that we could adhere to the to that mantra.

And it means we don’t make money as fast. That is correct, but we will make money in the long term we believe will be better off for the company. So any thoughts on just how immutable these core [00:32:00] values can be? I, here’s what I want to some of the people out there to do. Next time you’re with a group of five people or so or more, throw that tabletop idea up and say, I have a table topic.

If we to go around just, I’m just curious, what are your core values and. I think you’d be amazed that how people have gotta be take a time out to really think about it because all of us have some guiding principles, some quotes, some words that mean a great deal to us, but I don’t think there are a lot of us, cuz I’ve asked that question to a lot of people and the answer doesn’t come up boom.

It’s always a thoughtful now that you mention that, I I think to sit down and write your core values out and I agree with you I love Vern’s approach that integrity is a good word. A lot of companies use integrity within their core values. A lot of individuals do. But integrity over money to make it a statement, I think is much stronger.

But ask for the people out there right now as you’re listening to [00:33:00] this. What are your core values? Could you sit down and write them right now? And if you. Do it, come up with 2, 3, 4 short statements about what yours are and then ask others the same question. And I think it’s a remarkable beginning to understand how important they are and that a lot of people have vague thoughts, but not really articulated.

But to go back to your question, number one is core values for the leadership team. And number two is to live it. One of the greatest examples is within the US Army or any military the old statement of generals eat last, officers eat last. They take care of their soldiers and lower ranks first before they take care of themselves.

I think that’s a great lesson in leadership to live core values and take care of the people that are reporting to you. Yeah, you’re almost talking about be humble. And let’s admit this fact, every startup in the audience, every founder. Humility isn’t always [00:34:00] something that lines up with our leadership style.

We all think that we’ve got the next best thing and we’re this, we’re that, and we’re charging forward. But yet being humble can actually, it reminds me of good to great with Jim Collins, and you talked about level five leadership. I feel like you’re touching upon that concept a little bit there.

There’s a, I don’t know if it’s humble as much as it is. Humility is an important trait, but I think it’s the authentic, back to the word we used earlier, the authentic caring about people that know it. Worked with a company called Cargill, one of the largest privately held companies in the us, the Cargill family in Minnesota, and one of their leaders, Dan Dye.

I heard him speak. Dan, and a great comment were that every team member, every follower, everybody that reports to you has four basic questions. They are, where are we going? How are we gonna get there? Are you with me on this journey? Do you have my back? If I go out there [00:35:00] and get this done, am I gonna be, you got my back?

And finally, do you care about me as a person? Where are we going? How we gonna get there? Are you with me on this? And do you care about me as a person? And if you can answer, if a leader can answer those four questions, they’ve built a team. That’s core values, great leadership, and those four questions answered clearly creates a great culture.

Yeah. And I first met be I think in 2000 and then I ended up hiring his business partner, Patrick Theon. To be my business coach, my CEO coach, and I’ve had a CEO coach now, he’s been my CEO coach for the last 15 years. And the first company we had grew to about 600 employees. It was a small publicly traded company.

And when we first started out, there was a cool culture in the startup, right? It was fun. It was this, that and the other. And then once you started adding, a leadership team and [00:36:00] 200, 300 call center people and 200 programmers and whatnot, the culture started to it seemed lacking. And so we, after our coaching session, we put together four key pillars for the company.

This was in 2000, I believe. I’m doing this by memory. First and foremost is respect. Is respect. Cause we had a lot of issues in the company around respect and each other. Recognize greatness, not good, recognize greatness. When our customers succeed, we succeed. . And and there’s one more, but I’m trying, I’m doing this from memory, right?

But I also saw that we spend it like our own, sorry, I remember that one cuz we wanted to make certain that everybody in the organization was thinking about as if this was their money, let’s make the decision under that lens or prism. And I do know that I went to visit Zappos and I saw that they had really put together a great culture.

Unfortunately, the CEO had challenges, mental challenge of mental issues. But they really did a phenomenal job of that. I thought there’s another [00:37:00] company like that. I work with Portillos. If you’re from Chicago at All Hands are hands on your Portillos fan. Portillos used to be a hotdog stand by a guy named Portillo.

Ended building it up into a great restaurant. A number of restaurants. Ended up selling it for about a billion dollars. Investment company took it over and really strong fans, but it started to fade. They compromised some quality of fell away from the original culture that they had brought in.

A new CEO who’s currently there, who’s absolutely amazing. And they did a lot of Gallop poll research with the Frontline and the frontline. It wasn’t, they didn’t come up with the core values and the culture from the leadership team C-Suites. It came from the frontline. Similar to what you just talked about, they came up with four words.

Family fun. Energy and greatness that whether they brought over a cake shake or a hot dog or a Italian sandwich, [00:38:00] it was delivered with fun and energy delivered with greatness. And the whole team feels like a family and their clients and customers do too. So it’s, I think when you talk about authentic and talk about connecting with others a it’s, what values drive you in this world?

Are you using others to get something back or are you contributing to others to make their life better? Because that’s something that we should do in this world is to make others’ journey just a little bit easier. And I think that’s real connecting versus just networking to get something from somebody else.

And sometimes when you’re running your own company too, the. It happens to me. I, a lot of my employees have become my best friends. Okay. And sometimes they say you shouldn’t have, you shouldn’t be so close with your staff. You should keep a distance. But what are your thoughts on that issue?

Should we really get to know our and become friends with the people that work for us? Colin, that’s a great question, [00:39:00] and I wish I could tell you that I have the expertise to answer it. But I would just be guessing the coolest experience I’ve had. Because our business is a mom and pop business.

Susie, my wife, runs it. And we report together and we work with all of our clients. But I did have kind of a cool experience. Our daughter has a restaurant in Minneapolis, our daughter Kate, called Brim, and she also has a concession of food concession for the past three years at the Minnesota State Fair.

Minnesota State Fair is a big deal, say running with the bulls in Spain. Two and a half million people attend over 12 days, and so it’s an intense concession. Each year I grill about anywhere from a thousand to 1500 paninis a day. It’s just a gas, but we have about 20 people working every day, a lot of them, 15, 16 year olds, and it’s their very first job they’ve ever worked.

And the reputation we have at the state fair that we keep hearing reviews on are a amazing food and b, really [00:40:00] nice people. That work it. And the reason it’s nice is because whether it’s a 15 year old or 50 year old, we tell them Appreciate every single person that comes up here to this concession stand.

Say something unique. Take an interest in them, whether it’s a t-shirt they’re wearing, or Hey, is it your first day at the fair? Ask. Don’t ask routine questions. Just take a curiosity about every person so that we want, and then say thank you in a very kind way. So I, when it comes to whether it’s a company and a team that you’re working with or just as an individual that’s a nice bike is all about making these sweet connections where people remember, wow, the food of service was good, but the people that deliver it were even better.

Yeah. I love what you’re saying. There’s the verbal communication, but your body knows that you’re being authentic. So one thing I think I heard in one of the speaking engagements you were at is you really [00:41:00] talked a lot about being present and that you really need to, if you’re practicing this with, authentically you’re paying full attention to the person.

You’re there. You’re not just talking to them to move along the conversation. What, are the kind of verbal cues that you found are important for people in this, making these connections? Nice question, Michelle. The starting point, and I think a lot of people can identify with it.

I used to be able to, or I’m still a deal when it comes to being present with others. You must be present to win. That’s true in raffles and that’s true when you deal with other people, whether it’s someone you’ve met for the first time or someone you’ve known for a lifetime, you must be present to win.

We all have busy lives. A lot of things are happening in our head, you always hear about when people meet a famous person or a president, they say one or two things. They either say I was a next going through the line, or when I was with that person, it felt [00:42:00] like I was the only person in the room and there were 500 other people there.

I think that is the gift of being fully present with others. That’s number one. And number two, when you meet somebody else, you only have one job that’s truly important, and that’s to get their name and give it back to them. A lot of people know this, but how many times have we met somebody in 30 seconds?

We have no idea what their name is and we pick our way through. I think within that 30 seconds to be fully present is to get that name. Make a connection in your head. Use that name and do your best to find a way to remember people’s names by using different techniques which are out there for all of us.

It’s a simple Google, but with, if you can be present with somebody else to know that they’re the only person in that room and make ’em feel like that. Number two, to get their name and give it back to them. And number three, take an interest in them. What’s their [00:43:00] story? I think those three steps are with making, being present really work.

Yeah, that’s great advice. And I think, in every form of our life Colin earlier was asking, about even close friend and family interactions. Oftentimes we forget to extend to them those same courtesies. And I think all of us know if you give that just that little bit of extra and give really, that attention look in the eye and that little compliment, it makes a huge difference.

I know it does for me, like when I’m laying in bed at night or in the morning, like I oftentimes think, oh, somebody said something really nice to me, or I thought something really nice about someone else. And I, I hope that meant something to them. I think at the end of the day and the night 24 7, that’s really what life is.

I think especially when we’re in situations where things are busy and hurried when you go through the TSA checkout check-ins at [00:44:00] an airport and to take a breath and just ask that TSA agent, how’s the day going? Has it been a busy morning, a lot of flights to take just a short interest?

You’d be amazed at how they respond because no one has asked that question. No one has taken an interest, and it’s like a curve ball of human beings. So and why do we do this? You’ve gotta go back to your core values and why are you in this world, if not to contribute to others, contribute to the world around you, and to make somebody else’s life just a little bit better.

I think that’s great reason to go out there and connect with others. And I’m always surprised, not surprised, but it’s always nice because oftentimes what I find is, the person on the other side, they’ll be like, they’re always surprised, which maybe that’s sad, but they’ll often time be like, wow, thanks so much for asking.

People do really appreciate it. This is, yeah. Something that is [00:45:00] important to others, and the other thing too, especially with the entrepreneurs out there, why do we do what we do? And I think one of the most important things is I remember talking to executive, he had a discussion with his boss, and the boss said what do we, it was with the Bose company.

They make speakers. Incredible speakers is what do we do here? He said we make speakers. Now what are we really doing here? We make really good speakers. He said, no, think again. What do we do? He said I don’t know. He said, we have 700 people that are working in this facility. We’re providing a living and a livelihood for 700 families that might not have this opportunity, wouldn’t be for us.

Our job is to create opportunities for other people to live a good life. So I think for entrepreneurs, yes, to develop a widget, a service, an idea that will make you multimillionaire. That’s the dream. But along the process, you’re creating opportunities for others to have a good living and a good life.

And I think when you’re driven to A, create something [00:46:00] amazing, but B, to support others on their journey, I think that means the world.

Yeah. I think that is the ultimate right for any successful entrepreneurs, if they can, and I know it is for Michelle and I, we wanna find ways we can give back and help others. I actually wanna talk a little bit about the handshake. I actually saw a speaker talk about this once, and I don’t know if you have any thoughts on this one, but he recommended that when you, and with the pandemic, I know it’s a little bit different now, but when you walk up to somebody, hold their hand firmly, not too hard, don’t wanna be too aggressive here, right?

But hold their hand firmly and look right at their right eye, right? So you really are making eye contact. And then talking to them is that, and I did that to my son. I taught my son how to do a handshake as well. These things aren’t necessarily natural, right? We have to learn these skills in business, in life.

A Any thoughts on that? Mark? I know I’m coming outta left field here. I don’t even know if you’ve thought about that before the handshake, but I’d [00:47:00] be curious to get your perspective. I think no matter how you do the handshake if it’s, I’d agree with you a good first impression is great. How we extend our hand, whether it’s a fist bump or a handshake now because of what we’ve been through the last couple of years, to look somebody in the eye to get their name and give it back to them.

These are all good techniques, but if it’s from the heart and authentic to show respect and concern for others, I think that comes through better than whether it’s a strong handshake or a weak one. Yeah. Thank you for that. Rich, we have you on stage. We’ve had a quiet afternoon today. It might have been the way we opened the room, but but in any case, rich, you’re on stage.

You have a question or do you have a story you wanna share with us? Hi, Michelle. Hi Colin. Thanks for inviting me up. Hello, mark. Nice to meet you. And I’ll be it virtually a couple questions to Mark. Mark as you were, preparing to, to [00:48:00] write your book and put that together I’m curious to know what surprises did you discover in that journey?

That’s my first question.

Thanks, rich. It’s a great question. See if I can answer that quickly. I think the biggest surprise is that I had this premise about Nice bike, about connecting with others, and it’s all story driven and stories from my life and the people that I’ve interacted with. Once nice bike. The premise is based upon three words to acknowledge, to honor and connect with others.

And I had about a hundred different stories and I found out that, and I didn’t know where the book was really gonna go or how to bring it into focus. And Susan said, you need to use your three words, acknowledge, honor, and connect what those words mean and which stories fit. I think clarity was my biggest surprise in the writing process that made [00:49:00] writing much easier of having a clear view of where I wanted to go, what fit and what did not fit.

I had stories that I absolutely love, but if they’re not in the book cuz they just didn’t fit Rich. That’d be my first answer. Thank you. That’s really great. My second question is radically different. My second question is. When you’ve re received a call from a ceo from, ABC company, why are they typically calling you?

The CEOs rarely reach out. It’s somebody that’s a leadership team that’s gonna pull the meeting together and what they’re looking for more than anything else within a company meeting when they bring me in, they’re not bringing me in to do time management or how to effectively meet people.

But rather they want to create an experience at that event. They’ll have people talking, they’ll have people laughing. They’ll have people experiencing wonderful things together that they’ll carry with them beyond the meeting. [00:50:00] Especially nowadays, it’s not. Information and motivation as much as it is, can you create a, a community experience for our team at this meeting that supports our core values?

Excellent. Thank you. Thanks Rich and thanks for coming on Stage, rich. It’s nice to see you again here on the show. Just a reminder that this, you can listen to the show and replay if you came in midway through. Yeah, I think it’s one of those shows I’m gonna share with my son. did that with George Walter.

He wrote the book Power Talk and it was a phenomenal show. You can hear that show now on your favorite podcast network. And once this one gets posted into the podcast network, I will be recommending it to my son cuz I think what we’re talking about today, It’s very simple to implement, yet can have life-changing impact.

And I called out a minor major, and we want [00:51:00] as many of these minor majors in our life, in our startup and everything we do. Mark, I cannot thank you enough for you spending at an hour of your time to share with, startups and this community to share with your, with us your ideas. And I know, even though I read the book I’ve still learned other things today as well.

So really do appreciate it. It’s very kind of you. It’s there are 1,000,001 podcasts, so for anyone to take the time, which is valuable in their lives and listen in for a bit is an honor beyond words. So thank you Michelle. Thank you Colin, for thinking about me. Thanks for reading my nice bike book and I really appreciate you guys.

Absolutely. Thank you. And just for everyone in the audience too if you haven’t already done so, go to and sign up to the email list because we have some big speakers coming in, like Mark here. I will, I’ll tell you this, we have the founder of Reebok, Joe Foster. He’s coming, but I’m not gonna tell you the [00:52:00] date.

You gotta go to the website to get the date, but it is in December and every, we do this show every Friday, two o’clock eastern. Thanks again, mark and Rich for coming on stage and have a great day. Thanks everybody. Nice. Bye bye. Thank you, and have a wonderful holiday weekend next week. Thank you. 


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