Episode 57 | Posted on

Cultivating a Beginner’s Mind and Understanding Your Industry with Jeffrey Hayzlett

From today’s guest, Jeffrey Hayzlett, we learn the importance of having a beginner’s mind and being open to learning. And who better to learn from than someone like Jeffrey, who has bought and sold over 250 businesses amounting to around $25 billion in transactions? In addition to his impressive successes in this realm, Jeffrey is also the author of several bestselling business books: Think Big, Act Bigger: The Rewards of Being Relentless, Running the Gauntlet, and The Mirror Test.

Not all of Jeffrey’s accomplishments are inaccessibly high-level ones, though. He has been a guest celebrity judge on Celebrity Apprentice for three seasons, and is a primetime TV and podcast host. In other words, he’s approachable and has some great experience in sharing his knowledge. That’s exactly what he does in today’s episode, which should give you some great insights into identifying your industry, understanding your priorities, and much more.

In this Episode

  • [02:30] – Jeffrey explains what he means by the “Mirror Test.” He also discusses how frequently you should apply the Mirror Test, and talks about asking yourself whether the things you’re doing are leading to where you need to go.
  • [05:37] – We learn more about how Jeffrey came up with the concept of the Mirror Test and his theory of the customer and performer.
  • [07:38] – Managing a role as big as the one he held at Kodak was mind-boggling to Jeffrey, but here’s his advice: take the zeros off. He imagined he was running a small business and asked himself what he would do in that case. He and Stephan then go on to discuss an example of this.
  • [10:33] – Jeffrey talks about being measured on whether he “played well with others” at Kodak, and explains why that was problematic given his role there.
  • [11:36] – We gain some insight into what happened with Kodak’s problems, as well as the overall switch to digital in many realms.
  • [14:12] – Stephan and Jeffrey talk about misunderstanding exactly which industry your business is in, with examples including Kodak and the railroad industry.
  • [16:12] – What does Jeffrey consider the most disruptive thing he did while working at Kodak?
  • [19:18] – Using the examples of Coke machines and farming, Jeffrey talks about how the Internet of Things can improve efficiency and change the way we use and do things.
  • [22:30] – What can a marketer do to prepare for the coming revolution with the Internet of Things?
  • [25:48] – Jeffrey addresses what he expects will be the biggest disruptive events besides the Internet of Things, and talks about how he sees the marketer’s role.
  • [28:32] – How does Jeffrey measure customer satisfaction? His favorite way is to ask customers, which depends on having a relationship with them. If you listen to your customers, you have less need for tests measuring their satisfaction.
  • [29:46] – Jeffrey talks about some rating systems (including Net Promoter Score), then suggests his own preferred indicators for measuring customer satisfaction. He reveals that he had people at all levels personally resolve customer complaints, and he and Stephan discuss the value of empowerment and open-book management as explained in The Great Game of Business.
  • [34:20] – We hear about some options for how to share information in an open-book management style, and some examples of things to share. Jeffrey also explains how this can contribute to forming a great team.
  • [37:38] – What are some other obstacles that are facing CMOs and marketing directors that are going to blindside them?
  • [40:39] – The antidote to distractions is keeping your focus on your promises, what you’re supposed to be delivering, and your conditions of satisfaction. Jeffrey and Stephan then talk about the importance of promises.
  • [43:19] – Jeffrey returns to the question about obstacles facing CMOs. He thinks it’s important to be more strategic. He also explores the importance of an open mind and the willingness to declare yourself a beginner.
  • [50:13] – Stephan asks whether Jeffrey does anything special to ensure he gets thinking time. As we learn, Jeffrey does his best thinking when he’s sitting down and uninterrupted (whether on a tractor, horse, or plane).


Hello and welcome to Marketing Speak, I’m your host Stephan Spencer. Today, I’m so excited to have Jeffrey Hayzlett on with us. He is a primetime TV and podcast host, a keynote speaker, best-selling author and a global business celebrity. Let me tell you a bit more about him. He’s got so many credentials, it’s pretty amazing. First of all he’s got three best-selling business books, Think Big, Act Bigger: The Rewards of Being Relentless and Running the Gauntlet is another one and then The Mirror Test is a third. He’s inductee to the Speaker Hall of Fame which is no small feat. He is also a primetime television host on C-Suite TV which is on Bloomberg television, I believe, is that correct?

Yeah, it is. We’ve been on Bloomberg but we’ve now moved it to C-Suite TV which is what’s called an over the top television or digital play and we’ve created more shows there and a lot more offerings.

You also have a podcast show on the CBS on-demand radio network Play.It. Also, Jeffrey has been frequently cited in Forbes success magazine, Mashable, Marketing Week. He’s been on TV networks like MSNBC, of course Bloomberg, Fox Business and a contributing editor, former editor at Bloomberg and a primetime host, and he’s also appeared as a guest celebrity judge on NBC Celebrity Apprentice with Donald Trump for three seasons. Oh, that’s got to have been fun. He’s basically a turnaround architect of the highest order. Jeffrey, it’s great to have you on the show.

Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Not to be confused with the election this year, but I’ve been on the election because I haven’t done that, just the Celebrity Apprentice which is kinda like a TV show, the election is at least.

Yeah, it is, of the strangest order. I was really curious by one of your book titles, The Mirror Test. I haven’t read the book, you actually gave me a copy and it’s on my to read list but I haven’t gotten there yet. What is The Mirror Test?

Get it up there, truly about your success. I wrote this coming off of career, at least four years of the career at the Kodak where I was the Chief Marketing Officer. At first, to really look at a lot of different things, I call it looking in the mirror because looking in the mirror can tell you a lot about yourself. It’s about deep reflections, about running your business and the ways in which you run your business. Really, the only one that’s responsible for your success is the person who is looking back at you every single day. Asking some key questions about your business, about the way it looks, the way it operates and your condition to satisfaction. Whether or not you’re even fogging the mirror. Boy scouts learn very early on that when you come across the body that’s playing on the ground, do you wanna fog the mirror or not? That’s really what it’s all about.

Is that something that you’re gonna do on a daily basis, this mirror test, or weekly, or quarterly, what’s the process?

I think it certainly should look on a periodic basis but it doesn’t hurt everyday to ask yourself what are the things that you’re doing leading to where you need to go in terms of your conditional satisfaction. When you look at, say for instance, your personal condition to satisfaction, what are they? What is it you wanna get out of the business? Is it fame or fortune? Pick one because you’re not gonna get usually both. If it’s fortune, which I hope you would do because that’s what drives most of us and makes money. By the way, if you do really good, you can get the fame later. It comes with doing a great job and if not, you can buy it. Lots of companies have done that over the years where they’ve hidden what they really do well. Meaning, they don’t do it at all and yet they’ve been able to buy a sheer volume or sheer force field. Get back to condition to satisfaction. What are two, three or five things that you wanna get out of the business or out of life? For me, it’s around what I call building wealth for me and my family because that’s important, that’s how we keep score, so making money. It’s important because it gives us the things that we like to do or the things that we’d like to have in life and elevates our status in life. Second is I wanna do things that are interesting, that I learn from. For me, it’s not just about getting paid, it’s about doing things I really like. I think it is for most of us. The third is am I having fun? Those are the three criterias that I typically use to decide what I wanna do and how I wanna do it. If somebody wants to come and work with me as a client or as a customer, I don’t like you if it’s not fun. Why would I wanna do that or I’m not gonna learn something. Therefore, I don’t wanna spend my time there. It really gets around the focus around conditions to satisfaction. You can do that every day. You can look at your calendar every day and say, “Is it getting me where I need to go? Are the things that are on my calendar today getting me to where I need to be to add great value to my business?” If it’s not, then you should. I guess you’d look at the mirror and say, “No, it’s not.”

If you do really good, you can get the fame later. It comes with doing a great job and if not, you can buy it.

This is something you develop why you were at Kodak as their CMO?

It was something that I certainly did there but I’ve done it for many years. I’ve sold over 250 businesses in my career, $25 billion in transactions. When you do that many business, you have to kind of develop a cadence, you have to develop a system or process of which to handle multiple things because things are coming at you pretty fast. That’s the system that I developed. I developed it with around what I call action cycles where I put everything as a performer or a customer. In everything we do, who’s the customer and who’s the performer? Today, you’re the customer, I’m the performer and some aspects would turn that around but I’m here to make sure that we have a great interview and I do the best, in some cases you’re doing that with me in the way in which we do it. If I’m working with my marketing department, sometimes I’m the customer and they’re the performer, meaning they gotta get things done for me or the sales department and so forth and so on. It’s not just our employees, it’s also real customers or vendors and the way which we look at even personal relationships. One is I’ve always had that. I’ve always had promises, what are the promises that we deliver for each other. You kinda develop these things as you develop your own style where each of it’s different, but I tend to have a pretty effective style. When I was at Kodak, it was the biggest company I’ve ever worked with, billions of dollars in budget, billions of dollars worth of revenue. I was managing many thousands of people in the marketing department, not to mention tens of thousands of employees worldwide. It was there that I was able to develop the scale of understanding how to deal with it unscaled. There’s no real difference between a business on Main Street and a business on Wall Street, it’s just really the numbers of zeros, it’s the same things.

How do you run a business that big? I can’t imagine managing that many staff, that many campaigns, that much budgets, it’s just mind blowing to me.

You know what, Stephan, it was to me too. Holy crap, what did I do? What did I get myself into? But here’s what I did, I just took the zeros off. Think about it, just that simple, take the zeros off. Imagine you’re running a small business in Santa Monica or a small business in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Instead of running a billion dollars or let’s say $17 billion of the marketing, take the zeros and imagine you’ve only got a $17,000 marketing budget and you’re running a small business. That’s the same thing. I always just ask myself when I was in those big fancy meetings surrounded by all these people, what would I do in Sioux Falls? Literally, that’s what I did. If you let it get to your head, you get a little big headed, you get a little too big for your bridges sometimes, I call it Johnny Vegas syndrome. When you start thinking like a $1 million isn’t that much, but a million bucks is a million bucks. What I did was I just take the zeros off. Will I make the same decision if I run my business in Sioux Falls? That’s literally how I did it. By taking zeros off, it gave me the let’s get down to the fundamentals of the conditions to satisfaction, let’s get to the fundamentals of what is that we’re trying to drive by the action that we’re about to take? By doing that, then I got real clear about what the actions are and what was the promise and who was supposed to deliver them. You could say, “Is that good value or not?” If you skim things down, make it naked so to speak, it’s pretty easy to look at.

I remember seeing on social media these different analyses of the budgets of the United States. By dropping a lot of the zeros and making it kind of the size of an annual American family’s budget, what were they spending it on. It was enlightening just to change it to that level.

Imagine, take all the zeros, how much debt do we have? How much are we paying for security? How much are we paying for defense or in terms of our defense department? You take that down and you, “Oh, well, okay.” Or just look at the percentages of it, is that a fair percentage? Is that the right SGNA? Is that the right expenditure for the marketing, for the return that we get? Then you start looking at what are your big goals you should be driving in. Typically, when I was the Chief Marketing, I would drive the overall sales. That was one of my goals, revenue growth, revenue margin, margin of products or margins of the overall business. That was important to me. In terms of being able to drive customer satisfaction was another one, brand value was another one. Those are the key ones that I would tend to look at to drive. By the way, the other one I got measured on was whether I played well with others which I didn’t care for but that’s okay.

That sounds like the 360 assessment sort of thing.

Exactly. We’d spent time on that, we’d have to make sure that we were getting along well with our management, the other management teams. I gotta make sure that I got along well with the CFO and the CIO and the Chief Liaison Officer and the Presidents of the various divisions and of course my boss, the Chairman of the company which I think are important things to do but my job at that time, at Kodak at least, was when I was the Chief Marketing was to be disruptive and to drive as much change as possible. That was my role. My role was to be irritating to some extent which I quickly did a good job at.

What was the most disruptive thing you did at Kodak, because people look back and say couldn’t they see that trainwreck coming? You run a successful business for so many years and you think you’re bulletproof I guess.

You drink your own kool aid and you believe your own press releases so to speak. What happens is you get television, you get your success, you forget. Even in a big company, you forget what you’re really doing. They would say that there were a film company and yet they were never a film company, they were in the memory business. It was M3I2 which they make management move images and information. That was the core of what they did and they crossed between what was material silence and imaging side. That’s the expertise they had and scientificness of putting images on some kind of paper or images electronically or digitally. They didn’t realize that digital was part of it. It was make, manage and move, images and information. What do you care whether it’s on paper or it’s digital? They use your imaging science and material science of understanding of the making of images and whether they’re memory is, whether they’re brochure, whether they’re newspapers, whether they’re motion picture film or motion picture movies, what would you care? What would they get so consumed on the deliverable of it’s just paper or it’s just print that they let the world go by them. The same time, and nothing to do with them, the world just went that way. We all went digital. Kodak, it wasn’t their fault that that happened. It just did, no different than when we went from horses to cars. We had some great wagon companies at that time, great horse breeders, great stables, great farmers who made oats for the horses, we had all that stuff. That changed fairly quickly the same way in which digital hit most other industries. It’s changed just as the internet of things will change the way we do things or look at things. How we used to look at, you remember this, Stephan, you remember when you wanted to look something up, when you were a kid, you went over to the shelf and grabbed an encyclopedia. If it wasn’t in the encyclopedia, it wasn’t worth knowing. Today, that tendency is to Google it or just search for it and now to look on your mobile phone for it where most searches done. There’s still a group of people who, I think, oh my gosh I gotta find somebody that does this, I gotta pick up the phonebook. No, no, wait I could search for it. Thank goodness I had younger children in my life because they became my personal Googlers.

I love that you’re thinking about Kodak about being in the memory business and not in the film business. That reminds me of was it Henry Ford who said that what killed the railroad industry was they thought they were in the railroad business but in actuality they were in the transportation business and that’s why they didn’t get it and they let the trucks basically steal all of their business.

If you think about it, even the boom of the 1880s, the industrialization in the United States in the settling of settlers into the West, in the places like South Dakota and North Dakota. The railroads used transportation as the way to expand their network. People were given 48 years, 88 years at a time. The reason they were done, that was the greatest business development activity that I think we’ve ever seen in our lifetime because they were basically laying tracks down and they wanted communities to come and build so they would grow these crops and then ship them back to the population centers and at the same time, ship goods back to these people. That was a total business development but they forgot, just like Kodak. Kodak had the only product that people actually run back into a burning building to save. They forgot what they had. It’s still, today, for a great number of the people of the population, what’s the one thing that you’d run back into your house if it was burning, you’d run back for your kids and your pets. Beyond that, what would it be? It would be those photographs, those memories. That’s the business they were in and yet they didn’t make the transition of understanding it wasn’t just about putting an image on paper, it was about the image itself, regardless of where it was. If they put that at the forefront, I think they’d be a different company today.

What was the most disruptive thing that you did in that company?

Every day, but I didn’t do enough of it because the company ended up after a few years, after I left, four years after I left it went bankrupt. It wasn’t as disruptive as it could be. The most disruptive piece and most people don’t or weren’t even aware of what it was, was back in 2008, 2009, we saw it coming in 2008. In October, I remember it, my CFO walking into a comfort room and he’s literally, he was white, literally white. His complexion changed. This is a guy that we respected because we both got there at the company at the same time. He came a few months after I did and I really got along with him, I learned a great deal from him. He was probably the first CFO that I really got along with in a big professional company. There was another one that I enjoyed but not like the learning I got from Frank. I got a great, great, great learning from Frank and we’ve partnered on a lot of things together because we had to cut budgets, we had to change things. If you walked into a meeting after, I think a meeting with [0:18:32].1] at the time and he just said, “We’re in trouble, this is gonna be big, we gotta do this, we gotta do this.” He was scared. When people you respect cut down, you tend to pay attention. That was one of those moments. I moved with another executive to say, “We gotta do something to get ready for this to save it.” Because we knew the financial thing was gonna be so bad. I actually led a massive effort to restructure some of the company. It’s probably the biggest restructuring of the company we ever had. That was probably the most disruptive thing that I had to do.

That sounds like a lot of people, a lot of budget, a lot of resources.

Yeah, many thousands of people were affected, we changed the way it was. Did I like it? No, absolutely not but I tried to make the best I could because our duty was to save the company. Had we not done it then, the company would’ve failed, they would’ve failed much, much sooner. We kept doing things to elongate but we couldn’t transform. It’s hard, that shift should’ve been turning back in the 70s, 80s and 90s and they just didn’t turn it fast enough. There just wasn’t enough runway. You learn things like that in retrospect. When you’re there, you still think you can do it but in retrospect I should’ve looked and that was the biggest learning I had, is that we never had a chance.

People say, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” In that case, nobody could see that things were going the way they were back in the 70s or 80s. It required a ton of foresight and you can’t just go and ask the customers, “What do you want?” I remember the famous quote from Henry Ford, he said, “If I’d ask people what they wanted, they would’ve said faster horses.”

Cheaper horses.

Let’s talk about the internet of things, how you see that playing out in the world of marketing.

We don’t know all the things that it can affect. You’re gonna be wearing things, having things. Let’s get an example like a coke machine, it’s gonna have a monitor on it, it tells you when the coke machine is getting low on this so that you can dispatch a driver. Today, you see Coca Cola drivers driving around or Pepsi drivers or bottled waters or pick whatever you want. They go and refill these machines all the time and they gotta take all this inventory, they gotta carry it around. Now they got heavier trucks, they use out more gas to drive around and check these coke machines that outside gas stations or in break rooms or whatever. They get out of the car, walk in, take a look at what’s low or they want a diet coke or they want a cherry flavor of this and there’s a run on it and it’s down to zero or it’s almost down. Then, they gotta go back out to the truck, figure out what that is, do the math, hold this much, write it down, do this, blah, blah, blah, go back out, fill the machine, take the money out and then go back, get the truck, drive to the next. The internet changed, things are gonna change that. Why don’t you have a monitor on the freaking machine that tells you how many diet cokes have been used, how many cherry cokes have been used? It shows you the frequency of that so you can start to plan it and you know over weeks of time that typically it’s a Wednesdays because they have a cherry coke jubilee day, the business or whatever it is, I don’t know, I’m making this stuff up, but you get my point. It changes things the way we do it or you see to the way in which we use rooms and light usage. Which lights do we turn on and which ones we don’t. They automatically come on and automatically go out so we could control them on our watch. There’s all these different things that we aren’t even thinking about. From South Dakota, I think about, I was driving down the road last night and there’s these huge fields. A farmer knows he’s gotta go out and combine. He’s gotta drive out to the field, check different pieces of it, look at it, check for the dryness and so forth. They won’t be long, you don’t have a drone that does that. Checks the crops, it will have a sense runner telling him which areas of the field he should go for first because he can get the optimum dryness. Here’s one of the things most people don’t know, when you harvest grain, if it’s got a moisture level, then you gotta dry it. When you got dry stuff in with the wet stuff, then you got to dry it all. You use much more energy that way. This is a way they use less propane, less gas to dry those crops before you put them into the silo or into the grain bin. All those things are things that we haven’t even come to grips with that are gonna be available for us, even a security guard that’s gonna walk around or drive around or you could fly a drone. We’re not that far away from those kinds of things happening.

What would a marketer do to prepare for the coming revolution with the internet of things?

What’s the ultimate thing you’re supposed to be driving? Sales, margin, market penetration, customer satisfaction, and then building the brand value. What are the things that you need to look at that are gonna impact those pieces of your company that you will need to get ready for? What are the messages that we have to say? What are the triggering points that’s gonna get somebody to act on the message? What’s the sales funnel look like? What does demand generation look like? Once you have the customer, what are the elements of the customer satisfaction model that you wanna use in terms of nurturing the customer? Once he or she signs up for the product and they get it, what does the box look like that the product is delivered in? What’s the signup period? What does it look like? What does the onboarding look like? When they open up the box, what’s the biggest thing that you can impact on making sure that they’re the most satisfied with it? All the touchpoints that you’re gonna have to go through on that particular product. A couple months ago, I ordered a tray that I want, a little kit you put together then building a little wagon for my farm and ranch and I wanted to be able to get this wagon, well I got it. The box was all torn up, it’s missing parts. Then I have to call Amazon, I need the parts, “Well sir, we can’t deliver you the parts. We have to deliver a whole another wagon.” I said, “I just need some screws and some washers.” But they’re special because they only fit for this or I gotta go and make which is gonna cost me $300 that the kit would cost. They ship me out another entire 120 pound wagon. By the way when it gets there, the box is torn up again. Now it’s missing a wheel, it’s missing an arm, but most of my parts that I needed were in there. Now I have to ship what’s left of it back in the box, the box is torn up. That’s an essence of customer satisfaction. I don’t know how they’re gonna resolve it because I’m calling Amazon to say, “Hey guys, come get the dang thing because the box you sent is so ripped up and so bad I couldn’t put anything in it. There’s not enough tape to be able to fix that box. What do you wanna do?” I would look at it from that experience. My customer experience with them, it’s taken almost a month and a half now for me to get a full wagon, all because of two missing screws and a bolt and a little bit of a part that goes in the end. Those $15 parts now cost them a $300 wagon plus the shipping back and forth where they could’ve just put me in and here’s the part number, let me call this number, ship me the parts.

Someday, with the internet of things, we’ll probably have devices on the boxes that will detect if the box has been torn or otherwise damaged.

And if things are still in or out of that box because everything’s back.

Let’s say that you’re trying to kinda see what the future is gonna yield for us. Basically, a futurist as a CMO or as a CEO, you’re trying to see where things are heading, what the trends are. Besides the internet of things, what are the biggest disruptive events that you see coming that we need to be aware of?

I think the marketer, all the marketers, all I think is truly to see the inception of the idea all the way through customer satisfaction. I really believe that’s a marketer’s role. Our job is not just to have the idea but have people look at marketing and communications, the advertising, the selling of it. It’s more than that, I think it’s all the way through that life cycle of the product. When you look at it from that way, I do think it’s a much more holistic approach which gets me to your question. I really think the most disruptive piece that we have is in the owning of the relationship and the experience with our customers. I recently was at a similar situation where someone said, “It’s all about the relationship.” When did it ever stop? I think it’s always been that. I think it’s even more so now more than ever before. Here’s why, because you could do a pretty shitty job and still get customers to come to you because they didn’t have an alternative or there wasn’t a way for them to find alternatives. The biggest player with the biggest marketing budgets or sales budgets could overwhelm the greatest performer no matter how small he or she is. But see, digital is leveling that playing field. The little guys look like the big guys so you really don’t know the difference then it becomes all about the community and the relationship of the person that you have a customer with or relationship to your customer. The influence they have on other people because how you find things typically more so than anything, more than advertising or more than great marketing, is really through the word of mouth and in your friends. I keep telling people that the bigger your community and the happier your community, the greater your strength as a broadcast or communication network or as a marker because you now have these brand ambassadors who are out there telling other people to buy you. I think the next big disruptive thing isn’t about how you can continue to improve the customer experience which leads to better relationships which leads to bigger communities which really leads to brand ambassadors who are out selling you rather than you selling them. That becomes a real good use of OPM or other people’s money.

Increasing customer satisfaction is at the crux of this and what you measure this customer satisfaction with is a certain metric that some companies use and I’ve heard different opinions about it but I guess there are multiple customer satisfaction scoring mechanisms. What’s your favorite, what things are not good?

The more you’re out with your customers, they’re going to tell you, “I believe that you have a relationship with your customer.” I have a relationship with my customer and I’m interacting with them on social, I’m interacting where they’re at. I don’t need a lot of those tests. I can and I’m going to deploy some of them but the real test is listening. Let’s get back to the core. If you’re listening to your customers, they’re gonna be satisfied. Are they gonna get pissed at you every once in awhile and upset? Sure. You know why? Because you’re gonna screw up. It’s like the airline business. I had somebody last night that I was picking up from the airport, their luggage was delayed and they got all upset. Why are you gonna get upset? Shit happens. You can be upset about it but you wanna be able to listen to your customers and be able to find out what they’re upset, what they’re gonna be upset with you for whatever reason. Can you continue to satisfy them? As long as no one’s dying, you typically can do that.

If you’re listening to your customers, they’re gonna be satisfied. Click To Tweet

I remember now what that score is, it’s called Net Promoter.

Net Promoter Score. Net Promoter Score is a good one. Cue test, cue ratings, there’s lots of different ratings you can have. If you have your own community, you can be taking your own surveys. You can ask your customers, you can have them rate you. What are the best ones? Sales, your margin growth, your market penetration growth, I’m getting back to the simple things. Those are gonna tell you. Are you pulling more revenue from existing customers? That’s gonna tell you if you’re satisfying or not. Those are all how long they stay with you. Incidents, how fast you respond. All these things are good tests for you and indicators whether you’re giving customer satisfaction. No matter what business I’m in, especially when I’ve been in my very big businesses, I always make the executives take customer complaints. Even at Kodak, I asked the CEO, all the other officers, we have a complaint from a customer that her camera broke. I want you to call them and fix it for them just to see what it’s like. When I was at a training company years ago, I used to take orders that were late or orders that somebody complained and I said you resolve them. It gives you a good sense whether a customer is gonna stick with you or not.

It’s important I guess to empower these customer service people as well. Give them a budget they can spend to resolve the problem without sending them up layers in the chain to get resolution.

It’s not just budgets, it’s empower them to do it. You can make that decision. No, you can’t give them a free camera, but you can fix it, you can do this, you can do that, you can do this, you can offer overnight to ship it back. There’s lots of things you can do to empower them because a happy customer… There was a guru years ago and he said, “Rule number one is customer’s always right, rule number two is if the customer’s ever wrong, reread number one.” Sometimes the customer is wrong and sometimes customers are assholes. Sometimes you have to fire customers and you need to empower people to be able to do that. Some people just take advantage of it, just get rid of them.

I remember ages ago I read the book, The Great Game of Business and it talked about open book management. This company would share all these important metrics with everyone on the operations for everybody from the janitor up to the top executives. It turned around the company. They were able to be much more successful because everybody knew that this was the rate of the building of these machines and these were the margins and everything. What’s your take on open book management?

I share it all, share every bit of it. Actually my first book, The Mirror Test, I kinda carry this to my second book Running The Gauntlet and certainly in the last book I just written, it’s called Think Big, Act Bigger: The Rewards of Being Relentless. I’m a real believer in opening up. If you’re running a business, this was years ago I used as an example, I had a business and it wasn’t going too well. Things were coming in COD. As a result to that, people could see in my operation that cash was pretty tight because we made some big mistakes and it wasn’t going well, people see that. When things are going well and you’re going on cruises and you bought a new Mercedes or bought a new pickup truck, don’t you think your employees see that? If you’re running a small business and not big business, don’t you think they see that too? That you’re getting millions of dollars in compensation or you’re getting this or you’re getting that or that new divisions are doing this or this department is getting a lot more assets than this other one, don’t you think they see that? Why not share that and have that and be radically transparent? That’s really a theme that I push forward in my last book Think Big, Act Bigger. Great performing teams know what the others are delivering, they know what the goals are, they know where they need to go but if only the two of you keep it, how are you supposed to get everybody else there? I’m a real believer in sharing all of that because the more you share that, the less you have to explain.

What are the best ways to do that, like sending out quarterly reports or monthly reports or are there real time numbers that are shared constantly?

You could do it everyday, today. What are the metrics that you wanna use? Today, I’m running the C-Suite network. We know that one of our greatest things are the attendants at our conferences and events. Why would I keep that until the very end? Why don’t I let everybody know everyday? If our average is let’s say we gotta have 50 people a day sign up and we’re at 48, don’t you think I want everybody to know that? Or we had a really shitty day and it’s only 10, don’t you think I want everybody to know that? Or our average should be at this 2 weeks out from the conference, we should be at this level compared to what we were in the past and we’re up or we’re down. Does that mean we need to hustle more or we can relax? Wouldn’t I want everybody to know that? Or I can keep it a secret and let everybody guess. When they see me frantically sending out emails and doing this, what are they gonna think? Whatever it might be. But you kinda get the point, why would I wanna hold all that internal secret rather than share it? Because eventually, it was finding out anyway. I’d much rather be open and honest about it and direct. One of the things I either get criticized for or many people find endearing is that you don’t have to second guess where I’m standing because I want you to know because it’s a lot quicker to tell you. I’ve stood in big meetings, I’m talking about what great big meetings with C level executives and I’ve opened my mouth and said things like that’s a stupid idea or what idiot made that decision? Not knowing that there were people in the room who made those decisions but I’m voicing my opinion, I’m not trying to be a pain in the ass, I’m just trying to be direct. Let’s be clear, this is how I think about that, because that tells us where we’re at. Great teams have real transparency to them. Like football, let’s take a football team. Let’s imagine you have a front line and you’re on the offence and you’re the quarterback and you get sacked three plays in a row but yet the line men come back and they don’t say anything. Even though those are your best players that you’ve ever had in the history of the team and they’re playing first string, pretty soon the rest of the players start resenting the people who are missing their blocks. We can put this in terms of you missed your quarter, you missed your numbers. You got quality issues, whatever. You use those analogies, I’m using football as a quick example for everybody. Let’s imagine you don’t say anything, they come back and pretty soon they start resenting the team, they start resenting the other players. Again, even though they might be their best players. What’s better is when a team member comes back and says, “Sorry I messed up block, it’s my bad. He’s faster than me. I’m really having a off day, I’m not gonna make my quarter, I’m not gonna make the block.” And the guy next to him says, “It’s okay, I can handle the guy that I’m with, I’ll hit him, take care of him and I’ll come help you. That’s what great teams do is they’re radically transparent about their weaknesses, their strengths, about their fears, about their hopes, dreams and aspirations. Why wouldn’t you be transparent about it? I don’t get it.

I love that. What are some of the other obstacles that are facing CMOs and Marketing Directors that are gonna blind side them?

Focus, I think focus and what I call chasing squirrels. In the movie, there’s a great movie called Up. In this animated movie, there’s a character, old man who inadvertently took a young scout with him when he went to Paradise Falls for this adventure that he wanna go on and they run into the dog. It’s awesome. By the way, Kodak was animated into that movie which is even better. When the character falls asleep, he’s in front of a TV set, it’s playing our Kodak infomercial for our inkjet commercials, I thought that was cool. Friends put that in there as a favor to us, they just added it for no other reason than we were nice to them and they put it in there. It pays to be nice. They run into the dog, the talking dog down in the Amazon or somewhere and the dog comes up and he’s got a collar. You can hear him talk and he goes, “Hi, I’m Dug the dog and my master’s outfitted me with this collar so you can hear everything that I’m thinking about. You seem like a very nice person. You smell like Oreos or something like that.” All of a sudden, he looks away into space and go squirrel, squirrel. That’s what happens in our lives; we get distracted by all of the things that pop up. I tell people in my last book, Think Big, Act Bigger. We need to kill squirrels because they pop up all the time. To be effective, we have to keep grateful to some of things that are in front of us. I talked about the conditions to satisfaction but what are the five things that you owe as a promise? What are the things that lead to those promises and are you doing them everyday? When other distractions come up, that’s important, that’s interesting, but how does that fit into what I gotta do? You need to make time to look at those kinds of things on a periodic basis or evaluate them but you gotta stay greatly focused on the things that are your deliverables.

I suffer from that. I think a lot of entrepreneurs have ADD. It’s like a superpower if you harness it. I never run short of ideas, I can go into a client and do a brainstorming session with them for link building campaigns or content marketing campaigns and typically generate ten times or a hundred times what the rest of the team, their internal team can generate. It’s just something that’s easy, it’s within me. But then I have trouble staying on the course and finishing one thing. I can’t remember the last time I finished reading an entire book. I just go and serial read the first few chapters of each book and then I move on to the next one and that’s kinda frustrating. This chasing squirrel thing, I definitely relate to that. What’s the antidote?

I think getting back to your condition satisfaction, what are your promises? What are you supposed to be delivering? If you know those things and what you own, what you’re supposed to be the owner of or the performer of, that’s what you should really look at and say, “No, that really doesn’t relate.” I think that’s the most important thing you could do, it’s know what you’re supposed to deliver and own.

I like that word promises. A lot of people put great stock and their ability to keep their word. If you see this as a promise, I made a promise to my constituents, to my customers, to my board, to my coworkers, to my boss that I’m going to deliver on X, Y and Z. I need to keep my eye on the ball. I think that’ll help people.

With that question, I don’t take that word lightly. That’s the reason why I use the word because if you have a promise, think about the time you make a pinky promise to your kid. You gotta take them to Disney World. Try to back out, oh my God, they’ll kill you. In business, we do this all the time. We make goals, we have objectives. Get rid of that stuff. What’s our promise? Let’s be real. Not forecast, don’t give me a forecast. What a bunch of bullshit that is, a forecast. What’s our promise? When you have a promise, that means you must deliver it or you renegotiate the promise instead a new promise based on your ability to deliver. I’ll start judging whether I trust you and trust is around sincerity but it’s also around reliability and competency. Therefore, I think we can make a better decision about what we wanna do and where we wanna go based on promises. Promises to me, I think we operate on them. I always ask people in the company, what’s your promise? Who owns this? Who’s the performer? When you ask questions like that, it’s a lot easier to get to the bottom. I own it. If you own it, then why are we doing it?

I remember hearing Karl White tell me that you build bridges one at a time. Your analogy of chasing squirrels, if you got too many marketing initiatives or products or things that you’re building at once, you have basically a bunch of half built bridges, percentages, and there are no bridges that you can actually drive cars across. Focus on finishing a bridge before you move on to the next one. I love that analogy too. Any other obstacles that you wanna point out that are tough for CMOs to navigate and could blind side them?

Sometimes we don’t think enough, I don’t think we think enough. Meaning our job is to be the most strategic person in the room. I really think, for CMOs especially, that to sit back and be more strategic which means that to look out over the horizon and say where wanna go. When CMO or CEO turns to you and says, “What’s our mobile app? Mobile strategy?” It shouldn’t be, “We have an iPhone app.” It should be beyond that. When he or she is gonna turn to you for the future and say, “What’s your chat box strategy?” In all the other pieces that you have, I think it’s important for you to sit down and think of what could kill us, what could hurt us, what are the biggest impediments for us getting in our way? Those are the things that we’re charged with trying to figure out. That’s what you own. I think you have to spend more time in that. The other thing is I’m not aware of what I’m not aware of. One of the mistakes we make is that we say this is the way it is rather than saying that’s not the way it is. What is it that I don’t know? I try to go at that as much as possible. Sure, I know certain things that work and they work for me. But usually, when I get pretty righteous about it, usually when I bite in the rear end, this is the way to do it, this is the only way to do it, someone shows me a better of doing it. Those are the things that I sit back and I think it’s really important for CMOs or great leaders using both of the same example of what we can do to make it that much better. To do that, what is it that I’m not aware of that I should be aware? If you go in with that sense of enlightenment, I think it’s just a lot better way of living but two you find out a lot of things you didn’t know.

Yeah, that make sense.

I’ll give you one more, Stephan. To declare yourself a beginner is a cool thing. All my life, I wanted to ride horses, I wanted to be a cowboy and I couldn’t afford it. When I was growing up, my dad was in the military so we lived in air force base to air force base. I never had a chance to experience things that I would’ve liked to have been and be a cowboy. Finally, my 30s, 40s, I said I’m gonna be one, now I got all the stuff and did all that but yet you watch horses, you read horses and watch all the videos in the world but it didn’t make you a cowboy, you can dress like one but doesn’t make you one, you can get a truck but that doesn’t make you one, you can get a cowboy hat and boots but that doesn’t make you one, you gotta live it. I remember the first time I learned how to, I tried, I thought I learned because I watched the videos and read the books and all that stuff, how to saddle a horse. I remember how I failed at it. I can get in this real long story about how I failed but in the end I still wanted to ride the horse. I saw this young woman, 60 yards away at the stables I happened to be at that time. I walked over to her, she’s 12, 13, 14 years old or something like that and here I am this big 6’3”, 200 and somewhat cowboy standing in front of her, or cowboy to be. I had to say to her, I had to ask that little girl, “Can you help me saddle my horse?” I had to do that because I wanted to ride that horse. Sometimes to be a cowboy or to be a maestro, you gotta learn to play a lot of bad notes. You have to declare yourself a beginner. That’s not an easy thing for people to do sometimes, but the more we declare ourselves a beginner, the more we can start to learn a lot faster.

Because our ego can get in the way and we lack humility and we don’t wanna be showing up as not knowing everything and then we miss out.

Yup, exactly.

That reminds me, when you talk about declaring yourself a beginner, it reminds me of beginners mind which is Buddhism where it gives you so many more options. It clears a lot of the clutter.

It’s great. It’s like I’m learning the wealth. It’s kinda weird. You know what I had to do, I break stuff on my ranch, farm, whatever you wanna call it. I break stuff all the time, I’m terrible with equipment. I’m just bad so I break stuff all the time. I broke a mower, I keep breaking this mower and I keep patching it together and finally it just needs a weld. I don’t wanna haul it on a tray then haul it somewhere, leave it just to charge me $75 to weld the thing. I got a brother, he’s  a professional welder and he’s a younger brother, he’s the same age as my kids, he’s very young. I picked up the phone, “Paul, tell me how to weld. What do I gotta do?” I’m now watching videos on YouTube and what piece of equipment should I buy. Here’s the guy literally half of my age and I’m having to ask that question again like can you help me saddle my horse. I’m okay with that because I’m excited about that because he’s an expert, he’s a professional. He tells me, good, that was the equipment I look at. What size? What weight of the welding rod should I get? All the stuff I don’t know, I have no clue. I said, “Paul, make sure one other thing because my wife totally gets me getting this, I can’t kill myself or I can’t go blind so make sure those are the parameters, those are my conditions to satisfaction.” What a cool thing because now I’m thinking of all the things I can weld.

That keeps your brain in a very plastic state so that you keep learning and you’re able to just operate at a higher level. Back to your point about we don’t think enough, if we’re just kind of robotic in our consciousness and just do what we need to do and not thinking outside the box enough, we’re not stretching our brain trying to learn something new or do something that’s outside our comfort zone. We don’t plan for that as well. We just kinda think that the thinking will happen, I think you miss out on a huge opportunity. I remember learning from Keith Cunningham who said that he’s got a thinking chair. He’s got a thinking chair that he will only sit in when he is scheduled to think about something or when he’s going to think about something. He’s not gonna bring his laptop there and work on email or work on his phone or something like that. He’s only gonna think in that chair. That’s the only time he’s in it. That’s so cool. Do you do anything like that or you schedule thinking time or you do something special to ensure that you get some time thinking outside the box?

If we’re just kind of robotic in our consciousness and just do what we need to do and not thinking outside the box enough, we’re not stretching our brain trying to learn something new or do something that’s outside our comfort zone.

I spend a lot of time thinking is on the back of a tractor truck or horse or something like that or even on the plane, it’s when I’m uninterrupted by other things, I have the time to sit down and have some solitude. That’s the time in which I do it and it’s best for me. A lot of times for me it’s early in the morning or late at night but I also find that time on planes, literally on planes. I like planes a lot because they give me, that was before they had email or Wi-Fi. But it’s less so now but it used to be on those long flights especially from Tokyo to Chicago or wherever I was going. I would spend a great deal thinking time and getting organized and doing my time. I like that, I have less of that today so I do think it’s important for you to block that out because if you have that, you can have a heavy, heavy advancement in the things that you’re trying you do.

Well thank you Jeffrey, we’re about out of time. I think you have to go. This has been a really full hour full of great wisdom. You’ve gone on some incredible journeys, built some incredible businesses. As you said, you’ve bought and sold 250 businesses. That blows my mind, that’s amazing.

It blows my mind some days too.

Thank you for taking your valuable time to sit with me and share some of these stories and insights. If somebody wanted to work with your organization, attend one of your conferences, participate on your radio show or TV shows as an advertiser or hire your PR firm, that’s another thing I didn’t mention, how would they end up working with your company?

I appreciate that very much, all you gotta do is reach out, you can reach out at hayzlett.com and you can find Jeffrey Hayzlett pretty much everywhere, Twitter or LinkedIn, Facebook, you can find us on the C-Suite Network, C-Suite TV, C-Suite Radio. If you start with Hayzlett, you start with that, you can go all other places.


You can certainly connect with me there or correct with me on social media, whatever is easiest for you.

Thank you so much, Jeffrey, and thank you listeners. Be sure to check out the website marketingspeak.com for the show notes for this episode and the checklist that we’ll create of action items to take from insights clean from the episode and also the transcript. This is Stephan Spencer signing off, catch you on the next episode of Marketing Speak.

Important Links:

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

☑ Make a list of three to five things that you want to get out of your business the most (financially or
personally). These are your “conditions of satisfaction.”

☑ Apply the mirror test to your business by asking yourself whether the things you’re doing are leading to where you need to go. Are your actions meeting your conditions of satisfaction?

☑ Take some time to think about what industry you’re in. Don’t get so distracted by the industry you think you’re in that you miss the value of what you’re actually offering.

☑ Sit down and write out some notes about how the Internet of Things may impact your business. Come
up with specific strategies for how to address these possibilities.

☑ As a marketer, your role is to see the inception of the idea all the way through customer satisfaction.
Create and implement five changes to increase customer satisfaction.

☑ Set aside extra time each week to listen more attentively to your customers. Find out what they’re upset about, and then work to find resolutions to those issues.

☑ Being open about your business with your employees can make a huge difference. Try being radically
transparent with open-book management.

☑ It’s easy to get distracted by all of the things that pop up in life. Practice keeping your focus on the
things in front of you instead of allowing distractions to take your attention away from what really

☑ Examine the implied promises you’ve made in your business. Are you meeting them? If not, turn your
focus there and figure out how to keep (or renegotiate) your promises.

☑ Cultivate a sense of open curiosity and declare yourself a beginner. In other words, be open to the idea that there may be things you don’t know, and better ways of doing things.

About Jeffrey Hayzlett

Jeffrey Hayzlett is a primetime television host of C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett and Executive Perspectives on C-Suite TV, and business podcast host of All Business with Jeffrey Hayzlett on CBS’s on-demand radio network Play.It. He is a global business celebrity, speaker, best-selling author, and Chairman of C-Suite Network, home of the world’s most trusted network of C-Suite leaders. Hayzlett is a well-traveled public speaker, the author of three bestselling business books, Think Big, Act Bigger: The Rewards of Being Relentless, Running the Gauntlet and The Mirror Test. Hayzlett is one of the most compelling figures in business today and an inductee to the Speaker Hall of Fame.

As a leading business expert, Hayzlett is frequently cited in Forbes, SUCCESS, Mashable, Marketing Week and Chief Executive, among many others. He shares his executive insight and commentary on television networks like Bloomberg, MSNBC, Fox Business, and C-Suite TV. Hayzlett is a former Bloomberg contributing editor and primetime host, and has appeared as a guest celebrity judge on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice with Donald Trump for three seasons. He is a turnaround architect of the highest order, a maverick marketer and C-Suite executive who delivers scalable campaigns, embraces traditional modes of customer engagement, and possesses a remarkable cachet of mentorship, corporate governance, and brand building.

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