People First! Stephen Woessner, "Secrets of Successful Business Owners"

Morag and Stephen Woessner discuss the secrets of successful business owners!

Welcome to SkyeTeam's People First! In this series, we explore the people side of successful business and careers. We all have a story to share, a leadership journey that we are experiencing.

We'll be interviewing authors, business leaders, thought leaders, and people like you to uncover the latest ideas, resources, and tools to help you become more effective at work - and in life. As it turns out, the secret is cultivating winning relationships. Business is personal, and relationships matter!

So, sit back, and grab a coffee as Morag and Stephen Woessner discuss the secrets of successful business owners!

Chapter Layout:
0:00 - Open
1:26 - What Did You Want to Be When You Grew Up?
4:48 - Entrepreneurial Surprise
6:50 - Tip of the Iceberg
9:02 - Crucible
12:00 - Practical Tactics
14:27 - Crack the Spine
16:32 - Favorite Truth
19:15 - IP
22:10 - Critical Questions
24:30 - Final Thoughts
26:08 - Wrap

Links:
https://predictiveroi.com/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenwoessner/

Transcript:
- [INTRO] Welcome to the Skye Teams People First with Morag Barrett.

- Stephen Woessner is CEO of Predictive ROI and host of the top rated Onward Nation podcast. I've been honored to be a guest on his show and I'm happy to turn the tables on him this week. Predictive ROI is built on the belief that most businesses go about sales in the least productive and most painful way possible. And so Predictive works alongside their clients to help them build a position of authority, so that they can grow their audience, nurture leads and increase sales with the right fit clients and prospects. Steven, welcome to People First.

- Thank you very much for the invitation and just, I know it's kind of rude to like correct the host, but you've been my esteemed guest twice on Onward Nation because the first interview was just that awesome that we had to do an encore, so you're amazing. Thank you very much for the invite.

- Oh, Stephen, I am so looking forward to this conversation and learning from you and sharing that wisdom from the work that you've been doing with all sorts of companies at different stages in their lifecycle.

- Hmm.

- And in their evolution. But before we get to the nitty gritty, I want to start with your origin story.

- Hmm.

- If you go back to when you were a wee lad, your elementary school, the teacher saying what do you want to be when you grow up? What did you want to be, what did you think you would be doing at this stage of your career?

- If somebody asked me that question in the scenario that you just mentioned, I would have told them, most likely that I would have been in the restaurant business, probably, and the reason being is because my entire family has been in the restaurant business or food service, catering, something like that. That I mean that's the origin story of my family and reason being is because every one of my family were all entrepreneurs my aunts, uncles, my mom, were all entrepreneurs, my grandparents were entrepreneurs. But my origin story goes back even deeper than that and it may sound a little bit strange to your audience to say my origin story goes back to 1910 when my, when my grandfather was actually just eight years old. And so my grandparents immigrated here from Greece and Turkey, my uncle immigrated here in 1968 from Thessaloniki in Northern Greece, and when my grandfather was eight years old, you know his dad, my great grandfather didn't come home one day and.

- Wow.

- And it was a time when ethnic cleansing in Turkey was sanctioned by the Ottoman Empire, the government at the time, and my family is Greek. And so my great grandfather was killed on the streets of Istanbul, and my grandfather at the ripe old age of eight became the man of the house, and he happily took care of his mom and his two younger siblings and I believe to my core that my DNA, my family's DNA changed that day, and we became entrepreneurs. And his dream was to come to the United States and he did about 10, 15 years later, came here with $10 in his pocket, couldn't speak the language and six years later, opened his own restaurant in downtown Canton, Ohio, it was 1926. Not a great time to open a business.

- Hmm.

- I could [Indistinct] right a few years before the Great Depression, and he gave away more soup than he ever sold and which also instilled in our fabric of entrepreneurs that if you take care of your customers they will take care of you and give away more than whatever you expect in return. And my uncle many years later, my godfather, my grandfather's son, sat down with him and he said, "Pop, why did you do that? Why did you give away more soup than you ever sold?" And my pop looked at him and said, "I know that Jesus is coming back someday. I don't know what he's going to look like, So I'm just going to be good to everybody." And so my origin story, I believe, is rooted in entrepreneurship, in discipline, in hard work, in taking care of your customers, putting family first, and if we do that, it's a simple recipe, but it's a great recipe for success.

- And I love that 'cause you use that phrase recipe in terms of the partnership that Predictive provides to the clients you work alongside and also Onward Nation, it's giving people the ingredients.

- Hmm.

- That they can put together and build their own special business. But in my experience it's one thing to look at business owners, I mean I spent 15 years in finance and in banking, lending to all sorts of different companies and industries, there's another to actually start your own,

- Hmm.

- So what was most surprising in your entrepreneurial journey when you actually started to wear that hat yourself?

- You know Predictive ROI is my fifth business, and it's always kind of felt natural to do it. I think if there's any sort of surprise in it, and I don't know of surprise is, maybe surprise is the right word, because I always watched my uncles, my aunts, my mom, my grandparents wear the heavy burden.

- Hmm-mm.

- With grace and with a smile on their face. You know my Uncle Bill who owned a restaurant for many years, 25 years, and worked alongside my aunt and gritted it out and us kids we never felt like we had, you know that we were missing out on anything, we had a great childhood, and later in life he told me he said you know there were times where it was really knitted in it together to try and make payroll. And so I think if there's anything that's hard about it, I mean, entrepreneurship is undoubtedly hard, but I think the hardest part is wearing that burden with grace.

- Hmm-mm.

- And not being false about it.

- Hmm-mm.

- But wearing it with grace and humility and the wins and the losses.

- Hmm-mm.

- That's hard.

- It seems that you shared your origin story going back to 1910 which puts you at 110 year old overnight success. You've acknowledged your a fifth business owner.

- Hmm.

- So there's a five company overnight success, and for many people looking and learning from you, they see the tip of the iceberg.

- Hmm.

- And so for people listening who've been thinking and toying and mulling over starting their own business, what is the underestimated element that people should consider before they make that leap?

- Yeah, I think you, expertly, I think you just gave advice in your question which I hope your listeners hear and listen, and in follow in that is, there is no such thing as an overnight success, it does take time, me just like any other business owner we're a work in progress and there's this illusion today and like if I have to see one more Facebook ad about how easy it is to become a seven figure business owner, I think I might, you know, just get sick to my stomach, because it's not easy, there's there's a reason why there's only 700,000 of them in the total United States that have 28 million business owners.

- Hmm-mm.

- Most people who say they're doing seven figures, unfortunately are lying. Because it is hard, it is a small community and I think that business owners today have been led, have been misguided thinking that, oh, I'm going to set out a shingle and I'm going to do a Facebook funnel and I'm going to give away a few things and blah blah blah and tomorrow I'm going to be a seven figure business owner. It doesn't happen often.

- Hmm-mm.

- It's hard work. And so I think the pieces, just keep it in perspective, actually enjoy the journey and recognize that it's a progress, every year you build on something new is a great opportunity to learn and meet exceptionally smart and talented people to do great work on behalf of clients, awesome, but never forgetting that it takes time, there are no shortcuts.

- Hmm-mm.

- No, and I think like you I've seen a lot of those adverts this year and I don't know if it's just because I wasn't paying attention to them and that LinkedIn outreach, we're going to help you double your client base and I'm thinking, what, no thank you. Do you think that reflection of 2020 has been a unique crucible, whether it's a leadership crucible, a business crucible, 'cause even if it were easy, it's easy when things are going well.

- Hmm.

- This sort of year though is the true test of successful entrepreneurship. So what do you think is driving those Facebook posts and the promises that we're seeing?

- Crucible is a great word. I think, in my opinion, 2020 has brought out the best and the worst in people.

- Hmm-mm.

- I think the amount of stress, the amount of challenge, the amount of difficult conversations.

- Hmm-mm.

- We've all needed to have, the things in society that we've needed to acknowledge that actually do exist, the difficult conversations as a result of those. So, in the loss, the hardship.

- Hmm-mm.

- The death toll.

- Hmm-mm.

- I think that 2020 has brought out the grace and the generosity and the kindness and compassion, and has brought out the desperation, the violence, the vile, the separation, the divide, so both in the workplace and just in our families and communities. So, when I see the get rich quick schemes and advertisements like that, I think it's out of both desperation and greed.

- Hmm-mm.

- As opposed to, then I do see the business owners who are winning and who are building followers and who are building audience are people like you and it's people who are coming to their audience with generosity and teaching, and sharing and full transparency in acknowledging that it's not about them, it's actually about the audience winning.

- Hmm-mm.

- And how can they double down on being helpful, and all of that. And that is what I love, that's the spirit of entrepreneurship, and that's what I think 2020 has done. 2020 in all of its stress and pressure and everything has separated the wheat from the chaff.

- Yeah absolutely, one of my earlier guests on People First was my friend and colleague John Baldoni.

- Hmm.

- Who talks about grace under pressure, and how now more than ever when our interior drive might be to hoard toilet paper, to make sure that I am okay, actually this is the time for the grace and the generosity because together is how we navigate this, through the relationships et cetera that I talked about in Cultivate, but we do it together, and when we start building those walls and separating and dividing, it actually makes it harder. So I'm curious when you think about your team at Predictive ROI.

- Hmm.

- And when you think about the ripple effect of the clients you support, what are some of the pragmatic and practical tactics that you have been putting in place to maintain and nurture that sense of team and community?

- We take our values pretty seriously. Our first one is gratitude, our second is life is not static. And we take our, we take our values really seriously in living them out in full transparency in front of each other.

- Hmm-mm.

- Right, we actually celebrate teammates every couple of weeks as far as who was the person who lived the values out the most and demonstrated our values in front of each other and or in front of a client.

- Hmm-mm.

- And then because we've been doing that so consistently for the last several years, clients see that.

- Hmm-mm.

- And I've had clients say to me, gosh, I was on a call with Morgan the other day, and you know I asked her to do something little and something you know whatever and you know, I noticed that, and one of our values is also no job is too small.

- Hmm-mm.

- And no task is not mine. And you know she jumped in the trenches and got that done for us and that was super, super helpful. Like, oh, awesome, thank you for sharing that story with me. And then we share that with our teammates.

- Hmm-mm.

- As another way to call out and share evidence of, you know working our values and living them out every single day, so when we live on our values, and we encourage each other to do that, and then we witness that and call that out and teach from demonstration walking the walk.

- Hmm-mm.

- Our clients see that and then our clients are like oh my gosh, I really want to work with a grateful team, a nimble team, a team that no job is too small and no task is not mine. Oh gosh, you guys really do believe we win together, and it's important for me as a client to win, and you're not out to just win for yourself. And so that really matters for our relationships with clients.

- And it's important because it is that sense of community and trust that underpins every business relationship, whether it's colleague to colleague, boss to team or client to client, and I know you're a prolific writer, you're a prolific sharer of your wisdom, Selling With Authority, what will people learn and discover when they get the copy because I strongly recommend it, but crack the spine on any of your books.

- I hope that what they, when they read Sell With Authority or something else, I hope what one of the messages that comes through, is that it's not about them at all, it's about the audience winning.

- Hmm-mm.

- That I can't stand here in your show and say, I'm an authority, I'm an expert, I'm a thought leader. How dare I? Actually it's your audience or my audience that gives me that right.

- Hmm.

- And it's their faith in me that I must earn through hard work in helping them, in showing them that they must win and if they win they bestow upon me any sort of like title that I might have been helpful, and if I'm able to receive such an acknowledgement as an authority or thought leader in space is because I earned it, and I earned it by being helpful. So.

- Hmm.

- I hope, my hope is that if somebody picks up the book, Sell With Authority and reads and says, gosh this is going to be hard, it's not a get rich quick scheme, it's going to take me weeks and weeks and months and months and years and years of hard work of putting my audience first and following the 10 truths. But if I do that, wow, I can build a pretty sustainable business, I can future proof my business because it's based on something other than a marketing scheme or campaign, it's built on helping an audience grow into a nation of true fans.

- I love that 'cause it is future proofing our businesses, our careers, our reputations and it's like a flywheel and it takes.

- Hmm.

- A while to get it going, but once you start adopting that 10 truths and making them part of how you show up and do business and that momentum builds and it becomes almost self fulfilling. So when you think about the truths that you share in the book, which is your particular favorite?

- Hmm. Well there's a few of them, but my first one is having, actually I'm going to give you two of them, because they kind of knit together, well all 10 of them do but. And the first one is, is that in order to have an authority position you have to have something to teach.

- Hmm-mm.

- That it's not about you know something, you know front of stage versus back of stage, it's like you're coming to an audience, albeit maybe a small one at first, and you're coming with the spirit of a teacher, of sharing life experiences and knowledge with the goal of helping them get better.

- Hmm-mm.

- So they can get better at their job every day or whatever your audiences is into, whatever, like, I'm thinking of sort of in the B2B world, right, like how can you help your audience get better every day at their job. And so coming to them with a teacher spirit that you have something to teach, what is really knitted tightly into that is one of the truths of generosity.

- Hmm-mm.

- And being super generous and sharing your smarts, being so confident in sharing your smarts, that you're not worried about giving your secret sauce away. It's okay. And one, they want you to, and two, it's not like they're going to steal it from you, but by you doing that you're being helpful to them in a completely different way. It's not doing things like, download my seven tips of whatever but I'm going to hold back to three really good ones, and you got to buy those from me.

- Hmm-mm.

- Right, Jay Baer said to me in one of our interviews together, he said to me, he is like, Stephen, you got to take all this big body of knowledge and break it into small info snacks, they're easily digestible and give it all away. He goes when you do, your audience will love you and you'll be surprised as to how they're like, wow, this is amazing, he's given all this to me for free, could you imagine if we worked with their team and what we would get?

- Hmm-mm.

- And so that's part of being aligned with the 10 truths of what makes somebody an authority and not being concerned at all about giving away the best of what you got.

- I think that's why you and I get on so well because abundance and generosity is the foundation for being an ally, an ally mindset we talk about that in Cultivate and in our upcoming new book, and I often see leaders or business owners worrying about IP and how do I protect it and I've got to hoard it, which is the antithesis about how I run my business 'cause there's more than enough success to go around. And what am I going to do? Am I going to come after you for taking that, those seven tips? I mean, it's a narrow minded philosophy that causes people to have sleepless nights as opposed to just give it away and then you have to worry about it, and to your point, if you're adding value and helping us grow together, then there will be more than enough folks who are going to come back and ask for that coaching and the additional learning that helps to accelerate their success, it's powerful.

- Amen.

- Powerful stuff.

- Yes.

- So, how are you adapting and planning for 2021, and the learnings from this year, how are you changing your game to prepare for next year?

- Excellent question. You know, Susan Baier and I, she's the founder of a company called Audience Audit, and she's my research partner here at Predictive and her and I just finished a research study that we entitled the ROI of Thought Leadership, and there's some really really cool findings in that. And so in going through the findings it made me think of, and then alongside the work that I've done with Drew, my co-author for Sell With Authority that you mentioned, made me think of, gosh, even though we've had a podcast now for five years, even though we have a video series and courses and books and whatever.

- Hmm-mm.

- You know, the research report, the work with Drew, Edelman's 2020 Trust Barometer.

- Oh, yes.

- It's brilliant.

- I [Indistinct] results, yeah.

- Like these three things made me think, holy bananas in all the work that we've done, we're literally just getting started.

- Hmm-mm.

- And so going to your question of 2021, we're going to double down on courses. I don't know the exact launch date, so it could be December, it could be January, but we're building out an entire platform called the Authority Sales Machine which is going to have a litany of mini courses in it. Working on a new book, the same title, Authority Sales Machine. And so we're taking the big research outcomes of all of these studies and looking at ways that we can double down even further.

- Hmm.

- On being helpful. accessible, and having that teacher spirit and I think 2021 is going to be a great year for us to do that.

- I love that and making it accessible to the many, and in what sounds like bite sized portions so can pace myself.

- Right.

- And I like and I'll go back to your catering your origin story, it's like a smorgasbord, and the danger is we walk up to these sort of things or as business owners and there are so, there's so much choice.

- Hmm.

- That we can end up gorging ourselves and making ourselves ill versus picking those bite sized pieces that are going to help us to accelerate success. So for business owners and leaders listening to our conversation, what do you think are the critical questions that they should be asking of themselves, so that they can do what you're doing which is think about how to course correct and fine tune their business ready for 21?

- Yeah, I would challenge them to think, so what I've shared and you've been so kind and it's not, what I've shared, the exception to maybe the origin story, they may have heard before, and so, my challenge to them is, why haven't you done it yet?

- Hmm-mm.

- You know deep down inside, like I'm speaking to one of your listeners right now, you know deep down inside that what we're sharing with you is true, it's not hyperbole, we're not making it up, the research is there, the data shows that the companies that survived the last six recessions are the ones who made and came roaring out the other side, are the ones who made progressive decisions, they double down on their team, they doubled down on R&T, they opened up new markets and they focused on thought leadership, they came roaring out the other side, outperform 37% of their competitors in the process. The data is there. So my challenge to you is, you know it's true, why haven't you done it yet? And so that's like an introspection question, there's something inside you that's prevented you from doing what you know you need to do.

- Hmm-mm.

- And that's what you need to square with, whether it's the imposter syndrome, whether you feel like you don't have a unique point of view, which is a lie you've told yourself, whatever that is, there's some sort of obstacle that you've created in your own mind that has kept you from pursuing what you know you need to do.

- Hmm-mm.

- Square with that and figure that out and get over it quickly, because the world is changing and the world deserves to hear your smarts. The world deserves the best of you and so does your team, so don't deprive them of that, square with whatever that obstacle is and get on with it.

- Yeah, moving forward in spite of the fear because you can be so much more, and you'll never discover just how much more until you take that step out of your comfort zone. So Steven as we come to the end of our time together, what final thoughts do you have for entrepreneurs across the country, but around the world who are listening to this?

- Okay, so I'll go back to your buffet analogy because I think it's a really good one. Because oftentimes we can look at the buffet, as opposed to somebody gives you three choices, do you want steak? Do you want salmon? Do you want chicken? And then, okay you know I'll take the fish, whatever, versus 80 options.

- Hmm-mm.

- And then overwhelm sets in, and then we don't know what to choose, and then, you know, whatever. So my suggestion would be to pick one thing, to pick one channel of cornerstone content, if you really want to plant your flag of authority, you want to future proof your business as you mentioned a few minutes ago. Awesome. But don't sit down and think okay for 2021 I'm going to launch a podcast, a video series, I'm going to write a book, I'm going to create that blog that everybody's been talking about, and there are great email cadence with our lists three times a week, and, and, and, and, and. Stop, instead think, okay, you know what, I'm going to launch a video podcast series.

- Hmm-mm.

- I'm going to do it twice a month until we can get into a good cadence and then I'm going to do it once a week, and then we're going to start slowly slicing and dicing that into other channels. Awesome, build some momentum. And then in 2022, you take those episodes and convert it into a book, in 2023 it turns into a research series. Awesome, start stacking that together. That's lovely, but just start.

- Stephen wonderful wise words, just start. How can people find out more about you and make sure that they subscribe for Onward Nation and the podcast series?

- Awesome, well thank you for asking. So predictiveroi.com is where you can find all of our stuff, all of our Onward Nation episodes, we're up to almost 1000 episodes now. And then if somebody wants to connect with me personally just look me up on LinkedIn. My last name was Woessner but it's spelled w-o-e-s-s-n-e-r. So, find me out on or seek me out on LinkedIn and connect and look forward to crossing paths.

- Stephen it's been a pleasure, I'll make sure all that information is in the show notes around and I look forward to our ongoing partnership and watching each other learn and grow together, thank you.

- Thank you very much for the invitation, it was a pleasure to be here with you.

- [Narrator] Thank you so much for joining Morag today. If you enjoyed the show, please like and subscribe so you don't miss a thing. If you learn something worth sharing, share it, cultivate your relationships today when you don't need anything before you need something. Be sure to follow Sky Team and Morag on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And if you have any ideas about topics we should tackle, interviews we should do, or if you yourself would like to be on the show, drop us a line at info@skyeteam.com. That's s-k-y-eteam.com. Thanks again for joining us today and remember business is personal and relationships matter. We are your allies.

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