Entrepreneur Edition with Amy K – Part Two
June 25, 2019
In Part 2 of our podcast with author and business strategist Amy K., we have an authentic conversation about how to overcome the real-world challenges and fears that brand leaders face daily in order to remain relevant to the modern-day, savvy consumer.
This is The 19. In 19 minutes or less, game-changing insights from Orange Label, the leading response marketing agency for established brands that are driven by a fearless entrepreneurial mindset.
Hi, this is Rochelle Reiter, agency principal at Orange Label. Last week, in part one of our dynamic interview with Amy K, we talked all about personal branding and the power of storytelling. Today, in part twoAmy K shares her strategies for staying authentic in a world of sales, and overcoming some of leadership’s biggest challenges.
Rochelle: Amy K, welcome back to the 19.
Amy K: Thanks for having me back. It’s a true privilege to talk with you.
Rochelle: So we had so much great insight on your part one podcast. Now we’re gonna talk about selling. So how do you develop a brand message that is both authentic and sales driven, in your opinion?
Amy K: You know, it’s a provocative question because consumers are far more sophisticated, and they’re super busy, and they tolerate a lot less than they used to. And so, developing a brand message that really resonates is not overcomplicating it. It’s really about simplifying it, and hitting people with the raw reality of that life is tough. And that life is complicated, and here is a solution to make life easier. Or to make life more comfortable or to solve your problem. So, one of the things that I think that we’re seeing a lot with our own clients and their brand message is that they’re simplifying a lot to be heard above the fray. But they’re also hitting people with pain points. And I don’t mean the cheesy “what keeps you up at night,” but more along the emotional oomph, that vulnerability of “we get you.” The minute that a brand story can say “we get you,” you’re gonna have a lot of people intrigued in what it is you’re actually selling.
Rochelle: Sure, it’s really about developing that connection – that emotional connection.
Amy K: Yes. In fact a lot of times, I’ll even say to folks in sales, I’ll say, “It’s not about the classic elevator pitch.” Elevator pitch is 40 years old. Now it’s elevator connect. And even though that sounds a little trite, it’s not. It’s really about the idea of, if you can find a point of relatability and connection, you’ve already separated yourself from the pack of cheesy pitches.
Rochelle: I love that. Instead of a speech, it’s so much more real.
Amy K: It is. And it’s usually about putting your message aside long enough to ask somebody a question. So, one of things that I’ll do in an elevator connect scenario – and I spend a lot of time networking, because I travel all over. I’m at events all the time. If somebody will say, “Oh I’m an engineer,” “Oh, I’m an architect,” and instead of going in the where do you work and how long, is I will immediately say, “Well, what does it feel like, to be an architect in today’s crazy world?” or “What does it feel like, to be a veterinarian in today’s crazy world?” And you know what’s fascinating? This conversation elevates and shifts so fast, because now you’re having a deeper conversation than like where do you work and what do you do and how long have you been doing it.
Rochelle: Yeah, you’re talking about feelings and emotions. What would you say to brand leaders who are perceived as being annoying or inauthentic in their marketing?
Amy K: Well, haters gonna hate. Judgers gonna judge, and so let them judge. But let them judge you being you. So, one of the things is that if we try to be everything to everybody, and then they’re gonna judge and hate us, then they’re judging and hating us for not even being our true selves. So, kind of a story that I would share that’s real world is last year, the night before a conference, the night before I’m giving a keynote speech, the client takes me to dinner. And he says to me, “We’re really excited to have you, blah blah blah, but I just gotta tell you that my friend so and so is not gonna come because he can’t stand you.” And I was like huh, that’s an interesting comment, you know that you’re sharing that somebody dislikes me. But then I thought well, that’s okay. Not everybody’s going to like you. But here’s the difference. I would rather that you quote unquote “judge me” for me being me, than me pretending to be somebody else.
Amy K: And so, you can’t stop the world from judging you, you cannot stop the world from disliking you. What you can do is develop a brand and a story and sell a product that you believe in, and then serve the people who wanna play in your sandbox. And if you focus on the people who wanna play in your sandbox, there is going to be plenty of people to play with.
Rochelle: Yeah. How can people overcome that fear? I know that we were talking before, and we talked about how you put a message out there, and there’s a thousand reviews and you read the one that’s bad. And you’re like “Oh, I need to go home and have a glass of wine,” you know, just slough this off. You focus on this one bad review. How can you overcome that?
Amy K: Well, I think the first is to realize that we’re human, and we’re wired to do that. So, you really can’t fight your DNA, and your DNA is based on survival. So, it is a classic human reaction to get 100 rave reviews and one lousy review, and we focus on that one lousy one. Then, we have to realize that we’re bigger than our reaction. We’re actually our response. And our response is then to say okay, I need to choose that 99 people resonated with me. Oh and by the way, not everyone is everybody’s cup of tea. I can literally go to a conference and give a keynote, and have an evaluation that says “We loved her energy. We loved the fact that she was loud and we loved the fact that she’s so positive.” And somebody else can be like, “I found her energy overwhelming.” It’s like, okay, you’re not gonna win every single time with every single person. But here’s the deal. If you sort of get rid of quote unquote “the worst feedback that you get” and you get rid of the best feedback that you get, then what are the trends that you’re seeing, and which feedback is constructive?
Amy K: And so that’s what I’m working a lot with leaders is to say, “Look, we’re all gonna have fears. We’re all gonna have the personal fears of am I good enough, am I smart enough, am I creative enough, am I articulate enough, am I compelling enough.” And we’re all gonna have professional fears. Are we maintaining our relevance in the marketplace? Are we known for trying to solving it all, or are we known for specifically solving this, and what’s our reputation, and how generic or niche do we wanna get? Like this is just normal business life. But at the end of the day, taking all those fears and saying, okay, now which of them are constructive? You know, what’s relevant to us? What do I need to work on in my own mindset, what do I need to work on with my team? How do we continue to evolve? Because we’re never done learning. We’re never really gonna figure it out. You know, it’s gonna be a lifelong process. But it’s really about controlling then that process in our own thoughts. And that was a very long-winded answer but I’m very passionate about this.
Rochelle: Right, I love it. So what are some other common fears you’ve encountered among brand leaders?
Amy K: I think a lot of it is the competency, addiction as well. You know, sometimes you’ll meet an entrepreneur, or a long-time entrepreneur or corporate executive. And he or she might have had a success in like 1972. And then they have this phenomenal success in like 1984. Now you meet them, and they’re like “Well, let me tell you about the time that I acquired this company in 1984.” Really and truly, in the back of your mind, it’s sort of like, well what have you done for me lately? So, a lot of times the fear in these people is the – it is the competency addiction. You know the world is changing so quickly and they’re not feeling relevant. That their securities come about, or reveal themselves, when they start talking about these past accomplishments. From a very long time ago. So, one of the things I’ll tell leaders is, you don’t have to have this amazing accomplishment that you did twenty years ago. But you do need to shift the story in your own head about how you are significantly meaningful today. Are you mentoring? Are you giving back? Are you volunteering in a way? Are you helping other companies grow? Like however the shoe fits. But it is the idea of continuing to have that sense of self-worth, even if your identity is shifted.
Rochelle: Right. How would you recommend executives and business leaders who’ve had success in the past stay relevant? What would you recommend that they do? What are the actions?
Amy K: Well I think a lot of it is staying engaged. And I think a lot of it is having respect for the next generation, and changing shifts and trends. So one of the things that happens as we get older is we tend to get very miopic. So whatever industry we’re in, we’ve built this incredible domain expertise. Sort of like Malcom Gladwell’s 10,000 Hours, then ironically we start to rest on our laurels because we’re at like the height of our intelligence and our insight in this industry. And then what we get blindsided by is that when we’re resting on our laurels, four five seven years goes by, and what we haven’t done is stayed curious. So, to me, one of the best things that leaders can do is to not only stay curious about the shifts and the emerging trends that are happening inside their industry, but what’s going on in other industries? Like what’s happening outside of your domain, that if you were constantly processing and aware of, you’d be like, well, if I were to go over and borrow a little bit of somebody else’s DNA. Or go over to another industry and take a little bit of their DNA, which shifting over there and bringing back to my own DNA, like I’d have a whole new genome. So it’s really just leaning in and staying curious and thoughtful and introspective and open minded to the fact that the world is constantly evolving.
Rochelle: Yes. I love staying curious, and curiosity is the key, right, to just keep learning and growing. If you had to paraphrase a piece of advice about overcoming fear and getting your message out there, what would you tell our listeners?
Amy K: Well, I think overcoming fear happens when we take action. So, as much as I’m a huge fan of the conversation, and I really am, I think that fear tends to come when we sit still. When we sit still, we get more doubt. We get more concern. We start to stew in the wrong conversation. So I will often encourage leaders to have one, that really flip conversations, to really tackle their fears, but then to turn that conversation into an action item. So then what are we gonna do with that? How are we gonna actually take something and move it forward? Or drive the business forward faster. Or make an incredibly important decision. So I spend a lot of time when I’m coaching executives to say, okay we’re gonna shift the tone and tenor of the conversation and then from there, we’re gonna agree to some action items. It could be that they end up having to go have another conversation with somebody else that they were avoiding, or it means making a decision, and being okay with the outcome. Because it was thoughtful. But one of the best things that you can do, especially when we talk about – here’s a great example, Rochelle. I can’t motivate you. And only you can motivate you from an intrinsic desire. I can’t teach you how to be confident. Everybody wants to sign up for a course on how to be confident. The best courses on confidence are the ones that are helping you to take action. Because the best way for you to become confident is to take action and see how your effort and your momentum creates a result in the real world.
Rochelle: Sure. Momentum. That’s what it’s about.
Amy K: It is! A part of that is realizing that momentum is all about being in motion. It’s not about sitting around and overanalyzing everything to death. Now, the underanalyzed life is not worth living either. But, it’s also about, okay guys, we’ve talked this through. We’re ready to, you know, push the lever and make something happen.
Rochelle: Right. Amy K, thank you so much for being with us for two episodes of The 19. We appreciate your insights, and look forward to having you back.
Amy K: Oh, thank you so much! I’m passionate about all of this and I believe in it so strongly, so thanks for giving me a chance to have a fun dialogue with you.
Thank you for listening to part two of our interview with Amy K. If you have additional thoughts on this topic, send us an email! You can send questions, comments, and more to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to subscribe to The 19 on iTunes and Google Play, and if you like what you heard today, leave us a review.