The Improv Is No Joke Podcast

Welcome to the Improv Is No Joke podcast hosted by Peter Margaritis, AKA The Accidental Accountant and author of the book 'Improve Is No Joke, Using Improvization to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life'. This podcast series is also available on iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher.

Ep. 56 – Clarke Price | The Leadership Problem: How Social Media is Making Organizations Risk-Averse


In this episode we are talking to Clarke Price, a retired CEO of the Ohio Society of CPAs and the very first guest on this podcast one year ago. We discuss how the prevalence of social media (and the decline of respectful debate) creates new challenges for leaders and we provide suggestions on how you can overcome these challenges to provide strong leadership in your organization.

The Ohio Society’s record of innovative leadership during Clarke’s tenure was recognized by the American Society of Association Executives when the society was selected as one of nine remarkable associations that were part of an extensive nationwide study of successful associations.

The American Society of Association Executives’ publication, Seven Measures of Success: What remarkable associations do that others don’t, featured the Ohio Society of CPAs as the only state-based membership organization profiled in the seven measures study.

Social media fervor is making many organizations far too risk-averse. Organizations are fearful that their membership, customers, or constituency might disagree – loudly, online, demanding a penalty – with any decision or position they publicize… so they do nothing.

Fear of risk leads to hesitation, which leads to inaction – and certainly doesn’t lead to innovation.

From an improvisational standpoint, the inaction kills me. If we don’t make bad decisions, how can we find good decision? Bad decisions are just bridges to good decisions.

We need to change the current leadership trend. We can get ahead of these online movements if we train leaders to anticipate and respond to criticism appropriately.

Good leadership needs to share the truth, acknowledge disagreements, and (most importantly) communicate a story.

You need to tell a story about how the decision was made, why it was important, and what the consequences will be – a story full of emotion, as opposed to facts and figures – and you need to share that story in a variety of forums.

Communication strategies may vary but there is one constant: you can’t be silent and you can’t expect problems will just play out and then go away.

We should expect more, and encourage more, from our leaders; they should be prepared to actually lead, make tough decisions, and think about the future. It’s not enough to just be present.

Download this Episode MP3.



Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Clarke: [00:00:00] Part of the strategy I think for any major decision that’s made boils down to what I always called “how do we tell the story?” How do we tell our story?


Peter: [00:00:19] Welcome to improv is no joke podcast, where it’s all about becoming a more effective communicator by embracing the principles of improvisation. I’m your host Peter Margaritis, the self-proclaimed chief edutainment officer of my business, the Accidental Accountant. My goal is to provide you with thought provoking interviews with business leaders so you can become an effective improviser, which will lead to building stronger relationships with clients, customers, colleagues, and even your family. So let’s start to show.


Peter: [00:00:50] Welcome to episode number 56 and the one year anniversary of this podcast. Time really does fly by. If you think my math is a little off, remember that we launched four episode that very first week. I’d like to take a moment to thank all of my guests for this past year. I greatly appreciate all of you for your willingness to share your knowledge and experiences to help serve those who listen. I have to thank my audience for taking time to listen to these episodes each week and I hope you’ve been able to act on some of the information that has been provided. Personally this has been an absolute blast. I had no idea where this would go when I launched it last year, and to date there’s been over 9000 downloads reaching 48 countries, all 50 states, and 120 U.S. cities. Once again, to all my guests and to my audience, Thank you. Today’s guest is Clarke Price, who’s a retired CEO of the Ohio Society of CPAs. That name might ring a bell because he was the very first episode of my podcast series. Clarke is one of my mentors and I’m very lucky to be able to call him a friend. Clarke completed a 40-year career with the Ohio Society of CPAs, including 22 years as president and CEO of this progressive, nationally recognized Association serving certified public accountant. Before being named CEO, Clarke worked in virtually all areas of the operation, including public relations, membership development, governmental relations, and marketing. The Ohio Society of CPA’s record of innovative leadership was recognized by the American Society of Association Executives when the Ohio Society of CPAs was selected as one of the nine remarkable associations as part of an extensive nationwide study of successful associations. Working with the Good to Great author Jim Collins, the American Society of Association Executives publication, Seven Measures of Success: What remarkable associations do that others don’t, featured the Ohio Society of CPAs as the only state-based membership organization profiled in the seven measures study. In this episode, we discussed challenges that leaders today face. For example, social media and decision making, and provide suggestions on how to overcome these challenges in order to provide strong leadership to your organization. Well with that said let’s get to the interview.


Peter: [00:03:31] Clarke, it’s fitting that we’re doing this interview today because when this thing airs it’ll be the one year anniversary of improv is no joke podcast and you are episode number one. And to date, outside of the intro, you still have the most downloads and it’s still downloading each and every month, which is a testament to the information you provided. Not to raise the bar too high here, but it’s a testament of what you brought to that first podcast: information people just absolutely love. So first and foremost thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with me.

Clarke: [00:04:08] Well thank you. First off, congratulations on a year. It’s great to see something succeed like this podcast series. So congratulations on that. And I appreciate your very kind comments about the first one. I’m still sitting here somewhat taken taken aback by the fact that I have been so popular for downloads. So it’s great for my ego. You know right now, both in the bit of work I’m doing with a variety of associations and what I’m seeing in my own service sitting on a university board and some charitable boards, I have a concern that is gathering steam about how risk averse organizations of every stripe that I can think of have become.

Peter: [00:05:02] When you say risk averse, in what context?

Clarke: [00:05:06] Absolutely almost paralyzed for some, but fearful will probably be a better way to do it, that they’re going to make a bad decision, and not necessarily only a bad decision, and they’re going to make an investment or invest in a program that’s not going to succeed. But even that they’ll take a position on minor issues, in some instances, that their membership or constituency, for whatever reason, will disagree with, and that this agreement will then manifest itself in a social media campaign not just criticizing the decision or action that was taken but actively organizing of… It’s not enough just to say we’re upset. There has to be a penalty of some sort. A perfect example: Over the last several weeks, the New York Times has come under attack for hiring a writer who is a climate denier, an identified and acknowledged climate denier, to be a reporter in their scientific section. There is group of people that are now on social media organizing – “as protest, we all have to cancel our subscriptions to the New York Times.

Peter: [00:06:42] When you say a climate denier, define that for me. Someone who doesn’t believe in climate change?

Clarke: [00:06:49] That global warming is not real.

Peter: [00:06:50] Ok.

Clarke: [00:06:50] We’ve always had periods of global warming and we’re simply in a cycle.

Peter: [00:06:56] OK.

Clarke: [00:06:57] Not that we’re on the precipice of catastrophe, which a lot of people believe. So this group that is saying “how dare the New York Times hire a writer who has an opinion that conflicts with my opinion. And we now have to punish the New York Times, and the only way to punish them is financially. So let’s all cancel our subscription.” And there have been similar movements around other issues. You can see it manifest in the association and not-for-profit environment, where it used to be, going back to the good old days, the only time people of like mind could express their opinion en masse was when they attended a meeting of some sort, in person.

Peter: [00:07:53] Right.

Clarke: [00:07:54] So the association board makes a decision. There might be people in the membership that feel strongly that this is the wrong decision. And really the only time they could organize to try and do anything was when they attended a meeting of some sort, generally sponsored by the association. And that just in and of itself had the effect of stifling dissent. Now, with social media, any group can organize. Any person can get out there and, with an aggressive strategy, organize and mount a campaign of whatever sort saying “This decision is wrong.” So it might be they’ve decided to make an investment in some activity that the people think is wrong for the association. And suddenly you have a what used to be called a small rump group, which now becomes a chorus, that are, on a regular basis, hammering how terrible this is on social media. And social media’s reach – how many followers you have – you suddenly start to see these these groups gain traction. So that has the net effect of leaders of organizations saying we absolutely positively have to be sure that this is the right thing. We absolutely positively have to be sure that the membership is going to support us. What I’ve observed in some of the groups I’ve worked with is they’re discussing a step that, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think anybody would consider major. It becomes “well have we surveyed the membership?” And then it becomes the argument of “how valid is the survey? How broad was this survey? Have we really done the outreach to let everybody know what we’re going to do and give them an opportunity to object?” And what that has the net effect of doing is delaying decisions that need to be made, as well as reducing the risk tolerance of “we’ve got to put a stake in the ground on this issue.” There is lots of change that that is going on across the landscape as a whole that you have to consider. So how do groups respond? One that I think is a very dramatic “we’re going to put a stake in the ground:” Purdue University has just bought Kaplan. Now Kaplan has existed out there for a long time and has had, recently, financial problems, partially due to how the U.S. Department of Education has been cracking down on the for-profit higher education environment.

Peter: [00:10:58] Right.

Clarke: [00:10:58] Now Purdue buying Kaplan is a major step. That’s where their board, I think, and they have a very aggressive university president, said we need to enter, dramatically, the online higher education market. Do we build it or do we buy it? If we’re going to build that it’s going to take forever. If we buy it, and particularly if it’s something that’s already established, we can shortcut that timeline and beat the competitors because every university right now, almost every university, is looking at how can we enter the online market. You know they are concerned because of the ads that they see from the New Hampshire – I can never remember the name of a university in New Hampshire that spends boatloads of money advertising their – southern New Hampshire University spends boatloads of money advertising their online programs. Very effective in their advertising. They have an ad that’s running right now where this Southern New Hampshire University blue bus pulls up and they are delivering the diploma to an online student who could not attend graduation. Now I don’t know that they’re doing that for every student but, if I’m sitting out there thinking where am I going to go, I need to advance, where am I going to go? Suddenly, Southern New Hampshire University looks like they care.

Peter: [00:12:35] Right.

Clarke: [00:12:36] And so there’s an example where the competitive environment in higher education is becoming very very aggressive. And again an example where a board has really stepped up and made a major step forward. But that’s not typical.

Peter: [00:12:55] But this is 2017. We’ve got Southern New Hampshire, WGU… But if I go back to my days at ODU, or even if I go back to my days at Franklin, Franklin was one of the leaders in online education back in 2000.

Clarke: [00:13:13] Yeah.

Peter: [00:13:13] 17 years ago. When I went to ODU, they dabbled in it but they never… Maybe it’s that that risk tolerance level didn’t want to take on that additional risk and decided to go down a different path with division football yada yada yada. But now that the landscape has completely changed you’ve got this massive onslaught of “we need to get there now.”

Clarke: [00:13:40] Yes.

Peter: [00:13:41] That’s taking a big risk… Or is it? Because the big risk was 17 years ago. Is it out there to say that now we’re seeing the effects of online education – What it’s doing. Maybe now is the time to do it?

Clarke: [00:14:00] Well it’s a variety of things that are going on. One, there was a great unknown. Was it really going to gain traction, 17 years ago?

Peter: [00:14:08] Yeah.

Clarke: [00:14:08] Clearly it’s gained traction. So 17 years ago, and in the intervening years it was easy to take that position. “Let’s just watch and see what happens.” And you’d have some skeptics… whether the skeptics are “That’s not a good good form of education” or “people really aren’t going to buy it, so why do we need to make the big investment?” You’re right. Franklin university has made a major investment, for a long time, in developing not just a curriculum but competence in developing that that sort of curriculum, and making it very broadly available. You have more and more institutions that are now realizing, hey, there’s money to be made out there. There’s a campaign that I just just read about that is keyed around that theme “It’s time to finish.” Looking at those students, whether it was in a traditional in-person academic environment or online, that withdrew for whatever reason. I don’t have time. I’m not enjoying this. Whatever. The campaign is “It’s time to finish,” saying your credits are transferable and we have programs that are relevant, practical, interesting, engaging, whatever. And so their target is not that student that’s saying “I can’t afford the traditional environment and so I’m going to go online” or “I don’t have time and I want to do it on my time.” This is “we’re going to recapture your interest.” You started at one point saying you were interested and withdrew for whatever reason… let’s capture your imagination again and get you through a program that leads to a degree. So there is a movement in this space now is pushing people up saying we’ve got to do it. They also look at Phoenix, which had huge success for many many years. They’re struggling a bit now. Kaplan being the same way, and there are others out there, that’s leading to “we need to make an investment. We need to take a risk and head down the road.” And that risk factor, going back to where I started this, is boards and leaders generally need to become more risk tolerant. I’m going to look back in time and maybe it’s generational differences, maybe it’s not. There used to be an attitude of “let’s try it and, if it doesn’t work, we’ll fix it, or we’ll stop it.” But we’ve got to take steps to move forward. And now the fear of making a bad decision or having some sort of blowback, in many instances, paralyzes organizations.

Peter: [00:17:03] I think ESPN is going through this right now. I read, even from some of the anchors, that said the position that they took on Caitlyn Jenner really upset a lot of their sponsors, and their sponsors pulled out. ESPN just laid off last week about.

Clarke: [00:17:18] 100 people.

Peter: [00:17:19] 100 people. They’ve been talking since… you know some of the positions that they have taken… But if we don’t make bad decisions, how can we find good decision?

Clarke: [00:17:29] That’s right.

Peter: [00:17:31] This whole improv thing: bad decisions are just bridges to good decisions. Now let’s… I just want to explore this because let’s go back to 2001, 2002, when you’re CEO of the Ohio Society and – correct my timing if I’m wrong – but you decided that we were going to eliminate chapters, and that was not a very popular decision amongst a group, similar to this social media group. You know… bring that decision today.

Clarke: [00:18:07] Oh, that is a great example. The decision to eliminate 12 Geographic chapters that were sponsored under the umbrella of the Ohio society of CPAs, each with their own local committees, their own board, they made their own decisions, they sponsored programs. But for a variety of reasons, our leadership – the board at that time – concluded that that wasn’t necessarily an organizational structure that would work best for the future. And after a lot of discussion and a lot of research – market research among members – the decision was made: yes we’re going to eliminate our geographic chapters structure. The rank and file membership, just as the research indicated, did not care. The group that cared, in most instances, were those who were current or recent chapter leaders – chapter board member. And there was a move at that point that was initiated that was critical of the decision that was based on a handful of blast emails. That was in early 2000s – that was the social media response: a series of blast e,ails. That decision in today’s environment… Social media could ramp up the volume dramatically, and volume is… and volume not of support, but of discontent. Suddenly it starts to translate into we have to show up at every event the organization sponsors in person and be that loud volume shouting, “This is wrong. You’re wrong, and you have to change.” It just is able to mobilize people in a fashion that we couldn’t in the past. And one of the things that, to me, has always been a danger so much in social media – in a live environment, when you’re standing there screaming at the rooftops that this is a bad decision, based on your behavior and what I know of you, I may decide you’re an idiot and I’m just going to ignore it. That you’re not credible on this issue. On social media, that raving lunatic component is, in many cases, hidden.

Peter: [00:20:57] Oh yeah.

Clarke: [00:20:57] And on social media, and we have seen it in a variety of forums, truth doesn’t always play out, in terms of the arguments that are advanced. So social media contributes dramatically to this inaction on major issues by organizations of every type – not just not-for-profit organizations. I think anytime most colleges and universities decide they have to increase tuition rates, there is a concern of “OK what’s the response going to be on social media?” Not just what’s the response going to be from students, but then who’s going to gin up what sort of negative response or extreme negative response in the social media environment. That’s a very real issue. We’re seeing it across organizations of every type, the Times being one example. There’s protests going on right now that are anti-Wendy’s hamburger chain because Wendy’s has not signed on to some group that is advocating for better treatment, better wages, better conditions for those who picked tomatoes. That translates into “stop buying at Wendy’s.

Peter: [00:22:29] The ol’ boycott.

Clarke: [00:22:31] Yeah. And where it used to be I’ve got to look you in the eye to get you as excited as I am about how terrible it is that Wendy’s is not joining this campaign to improve conditions for those who who picked tomatoes, on social media. We can gin up a crowd over any issue that may or may not take personal action in terms of actually showing up at a protest, but they’ll talk to their friends “stop eating at Wendy’s.”

Peter: [00:23:06] So what should… in thinking about “back in the day,” I remember you and the board, or you and the chair, went to all the chapter boards and met with them face-to-face and had this discussion on why it needed… there was some dialogue that went on. But in today’s environment, we’re not having that one-on-one dialogue. I’m posting and I’m and gathering the masses… then as a leader what should Wendy’s, what should the Times, what should they do? How should they respond to the noise out there? Because I think part of it is the non-response.

Clarke: [00:23:46] I agree that non-responses is a deal killer for organizations. Failure to respond appropriately.

Peter: [00:24:00] Well, what’s appropriately?

Clarke: [00:24:02] One, with the truth, where it’s necessary. Two, where the criticism is valid, acknowledge it. How much heat did United Airlines take for the CEO’s initial response on the unfortunate incident occurred on United Airlines flight?

Peter: [00:24:29] Yeah.

Clarke: [00:24:29] It took them a couple of iterations to get out there not presuming that their people were right. And that’s always a risk because they don’t want to upset the Union.

Peter: [00:24:41] Right.

Clarke: [00:24:42] Or their employees, if they’re not unionized. But they’ve got to acknowledge we were at fault or we made a bad decision. But the number one issue is you’ve got to lay the facts out.

Peter: [00:24:59] Right.

Clarke: [00:24:59] And how it is done. When you talk about when the chairs and I would make the rounds and tell the story, it was always “Here’s how the decision was made. Here is the process we went through. Here are the points that drove the decision, over whatever that decision might be.” It used to be you’d do that in person and you’d publish an article in whatever your monthly newsletter or whatever is. Now the communications strategy has exploded because you still have to do those in-person events where you can, depending upon the issue, the environment you want to go to the media and use what are called traditional public relations strategies to get them to help tell your story. You use your own publications. You have to use your Web site. And how can that be most effectively done? And the one that I think most organizations struggle with today is how can we leverage social media to tell our side of the story.

Peter: [00:26:07] Right.

Clarke: [00:26:07] And the strategies that then unfold are do we or don’t we respond directly to the negatives that are occurring by the anti component on social media, or do we concentrate on simply telling our story and relying on social media itself to spread our version? Different organizations, different approaches, different circumstances, different situations dictate how you’re going to respond to that. So the PR side of it is incredibly important in today’s environment. But the one thing that that is true across every organization: You can’t be silent. You can’t think oh this is going to play out and go away.

Peter: [00:26:53] Let’s just turn our backs and eventually people will forget all about it.

Clarke: [00:26:59] That, in today’s environment, is is not workable. So going back to where I started with this, it means organizations – and whether they’re not-for-profits, whether they’re charitable, or whether they are what we’ll call traditional businesses, you have to be thinking about “how do we respond in today’s environment? What are we going to do? What are we going to do that adds value? What are we going to do that makes us relevant? What are we going to do that allows us to make the best use of the resources, primarily financial or manpower, that we have available to better position us for the future?” And that better position us for the future I think is the critical issue that most are afraid to address. What I observe is people are very slow to accept changing marketplace reality. New competitors – what used to be partners now become competitors. And what are we going to do and how are we going to respond? And that means you’ve got to be prepared to take some risks. And going back to where this all started, too many groups are risk averse and they think we’ll wait this out and we’ll see what’s the really right thing to do. And if I’ve been with some groups that have made the decision we’re not going to act right now, and then somebody else acts and they have a hiccup or a failure. Their board members say see we made the right decision, when they could have moved forward if they’d been just a little bit aggressive, or very aggressive. Depends on the group. Those are issues that are making leadership today very challenging.

Peter: [00:29:03] As you’re describing this, it’s the leadership by hesitation.

Clarke: [00:29:09] Yeah.

Peter: [00:29:10] We’re going to have that pause, and you know I’m a big believer that businesses need to take on risk. They can’t be risk averse because if you look the same way you did last year then you’re probably not gonna be around much longer. By the way, you have a Blackberry on you? Kind of along those lines. When did we go to the thinking that we can’t make mistakes? When we go to the thinking that we always has to be right and 100 percent perfect? Because that’s impossible. And if we’re driving leadership in that manner… that’s not a really decent picture of leadership moving forward.

Clarke: [00:29:50] Pete, you’re right – it’s not. But, unfortunately, it’s a realistic picture of what leadership looks like today, and I think is going to influence leadership for for a long time. And what drove the change? I wish I had an answer. I thought about that a lot. I think part of it is driven by the incredible time pressures that everybody is facing today. And they’re not as vested in outside organizations, or their own organizations, as they used to be. Nobody wants to… in today, it’s the rare exception where you find somebody who is willing to be identified with failure. And boy it’s a really rare instance where somebody’s not just willing to be identified with the failure but willing to be identified as that failure was my idea. Or I supported that failure. I’ve seen a number of instances where people who were involved in a decision to do something that turns out to have been a failure or a bad decision – they won’t even try to set the record straight of why we made that decision. Even if it’s saying we had bad research. It’s they just don’t want to be associated with it. That then rotates back to inaction.

Peter: [00:31:28] We’re fearful of our jobs because if you made the bad decision – gone.

Clarke: [00:31:33] That’s right.

Peter: [00:31:34] So why am I going to make them – why am I going make any decisions if there’s going to be those negative repercussions to me that I’m going to lose my job? Then yeah we won’t take responsibility. We won’t take accountability. And quite frankly we won’t think… we’re not a leader.

Clarke: [00:31:50] Yes.

Peter: [00:31:51] We’re an order taker.

Clarke: [00:31:52] In the corporate environment where we’re making corporate decisions, people are loathe to be identified with that failure. Whether it leads to your fired or whether it leads to the whispers of “Peter, Clarke was behind X and you don’t want to involve them in this project, or take what they say with a grain of salt.” So there are downstream repercussions that then lead people to, I think and I observe, not necessarily be supportive of risk opportunities that are out there.

Peter: [00:32:34] Right. Because if I’m going to support you… What’s in it for me?

Clarke: [00:32:41] Yeah.

Peter: [00:32:42] And there’s a lot of that what’s in it for me. And if it fails now you’ve tarnished me. And then the whispers and stuff are in the back hall… and you know the whispers are always to be there. And I think the stronger leaders might hear them but it doesn’t have the same effect on them as it has on others. I don’t know. That’s very valid points and the question in my mind is How do we fix it? I mean social media is social media. It’s not going to go away. How do we…

Clarke: [00:33:23] If you want to step back and look at a little bit pragmatically, in many respects, social media is the newspaper of old. When I began my career in 1969 as a public relations guy, the primary target that we had for everything was print – the newspapers. Newspapers are less and less important today.

Peter: [00:33:57] Right.

Clarke: [00:33:57] Unfortunate but it is a reality. So now you end up looking at how do we harness the various platforms that are out there? And part of the strategy I think for any major decision that’s made boils down to what I always call “How do we tell the story?” How do we tell our story?

Peter: [00:34:20] Right.

Clarke: [00:34:20] How do we tell the story of how the decision was made, why is it important, what are the consequences? In a variety of forums, and whether that is social media, whether that is on Web sites, whether that is in print, whether it is the talking heads standing up in front of a group of people, whether it is webcasts that allow you to do that – all of the strategies that are out there. They need to be factored into the plan. And today, for many people, for many groups, all of that seems overwhelming and what they decide is lets wait, or lets punt. How critical is this really? What are the consequences of inaction? What we have to do to fix it is get our leaders thinking about the importance of the future, in one instance, the import that being appointed to any leadership role means you actually do have to lead. It’s not not enough to simply be present as a leader. Let’s put a broad fence around leader – as a leader you have to be prepared to actually lead. Make decisions; make the tough decisions. Think about the future. Where are we going? What is important for this organization? How do we confront the negative challenges that loom out there either today or on the horizon? How do we keep this organization or this entity relevant to whatever constituency we serve? Whether it is members, whether it is donors, whether it is customers, what are we going to do to ensure that we keep relevant? And that means you’ve got to be constantly scanning the competitive horizon. What are the things that loom out there that are going to impact us, and then either how do we anticipate or, in the latter case, how do we respond? And how do we respond may actually be too late. The key is anticipation.

Peter: [00:36:41] Anticipation, and I’m going to back to something that you said about telling our story. So as I think of the person on social media… they’re emotionally charged. They may say how is this going to affect the families, these families, yada yada yada. My question is, when corporate America is responding to this, are they telling an emotionally charged story or are they telling a story wrapped around complete data with no… analogy to put it in a way that starts that motion. Is it a data dump or is it a story that has a human factor to it, is my question. I have been doing a ton of reading lately about one of the challenges that corporate America has is telling a story that’s just not all data and facts and statistics and graphs. It’s creating that analogy to help with that emotion of who we are.

Clarke: [00:37:45] And how is it going to affect you.

Peter: [00:37:47] Right.

Clarke: [00:37:47] How does our action or inaction affect you?

Peter: [00:37:53] Right.

Clarke: [00:37:54] You as members, donors, customers – choose what you will. Telling the story, I have always felt, is the critical step in, at a minimum, gaining understanding – The desirable is gaining support. All too often, people think “they don’t care.” Whatever the group they are serving or affecting, they’re not going to care. In today’s environment, people care.

Peter: [00:38:29] Yeah.

Clarke: [00:38:30] And particularly social media gives them a platform to express how much they care to a broad audience, and also a platform to say this affects me and this is wrong.

Peter: [00:38:46] And this is why we emphasize the emotional part of story. So, as a leader, do you point out an anticipation is we know that all decisions we make are not going to be 100% supported, so in that board case the anticipation… what would be the negative response out there and how we respond to that within our story, in a manner that’s just not facts and figures and graphs and stuff?

Clarke: [00:39:11] And how can we tell that story that’s going to lessen or mitigate that negative response?

Peter: [00:39:21] Right.

Clarke: [00:39:21] How do we get people on our side? That is critical. How do we get people on our side? How do we generate excitement and enthusiasm for what we’re doing? Rather than this is wrong, this is great. And then you get into OK how do we manage competing voices. You’ll have a negative voice. How do we get the volume from the positive voice to drown them out?

Peter: [00:39:48] Why does it always take five times more of the positive voice over the negative voice?

Clarke: [00:39:52] Well, primarily, I think because the negative voice generally has great passion behind it. And a positive voice, generally speaking, is slower to respond because there’s not as much passion around whatever the issue is. And look at how the response has been to President Trump. There are detractors of the president today who are very loud in their volume.

Peter: [00:40:26] Mhm.

Clarke: [00:40:26] Many of them through social media. It seems to me that supporters of the president they seem to come in waves of when the volume goes up, where the detractors their volume is constant. I’ll use an example of a group I am aware of on social media that has created a forum within a Facebook group for people to express frustration, concerns, anger. All, I will say, in a very positive manner. They’re not “we must rise up and do whatever,” but it is primarily about expressing frustration and sharing articles that they find… I’ll give one real world example that I’ve used in a variety of times. I will freely admit that I was in the Never Trump school during the election. Not necessarily a raving fan of Hillary Clinton, but definitely in the negative school when it came to President Trump. There is a group of former friends and colleagues – CEOs of other associations – that got together a variety of times a year, either for dinner or occasionally to play golf. Two of the group – there were four of us – Two of the group were pro-Trump as a candidate, but primarily because they were violently anti-Hillary Clinton.

Peter: [00:42:21] Right.

Clarke: [00:42:24] I remember very distinctly a dinner where – and we always talk politics – where I expressed my support for Hillary Clinton. And dinner became a chorus of “you are dumb as a stump.”

Peter: [00:42:42] Yeah.

Clarke: [00:42:42] And just face a series of challenges among friends. That was frustrating.

Peter: [00:42:53] Yeah.

Clarke: [00:42:53] It was was very frustrating to me, and I have experienced it play out similarly in a variety of other forums. As I talk about it, I have other people that tell the same story of, to a degree, that they’ve never experienced before, and particularly in presidential elections, that the polarization that occurred – that divided friendships. And in my case has had an impact. That’s a concern. That’s a very real concern. And again, it gets to telling the story. And everybody has the right to – I’ve always felt everybody has the right to their opinion, and I have always fought the urge to think “how stupid is he or she?” when they voice an opinion that I don’t agree with. I had to remind myself they are entitled to their opinion. And the notion that I’m going to convince them that their opinion, particularly on political matters, is wrong and they need to change how they’re going to vote is an absolute wasted effort.

Peter: [00:44:01] Yeah I’ve had this for a number of years, where there are some of my friends who we can have the point-counterpoint discussion in a very respectful way and, at the end of the day, go okay, you got an opinion and we don’t agree. OK let’s go have a cocktail… versus some who are just like “you’re an idiot to even think that way.” Well we’re all different – we all think differently, but we’ve lost that respect.

Clarke: [00:44:32] We have. And it becomes very broad in its effect and impact. I’m a former lobbyist. One of the changes that I observed in the legislative process over time was you used to be able to sit in the gallery and watch debate on a bill. And, Pete, you and I would be members of the House and in that debate the casual observer would think you and I are on the edge of coming to a physical confrontation. But on the very next issue that was up for debate, you and I were on the same side working together and appeared as lifelong friends.

Peter: [00:45:22] Right.

Clarke: [00:45:22] What’s happened over time is so many people have established a litmus test, and it might be on a social issue, it might be on taxes, and choose what it is. And if you don’t support my opinion, I don’t want to be identified with you over anything.

Peter: [00:45:50] Yeah.

Clarke: [00:45:50] And I seriously believe that that has led to the dysfunction that we observe in our elected bodies today. The notion of leadership and compromise has become a really really dirty set of words in the political environment today. Yes there is occasional compromise that occurs, but where we used to have debate on an issue and give and take and compromise rarely happens today because of these positions that have been staked out. And that doesn’t just happen in the legislative environment. It also happens in the community and social environment that’s going on here. Whether it’s the popular ones today – immigration, taxes, homeless… I mean choose the issue that you want – people stake out a position and then proselytize that everybody has to share my opinion, rather than think maybe there’s some middle ground in this.

Peter: [00:47:05] We forgot what the middle ground was.

Clarke: [00:47:07] Yeah.

Peter: [00:47:08] When I do talk about improv in my presentation, I talk about respect. I say “you know what you can an institution that has no respect for each other? Congress.”

Clarke: [00:47:17] Yes.

Peter: [00:47:18] “Because it’s my way or the highway.” And that’s not leadership. That’s ego.

Clarke: [00:47:23] It is. And then again looping back to so social media environments. And then there is this tremendous concern about how is my base – not my constituents, but my base – How are they going to respond to the decision that I make?

Peter: [00:47:44] Yeah.

Clarke: [00:47:45] Today there is this fear that the extreme, whether it’s the extreme right of the extreme left, is going to get behind a competing candidate because I haven’t voted the right way. Rather than you elect me to make decisions on your behalf and I’m going to make the best decision that I can. And that’s unfortunate, and it loops all back to leadership. And who’s going to stand up. Tell the story and try to rally support for what we’re trying to accomplish. In some respects… I had this conversation just yesterday with someone that some think the master of that is President Trump, who does the rallies where he tells his story.

Peter: [00:48:41] Mhm.

Clarke: [00:48:42] As I think about that and try to be objective, I can agree that he’s out there telling his story and rallying support. Unfortunately, he’s telling his story to his base and not necessarily trying to expand the base.

Peter: [00:49:01] Right.

Clarke: [00:49:02] And get more people to say “I understand that.” And I know there are some that may be listening to this that say “you’re absolutely wrong – he is the great communicator and he is telling his story and people are buying it.” I’m sorry I disagree.

Peter: [00:49:22] Yeah, and you know what? That should be the beauty it – allowing that disagreement. “I don’t share that opinion.”

Clarke: [00:49:29] And I think part of the role of leaders is to moderate that disagreement. One, to provide the forum for both sides to be put out on the table. But then leaders need to be prepared to take the heat, tell the story, and then, in some instances, admit it was a bad decision and move on. Fix it and move on. But right now, we have people that are frightened of the negative response. So, consequently, they don’t do anything.

Peter: [00:50:03] Through this whole conversation, we’ve talked about if it’s a wrong decision fix it and move on. It makes me think of two things: one, Steve Jobs, that was his mentality. You know if it’s not going to work, bail. Just move on. But I still go back to when I was living in Atlanta years ago, and I still remember when New Coke came out and I think it lasted maybe 30 seconds.

Clarke: [00:50:27] Yes.

Peter: [00:50:28] Because even though they did the market research, even though they did all that and invested into it… But when the mass public got a hold of it and the response negative to it… bad decision, move on.

Clarke: [00:50:40] Yeah.

Peter: [00:50:40] Let’s get it fixed.

Clarke: [00:50:41] It’s off the market now.

Peter: [00:50:43] Yeah.

Clarke: [00:50:43] OK. We listened to you. Now we’re moving on.

Peter: [00:50:46] Right.

Clarke: [00:50:48] Leadership, in this sense, today, is really very difficult. It takes a lot of effort. It takes a lot of thought. It takes a lot of planning and strategy of how are we going to tell the story, which I keep looping back to. But what are we going to do to continue to be relevant? And whether that is improve our product, improve our conversations, make a change… right now in the association and membership organization environment, I think we’re starting to see a movement of mergers and consolidation. That’s an emotional issue to some. National organizations are gobbling up their state structure again.

Peter: [00:51:42] Mhm.

Clarke: [00:51:42] A variation of that chapter issue. Why do we need six organizations surveying this specific constituency? And so you are seeing consolidation. It started a number of years ago over trade shows – the big trade shows, primarily in Las Vegas, Orlando, Chicago, locations like that. I don’t care what the industry is. There would be several different organizations that, over the course of a year, would have a trade show. And there became a movement of well why don’t we co-sponsor this show and make it bigger? And then it became Or why don’t we buy this trade show? You know our organizations are serving the same industry… Why don’t we merge? And that brought out strong responses from members. “I don’t want to lose my XYZ association or be part of the ABC association.” But it happened and I think there’s going to be more of that, partially driven by relevance, or lack thereof. Part of it’s going to be driven by economics.

Peter: [00:52:59] Mhm.

Clarke: [00:52:59] And the competitive environment. And those are all going to be really challenging to deal with.

Peter: [00:53:05] Well with the lack of relevance, if you don’t have membership or new members who are paying the dues… then it turns into a financial decision. And then the whole economics of it is Are we relevant? And I also think it goes back to Are you telling your story?

Clarke: [00:53:24] Again, my focus is voluntary membership associations because that’s what I built my career around. I’ll give you an example of the shift that is occurring. A number of years ago, the American Society of Associations worked with Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, to do a major research project across associations that led to publication of a book called Seven Measures of Success.

Peter: [00:53:54] I’ve got that book.

Clarke: [00:53:54] They were seven very specific issues that, as Collins and the group looked at this landscape of associations, these seven attributes led to incredibly strong associations. Fast forward several years, Harrison Coerver, a consultant to associations, writes a book The Race for Relevance. And his premise was forget everything else. Relevance is what’s going to be the defining factor for success in the future. And what do you do to determine relevance and to become relevant? That’s the entire focus. And now there there is the successor to Race for Relevance – I think it’s Road to Relevance or something like that. But in any sense, we’ve got this notion of what’s the value we’re going to provide and how are we going to be relevant? In the course of that, you’re going to make some decisions of where are we going to place our emphasis, where are we going to expend our resources, and that means some longstanding programs or activities ultimately fall by the wayside. And there are always people that love those programs and will say “that’s the reason I’m a member and you just eliminated it.” In today’s environment, we’ve got this opportunity for that group that says “you’ve made a bad decision” to increase their volume across a broad audience saying not just you made a bad decision, but “how dumb are you and you should not be leading this organization.”

Peter: [00:55:31] Right.

Clarke: [00:55:32] That then contributes to inaction and being averse to taking risks and making changes, which is where I started this.

Peter: [00:55:43] [laughs]

Clarke: [00:55:43] But that’s what’s going on today that makes being a leader incredibly challenging, and makes the need for strong leaders – people who are willing to say I’m going to take that chance.

Peter: [00:55:58] Yeah.

Clarke: [00:55:58] I’m going to take the chance on making this decision. That’s one of the things that I have so enjoyed about my time serving on the Franklin University board. It is board comprised primarily of business leaders.

Peter: [00:56:15] Mhm.

Clarke: [00:56:15] A number of us are retired but all of us held senior businesses positions. We are blessed with a very strong president who brings issues to us, but a board that studies issues in great depth but is willing to say “we need to try this,” and if it works out to be the wrong decision we’ll fix it or we’ll stop it. There are few boards that I am involved with right now that I feel strongly about but have that sort of an orientation: a willingness to say the environment is changing – what are we going to do to change? What new roads are we going to head down knowing that it might not succeed? You do your research to think it’s got a good chance of succeeding and it gets debated in depth. Some might say ad nauseum, but then it becomes we’ll fix it if it’s a bad decision. And people are afraid, too often today, that I won’t get the chance to fix it. The volume will become so great that I have to step down. I have to resign from the board and have to resign from my position. And the CEO in a membership organizations becomes a lightning rod, and often they are the person that gets blamed. And I always said I get paid to take the blame.

Peter: [00:57:47] Right.

Clarke: [00:57:48] But now it is not enough to say you made a bad decision. We have to replace. And that’s happening very frequently.

Peter: [00:57:56] Yeah I can only imagine that. Wow.

Clarke: [00:58:00] Yeah you know it is interesting to be the outsider sitting there with a volunteer board and just observe the behavior. Who’s there? Who talks? Who doesn’t talk? Who, if they’re prompted, will respond and respond with something that’s reasonably strong intellectually? Who’s just along for the ride and a free lunch? Who’s prepared?

Peter: [00:58:31] Yeah.

Clarke: [00:58:32] You can tell who’s prepared, generally speaking, and who isn’t prepared. To me that’s one of the most important attributes for leaders: being prepared.

Peter: [00:58:51] And if it’s something that you might not know a lot about, then go find out.

Clarke: [00:58:58] And learn it before it’s going to be discussed.

Peter: [00:59:01] Right.

Clarke: [00:59:01] Don’t rely on others in the discussion to, perhaps, educate you, because more often than not it’s not going to be a real education. That’s the responsibility of leadership. And every board has people that are engaged. Every board has people that are not engaged.

Peter: [00:59:25] And the ones who are not engaged.

Clarke: [00:59:28] Shouldn’t be there.

Peter: [00:59:29] Exactly.

Clarke: [00:59:30] Every board is different. Sometimes they’re there because they’ve been a major contributor, or their employers been a major contributor. Sometimes they’re there simply because they’ve been a soldier rising through the ranks. You get drafted and you serve on a committee and, before you know it, you have hung around and you haven’t done anything stupid or bad. You become chairman of the committee. Maybe move to another committee. Maybe it’s well he was chairman of the X committee, or she. We need to bring them up onto the board. And before you know it you’re on a board, and suddenly you get a phone call saying we’d like you to start through the chairs. And if you really step back it’s because you haven’t created any problems, you haven’t been controversial, you haven’t really contributed. But you have shown up. And people are busy today and those that are really engaged, many times, are saying I don’t have the additional time to really invest in being an officer or go through the chairs or whatever. Subsequently, many organizations get people as chair that really shouldn’t be. And that’s been a fact for years. It’s been a fact forever, I think. Sometimes you get one of those people when you can capture their imagination and get that spark going and get them to invest in getting smart and being a leader. You take them to a conference. You give them a book to read. And suddenly then they get energized…. but all too often that simply doesn’t happen.

Peter: [01:01:18] In an interview I recently saw with Simon Sinek he was talking about leadership. How do you measure it? How do you do it? And I love this: “Leadership is something that you practice every single day. Every single day.” You work on something, work on something… It also reminds me of a TEDTalk of a professor from a Welsh University, Philip Kim, talking about how these small wins lead to great gains. And I think some in leadership, maybe in the board leadership, are not thinking about that on a day to day basis.

Clarke: [01:01:54] Yep.

Peter: [01:01:54] They’re not practicing it… I love when someone says “I’m not a leader right now.” And I go to you work with people? “Yes.” Do you have an effect on somebody else? “Yes.” Then that you are a leader. It’s the effect that you have on the other person, and I didn’t make that cognizant recognition until this interview with Simon Sinek that I’ve watched many times. But leadership is not authority. Leadership is the way you affect people. And it doesn’t matter: you can be at the highest level and you can be at the lowest level, but that lowest person can have an effect on somebody else. That’s leadership. It goes back to attitude and it goes back to coming in ready to work, ready to do your job, and not being the dark cloud.

Clarke: [01:02:42] You’re using that example. I used to say that the average board member simply shows up – a good board member shows up and they’re prepared. They’ve at least read the agenda and hopefully any supporting material that’s there, or done some some research on their own. An exceptional board member actually does something between meetings. They’ve got an assignment they’re going to fulfill. They call to talk about an issue that is percolating through the organization. And then the one-in-a-hundred fantastic board member will between meetings, or even at a meeting, bring up an issue that’s out of the blue.

Peter: [01:03:32] Yeah.

Clarke: [01:03:33] And says I’ve been thinking about X and how it’s going to affect us. Something that hasn’t been on the agenda before. Those are the ones that have the potential to be extraordinary leaders because they’re thinking out there over the horizon and saying “this is going to affect us or I think this is going to affect us. What do you think? And then how are we going to respond.”

Peter: [01:04:02] How are we going respond, and let’s make sure we respond.

Clarke: [01:04:06] Yeah.

Peter: [01:04:06] I think a lot time we think how we will respond, and we come up with the idea, and then we come back to reality.

Clarke: [01:04:12] And then it falls to the execution of it.

Peter: [01:04:13] Yeah.

Clarke: [01:04:14] Do we have a culture? Do we have a process that allows us to translate idea to reality?

Peter: [01:04:20] Right. Will the board support it?

Clarke: [01:04:21] Yeah. And then how are we going to try to tell the story. That’s it.

Peter: [01:04:28] Clarke, I miss the hell out of you.

Clarke: [01:04:29] Yeah.

Peter: [01:04:31] I love these conversations. This is the quickest hour that’s gone by. I love the insight. I am going to have to get you on one of these podcasts episodes and we’re just going to talk about the 30 years of your travels and some of your favorite places that you’ve visited and some of the best restaurants restaurants that you’ve eaten at.

Clarke: [01:04:53] Yeah.

Peter: [01:04:53] And that could be an hour in itself. So thank you for taking time. Always enjoy our conversations and I look forward to our next one.

Clarke: [01:05:03] Pete, thanks very much. This was great.


Peter: [01:05:08] I would like to thank Clarke again for spending time with me on sharing his thoughts on the impact that social media is having on today’s leadership style.Listen, learn, and learn. I have partnered with the Maryland Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute to bring an exciting new learning opportunity for accounting professionals to earn CPE credits. You can earn up to one CPE credit for each completed podcast episode purchased for only $29 through the American Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute self-study website. The podcast episodes are mobile friendly. Open your browser on your smartphone, tablet, or computer, Go to the MACPA and BLI self-study account, and listen to an episode. Take the review and final exam while you’re working out or after listening to an episode on your commute to and from work – It’s that easy! While all Improv is no Joke podcasts are available on my website, only those purchased through the MACPA and BLI self-study Web site are eligible for CPE credit. You can get detailed instructions by visiting my website at and clicking on the graphic “Improv is no Joke for CPE credit” on my home page. I hope you enjoy this exciting and flexible new way of earning CPE credit. Remember you can subscribe to my podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. If you’d like to purchase an autographed copy of my book Improv is no Joke: Using Improvisation to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life, for $14.99 with free shipping, please go to my website,, and you’ll see the graphic on the homepage to purchase my book. Please allow 14 days for shipping. You can also follow me on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. In Episode 57, I interviewed Jason Michaels, who is a professional entertainer, speaker, and author with an astounding experience in the art of deception. A storyteller by heart, Jason loves to blend impossible mysteries with unforgettable tales. Thank you again for listening and remember to use the principles of improvisation to help you become a stronger leader.

Production & Development for Improv Is No Joke by Podcast Masters

Ep. 55 – Cody Boyce: The Power of Podcasts for Lifelong Learning & Networking


Today we’re pulling back the curtain to reveal the Wizard of Pod(casts), Cody Boyce, Founder of Podcast Masters. Cody and his team produce podcasts for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and other organizations that want to create brand authority, connect with an audience, and sound great doing it… including this one!

We discuss why podcasts are a powerful medium, for both hosts and listeners, and how the industry is likely to change over the next few months.

One of the most important pieces of podcasting, which a lot of people don’t think about, is its potential for lifelong learners. People who listen to podcasts are consuming so much information that can help them be more productive, do their job more effectively, be funnier, and countless other things. The list is constantly growing – there are 1,000 new podcasts (shows, not episodes) on iTunes every week!

Part of the reason that podcasts are so effective for lifelong learning, and what makes the medium so unique, is the freedom.

For the audience, podcasts can be listened to almost anywhere. Working out, on the commute, even while doing work – it’s available everywhere you are, as long as you have battery life.

For hosts, there is freedom in the space to do whatever they want. They can talk however, to whomever, and using whatever structure is most appealing.  

By virtue of this freedom and the relative intimacy of listening in on these conversations, podcasts hosts and audiences also form a relationship that you don’t necessarily see in other media.

This connection makes podcasts increasingly important for anyone, especially entrepreneurs, who want to develop a brand and build a community. It’s one of the easiest, and cheapest, ways to establish yourself in a particular niche.

That leads us to one of the biggest questions about podcasts: monetization. You aren’t likely to monetize a show directly through ads. However, it is a great way to establish yourself as an expert authority in a space and begin adding value to people in your industry. If you can prove your authority and value in a space, then you can use the podcast to sell a product or attract customers to your actual business.

Download this Episode MP3.

You can check out more of Cody’s shows here:

Manage to Engage – “We train leaders, managers and people who will be in the skills they need to not only be successful, but to be clear and open as people. Dedicated to the evolution of you, because businesses grow when people do.”

Balanced Blonde – “Here we will discuss everything from the young entrepreneurial blogging life to wellness, friendship, branding a business, writing, how to keep the passion alive and so much more. On each episode Jordan will interview someone in her life who has set their soul on fire and is doing awesome things.”

The ONE Thing – “Discover the surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results. Learn how the most successful people in the world approach productivity, time management, business, health and habits with the ONE thing.”


Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Cody: [00:00:00] If you do the research and you know how to get the show up and running or if you are fortunate enough to have a production team it’s fairly easy to make the content that you want to make that’s in your space. You don’t have a filter, you don’t have a company that you have to go through in order to approve what you’re talking about. You can just do what you feel is the right thing to do, develop your show, and then put it out there.


Peter: [00:00:29] Welcome to improv is no joke podcast, where it’s all about becoming a more effective communicator by embracing the principles of improvisation. I’m your host Peter Margaritis, the self-proclaimed chief edutainment officer of my business, the Accidental Accountant. My goal is to provide you with thought provoking interviews with business leaders so you can become an effective improviser, which will lead to building stronger relationships with clients, customers, colleagues, and even your family. So let’s start to show. Today’s guest is Cody Boyce, who’s the founder of Podcast Masters, and his company produces my podcast.


Peter: [00:01:13] Cody welcome and thank you for taking time out of your schedule to be a guest on my podcast today.

Cody: [00:01:20] Pete, thank you for having me. It is a pleasure.

Peter: [00:01:23] Now listen everybody. We just pulled the curtain back from the Wizard of podcasting – that is the voice of Cody Boyce, as I said he is the guru the genius behind- He makes me look good, and that takes a lot of work.

Cody: [00:01:36] [laughs]

Peter: [00:01:37] And the reason I asked him to be on my podcast today is because the feedback from my guests and the audience out there has just been overwhelming at times, and I’ve forwarded this stuff to him. And I think let’s talk to the expert about podcasting, and so let’s just go right to the source and that’s what I think Cody you can be an outstanding guest today. But before we get into those pieces can you just tell us a little bit about who Cody is and how did you fall into this?

Cody: [00:02:08] Yeah absolutely. So my background is in music. I studied music here in Columbus at Otterbein College in Westerville focusing on guitar and then started getting specialized in audio production and recording. So once I graduated I was you know doing gigs, I was doing recordings, and some composing and production work. And then when I discovered podcasting having that background of recording kind of lended itself well to getting involved with it. I had a buddy that had been listening to a variety of shows and was just saying you know week after week you’ve got to start listening. You’ve got to start listening to these. And this is like 2013 I think, and I started with Joe Rogan, the Joe Rogan Experience show, which is still to this day my favorite podcast. And then it was just you know a whirlwind from there. I just started downloading as many as I could and decided to you know plug my mics in, since I already had them, and start recording a few things of my own with a buddy of mine. That that got rolling and then I started doing some freelance work and it just kind of spiraled out of control. It’s just been a snowball since like 2013, 2014.

Peter: [00:03:13] Because I remember when I was thinking about doing this, I did my research. I knew I didn’t have time to do the post-production work. And I was just like searching around the inter-webs and I came across this company podcast masters, and I looked at the address it was New Albany, Ohio. That’s really weird… finding someone in my backyard, and we met a couple of times to talk about some stuff. It was kind of ironic and you know I’m glad I found you.

Cody: [00:03:45] Yeah yeah. I’m glad the site popped up for you. It’s funny that you found me being so close. You were actually our first client that was in the city of Columbus. Everyone that we worked with up until that point I’d met online on Facebook or you know through referrals all over the globe, but you are actually our first show from Columbus.

Peter: [00:04:04] And how many shows now do you have in Columbus?

Cody: [00:04:08] In Columbus, we have five or six that are here in the city. My wife started a show at the end of last year so that was another big one that we started working on.

Peter: [00:04:17] And you’re charging her double, right?

Cody: [00:04:21] [laughs] Of course.

Peter: [00:04:22] I mean I’ve heard – I had a friend of mine who had been telling me for years “you gotta start a podcast,” and I just kind of hemmed and hawed. And why do people really get into podcasting? Because it’s really a radio show. A micro radio show.

Cody: [00:04:37] Right. Yeah it’s radio, but it’s to such a level of accessibility that it’s just kind of unprecedented, and accessibility in terms of hosting a show and being a listener of a show. You know you can download as many shows as you want for free and listen to them at your convenience. And the strongest thing that I think about audio, as opposed to video as opposed to a written word, is that it’s such a passive activity that you can do and still absorb the information. You know that’s why I think there’s been such a huge growth in the space here in podcasting because you can throw a show on on your commute, at the gym, while you’re on your walk – whatever it is – and be able to multitask and still digest that information. And as far as hosting goes, if you do the research and you know how to get the show up and running, or if you are fortune enough to have a production team, it’s fairly easy to make the content that you want to make that’s in your space. You don’t have to have a filter, you don’t have a company that you have to go through in order to approve what you’re talking about. You can just do what you feel is the right thing to do, develop your show, and then put it out there.

Peter: [00:05:39] And that’s probably the most fun that I have had – just going out there and just being as creative as possible and testing out different things at different times, and not having to “oh I have to get my boss to approve this.

Cody: [00:05:55] Right.

Peter: [00:05:55] And having that freedom as well. I always wonder when I watch somebody when they get their ear buds in, or even if I’m watching a basketball game and the players are coming out and they get the headphones on, the natural assumption is that they’re listening to music.

Cody: [00:06:08] Right.

Peter: [00:06:09] But which could actually be the opposite. They could be listening to some type of podcast, spoken word, or something versus the music itself.

Cody: [00:06:16] Right. Yeah exactly. That’s one thing that I’ve started wondering now, as I see people with headphones. What are they actually listening to? And it’s funny that you mention sports players coming out too because there’s not just like interview shows or like talk radio style shows up on iTunes anymore. I mean there’s yoga sequence podcasts that I’ve seen. There’s you know inspirational, short, three to five minute inspirational quotes kind of to get you amped up for your day or whatever you’re getting involved in. So it’s just such a wide variety you know.

Peter: [00:06:44] I haven’t seen the inspirational quotes, but I’ll look for them because I was watching the finals last night of the NBA and I saw Kevin Durant come out and he had his headphones on and I swear he was listening to my podcast.

Cody: [00:06:57] Maybe that’s what won the game for him.

Peter: [00:06:58] We’re in Ohio. I’m going to be cast out of this state right now by saying that. Holy cow. So people start a podcast to get whatever message that they want to get out to a wider audience than the written word. Like from a commute – you can put it in and you can listen to it, versus you can’t do it with video in a car. You can’t do with a video as a passenger at times because of connectivity, but with a podcast that you’ve got downloaded you’re consuming content constantly.

Cody: [00:07:34] Yeah and it’s just easier for you to do multiple things. It saves you time it makes you… I would say, in a lot of ways, it makes you more productive throughout the day because you don’t have to alot you know a specific amount of time to listen to something, to study, or digest an interview or an informational podcast. You can get it done in the meantime while you have other stuff happening.

Peter: [00:07:54] And I think the piece about podcasts that maybe a lot of people don’t think about: we talk about lifelong learning, and I believe with podcasting – and those who listen to a lot of podcasts – we’re actually go through that lifelong learning process because we’re consuming so much information, and then it’s placing these placeholders in our mind and giving us these ideas on how we can be more productive in life, how we can do things differently, how we can be funnier. I think that’s probably one of the most powerful pieces of either producing a podcast and putting on a podcast or the actual listening to the podcast.

Cody: [00:08:35] Yeah. I mean there’s ridiculous like ideas that I never thought I would have, and once I started getting involved in business and growing the company – just ways of doing business or different ideas to be more productive or to help build the team, help grow the company, help market to new clients. Stuff that I never thought of by myself and listening to other shows or listening to – one of my favorite types of podcasts is where it’s an interview, but less of an interview and more like a case study of how someone started X company and took it from from here to there. And those are the ones that really give me the most information. So yeah I mean it just expands your knowledge like crazy and it’s all free, which is the most ridiculous part.

Peter: [00:09:11] Yeah. So you mentioned Joe Rogan. Who are some of your other favorite podcasts that you listen to outside of the ones that you produce?

Cody: [00:09:22] Well Joe Rogan, and if anyone has heard that you know it’s very you know off the cuff conversational style. There’s no rules. There’s no structure. They just kind of chat. And the thing that I love about it is that he has so many different guests. He’ll have like a neuroscientist on one week and then a UFC fighter and then a comedian and then a traveller or something, and it’s just a very eclectic mix. There’s a few shows that are kind of like that I really dig. Tangentially Speaking with Chris Ryan is another one. He’s been kind of traveling around and just doing interviews with people that he meets. It’s been very interesting to listen to. Those are two my favorites that I listen to at the moment. And I wish I could list more, but with the volume of shows that we’re working on and the length of the shows that I listen to it’s hard to fit so many in.

Peter: [00:10:10] Well yeah I guess you know the cobbler doesn’t have shoes for his kids.

Cody: [00:10:17] [laughs]

Peter: [00:10:17] And one of the first shows that I started listening to, and I listened to a lot, is I enjoy Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income. It’s given me a ton of different ideas around my podcast, as well as putting some things in play and creating some type of passive income stream.

Cody: [00:10:37] Yeah and that guy is just a like endless endless endless stream of ideas. I mean the amount of episodes that he puts out on a regular basis is just crazy.

Peter: [00:10:47] And I think he’s now doing live on Facebook and going down that path, and he started probably in his basement with a microphone. Just started recording this and he’s been doing it for, what, five-six years?

Cody: [00:10:59] Yeah I think so, and that’s what you just mentioned: kind of starting small and starting off kind of low budget if you need to. That’s one of the things that I really enjoy watching as shows progress: starting out with a single microphone using Skype, kind of like what we’re doing right now, but then you evolve, you get more people in the room, maybe you add video, maybe you’re producing extra content – you’re doing interviews on the road, doing stuff while you’re traveling – and it’s just really cool to see how you can start small and, as things pick up, you can just grow into something that, really, when you started maybe you couldn’t even really forsee happening.

Peter: [00:11:33] Amen. Because I’m coming up on the one year – your episode is just before the one year anniversary and I had no idea where this thing was going to take me. All I knew was I had a message I wanted to get out there and I looked up my numbers the other day and you know I had a good start. I had over 9000 downloads within that year. I’ve been downloaded in every state and U.S. I’m in 120 cities in 35 countries. Even the Russian Federation has downloaded an episode or two of mine.

Cody: [00:12:06] [laughs]

Peter: [00:12:06] So Putin must be listening to me too.

Cody: [00:12:09] [laughs] It’s inspiring when you see just kind of the reach that you have. You know just from uploading a show to one or two sources you can get all across the globe – it’s kind of crazy.

Peter: [00:12:21] It is. And when I think about those who are in business, especially entrepreneurs, it’s almost like a must; you should have a podcast because it’s a great way of getting your message, your brand, your service out in the marketplace. It’s great advertising and it’s got a length and a breath and a depth that is worldwide.

Cody: [00:12:43] Yeah absolutely. Especially for entrepreneurs. That’s the majority of the kind of the shows that we work with just because it has more of a business focus and the shows are leaning into products or services, or the brand authority really is what I like to say, of the entrepreneur themselves. It’s just a really easy way to kind of establish yourself in your niche. Whatever you’re an expert at, you can get on the mike and you know gradually people will be listening and you’re kind of establishing yourself in your space.

Peter: [00:13:13] Yeah it’s been fun to watch the numbers grow over the past year, and at times there will be these huge spikes – and I guess for those of you who have been thinking about this, well I think one of the frustrations that you’ll run into is getting great demographics of your audience. Because what I see is the amount of downloads geographically or whatever, but the demographic makeup, or if I’m getting these spikes where exactly and how… we don’t have access to that information.

Cody: [00:13:46] And you’ll be very excited for me to say what I’m about to say because last week at Apple’s yearly worldwide developer conference they had a specific session on podcasting and they announced a lot of new changes that are going to be coming up once the new phone OS, iOS 11, once that drops later this fall, around when the new iPhone comes out, they’re going to be upgrading a bunch of stuff. There is going to be a new analytics platform from iTunes that’s going to give you way more in-depth stats in terms of subscribers, how many subscribers are actually listening, how long they’re listening, where they’re coming from, what parts they fast forward through. It’s going to be really crazy and I’m so excited for that to happen.

Peter: [00:14:24] Oh my God it’s Christmas in June.

Cody: [00:14:27] Yeah they just kind of rolled that out last week so we’re all kind of… it’s not implemented yet so we have the news and we’re all kind of like salivating and ready to see what’s going to happen.

Peter: [00:14:36] So is this a move forward? We can’t move back and look at prior stuff? This is just things that happen going forward, right?

Cody: [00:14:43] That I don’t know, but I would assume yes.

Peter: [00:14:46] Because I came to you about two weeks ago because I had one episode, the Mike Sciortino episode, one day all of a sudden had 145 downloads, which actually doubled its total downloads in one day.

Cody: [00:14:59] Right.

Peter: [00:14:59] And all we could figure out is that it came out of North Carolina.

Cody: [00:15:02] Yeah. So some somebody’s got really excited about it and started spreading it around their company or their campus or something.

Peter: [00:15:08] Yeah, but we don’t know where – the specifics that are soon to be coming. Yeah. Well I think they’ll make a lot of podcasters very happy – to be able to analyze those analytics.

Cody: [00:15:20] Oh for sure. And that’s like the most frustrating thing that people have been have been kind of mentioning for years since the thing started. You know Apple really kicked things off with the iPod. They started the whole thing, hence the name. But everyone’s been really really looking forward to this. And I know I have a lot of trouble trying to explain to the new podcasters like how the stats actually work and explaining why you can’t see some of the analytics just because they’re not out there for us to look at yet. So this is going to be a big change for the whole industry.

Peter: [00:15:49] That’s great. So I do what I do on this end. I’ve got my Skype, I’ve got my plug-in (which you’ve helped me with), I’ve got the microphone, the boom, and all that stuff. But when I turned the files over to you, what’s the magic that you guys do? And I know that this grew from you, but now you have a team. And tell us about the team.

Cody: [00:16:14] Yeah I mean it’s I cannot be doing what I’m doing without the team. So big shout out to everybody that’s involved. But so podcasting as we know it in the space right now has a few main components. One is obviously audio – that’s the major one. That’s the foundation of the platform. There’s the written, which is the show notes, transcriptions – the written component to each episode. And then we have visual, which sometimes has video but not all shows or video so it’s usually artwork and graphics that correspond to the show. So we have a person on the team for each category there. So Hayden is our audio editor, Ben is our writer, and Zach is our designer. So we’re just kind of slotting in different parts of each episode out to them because that’s kind of what they’re specialized in. They do a better job at that than I could do. And then using kind of the three of us, and I’m overseeing the team, we put everything together. So we listen through and edit mistakes, mix and master of the episode to the highest production quality that we can do, write the show notes, transcripts, pull quotes, make art work. I know you’ve done a few videos in the past, so editing the videos, pulling clips that we can use on social media. Just anything that we can think of to pull content from episodes that we do.

Peter: [00:17:31] And that’s a lot. I know some friends who have just recently started a podcast and they’re not doing half or a third of what we’re doing here, and I think it’s important that we get that content out there – the show notes, the transcript, and you guys – who’s the graphics guy?

Cody: [00:17:51] Zach.

Peter: [00:17:51] Everybody loves his graphics.

Cody: [00:17:54] He is an extremely talented man. I don’t know how he does it.

Peter: [00:17:57] Oh my God. Ria Grieff, who I interviewed a few weeks ago, she’s come back and still wants to keep using his graphics on stuff that she does, which is which is a testament to the work that he does. He’s a wizard in his own right.

Cody: [00:18:12] He is. He is wonderful That’s good to hear.

Peter: [00:18:14] And the other thing about your team is they’re not all in your basement, are they? [laughs]

Cody: [00:18:19] Like I said, my first few clients were all across the globe and the team is as well. Zach is here in the city with us. We went to college together, our wives are best friends, and they host their own show together. But Hayden is a few hours outside of London in the UK and Ben is near Baltimore. So we’re all kind of scattered about.

Peter: [00:18:42] And actually I tried. I was up and near him last month, two months ago. We were trying to get together. Unfortunately it didn’t work. I told him the next time I’m back in the area I was actually going to meet another member of the team face to face.

Cody: [00:18:55] Yes. Yeah that would be good. And actually I have not met Ben or Hayden in person yet. So that’s on my list as soon as I can.

Peter: [00:19:02] Wow. So you’ve got really a virtual team out there, and I know you you’re using a couple of project management tools to keep this madness that you’ve got going organized in some manner. I think Trello is what you’re using today. Right.

Cody: [00:19:18] Yes. We’ve switched to that a few months ago.

Peter: [00:19:20] And that seems to be seems to be working well. I think there has been a few hiccups, but as part of that I think a lot of people think that the podcast is, one, live, and in most cases it’s not. And, two, I think the other thing – the myth is well it’s done that week. Like it’s all recorded on a Monday or Tuesday and it’s published on a Friday or Saturday, or the following week. And when we get together and one of the first things you told me that I needed to do is have two months of content in the can.

Cody: [00:19:56] Yes. That’s the best way to go about it because the amount of time it takes to turn around an episode, and then times the amount of shows that we’re working on that all have an episode every week, it just makes everyone’s lives easier to be you know two weeks minimum, but much more further in advance.

Peter: [00:20:12] And just as full transparency, due to scheduling and some unforeseen notices, this episode is actually going up I think on Monday. So this will be one of the shortest that… I’ve turned into one of those clients! And I don’t know how I did it.

Cody: [00:20:29] I remember when we first started editing some of your shows you had like 25 interviews already done way ahead of time, which was awesome. So we’ll forgive you for this one.

Peter: [00:20:39] That was great and all of a sudden life got in the way and I looked up and I went oh I’m only a month there, and then because of scheduling I interviewed Jason Michaels this morning and I was supposed to interview him last week. And that day I lost all Internet, phone, everything for the entire day. But I’m getting back on the wagon. I’ll get us back out there at least two to three two to three months in the can and keep everything in play.

Cody: [00:21:08] Yeah it goes quick, Right?

Peter: [00:21:11] It really does, because just seems like a new episode put out and the next thing you know I blink and oh it’s next Monday.

Cody: [00:21:19] Time to record.

Peter: [00:21:19] And then on Mondays I’ll get up at 6 o’clock and start that process from my end, when I’m in town, and starting to promote the podcast on all of my social media, which is something that I chose. Let me ask you this advice: I’ve chosen not to… I was doing a weekly email to my iTunes subscribers, who are in my database. So I’ve got a weekly mail out there and I would bundle it up with when I would put my newsletter out there. I bundled the episode into that. But email has just become so overused that I decided to not e-mail my database on a weekly thing. I just market all of my content out there on social media and relieve them from the stress of the e-mail. But in my monthly newsletter, I include all the back episodes and links that they can go and listen to.

Cody: [00:22:24] Right. So it’s always there if they need it.

Peter: [00:22:27] Right. Because I don’t know about you, but I get a ton of e-mail and some of the stuff I just don’t even think anymore and I just delete. And I know that’s happening to me. If somebody is getting something at least once a week or twice a week, they’re not paying that close attention versus oh it’s that monthly e-mail. Maybe they’re more inclined to open it, and I’m starting get some stats on that click through and open rate.

Cody: [00:22:47] Right. Yeah I mean if you already have that kind of rate established with what you’re already putting out then adding a blast about the podcast in there I don’t think that would hurt. It’s just kind of depends on your audience. I’ve heard from from other peers that they have really good click through and open rates with their mailing list based on what industry they’re in. But you know I’m a bad person to ask about this because I see e-mails come through all the time and, unless it’s somebody that I know or recognize, I’m just kind of deleting all of them. Even if I signed up for some. I’m like unsubscribing to them just because it’s just so much a clogging up really quickly.

Peter: [00:23:20] Yeah I completely agree, and I even think to the point that even when people subscribe – just like they subscribe to your newsletter or whatever – after a while, they’re not picking it up, reading it, and looking at it; they’re not find any value in it and they’re just getting rid of it… But now they’ve also got three or four emails in that string. So I’m just kind of focusing on trying to get the word out on social media. And that leads me into a question that’s been asked me a lot: How long is a podcast?

Cody: [00:23:51] As long as you want it to be.

Peter: [00:23:53] Early on I heard this stat: the shorter the better; 20 to 30 minutes and no more than that.

Cody: [00:24:01] [laughs] How many other stats and myths and things have you heard online from all the gurus?

Peter: [00:24:06] Well yeah. 73 percent of all statistics are made up, right?

Cody: [00:24:09] Probably.

Peter: [00:24:10] I heard this from a marketing company that was doing podcasting, but then again maybe three weeks later you sent out to all of your clients the podcast from the vice president or something at Libsyn, who hosts our show, who just basically said the exact opposite of that.

Cody: [00:24:32] Exactly. Yeah. And a lot of the shows I listen to are very long. You know I’ll mention Rogan one more time, but his shows are in excess of three hours. So I don’t think it’s the length that really matters. I think it’s the content and the value of the content and how informative and engaging that is throughout the course of the episode. So if someone is finding that 20 minute episodes work better for their content I think that’s totally fine. But to make a blanket statement that all podcasts should be 20 minutes long because my show does best at 20 minutes long really doesn’t make any sense.

Peter: [00:25:06] That’s a very good point. It’s based upon the content that you have. One of my favorite long episodes is WTF by Marc Maron.

Cody: [00:25:14] Yeah yeah.

Peter: [00:25:16] My thought is anybody who can interview Bruce Springsteen face to face has my attention.

Cody: [00:25:23] And the president.

Peter: [00:25:24] That’s right. I forgot that. And the president, and oh who was the actor who recently died… younger guy. He was and Twister.

Cody: [00:25:34] Bill Paxton.

Peter: [00:25:34] Yeah he interviewed him and I went back and listened to that episode. That was a great interview. But his go about an hour, hour and a half. So I think to that point, if you’re hearing that blanket statement that a podcast should only be 20 to 30 minutes, take it with a grain of salt. Whatever fit your style the best and your content the best, and I think your interview style as well. My interview style is I get so many questions. I can just tell you the question. First you’re going to tell us a little bit about yourself and then we’re going to run from that and turn it into a conversation.

Cody: [00:26:09] Exactly.

Peter: [00:26:10] I’ve been asked to be on podcasts and I receive a list of questions beforehand and I don’t know – it’s just me. It just seems way too scripted.

Cody: [00:26:19] Right.

Peter: [00:26:20] It doesn’t feel like it flows very well.

Cody: [00:26:24] Well I mean back to the uniqueness and you know the reason podcasting is so popular. I think it’s because we have the freedom in this space to do whatever we want. So people that, if you’ve been into radio and you’re kind of over how scripted things can get and how formal or you know censored or whatever that some of those traditional media outlets can be, then you like to hear more unstructured conversation. You like to feel like you’re just hanging out with some people in a room and chatting about marketing or chatting about Star Wars or whatever it is. So I think that’s one of the best aspects of our space, and to try to restrict it and like structure it based around a few questions might work based on the show. But a lot of times I feel that’s just short sighted.

Peter: [00:27:11] I tend to agree. Because you want more of a conversation, even if you’re not even interviewing If you’re talking on a subject, you’re not reading it from a script. You’ve got some bullet points in your head, you have some bullet points on your sheet, and you’re just having that conversation.

Cody: [00:27:28] Right.

Peter: [00:27:29] You mentioned Star Wars. Do you know any good Star Wars podcast episodes that are out there?

Cody: [00:27:35] [laughs] I know a few.

Peter: [00:27:36] Can you share any of those with us? Because I know I’ve got to have some Star Wars fans out in my audience.

Cody: [00:27:45] Yeah absolutely. So I mentioned once I got into the space I started off by recording my own show with my buddy. So we started that in 2014. It’s called Roque Squadron podcast and we sit around, have a few beers, and talk about what’s going on in the Star Wars world. And we are actually on a summer hiatus at the moment. So no new episodes for the past month or so, but there’s a pretty big catalog out there. I think we were up to about 108 before we took a pause, over the course of a few years, so feel free to check that out. It’s very raw, uncensored. Just chatting – so beware. [laughs]

Peter: [00:28:24] [laughs] So that begs the question: why the hiatus? And the reason why I’m asking is I have a friend, Rik Roberts, who has a podcast, School of Laughs, and he’s been doing it for about a couple of years. But then he decided to change his format and, instead of every week, it started going every other week because he wanted to accomplish some other goals on finishing a couple of books. And that’s why he kind of went on a slower path. If you don’t mind me asking, what was the purpose of the hiatus?

Cody: [00:28:59] So my co-host and best friend, Paul, got a job promotion and he’s actually moving out of the city of Columbus. So we’re trying to figure out how we want to set up the recordings now that he’s going to be out of the city. You know we’ve we always done things with the two of us, at least, in the room together. We’re in house and we might have a guest through Skype, but we’re always together. We’ve been doing video and the show really relies on kind of that interaction between between me and him. So we’re trying to do some tests and see how it’s going to work now that we’re doing things over Skype or something like that and trying to figure out the best way before we before we come back. Basically we want to just have the plan in place – maybe do a little bit of a rebrand; maybe we’ll do Season 4 of the show or something and then come back strong.

Peter: [00:29:48] OK. That’s good. Rebranding. So have you had any podcasts that have been out there for a while and they said you know I want to take it in maybe another direction and maybe we need to rebrand this, or if all that happens is it like we stop this one brand of the podcast and we have come to an end and then we start a whole new podcast and move forward?

Cody: [00:30:12] Usually what’s happened is we’ll kind of break things out into seasons. So you know a very typical scenario is that someone kind of produced by themselves a batch of episodes. They got some traction, they got a little bit of an audience, but they realized how much work is involved or they’re not happy with the quality that they’re currently getting. So maybe they’ll come to us and they’ll say we’re going to take a pause for two months, we’re going to get ready, do some new recordings, maybe redo the logo, update the Web site, get things prepped, and then we’ll launch with season 2 and then we’ll kind of go from there.

Peter: [00:30:44] OK. That’s good information. And I think another question I hear a lot of is do you make any money on your podcast? Have you monetized it? And I think that’s an excellent question to ask but it’s hard to do. Would that be safe to say?

Cody: [00:31:08] Uh.. Yes. Not only is it hard to do, it’s not what you would think it is. I’ve seen a lot of people who see how popular podcasting is and they want to start a podcast so that they can get ads and make money from the podcast, which I always say is a short term viewpoint. It’s not how you want to go about it. It’s not going to be effective. And what’s going to happen, as I mentioned, all the iTunes updates that are coming soon to the world of podcasting – these new details analytics are literally going to let you see what parts of your show get skipped over. So now all the hosts are going to be able to see how many of their advertisements actually get fast forwarded through, and I don’t think that’s going to make the advertisers very happy because so much of that relies on we’re going to pay you X dollars for how many plays you get for this episode that our ad currently is on. So I think this is going to really disrupt things. So no idea what’s going to happen but something is definitely going to change once that comes out. So monetizing the show from day one… I try to kind of sway people away from that. I don’t think that is a good long term way to go about starting a show. I always say you want to focus on the content, you want to focus on the value, you want to make sure that you’re involved in a space that you know something about are that you’re passionate about; that you can actually like bring a good show to your audience. Ads, I think, are going away. I’m surprised they’re not gone already. I think they’re going away very quickly.

Peter: [00:32:38] So that’s interesting. What about… I hear affiliate marketing and some of his other strategies on monetizing and I assume it’s the same type of viewpoint as well.

Cody: [00:32:48] Well my advice, usually, is that you’re going to monetize your show through some other channel that isn’t actually your show. So if you’re in the business world, if you’re the best marketer in your space that you know of, then you start a show about marketing, you teach people about it, you interview other expert marketers, you do case studies about marketing companies, etc. Now you are the go-to guy or girl in that space. So now people are coming to you – you’re the expert at whatever you’re doing. And now that you have a dedicated listener base that knows you’re the expert and that trusts you, and they kind of know you a little bit from listening to the show. Now you have a potential base of warm leads that, if you have a product or service or private coaching or something that you want to offer, now all that is prepped and ready to go and then you can monetize your show through your actual business, as opposed to putting ads for a company that no one wants to listen to.

Peter: [00:33:47] Right. It’s an authority marketing – becoming that content expert to help raise that brand in order to help grow your business versus having ads and affiliate marketing and some of these other things that are out there. As we begin to wrap up, I think let’s take an opportunity to promote some of your other podcasts that you produce. Let’s give them a little bit of airtime, if you don’t mind, if you want to share a few of them.

Cody: [00:34:13] Sure. Yeah. I would love to. A milestone that just happened earlier this week: so The Balanced Blonde podcast – an awesome lifestyle, Health, and Wellness show by a blogger from L.A. named Jordan Younger – Her show just crossed a million downloads earlier this week.

Peter: [00:34:32] Woah!

Cody: [00:34:32] So that’s a huge milestone. We’re very excited about that one. Pete, obviously, your show – I can’t recommend it enough. Hayden and the crew always say that it’s one of our favorite shows that we get to work on. Launched earlier this year, we started a show called The ONE Thing, which is based around the principles of The ONE thing book by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan out of Keller-Williams in Austin, Texas. So that’s definitely one that I would recommend checking out.

Peter: [00:35:02] Give me one more that you produce, other than your own, that you would recommend to my audience.

Cody: [00:35:11] So here’s a good one: it’s called Manage to Engage. This is by Joseph Shapiro. He was originally with, if anyone is familiar with that site, along with Jonathan Raymond. But we’re working on this show and it’s all episodes that are coming from coaching calls. The purpose of the show is to focus on company culture, management strategies. What are the things that are actually going on in your business, with your team, with your employees that are affecting their productivity, affecting the culture, affecting your relationships in business? So this is one of those that I was talking about earlier where it’s not an interview so much as it is like a coaching session or like an actual one-on-one consultation that we’re kind of turning into episodes. So that’s that’s a good one and I would recommend. I think there’d be a good overlap there.

Peter: [00:35:58] So tell me about that one. So you say it’s a coaching session. So the person who’s got the podcast they’ve done this coaching session with an individual and they’ve taken that coaching session and turned that into a case study and then having a discussion on the podcast about it?

Cody: [00:36:14] Yeah that’s exactly it. Yes.

Peter: [00:36:16] Oh that’s interesting.

Cody: [00:36:18] Yeah. It’s a good way to go about it, and I think besides an actual interview style it’s interesting to kind of feel like you’re in the room with someone when they’re getting coached or when they’re having a conversation. I’ve said before, kind of like a fly on the wall as to this mentorship that’s happening back and forth between between a group of people. It’s very interesting. You just kind of get to listen in on what’s going on.

Peter: [00:36:43] Oh so you actually listen in on the conversation. So they’ve given them the rights that they could record their coaching call and have it broadcast later.

Cody: [00:36:51] Exactly.

Peter: [00:36:53] Oh wow. That’s a really interesting concept.

Cody: [00:36:57] So there’s some detailed and some in-depth information going on, which is good to hear.

Peter: [00:37:02] And what’s the name of that podcast?

Cody: [00:37:03] It’s called Manage to Engage.

Peter: [00:37:06] I’m going to add that to my list of podcasts that I listen to. One last question: Is podcasting a generational thing, from the listener’s perspective? And you’ll say we’ll find out in a few months when they release the analytics, but just anecdotal. What do you think?

Cody: [00:37:29] I don’t think so. I think, like a lot of these technologies, like Facebook and everything, you know it definitely starts skewed younger, but as it gets more popular you just can’t deny like how big it’s getting. And it’s across all genres now. I mean there’s hosts, there’s shows, there’s topics, and there’s listeners from all ranges, from all industries. It’s really all over the place.

Peter: [00:37:52] That’s cool. Because I hear a lot from my baby boomer friends “Oh that’s just a millennial thing.” I say guys, really? They may have started it, but it’s not.

Cody: [00:38:02] [laughs]

Peter: [00:38:02] Or the one that I get is “Where can I watch your podcast?” And I go Well I do have a few episodes that I have put out there on video, but primarily podcasting is from an audio perspective. It’s a little bit surprising because I have heard that, even though I’ve been doing this for a year and podcasting has been out there for a while, it’s still very much growing, and growing at a fast rate, and there’s still a lot of the population who have no idea what a podcast even is.

Cody: [00:38:33] Yeah. And I mean speaking of growth. When Apple did their press conference or their conference last week, 1000 new podcasts are added every single week. So there’s a thousand brand new shows that are popping up every week. And there were 10 billion total listens and/or downloads throughout the year 2016.

Peter: [00:38:53] Wow.

Cody: [00:38:54] So it’s definitely going up. It’s been going up since since they came out, frankly, and I don’t think it’s going anywhere. In terms of the awareness of it and how you access them, I really would like to see some sort of… I don’t know if it would be a marketing campaign or something, but a lot of people I run into maybe they’ve heard of it but they don’t know how easy it is to get to. Like when people have asked me about the shows, I’m just like pull out your phone. There’s a podcast app that’s already on your phone. You just got to click it, search up, and you can find anything that you want. So it’s growing, but it’s still not as widespread as I would like to see it.

Peter: [00:39:32] Or thought it would be.

Cody: [00:39:33] True.

Peter: [00:39:34] But podcasting really started about 10 years ago right.

Cody: [00:39:37] Yeah. Right around when the first iPod came out.

Peter: [00:39:41] Man I feel old now but ok.

Cody: [00:39:44] [laughs]

Peter: [00:39:44] Because I still have that first iPod somewhere in the house. But it has grown, as you said before. How many a day? A thousand a day?

Cody: [00:39:53] A thousand new shows per week are getting created and added to the store. Yeah.

Peter: [00:39:58] Per week. Wow.

Cody: [00:39:59] It’s pretty staggering.

Peter: [00:40:01] That is pretty staggering. And that’s good news because I love listening to them, especially when I’m in the car driving because I can consume so much information, learn so many different things, and I’m so thrilled that I stumbled upon you and your company because you guys have done an outstanding job. I tell anybody who asks me about podcasting. I give them two pieces of advice: one, do it. It’s well worth it. It’s well worth the investment. And, two, use Podcast Masters to make you look better.

Cody: [00:40:35] Well I appreciate that Pete. It’s been a pleasure working with the show. I mean a lot of us are hosts of shows or involved in other podcasts outside of what we do for our clients. So this is just what we love to do. Just fortunate that we can make it our full-time work.

Peter: [00:40:51] Cool. Well I give you all congratulations and I wish you best business in this next year, and I know you’ll help me continue to grow this podcast to reach a larger audience. And I can’t thank you enough, and thank you for taking time because I know there’s a lot of my listeners who want to learn more about podcasting. And like I said, we pulled the curtain away and we just talked to the wizard of podcasting: that’s Cody! So thank you very much again Cody.

Cody: [00:41:16] Thank you, Pete. Appreciate it.


Peter: [00:41:20] I’d like to thank Cody again for being a guest today and sharing his thoughts about podcasting. If you’re interested in starting your own podcast you can find podcast masters at or you can email them at Listen learn and learn. I have partnered with the Maryland Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute to bring an exciting new learning opportunity for accounting professionals to earn CPE credits. You can earn up to one CPE credit for each completed podcast episode purchased for only $29 through the American Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute self-study website. The podcast episodes are mobile friendly. Open your browser on your smartphone, tablet, or computer, Go to the MACPA and BLI self-study account, and listen to an episode. Take the review and final exam while you’re working out or after listening to an episode on your commute to and from work – It’s that easy! While all Improv is no Joke podcasts are available on my website, only those purchased through the MACPA and BLI self-study Web site are eligible for CPE credit. You can get detailed instructions by visiting my website at and clicking on the graphic “Improv is no Joke for CPE credit” on my home page. I hope you enjoy this exciting and flexible new way of earning CPE credit. Remember you can subscribe to my podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. If you’d like to purchase an autographed copy of my book Improv is no Joke: Using Improvisation to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life, for $14.99 with free shipping, please go to my website,, and you’ll see the graphic on the homepage to purchase my book. Please allow 14 days for shipping. You can also follow me on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. In episode 56, it is the one-year anniversary of the podcast and I interview Clarke Price, who was my very first guest last year. We have a discussion about the challenges social media is having on leadership. So thank you again for listening. Remember to use the principles of improvisation to help you adapt to a changing landscape.

Production & Development for Improv Is No Joke by Podcast Masters

Ep. 54 – How Allen Lloyd Went from Executive Assistant to CEO Using the Principles of Improvisation


Today’s guest is Allen Lloyd, the new CEO of the Montana Society of CPA’s and the former Senior Manager of the Board of Executive Operations at the Ohio Society of CPA’s. In this interview, you will learn how Allen employed principles of improvisation to build trust, create new opportunities, learn new skills, and grow as a leader.

We also have some fun (and learn a little bit more about two-way communication) by playing an improv game! You can find instructions to play that game with your team at the bottom of this post.

Allen started his career in accounting as an Executive Assistant. It’s been a long, strange road from the offices of Norman, Jones, Enlow, & Co to the mountains of Montana, but a lot of his success came from being willing to improvise, try new things, and listen.

It’s important to remember that Improv isn’t making stuff up. It’s going into a room with nothing but walking out with something because you collaborated on an idea.

Allen really understands how to be an active listener and collaborator. It’s a simple concept but, in practice, it can be very difficult to park your agenda, listen to understand, and then have a response… especially in today’s age of cellphones and the two-second news cycle.

However, the ability to ask questions and then listen to everybody’s input, comments, ideas, and then formulate some type of plan from that is critical for any good leader.

Leadership isn’t being in charge – it’s listening so you can help the person next to you.

“You can do more things by empowering others and giving them the tools they need than you’re ever going to be able to do by yourself.”

LAST WORD GAME: An improv game for you and your team

During the interview, Allen and I play the Last Word Game. It can be a lot of fun, but it also helps teach active listening because you can’t get ahead of yourself, which happens far too often in day-to-day conversations. Every player is required to listen to every word the other person says before they say anything.

Here’s how you play:

  • Separate into pairs
  • The first person says a sentence – any sentence
  • The second person follows up with a new sentence using the last word from the previous sentence.

For example…

Person 1: Follow is something that leaders are good at getting people to do is to follow them.

Person 2: Them trees are growing outside.

Person 1: Outside is where I’d rather be right now because the sun is shining.

Person 2: Shining praise on your people is a very important thing to do as a leader.

Please let us know if you play this game with your team and tell us how it went. You can get in touch with Peter on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.

Download this Episode MP3.



Click to download the full Transcript PDF.


Allen: [00:00:00] A title isn’t leadership. Leadership is an attitude. And I try to always have that leadership attitude to try and help the people that I was supporting do a better job. And that’s one of the things that I’m probably most proud of, in my career, is the fact that I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that.


Peter: [00:00:28] Welcome to improv is no joke podcast, where it’s all about becoming a more effective communicator by embracing the principles of improvisation. I’m your host Peter Margaritis, the self-proclaimed chief edutainment officer of my business, the Accidental Accountant. My goal is to provide you with thought provoking interviews with business leaders so you can become an effective improviser, which will lead to building stronger relationships with clients, customers, colleagues, and even your family. So let’s start to show.


Peter: [00:00:59] Welcome to episode 54 and today’s guest is Allen Lloyd, who’s the new CEO of the Montana Society of CPA’s and the former senior manager of the board of executive operations at the Ohio Society of CPA’s. As Allen writes on his LinkedIn profile: "At the intersection of trust and getting things done is a group of people. I am one of them and have evolved from an administrative assistant to a senior manager working on projects critical to your organization’s success." In this interview, you’ll hear about the critical role Allen played at the Ohio Society of CPAs as a transition from the longtime CEO Clark Price to the new CEO Scott Wiley, which was a very interesting experience. Allen’s ability to help in a smooth transition, both for the new CEO and the organization as a whole, catapulted him into a management role and now to the CEO of the Montana society of CPA’s. This is a great opportunity for the members of the Montana Society CPA’s to learn more about Allen’s leadership style, as well as the accolades he gives to the leadership at the Ohio society of CPA’s. I have some exciting news to share with my audience. Listen, Learn, and Earn. I’ve partnered with the American Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute to bring an exciting new learning opportunity for accounting professionals to earn CPE credits that starts on May 30th. You can earn up to 1 CPE credit for each completed podcast episode purchased for only $29 through the MACPA and Business Learning Institute self-study website. The podcast episodes are mobile friendly. Open your browser on your smartphone tablet or computer, go to the CPA business learning institute self-study account, and listen to an episode. Take their review and final exam while you’re working out or after listening to an episode on your commute to and from work. It’s that easy. While all episodes of improv is no joke podcasts are available on my website, only those purchased through the MACPA BLI Self-study website are eligible for CPE credit. You can get detailed information by visiting my website at and clicking on the graphic "Improv is no Joke for CPE" on my home page. I hope you enjoy his exciting and flexible new way of earning CPE credit. Remember you can subscribe to my podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. If you’d like to purchase an autographed copy of my book Improv is no Joke: Using Improvisation to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life, for $14.99 with free shipping, please go to my website,, and you’ll see the graphic on the homepage to purchase my book. Please allow 14 days for shipping. You can also follow me on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. With that said, let’s get to the interview with Allen Lloyd.


Peter: [00:04:29] Allen, welcome to my podcast. It’s great to have you as a guest today. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule.

Allen: [00:04:36] Well thanks for having me. I am excited to be a guest today.

Peter: [00:04:39] Well I’m looking forward to your conversation because I know you’ve got a lot of interesting information to share with us, as well as some exciting news. But you know first and foremost why don’t we start by you telling the audience who Allen Lloyd is.

Allen: [00:04:54] So Allen Lloyd is a guy who grew up in a small town on the Ohio River, moved out to Columbus to go to Otterbein College, which is now Otterbein University. I always wonder, when you’re your higher education name changes, do you change or you stay with whatever it was when you were there.

Peter: [00:05:15] Good question. Good question.

Allen: [00:05:18] When I graduated from college, one of my friends from college her mom hired me to work at the Huntington bank, where for three years I’d process car loans and leases. So you go to go to the dealership. you buy a car, you fill out the paperwork, the dealer would get most of the numbers correct. We would then go in and I would type the numbers. I think, looking back, that led me to a lot of my ideas because of the first meeting I had with our director level person I asked her why I had a job and it didn’t seem to make sense because all we were doing was typing numbers from a scanned image into the software. The recognition should be able to recognize those numbers and do our job for us. I don’t know that she appreciated the fact that I questioned whether whether my job should have existed.

Peter: [00:06:11] [laughs]

Allen: [00:06:11] But as you look at automation going forward, it’s something that you know has taken hold. And so I was thinking about that long long ago. After that I spent a couple of years working at a place called Sky Financial Solutions doing compliance work there as well. We did loans for dental practices, which interesting fact there: Dentists are second behind your funeral homes as the least likely businesses to go under. Very safe to lead to people who are opening a dental practice. After a while, I get tired of working compliance and started looking for other opportunity, and that is when I stumbled upon the accounting profession. I started working at a regional accounting firm called Norman Jones Enlow. I started there as the executive assistant to the partners. We had, I believe, six partners at that point. One of the interesting things about that time was, of the six partners, I think half of them had been managing partners of their own firms and then over time they came together to be this firm. So where we had one managing partner we had three people who had, at some point, been a managing partner. So those personalities and ideas were always fun to balance. After six years there, I spent two years in the government working in the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission. That is where I got my first taste of association and membership types of organizations. MORPC is an organization where your local municipalities are members. They come together to talk about how they can make the region collectively better. And then, after a couple of years there, I saw an opening at the Ohio society the executive assistant to the CEO, who at that point was Clark Price. And I remember from my time working at the accounting firm that I just had spectacular service from the Ohio Society of CPAs, and the idea of being able to work in a place where I knew there was a very high level of work being done that was very appealing to me. At that time, when I interviewed, one of the things Clark told me was you’re going to take this job but I’m retiring in X number of days, and that was around two years before he retired. But even at that point, he knew the exact number of days he had left. And one of those that drew me to this opportunity was also the fact that I would be able to manage that transition. And you know, as an executive assistant, you look for diverse experience so that you’re more marketable moving forward. And I thought "wow, managing a transition from one CEO to the next is going to look great on a resume." So then we hired Scott Wiley and I was his assistant for almost a year, and he and I sat down to have lunch one day and he looked across the table and he said "Allen, I think you can do more." And my initial thought was man, I was busting my hump for this guy. I can’t believe he’s asking me to do more work. And when I said that, he laughed for a moment and then he said, "No no no no. I think you’ve got potential to do more than just be my assistant." And at that point I took over managing our number retention and our membership drive. I learned a great deal doing that for a couple of years, and then the Ohio society had an opening where the software we used to manage the organization was going through a reimplementation, and our CIO and just left to become the CEO down at the South Carolina Society of CPAs. And so I spent a couple of years working on that project, which got me into the weeds across the organization and really helped prepare me for the next chapter. On June 12th, I will start work at the Montana Society of CPAs as their executive director. So it’s been a long, strange road to get to this point, but I think you know, as we talked, I think a lot of it came from being willing to improvise and to go into situations where I might not have known the answer beforehand, but I was willing to try things and figure it out and make sure that I learned as I was doing it.

Peter: [00:11:03] That’s a great history that you have. You have a lot of different variety in your background and you and I met when you came to work at the Ohio Society. I think that was the year that I was chair of the board of directors. And we’ve known each other ever since. And when I heard the news that you were leaving for Montana I was really excited for you… But also went "It’s Montana." It’s way way west and it’s beautiful country, but it’s… I mean you’ve you’ve grown up in the central Ohio area.

Allen: [00:11:40] Well I grew up down on the Ohio River in a speck on the map called Clarington, Ohio. When I grew up there, I think the population was 350 people. If you went there today I think they’re struggling to have 200 people. So rural areas are no new territory to me, and I think another great thing about Montana is just the beauty out there.

Peter: [00:12:07] Yeah.

Allen: [00:12:08] Where the Society for CPA’s is located is right up next to the Rocky Mountains. Mount Helena is there. It’s not Mt. Saint Helens, that’s one you don’t want to live by.

Peter: [00:12:19] It’s in Washington State.

Allen: [00:12:22] But Mount Helen is just there and I mean the recreation opportunities there are amazing. And that’s one of the things that drew me to this opportunity. The other is the fact that Jean and the staff out there built a great organization. Their volunteers out there are top notch and look forward to there are some places where you can go and you would be instantly into a rebuilding phase. That is not the case here. You know what I’m looking for the most is getting out there and meeting the members and learning the two most important things: What keeps you up at night and what gets you out of bed in the morning.

Peter: [00:13:04] Yeah.

Allen: [00:13:05] One of the things I’m worried about is how can the society help you overcome those? But also you know what excites you about the profession? I mean everybody should have something about their career and their job to get them out of the bed in the morning. You know what are those things? How can we help you do more of that?

Peter: [00:13:21] Well you mentioned one of my favorite staff CPE directors in the CPA profession, Jean Reiden. I’ve known Jean for a long time. Absolutely love her. You’ve got a great person out there to help you. I think the world of her and the two of you guys are just going to have so much fun together. She’s a great lady. And Jean I know you’re going to listen to this and I’m not just sucking up. I mean it wholeheartedly. And please take care of Allen for us. He’s a good guy. He’s a really good guy. You get a good steal out of Ohio society. So let’s back up a bit. When you took the role at the Ohio society, you were six years at a firm. So the thing that you had mentioned about being at the firm… so it sounded like through acquisition, it went from Norman Jones to Norman Jones Enlow and company through acquisition, and you’ve got all these people who were managing partners of their old firm coming together to run one firm together. Between the Eagles and the personalities and stuff, that had an interesting period of time and I think you used the word balance.

Allen: [00:14:37] So one of the interesting things there was you know with different partners they had been acquired before I arrived and so they had some history of working together. Well the really interesting turn came when we had a board meeting, and the board meeting will be you know the six partners and myself in the room, and in the beginning my role was just to take minutes and capture what was said and what was decided so then later as you’re trying to implement things you can go back and say this is what you guys just said. Over time, as I learned the business, I got to have more participation in the meeting and oftentimes it would come down to them having some ideas about what we wanted to do. But knowing that in the end a lot of that administrative work was going to fall on my shoulders and I had more of the practical knowledge and the ability to think about how to actually implement these things. The one that sticks out to me is we had a mentoring program that we put in place while I was there and you know the partners had this great idea. You know we have some staff that we saw potential to be the next generation of you know partners and managing partner for the firm, but we realized that we didn’t have a good way to groom them for what it was really like to be a partner. And so in those conversations I got to you know do some research and find out what others were doing and then bring forward a plan that we were able to implement. And then looking back… Andy Cohen was our managing partner at that time and when he retired, me and someone else became the managing partner for a while now. Now Michelle Roseberry is the managing partner for the office Hill-Burton King bought Norman Jones. I think about two years ago. But it’s interesting to look back and say you know both Nancy and Michelle were in that group and went through the mentoring program. So that was something that we devised and, looking back, it had a real big impact. I’m sure that the work they did with their mentor helped them be successful in that role. So things like that were very – it wasn’t something that I had any training on. It was something that I learned about and was able to implement through you know their trust and knowing that I understood the business and what they needed at that time.

Peter: [00:17:05] That’s a great comment about you understood the business because, at that point in time, you were really a trusted business advisor for the firm.

Allen: [00:17:16] Correct. Throughout my career, one of my strengths has been the fact that no matter where I am I’d like to learn you know how the organization really works. You know there are a lot of things that are theoretical and you can say well you know this person manages this and that’s. But I like to get to know how things actually work and the nuts and bolts of the thing because I think that’s how we learn you know to be a leader. And one of the things and I learned very early in my career is that a title isn’t leadership. Leadership is an attitude. I try to always have that leadership attitude to try and help the people that I was supporting do a better job. And that’s one of the things that I’m probably most proud of in my career is the fact that I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that.

Peter: [00:18:06] That’s really cool that you’ve looked at it as an attitude versus I mean this authority type of position because I just finished watching this video – an interview with Simon Sinek – "Be a Great Leader: How to inspire others to do remarkable things." And he gave his definition of leadership, which I absolutely loved. It kind of encapsulated what you just said. He said "Leadership is the practice of putting the lives of others ahead of our own interests."

Allen: [00:18:38] Yeah. That’s perfect. I love that.

Peter: [00:18:39] Yeah. I thought it was great. And that’s true leadership. I mean just because you’re in a position of authority you might lead by authority, but that does not make a leader. And I love that story. It’s weird that I just watched this video today because he goes on the talk about you know a leader doesn’t have to be the person who’s running an organization. Being a leader is, whether you’re a worker bee or at what level, is helping the person next to you. That’s leadership.

Allen: [00:19:17] Yeah. It’s the whole concept of a servant leader.

Peter: [00:19:19] Bingo.

Allen: [00:19:20] You can do more things by empowering others and giving them the tools they need than you’re ever going to be able to do by yourself.

Peter: [00:19:30] Bingo. That’s right. And that’s what leadership, in my definition, is. And I haven’t seen it quite phrased that way but I absolutely love it. And the other thing he was talking about that leader is get the culture. Get the culture right because he states "when we get the environment right, humans will do remarkable things." You can take a a good person and put them in a bad environment and, ultimately, they’ll maybe become bad. But you can take a bad person and put them in a good environment and, you know what, they’ll end up doing, for the most part, the right thing. And it’s really the culture that you build. And I think that would be one of the most exciting things about going into this role that you are. There’s a culture there but it doesn’t have the Allen Lloyd spin on it.

Allen: [00:20:18] And you know that’s one of the exciting things. Knowing that you have a good team in place and that you know a group of people interviewed you and have trusted you now to lead that group… that’s a huge responsibility and I look forward to you know both finding how I fit in with them and how they can grow with me. One of the big things in the interview process was I’m a firm believer that when you interview for a job the number one goal should be to be yourself. If you are yourself in an interview then, if you get the job, you can continue to be yourself. If you put on some facade in order to answer the question the way you think that people want to hear answers, you’re setting yourself up to need to be something else that you work or not. And during the interview process I was you know I try to be crystal clear that no I don’t have all the answers but I know how to ask the right questions and I trust that the folks around me are going to help me grow into this. And so this is something where, as a team, we’re all going to have to learn to trust each other and grow and that is just unbelievably exciting to me.

Peter: [00:21:36] And you’ve had the opportunity to work under one of my favorite leaders and I call them a friend and a mentor. Your time that you spent with Clark.

Allen: [00:21:48] Yes. Clark was and will forever be, in my book, one of those people that exemplifies leadership, and what I loved about working with Clark is you got to watch how he adapted his leadership style to his audience. And it was amazing to watch him work with different people that needed to be motivated in different ways. And it was very interesting then, over time, to look back and think oh man he was doing that to all those other people. How is he doing that to me?

Peter: [00:22:23] [laughs]

Allen: [00:22:23] And you know you start thinking about yourself and you’re like wow. He recognized something and developed it in me without me even knowing it was happening.

Peter: [00:22:33] That’s cool.

Allen: [00:22:35] And I think that’s remarkable. And you know it’s also been interesting. You know the transition between Clark and Scott was, from an organization standpoint, very very interesting. You got to see… Clark and Scott are two very different people. But when you get down to the core, they’re both very similar in what they’re trying to do. It’s been interesting to see how people adapt to the different styles of the two of them.

Peter: [00:23:02] And how is that – That was one of my questions. During this transition you’ve got Clark, who’s been to society for, what was it, 25-30 years as the CEO, plus his time before that. He’s been there for like 40 years. I mean those are some big shoes to fill. I mean that’s like you know I had a fall Bear Bryant. Are you kidding me? I have to follow Adolf Rupp? I got to follow Nick Saban? Using bad sports analogies. And the leadership styles, as you said, they’re very different. How was that transition going from Clark to Scott?

Allen: [00:23:36] So you know I think two things really helped in that process. The first was Clark stepped down in a very deliberate way and he wanted to set Scott up for as much success as possible. And we didn’t have a long time where the two of them were both in the office and we didn’t know you know who was running the show. Clark had been out for two months and Laura and I actually had one board meeting in that interim period, which was I believe I think Laura would agree with me, it was very interesting for us to hold a board meeting with a CEO. And then when Scott came on, Scott was very deliberate. He was deliberate in what he did and stayed true to who he is. And it took us a while to come to terms with who Scott was and what that meant for each of us. And looking back you know we had some people that left. We had some new people that came on. And the culture has changed even though you know we still have some of the same people around. It’s been a very interesting trip to go on.

Peter: [00:24:52] I can imagine. The other piece about the Ohio society, over the years, is that it’s been an incubator for future CEOs, as Boyd Search left and he’s in Georgia, Chris Jenkins is in South Carolina, you’re now in Montana. So whether it was Clark and Scott, they have really cultivated that next generation of state CPA society leaders.

Allen: [00:25:19] And it’s one of those things where you know listening to you rattle off all of our names… it is impressive, but also I think about the process that we all went through… One of the things that Clark and Scott share in that they really want to grow the talent that they have. I think both of them have invested in us to get us to the point where we have the potential to do this. And the other person – I’d be remiss if I didn’t know their name again. Laura, our executive vice president, Laura Hay. She’s done an excellent job of coaching us, as well, because I believe that you know if you talk to all three of us, we all worked directly with Laura. She’s another one that, when you look back at your time with Laura, you realize that she may have directed you to do something and taught you some things that you didn’t realize you were learning at the time. But when you look back on it, in hindsight, sometimes you look back and go holy cow. We had this conversation that I kind of wrote off but it’s stuck in the back of my head and it changed how I act on a daily basis, and it’s things like that… You know, as I go to the next chapter in my career, that’s something that I hope I can develop as a person and use the same tactics and ways to grow my staff. And hopefully they’ll help grow me in the same way, because I think that’s important. I think the thing that I’d like to touch on about this that our volunteers leaders have been been great too. When I started at the Ohio society, you were our chair. And you know just thinking back to all of the great people that have been chairs since I’ve been here. It’s very interesting to see the different personalities come up and be able to hold that room and run the meetings and get all the board members involved in the decision making process. That’s been very interesting. I look forward to you know continuing that in Montana and seeing how we can take people with different leadership styles and leverage and to grow the organization.

Peter: [00:27:39] Yeah the chair now is Bill Chorba. He was on my board and I immediately recognized that this guy was going to be chair someday. I took him aside and said "Bill, you know you’re going to be chair some day." He’s a great guy. That’s only one, after I left, that I knew directly. And Bill’s got great leadership skills and he’s the guy that I – I would love to watch him in action because I know I could learn some stuff from Bill. I believe he’s that good.

Allen: [00:28:16] If I had to sum Bill up in one word I’d say passion. It is amazing the passion that he brings to the profession and to his life and everything he’s involved with. When you have with Bill, he just beams about things. And I think there is an energy that you get from that that energizes the whole room. I can’t say enough about Bill Bill. Bill is fantastic.

Peter: [00:28:42] He is a really good guy. And I think at one point some years ago he was name the greater Cleveland area CFO of the year.

Allen: [00:28:53] Mhm.

Peter: [00:28:54] And they don’t just hand those out at the street corner.

Allen: [00:28:58] No.

Peter: [00:28:59] So you’ve gone through this transition. You’ve had some great mentors. You’ve had some great leaders to… not so much be like, but to take some of their tips and talents and stuff to build it into yours. And now you’re off to Montana. What’s your first 100 days going to look like Allen?

Allen: [00:29:22] It’s funny you ask that because one of the last questions they asked me in the interview was, I don’t remember if they said 100 or 50 days in, what should we expect? My answer to them was don’t expect you know any huge change in the first hundred days. But what I hope I will bring to the table is you know some questions so that we collectively learn some new things. We might not be taking action on those things, but I at the very least hope that, together, through our discussions and from going out and meeting the members, that we’ll learn something that we didn’t know before and then we can take those back and think how can we use what we have learned together to grow this organization and to make it successful?

Peter: [00:30:13] That’s great. And what was their response to that comment?

Allen: [00:30:18] You know the room erupted in applause. I got a standing ovation and I just you know I dropped the mic and I left the room.

Peter: [00:30:28] Haha! Mic drop.

Allen: [00:30:30] The group that interviewed me appreciated that answer. I think going back to interviewing and being yourself, that’s who I am as a person. I don’t like to make grand promises on things that I can’t deliver, and I like to set the table of "I’m going to try and get you to think about things a little bit differently," and I think that’s something that I have historically done very well and I look forward to doing that in the future. I’m never the smartest guy in the room, although right now I’m by myself so I guess by default…

Peter: [00:31:04] [laughs]

Allen: [00:31:04] But I always like to ask questions because a lot of times the other people in the room might have the same question, and they’re for some reason not going to ask it. I’ve never been timid about asking questions because I think that that drives conversation. As you learn about things, you grow, and sometimes by answering a simple question that somebody has, you’re answering it will cause you to think about it differently.

Peter: [00:31:32] Exactly yeah. And I think a lot of people are afraid to ask questions because they think they’re going to ask a stupid question. But as I always say, what’s a stupid question? The one that’s never asked.

Allen: [00:31:43] Exactly.

Peter: [00:31:44] So that’s a great leadership skill right there: the ability to ask questions and then listen to everybody’s input or comments or ideas, and then formulate some type of plan from that.

Allen: [00:31:58] I mean you just broke it down in a nutshell. It’s a very simple concept but, in practice, it’s very difficult to do. One of the hardest things for us to do today is listen I’m sitting here and I’m looking at a phone and I see my cell phone over there and I see my e-mail in front of me as well. And it’s very difficult not to let these things distract you. So it’s important to be an active listener and to try and not think about what you’re going to say next but really absorb what you’re hearing. Really, I think, as a society, we’ve made it really difficult to do that with technology and the two-second news cycle that we’re living in today. It makes some of those things more difficult than it has been in the past.

Peter: [00:32:46] Well as I think you remember… I don’t know if we did this or not at the time, but when I did that workshop for the CPAFMA – the group improv thing – I spend a lot of time teaching about listening and the value of truly parking your agenda, listening to understand, that that act of listening. And then, after the person is done, having that response. I was in Nebraska last year speaking at the fall conference. It had 400 days in the room and I was doing a similar type of presentation about Improv is no joke, about leadership, and I had this group play this game called last word spoken. And what it is is one person – they’re paired up in twos – and one person would start a conversation. I said, whatever it is, just start a conversation. When you end, that last word that you say is the first word the next person uses in their next sentence. And then when they’re done that last word comes back to you. And I do that exercise just for the fact of teaching. A lot of times when we interrupt, or a lot of times we get distracted in our head, some of those last words that are spoken are some of the most important parts of that conversation and we miss out on them. Because, in improv, you know if I’m not totally listening to my ensemble that I have with me, I’m going to miss it. So I’ve got to listen to those very last words. And this gentleman who was in the audience – he was CEO of a manufacturing plant in Endicott, Nebraska. He contacted me a few days later and said he absolutely loved it. He took it home and he was playing with his kids and invited me to come out to work with their sales team at the national sales conference last October. And you might want to try this with your team. You want to give a real quick shot on this episode? Play this game?

Allen: [00:34:47] Definitely.

Peter: [00:34:48] You want to start or me?

Allen: [00:34:49] You start and then I will follow.

Peter: [00:34:51] Follow is something that leaders are good at getting people to do is to follow them.

Allen: [00:35:00] Them trees are growing outside.

Peter: [00:35:04] Outside is where I’d rather be right now because the sun is shining.

Allen: [00:35:08] Shining praise on your people is a very important thing to do as a leader.

Peter: [00:35:14] Leader, if you dissect it, is it lead or is it lead?

Allen: [00:35:20] Lead paint is a terrible problem in older homes.

Peter: [00:35:25] Homes… isn’t that a Mexican word? So you see, you’ve got to take that last word and play with it. It can be a lot of fun, but it also helps teach that piece of active listening because you can’t get ahead of yourself, and a lot of times we do.

Allen: [00:35:42] And as we were playing that game you know the other thing that struck me is there was a bigger pause there, every time. And I think in today’s society a lot of times there’s a lack of silence, and just being willing to let the room be silent for a second so that people can think and not worry about just filling the air with words just so that there’s something making noise. You know I think that’s a that’s a big thing that happens today. We hear an empty room and we just start talking, but we don’t really have anything to say.

Peter: [00:36:17] That is a very interesting observation because you’ve made me think about something different. Usually in that game I tell people not to think and just react.

Allen: [00:36:28] [laughs]

Peter: [00:36:29] Just hear the last word take it and run with it. But you’ve just added another dimension to it because I thoroughly agree 110 percent that that pause for a moment in a conversation with somebody – that pause, actually, the other person is realizing that you’ve actually listened to them and you’re thinking about it. And the respect level for you has now increased versus just immediately coming back with something like you said: just filling in the room with words.

Allen: [00:37:00] Yeah. And I’ll tell another short story here that I often tell when I’m on the phone and somebody can’t see me.

Peter: [00:37:07] [laughs]

Allen: [00:37:07] I’m sitting nodding head up and down and that’s something that I do unconsciously – subconsciously, in my head. I didn’t realize that I did it until my grandfather passed away and I’m sitting there and you know the preacher is talking about my grandfather and all these things that he did. And one of the things that he mentioned was, when he was giving a sermon, he always knew if the sermon was a good sermon – he could look out and my grandfather’s head would slowly be going up and down. But if my grandfather didn’t necessarily agree with what the preacher was saying, his head would shake side to side. And, as the preacher was saying this, I noticed that my head was going up and down and I started thinking about it and realizing that just in life in general that’s something that I now look back and I remember my grandfather doing. And it’s something that I do constantly and, as I catch myself, it’s one of those things that it’s a pleasant reminder of my grandfather, for one, but it’s another one of those ways that I’ve become accustomed to realizing that you know if my head is shaking side to side, there’s something not right there. I might not consciously know what’s not right, but at those moments I typically, if I catch myself, that’s when I go into asking questions mode to try and figure out what’s going on there. And it’s one of tells. You know I’m a terrible poker player because I have all the little things that I do that are terrible tells, but that’s a tell that I’m proud of.

Peter: [00:38:51] Yeah. And as someone who speaks before audiences, I do look for that – those who are nodding their head, hopefully up and down versus back and forth. Because you know that’s also – you know that body language that your audience needs to see in order to… And if you see maybe one person out of a hundred do it, but if you start seeing more and more doing that same type of body movement you know either they’re agreeing with you or they’re disagreeing and you need to address the issue in the room to find out what’s the disagreement about; what aren’t they agreeing with versus putting blinders on and just getting to the end of this thing.

Allen: [00:39:35] And you know you talk about speaking and that’s one of the skills that I’ve developed over the past six years. Before I started at the Ohio Society, I don’t know that I can remember the last time I gave a presentation in front of a group of people. But at the Ohio society, we were always looking for people at the accounting shows to fill in and do things. And over the past years I’ve started you know trying to do a different presentation every year. And it’s always interesting to you know develop a presentation and think through it. But then the first time you give that presentation and look out in the room and see whether it works or not. And one presentation that I gave last year is called Life Hack. Life Hack is essentially improv with technology, or some concept. You know you take something that can do A and you think about oh, I can solve problem B with that as well. And giving those presentations… it was really obvious some things stuck with people and other things people didn’t really buy into. So it was interesting that, as that presentation evolved over time, I slowly got rid of those things where looking at the audience you see people you know disagreeing or being confused. And that was very helpful in developing that into something that you know turned out to be pretty good presentation, in the end.

Peter: [00:41:02] Well you just used an improv skill called co-create. You’re having your audience help create your presentation from the feedback that they’re giving.

Allen: [00:41:11] Now that I think about it, I think every time I’ve ever given that presentation somebody has walked up to me at the end of the presentation and given me one of their life hacks. And that is just – I love that. I can’t think of a name on top of my head, but there was somebody that went to that session down in Cincinnati and I think for the next six months he and I emailed back and forth about once a week with some neat little trick that we had thought of. It was one of those things where you know you connect with a like-minded person and the things you can develop together are just amazing.

Peter: [00:41:47] Yes, and… Yes, and that’s improv – and that’s the fun part of it. It’s not making stuff up, but it’s going into a room with nothing but walking out with something because you collaborated on an idea. you are open to suggestions, you’re open to ideas. And I think that’s another quality that great leaders have: they’re open to everybody’s idea, and in improv we say "bring a brick, don’t bring a cathedral."

Allen: [00:42:17] Yep.

Peter: [00:42:17] Because the cathedral is I’ve already got the agenda. You’re just talking and I’ve already made up my mind so I don’t really care about your idea, but if you bring a brick we can build our cathedral; we can build the Parthenon; we can do all of that stuff… but don’t come into it without being so set on your agenda that you won’t listen to somebody else’s ideas.

Allen: [00:42:40] You know it’s funny. One of the other things that I’ve always been a big believer in is that I tend to be an introverted person, and what I learned is part of that means that if you put me in a room and you throw a new idea at me, typically, on the spot, I am not going to be able to digest it and come up with my own bent on it. But if you give me an idea beforehand and you let me think about it a little bit, I tend to come up with some good thoughts. And then I think, at that point, I feel far more comfortable coming into a room with a bunch of other people that have thought about this and sharing and building on it. And so that’s one of the things I always like to try and do whenever I’m working with a committee or a group – to be very clear about hey we’re going to talk about this topic. At least think about it a little bit beforehand. You know you don’t have to write a 10 page paper, but giving people that think the way I do an opportunity to do that I think is huge.

Peter: [00:43:40] It is. It really is. It goes a long way in implementing anything. And always knowing that you know we can overanalyze at times, and you know when we put something in play we know that we may not have thought of everything. That’s fine, but to build to say OK we didn’t think about that… Now we just need to adapt, fix, move forward versus now we’re going to cast blame on you because this didn’t go 100 percent the way you had planned it. Nobody’s going to come to the table with any new ideas. When we’re visionary, when we’re looking at the future, when we’re trying to do something as a group to move an organization forward, we can’t see everything. That’s another piece about improv: accepting failure as a learning process, a growing process, is a heck of a lot more powerful than not accepting failure and using that as a bashing tool.

Allen: [00:44:42] I couldn’t agree more. One of the things that. looking back in my career. has helped me, and I think it helped me build trust with a lot of different types of leaders, is being willing to come forward and say hey I screwed that up.

Peter: [00:44:57] [laughs]

Allen: [00:44:57] That is a mess that I caused.

Peter: [00:45:00] Yeah.

Allen: [00:45:00] And you’d be amazed at the number of times you’ll come across people that don’t want to be open about their mistakes because they have this fear, and then what ends up happening is the mistake’s going to bubble up. People are going to learn about the mistake one way or another. Typically, if you come forward with the mistake, people are going to be far more understanding than if they discovered it themselves and figure out that it was your problem. I can think of a solid six examples just off the top of my head where I walked into you know Scott or Clark’s office and said "you know we did this. It was my decision to make. And it was terrible. We have to call some members and apologize." But that is far better than having one of those members call you know the CEO themselves say "hey you’re your team is screwing this up pretty bad." And I think that builds trust. Then, you know, I think where that’s most helpful is when something is screwed up and you didn’t have anything to do with it. You know it’s clear people know that, if you messed it up, you’re going to come and own it before anybody else.

Peter: [00:46:12] Exactly. It’s that accountability. Plus the cover up is always worse than the actual mistake itself.

Allen: [00:46:18] And we all have the same tendency. You always think in your head "oh my god. I’m going to tell them that this mistake happened and it was my fault and they’re just going to fire me right now.

Peter: [00:46:27] Yeah.

Allen: [00:46:28] You build it up in your head and then sometimes, yeah, you might have done something that terrible, but that is incredibly rare. And so just the act of going and admitting that you did something wrong is important, but I think the flip side of that is you have to also learn. If you’re making the same mistake over and over again… you know I don’t want to go in to Scott and say "hey remember how I screwed that up last year? Yeah I did that same thing again."

Peter: [00:47:00] Yeah.

Allen: [00:47:01] So I think it’s important that, as somebody develops and grows yourself, don’t make those same mistakes over and over again.

Peter: [00:47:10] Allen, you’re going to be wildly successful out in Montana. This has been a wonderful conversation. You know and I’m looking forward because I’m going to be out there on June 22nd speaking at your annual meeting, so it’ll be great to… you’ll be a seasoned individual within that organization because you’ve been there what a whole maybe 10 days by that point in time?

Allen: [00:47:33] Exactly.

Peter: [00:47:33] Exactly. You’ll have it all figured out. But I’m, one, sad to see you leave and I have to ask this question: did you sell the Miata?.

Allen: [00:47:45] Yeah. The Miata has been sold. And just today… it’s amazing. People have this concept that you have a car and they put a dollar value on a car. But a Miata – and people are blown away by this – I have people ask me all the time "like oh man I wish I could have a Miata." You know they’re like $2-3,000? Just buy one. If it falls apart, oh well. You know the Miata is the poster child for value. You buy a first generation car with pop up headlights… I think they pop up two or three times and you’ve gotten $2000 of joy out of it.

Peter: [00:48:25] [laughs] Well as you know I have and I have a 92 Miata that was a divorce present to myself that I still own and I don’t know how you sold your car. I think if I if I went to Montana I’d have to drag mine with me. I’ve got way too much of an emotional attachment. That that car helped me out a whole lot during the early days of that divorce and I just I absolutely love to drive that car, especially this time of year with the top down just driving around. I just get so much joy out of that. Somebody could offer me two or three times the amount and I don’t think I could sell it. But well you did say that you are, since you’re out in big sky country, that you thought that maybe you and your family would pick up skiing again and I think you said you do like to mountain bike, so you’re moving that energies from the Miata into mountain biking. Is that correct?

Allen: [00:49:20] That is correct. And also the money from the Miata went directly to a bike shop for new bicycles.

Peter: [00:49:26] Perfect. Well you’re going to be wildly successful. I know it. I’m looking forward to seeing you on the 22nd. And Jean, I know you’re hopefully still listening, take good care of him. He’s a really great guy. Allen, I appreciate the conversation. Absolutely loved it. Thank you for being a guest.

Allen: [00:49:45] Thank you, Pete.


Peter: [00:49:49] I’d like to thank Allen again for spending time with me and sharing his thoughts on his experiences and his leadership insights. In episode 55, I interviewed Cody Boyce, who’s the founder of Podcast Masters, who are the producers of my podcast. I’ve had a number of my guests and listeners ask me a lot of questions about starting a podcast, as well as give a lot of praise to the behind the scenes work of Podcast Masters. So it’s fitting that we pull the curtain back and talk to the Wizard of podcasts. Thank you again for listening and remember to use the principles of improvisation to help you become a better leader.

Production & Development for Improv Is No Joke by Podcast Masters

Ep. 53 – Cathy Paessun: How to Recognize & Adapt to Diabetes


Today’s episode is about something very close to me: diagnosing, managing, and informing others about Diabetes. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes later in life, and my son was diagnosed at the age of 16. We were lucky that I was paying attention, knew the symptoms, and took action quickly… but everyone isn’t that lucky.

Cathy Paessun, Executive Director for the Central Ohio Diabetes Association and former Executive Director of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, is on the show to discuss how we, as a community, can learn the information necessary to recognize potential symptoms and adapt appropriately.

First we will highlight the similarities and differences between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are similar in that both suppress the effectiveness of insulin in the body. Individuals experiencing either type of diabetes may also present similar symptoms:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Excessive eating
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss

However, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are very different.

Type 1 Diabetes

  • Type 1 is an autoimmune disease, meaning the body’s immune response is attacking healthy cells.
  • There is no way (that we know of) to prevent developing Type 1 Diabetes if you are predisposed to it, and there is no way to cure it after you are diagnosed.
  • Although Type 1 was previously considered “juvenile diabetes,” this is not the case. There are 30,000 diagnoses of Type 1 every year, but only half of those are children.

Type 2 Diabetes

  • Type 2 diabetes is caused by an overabundance of fat cells that suppress the effectiveness of insulin. It is not an autoimmune disease.
  • Due to the nature of Type 2, it is preventable and can be managed with appropriate diet and exercise changes.
  • In the United States, 95% of the approximately 30 million individuals who are diagnosed with Diabetes have Type 2.

When we are aware of these symptoms, we can be more present and focused when they appear in our own lives. This may be at work, with friends, or even at home. It’s important that we truly listen – with our eyes and our ears, as we learned from Greg Lainas last week – so that we can start a conversation.

If you think any of your friends, family members, or coworkers might be helped, or better able to help, after listening to this episode, please share it with them.

Download this Episode MP3.



Click to download the full Transcript PDF.


Cathy: [00:00:00] I am shocked and appalled that the third leading cause of death in America has this little research and and true statistics behind it that it has.

Peter: [00:00:20] Welcome to Improv is no Joke podcast, where it’s all about becoming a more effective communicator by embracing the principles of improvisation. I’m your host Peter Margarita’s the self-proclaimed chief edutainment officer of my business, the accidental account. My goal is to provide you with thought provoking interviews with business leaders so you can become an effective improviser which will lead to building stronger relationships with clients customers colleagues and even your family. So let’s start to show. Welcome to episode 53 of improv is no joke podcast. And today’s guest is Cathy Paessun, who’s the executive director for the central Ohio Diabetes Association and former executive director of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation here in Columbus, Ohio, about the warning signs of type 1 diabetes and the latest research on finding a cure. Now I’m a type 1 diabetic who was diagnosed over 10 years ago. However on January 1st of this year my 16 year old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. That event has changed my focus on diabetes because we were lucky that I recognized the early warning signs, saw them, and reacted quickly to get my son to the emergency room. Unfortunately, a lot of parents do not know the signs and their child could die from high blood sugar if not caught quickly. The purpose of this podcast is to help raise awareness of the warning signs of type 1 diabetes so parents can react quickly. I would like to request that you point your friends, family, coworkers, etc. to this episode because it could save a child’s life. With that said, let’s get to this all important interview with Cathy Paessun.

Peter: [00:02:14] Cathy thank you for taking time out of your extremely busy work day to spend some time with me on my podcast discussing this very important issue of type 1 diabetes.

Cathy: [00:02:28] Pete I can’t thank you enough for helping us spread the word.

Peter: [00:02:31] And you’re currently the executive director of the central Ohio Diabetes Association.

Cathy: [00:02:37] Yes, exactly.

Peter: [00:02:38] And we met when you are the executive director of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Association here in Columbus. And we had this conversation, as I’ve said in my intro, about my son coming down with type 1 diabetes. Now it’s no you didn’t do that to my family. So I’m on this passionate journey of helping to raise awareness of this in everybody because I was in my 40s when I was diagnosed… But especially in children. If you could give the audience just a little bit of background about it and some of the warning signs and things that you’ve seen and things that you’ve heard over your tenure in both of these wonderful institutions.

Cathy: [00:03:26] Well, as you know, the problem is the warning sign of diabetes are that it can be perceived as "Well, they’re a growing child. Of course they’re incredibly thirsty. It’s maybe this summer and they’re playing sports and so they’re drinking a lot more than usual and they’re going to the bathroom more. Well of course they’re going to the bathroom more because they’re drinking more because you know they’re so busy in sports. They’re losing weight. Well of course they’re losing weight. You know it’s the summer, they’re busier," all that sort of thing. And it just takes someone really saying, "You know what, this wasn’t my kid before and this seems really different. And I need to know what’s going on." A lot of times it really is that parents – and I’ll be a little be a little biased and say the mom – but you know really either parent looking at the child and saying this isn’t normal. You know I get that they’re growing but but this isn’t normal. And then just kind of insisting. You know going and sometimes unfortunately depending upon the awareness of the child’s pediatrician, auto immune illnesses like Type 1 diabetes… they may or may not be looking for that, you know, and we have certainly heard stories of parents being told "oh they’re just growing, go back home," and then going back and insisting on a blood test or something like that, and the blood is up in the three hundreds or six hundreds or – God forbid – higher than that, and really up in some dangerous zones before before everyone really starts to realize oh my gosh… here is a fit, young, healthy, thin child and they’re being diagnosed with diabetes. That’s kind of blowing my mind because that’s not what the public thinks diabetes is.

Peter: [00:05:25] Right. Can you help the audience understand what’s the difference between type 1 and Type 2 diabetes? Because I see a lot of people having confusion with that.

Cathy: [00:05:34] Right. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. There is absolutely nothing that people who have type 1 diabetes did to get the disease. And there is literally absolutely nothing they can do to get rid of it. When someone, at any age, receives a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, they will have this disease for life until JDRF and our research partners find a cure. Type 1 diabetes is presents like diabetes but it’s so different from type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, what it has in common with Type 1 is the suppression of the effectiveness of insulin in the body’s system. So, in both situations of diabetes, the insulin produced by the body simply is not either effective or It’s not enough or whatever to meet the insulin needs of the body. And so some sort of dose of external insulin for Type 1 is necessary. For type 2, what they can do is there are various medications that folks with type 2 diabetes can do to just sort of boost the effectiveness of the insulin that their body is making. So it winds up causing the same sort of reaction in the body, but the reasons are entirely different. Again type 1 is an autoimmune disease. There typically is some sort of trigger that creates an autoimmune response in the body, where the body attacks its own insulin and it is an autoimmune response. In type 2, it is the overabundance of fat cells in the body that can suppress the effectiveness of the insulin. And that’s why, fortunately – yay for the type 2’s – with appropriate diet and exercise changes, they can really manage that and keep it under control – maybe even not even have to do medications and you know… just really tight control can help them live with the insulin produced by their own body.

Peter: [00:07:47] Thank you for that clarification between type 1 and type 2 because I hear so many people get them confused and that was very articulate, but you also said something in there – you said something triggers. Can you talk a little bit about the triggering effect?

Cathy: [00:08:05] Well… what I’m going to say is that research is ongoing, especially in the type 1 world. A I’m going to digress for a minute: I am shocked and appalled that the third leading cause of death in America has as little research and true statistics behind it that it has. I’m just getting into the type 2 world but I can tell you, even with type 1 – thank God for JDRF; thank God they’ve been carrying the banner for 47 years to say we’re going to understand this and we’re going to find a cure because you know every day, all day long, 24/7, 365… if you get type 1 diabetes, that’s never off your mind. That said, it does appear, you know, for the longest time everyone thought Type 1 was "juvenile diabetes" quote unquote. Well this is just in kids. If kids are diagnosed, then it’s type 1 but it’s basically the same thing. And we know now that that could not be more incorrect. It was probably 100 years ago, if you were diagnosed with diabetes, you died because insulin was not discovered until approximately 1920, I believe it was. So let’s say even 50 years ago you know you did not live to be an adult with type 1 diabetes if it was not diagnosed because it is a disease that will kill you. If you have too much sugar – too much blood glucose – in your system for too long, it simply cooks the organs and all the working systems of your bodies and you die young. And we assume that 50-75 years ago that’s exactly what happened. People just were probably not feeling real great and then died young. Well thank God they finally started realizing that, hey, you can be young and thin and still have a very serious form of diabetes, and we need to do something about that. So, for the longest time, they thought… I love this: even in some of the materials they’ll say it comes on suddenly. It truly doesn’t. It’s sudden to the family, but I have yet to meet a family who says Oh no he was fine one day and the next day his blood sugar was over 300 and he was diabetic. It just doesn’t happen that way. It really is some sort of gradual diminishing of effectiveness of the body to use its own insulin, which becomes more and more obvious over time via the symptoms that we talked about earlier. And what they think, and what a lot of people will say anecdotally now, is there can be a triggering event. So many people have said you know what? About six months before I got diagnosed I had a really bad virus, or you know a year before I got diagnosed I was really sick and we didn’t know what it was and then you know about six months later I started just really feeling horrible, and then another six months later we figured out it was type 1. So it does seem to have, in certain situations, and there are absolutely no absolutes when it comes to life one, and so it does appear to have a triggering event. And that is something where then it becomes interesting – the family history of it. And is it hereditary? They’re not using that word anymore. It’s not so much that it’s hereditary, but maybe there’s some sort of genetic predisposition where, if he has type 1 and your son maybe has a virus at some point, then maybe he has a predisposition in his body to have some sort of auto immune response to that and maybe it’s going to present as type 1 diabetes as well.

Peter: [00:12:06] OK. One, thank you for the background around diabetes being the third leading cause of death, as well as that trigger because I do remember when one of the first questions they asked us at children’s hospital when they got him down there was, "Has he been sick lately?" And, in my son’s case, he wasn’t. We can’t trace it back to that, and being a diabetic for 10 years – this is kind of funny – when he was told that he had diabetes my son did not miss a beat. He just turned and looked at me and said "Hey, thanks dad."

Cathy: [00:12:45] [laughs] Well, the little bit I know you, I’m not surprised you son said something like that.

Peter: [00:12:49] Yeah. But it’s just those symptoms of excessive thirst, of urination – Another one… that "you know he’s a teenager, of course he’s going to sleep a lot, of course they’re going to be lethargic." That’s another one.

Cathy: [00:13:08] And eating a lot.

Peter: [00:13:08] Classic sign – and losing weight. Right. And those are really I think the big five that, if you even sense anything, take action on it. In fact, to your point, the gut feel that something doesn’t seem to be right here. It just doesn’t feel right. I remember you sharing with me, in our first meeting, that by not knowing some parents their children might be thirsty so they’re giving them cokes and milkshakes, which is the last thing because all you’re doing is adding on to it.

Cathy: [00:13:45] Absolutely. Absolutely. Yes it’s scary. It can lead to then – gosh, there’s just a whole huge topic around the emotions of diabetes in general, but type 1 diabetes in particular… because everyone puts on a bold face, but if you can get them alone then the parents will say I feel horrible, I feel like I caused this, I feel guilty, I feel like I should’ve seen sooner. You know just all the emotions you can imagine; beating themselves up when it’s still… you know think about it: type 1 diabetes is only 5 percent of the diabetes population. We have approximately 30 million people diagnosed with diabetes in America today, and only about 1.5 million of them have type 1 diabetes. It’s still very… and you don’t look at a young, thin child and think diabetes. You just simply don’t. So it’s just so interesting and certainly you know the important thing to remember – and for me this is true of type 1 and Type 2, but especially type 1 – you can’t go into it thinking "oh I can never have a milkshake again. Oh I can never have birthday cake again." Yes you can, just in a very controlled way and you just have to really manage that. You have to get to know your body in a way that you know in some ways is much more intense, much more detailed, and yeah more of a pain than those of us who don’t have an autoimmune disease. But for the people who understand hey it’s this or a really ugly alternative of being sick a big part of my life and maybe you know not living a long healthy life like I said. In some people it makes them so much more disciplined, and I’d be curious, especially you being diagnosed as an adult, the changes that you had to make. Did you wind up just finding yourself being more disciplined?

Peter: [00:15:49] Oh very much so. The accountant in me. When I first diagnosed, I had a spreadsheet and I had what my blood sugar was, what I ate, a carb count. I was almost obsessive at that point. And then, as I made my way to the pump, I became less obsessive. But I still, 90 percent of the time, I’m digilent. And there’s that 10 percent of the time – there’s some days, because it is a 24/7/365, I’m like hell with it.

Cathy: [00:16:20] Uh huh.

Peter: [00:16:20] But that’s you know very few and far between. And about the diet: What kind of blew me away when we were at Children’s Hospital and the dietician came in to talk to Steven… she was kind of going through the list of things that he was eating – and maple syrup and he was drinking Coke – and she said the only two suggestions I’m going to tell you is get rid of those too. Everything else you can manage. Just learn how to carb count, learn how to make the adjustments. You can really eat or drink anything.

Cathy: [00:16:53] It’s true.

Peter: [00:16:53] But you have to manage it. And I think it’s that managing part that you know… I heard somewhere that two hours out of every day, like for a type 1 diabetic, is focused on managing their diabetes. From pricking your finger to blood to the whole recording aspect of it. But I want to take a step back to talk about the emotion because the few families that I’ve talked with, Yes. How could I do this? They were feeling bad. Like I said they didn’t know the symptoms. And even in my case I was beating myself up for about 10 minutes. How could I have done this to this kid? And then I just rationalized. Well wait a minute. I’m living with. I’ve been an example for him that you can do anything you want to. You just have to manage it. But you know those emotions, and even after the fact, with he and I, because you can validate… at 16 years old, his body… It’s different. It seems like every single day. There’s no real consistency right now. Maybe he’s in that honeymoon period. So I ask him what do you think? He’ll check his blood and I’ll go What do you think we should do? And I help him. I try to get him to give me the rationalization around it and understand it, and I know that I’ve heard stories of a lot of parents who tend to over manage it for their children, and become a little bit of a micromanager. And it’s… I don’t know. I don’t like working with micro-managers as bosses so there’s a lot of friction there.

Cathy: [00:18:29] Well. So… So first of all, I want to go back and add in something that I didn’t say earlier. So especially in type 1, because I am more familiar with that, but I have to wonder how true this is in type 2. There can be a virus there that can trigger some sort of immune response within the body to start attacking the insulin that the body makes, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a full-on assault from day one. So a lot of times – I think that’s what people mean by the honeymoon period, and honeymoon is kind of an odd way of thinking about that because what it means is we know that you have a form of diabetes and that the insulin your body creates is becoming less and less effective. But it’s not completely ineffective. So especially in the case of your son, he’s growing. So is that his pancreas is pumping out no insulin? You know probably not. And what they’re finding is, especially when women go on and get pregnant, they have a lower need for insulin during the time that they’re pregnant. Well what the heck’s going on there? You know I used to work with a woman who had been type 1 since she was 15 years old. She had three children. God bless her. And with all of them, she noticed the decrease need for more insulin during the course of the pregnancy. Well, hmm, we thought her pancreas was dead. Obviously not. And what they’re finding is – and I think the latest research I saw, as you know someone who was looked at maybe 30 years into a diagnosis, and when they really got down into it and looked into the pancreas, that pancreas was still pumping out just the barest amounts of insulin, but it wanted to. And so of course there’s research around how do you reactivate the pancreas, while at the same time suppressing that autoimmune response to then attack the insulin that’s created. So I did want to add that: that it’s really just such a much more complex disease than anyone ever dreamed it was. But, so more importantly, so then that very much leads into the emotions because you think you have this thing down. Oh well you know I was on the internet, I read five articles. OK I got this. And the information about diabetes is just changing on such a rapid basis because of all the wonderful research going on – definitely in the type 1 world. And so I think the first thing, as I said, that parents feel is guilty. Did they do anything and/or why didn’t they see the symptoms sooner? Why didn’t they get their child help sooner? But unfortunately, as you know from personal experience, the real emotion that comes out over time is… we can politely call it burnout. Some people are willing to just you know go ahead and say it’s depression. It’s actual, honest to god clinical depression that I have to spend you know literally every day of my life thinking about this situation, and if I don’t the worst could happen, in the case of folks with type 1. And so just the depression that the parents feel for their children, the depression that people with type 1 can feel… I have heard of people – and I’m not on any of the diabetes blogs; you might be – but some people just say you know what I’m just not going to have diabetes today. I’m going to get up. I’m not going to check my sugar. I’m going to eat what I want. And I’m just not going to have diabetes today. And so of course they have to do is notify everyone they know hey I’m doing this you know. And if you if you notice anything or anything like that, but they just need that break. They just need to feel like they have that. Well now thank God we have the artificial pancreas coming out. And with Medtronic you know virtually closed loop system that’s available. People can almost have that kind of break from Type 1 diabetes, where it is not a constant pressure on them. And I feel certain, over the course of time, we will hear that a lot of the emotions around, again, type one in particular: people are able to lift some of that depression and some of that sadness and burden that they may feel from having having a chronic disease like that.

Peter: [00:23:14] Yes. That’s something that they talked to us at the Children’s hospital about. Keep an eye because if he starts getting depressed or whatever, but this potential closed loop and the artificial pancreas… the one blessing that I think my son has is there will be some cure in his lifetime. And he’s turning 17 soon… so hopefully by the time he’s 25. The way technology is going and the potential pump that is a closed loop system, which means that it will have a sensor in place on your body… it sends your blood sugar to your pump. And then the pump itself will automatically make the adjustments of the amount of insulin that you receive, as a pancreas would do. A lot of people thought that’s what the pump already does and it doesn’t. And through my endocrinologist I’ve already heard that there’s two artificial… I don’t how you refer to it, but the implant of an artificial pancreas into the body. You’ll never have to pick your finger again.

Cathy: [00:24:24] Right. There are so many advances on their way, and you know a lot of people refuse to even refer to the system as the artificial pancreas because, clearly, the pancreas does more than pump out insulin. Just because the insulin part of it isn’t working doesn’t mean the pancreas isn’t working – the pancreas is still doing a lot of other stuff. So just so much more information and so many more wonderful forms of technology, and especially with your numbers being able to be made available to your loved ones or caregivers via the phone. And I don’t know if you are on that system but think about how you’re going to feel when your son spends his first night at college.

Peter: [00:25:09] I’m not going to sleep.

Cathy: [00:25:12] Well won’t it be wonderful – if he is willing – you know won’t it be wonderful for him to be on a system where you will have, on your phone, exactly what his numbers are as of… I think it’s every five minutes, I believe, and just be able to know. And then of course you’ll build your care system around him or whatever college he goes to. So that if you’re ever concerned you’re able to contact other people but. But what an advance. I mean just imagine sending your kid off to college with a disease that unfortunately you know one one or two wrong moves and unfortunately it can take their life. It’s just unbelievable.

Peter: [00:25:54] Yeah. I actually have some literature on that on the Dexcom G5 Mobile where his numbers are uploaded and I could look on my phone and see how see how he’s doing, which is incredible.

Cathy: [00:26:07] Yeah amazing amazing stuff is coming. You’re absolutely right. I mean the experts in the field say, depending upon how you define a cure, we really will have a cure in… you know certainly in the lifetime of the people being diagnosed right now. I do want to say one more statistic. You know back in the day juvenile diabetes, type 1 diabetes, was diagnosed in children only. But these days there are 30000 diagnoses every year in the United States – of those, 15000 of them are children but fifteen thousand of them are adults.

Peter: [00:26:45] Wow.

Cathy: [00:26:45] And so it’s just not juvenile diabetes anymore. It is type 1 diabetes. It is an autoimmune reaction in your body to, probably, some sort of trigger or event or illness or something like that.

Peter: [00:27:01] I didn’t realize that statistic. That’s absolutely amazing. As we begin to kind of wrap this up, prior to us recording this, you made a reference to I think it was called Reagan’s law?

Cathy: [00:27:19] Reagan’s Rule.

Peter: [00:27:21] Can you explain what Reagan’s rule is?

Cathy: [00:27:25] Well I had the privilege of meeting a woman here in Ohio who is working to try to get something like Reagan’s rule implemented in Ohio. What happened was a 16-month-old little girl in North Carolina was showing all the symptoms. Her mother, I believe it was, took her to the doctor I’m going to say more than once. The doctor did not recognize the symptoms and did not properly test Reagan. I think did not test Reagan at all for diabetes and Reagan passed away from high blood sugar somewhere around two years old. My impression was this was a rural doctor, a primary care doctor, who of course you know they can’t even be expected to be experts in everything. But this was a situation where I believe the doctor was not necessarily in you know a big city area and just did not have the kind of continual education about all the different symptoms and putting them together and finding diseases they might not actually think about. So in North Carolina there is Reagan’s Rule, and it is just a… I hate to say requirement, but it is just sort of like we as a state have agreed that we are going to provide continuing education to all of our doctors, especially those in the non urban areas, on the symptoms and signs of type 1 diabetes.

Peter: [00:29:11] Wow.

Cathy: [00:29:13] Again, I believe there is you know there is the attempt to get something like that in Ohio. I don’t know where that stands. To my knowledge they haven’t introduced legislation or anything like that. But even at that, you know this is where the network of parents and interested adults is so important to JDRF and to the central Ohio diabetes Association. We need everyone out there raising awareness about diabetes and raising awareness about what we need to do in order to make sure that all the right people have all the right information. Our schools, our churches, our (believe it or not) doctors offices. It takes a village.

Peter: [00:29:54] It does. And to that point of raising awareness, I was actually in Endicott, Nebraska, which is about about an hour and a half outside of Omaha, with a client and one of his managers said that his son was diagnosed at the age of 12 or 13 with type 1. It was really difficult on him because he was the only kid in school with type 1 diabetes. And they would go to Nebraska diabetes association whatever. And I know central Ohio Diabetes Associates has these camps. And his son was going to these camps to, in their terms, feel normal again; to be around people just like them versus… I guess fortunately… unfortunately in the school that my son goes to the nurse told me there’s 15 to 16 diabetics at school.

Cathy: [00:30:53] We can’t get over it. I believe in a kind of a very loose statistic but I think nationwide children’s hospital gets probably 300 diagnoses a year. And doesn’t that just blow your mind. Now, Nationwide Children’s Hospital covers a 26 or 27 County area. So they are covering you know from central Ohio down. But that number just blows my mind.

Peter: [00:31:19] I mean I can do the math on that: that’s about one a day. The statistic that I have not asked, and you said you don’t know it but you know that it has occurred, is how many children have gone in too late to be diagnosed and, unfortunately, don’t come out the same way they go in.

Cathy: [00:31:40] You’re right, and this is my final banner because we do not have a diabetes registry in the state of Ohio. So there is no requirement for doctors to report that they have diagnosed. There is no requirement to report complications that may have come from a diabetes diagnosis. And there’s no requirement to report a death based on high blood sugar, or anything like that. And we need to change that. This is just too prevalent a disease. Type 1 and Type 2. it’s too prevalent. We need to know more about it. We need to understand exactly where it’s occurring, and in what numbers, and then begin to look. What’s going on there? You know there can be obvious environmental factors. Let’s look for the less obvious environmental factors. I mean we just need more information about this disease.

Peter: [00:32:32] Well, as you know, whatever I can do to help, and this is one way that I want to do this, is to get this you on this podcast to talk about it. And for those of you who are listening, pass this along. Have someone download it. You know any parent, any family member, coworker, or anybody. Just have them listen to this. And the reason to listen to it is to hear the signs and see it and just have that in in the back of your mind at all times. If you see something weird, act on it.

Cathy: [00:33:08] Yes absolutely. Yeah. You know it’s funny – people can just appear to be kind of zoning out at work and they may be too high or too low. And it’s worth possibly having that conversation.

Peter: [00:33:21] Exactly. And as a couple of diabetic friends of mine have said, "Diabetes: we’re the ones who take drugs not to be high."

Cathy: [00:33:34] [laughs]

Peter: [00:33:36] And I asked them you know a lot of dealing with it – they’re type 1 diabetic – a lot of dealing with that goes back to your attitude that you take. And you know I’ve written a little bit of comedy about being a type 1 diabetic. It’s the only time in my life I’ve ever been number one.

Cathy: [00:33:56] [laughs]

Peter: [00:33:56] If you don’t attack it with a positive attitude, it can really wear you down.

Cathy: [00:34:05] Oh I can’t even imagine. No you are to be admired, Pete. You are an ambassador for the type 1 population and just a reminder that… it’s not that the diabetes controls you – it’s that you have to control the diabetes. And people like you are a good reminder of that and just you know that discipline that you take toward your diabetes you obviously have towards all areas of your life and that has led to the success that you have been able to achieve. The podcast, the book, your speaking. I mean this is exactly what we want people with type 1 to think it’s possible.

Peter: [00:34:47] Thank you. I greatly appreciate the kind words and you’ve got my contact information. You know if I can ever do anything for you – you need either somebody to speak at an event – just let me know and if I’m in town I’m right there.

Cathy: [00:35:03] Wonderful. That’s great.

Peter: [00:35:05] Cathy, thank you again. A lot of great information. Go to central Ohio diabetes Association Web site. Go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Web site.

Cathy: [00:35:16] There’s a lot of information there, and be aware of Type 1 Diabetes. Thank you again.

Peter: [00:35:26] I can’t thank Cathy enough for taking time to have this discussion on my podcast on helping to raise awareness of signs of type 1 diabetes and understanding the challenges of being a Type 1 diabetic. Now in Episode 54, I interview Alan Lloyd, who’s the new CEO of the Montana Society of CPAs. Once again, I’d like to request that you point your friends, family, coworkers, etc. to this episode because it could save a child’s life.

Production & Development for Improv Is No Joke by Podcast Masters

Ep. 52 – Gregory Lainas: Networking for Business Development (and How To Talk Your Way into a Novel)


Today’s returning guest is Gregory Lainas, Senior Vice President and Division Director of Robert Half Management Services, a division of Robert Half International. Greg is an incredible networker – so good, in fact, that he networked his way into the novel Flashback and was the first person in the history of Robert Half to obtain $20 million in gross margin – and this interview is packed with helpful tips and stories about networking for business development.

When we say networking, many of you (particularly accountants) might recoil. The concept is simple – it can be as simple as asking someone a question, and with social networking that ask is even easier –  but networking itself can still feel difficult.

Why do so many of us still find networking difficult?

  • As we grow up, we find our comfort zones and it only gets harder to leave those zones. If social situations aren’t where you feel comfortable, that can be seem like a big obstacle.
  • There’s a fear of failure.
  • Your inner critic says you can’t do it, there’s no point, or you will embarrass yourself.

One way to quiet that inner critic, address your fear, and feel more comfortable is to take some of the pressure off of yourself by reframing your responsibility as a networker. Your primary role is not to talk – it is to listen, be interested, and be attentive.

You’re born with two ears, two eyes, and one mouth. That means you should be listening and watching twice as much as you’re talking.”

The Greek philosopher Epictetus once said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Gregory adds that we are also born with two eyes, and he has a great point: when we are networking, we need to be listening with our ears and our eyes.

There’s a secret to looking interested and attentive: actually being interested, or even passionate, about what you’re doing! Maybe you don’t actually hate networking – maybe you just don’t like the things you are currently networking about.

In baseball, they say there’s only one thing you cannot teach a player to do. You can teach them to hit, you can teach them to throw, you can teach them to field… but you cannot teach them to run. You can teach an accountant to listen, bot can’t teach passion.

And you shouldn’t try to fake passion if you don’t have it. Give yourself a break by aligning your interests with your job or business, in some way. If you’re plastic, as Greg calls it, and camouflage your true interests, you won’t actually fool anyone.

Another way to think of your role as a networker – and, really, anyone in a service business – is to think of yourself as a doctor for your clients or customers. We’re trying to do a diagnosis, and we can’t do the diagnosis if we’re constantly talking. We have to listen, process, adapt, then prescribe.

How can we apply the art of listening and networking to improve business development?

The ultimate goal with any business interaction should be to stand out from your competitors and add value to your client or customer. Listening, passion and sincerity are all simple tactics, but they will help.

You can also stand out by offering a distinct value proposition… but you won’t know what you can offer if you don’t play the role of the doctor and find their pain, first.

Don’t believe it’s that simple? Next time you’re at a business appointment, try starting off with something like this: “Rather than me pontificate about all the services I represent, I’d like to learn more about your business. What keeps you up at night? What’s preventing you from getting from point A to Point B?”

Wait, listen, and pay attention. The results will speak for themselves.

If you take the time to honestly serve your clients, and add value, then you will earn the right to do business with them, and you will set yourself apart from the competition in the process.

Download this Episode MP3.


Exciting News: Listen, Learn, and Earn CPE Credits

I’m excited to share that I’ve partnered with the American Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute to bring you a new learning opportunity for accounting professionals to earn CPE credits. Starting May 30th, you can earn up to 1 CPE credit for each completed podcast episode purchased for only $29 through the MACPA and Business Learning Institute self-study website. Just listen to an episode you purchase through the website and then take their review and final exam while you’re working out, or after listening to an episode on your commute to and from work. It’s that easy. You can learn more about getting CPE credits for listening to the show on my website.

While all episodes of the podcast are available on my website, only those purchased through the MACPA BLI self-study website are eligible for CPE credit.


Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Greg: [00:00:00] You’re born with two ears, two eyes, and one mouth. That means you should be listening and watching twice as much as you’re talking.


Peter: [00:00:19] Welcome to improv is no joke podcast. It’s all about becoming a more effective communicator by embracing the principles of improvisation. I’m your host Peter Margaritis the self-proclaimed chief edutainment officer of my business The Accidental Accountant. My goal is to provide you with thought provoking interviews with business leaders so you can become an effective improviser, which will lead to building stronger relationships with clients, customers, colleagues, and even your family. So let’s start to show.


Peter: [00:00:51] Welcome to episode 52 of Improv is no Joke podcast. And today’s guest is Greg Lainas, who is senior vice president and division director of Robert Half Management Resources, a division of Robert Half International. That name may sound familiar because I interviewed Greg back in episode 22 on networking your way to your next job. This interview we focus on the importance of networking and growing your business. Greg has a very impressive background where he’s been with Robert half for over 30 years. He has earned the chairman’s and President’s Club award status during his tenure. In 2014, Greg became the first person in the history of Robert Half to obtain 20 million in gross margin. Now that takes a great networker to achieve that milestone. We start the interview with a discussion on how he networked his way into the book Flashback by Gary Braver and then turn our attention to business development. Greg provides a number of tips and techniques on how to grow your business through networking. My favorite tips were from his analogies, like the doctor of careers. When he meets with someone, he wants to figure out their pain, like a doctor. Understand that pain and how it’s affecting their business so he can prescribe the treatment, aka the solution. In other words, he has to park his agenda and listen to the response thoroughly so he can provide the correct solution. The one quote that Greg gave that we all should remember is, “It’s not about what you do. It’s how well you do it.” This episode is full of tips and techniques and become a better networker to help your clients grow their businesses. I have some exciting news to share with my audience. Listen, Learn, and Earn. I’ve partnered with the American Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute to bring an exciting new learning opportunity for accounting professionals to earn CPE credits that starts on May 30th. You can earn up to 1 CPE credit for each completed podcast episode purchased for only $29 through the MACPA and Business Learning Institute self-study website. The podcast episodes are mobile friendly. Open your browser on your smartphone tablet or computer, go to the CPA business learning institute self-study account, and listen to an episode. Take their review and final exam while you’re working out or after listening to an episode on your commute to and from work. It’s that easy. While all episodes of improv is no joke podcasts are available on my website, only those purchased through the MACPA BLI Self-study website are eligible for CPE credit. You can get detailed information by visiting my website at and clicking on the graphic “Improv is no Joke for CPE” on my home page. I hope you enjoy his exciting and flexible new way of earning CPE credit.Remember you can subscribe to my podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. If you’d like to purchase an autographed copy of my book Improv is no Joke: Using Improvisation to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life, for $14.99 with free shipping, please go to my website,, and you’ll see the graphic on the homepage to purchase my book. Please allow 14 days for shipping. You can also follow me on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. With that said, let’s get to the interview with Greg Lainas.


Peter: [00:04:59] Welcome back to my podcast. It’s so good to have the opportunity to have a conversation with you again.

Greg: [00:05:06] Thank you Peter I’m thrilled and honored that you asked me to participate. Thank you.

Peter: [00:05:12] Well the episode 22 that we originally did is one of the top downloaded episodes to date. I think it’s like a number third position overall. And it had a lot of good information. Back in that episode we were talking about networking for jobs. But we’re going to turn the conversation around a little bit today and talk about networking for business development. But before we get into that, we mentioned in the last episode that you networked your way into a book – a book called Flashback by Gary Braver. I got to know more about that story.

Greg: [00:05:51] OK Peter, whether your listeners will find this as amusing… well that’s a separate discussion.

Peter: [00:05:56] [laughs]

Greg: [00:05:56] But I guess it’s all part of my makeup in terms of the way I acclimate the way that I go through my day here at Robert Half. But in 1975 I was a sophomore at Northeastern University, and Northeastern is a five year school famous for its co-operative education. And my roommate who also became a CPA says to me we have to take this English Lit course and it’s on science fiction. And I said why are we doing this. Companies don’t take literary courses as electives. He says we’re going to meet lots of women. I said well OK I guess that works. You know we were two accountants. I mean need I say anymore about our social strength?

Peter: [00:06:53] [laughs] You’re good.

Greg: [00:06:55] Now the course was taught by a gentleman by name of Professor Gary Ghoshgarian, and I stress the last name because that is our Armenian descent. And Peter as you know you and I are both Greeks so the the alliance between Greeks and Armenians is very strong. A natural bond. So we take the course. And it was in the auditorium at Northeastern, which is one of the larger rooms available. You can ask if we met any girls, and the answer is no.

Peter: [00:07:24] [laughs]

Greg: [00:07:25] Did I actually get to meet the Professor? The answer was No. But I did enjoy the course.

Peter: [00:07:31] OK.

Greg: [00:07:31] So that was the last of any interaction whatsoever I had with Professor Gary Goshgarian. Now I met my wife at Northeastern. One of my other roommates met his wife at Northeastern. But there were a group of us that basically have become friends since the early 70s and our friendship still maintains. One of that of course is the roommate that made me take the course. He also became a CPA. At our 25th college reunion, Northeastern is a five year school so in 1970 when I graduated so 25th year would have been 2003. I did that without a calculator by the way.

Peter: [00:08:12] [laughs] You’re good.

Greg: [00:08:13] So a group of us went including my fellow roommate – the one that made me take the course, although he could not bring his wife. But my two other roommates brought their wives and one of them is the spouse also as a northeastern grad. Anyway, my wife and I go. We arrive at Northeastern and we expected to have a little more notoriety. We couldn’t find the building. We found the building finally and it was a very small room, and I stress that because in the 70s North-Eastern was actually the largest private university in the country. An unknown fact, but that is accurate. We get into the room and very poor attendance. And I said to my wife – because I’m an accountant – Listen we paid for the meal. We’re not with our children because we stayed over with our buds. And I said as soon as the meal is over we’re out of here.

Peter: [00:09:12] Yeah.

Greg: [00:09:12] And I look at the program and the program guide – the MC was Gary Goshgarian.

Peter: [00:09:22] Hmm.

Greg: [00:09:22] Hmm is correct, sir. Well I see him right away when he came in the room, and I described to Gary later “you were like a fish out of water” in that nobody came over to talk to you. You were just standing in the corner chewing gum, basically saying when is this thing going to end? I said to my wife “Here’s Gary. I got to talk to him.” She says Don’t embarrass me. I said don’t worry I will.

Peter: [00:09:50] [laughs]

Greg: [00:09:51] So I strike up a conversation with them. And that stems from my ability to talk to people, from my previous episode of networking, and I stress that point for your listeners – not so much at all whatsoever to boast or brag because that’s not what I wanted to do – because the worst that can happen is Gary is just like get away from me groupie, or whatever. Or he’s receptive to having me come up and talk to him. Well, that’s what happened. We had a great conversation. He ends up having dinner -He sat at our table for dinner! And then of course my other roommate couldn’t resist the reminder that it was he who talked me into taking the course.

Peter: [00:10:39] [laughs]

Greg: [00:10:39] Gary ad-libbed the entire presentation on what motivated him to write the books. Now there is a subscript to this: my freshman lit professor was a gentleman named Robert Parker. Now your listeners may not recognize that name, but he wrote the Jesse Stone series that stars Tom Selleck, and he also wrote the books that starred in a TV show Spenser for Hire. He wrote a home a ton of books. Robert Parker subsequently died. Gary wrote the obituary, or excuse me the Tribute, in the Boston Globe. So I think I may have been the only student that had both of them as professors. The same roommate also talked me into taking a Jack Levin course, and we took a statistics course in sociology. Jack Levin was always a guest on Larry King every time there was murderers in our country. So I think I’m the only one that had all three of the professors. Ask me my accounting professors and I can’t remember, but I remember those three gentlemen.

Peter: [00:11:52] [laughs]

Greg: [00:11:52] All right. So, post the the 25th reunion, I start to call Gary or e-mail him. And I threw through the development, or the culture as we developed our friendship. I asked him if he could put me in a book.

Peter: [00:12:12] So wait wait. What was the professor’s name?

Greg: [00:12:16] Gary Goshgarian.

Peter: [00:12:18] So Gary Braver is-

Greg: [00:12:20] Gary Braver is his pen name, correct. So your listeners could go to He tells the story that no one’s going to buy a book with the name Goshgarian, but they’ll buy a book with Gary Braver.

Peter: [00:12:33] Huh. Interesting.

Greg: [00:12:34] He’s quite the comic. He’s really a remarkable human being. So I get in his book and it’s called Flashback and we’re on page 115 in the hard copy.

Peter: [00:12:47] And I went out and actually had this conversation way before even episode 22. I went out and bought the book and, yes, gosh darn you are there. And as I listen to this story these words come into my head, and I do this all the time especially when I’m talking about networking. You just never know. If you had not walked up to your former professor at that reunion, you wouldn’t have gotten into the book. You had no idea that that’s what was going to take. You had no idea but you took that chance. I like to say that you leaned into the opportunity instead of leaned away from it, and a lot of us in networking we tend to lean away. There’s some fear, there’s some angst about leaning in. And as you said he could have said kid get out of here.

Greg: [00:13:40] Get lost.

Peter: [00:13:41] Or, you can strike up a conversation, he’s at dinner, you guys become friends, and next thing you know you’re in a book. I mean that’s that’s ideal networking.

Greg: [00:13:55] I even got him to do a book signing in Connecticut.

Peter: [00:13:58] Oh really?

Greg: [00:14:00] I have an equity interest in a golf course and we have a pretty large ballroom and we do weddings and anything else like that. So I called them. I actually contacted the local librarian to ask her in our town, and she said you know Greg this we do this stuff all the time. And next thing you know we did it at our golf course. Gary came, the librarian came, she really was the sponsor, if you will, of the program. And he actually had former students come and it was so well received. He loved it and he ad libbed the whole speech. And people weren’t all of his accomplishments. Just a remarkable human being.

Peter: [00:14:42] Let’s substitute a word, because would you say he ad libbed or he improvised his whole speech?

Greg: [00:14:50] Oh… wonderful word.

Peter: [00:14:56] [laughs] When I hear ad-lib, my mind goes they improvise it, but in a sense of improvised because he has all the knowledge – he has it all in his head. He’s formulating it right there on the spot. It’s thinking on your feet and reading the audience, and probably pulling in stories based on how the audience is reacting versus some other stories that he might not use at that point in time, to save that for for a different type of audience. So I assume that’s what he was doing. He was just building this great speech around all these stories he had, which is a remarkable accomplishment for anybody to be able to do something quite like that. So let’s turn this conversation and go down the path of business development because what I do know about you… you’ve been a Robert Half for a long time, and as I said in the intro, you’re one of the first people to hit the big gross margin number out there. You can’t do that without having a strong network – without having strong networking skills. So what would you say would be the number one thing – and let’s say the audience is thinking networking, don’t talk to strangers, people are just trying to sell me something, I hate these kind of things. How do you get them past that?

Greg: [00:16:30] Peter, social media has changed everything. Whether it’s Facebook, whether it’s LinkedIn, whatever vehicle people utilize. So the trepidation is significantly reduced, but the fact is there’s still trepidation. The easiest thing that I stress upon people: same thing as looking for a job. It’s just ask.

Peter: [00:16:57] But why is the ask so hard?

Greg: [00:17:01] Well, we all have, I believe, our comfort zone, and we are afraid to come out of our comfort zone. I just think, in my experiences at Robert Half, where I have to do business development every day, I always look at it: What is the worst thing that happens? I may make a friend for life, which is tremendous, or I may meet somebody who it takes a heck of a lot longer to cultivate a relationship. But if I don’t try, I’ll never know. I think if you look at human beings, a child is more apt to be more open minded than an adult. A child is born with innate abilities of creativity, and adults I think they wane. It’s easier to teach a child music, art than it is an adult. It’s easy to teach a child to learn a foreign language than it is an adult. So why is that? Well I think we get so set in our ways and we get so structured that we’re afraid to do something different.

Peter: [00:18:04] It’s that risk. There’s a risk of failure by doing this, and you’re right. I think that you can teach a child almost anything, but once we get them into the school system and then do the things that you can’t do and the structural stuff tends to kind of kill a lot of that creativity – tends to stop us down the road. Plus that inner critic who’s there to protect us at times. And I tell people, you know, if you are in a business environment, if you have an opportunity and it’s business oriented, don’t look at people as strangers. Don’t listen to your mother, because your mother always told you don’t talk to strangers. Those folks aren’t strangers. Those folks there are opportunities, and lean into that opportunity.

Greg: [00:18:55] When I look at what I’ve accomplished here at Robert Half… now Peter, I’ve always considered myself an average person. Average. Average athlete, average student, average average average. When I was growing up, I used to tell people that I was the person whose every grandmother wanted their granddaughter to date, but I was the guy who every granddaughter did not want to date. I was that guy.

Peter: [00:19:21] [laughs]

Greg: [00:19:21] You know the pants came down to the shin, mix the styles, didn’t know what he was doing. I was that guy. When I tried to grow long hair in high school, my hair my hair went up it didn’t go down.

Peter: [00:19:32] [laughs]

Greg: [00:19:32] So I found this was my calling, and this is my stage. When I look back to when I first got involved with the Institute of Management Accountants, it was at Robert Half. The leaders had an alliance with the IMA and they suggested we get involved. Well, if I have the support of my employer I’m going to do it because I’d like to give back to the accounting profession. And I started going to the meetings and I asked if you need any help in volunteering. Well, if you add value then I didn’t do this for my business I did this for the accounting profession, and that’s something I tell people all the time: if you’re going to get involved with a not-for-profit, it’s got to be something you’re passionate about – not something to just drum up business, because people will judge you professionally by how you do something as a volunteer. I always tell people it’s not what you do – it’s how well you do it. Let your work speak for you. They’ll speak for your work. So I did a couple of things and next thing I know they asked me if I would consider becoming president of the chapter. I did, and that only prospered, and it led to speaking engagements. Regionally, in the New England region, and all the chapters in Connecticut, just by going to one meeting. With the connected society of CPA, I started playing in the golf tournament and one of my contemporaries – a pillar in the Connecticut society, clearly. What this gentleman has accomplished and done is remarkable. He was on the golf Committee and he asked me one day, Greg, would you like to get on the committee? And my hesitancy, Peter, was okay, great, what do I have to do? I don’t think so I don’t think so. He said, “Greg, we have fun, we raise money, and it’s for a good cause,” because we give scholarships. And I said to the gentleman you’ve been so good to me – His name is Charlie – I said Charlie you’ve been so good to me. I’ll be happy to. So I did. And it’s not what you do, it’s how well you do it. Well they found out I worked previously at ESPN and what came up was it’s very common to have emcee, sports dignitaries, whatever to oversee the banquets at the golf tournaments. There’s a value to the participants. Well I did. I was able to obtain ESPN talent over the years to be the emcee. I also raised money. I called my clients. Would you like to give to the profession? I got offers. So it’s not what you do, it’s how well you do it. Next thing I know I got a phone call to ask if I would like to serve on the board of the Connecticut Society of CPAs. I’m not in public practice. I don’t practice accounting in industry. And when you look at all the people on the boards and there have been presidents before, they all excelled in industry or public, and ultimately I became president of the society and the main cog, the main proponent of my obtaining this, was the same guy Charlie.

Peter: [00:22:54] Yeah. I love that story. And let me just kind of weave a couple of things here: One, if you’ve listened episode 22, Greg talks about this story but it’s a powerful story. I love what he says: It’s not what you do, it’s how well you do it. And that’s that’s one of the big keys in networking because you may meet people, but how do you create that bond after the fact? And what you’ve created just blossomed into this opportunity. Like you said, your background doesn’t marry up to the backgrounds of all those other presidents for the Connecticut Society of CPAs, but it was your ability to network your way, walk the talk. It’s not what you do it’s how well you do it that took you to that level. And if we think about that from a business development standpoint, I mean that’s the key! Part of networking, as I look at it, is also referring, and if you refer someone to a client or whomever and that person is not a good match, you lose credibility. So that also comes into play, and from Charlie’s perspective, as he helped you along, he was referring you on up the ladder, eventually to the president of the Connecticut society. That’s all about the power of networking.

Greg: [00:24:32] Yes it is, Peter. And what I realized is I needed to prove to the conventional wisdom that I was worthy to be the president because I was so far removed. So I considered myself Avis, in that I had to work harder.

Peter: [00:24:51] Ah, yes. And so let me ask you this question: In working harder and networking, do you find that you are listening more and talking less or vice versa?

Greg: [00:25:07] Well I think if you ask the people I work with they would say I talk too much.

Peter: [00:25:13] [laughs]

Greg: [00:25:13] But I do try very hard to be attentive and listen to people.

Peter: [00:25:19] Because that’s where you gain – you gain a better understanding of where they’re coming from. And so what happened? Are there any tips or techniques that you can share on how you practice the art of listening?

Greg: [00:25:38] Well I’m sure that everybody’s heard this but I think they need to be reminded. You’re born with two ears, two eyes, and one month. That means you should be listening and watching twice as much as you’re talking.

Peter: [00:25:55] I have never heard it put that way. I’ve always heard the two ears and one mouth, but I have never heard the two eyes and I love that.

Greg: [00:26:03] I didn’t make it up so I can’t take credit for it, but I abide by that.

Peter: [00:26:07] And I love it because when I’m talking about networking, I’m talking about it’s listening, and also listening with your eyes. And a lot of times we don’t listen with our eyes – we’re overlooking somebody or looking around and it appears that we’re distracted, which doesn’t go to a whole lot of the credibility of having that conversation.

Greg: [00:26:30] That is correct. Peter, in my role, for the most part, I deal with leadership within companies. Controller, CFOs, VP of finance, head of internal audit, etc. And I have minutes to get their attention. Minutes. And either I add value or I just sound like another person trying to get in to earn their business, whether it be an insurance person, furniture person, internet service, whatever. Only I’m selling services that we represent at Robert Half. And then when I get an appointment with the respective person, it’s not about me. I often tell people I’m the Doctor of careers, and the doctor will first ask about the ailment and ask what else is going on before he or she will prescribe the medicine. So I have to delve and ask questions, listen, and observe before I prescribe to the client, or the prospective consultant, candidate, employee, what I think is the right course of action for that person.

Peter: [00:27:44] I love that. I love that whole style. One, you said I have to earn their business and, two, it’s not about you – it’s about them. But I absolutely love you are the doctor of careers, and I love that analogy. I’ve never heard anybody put it quite like that, but that’s exactly what we do. We’re trying to do a diagnosis, and we can’t do the diagnosis if we’re constantly talking. We have to listen, process, adapt, then prescribe.

Greg: [00:28:16] That’s correct. Because I could, if I take the initiative – Now the initiative is to try to get the person to talk first – But if I start talking first, I’m probably going to entertain superfluous information that will bore or be rejected by the client, and then I’m no different than anybody else. But if I have the ability to get him or her talk first and listen, then I could become an extension of them and help them get their job done.

Peter: [00:28:49] And that’s the goal. So let me let me ask this question: As a CPA – and let’s talk about the CPAs who are in practice and who are in business in industry, are very detail oriented, and love that that data – I find some times that their listening skills are not as honed, like yours are, because they’re coming there with something to sell, provide, or whatever, and I don’t think they’re taking time to listen to their client, whoever that internal or external client is, in order, as you said, figure out where the ailment is. And I think they tend to fall short on that because it sounds like it becomes more about them than it is about the client. So what tip can you give the audience to say, if you’re coming in with an agenda – a service, a product, something – how do you help them part that agenda and focus on them, not focusing on yourself?

Greg: [00:29:56] Well I’m trying to make this universal, as opposed to specific, because each person has to determine what is it that makes them different from their nearest competitor. What is the value proposition that you’re able to give to the company, or to the client or customer? You can’t do that until you’re able to determine, from that customer or client, what their pain is. So how do you overcome that? Well most times I think you can get the appointment or the meeting with the prospective customer. But here’s what I’ll say, and I’m proposing this to your listeners: Do you ever start off with, “Rather than me pontificate about all the services I represent, I’d like to learn more about your business. What keeps you up at night? What’s preventing you from getting from point A to Point B?”

Peter: [00:30:59] I love that. I use that all the time. What keeps you up at night?

Greg: [00:31:04] So all of a sudden… you’re a service industry – We’re in the service industry. If I’m not servicing, I’m not going to be in business. I’m the vendor. I tell all my clients “I work for you. It’s not vice versa. How can I help you attain your goals?” So whoever your listeners are, whatever their place of business is, whatever they sell, whatever they deliver, are they servicing? Do they work for their customer, or they make the customer work for them?

Peter: [00:31:36] That’s great. Once again, Greg, you’re blowing my mind here, as you did in the previous episode, with are you working for your customers or are your customers working for you. That’s another great networking quote that I’m going to start using in my lexicon, and I will give you full 100 percent credit for that.

Greg: [00:32:02] [laughs] You make me laugh. Great. Thank you.

Peter: [00:32:05] And I’m going to try to spread the name Greg Lainas around the country any time I am doing some networking. I will say this is from him and I think the title “King of All networking” could apply to you right now.

Greg: [00:32:21] Well, listen, that’s very kind of you. But no. I can’t take that. As I said, I found this is my calling. Because of the way I was brought up. You know all these things come into play and it all comes… what is the worst thing that happens?

Peter: [00:32:40] Yeah. So let’s talk about the way you were brought up. I always say… people ask me, “You’re a CPA. Where did you get your communication skills?” I say I was raised in a Greek-American household.

Greg: [00:32:54] Yes sir.

Peter: [00:32:54] I say I was I was a busboy at the age of 12 (because that’s rite of passage of all Greek men – you got to be a busboy at least one part of your early teenager years). Would you agree that that’s how you get this gift of networking, of communication?

Greg: [00:33:15] I attribute my parents. I lost my dad almost seven years ago, and to this day everything that he taught me resonates in me. And when people ask me who is my hero, I’ve always said my dad. My dad was a World War II vet. My father-in-law was World War II vet also, but my wife and I have the same work ethic, and you know I remember when I was I worked in an amusement park. I used to hitchhike to go to work. I wasn’t a busboy at a restaurant, but there was a restaurant business in our family because because my parents are born in Brooklyn and my my grandfather had a diner long before I can remember. But anyway, I just hustled. And I tell people, you know in baseball, when the pitcher walks the batter, what do most batters do? They drop the bat, they drop their glove, and they just walk to first base.

Peter: [00:34:11] Right.

Greg: [00:34:12] I run to first base in everything I do. It’s a metaphor, but I go after everything. And I think some of that stems, because I made reference earlier, that I’m just an average guy. I’m just an average person who found his niche, and I think the values and the business morals that you are ingrained with as a child last a lifetime.

Peter: [00:34:39] I wholeheartedly agree. And I love that analogy. Run to first base. My baseball hero was Pete Rose. I’ve kind of lost a lot of respect for him, but when he when he was on that ball field he ran-

Greg: [00:34:58] He ran to first base.

Peter: [00:34:59] Ran to first base, ran to second, and you remember the All-Star Game – the All-Star Game! – He mowed over the catcher.

Greg: [00:35:05] And that was the end of Ray Fosse’s career.

Peter: [00:35:11] Right.

Greg: [00:35:11] You know ,now here’s another baseball analogy, and this was taught to me: What is the only thing you cannot teach a baseball player to do?

Peter: [00:35:21] I don’t know, what’s that?

Greg: [00:35:23] Well you can teach them to hit, you can teach them to throw, you can teach them to field. You cannot teach them to run. You cannot teach hustle.

Peter: [00:35:35] You cannot teach passion.

Greg: [00:35:38] Correct.

Peter: [00:35:39] Good point. And in the essence of of this conversation of networking, if you don’t have the passion then don’t fake it. You’re not authentic.

Greg: [00:35:52] Correct.

Peter: [00:35:53] You’re not credible. And, really, in anything you do.

Greg: [00:35:57] There are people who go after the world and there are people who wait for the world to come to them. I think, if you have ever observed whether you go to see a concert, an entertainer, a movie, an artist’s showing. Whatever it is, somebody who’s achieved stature in your mind, not just wealth stature. And if you ever pull them to the side and ask “What did you have to do to get where you are?” I think you’d be shocked at all the failures that they had in their life to get where they are. But when you pay to go see an entertainer or play or a musical, whatever, you’re paying your money and you want to see that performer at his or her best. But you have no idea how hard they work behind the scenes. But yet all that was part of their development to get to the stature that they obtained. And when you look at other people there are some who, as I say, get to the cliff – they get they work hard to get to the cliff – but they don’t want to work harder to get to the next cliff. We are in a world where people want stuff but they don’t do what it takes to get what they want. Well I’ve always said I’m the Avis: I got to work harder. And that hasn’t waned for me.

Peter: [00:37:27] You know that’s dead on point. It goes to passion, it goes to drive, and it goes to accepting failure. I’ve been reading a variety of books on public speaking, and I don’t remember which one this came out of, but I remember reading where someone was laying out the failures of Steve Jobs. I mean he had a public failure. I mean he he was voted off of Apple, his company that he started, and ultimately came back and took it where it is today. I’ve seen a number of courts where they take Michael Jordan and if you know how many shots that he missed, but he keeps taking the shot, taking the shot. We only remember the ones that he hits. It’s the ability to accept the failure, understand it, and get better. Another question that pops into my mind that I hear from from people all the time is “What if I say something stupid when I’m networking?” And it goes along this idea of failure. How do you respond to that?

Greg: [00:38:35] Ask me how many times that’s happened to be. I don’t even – I can’t even measure how many times. Oh, it’s happened a great deal… where, when the evening is over, the function’s over, the meaning’s over, and you’re in your car going oh Greg, you moron, what were you thinking saying that? Well, the first thing that I do say: if you’re at an event that is this is business and social, food and alcohol are served, stay away from the alcohol.

Peter: [00:39:08] Yeah.

Greg: [00:39:08] And I know we say this, but just stay away it. And don’t have an excuse so that you’re not on your A-game that you could have avoided. All right. So when you say something that you regret later… well you have two options. Hope the person forgets what you said or you reach out and you apologize.

Peter: [00:39:37] That’s very well said and that’s exactly. Yeah. If you said something really stupid, okay, own up to it. Apologize. Whether it’s at the event or… don’t beat yourself up in the car as you go home. I would say is go old school: pick up the phone, call the person.

Greg: [00:39:59] I agree.

Peter: [00:39:59] See if you can connect with them that way. If not, if you get screened out or you leave a voicemail message and you don’t hear back, then I would follow up with an email apologizing, and then just let it go and just move on from there.

Greg: [00:40:19] Peter I’ll even go one step further. I agree with you picking up the phone. That’s the first – that’s paramount. If you can’t get the person, don’t wait a week. Do it immediately. In the world of handwritten notes.

Peter: [00:40:35] Yeah.

Greg: [00:40:35] That used to be common behavior, then of course e-mail came and all of a sudden people looked at e-mail, and now nobody prepares or nobody writes a handwritten note. So what is more compelling now: an e-mail or a handwritten note?

Peter: [00:40:54] I believe it’s a handwritten note, but I have been told, and actually I was doing a networking course for the Ohio Society of CPAs a number of years ago, and I was talking about this same topic. If you’ve met somebody, sit down and write them a quick Nice To Meet You note and send it to him. And this woman in the audience goes, if you send me if you would ever send me one of those, I would probably throw it in the trash. And I went, okay, this sounds like a good conversation. Let’s talk about it. And basically she came to say it’s now a generational thing because that card that I have sent to that millennial, per se, is cluttering up their desk, where if I sent an e-mail then I can put it in my e-mail folder and read it when I get to it. So I acquiesce. OK I understand that, but what I did after that, because I got the person’s name and contact information, is I sent her an e-mail thanking her for participating in my class and for her insight. But I also followed up with a handwritten note too, and she she didn’t throw it away.

Greg: [00:42:08] Well I get so little mail – I mean traditional mail, not e-mail, traditional mail – that when someone sends me a thank you note… first of all, it’s going to be in a smaller envelope, as opposed to an appearance of a business envelope, and the appearance clearly is not going to be of a marketing nature but going to be something maybe more sincere. I read it right away.

Peter: [00:42:36] Yeah.

Greg: [00:42:36] I get so many emails a day, no different than anybody else. You’d be surprised how many times I nuked something after reading the first sentence and I should have read the whole thing.

Peter: [00:42:46] Oh yeah. I think we all do that a lot.

Greg: [00:42:49] Well, yeah, but if I’m guilty of it then I have to pay the penalty for that. So I think the handwritten note has more power than an email.

Peter: [00:43:01] Yeah. I agree with that.

Greg: [00:43:03] Now, hand writing… That’s whole other story.

Peter: [00:43:06] Yeah. It’s interesting that, speaking of handwriting, just a quick tidbit: my son is now 16 going on 17 and he had to sign something. And he as he’s doing it goes, “I wish they would have taught me better how to use cursive because it’s really hard for me to remember,” and they’ve gotten away from teaching that in school because, when you sign something, you actually write in cursive.

Greg: [00:43:37] That’s correct.

Peter: [00:43:38] But my handwriting is so bad I could have been a doctor. My handwriting is so bad that I print.

Greg: [00:43:43] There you go. You should be honored by that one. But regarding the thank you notes, switching it around to your networking in terms of business development, let’s pretend that you are one of several vendors that your particular customer is using, or client.

Peter: [00:44:02] Yeah.

Greg: [00:44:02] Let’s say you’re one of seven. All seven come in and make a presentation. Well chances are all seven are going to send a letter or a follow up. But their normal course of the year, where you may have communication with this client, whether it’s a breakfast, lunch, or just going out meet with him or her… Do you ever send them a thank you note after each meeting? Handwritten note?

Peter: [00:44:27] Right.

Greg: [00:44:28] And then how many thank you notes the client or customer received as a matter of course the business via e-mail? And I’m willing to bet the one that sends a thank you note – it may take longer to do because it’s got to be neat and you’ve got to compose it and you can’t race or cross-out in a thank you note – but which one will the customer or the client remember?

Peter: [00:44:56] And it goes back to what you said earlier. How are you different from your competition? And in a lot of times it’s just the little things that make us different from our competition. If we think about what probably everybody else is doing, then do something different to stand out.

Greg: [00:45:15] Now I’m going to make a reference to a movie which we all remember: Wall Street.

Peter: [00:45:20] Yes.

Greg: [00:45:21] With Michael Douglas and… forgive me.

Peter: [00:45:24] Charlie Sheen.

Greg: [00:45:25] Charlie Sheen, OK. Charlie Sheen. Now we all know about the ruthlessness that Gordon Gekko displayed in the movie. So let’s talk about the beginning. Charlie Sheen… what did he do to get the meeting with Michael Douglas?

Peter: [00:45:43] Oh you’re killing me here. I don’t remember but I love the movie.

Greg: [00:45:47] He knew what his birthday was and he knew that he liked cigars.

Peter: [00:45:53] Ah. Yeah. Yeah. He did his homework.

Greg: [00:45:57] He did his homework and went the extra mile.

Peter: [00:45:59] Right. Right, Exactly.

Greg: [00:46:02] Now do I suggest people do business with a Gordon Gekko? No, not at all.

Peter: [00:46:09] [laughs]

Greg: [00:46:09] But what I’m saying is look how driven the character Charlie Sheen portrayed was to earn the meeting.

Peter: [00:46:22] Right.

Greg: [00:46:22] Granted, it’s a movie. It’s not real, but the principle is real.

Peter: [00:46:29] Exactly. It is. How are you different, be driven, be passionate, accept no…

Greg: [00:46:41] Be sincere. Because if you’re are what I call plastic, and camouflage what your true interest is, that will be short lived. I look at every client relationship as a war and every transaction is a battle. I’m greedy. I’m a capitalist. I want to make as much money as I can. I want to complain about paying AMT.

Peter: [00:47:03] [laughs]

Greg: [00:47:03] I want to complain about that. But the point is here’s what I tell everybody I work with: If you put the client – your candidate, consultant, employee, whatever you want to refer to him or her – and Robert Half first, and your wallet last, you may lose the transaction, or the battle, but you will win the war. If you put your wallet first, where that guides you through your decision process, it’s going to skew it negatively. You may win the battle, but you’re going to lose the war.

Peter: [00:47:38] Right.

Greg: [00:47:39] So when you your when you are out there asking or developing… We keep using the word passion in this conversation.

Peter: [00:47:50] Mhm.

Greg: [00:47:50] But you’ve got to be genuine and sincere, and the client will pick up if you’re phony.

Peter: [00:47:55] Yeah.

Greg: [00:47:55] So service the client. Earn their right to do business with them.

Peter: [00:48:01] You know Greg I learned a lot from our first conversation that we had a while ago. I’ve learned even more today. You just have so many great pieces of advice, and some of it might be old school, which is fine, but it still works

Greg: [00:48:18] Hey, I’m old.

Peter: [00:48:19] [laughs]

Greg: [00:48:19] I’m an old guy too.

Peter: [00:48:20] And you went to school.

Greg: [00:48:22] That’s right.

Peter: [00:48:23] But you know they’re still relevant today, and I know my audience will take this knowledge that you have given them and run with it, in order to make their businesses grow. Because that’s the key. And if you’re new to business development, take these tips and use the knowledge that Greg has shared with us because it works. It absolutely works. And Greg I can’t thank you enough for taking time out of your day because I know it’s a very busy day, because I can hear the office in the background buzzing and humming and going. To take the time to share your knowledge with my audience, I greatly appreciate that.

Greg: [00:49:07] Peter, I was thrilled when you asked me the first time and, if you remember that beer commercial, it was I believe a light beer of some nature. They are all athletes in the picture and they had this non-athlete in the picture, and then non-athlete said I don’t know what they want me doing here but I’m happy to be in the picture.

Peter: [00:49:27] [laughs]

Greg: [00:49:27] And when you asked me to do this, I said I’d be thrilled but I don’t know if I’m going to… you know if you want me to I’d be happy to. But I loved doing it the first time and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it again, and hopefully it’s not the movie where the sequel is worse.

Peter: [00:49:46] [laughs]

Greg: [00:49:50] But I’m flattered, and I mean that with the most sincerity, that you asked me to do this.

Peter: [00:49:55] Well, Greg, you’re more than just an average guy by far. And the sequel, I think, will outperform the original one. I enjoy our conversation and I look forward to our next one because I will have you back on it again in the future. The topic: it’s what you know, and maybe take it from a different perspective, but I can’t thank you enough. I’ve enjoyed our conversation. I know my audience will enjoy it as well, and I look forward to our next.

Greg: [00:50:31] Well thank you. And Peter, I’m going to give you a plug because what you’re doing is remarkable and I hope that your audience only expands. But I will tell you every week I read for your Tip of the week. And I hope that others read it as well.

Peter: [00:50:49] Thank you very much Greg. I greatly appreciate that.


Peter: [00:50:56] I would like to thank Greg again for taking time out of his schedule to give us his thoughts on how important networking is in growing your business. Remember, are you working for your clients or are they working for you? It makes a big difference. In episode 53, I interview Cathy Paessun, who’s the executive director for the Central Ohio Diabetes Association. This is a very insightful interview that discusses the warning signs of type 1 diabetes and the latest research on finding a cure. Thank you again for listening and remember to use the principles of improvisation to help you grow your business through networking.


Production & Development for Improv Is No Joke by Podcast Masters