Interested in Creating Distinction in your life? Scott McKain is my guest this week on Straight Talk Radio. We talk about what’s important to you and your business in this segment.
If you’d like to hear the show click here: Scott McKain on Straight Talk Radio with Chuck Gallagher
Below is a transcription of the show:
STRAIGHT TALK RADIO with SCOTT MCKAIN.
Tired of traditional talk? People pontificating about this or that? The left or the right? Sometimes the truth is just off lost in the noise. Having learned life lessons the hard way, Chuck Gallagher, international speaker and author, cuts through the noise to share truth through transparency!
Nationally-known guests talk about what’s important to you – your life, your concerns and your success. So tune in, turn on to Straight Talk with Chuck Gallagher.
Now, here’s your host, Chuck Gallagher.
CHUCK: Well, we’re in for a ride today here on Straight Talk Radio. Hi, this is Chuck Gallagher and we’re here to discuss issues and ideas that can transform your life. It is time to cut through the noise and get straight to the point about issues that you care about and today we have a great show lined up for you.
Every choice has a consequence, and sometimes, well, we can’t always see the consequences ahead because of the realities of what seem to be in front of us. I recall in 2006, a dear friend and mentor of mine, Benny Garrett, said that if you want to be the best, you need to view what the best are doing, and that was really smart advice and advice I took to heart.
Then two to three years later, another incredibly gifted speaker shared with me the following. She said, “Chuck, they’re not likely going to remember you name after you speak. No offence, but you’re not Zig Ziglar, so you have to do something that will be memorable in the minds of your audience.” Now, I have to admit, I wasn’t really excited about hearing her say that, but it’s the truth. And then she came up and said, “Why don’t you enter your presentations in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs?” Now, my first response was, “Are you kidding?!” I mean, I thought that was just ridiculous and then her comment back was, she said, “Look, if it doesn’t work and you bum, everybody will bum once.” But she said, “The reality is you need to do something that is distinctive.”
Now, for those who are listening in and may be unfamiliar, I speak on ethics and from a unique perspective. I have acted unethically, not something that I’m proud of, and as a result of that, I spent some time in federal prison. So, she was right; the orange jumpsuit and handcuffs concept kind of fit, but what she was really saying was, “Chuck, do something distinctive.” And my guest today is Scott McKain and if anyone knows about creating distinction, Scott does. In fact he wrote the book entitled Create Distinction.
Scott is a founder of the consulting and trading company that explores the role of ultimate customer experiences in creating enhanced client retention and revenue. He’s the author of three Amazon no.1 best sellers, all teaching how to expand profits, increase sales and engage customers. His book, Collapse of Distinction, was named by several major publications, such as the Miami Herald, The Sacrameno Bee and over 30 more, as one of the top 10 business books of the year. So Create Distinction is an absolute great book and what we’ll be discussing today.
Scott is an international speaker who’s been to more countries than I can list and I imagine that the passport probably is renewed more often because of all the stamps, and a member of the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame. So to help us to answer some of those pesky life questions, I’d like to welcome my friend and guest, Scott McKain. Scott, it is great to have you on the show.
SCOTT: Chuck, I’m honored that you would ask me and it’s great to be with you. Thank you for giving me that opportunity, I appreciate it.
CHUCK: Well, it’s my honor and I have to say, being on radio, good golly, I love to hear your voice.
SCOTT: [laughs] Unfortunately, I have a face made for radio, so it’s good to be with you on radio.
CHUCK: Well, now, now, I’m not sure that’s true because you wow the audiences, but look. I’d love to start the conversations about your Amazon best-selling book Create Distinction, but first, I’ve got to ask you to share with our audience a bit about your background. Now, I know I don’t know it all, but I know you’ve done radio, you’ve been a film critic, you’re an author, an international speaker in high demand, so can you describe a little bit about your career path?
SCOTT: Well, Chuck, for me, I was just so fortunate. I grew up in a very small town in Southern Indiana and I got involved in a student organization, the FFA, the Future Farmers of America. The FFA had speaking contests and leadership activities that I got so interested in and involved in, and became state president of Indiana FFA, which meant I took a year off college to travel and speak. The next year I was elected to a national position, then took another year off college to travel and speak. So at the end of those couple of years I’d spoken to high school assemblies and [05:13]clubs and Lions Clubs and adult meetings, and Chamber of Commerce banquets and had literally done a thousand free speeches and was getting invitations from folks, “Hey, will come back and speak for our meeting?” So I worked my way through college traveling around giving speeches, worked through the college that I went two for a year as their director of annual giving and it’s a kind of a side story. I made $12,000 a year to be director of annual fund for the college and we increased the giving in one year by $400,000 and they offered me a raise to $13,000 a year.
CHUCK: Oh, no! Are you serious?
SCOTT:[laughs] I swear! Yeah, and they said, “What? It’s a big raise! It’s a thousand bucks!” “You know, if I’m going to work that hard to make somebody that much money, maybe I ought to be working for myself.” The local radio station where I had worked a little bit in college had an opening and they said, “Work for us on the days you don’t have speeches,” and it was midday so I could get out of there at 2 in the afternoon and get some work for a banquet. Back then, mostly banquets were what I would speak in to. So they gave me a chance to build my career. I went to full time in November 1981 and I have been traveling and speaking to all different types of groups in all different types of situations full time since that point. And then, another story when you ask about being an author, they asked me to come back to speak at the national FFA convention and there’s 20,000 people in the audience and they’re having me come back. It’s such a great honor and Zig Ziglar was also on the program. Believe it or not, Zig said, “Well, Scott, do you and your wife want to go out and get a bite to eat?” which, I’ve always said, it’s been like a little league shortstop and Derek Jeter rescue. [laughs] We both like to talk. So we go out. Yeah, and Zig says, “Scott, I’ve looked, I don’t see where you’ve written a book,” and I said, “Well, Zig, I haven’t, I haven’t done that. I haven’t written a book.” Zig says, “Yeah, I know what you mean. I haven’t written any books either!” My wife and I kind of looked at each other, “Oh, my Gosh,” and he said, “Yeah, I’ve never written a book. That always seemed too daunting of a task,” but he said, “I get up every morning and I write a page or two. And after about four months, they tell me I’ve got a book!” [laughs]
CHUCK: No kidding!
SCOTT: And I got up the next morning and wrote the first two pages of what became All Business Is Show Business, my first book that I wrote.
CHUCK: Oh, that is absolutely awesome.
SCOTT: That’s how being an author got started for me and it was such a great inspiration to have Zig Ziglar be the one to say, “Write a couple of pages a day.” So I just keep on keeping on. I’ve been so fortunate. I worked with so many terrific organizations and folks want me to come back and speak to them again. And then the chance to be just a student to learn and to find out from great organizations how they do it and to study them and to study the ones who used to be great and are and to examine what other folks are writing and all of that has just been a great ride, it’s a great blessing.
CHUCK: In your book, Create Distinction, tell me a little bit about the motivation to write that book.
SCOTT: Everywhere I was going, Chuck, I bet you’ve experienced the same things at the meetings you were addressing, everybody was talking about the book Good to Great.
SCOTT: It was like that was the gospel. It was like everything in that book was golden and it started striking me because I read the book and there were parts of the book that I thought were absolutely fabulous, but there were other parts of the book that I really questioned what was being said. Let me give you an example. One of the things he says in the book is, “The people on the bus are more important than where the bus is going. Get the right people on the bus first.” Well, to me, that just struck me as being ridiculous. I mean, the right people don’t get on the bus if they don’t know where it’s going![Chuck and Scott laugh]
SCOTT: I mean, you and I wouldn’t get on a bus if the front of it said ‘somewhere’. We want to know where the bus is going before we get on the bus. Part of that just struck me as being really kind of silly, and then I started looking. In the book he says, “There are 11 great companies.” Of all the research they did, they found that there were 11 great companies in the world, but his model of retail is Circuit City!
CHUCK: Yeah, and that doesn’t exist now.
SCOTT: Yes, God! His model of great financial management is Fannie Mae. If you look at the companies that he selected, of the 11, 6 of them are out of business or have been acquired, few of them are really what you call category leaders. For example, Walgreens is one of the great companies, but if you look at the stock price, CBS has done much better over that period of time than Walgreens has done, more profitable, more exciting in how they manage, so what I realized, is it great, is it good enough to grow your business? There’s got to be something beyond just being great.
I started studying and researching it, the companies that are distinctive. It’s the companies that find a way to stand out in the marketplace. And, Chuck, that even works with individual professionals. How do we find a way as an individual professional to stand out and make a difference? I just became fascinated by that and started studying that and researching that and trying to understand that in today’s world of hyper change and hyper competitive marketplaces, what would it really take to create distinction in this crazy time?
CHUCK: I think that’s really profound and, Scott, before we finish the first segment and go to break, I know there are a lot of business examples in your book and I get the clear impression that the principles that apply in work, in business, also apply to work in your personal life. Did you intend the book to actually work on both fronts?
SCOTT: You know, Chuck, one of the things I believed for a long time is that what works in business works in our personal life and vice versa. In other words, if clarity, which is one of the cornerstones of distinction, is important in our professional life, right? In other words, a business has to be pretty clear about who its customers are and what it’s trying to do. I don’t see why that’s such a bad deal in our personal lives to be clear about what we stand for or about what we won’t stand for, or about what’s important. It seems to me that organizations lose business when they get away from their clarity and people lose something in their lives when they get away from clear definition of what’s important.
CHUCK: Well, you hit it perfectly as we get ready to go into break. This is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio and my guest Scott McKain. Stick with us on Straight Talk Radio.[Commercial break]
CHUCK: This is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio and if you’re just joining us, my guest is Scott McKain. Scott is an international speaker, an author, a man who is a thought leader when it comes to creating distinction. Scott and I just began a conversation on his book Create Distinction, and one of the things that we were talking about as we went into the break is the fact that it actually works on both fronts.
Scott, today there’s a not only change taking place but it seems to capture the attention… In some form of fashion, everyone needs to figure out how to differentiate themselves somehow. I’m amazed at what has changed in the past five years and, quite frankly, it’s kind of hard to grasp how dramatic the change will be in the next five. So from your perspective, how are people dealing with change and creating distinction so they can be found or recognized?
SCOTT: Well, I think they’re having a very difficult time, Chuck, and I think part of it is because everything is sped up, as you mentioned. The pace of change is unbelievable. I did a blog post the other day and it kind of struck a nerve for some folks, I guess. I posted it, “Think of how the pace of change is currently and today is the slowest it will be for the rest of your life.”
CHUCK: Wow! That’s a mind-blowing thought.
SCOTT: It’s amazing because it’s faster this year than it was last year, and it’s going to be faster next year. We can pretty safely predict that the pace of change is not going to be declining rapidly. One of the critical things, I think, is that it gets back to that clarity thing that we were talking about earlier, the important cornerstone of clarity. And part of why that’s so critical is is that as times change as tools change as technology changes. Our values shouldn’t. Maybe we enhance them or expand them, but I don’t know that we need to be changing those. That’s part of what we have to define in order to create distinction personally and professionally.
CHUCK: That makes a lot of sense. You mentioned clarity and I know you have several cornerstones, but I want to go backwards for just a second because in the very first chapter of your book you say, “There are three destroyers of differentiation.” So, talk to me a little bit about that.
SCOTT: Yeah, as we looked about what pulls organizations and individuals back to the pack? What makes it so hard to stand out? The three that I was able to identify is no.1, copycat competition. So, if I’ve got a drycleaner’s and I look down the street and there’s another drycleaner’s. They’re open until 8 o’clock and I’m closing at 7, I think I better copy that. And if they start doing shirts for a dollar and I’ve been charging $1.29, I think I better copy that. But what also happens is, they’re looking down the road at my business and they’re saying, “Oh, he uses green chemicals where we don’t! We better copy that. And, wow, he’s giving all the kids that come into the store a sucker. We better copy that!” [15:21] from the customer’s perspective is that we become pale imitations of each other. You’re making harder for the customer to find anything different about us, but here’s the other aspect of it. Sometimes we spend more time worrying about our competition than we do our customer. The distinctive organizations really are concerned about what the customers are doing and how they can help out and serve where the non-distinctive organizations just worry about keeping up with who the competitors are within their specific industry.
The second one is, you kind of alluded to it, in terms of the pace of change, it’s that the Internet has brought unbelievable numbers of new competitors to the desktops and laptops and even the persons [16:01] in pockets are our customers. I mean, I can pull out my smartphone right now and order just about any product I want from Amazon or other retailers, have it delivered by FedEx to my house tomorrow morning. One of the things that I outlined in the book is the company that made my favorite cologne discontinued it in the United States, but you can still buy it in Asia. I can go to strawberrynet.com and order this cologne and they can deliver it in two days from Singapore.
CHUCK: I’m not getting this.
SCOTT: At the same price I was paying by driving to the mall! So if you can order your cologne as easily from Singapore as you can to drive down to the mall and get it, what happens in a world like that?
And the third is, my mama always told me growing up that familiarity breeds contempt, but with all due respect to Mom and moms everywhere, the problem is that’s not true. Familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, familiarity breeds complacency. In other words, the more familiar that we are with something, the greater likelihood is we’ll take it for granted. We do that in our personal lives, we do that in our professional lives.
We just had a situation with our car dealer where we’ve bought most of our cars and you could just tell they were asleep at the switch. They took our business for granted. Now, theoretically, you’d say, “Wow, the lifetime value, this customer’s really strong. Those are the people we really need to impress.” Instead, they thought, “Gosh, Scott and Tammy will sit here and wait. Let’s go over and make sure we take over these new customers because we don’t want them to get away.” And we ended up having an inferior experience by a place we’ve done a lot of business simply because they took our business for granted.
So if you put those three together, copycat, competition, increased competition because of the Internet, familiarity breeds complacency, each one of those is tough, but they work synergistically to create what we call the ‘collapse of distinction’.
CHUCK: You bring up three separate things and yet each of them are very… It’s interesting and disruptive. No.2, whatever you talk about the Internet, if you went back, I’m going to make it easy for me, five years, especially if you went back 10, if you’re an old guy like I am, 10 years doesn’t seem like a long time, but in Internet world that’s an amazing period of time. Today, you sit and you look and say, “Gosh, if I’m a brick and mortar store, I absolutely have to differentiate myself somehow because the ability to buy whatever the product is being sold can be found fundamentally anywhere online.”
SCOTT: You’re absolutely right, and how stores relate that, too. Maybe you saw, a mutual friend of ours posted on Facebook a day or two ago that he walked in to Best Buy and he was looking for something and they said, “No, we used to have that, but I don’t think we’ve got any in stock,” and then just stopped. Then he said, “Well, what would you suggest?” and the gal just kind of shrugged her shoulders, “I’m sorry, can’t help you.” Now, what she should have done, obviously, is to say, “Well, you know, we don’t have any in stock currently, but come over here and let’s take a look, we can go to bestbuy.com and order it and we’ll FedEx it to your house tomorrow.”
SCOTT: The guy walks out the door, now he tries at the Apple store, now he goes online to Amazon. [19:29] completed the purchase, the fact of the matter is he’s going to find one. Part of what has to happen in business today is we have to look at how we can be of assistance to customers, not just how we can create more transactions because we have to transcend transaction. What can we do to really make a difference? I think that works in our personal lives as well. Chuck, you’re an example of that. What can you do to make connections that are so compelling that they can truly be of assistance? Whether that’s a customer, whether that’s a personal friend, a business relationship, whatever it is, it’s just the way it’s supposed to be.
CHUCK: Scott, you talk about creating specific points of differentiation and it seems to me, like you were saying, it kind of applies to business and individuals. I was speaking to a group of students about four or five weeks ago, and I asked them the question, “What are you doing to differentiate yourself in order to compete in the job market?” I looked at these young people and they looked at me like I had two heads! What am I talking about? It struck me. Here’s this group of seniors getting ready to graduate in we’ll call it a fairly tough job market. It’s certainly better than 2008, but it’s not 2004, and they’ve got to do something to differentiate themselves and create their own distinction or they will be lost in a sea of thousands of people who are looking for the same job.
SCOTT: So true. A part of the thing is, we ask the wrong question when it comes to that. In other words, a student enters the job market and basically what they’re saying is, “Hey, hire me! Here’s my resume. Hire me!”
SCOTT: Businesses go to the marketplace and say, “Hey, buy from us! Here’s why you should buy from us!” Well, that’s not the question that the customer, the business or perspective employers is asking themselves. Instead, a student should be thinking about, “How am I going to answer this question? Why should we hire you instead of someone else?” And the businesses should be answering the question, “Why should a customer buy from us instead of our competition?” We don’t answer that question, we want to bring our own facts and figures to the marketplace and not really consider what the people on the other side of the table are asking.
CHUCK: That’s absolutely correct. I remember sitting there and looking to myself and say, “How many of you have Facebook?” Of course, the majority of the room raise their hands. Okay, great, you’re there. “How many of you would hire what you see on your Facebook page because that is your resume?”
SCOTT: Oh, wow.
CHUCK: You think it’s on a piece of paper, but if I’ve got the drunken pictures of you and I’m trying to hire you for a financial position and confidentiality is an issue, you just disqualified yourself.
SCOTT: You sure did.
CHUCK: Then I said, “How many are on LinkedIn?” Not as many, of course. “How many of you have a blog?” I think everybody probably would have a blog, you’ve got something to say. Very few raised their hand, but, yes, what you said is absolutely the truth. If I’m an employer, what makes John Doe more attractive than Jane Doe? Aside of who they are as a person. And the answer is, “What are you contributing? What voice do you have? What are you doing that says, ‘Listen, my voice is meaningful and I offer value’?” And it’s so easy to do that today and so many people look past their way of creating distinction.
SCOTT: So true, so true, Chuck.
CHUCK: We’ve made it to the second break and this is happening far too fast for me.[Scott laughs]
CHUCK: This is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio. My guest is Scott McKain and we’re talking about creating distinction. When we get back, we’re going to talk about three levels of differentiation and Scott’s four cornerstones to create distinction. So there’s a lot ahead, stick with us on Straight Talk Radio.[Commercial break]
CHUCK: We’re back with Straight Talk Radio. This is Chuck Gallagher and my guest is Scott McKain, an international speaker and an author, a thought leader on creating distinction. Scott’s an Amazon best-selling author, and we have been talking about his book Create Distinction. By the way, let me mention, you can sign up for his quarterly tips on creating distinction by visiting his website, scottmckain.com, S-C-O-T-T-M-C-K-A-I-N.com.
Scott, you have what you’ve called three levels of differentiation. Let’s talk about that.
SCOTT: Sure! Chuck, in the book I related to laptop computers. Let’s say we’re going to go in and buy a laptop. Well, as you walk into a store, you would see a bunch of what I call the bottom level. Think of a pyramid and the base of the pyramid is that level called ‘saneness’. So, I would walk in and see an Acer, you see an Asus, and you see a Gateway and a Fujitsu, and I look at those and what’s the difference?
SCOTT: I mean, why would you buy an Acer over an Asus? I don’t know! If I can’t tell the difference between them, then I’m naturally going to make a choice based upon price.
SCOTT: To be a customer, I have to make a difference creation. That’s the only way I’ve got to make some kind of decision. Well, if everything seems to be the same, then I’m going to focus on price.
But if you move up the pyramid, then the middle section is what I call ‘differentiation’. Now, differentiation means that there’s something about you that customers are going to perceive that’s different. So Sony with the violin, and the Dell that is made to your order and your specifications, and HP with all the printers and peripherals, and Samsung really has moved up from saneness up to differentiation.
Then you get to the highest point of the pyramid. That’s ‘true distinction’. Distinction in some ways, our buddy, Joe Calloway, has a book called The Category of One. Distinction is that one, it’s that pinnacle point where if you look at these companies farther down on the pyramid, they’re marketing hard, there are selling hard, they’re pursuing prospects to turn them into customers. When you get to the point of distinction, you’re attracting customers to do business with you by how distinctive you are, what you stand for, what you are. So, obviously the top is Apple. It amazing to me. I had a guy a while back that said, “Well, they only have 8-10% of the marketplace, depending on whether you include the iPad,” and I said, “Yeah, but have you seen latest studies? Apple has 92% market share of laptop computers sold above 1000 bucks.”
SCOTT: So who do you want to play the game? Do you want to be at the bottom, fighting it out over zero margins and 500-dollar machines or do you want to be at the top with the highly profitable business? One of the things you’ll find, too, is you become more and more distinctive, price becomes less of an issue, and customers are attracted to do business with you because the consistency of how you do what you do and a number of other factors, but I just know in today’s marketplace, I’d rather be Apple than Acer. In other industry it’s pretty easy to define it as well. Southwest is a distinctive player of airlines. Starbucks is a distinctive player in coffee. Nordstrom is one of the distinctive retailers. You find these organizations that have followed through on the four cornerstones that we’re going to talk about and it’s led them to a point of really standing up in the marketplace.
CHUCK: You’re absolutely right! It’s kind of fascinating just to watch people’s behavior and why you make choices that you make. I recall back in 2006 or 2007, I don’t remember the year, but it was the time when you were a speaker, you had a video, it was a DVD.
SCOTT: Yeah, right.
CHUCK: Who cares about that these days, but nonetheless, I went out and I was trying to find out how do you get it edited and so forth, and good golly, the prices were ridiculous! Someone said, “Well, have you tried a Mac?” and I’m like, “What are you talking about?” They said, “Why don’t you just go to the Apple store, check out the Mac and see how easy it is.” They’re expensive, but in comparison to paying somebody one time to edit a DVD, it was cheap!
SCOTT: Yeah, absolutely.
CHUCK: And then once you get connected, everything I have is Apple. Why? Because it’s easy and they have consolidated everything so they become so distinct, it’s all pre-packed in a way that everything works with each other. What a great place to be! No, everybody won’t spend over $1000 on a computer, but for those of us that aren’t as concerned about price would rather have a really wonderful experience. You just don’t get any better.
SCOTT: No, you don’t. And it’s interesting too, Chuck, that points out a change that we’ve seen culturally in society. For example, when we were kids, part of who we heard about in history were the inventors. It’s was the Thomas Edisons and the Alexander Graham Bells, the Eli Whitneys and the inventions that they created. Now if you think about is, what we’re valuing are not the inventors but the innovators. In other words, Apple didn’t invent the cell phone, but the iPhone changed everything. Starbucks didn’t invent selling coffee, but they sure changed everything. Southwest didn’t invent the airline business, but they sure changed everything, and so finding the way to make it more convenient, more accessible, more engaging, more of an experience to customers – that’s what we’re celebrating now more than the actual invention of something new.
CHUCK: I agree and I think the key word that you mentioned is experience. Now, you and I both are baby boomers, so here’s a reality check. For me as a baby boomer, one of two things will create the buying choice. It’s either, A) Am I going to get a really profound and positive experience? And if I am, I don’t mind spending the money. Not an issue. If on the other hand, I am not going to get a profound and positive experience, if all I’m doing is getting a commodity, then I’ll buy at the lowest price or the most convenient way.
CHUCK: But it’s one or the other so either I’m going to be, or the business will be a commodity business, which fundamentally that’s Walmart. Nothing wrong with that, they sell lots of commodities. Or is it going to be Apple, which is the experience business? And either model works as long as you know. And this goes to one of your four cornerstones, with clarity, what business you’re in?
SCOTT: There’s an old story, I’ve seen it attributed to Sam Walton, I don’t know 100% that it’s, maybe it’s just a legend, but there are stories about a conversations that he had and how he knew Walmart was going to make it, and he said, “Sears was trying to be everything to everybody. The problem with Sears is they want to have low prices and they want to carry all the brand names, but they want to have their own brand names and they want to be the cheapest, yet they have to pay the high rents to be in the malls.” They didn’t know who their no.1 customer was or who their target was. They were trying to be everything to everybody, while on the other hand, Walmart was really clear about who [chuckles] they were going after, who was important to them, and that has made all of the difference. I find that fascinating because it certainly worked for Walmart. It’s like you say, distinction doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got the big price and I think sometimes we think that when we refer to Apple or we refer to Starbucks. You don’t have to be the highest priced. Walmart is absolutely distinctive in what they do. They just have a different approach and that’s part of why it worked. They have a very different approach.
CHUCK: In your four cornerstones of your book, the first one you mention is clarity and we’ve kind of danced around that a little bit, but in short, what does that mean to you and how does that apply in the real world?
SCOTT: Clarity means that you know where your flag is planted in the ground. You’re not trying to be all things to all people. I couldn’t find any distinctive companies that wanted everybody in their target market. I mean, if you want to buy a tuxedo to go to the prom or to go to a wedding, you’re not going to go to Walmart because that’s not what they do.
SCOTT: If you want to buy a nice watch, Walmart isn’t the place. They don’t care, that’s not their market! They’re very clear about who their market is. And the same way with Apple. If you want the cheapest computer or the cheapest phone, then you’re not part of their target market.
One of the things that I found was clarity means you’re not only absolutely crystal clear about what you are, you’re just as exact about what you’re not. You’re willing to say that this is not in our customer base, this is not who we are and that’s absolutely critical. But what we find with most businesses, and particularly small businesses, is they’re so afraid to say no and walk away from a customer, potential customer, that they’re trying to be all things to all people, therefore they dilute their clarity and the problem is you can’t differentiate what you can’t define.
CHUCK: That’s true and, Scott, I believe in transparency and there’s a good side and a bad side to that. The bad side maybe is, I out myself from time to time, but I remember so distinctly when I began my speaking career, someone asked me, “What do you speak on?” and my response was, “Anything that you want me to speak on as long as you’ll hire me.”[Scott laughs]
CHUCK: I said it kind of jokingly, but the reality was, at the very beginning, that’s when it was, if someone said to me earlier, “Be who you are and be distinctive and be clear about who you are.” Except the fact that you’re not going to be Jeffrey Gitomer, you’re not going to be Scott McKain, so if someone wants a sales presentation, although I may feel comfortable in that, that is not my niche. I need to allow it to go to someone else because that keeps me crystal clear on who I am and who my target market is.
SCOTT: Isn’t that funny, Chuck? We tend to run from our own uniqueness. We see the value of other people stories and discount the value of our own many times.
SCOTT: Companies love to tell, “Look what Apple did. Look what Harley Davidson did,” but within every company of success, I guarantee you, there’s some compelling story that’s there that they’re overlooking just to be able to tell somebody else’s story. So I really encourage organizations and individuals to search for, to find what’s unique about what you do, how you do it, why you do it. All of those are absolutely critical to creating distinction.
CHUCK: In your book, the second cornerstone you have is creativity, and you quote Randy Gage and here’s the quote. It says, “Creative people generally are self-motivated, independent, delighted by novelty, risk takers, tolerate ambiguity, deeply involved in their work, avid readers and world travelers. These characteristics provide creative people with a very rich diet of stimulation,” and that’s a part of his quote, but the question I have to ask is, what if you hear all of those attributes and think, “That’s not me!”[Scott laughs]
CHUCK: “Am I screwed at this point?”
SCOTT: I just love that quote by Randy. I’m so glad you picked that one out, it’s a great quote and I think you don’t necessarily have to be a world traveler. You have to do some of the things that he’s talking about. So, for example, in today’s world of the Internet, like we were talking about, man, I consider Crothersville, Indiana, where I grew up, read the New York Times as easily as somebody in Manhattan. I can feed myself a rich diet of stimulation, no matter who I am, where I’m from, or what my level of current affluence may or may not be. I have access to more information than any other time in human history so I can put myself on a rich diet of stimulation. Through YouTube I can see what it looks like to be standing in Tiananmen Square in China. I can see what it’s like to ride the elevator up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Through these kinds of things, I can enhance my own creativity that might help me in so many ways to create distinction for myself and come up with creative ideas that can establish how I’m different as opposed to everybody else in the marketplace.
CHUCK: It’s fascinating the world that we live in. Even today, you and I conducting this radio show, you’re in one part of the world, I’m in another part, Jessica, our producer’s in another part. It’s fascinating what we can do and how today… What’s the right way to put this? It’s easier to be creative today because of such access to things that link us together that 15, 20 years ago didn’t even exist.
SCOTT: So true. It is amazing when you think of it. The comedian Louis C. Kay had a bit that was on and you can find it on YouTube, and he’s talking about being on an airplane and thinking about realizing he’s in a chair in the sky.[Chuck and Scott laugh]
SCOTT: I know, it’s just really amazing this world is that we live in today. Rather than complaining about, “My cell phone’s slow,” he said, “If it’s going to space, give it a minute.” [laughs] We need to just appreciate a little bit more some of the amazing things that have occurred in our lifetime and take advantage of it. I mean, I have this people who say, “I never get online.” I’m not saying you’ve got to spend your life online, but for goodness’ sake, some of the great things that you can read, that you can see, the things you have access to. And once you do that, I think it makes you more creative in terms of the ideas that you’re going to bring to your business, to your life, to your lifestyle. It’s just so exciting in so many ways, it just depends upon how we look at it.
CHUCK: Well, it really is, and of course, at the same time it’s disruptive in odd sort of ways. I remember when I was eating breakfast the other day, my wife said, “What are you doing?” and I was sitting there and looking at my cell phone and said, “I’m reading the paper.”[Scott laughs]
CHUCK: I may not have a reason to want a paper, physical paper. I just like the fact that I can go on the cell phone and look at USA Today and find out what’s happening in the world and which, by the way, is ad-free so I don’t have to be concerned with that. Although, if you’re an advertiser, that does cause some angst because the world is changing there. And that kind of connects to the third cornerstone, which is communication. Share some of your thoughts on effective communication.
SCOTT: I tell a story, Chuck, when I just moved away from Indiana and moved to California, and I get a call from my home school in Crothersville, Indiana, a little, tiny farm town, just north to Kentucky. They said, “Hey, we’ve got this day that we bring all the teacher in and it’s the day before the students arrive, we want to get all the teachers together and have a real positive way to kick off the school year. Would you come back home and speak for the teachers?” I was honored to be asked, thrilled to do so, but terrified at the same time, because at that time my third grade teacher was still teaching. [chuckles]
CHUCK: Oh, my goodness!
SCOTT: I don’t care how old you get in [39:32] in your life. You stand up before your third grade teacher, man, you are a third grader all over again.[Chuck laughs]
SCOTT: I was nervous to get up in front of her, so I did what we speakers do. I prepared my opening, I’m going to ask the audience a question to get it started, so here’s the question, “What is the single biggest problem in education?” Now, I anticipated their answers. They are going to say, “Discipline of the kids, drug and alcohol [39:55] in the schoosl, and governmental funding for our programs, getting parents more involved,” so I had a little answer for every single one of those, so I get up in front of my teacher and the rest of the teachers, I ask the question and she says, “Scott, the single biggest problem in education today is Sesame Street.” [laughs]
CHUCK: Sesame Street?
SCOTT: I think it’s a great program. She said, “Scott, who taught you your ABCs?” And I said, “Miss Elliott, you know that’s my mother, my grandmother,” she said, “Yeah, but for the last 30 years, though, kids have been taught their ABCs by Big Bird and Bernie.”
CHUCK: Oh, my goodness.
SCOTT: “And therefore they arrive on the schoolyard step, their very first day of formal instruction, expecting to be entertained as they’re [40:39].”
SCOTT: I’m still learning from my third grade teacher. So what it means in terms of communication is when we think from a business standpoint, from any kind of standpoint, the audience that we’re addressing, customers and prospects, colleagues, employers, they expect an experience to be a part of the process. They expect a narrative, not a recitation of facts and figures. It doesn’t mean that they don’t want the information, it means that how we convey the information is dramatically changed.
So what we found out about distinctive professionals and distinctive organizations is it that they had mastered the art of story-telling. They can convey the critical information in an engaging and interesting story that, A) not only did the audience remember, but B) they were also able to relate to their friends. So it enhanced referrals, it enhanced retention, it enhanced engagement, all of the kind of things that every business looks for.
CHUCK: That makes so much sense and today when you look across the marketplace, the distinctive companies, the companies that certainly are attracting attention to themselves have become masters of using social media, Internet, YouTube, etc, to be able to tell those stories. You can even see it in the commercials today.
SCOTT: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Commercials now are more of a vehicle to tell stories. For example, there’s a funny commercial that Budweiser’s doing. Did you see when they ran on the Superbowl and the gal approaches the guy in a bar and says, “Are you up for anything tonight? You want to have some…?” and then he says, “Yeah!” They have arranged this whole thing, this whole reality thing. For example, he goes into this room with her and there’s a guy in there waiting to play ping pong. It’s Arnold Schwarzenegger![Chuck laughs]
SCOTT: And he plays ping pong with Arnold Schwarzenegger and the wall falls down. One Direction’s on stage. He gets on stage with them. It’s just mind-blowing. You’ve got a little snippet of it on the commercial, but then you go to YouTube and you watch like an 8-minute version of his night, then they have different parts of the night where you see the whole time with Arnold, which is like a 10-, 12-minute thing. Once you’ve got playing around on that thing, all of a sudden, you’ve spent half an hour watching a Budweiser commercial.
SCOTT: Right? But they engage you through a compelling and powerful story. That’s distinctive communication today.
CHUCK: We’re running short of time to end the show, but I want to focus on a couple of things. No.1, you say the last cornerstone is customer experience focus and I know that you have a new book, soon to be released, called 7 Tenets of Taxi Terry.
CHUCK: Tell me about Taxi Terry and how that relates to your customer experience.
SCOTT: Taxi Terry is the perfect example of the customer experience focus. He’s a cab driver in Jacksonville, Florida, that absolutely blew me away and amazed me with how he treated me. A quick example, I’m waiting there to be picked up with a cab, but this guy pulls up, jumps out of his cab, points at me and says, “Are you ready for the best cab ride of your life?”[Chuck and Scott laugh]
CHUCK: Wow, are you serious?
SCOTT: Yeah! That’s how he started the ride. Chuck, think of the millions of times that we’ve been in a cab and it’s basically, “Umh, get in. Get out.” It’s just crazy, it’s how he created the expectation of what was to follow. What if every time we walked in a store, we were made to feel like you were going to have the best retail experience of your life, or whatever the business is?
There are seven basic things that I learned from that cab ride into how he ran his small business, but the main point is if a cab driver, one guy with one cab and one tab, if he can change the game how you feel about an industry, I’ll never look at a cab ride the same again. If he can do that in his business, then you and I and all of your listeners, if we don’t do in ours, what’s our excuse? There are ways that each of us can create an ultimate customer experience and that we can transcend transaction and truly create distinction for our customers and for ourselves.
CHUCK: I have to say this, Scott, as we wrap things up. I want to encourage everyone who is listening here to Straight Talk Radio, pick up a copy of Scott’s book, Create Distinction. Let me also encourage you to get on the pre-distribution list for 7 Tenets of Taxi Terry. Now, I can’t wait to read the book and you’re right, Scott, if you’re a taxi cab driver and you can create a change in the way people see things, how powerful is that? Not only for him and his particular market, but you’re transmitting that message literally across the world. It’s the power of one, the power of that person to create change that really makes distinction, not only for himself but for the experience.
CHUCK: You can find Scott’s books at amazon.com or pick them up in a book store near you and I’ve got to say this, if your organization is planning a powerful meeting that seeks a truly inspirational presenter, one that earns standing ovations time after time, visit Scott McKain’s website, scottmckain.com, S-C-O-T-T-M-C-K-A-I-N.com. I’m sure Scott or Shelley would welcome the opportunity to talk with you.
Scott, thank you so much for joining me and to all our listeners, thank you.
SCOTT: I thought you were going to say, “If you’re looking for a great speaker, Chuck Gallagher isn’t available.”[Chuck and Scott laugh]
SCOTT: Because you’re not going to have a [46:31], my friend. Any time we can work together. It would be a great thing. So much for having me on. I’m grateful for that. Hope I get a chance to do it again.
CHUCK: Well, I’m sure we will and for those of you who are listening to Straight Talk Radio, transformational talk radio to live by, join us next week for more. This is Chuck Gallagher and remember every choice has a consequence. Here’s to the power of positive choices.
You’ve been listening to Straight Talk with Chuck Gallagher. Tune in each week on transformationtalkradio.com, each Monday at 2 p.m. Pacific, 5 p.m. Eastern, as Chuck Gallagher, international speaker and author, cuts through the noise to share truth through transparency. Nationally-known guests talk about what’s important to you – your life, your concerns, and your success. Visit gallagher.pcgdev.com for more information and turn on to Straight Talk with Chuck Gallagher.