Our guest today: Todd Cherches and co-host Adam Leffert
How you can leverage the power of visual thinking in leadership and in life
My cohost Adam Leffert and I will be interviewing Todd Cherches.
Todd is a consultant, trainer, executive coach, TEDx speaker, keynote speaker, panelist, professor, author, blogger, and thought leader in the field of leadership and visual thinking.
Recently he published his book Visual Leadership, which teaches you to leverage the power of visual thinking in leadership and in life.
This is part of Feisworld Podcast’s Meeting of the Minds series, which I started at the beginning of the pandemic. I’ve been live streaming my conversations with these teachers and influencers so you can see the complete and unedited footage.
It’s been a great opportunity for me to learn and connect with so many colleagues and friends!
Todd Cherches on his new book Visual Leadership with Fei Wu and co-host Adam Leffert.m4a – powered by Happy Scribe
Feisworld podcast helps independent creators live their creative and financial freedom. I’m your host, Fei Wu, and I’ll be taking you through a series of interviews with creators from around the world who are living life on their own terms. Each episode is packed with tactics, nuggets you can implement origin stories to make listening productive and enjoyable. We’re not only focused on the more aspirational stories, but relatable ones as well. We also have none interview based miniseries releasing throughout the year to help Deep dove into topics such as freelancing, marketing, even indie filmmaking that will benefit creators like you.
Show notes, links and ways to connect with the guests are available on Feisworld.com. Now onto the show. Hey, guys, this is Fei Wu and welcome to Feisworld podcast livestream. We have been streaming these conversations with our guests because they’re so brave. They’re my guinea pigs and I absolutely love it. So if you want to follow us live, which means before you hear these edited episodes, definitely find me connect with me on social media everywhere under Feisworld, F-e-i-s-w-o-r-l-d.
So let’s talk about today’s guest. His name is Todd Churches, and he recently wrote this book called Visual Leadership with just one L. in the Middle. And what is this book about? It’s about leveraging the power of visual thinking, leadership and in life. So that’s right. It doesn’t matter if you’re a sweet person, a senior manager, or you are mom, dad, brother and sister. You know, this is a book with methodologies in you.
Not really clear thinking that’s going to benefit you in life as well.
So it Todd is a professor, by the way, because that, you know, he has taught in NYU, which is New York University and Columbia leadership classes, as well as his Cooper workshops, where he asks participants to call out the first word that comes to mind when they hear the word leadership. And so many people immediately blurt out vision. And when asked to define what they mean in the context of leadership, it tends to be all about a leader having a mental image of the future, a picture that only they can see of an idealized future state that is different from and better than the current reality.
Now, this book has a lot of graphs because it’s visual leadership. I do recommend that you get the physical book. There is a Kindle version as well. So metaphorically, I actually asked my partner Adam, whether he was listening to the audio book and he pretty much made fun of me and said, come on, you know, this is about visual leadership. So what I love about this book is that you can approach, you know, work and life challenges through the lenses of a few things which I consider as a framework and the foundation of the book and Todd’s teaching.
And these lenses are visual imagery and mental models and frameworks, metaphor and analogy and visual storytelling. Todd breaks down what he means by each and how you can get started any given day. And what I realize that quite funny, after this conversation I had and cohosted with Adam Leford is that, you know, Adam and I started to talk about these world lifestream YouTube with visual storytelling, in fact, because I was in the process of purchasing a home, you know, at some point I had questions for interests and interest rate mortgages and was so helpful to be able to break that down and visualize it by picking up a pen, not trying to be perfect and draw that out.
And visual thinking and visual practicing, in my opinion, is just so helpful. You know, I’m not sure about you guys, but as a creative entrepreneur and you don’t have to be a creative entrepreneur to do this, any business or side hustle that you have, you will find that really interesting and easy to plan things out. So right here in my office, when I’m recording this intro right behind me, there’s a whiteboard. And I just love the process to buy a whole bunch of really colorful markers and be able to plan my week, my day, my week, my month, my quarter, my year.
And I go through that exercise, you know, regularly. And sometimes I run out of room. And what I do is I try to take a picture before I raise the board or I look to my right. I have a lot of these three on paper that you put on the wall. If you have ever worked in corporate America or corporate in general, you know, there’s a lot of those markers and paper on the wall. And I have integrated that into my home office.
And I absolutely love for me drawing things out, writing things out and then visualize them is just at the core of what I need to do. And in fact, whenever I feel chaotic or running out of time and, you know, or strategic thinking, I really tend to exercise that right things out. And this book will give you structures and ideas and things that you can leverage and trust me, is going to make you not just sound smart, but act really smart and be very action oriented at work.
So check it out. And I can’t wait to hear your feedback. And I really hope you enjoy this conversation. And there’s a lot of energy in the room between all of us, all three of us. If you like this format, please do let me know. I look forward to hearing from you if you’re using anchor where we’re hosting this podcast, please know that you can drop a message directly. A voicemail and I will get that and it will give me some reactions, so I’ll see you at the end of the episode.
And without further ado, please welcome Todd Churches to the first podcast, Lifestream.
Really excited to be here with my friend Todd Todd, I didn’t confirm your name is churches, correct?
Yes, just like more than one church. So.
So here with Todd, as you can see that behind him. That’s his newly released book called The Visual Leadership. I have a copy right here with some of my notes. Got a lot of questions. But I’m also here with my co-host, Adam Lefort, who is a freelance scribed on that web developer, has done a lot with me here at Feisworld Media. We’re live streaming now on Facebook, both on my personal page, my company page, also Twitter, Sojo Periscope, my new YouTube channel focused on these conversations so.
Well, welcome, Todd. Welcome, Adam.
Thank you so much. Great to be here with you.
All right, so, Tom, I’m excited that you wrote this book, had a lot of fun reading it, and the one thing that jumped right out at me is you think your lovely wife, your parents, and thank for a lot of horrible bosses and you even dedicated that chapter and they inevitably just have to flip right to that thing, which so Eye-Catching is a love letter to all your horrible bosses. I hope they’re watching this share. And I’m excited that.
Why why did you want to thank them?
Well, I try to put a positive spin on the horrible negative experience so many of them in my life. But to be honest, without those horrible bosses, I probably wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today and I probably wouldn’t have all the the stories that I use in my classes and workshops and then the book. Yeah, I mean, most people are thrown into management positions without any training. Right. So you’re the best sales guy or saleswoman. You’re the head of sales.
You’re the new you’re the top I.T. person. You’re the head of I.T. Now. It’s a completely different skill set, as you know, to manage and lead people versus actually do the job. So Harvard did a study years ago. They found that most people get their first management type of role when they’re in their late 20s, maybe early 30s, but they don’t, quote, earn the right to go through any kind of leadership training or development or coaching until they’re in their 40s.
So you need to earn that. So what does that say about people managing and leaving in their 20s and 30s? They’re just winging it right now. Most people manage the way they were managed. And so you’re you’re it’s like parenting, right? If you’re a parent and you just parent the way your parents, that there’s no really master’s degree in parenting. Right. So and because of that, there’s so many people who literally do not know what to do.
So when I was first a boss, I figured, oh, now it’s my turn to the boss people around basically. Right. Tell them what to do. So I learned the hard way that having a bad boss can really make your life very miserable.
Absolutely. And I think we’ve all been there. And that’s why, you know, this message resonated with so many people. But what I also love about your book, the way you structure that is you have sort of this exercise and reflection at the end of each chapter. And I read what you wrote down besides a love letter, is what did you learn from your best bosses? What did you learn from some of the worst ones? And there was a section that was really touching to me because years ago I did the same thing, which is having a horrible boss log that you can track on a daily basis, because I was instructed by one of my supervisors to do that.
And I said, OK, who is this for? Is it who do I show it to? He’s like, no, you don’t show it to anybody. It’s just for you. And it’s just fascinating to be able to reflect on that. And like you said now and by the way, I welcome you to use me as a as a guinea pig or whatever during this conversation as you choose to, because I notice one thing about how I lead in front of a very small organization here.
I Feisworld Media how I talk to people, how we interact with them, including my virtual assistant, my producer slash editor based in Sweden, working with Adam as well to realize that what I need to do and how to have that conversation, you know, when you’ve had bad boss. One of the chapters I read in my book is about the boss who threw a box of pens in my head because they were the wrong ones. And that’s the story that always resonates with people because they’re like, I can’t believe you actually experienced that.
And one day after, like, I started keeping this log of my abuse log just to document it just as a sanity check. And like you were saying, keeping a journal is something I advise all my students and coaching clients to write things down, get the ideas out of your head onto paper while it’s cathartic and it’s clarifying, but also to look back on on your journey and see where you’ve come from and how you’ve grown and questions, answers, thoughts, ideas.
They once confronted my boss. I went to our office, I said, because I was having a nervous breakdown. I literally said, you know, if we could communicate better and I really want to do a good job, if we could just communicate better and get along, I would be more productive. You would be happier, as you said, and I quote, Quit whining, you little bitch. Get back to when I had your job.
I was treated like shit. And now it’s your turn. And if you don’t like it, I can replace you tomorrow. So how do you deal with that? It’s like that’s that’s the direct quote. It’s embedded in my memory because it was so like I thought you would say, oh, thank you for talking with me. I would love that. Lets me it was the exact opposite of that. And this one, boss, the irony of when I had that interview and I won’t mention what TV network that was at, but it has the C, A, B and An S and its title.
But I won’t name it and I will name my boss. But I left that interview saying I was single at the time. I said I don’t know if I met my new boss or my wife because this woman is unbelievable. She’s amazing. And then I got hired and I was so excited. One week later, my life was a living hell. So, you know, you just never know because one of the metaphors I use and we’ll talk about metaphors shortly is the iceberg.
Right? When you first meet someone, it’s just the tip of the iceberg and you’re making first impressions based on what you see. It’s not until you dove beneath the surface and you see what’s down there that you really discover the truth. And the truth was she was not a good person and she was a horrible boss. So but, you know, you live and learn. And I learned a lot. And she gave me many stories to to tell all these years later.
Yeah. Adam, have you had bad bosses?
I definitely have. While you were talking with that, I thinking as a as a software developer, architect, it’s a little bit different. I don’t want to distract the conversation to talk too much about the tech world. I’ll say briefly and then I do have some questions. Frankly, in the tech world, it’s about not micromanaging as I was thinking about bad bosses. Yes, some were just bad people, but really the vast majority of people trying to direct little details that they don’t know anything about, but more as far as shared experience goes, bringing it back to that, I was kind of waiting for you to talk more about the book, which having read is, of course, about how to be successful at work, but also how to be joyful.
So one of the questions that came up as I read the book is you talk about not only how to succeed, how to be happy while you’re at work, but have you seen visual leadership used either for emotional intelligence or in personal relationships? You have any experience or faults around that?
Yeah, I mean, we all have a vision of how we want our life to be. In fact, years ago I went through a workshop at a company where we actually they brought in like hundreds of magazines of all types. We literally had the pictures out of the magazines and create a collage of our life. You know, what kind of house did you want? What kind of relationships developed? What kind of dog do you picture? How do you picture your wife, your life?
So Freudian slip, how do you picture your wife? But it’s like what was your what’s your vision of the future? And then if you don’t have a vision, like, how do you make your dreams come true? Right. So it’s like some people go about their life just which is fine. There’s not judgmental, but you just take things one day at a time. But I think a lot of us have a picture of how we want things to be a world, if you think about it as it relates to leadership.
When you talk about leadership, I mean, I’m doing this in workshops, I’ll say, what’s the first word that comes to your mind when you hear leadership and the word vision tends to come up, if not first top three. And what does it mean to have a leadership vision? What does it mean when you say someone like a Steve Jobs or an Elon Musk is a visionary leader? They see the future in a way, right. They have a picture in their mind’s eye, which is a term coined by Shakespeare in Hamlet and their mind’s eye.
They picture a future that is different from and better than the current reality. And the classic example of that is Martin Luther King. Jr.’s, I have a dream speech. He didn’t say I have a PowerPoint presentation. I have an Excel spreadsheet. I have a 500 page strategy plan. He said, I have a dream. Right. So we all have a dream. And it’s about making our dream a reality. And that’s what visual thinking starts with, is about.
How do you picture the future and then how do you make that future a reality? And that’s in our personal life, but also in our work life.
Yeah, well, I think the reflection I was thinking, you talk about learning from your own mistakes, people talk a lot about learning from their own mistakes, but also I think you can observe mistakes from from others as well. Leadership is a great example. But as I was reading the book, I always remember, the most current event I’m experiencing is how shopping I’m touring a lot of homes, a lot of open, open houses. And it’s a it’s an experience that, you know, growing up in China and I know you’re familiar with that story is amazing.
We got to get to that, is that there really wasn’t a lot of opportunities. House, houses and homes were smaller and we didn’t really have an opportunity to go to some of the American style open house. So I learned a lot about how to shop for homes in the short three to four weeks, because when you visualize something like that on the the iceberg, the iceberg is the picture you get on Redfin, Zillow, whatever. It always looks amazing, at least most of them.
Then you get to it, you get to inside. You know, they greet you with tea. Not these days, but you just get this great feeling and then you come home. You’re like, oh, no, AC wait a minute. This house is built in seventeen hundred. I love I love old homes, but I didn’t realize oh I can’t touch this, I can renovate that and things are breaking. Oh now I got to fix something and now I need the city city hall’s permission in order to renovate.
So all of a sudden it just gets deeper and deeper and deeper. And the more you see the more I realize it was such a phenomenal learning and educational experience that I really learned what I love in this case, what my mom would love it. Very cool, yeah, so so think about the future. I’ll tell you when to zero and there was no picture. You would just be going by the facts, right? The text, the text and the numbers.
Right. Here’s the information. And here’s all the square footage and the price and everything else. Then you add a picture to that and all of a sudden you have a visual of what that house looks like. Right. And then you picture one of the different rooms look like. So you’re almost creating it. You’re actually manufacturing this home in your head, right. Your picture. Then you get there and then you say, all right, does this home fit the picture I created in my head so that you talk about expectations?
Right. So just like that one with a manager, you have a picture of how you want something done. And when someone doesn’t do it the way you envisioned it, I think about the words and vision is to see something. Then there’s a disconnect between expectations and reality, just like when you’re looking at a house. And the other component is when you’re in that house, you say, can I picture us actually living here? Where would I sit?
Where would this be comfortable? What can I change? How would we decorate? Each of these is an example of visual thinking in real life. So that’s the key thing. The great thing about visual leadership and visual thinking of visual communication, we already do this all the time. We think in pictures. We think in metaphors. We try to envision possibilities in the future. But with the concepts behind federal leadership, we start to to it, we have a greater awareness and now we start to do it with more strategy and purpose.
So it’s interesting how you kind of walk through that visual thinking process and then you say, you know, can we fix this? Can I would I be happy here? Right. It’s just I was talking to someone else. Christopher Rainey has an amazing podcast called H.R. Leaders. He interviewed me two weeks ago. He was talking about he used to be a car salesman. Right. Do you sell a car by saying this is the horsepower and how fast it goes?
Or you sell a car by saying, picture yourself behind the wheel on the open road and the top down the hair, the wind blowing through your hair. That’s what sold cars, right? It wasn’t the specs of what’s under the hood. And the classic example of Steve Jobs when he announced the iPod, instead of saying, hey, this device holds five gigabytes of data. He said, what? This holds a thousand songs in your pocket. Right now, techies don’t care about gigs.
They only know what a gig is. But if you say, wow, I can hold my entire music collection in my pocket and carry around with me, that’s cool and amazing. So, again, it’s not the data. It’s not the numbers. It’s the story that the data tell us. We’ll talk a lot about. You know, we’re always telling stories right now. We’re painting a picture with words, but we’re using visual thinking to do that because I’m sure the listeners of the viewers are actually envisioning in their mind’s eye what we’re talking about and coming up with their own stories and their own experiences, their own examples.
Oh, yeah. I remember when I once looked at a house and this is what I felt like. Right. So that’s a great example of house hunting is a perfect example of what we’re talking about.
So I have a question in the book, the principles that you bring up are almost universal. I notice you going back to the Greeks and Shakespeare and DaVinci Einstein. And I have to admit that as I think about sort of imagine being you and then you’re teaching university, working with younger people, your executive coaching. You’re probably working with older people then than the college kids. And I’m wondering, other than just the record scratch example of people who know what a record is, what people people in our nephews who are in their 20s or 30s talk about millennials and attention span.
Do you notice any kind of fundamental, different ways growing up as a digital native on Snapchat, et cetera, from the students versus the executives? Other than just personal differences, are there age differences in how people process visual thinking or what they expect or how they live?
That’s a good point. I mean, digital natives are used to you know, if you’re on Instagram, if you’re on Facebook, you use the visuals, you think visually, you communicate visually. And with the classic example, I just touch on it briefly. But cave drawings existed forty thousand years ago, right? People before there was the written word. Who knows, maybe even the spoken word. People are drawing a buffalo, a fire on the cave wall.
Today we have emojis and emoticons. Right. So if you send someone a heart or a thumbs up, everyone knows what that means. Right? So a lot of times I’ve seen people send the whole message just in emojis. Right. So that’s the modern example of cave drawings. That’s Egyptian hieroglyph hieroglyphic hieroglyphics where pictograms right before the alphabet evolved. So pictures going by Chinese characters. Right. You thought you would know that more than I do. Right.
Is there a visual component to Chinese characters in writing? So what’s interesting is there are some generational differences, but I think it’s becoming more common and more familiar through social media and through the way we communicate now that’s become kind of native. And what’s interesting is why I teach in the Human Capital Management, basically our master’s program in that program, it’s about 80, 70 percent international and about 80 percent of the international students are from China. Right. So if I’m speaking with twenty five twenty eight year old females from China, from Beijing, Shanghai, they tend to come from the bigger cities, but really from all over, I need to think about who’s my audience, what I’m communicating.
If I’m using a baseball analogy, I’m a huge baseball fan. That’s not going to resonate with with with the twenty five year old female from China. Right. So you try to come up with metaphors and analogies and examples of the more universal it could be, dance or theater. It could be nature. Nature is universal. Right. So if I say we’re going to plant the seed for this idea, see what takes root, see what blossoms, and then we’re going to go out on a limb because that’s where the fruit is.
I just use like five trees or nature metaphors. Everyone gets it. But if I say that’s like coming out of that idea came out of left field, that’s like, you know, you really have a grand slam with with that suggestion you struck out on your presentation. If you don’t speak the language of baseball, you don’t know what I’m talking about. So you really need to put yourself in the shoes of your listener, your audience, and modify your metaphors, the examples of analogies to your audience.
So that resonates with them and they get real empathy.
It comes down to empathy.
Exactly. Yes. I love that there’s empathy. Definitely.
And and excuse me. So I I’m curious as well, because I feel like we talk about visual leadership. And you mentioned in your book in particular that you don’t have to be a CEO or senior executive to benefit from the book. And I just shared our live with also the gay group because of Michael Roderic and Esprit for hosting all these sessions. We got to know you and know I think I have two groups of people in my head. I’m going to start with the first one, which is there are a lot of coaches and mentors and in this particular group and but also kind of my community at large.
And one thing I hear about how to be a good coach is one thing, but how to market yourself as a coach that’s very desirable is something else. So people often talk about that. You have to help your clients, potential clients visualize where they are versus where they’re going to be when they work with you. So how would you say tied? Like how could people go about that strategically copywriting on their website versus if we’re just chatting with each other a coffee break?
Starbucks, like, how do actually people how could they go about breaking that down and get better at it?
Yeah, I mean, one of the things that we need to do is like one of my mantras is how you get people to see what you’re saying right now. One of the metaphors I often use in my classes and in my workshops is the concept of the leadership journey. And if you’ve watched my TED talk and if you see my TED talk about the leadership journey, where you have a picture from the inside of a car with a windshield represents the future, right?
We’re looking through the windshield, out into the future. The future is only visible till you hit the horizon. For as far as the eye can see, what’s over the horizon is unknown. Right, because our future is unwritten. You see in the picture, it’s blue skies and and clear day, but you don’t know, it could be a snowstorm, it could be a detour, a detour. You don’t know what’s beyond what you can visibly see with the naked eye.
Similarly, if you’re working with a client, they could only see a certain distance. Your job as a coach is to help them see the world of possibilities ahead. Right. What’s over the horizon and get them to think about that. The other at one other aspect of that image is the rearview mirror right in that rearview mirror. We don’t see any cars behind us. So are we so far ahead of everyone that we’ve left them in the dust or so far behind that we’re not even in the race?
Or how do we even know if we’re on the right road? Right also in that mirror? It reminds us, because what it does, it shows our reflection. We need to as people pull over to the side of the road and stop and reflect. We need to hit the pause button, hit the brake and say, where am I? Are we have Yamura represents how we got to where we are. Right. It’s our past, the baggage, our successes and also our failures.
So how do we bring the past into the future, into the present, so we can learn about it for the future? And the dashboard represents how do you measure success for every client, for whatever you do? You have metrics, performance metrics that are quantitative, measurable, but there’s also qualitative metrics by how do you gauge if someone says to you how how was work today, whether you say it was a great day, a good day or a horrible day, how do you measure that?
Like what is that based on trying to figure out how you gauge how well you’re doing on your leadership journey or your journey of your life, your journey of your career, so you can keep going on what’s in the trunk, what’s in the glove compartment as a leader? When do you drive? When do you have your hands on the steering wheel, the gas and the brake? And when you pull over, move over to the passenger seat and allow someone else to drive?
Right. When you say when do you go in the back seat and say, you know, I’m here if you need me, but when do you serve as a navigator? So just that one metaphor, that one analogy of the leadership journey. Each of us is on a journey, but we’re all in separate cars on this road together. But how do you know where you’re headed? Someone from London or Hong Kong might say you’re under the steering wheels on the wrong side and you’re driving on the wrong side of the road.
Right. So we need to think about is it culturally how does this image translate into other cultures? Right. So again. That’s a long answer, using a visual metaphor of explaining. So as a coach. You need to help people envision the future possibilities, you need to learn and listen to what they want, what they need, where they want to go and help them get there. So that’s that’s what I would say is if you can help people see the future, then they’re going to hire you to help them, to help them get their.
What do you think about I mean, as you are thinking about whether you’re a content developer, app developer or whatever you do, it’s likely to start with you.
I’m so glad you asked that question, because I think a lot of the times in particular women, but men, too. I’m thinking about women of color, immigrants. We tend to have the tendency to not be able to share as much as where we’re comfortable, where we’re really ready to share. We always kind of what’s the word I’m looking for? I guess the question is about how do you authentically and more accurately help people picture where they’re going or where they can arrive at?
Because, you know, oftentimes we see things that are so hyped up all the time on websites. Aren’t people helping other people visualize? But we know it’s unrealistic or were there a lot of fluff like overnight success, seven figures in a month? Like how do you draw that line and that boundary?
As I was looking at your website, some of the words you were using, it was like it’s about becoming right. You’re on a journey. We’re all it’s a process, not an event. Right. It’s a life. It’s transitions, transformations, journey. We come across challenges, obstacles and barriers. Anything is possible, but nothing is guaranteed. Right. Those are some of the words that you used. As I was tell, I did my homework and I was like blown away.
Yeah. So but just there’s a great book that I love. I’ll talk about books in just a second, but the art of Possibility by Bye, Zander. Do you have it.
Yeah, yeah, I have it right here.
So just write them on. We hope to get them on Sunday.
Oh really. That would be great. I love it so that so great great minds think and really like. Right. Exactly. So it’s all about by Rosamond and Benjamin Zander. So it’s all a possibility. It’s like what you can see. And a lot of times, like you’re saying, a lot of people who are not privileged, for lack of a better word, put limitations on themselves. I could never do that. Or that’s I don’t have the experience.
I don’t have the resources. And, you know, you kind of put yourself in a box and you don’t open up the world of possibilities. The story that he opens up with, they open up with the classic one is a shoe salesman goes to Africa, right. And nowhere where shoes. One person says, oh, there’s no market here. No one wear shoes. And the other person says, no on here, wear shoes. There’s a whole world of possibility, unlimited potential.
Right. So it’s the same world, but it’s like, how do you do put limitations on yourself? Would you say, hey, what’s possible? And I was watching your your your amazing Amazon Prime show. And one of the things that Sara Cooper says in that interview that I love, she says, yes, other people have done it, but they haven’t done it the way you do it. Right. You haven’t done it yet. So there are other people out there who do things around visual thinking.
They’ve said that has a book called Visual Leaders and Visual Meetings and Visual. What that does, I could say, oh, I’m not going to write this book because it’s already been done. Or I could say there’s a market for it. And he just covered it from his perspective, which is more about graphic recording. I come at it from a whole different perspective because I come from an English literature major. I majored in Shakespeare and poetry. I have all these life experiences that no one else had.
Bill Nye, the Science Guy, once said, you know, you’re the only one who basically you’re the only one can tell your own story, right? Everyone does. Exactly as everyone you ever will ever meet knows something you don’t write because no one’s lived your life. No one has your story. No one tells your experiences. So you could find a way to put your own spin on things so you can either limit yourself saying it’s been done before by Seth Godin or by this one or that one.
Or you could say, you know what I learned from them and I’m going to take it my own direction and build on that. And so I think that’s the way if you think about reframing is a key word for me. It’s like think about picture of my wife. I have a painting in our house that was her mother’s. And we we’d like the painting, but it didn’t work on the wall. And then my wife got a new frame for it.
And now we love it. Right. By changing the frame, it changes the way we see that picture. And now we love something that we kind of saw the potential of but wasn’t working for us. So if you could reframe something, if you could put the new frame, your own frame around that. Right. So you have this conceptual visual thinking of visual leadership. But it’s my frame. I mean, I’m the only one who can use that frame because it’s my life and my stories.
That painting is now mine. I put my own spin on it. So those are just some ways to rethink things and not limit yourself or not say, oh, it’s been done or it’s been done better. I’ve said the same thing in your interview and many others. It’s like, put your arm out there into the world. Just ship it so long. I held back until I was waiting for the book to be perfect. I was working on it for ten years before I finally got a book deal and had a deadline where it needed to be put out there.
As otherwise, you always say some day and that some day never comes, but I’m curious those limitations. So for me, what you say is inescapable. I mean, I haven’t thought of examples. I haven’t clarified that the names of the concepts. But I feel like when you mentioned visual audio kinesthetically of some, we have some kind of a shared background, whether it’s linguistic programing, those Bandler, those backgrounds I have when I listen to an author, I’m always curious about kind of where the edges of it are, where it doesn’t work, and different people’s responses who may not be so resonant.
So I’m curious. I’ve had this discussion with people and heard people say I don’t picture things I don’t. And so I’m just curious of some so many different ways to have that interaction. If somebody says, yeah, that’s great, I’m not a visual thinker, I don’t imagine stuff. I’m just curious how you would respond to somebody who who felt that way or thought that way.
Yeah, that sounds like a real life example. I was doing a workshop on storytelling for a group of 12 CEOs that’s actually this, almost 20 CEOs. And one guy said, I hate storytelling. I’m really a terrible storyteller. It doesn’t work for me. And I was like, well, why do you say that? And he said, well, one time, blah, blah, blah, blah. I told this amazing story about why he was such a terrible storyteller.
Right. So in everyone, we all looked at each other like, do I have to say, are you guys going to say it was like that was an amazing story. Right. So a lot of times a similar thing is drawing. A lot of times people will say, I mentioned that, oh, I can’t draw. This doesn’t apply to me. When you don’t have to draw, you have to be an artist. And the classic example is you ask a group of first graders how many of you can draw.
They always the hand. You ask a group of business people how many of you could draw? Very few. Raise the hand right over those your lifetime. Have you lost your ability to draw your confidence or it’s just not on your radar anymore? Right. So. The story I tell in the book is how well I was managing that theme park project in China, how I didn’t speak the language, they didn’t speak English, know I started picked up a pen.
So if we needed a hammer or a screwdriver, I just drew it. Then I held it up and they’re like, oh, OK. And they ran to the tool box and got it. Or. And we communicate through pictures. So it’s literally like Pictionary and charades. It was like two words, sounds like this. And we were like miming and hand signals. So you mean I think to answer your question, when people say, oh, I’m not visual or I don’t think in pictures, if you ask them enough questions and examples you find and they find that they do.
Right. If I say to you, you wake up in the morning, right. You look at your calendar, don’t you visualize who am I meeting with? What’s that mean? And what do I need to bring what I need to say? What am I going to wear? Where am I going to have for lunch? You’re visualizing that, right? You’re picturing oh, should I go to the pizza place or should I go to the Indian restaurant?
Right. You’re visualizing what you’re going to do.
So I think in your head, no matter if you’re directing it one way or the other, you know, our brains are just wired visually. It’s like your babies look at their parents or look at the world. Right? So it’s like we’re just visual creatures. I mean, the brain science shows that. So I think for the person says, I’m not visual. My friend Mark Levine out Maui. Hi, Mark. If you’re watching, he said, I’m not a visual person.
He has more auditory, his more kinesthetic. But since reading my book and having this conversations, he’s becoming more visual and more visually aware and more visually literate. I love the idea of visual literacy rate, the ability to use and to decipher and to think visually. It’s a skill like anything else, right? So we have it to different degrees, but we can all be better at it. And it’s just one more tool in your toolkit, right?
Some I say, how are you? Let’s say you get a piece of IKEA furniture, right. How do you put it together? Some people just dump all the pieces out and start putting it together by feel. That’s a kinesthetic learner. They learn through touch, feel and movement all the time while I listen to someone explain how you do it. A visual person like myself, I lay out all the pieces, I picture what goes with before I even touch anything.
Then I start to assemble and you make that blueprint a reality. IKEA instructions come with no test drive. This literally here’s a diagram with some numbers and some arrows and it’s like, figure it out right. That’s what life is. Life is like an IKEA piece of furniture to put together and your job is to figure it out in whatever way works for you. There’s no one right way because you’re giving people choices. Really, it’s a choice to avoid avoidable asshole, which is your word from the book, your choice to interact with somebody of a different age or different culture or a choice in the situation to to leave.
Right. And take that to take that road in a different direction.
Yeah. One of the things that I’ve talked about a lot recently, and this is I didn’t write about as much in the book because it wasn’t on my radar as much. If you look at the the the Rainbow Eye on the color of the book, the rainbow represents diversity and innovation. So it’s diversity, inclusion, belonging, equity in all its forms. Right. It’s like there’s no one, I call it. That’s everyone. So we have a rainbow world with Rainbow Eyes.
The other idea behind its innovation and creativity is the use of color at the use of creativity. Right. The other component is what I’ve been talking about lately is flipping the eye to ways to think about that. One way is turn the eye around you. We talk about visual leadership. It’s about your vision as a leader and getting it out there into the world, flipping the eye as, first of all, using the eye as a mirror to look inward, that your own belief systems.
Why do I think that way? Why do I feel that way? How do these beliefs form? So it’s about basically holding up a mirror to yourself. The other components of the eye, which is more important than ever, is looking at things from the point of view of others who are different from you, whether it’s black lives matter, whether it’s coronavirus in different parts of the country of the world. We need to, with empathy and compassion, look at the world through the lens of others, walk around in their shoes like that.
They stand To Kill a Mockingbird. Right. And so you put those shoes on and walk around them. You don’t know what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling. And even if you do, you still don’t know exactly. But you try to understand it as much as possible. That’s what flipping the eye is all about. It’s about turning it around, looking at things from other people’s perspectives so you could help them make their vision of reality as a leader.
It’s not just about you, it’s about others and helping to to develop the next generation of leaders and helping other people’s dreams come true. So that’s a big theme I’ve been talking a lot about lately.
It’s super important because to be frank, at a very low micro level, I had that reaction when I was at the beginning of the book when you said something like, well, I was getting people to see what you see and do what you see. And I’m like, oh, well, that’s not good. So what you just said right now points to that, that the process of creation is not just creating the thing you’ve imagined, but backing up even back to the circus people that we hang out with the interview, everything call creation, where for a year or two years they figure out what what is it that we’re going to create?
What are the parts, what are the skills, what’s the mood? So it’s a many way process, not just come up with an idea and then force people to enact it.
Exactly. Yeah. And what a lot of people don’t realize about circus acts because we’ve interviewed a lot of people is there’s so many iterations. So if you drew something on a piece of napkin and you don’t like it or you didn’t quite convey the message. You’re hoping for then you have to really do it again and again, it’s part of a daily practice. Like what if Tod I wish I think there should be something branded after you, which is instead of making, like daily journaling a practice, like, what if you draw something?
What if instead of writing or in addition to writing three or four pages, what if you could just draw something? I was I was smiling because I wish I could find a piece of paper. My mom asked me to go to this place here in Boston called Roussos and Roussos, even though is run by like this Italian family business, it has so many kinds of Asian vegetables. We don’t know why it’s her favorite place on the planet. I mean, literally after a doctor’s appointment, she could just go there and feel all better about herself.
But it came down to there’s so many so many vegetables. So we didn’t know how to really write that for me to write down my grocery list in English. So she drew every piece of vegetable like Chinese chives, Chinese bitter melon, like everything with a brush, and it was on a piece of paper. So that’s going to be my visual for Adam Seina. That’s going to be my visual for this episode. Just so powerful and so funny.
My mom’s like, oh, and I try to take a picture. She’s like, I’m an artist. That’s not really my job. I’m like, no, this is immediately without Chinese or English. I understood exactly what she was trying to say to me. So that was my shopping list. I was so proud of it. Like walking out.
Yeah, that’s that’s a great example. It’s like again, words don’t always translate. That may be just one way of communicating, but the picture one time as a company networking event, big packed place, dark flashing lights. I said to a couple of people, have you seen my wife anymore anyway? And they and they said, well, she look like I’m like, well, she’s about this high. And I finally took out my phone, like, this is what she looks like.
Like, oh, yeah, she’s right over there. Like, I spent like five minutes with three people trying to explain what my wife looked like instead of just saying, here’s the picture of her. And they’re like, oh, isn’t that her right over there? Right. So it’s the same thing with your your fruit and vegetables. It’s like, yeah, you could say it’s kind of like this. It’s about this big, it’s this color or you can hold up a picture.
So this is what I’m looking for. Yeah. Real life example. I was once in a restaurant and I needed I love I love ice, which I think is being in China. Right in China thing. I remember I you sound like a pinball machine because something bing bing bing because I like ice and you couldn’t find ice when I was in China. Right. So but I was in the restaurant, I needed more ice and my coat, my Diet Coke and I said to the waiter, excuse me, can I have some more more ice?
And they brought me a bowl of rice. I said, more ice. They heard more rice. So the question that’s one of the stories in my book, Ice Rice. Are my sources ever happened to you? Whose fault is that? Right. So one of the things to think about is the burden of communication is on you as the communicator. If you don’t get what you want or need, you can call the other person stupid. You didn’t understand.
I didn’t communicate that well. Now, if I had held up my glass and I said, can I have some more ice? They would have known using the non the non-verbal visual of pointing to my glass, they would have known. But we filter things because I had already had some ice, a bowl of rice. They thought, I want another one. So again, it’s the power that’s the lens through which we each see the world and how we hear things.
So we all have filters, what we see and what we hear. But it’s our job. And if you could use a visual to communicate, you’re more likely to get what you want and what you need. And for those I like your mother, who’s an amazing artist for the people who’s like, I can’t draw, take a picture. You know, there’s so many other ways to communicate visually. There’s lots of really bad PowerPoint slides out there.
Text based the death by bullet point kind of thing. You can use physical objects, you can use sketches. You don’t have to be a beautiful, amazing artist in order to communicate visually. So, again, remove that. I said I can draw from your vocabulary and just come up with ways of getting people the picture. I talk really fast, as you can tell, even though I’m an extreme introvert, I talk fast aloud to them from New York.
My wife gave me this seashell, which is represents a snail shell to remind me to slow down like a snail. I said it doesn’t work, but I keep it on my desk because our mind is a brief pause and slow down.
I’m also from New York. I am alive. Are we from similar backgrounds? We might guess the first time, so.
Oh, so you’re good. I just quick question. Seth Godin, also from New York. How how could he talk so calmly slow. I like I don’t care if you’re listening or not, but I know you are. And like I that’s one of my favorite books behind you. A linchpin.
It’s one of my favorites. I know that my go tos that I go to all the time for inspiration, for ideas is, you know, some books you read, you put up on the shelf and you never think about again. And there’s others that the ones that some of the ones that are facing outlet are like, what got you here? Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith. Those are the ones that I like when I need a burst of inspiration or an idea I try to keep those for.
And sensor, so tell you, Seth Godin, I mean, that’s a style that’s just who he is. Know my brain moves a mile a minute. I’m coming up with a million ideas example, so I try to pack them all in. He’s much more seasoned and he slows it down. He’s like, so I’m working towards that someday. I hope I aspire to be more Seth Godin. Like, if I have this, this is all my stuff and inspirational quotes I keep on my desk where he says our goal isn’t to touch everyone.
Our goal is to touch someone, to change someone, just one person. If you get good at that, then you do 50, then you do one hundred. But stop worrying about everyone. Everyone doesn’t matter. So I keep this on my desk because again, I’m trying to reach the world, but it’s like it’s one person at a time. It’s one interview is one conversation. So again, Seth Godin, I’ve been reading his daily blog posts every single day for all these years.
And he was like, we’ve been emailing back and forth about my book. I didn’t get a quote from him or Adam Grant. Those are two people, but he knows that I sent them both copies and they got some really nice endorsements from people like Dan paying Marshall Goldsmith, Sunny Brown, some really nice endorsements from top thought leaders out there. So that was really great and very frank about a sort of bad experiences or missed missed chances and things like that.
I think for Seth, I know his speaking style was natural, but I would guess if it wasn’t, he would fix it because you’re so much about other people if he didn’t have a natural style. Some people say being visual makes you talk fast because the picture’s worth a thousand words. You’ve got to get those thousand words out. Yeah, but speaking of difficulty, through your kind of humility in the book, you say, well, these are classic principles, great minds for the ages.
I’m just carrying them. But I’m wondering, even with that authority as an author, what are you find difficult these days like in this part of your journey? What’s still hard for you? What’s challenging for you right now?
Well, I am an extreme introvert. I am a bookworm behind the scenes back of the room kind of guy by nature. So for me to put my ideas out there into the world, partially to the South, Godin’s subliminal inspiration of like, you know, your work is your art. You’re actually doing a disservice from holding it back. Be generous. Ship just the word ship, ship it, get it out there into the world of those as a perfectionist procrastinator, you can wait forever until it’s just right.
It’s never going to be just right. I work on this every time I have an idea. I wrote it down. I had about two thousand without exaggeration, two thousand pages. But I printed out all my ideas, two thousand pages of content that I haven’t narrowed down to a three hundred page book. Right. So what to leave out was rather than to decide on what to put in, but having the confidence to say, like, who am I to write a book?
Who am I to do a TED talk, which I did last year, who am I? I feel an imposter syndrome by. I think we all have it, unless you’re really a narcissist and you’re just know every semester I teach my NYU class at my Columbia class. Who am I to be standing up in front of those room of graduate students telling them, you know, but, you know, I share my story of, like with my students.
I have them. They all speak within the first five minutes of the class. And I say to them, you have all spoken already within the first five minutes of our class, more than I spoke in a class in all my years of junior high school, high school, college and graduate school, because I never once spoke in the class. I never once stood up in front of a class and spoke. And people don’t believe that because they think, oh, you must have been like the class president and captain of the basketball team and this and that.
It was like I was like, get me out of school, get me home, get me to my books. And my dog and I was an athlete, but I was even too shy to try out for school teams. I actually try out for my school baseball team and they made the final cut. But I quit because I was so terrified about being around a failure and being around other kids. And so it took me. So confidence is still something imposter syndrome is still something that I wrestle with.
So one of the things I want to do more is start using video more, having my own YouTube channel. And because every chapter in my book could be a three to five minute video. Right. I could do a each chapter. So that’s on my to do list. So you’re you’re a role model for me in that way and what you’ve done and what you’ve accomplished. And that’s the next step in my personal development, is, one, having the confidence to do it, and secondly, developing the skills to do it.
Well, I’m so glad you brought that that point to like, it pains me to have spoken with a lot of authors and content creators and speakers, in particular people who are, you know, speaking for a living, getting on stage regularly. And when, in your case, you have already published a book and I’m working with some of my clients who are still in the middle of writing them, and I see so many opportunities for them to elaborate, for them to build in case studies in your case, to use your two thousand pages, which seventeen hundred pages could make it to the book, I suggest that many of them could just be videos and you know, it supports your content, your ideas, and you can lifestream some part of that too.
I would recommend if I were to do it all over again before we hit the record button for my podcast. But for you I would livestream as much content as possible. No edit because you’re streaming and then download that video. I would then edit a little bit uploaded to YouTube and then do the proper titling description tags on everybody. Should be every every content creators should be doing that.
Yeah, well my book is finally out again after all these years of working on my new website, Todd Churches dot com just launched last week, so I haven’t even sent out the email blast yet. That’s coming within the next week or two because my company is called Big Blue Gumball. We do management, leadership training and executive coaching. But I kind of with my book and with my keynote speaking, I’m kind of branching out. So I’m still running my company, but I’m building my type churches and visual leadership brand now.
So that’s the next iteration for the next phase of my career. So with that, now that the book is done and the website has launched, the next step is to do everything that you’re talking about that has to start taking my content like I have like folders like this, visual leadership, content articles, interviews. So these are all the this is all the stuff that’s not in the book. And I have piles more. And it’s like every conversation generates a new idea, a new possibility.
So it’s like there’s no shortage of content. Right. It’s just about whether you do it, how do you repurpose it, but also the stuff that was left on the cutting room floor, how that’s that’s a gold mine right there. Right. So I think that’s the key thing is everyone write everything down just so you don’t have to memorize everything. Because if I have to write this book staring at a blank monitor, but when they got it done, well, I was able to do is sort through everything and say the hardest part was to decide what to leave out, but also to have a beginning, middle and end.
What’s the structure? What’s the flow that was part of the challenge. So because the story is I could pump out a blog post every day, but to write a book, how to have a cohesive beginning, middle and end, that was challenging. But I had a great agent and amazing editors and they really helped me to formulate because you can’t do it yourself. I mean I mean, you can. But just to get another visual thinking, fresh set of eyes, someone who could look at it from a new perspective can hold a mirror up and ask you questions and show you things that, oh, I didn’t realize that before.
I thought this was totally clear. But you’re telling me it’s not. I need to tweak that. Right. So that’s why it’s good to have a partner or another. There are someone to who you trust who can give you some positive and also constructive feedback as separating those. I’m not a big GTD expert by any means, but that’s one of the things I took from that was separating Katzir from the other phases, which if you try and if you try to do the sorting, it’s almost like merican.
Also, if you try to do the sorting and the editing at the same time, you try to be getting the ideas out of your bed, it’s slow. And then going back, what you said a moment ago. Where does Fazio fit in? Do you fit in any sort of heroes that we have to reclass that code and Chris Voss, those people, I think showing your work as the book I want you to remember. But that idea, what you’ve just done, showing how you got to where you are, that we all have these aspirational friends.
And the same is true in our most of our lives, is that people that we look at to go, OK, we’re not going to release if you’re not going to be those people. But that’s our North Star. That’s yeah. And then what we are for some people is relatable. It’s like, OK, what we do, we hope that somebody is good enough, that it’s inspiring. Some of whatever we put together achieve is good enough that people will listen and benefit from it.
But we say, hey, you can do this, we did this, you can do this, and they can look at the 20 is and the the the sales force betting office and whoever, they hire people. But if you only look at those guys and girls, women, I think it can be dispiriting if you only put your super high heroes, your temperatures and say, I tried, I couldn’t make it. You might give up. So we try to do that kind of ladder up towards those people using a metaphor.
It’s like, I love the expression, you shoot for the stars, but if you make it to the moon or Mars or Jupiter, that’s still pretty good. Right? So it’s like, yeah, I know this, but I don’t realistically, I’m not going to be Seth Godin. I’m not going to be Marshall Goldsmith. Knock me down pink. But it’s not too bad to be a level or two beneath them or behind them. Right. So like just yesterday, like as I was during my my Fei Wu phase where all the homework yesterday, I had a light bulb go off and this was really I said, what do I I have a model that’s in the book called The Passion Skill Matrix, which asks you whether you’re good at whether you’re great at versus whether you’re not whether you like to do love to do hate to do right when you map it out.
Know, I said I don’t want to be a producer or an editor. I don’t want to deal with the hardware, the software, the strategy, the marketing or the sales. I don’t want to deal with technology or the scheduling of subscribers. All I want to do is show up and do my thing. I’m a content designer and deliver. I will have someone else do everything else. So basically invite me on, set everything up, bring the audience there and let me do my thing right.
So it’s like just that awareness. It’s not necessarily people who are I’m never going to be as good or great a podcast or as they. Right. But you hire someone like say to help you do the things that you can’t do or you don’t want to do, like it’s not worth my time. And but I have so much content, if so many things on my plate. I want to do the things that I’m good at and I love and not I’d rather they say, be the best you you can be, not a second or third rate someone else.
So I think that’s like that was like a light bulb that went off yesterday is like, what am I good at, whether my strengths and what can I outsource? And and so I could do and spend. We all have limited time, right? I mean, I’m over the last night, for example, I worked until four a.m. and I slept like six hours till 10:00 a.m. I’m on I’m a night owl by nature, so I do. Most of my book was written between 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. Those are my key hours of creativity.
So me, I’m going to be me. But someone else, they say I one guy to that day I go to bed at nine p.m. every night I’m up by four. I’m like, great. But so so it’s like, oh, are you available for breakfast meeting? I’m like, unless you’re bringing bagels to my apartment, you know, but you have to learn, figure out what you’re good at, what you like to do, leverage your strengths, eliminate your weaknesses and limitations.
But those other surround yourself with other people who are better than you at the things that you’re not. But you need to be successful. I think that was like a real high. So it’s like for me to collaborate with other people. That’s how I got my concept out there into the world, because I can’t do the graphics and the other thing and the the professional stuff that you do. So when I was we’ll talk. Maybe there’ll be some possibilities of partnering.
Yeah. That’s so exciting. Yeah. So great to catch up with you, Todd. And to kind of dove really deep, you know, the opportunity we didn’t have before into these two to three minute chats and meeting everyone. So getting to know so much about you. And as this video is going live everywhere, as it has been for the past fifty minutes or so, I’ve already included a link to Todd Churches dot com, which is your new website.
The book is right there, and I even included a link so people learn how we actually went live to multiple channels all at once, which is a software I love using Cholerae Stream and very easy, completely non-technical. So very, very cool. So Todd, is there anything that you want to leave our audience with before we wrap up? How do they find you or connect with you?
Yeah, the best way is Visita Churchills dot com. Check out my brand new website, which is just one live, but has now officially been launched. So you’ll be one of the first sign up for my newsletter so you can keep in touch. Let me know what you think. So that’s the main way. Link in with me. I live on LinkedIn. I have LinkedIn open all day long, so I’m always responding, commenting, sharing. So that’s the two main ways.
And then check out my book and if you want to be a better visual leader. We all are visual thinkers, visual communicators, whether we realize it or not. So with that awareness, if you develop these tools and techniques, you’ll be even more effective in getting your vision out there into the world and making your vision a reality.
So amazing. Adam, any concluding comments before we wrap up?
Very cool. I work in that area of how do you use Web sites, multimedia software, even chat bots to teach and learn and give access to that bigger body of work. So maybe we’ll reconnect on that. Yeah, and thanks for bringing that energy. I think when people feel a lack of energy. You’ve kind of told us maybe why, you know, if you’re trying to do something that you’re never going to be good at it. You’re trying to do something that you know is not not going to be your place to innovate.
So even when you’re pretty upbeat in general, even when you have that part, I can feel like you’re being energized. So I appreciate you sharing that with us and with the everybody out there.
Oh, thank you. This was a great conversation. I’m sure we can talk for another three or four hours because we have so many things in common. And but what’s interesting is we’re each approaching this from a different perspective. And yet almost like Ben diagrams, we all meet at the center right. So that’s a great example of like this is not just for some people, this is reality for everyone. And that’s why the subtitle is Leveraging the Power of Visual Thinking and Leadership.
And in life, this is not just for managers. In fact, in my mother read the book, she said, Oh, I thought it would be like a boring business book. And I loved every story, but that’s my mother stuff. She loves everything I do. And, you know, in life, just like with your house hunting. Yeah, we use visual thinking all the time, but if you’re aware of it, then you could be more effective and do it more efficiently and more effectively and get better at it.
Great, this is wonderful. Thanks so much and I’m going to take us offline now. Bye, guys.
Thanks for having me. Susan.
We’re are of life, and I yeah, good job, guys.
Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you for your hard work studying. And I know Daniel Pink talks about like Laerke versus Owl, and I’m definitely an owl personality, too. And everybody and it’s Adam isn’t my mom also try to go to my mom’s totally owl, but she’s like, oh, Chinese medicines. That is bad for you. So by 11 p.m., both Adamson’s asleep and my mom’s like, go to sleep, go to sleep at my house.
You have to go with your own biological rhythms. I’ve been that way since I was a little kid my whole life. High school, college. And that’s just yeah, we all have our. But then I went to see what he was his book. When I first came out, I went to his book launch event and I at the book signing, I intensely waited to go last so everyone was gone. And then he saw that we chatted. I took a selfie with him.
So when my book was coming out, I sent him a picture of us together. They loved our conversation about visuals. I like if I just said to our churches he wouldn’t remember my name. I said that picture of us together holding his book and he gave me a blurb and that’s on my book jacket and on the inside. So it’s just like that was a great example of real life example of using visuals to make a connection and to get someone to connect with you.
So we have exactly the same exact give it a very close thing, a podcast movement on the podcast we went to in Florida last year where I was like, hey, let’s let’s just sit in the front row. Let’s let’s be that guy. Yeah. We went to each of those things, each of the presentations. We sat in the front row, we asked the real question, and then we ran up afterwards. And then we even went as far as to on the show for phase go pro and like, hey, vendor, you’re here to share.
Can you just share like thirty seconds, two minutes of what you’re all about twenty minutes people and meet so many friends. Well there was of course business benefit to it, but they remembered us, we remember them, we still talking to them. So yeah. Just by physically being closer and and piping up.
Yeah. Yeah. It’s hard now because we’re all living online. Right. So it’s like what’s the equivalent of that like. So I joined a number of Zoom discussion groups, one led by this guy, Peter Winnecke, this thought leader guy. I was always intimidated by him in some ways I just attended. I didn’t really say anything. And then we connect. I started speaking a little more. Now, he just interviewed me on his podcast. He did a one hour webinar with me last week.
He promotes me that everyone who read my book. So it’s like I was in. So again, for someone like me who an extreme introvert, this is so far out of my comfort zone to be self promotional and to do those things. And but you got to do and then you have to force yourself and it becomes a little easier over time. It’s still I’m still the same person, but I have to just remind myself that it’s OK to do and, you know, and people appreciate it.
So I got to say is I am as you say, you’re an introvert and of course, I believe you. But being another, frankly, intense person, it takes someone else about five seconds so no one can talk about these words or those words. And you can say that one would be better or worse. But you specifically tied on Zoom with somebody. Fifteen seconds. They know if they like you or not. And they do. And they know if they want they want to buy into the whole thing.
I think that’s the thing. How you stand out is you get on that video call and after that point, it’s it’s it’s all very easy said when it’s on and it’s on.
And so I definitely do respect their time. There’s no worries at all. I can definitely help you plan out YouTube a little bit more. And the fact that digital leadership with a single L could be a hashtag that you keep consistently, you just along with torches, along with your name as a hashtag, but also build upon that things like visual thinking, visual leadership. So you had a lot of good keywords because these are not going to be the most popular keywords on YouTube, and therefore it’s kind of the second tier, the most popular meaning more generic coaching leadership.
These you don’t want to compete. And that aside, second thing I thought you’d most likely already thought about is you are a professor, you’re a teacher. So you have a lot of tools in your toolbox. What if there’s a possibility for you to leverage having a some sort of not one of one of a kind visual mastermind where you coach, you teach people and then kind of force people and get into the habit of visually constructor thinking, visually share and be inarticulate.
So it’s not it’s kind of a both, because now you think about using Zoom, which everybody, the whole planet is comfortable with as part of Zoom. As you know, there’s a whiteboard feature. So or worst case scenario, I mean other I think better whiteboard features and tools that you can probably install in and integrate. But I think right now, I mean, nobody’s doing that from what I can see. So I think you could do that to some of the more high C level C suite people so that have a deeper pocket, whereas you know that you leave your teaching with the college kids, but you could start something with a with a.
Play around a lot of us. I definitely hashtag visual leadership as spelled, but I haven’t but has taken my name, which I will start doing, which is great. And I’m creating a master class, you know, pick my brain. You know, Maxine Cunningham, I actually met her on the 747 dinner three months ago and now she’s launched. She’s based in Vancouver and she has the website called Pick My Brain that’s in Beyler right now. But she’s basically offering a platform for people like whether your coaches, trainers, whatever to post.
So she’s creating like a theater for you to show up. And basically she provides all the infrastructure and the payment plans and everything else. And she has different arrangements. But she’s a really great, interesting person based in Vancouver. In fact, I encourage her to join the gay group. She hasn’t done yet because it’s been so busy. But that’s, I think, where I’m going to launch my masterclass because she has the whole infrastructure set up and I just need to promote it and then do it.
But that’s my plan, is to start having doing more things online because we’re all living on the set in the Zoom world right now. So how do you monetize? That’s my next step, is monetizing what I’m doing because all keynotes were canceled, my book signings were canceled. So all of the in-person real life events had to be canceled. So the next step is to basically create, like both online and in person and also having more passive revenue streams where things are out there in the world, even though I’m not physically doing it.
So those are some things that I’m working on right now, strategizing and and also figuring out what the best technology to use is. Very good to know.
Wrapping up now, we will come back with time because we’ve been also trying to look into those business models really with like the high end small focus group. People will pay a lot. Yeah, sometimes five figures, a person over a period of six months to a year. And this is the next group where you’re part of a special group. Maybe you get to ask questions and then there’s a confidentiality issue. People want to feel private at the high end because seems that I work with.
We’ve been twittering all these knobs and saying we can do the next level down. Some of that sharing can become user generated content. That’s how you’ve been playing with. So that creates a library that people can browse through to get ideas and inspiration based on stuff that other people contribute. So we have a freshness which just to say it drives a subscription model subscription, you’ve got rolling revenue. That has to be enough stuff and it has to be fresh stuff to make people want to stay subscribe.
Yeah. And also I’m expanding globally now because I’m online. So, like, virtually 90 percent of my clients were in and around New York, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, some up to Boston, down to Washington or Florida. But now the whole world is your your market. Right. So you get to I think there’s a huge market in China, as you were talking about, for content. Right. Especially it’s like if you could take a course with an NYU Columbia professor at a frat without paying forty thousand a year for tuition.
But you’re getting the same value and content. I think that’s a pretty cool, amazing offer in the market that Chinese organizations. Right. Because I know that part of your target is organizations. And believe it or not, I mean, I never knew these things existed, but I do travel back to China every single year, with the exception of this year, that I found out that they’re spending huge money, tens of thousands of dollars to hire teachers to come in.
They used to do that only to learn English. But like professional English, these days they’re doing their Six Sigma or whatever I would really like. How much of those are people really understanding and going to implement? But Chinese people love doing for show as well, to be honest. So it’s not just whether it’s effective or not. So whenever there’s like American concept and you could be the leader, like there’s a leadership, sell it with the names.
And these days they don’t want you to go to China. You could do it through Zoom and still collect the money. And then I think it’s very interesting that sometimes this is I’ll leave you with this because recently I’ve been confronted as much as I love Face WorldCom. It’s a journey of my own becoming. I love everything. I spoke with a gentleman who I consider as a mentor right now, very. Who read me said Clark’s book and reach out to say what you shared helped me make my multi, multi six figures.
I want to thank you. I want to teach you a system free of charge. So he said, if I like your work, but really, how the heck are you making money? I’m like, I am. He’s like, well, this is positive deviance, like your people are reaching out to you. But how reliable it is, I’m like, oh shit. It’s probably not that reliable because when you feel lucky about how far you’ve come, like you need a system.
So together we were. So what I was trying to say is YouTube is so powerful because what YouTube has done for me in the short three to four months during the pandemic, people say no love and trust. It has built everything for me even before people got on the phone and paid me a single dime. They already love and trust me. So when I was working with my mentor to say, what if I boldly create something? A lot of my audience are fitness entrepreneur, mostly dancers right now.
Funny enough, I, I talked to three of them. I have another phone call coming tomorrow to say, hey, what if I can feel what if I. I can fill up your class, and that’s a hard thing to do because there’s a lot of competition on Zoom Zumba dance dance classes. When I say I’ll help you fill the class. She’s like, OK, when do we start? She didn’t ask about the prize. She said, you know, I’m not even sure if that’s going to work because I.
I need beta test. She’s like, I want to be beta. When you want to start, I’m like, Carol, I need a week, give me a week. So I think that we need to the confrontation that I had was what if what if Todd is going to build a system that is a no brainer or like Adam’s favorite film, everybody’s favorite film that what is an Al Pacino, a godfather, the Godfather, an offer you cannot refuse.
That’s why men like Scarface and I watch one and two every single year, usually around Christmas time.
I think two things. One is my nephew is like he’s like a everyone thinks the kids are smart enough, like super, super genius, poor guy. So in old days, I used to work on my sleep all day when I was younger. Now I go to bed at 10. Phase mother applauds me in my whatever, whatever. So since I fall asleep so early, the poor kid has watched the first half of Godfather one I fell asleep, second half of Godfather one and all of The Godfather three.
What do you want to put someone on by arguing that God for that Godfather three was the best of the three of them and they kept going on and I thought that was insane. But I was totally putting them on because it was so crappy but so wanted to do.
This is more tactical. Just to put two bookmarks for you for later reference, when you go to do things in China, of course, there are problems other than just linguistic problems, as the Great Firewall problem so far has worked extensively with similar people, which is that Himalaya, because whichever is the Chinese one Himalaya and also teachable, I I’ve found like corners where you can go legitimately to get your content out there.
You just put up a website, they can’t hit it and you can’t use Facebook and they can use Google. So cuttable and they can get in touch with you later will actually let you put things up, try and get paid for to for those situations. But of course, there’s an irony that it’s visual, that trust that comes from being in somebody’s ear. You’re talking now somebody listen to the audio of this. They would still get value and and the warmth.
So at those tax levels, when you get to trying to give us a shell.
Yeah, I mean, the way I envision things similar to the pick my brain, which is why, again, I like Maxine, I you should look into what she’s doing and how she’s doing. But if someone said we set up a webinar, we filled the seats, you just have to the analogy is still right. You build the theater, you build the seats, you sell the tickets. And I’m your star producer director. I come in, I’m the talent, basically.
Right. So if you build that, I will come and you bring in the people. And I’m happy to do a revenue generating, revenue sharing kind of thing. I mean, it’s kind of like if you have that, you can take a lot more for me to figure out how to do this. But everything from collecting money, like you said, if you just talk to the China, the potential is unbelievable to say I’m a three time award winning NYU professor or authoritative speaker get the same content that is Columbia.
NYU students are getting like, you know, for X amount because it’s almost like a license to print money if you have and the quality is great, the feedback I great. It’s great. All my students who end up going back to China after taking my classes tell their friends and they’re like, well, I wish I could do that too. So like just my Chinese students alone are like the people who are advocates of my work over there and the like.
Let me know if you’re ever doing anything like that. So, yes, that’s the next step for me, is figuring out what’s the best way to do this, the way that makes sense that that I can handle technologically. And and look, if you can talk to as a as a starting point, if you could send maybe one of your lectures or one of your webinars to atama me because it’s a link, we can take a look. Maybe I’ll get some ideas from that, you know, whether we can break it down to create courses or something that we can package, you know, a segment of that.
Maybe we can get a little promo video out of that, just like, you know, we’re not going to just take action right away. But I would like to kind of be nurtured by it. And you can take a look. Our friends are classical musicians, created a whole sets of courses.
Crazy what we have done ups.
And and we just I mean, they can tell you we just had in three months a thing she can tell if they’ve run, they’ve been doing they’re running their competitions and company for twenty years, maybe fifteen. And they have an annual not only a concert, but they also have all their fundraising event once a year at Carnegie Hall. And two weeks before that, Carnegie Hall closed down until further notice. They changed the switch, the date to September and now it’s January, by the way.
So they’re not opening up that any time soon. They were panicking. So I really with Adam, support as well. We create like seven online courses for them. We’ve been running webinars. We just concluded that last week the first paid what’s called a. Summer Piano Institute, so kids from around the world, like you said, you’re not restricted to the tri state area anymore, and then they’re going to have another advance session coming up on the twenty seventh of July.
And yesterday, which is yesterday, we did a Parents as Musical Partners webinar was filled. It was like 20 people, all Asian parents thanking them. And now as a result of these webinars, write something for you to consider. They’re now dialing up to, oh, I thought you guys were just courses and content. Now they realize the four instructors from Steinway, Juilliard graduates can also help their kids with college application with lower school like middle school and high school applications.
Whether you should go to a conservatory or not. How do you know what your repertoire for performing? It is just unbelievable.
Like because I do consulting, training and coaching. I do all three of those things. Right. So it could be consulting as an advice coach, training as my webinars. But also a lot of my business is one on one executive coaching with senior leaders. And the big thing right now is one of the themes that everyone’s hungry for is managing and leading in a post pandemic world football world. How do you manage people and lead them when they’re at home?
How do you not micromanage them? How do you inspire and keep people motivated? Right. So like real life example, I just I did this the other day. Yeah. This is the model I describe for my book, The Passion Scale Matrix. Right. So I literally pull up a flip chart right here and, you know, draw in real time and teach it as if I’m in the same room. And all the things I like to be able to do is like I have my surface.
I like to be able to draw on the screen. So it comes up and I saw the post for it. What is the or something like that.
Yeah. You got to work with.
I thought that was so amazing to be able to do that. And so that’s the technology that would work perfectly for someone like me. Right. So yeah.
Grab your grab Democrats. Adam, one of Adam’s clients, and Adam and Steven Shapiro knows the founder so and then so you can get approved even sooner.
OK, cool. But yeah, that’s the type of thing like if you if you really want to like I’d be happy to talk about like just like what the the courses that you just created. That’s why I need this. And the work you do is so high quality, the production values, the stuff you’re in, the whole other level, you know, a level of success, how many other people are doing stuff is very amateurish or whatever. It’s like, it’s like how do you do that to look slick and well produced.
And because I don’t have the skill set that would take me forever to even try to learn that, you know. So if you’re willing to partner and they take my concept of my skills and what I’m good at and just basically package it, I think there’d be a lot of potential there for us to work together.
Yeah, well, definitely take a take a look at that. And and also, like, you don’t need everything to be a Amazon Prime documentary. So for me to have my livestream unedited, which we were on then I have my YouTube videos with some teaser intro outro, but still not that much money. But you can get your YouTube videos edited and done between fifty to one hundred dollars. And and then my documentary, to be honest, is like an eighty thousand to one hundred thousand without paying myself.
So you really you can have different levels and that is social proof for people to say, wow, you know. Oh, speaking of which, last but not least, do you have a speaker real or do you have a do you have a speaker consultant. Real? Idun Yeah.
Yeah. That’s something I need to do is I have a lot of samples. I have a few. Like if you go to my Vimeo page just for churches or Vimeo, you’ll see samples of some of my some of the things my TED talk is the main thing that people look at, because that’s again, there’s the the the social proof and credibility of having done the TED talk. I was I my second one in May, but it was canceled because of COBA and Post until next year.
So I’ll have to telex talks. But yeah. So even something like that, it’s like I need to go again. Now the book is out, is taking the book to the next level. But like I said, it’s like I could do, you know, every chapter of the book, how being a quitter can make you a winner. That’s a three to five minute. I mean, each of these could be an hour or two or more.
But just to do five minutes snippets or the the models, each of the models is literally like a 90 minute workshop that I teach in my classes or my webinar. So the power dial, the passion skill matrix. And when you make it interactive and experiential and use the whiteboard in chat room and breakout groups. So I’ve been doing because I literally had twenty four hours to shift from teaching my NYU class and Columbia classes in person to online. So I literally had to learn the Zoom technology.
But then also think about how there’s certain things that we did in person translate in the Zoom world and not everything’s one hundred percent. Some things I needed to find replacements for, but overall it was really successful and and you can showcase really easily. I mean, this is what I was trying to tell you anything. I just happened to have done a speaker real for Natalie Nixon. She’s not a current client of mine, but she reached out to say, hey, this is something I need.
Do you do things along that line, I’ll send it to you just for a laugh, because you can instantly get to know someone within like like a minute. So that’s super helpful. That was obviously very on point. There’s just two things I want to mention to Todd. One is the style will be different, but Fey produced an ad for introduction for Barry, the really cool looking thing for Abi a couple weeks ago. It’s a little different, but I feel like there’s such a similarity where when these are better, Carnegie Hall is teaching live on Zoom.
It’s very touchy feely, very emotional. It’s a young want to be supportive. We don’t want to be the Russian lady hitting you with the ruler. So I can’t draw versus I can’t play the piano. Yeah, you’re kind of similar. Of course, the Sound of Music would be different, but that video that Fey is going to find is just really good. All right. Great. Cindy? Yeah, it’s really good that.
Yeah, this is a great example. Definitely. I’ll send it out to you right away.
We don’t have anywhere near time to get into it. But I have to think about a lot. When I read your book, you and I can talk down the road about just the vast breadth of what you’ve put in the book, even that you say that’s 10 percent or whatever, making that discoverable. You and I create something where somebody could say, OK, I need something. Now, you know, all of these, frankly, dozens to hundreds of concepts, ideas, anecdotes.
Give me something I can use that’s relevant to me in this moment. That’s not so fair. Approaches it one way and it’s good night. So the approach of another way software, but has to be useful. How do you how do you service those things in a way that’s more than tags and getting the next part.
Yeah. Yeah. It’s like could it be an app, could it be, you know, something where you look, you do a model a day or you have a fifty two weeks, fifty two miles each week you do one thing and there’s some of the ways the content is here. And again this is just a fraction of it. So repurposing it, it’s the potential is unlimited. And the feedback I’m getting from people of it started again with friends and family.
But now I got a fan letter from Singapore last week. I was from Sydney, Australia. So it’s nice a number from the UK because I was on the podcast over there. So it’s nice that it’s really resonating with people and getting a lot of, you know, because everyone kind of put your own spin on it really applies to whatever you do. So I think that’s it’s universal in that way. So, yeah. So I’d love to explore the possibility, the idea of possibilities for visual.
Yeah, exactly. There are there are platforms that are good for that type stuff and we’re all about what’s practical. So in that case, like this is what people use for, of course, content. We can help you do what you can do yourself, whichever you like better. Then for Stephen, I did something which is more reference. I can show you that people love it, but it’s kind of like, that’s nice. I want something more active, something like that.
I’m right about being proactive in the book. So we’re currently working on something which is just the chapter where you talk back and forth. You describe your problem and it tells you, hey, have you looked at it this way? It’s like when you have time, I can show you that which is work in progress, frankly, because I want to make more money. So the first thing that’s beautiful, I like it. You want to pay for it?
Not really. Yeah, it’s cool. But we want we want like what can we get people to open up their wallets like Faye and the other things like I want to pay you for this. How do we generate revenue for off for authorities and authors.
Right. Well, that’s the thing. It’s like the potential the number of apps and possibilities. It’s unlimited. So and what happens is when you’re overwhelmed, if you’ve ever read the paradox of choices in times, but when you have when you have when you see to have too many choices, you don’t do anything. You get paralyzed by indecision. And that happens to me all the time when it comes to technology and software, things like that. So to me, it’s like simplifying complexity.
It’s like, here’s my book. How can I create a webinar and fill the seats, it’s as simple as that, right? So all the other things are nice to house, but what’s the what’s the biggest bang for the buck? Because, again, I’m already working 20 hour days. And so the next step after August, I’d like to just catch my breath. I have not had a vacation in two years, so I’m just like about to explode or pass out.
So I might just slow things down. So I guess it’s just about doing some podcasts, strategic planning. But then after September that I’d like to start say, what can I produce that will generate revenue? So but I think this is a good time to just have this conversation. Absolutely. What’s possible and simple. And like we said, can we turn this out and get a webinar out there into the world and a couple of months? That would be perfect.
Yeah. So good to get jail time.
Yes. Thank you so much. I’m going to be talking to Helena in a couple of days. I’ll tell.
This episode of the First World podcast is brought to you by First World LLC, our marketing service agency created for independent creators and businesses. We offer website development, video production, marketing, mentorship to people who want to tell better stories, level up and create a profitable brand. These were a podcast team. Our chief editor and producer, Herman Silvio’s associate producer, Adam Lefort, social media and content manager Rose de Leon, transcript editor Allena Almodovar. And lastly, myself, the creator and host of Face World.
Thank you so much for listening.
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