The following is a transcription of Voice of Bold Business Radio Program 62: Trust and Influence

Program Notes Can be Found Here.

Transcript of Program 62 – Trust and Influence

Jess: You are listening to The Voice of Bold Business Radio and I am your host Jess Dewell of Red Direction. You are listening to ‘Trust and Influence’.

On this program of Voice of Bold Business we really are talking about trust and influence, and what came out of it was something that maybe you know as well as Adam and Tom know, which is, trust underlies everything that we do in our interaction for being able to build a relationship, to get buy-in for a project, to have somebody actually help us when we ask for help. All of it starts with common trust. They answer the question ‘What do people overlook in interactions that impacts their influence’?

It’s easy to talk about building influence and the things that we can do and the people that we know and what it looks like and how it feels. How do we learn though? How do we learn to build more influence if that’s what we need? How do we fix credibility and increase our influence after something bad has happened, after some big mistake was made? Those are the types of things that when you listen in this conversation that you will pick up. There are a ton of tips. There’s a log of value here. Both Tom and Adam bring their unique perspectives with their different backgrounds.

I’m going to introduce you to them now.

Tom Rhodes has spent more than 40 years in sales. Specifically managing multi-unit stores. He was part of the senior leadership.

Adam Kroll started his career as a biomechanical engineer. After a decade, he took his analytical skills and his interest in serving people in a different way to real estate. This makes him an effective negotiator and he understands the nuances and where to ask questions to best serve his real estate investor clients.

Right after this, you will hear both of them answer – ‘What do people overlook in interactions that impact their influence?’

Announcer (amid background music): Welcome to The Voice of Bold Business, the show that provides everything smart leaders need to evaluate situations, build relationships, and create solutions. Jess Dewell candidly talks about the skills necessary to build tenacity, and do more with less. And now, here’s Jess:

Jess: Alright Tom. What do people overlook in interactions that impact their influence?

Tom: Trust doesn’t just happen. You have to earn it. It doesn’t happen with your words, because I can say “trust me” a hundred times, but never do anything that actually gets you to trust me. Trust comes through your actions. I think that’s what maybe really people misunderstand is they think that if they get up and they talk and then they kind of back it up, that immediately builds trust, and you should trust me five minutes later. Trust takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. It can be lost overnight, which is one of the dangerous parts about it. It never happens overnight. If you go in to a business, and I’m guessing in Adam’s business where he is selling a home, he’s got to build trust with that client before they make an offer. They’ve got to be able to trust that what he’s telling them is true. He’s going to have to show them that. It’s like that really in any business. Any leadership role. Even as a parent. To get your children to you, you have to kind of earn that by supporting them, by backing them up in the things they do, by being there when they need you.  All those things go in to developing trust. Once you have it, you’ve got to understand how fragile it is, and you’ve got to make sure that you are consistently rebuilding that trust and solidifying that trust.  Like I said, if you don’t have trust, you can forget about the influence part. You’re not going to have any positive influence on anybody if they don’t trust you.

Jess: Alright Adam. What do people overlook in interactions that impacts their influence?

Adam: First I’d like to start with what I think the best definition from the Webster’s Dictionary is about the influence that we’re talking about. “The power or capacity causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways.” Now, I’d like to further define that as causing an effect on another person, because that’s really what we’re talking about today, and then I’m going to just call that person your partner, because this is a partnership. Then really what I want to focus on in that definition is “in indirect ways or in intangible ways”. Without getting too far fundamentally, I feel that influence is determined by how well you can serve the need of your partner that you hope to influence. Now I want to repeat that. To cause an effect, you must serve that person need. That need can be simple. You know influence in business could be an employee… just recognition for a good job will give them a sense that they need. The specific is even better, right, if you’re saying, “Great job on that account, you really nailed it”. That’s better than just saying, “Good job”.

For a negotiator just to capitulate on some point, something minor to your cause. Something that’s not important to your client, to you… just for the sense of win on the other side is a need. Now, let’s bring this back to the definition. It doesn’t always have to be a parent. That’s why it’s an indirect or intangible way that you’re serving a need. Let’s get back to the question. I know I’ve meandered a little bit. The need that is sufficiently important to the other person… that’s what I think we often overlook. What is the need that is sufficiently important to get the effect that you want? Now, often in a situation, we’re so focused on the effect that we care that’s the whole point of the influence, right? That’s why we want it. We lose sight and focus of the needs of our partner.

To wrap that up, the thing that people most overlook is, what information can you gather from your partner that will help you cause that effect?

Tom: I think Adam had an extremely important point in that influence is about the other person, not about you. This whole couple minutes there was about the other person, about the partner, about learning about them, about understanding them, about finding their needs so that you can solve them. Finding a win-win situation, even if it’s just a small win for them and maybe more of a win for you. The balance is there. If you’re thinking about you when you’re talking about influencing people then you’re missing the point.

Adam: Hitting on the trust part is very important. Clearly, without the trust, you’re not going to gain the information. There’s a lot to having the trust… it’s very important, and it is delicate.

Tom: We were talking about transparency a second ago, and we go back to trust. If a person doesn’t trust you, they’re not going to be transparent with you. They’re not going to give you any insight if they’re not positive that you’re going to be trustworthy with what you learn about them. So when you’re trying to get somebody to tell you things that can help you influence them, you want them to be transparent, but if they don’t trust you, they’re not being transparent. It all kind of fits together if you want to go anywhere with it.

Jess: Have you guys ever done that experiment where you’re given this egg and you have to build this contraption and you have to drop it from like four feet tall and see if once it hits the ground the egg doesn’t break? We don’t recognize how fragile our relationships, our credibility, what that trust piece looks like, until it’s broken usually, when we’re in that freefall. That three or four seconds of “Oh crap. What just happened? Now I can’t go back”. Right? There is no going back. It’s a starting over with a different egg and a different design. Those are some pretty tough lessons when it happens to us that way. If you were to define trust for yourselves… when you trust somebody… what does that sound like, look like, feel like?

Tom: I think when I trust somebody, I have confidence that what they’re going to do what they tell me they’re going to do, sometimes they’ll believe they can get to a certain spot, and maybe they can’t, and that’s fine, as long as the effort is in there. The other part of trust is if I am transparent with them and give my personality to them, that they’re going to have enough respect for it not to take it in the wrong direction or not to utilize it to their benefit and not to somehow be a detriment to me. You have to understand that they have integrity, you have to understand their character, you have to understand those parts of the other person before you can totally buy in. Because if you buy in too soon, and you’re not sure, you can get burnt pretty easy.

Adam: You have the skills based trust. Trust that you are going to be able to perform on a level that you’re supposed to be performing in whatever capacity that you’re in. There’s the relationship trust that you’re going to do the right thing when push comes to shove. There are different components to it. In business, it’s really important that you have all of them.

Jess: Let’s go to the transparency piece when it comes to trust. Let’s start with… what are your definitions of transparency, and let’s do it specifically in relationship to business, so that we’re thinking about business leaders, we’re thinking about people who are showing up in the business and what they can see and look for and experience when it comes to a business that shares and communicates well, versus one that kind of hides and hordes information.

Tom: If I have a supplier that I’m counting on to produce product for me that I need for my business, I need them to be honest with me about their situation. If they’re struggling, I need them to tell me “hey, we’re struggling”. Now do I expect them to give me inside information on things? No, I certainly don’t, because that’s their business. I think it’s just a question of honesty in what is going to affect my company or my role, whatever the situation is, more so that do I need to know everything that’s going on in their business, because I certainly don’t, and it’s not my place to know that.

Adam: Something that I really didn’t think about when we started this conversation… where does my fiduciary responsibility lie? If it’s within a company, I believe that everything should be open. This is from my systems background. I was a lead manufacturing champion. Every little step along the way, if there’s anybody hiding that maybe there’s some failures because they don’t want to be exposed for that… that’s a detriment to the entire process. Now, if you’re in a negotiation on the other hand, that’s completely different because now my fiduciary responsibility as an agent is to my client, so I am not going to divulge any information that is going to be a detriment to them. Obviously I want to present in an integris way the highlights of what my client has to offer. It was an interesting dynamic that you had there when you were talking about your suppliers. Because that is now you have a different set of criteria that you want to work with, again transparency to the process is still important because there may be efficiencies that you may uncover, so if we were to go for example to a supplier’s manufacturing facility and say, “some of the things that you’re doing are not necessarily helpful to our process. You’re wasting money”, that helps everybody. Whether or not it means that we’re going to get the product on time faster, whether or not they’re going to be able to save some money, or maybe share some of that cost savings. In general, I think transparency is good unless you have some negotiation that you need to work out.

Tom: I think you brought up integrity in there. I think that that’s an extremely important piece. In your role, you have a client that you have to make sure that you’re representing them, at the same time, you have to make sure you have enough integrity to make sure you’re not burying the other person. Transparency can be challenged when you get into situations of integrity, because you may know something, kind of on the edge, and you’ve got to think okay, what’s really best for the big picture here? You want to be transparent, but you’ve got to be loyal to your client. This can be a mess at times. Let me put it that way.

Jess: Early on, I told everybody everything. I was sharing so much information, people didn’t know what to do with it to get their job done. It got in the way of them doing their job the best that they could. When I finally had somebody go, “What the heck are you doing?” His name was Jay. Super dude. I would ask tons of questions because I like to know a lot of information, and he would say, “You don’t need to know that to do your job. What problems are you having? Okay, here’s what I can tell you to help you remove this obstacle to go get the job done.” He kept me out of the foray of other stuff that was going on, and I got a lot more done.

Being on both sides of that is a very interesting concept when it comes to for example, people development. We’ve got people in leadership positions that are right out of college that are starting their own business. That’s where I was when I had no idea what to do, so I was like, I’m going to tell you all everything because we have to share this vision. The thing was, nobody shared the vision with me. It was my job to hold the vision for each one of them and the roles that they played as well. I’m curious, with the experiences you have, whether it be in negotiation, whether it be just staying in touch with suppliers and vendors, whether it be store managers at different locations, have you had experiences similar to that, and what would some of your wisdom be around this idea?

Tom: In certain positions, you know things. Let’s say, my old district manager role, I’d get information from levels above me that were going to have an effect on the people who I work with, that I couldn’t necessarily talk about until it was supposedly the right time. You have people coming to you, and they’re asking you questions because their jobs might be on the line. I was district manager for two weeks and the first thing I had to do is go close the store. You know this, and you’re going to visit the store in between because they want a certain date to do it. You know these things and you’re trying to have normal conversations, knowing in the back of your mind that the next time you come, you’re going to tell them the store’s closed. You have to have enough integrity to not make a bunch of promises that you know you’re not going to be able to keep.

Somewhere in there there has to be a balance. You have to not give it away, because that’s your job, so you can’t be 100% transparent and say, ‘well I guess I’m going to come back next week and tell you that you don’t have a job’, but at the same time, you have this empathy, because you know the next time you come you are going to be closing the store. I really think you have to just handle it the best you possibly can and keep your integrity as high as you possibly can, and sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

Adam: Alright, so I think the question is kind of around the balance between over communication and under communication. Goals and mission have to be very succinct. The mission is one thing and that’s important, and then your goals. In my opinion, it should be posted. It should be visible everywhere, because now you have taken the verbage out of it. It’s there. You don’t have to communicate anymore. What I found is the most effective is to put systems in place that are effective communication. Now that means having your big picture goals, but then also having your smaller team goals visible as well. Not only just where the goals, but where you are today. Have some sort of a measuring stick and that really kind of keeps you on task and shows you where you are with status updates in an Excel spreadsheet kind of format. This is done, this isn’t, there are the things that are causing failure. Color coding is usually helpful, because at a glance, you have information being translated, so you don’t need the words.

Jess: If we’re going to use trust to build our influence, because we’ve decided trust is that base, now we’ve got this influence piece that we do… what’s the difference between somebody who’s seeking, seeking, seeking influence to sway decisions and be part of the big round table or square table or whatever room they want to be in, and somebody who just already has it?

Tom: The person who’s talking the most is the person who’s trying to seek influence and trying to build themselves up as an influencer… who is trying to kind of take over the conversation… kind of the ‘look at me’ concept. Whereas the person who sits and listens a lot and then every once in a while, makes a knowledgeable comment or kind of sets the tone in a certain direction based on what they say, is the person who’s already got the influence. They don’t have to talk a lot. They already have it. People are already looking to them for answers.  People are going to them at lunch time and talking about ‘What do you think of this and what do you think of that’. Sometimes it’s based on experience and sometimes it’s based on just what they say in the room and sometimes it’s just the way they carry themselves. Sometimes the person walks in the room and you already kind of know they have influence, just because of the way they carry themselves. They never have to say anything. They just approach everybody, they shake their hands, they talk to them for a minute, they go to the next person to shake their hand… the person who already has the influence has a presence. The person who is trying to gain influence is trying to push their way into it. Push their way to the head of the line when they’re really not there yet.

Adam: In meetings, I feel like a lot of the time, the person who speaks a lot gets more of the kind of attention and it kind of pushes you forward unfortunately and I think that’s counter to the productivity of the organization. I think that having a good manager is somebody who will bring you back to the point and what’s important. I think you have this a little backwards. This is my opinion. That the quiet person already has the influence. I think that the person has influence because they’re quiet, because they’re listening. I kind of came up with a couple steps that I feel that you can do to build influence. Building trust, we’ve talked about that is paramount, because you will not be able to gain information if you don’t have that trust. It’s important as you’re building trust to have a structured exploration phase early in a relationship or in an organization to see what the needs of the organization are, what the needs of the different parties are within the organization. Especially those that have already established influence. Asking lots of questions, and active listening. Listening for comprehension. Again, that’s where I think the quiet comes in… the quiet person is influential because they’re listening most of the time. Then asking clarifying questions to make sure that you understand what was said, because sometimes there are undertones within conversations that you may not get all those layers. So the exploration phase does help build trust and rapport, because now you’re genuinely interested in their needs. If you’re serving my needs, I’m going to start to trust you.

Tom: I had a lot of experience in my career in retail, taking over broken stores, broken locations, broken districts, whatever the case may be. I’d walk in to a store the first time and people would say, “Well what are we going to do to fix this?”, and my response was, “I have no idea yet.” The first thing I’m going to do is I’m going to get to know everybody for the first two to three weeks. I’m just going to talk to people, I’m just going to listen to what they have to say and see what issues they think are happening. Kind of watch the business. How do the customers react, what kind of atmosphere do you have in the store? We’re not going to come up with any plan for a few weeks until I can actually get a feel for what’s happening here. It’s broken for some reason, but we have to find out what the reason is. It’s not a question of fixing it today to push in fixing it for the next ten years or however long we’re going to be here. So that exploration phase is really important. You have to go and listen and get to understand people. When you do that, you start to earn their trust and you’re not making snap judgements, you’re not making quick decisions and acting like some big tough guy… you’ve gained that influence because you’re talking to them. You’re getting to know the people, you’re getting to understand them. Make sure you know if they have a family, make sure you know if someone in the family is sick. You’re doing all these things so that you’re building those relationships, and I think those relationships are what help you have that influence in the long term.

Adam: Influence is relationships. I think it needs to be explored a little more because that is a fantastic point.

Jess: We all have relationships, don’t we? The quality of those relationships is really what matters. Cultivating, with intention, specific relationships matters even more. For example, I’m going to totally step out of the business realm for just a minute…when we first moved here, to Boulder Colorado, I knew nobody. My first job as being a good neighbor, a good citizen, a good wife and mother, and just a good person because it’s my personal expectation, was I must know my neighbors. I must know who they are, I’d like to know what they do. We don’t necessarily have to get along, but having a connection with them is really important. We share property lines. We’re on the same street. We’re going to be driving past each other, or walking past each other up and down the road. Having some sort of a rapport is really important. Then, I have a child. My next thing is to take it a little deeper. Who are the people on my street that I would like to build a relationship with so that I know about their values and the vision and how they interact within their family, to see how it connects and meshes with my family so I have an emergency contact right here if something were to go wrong and Carter needed to go someplace and my husband and I were not home. Different kind of relationship, different kind of intention. If we take that in to work, the same things apply. When we get a new job, what do we do? We’re looking for somebody who can teach us the ropes, we’re looking for somebody who’s willing to give us some answers that we don’t rely on, that we don’t go to for every single problem, but they can give us the information so we can go do the work… so we can go do the work more effectively. A lot of people mistakes “friendships” at work for building influence at work, and I think that that’s a misnomer. What do you guys think?

Tom: I agree 100 percent. It’s about relationships, but you have to be friends with everybody to have influence with them. My Dad taught me I don’t know how many years ago, and reminded me every time I slipped up that people don’t work for me, they work with me. I think if you have the mentality that your people work with you, even though on the chart, you might be their boss, if you have the mentality that you work with them and that you’re kind of all working together towards the same goals, no matter what your level is, then you have a better chance of building influence with them and being influential in what you do because they’re not looking up at you, they’re just looking next to themselves. You’re beside them and you’re working with them, you’re not looking over them. I think that if you have that certain leadership mentality of ‘hey, we work together on this. I’m here for you. I’m going to be next to you, working together’, then you don’t have to worry about it. If you have to sit around and tell somebody you’re the boss, you have no influence. You’re just a boss and it means nothing.

Adam: I don’t necessarily know that a relationship is a friend. I’m a member of many organizations and we work together towards a common cause. I wouldn’t necessarily consider them my friends, but we have a relationship where I trust them and we are all working towards whatever that end is, whether it’s political or if it’s within a business organization, we all are moving together. I know how they will behave, and that’s important, right? That’s part of a relationship is understanding, as you said earlier, their character and what things are going to make them tick. And again, that goes right back to influence because if you know how somebody’s going to behave, then you can set up a situation in which they will behave in a way that you want them to. That’s part of their nature. You’re not doing anything to necessarily sway them in a way, or negatively influence them. It’s, you are influencing them to do something that is in their nature, it just happens to be for the cause that’s important to you.

Jess: You know who’s really good at that? Three, four and five-year old’s. (She laughs) I’m bringing that up because we forget, at some point we “grow up” and then that turns in to this concept of manipulation and I don’t think it is. I think manipulation occurs when somebody is doing something for their own benefit that’s actually going to hurt another person or an organization… but if it’s a development of ‘Oh, I know how this person works, oh, I know how they’re going to respond, and I can make it easier for them.’ In fact, aren’t we serving a need for them, and getting a larger goal accomplished at the same time?

Tom: Isn’t part of our role as an influencer or a leader to help people be successful? Why wouldn’t you want to know what are the things that they’re best at and how they can best be successful and then put them in positions to be successful.

Jess: Let’s say we’re talking about people development, you have somebody that’s really good at this thing, yet their goals are at the other end of the stadium. They’re at the other end of the field. They’re in a whole other state from where their actual skills are. What do you do with those people? Can you actually help them?

Tom: Sometimes the best thing you can do for somebody is help them find what’s best for them, and it may not necessarily be with you.

Jess: And it is worth the time and the energy at the organization they’re in, with the role that they’re at to help them find that, because otherwise what are they going to do? They’re going to go get a job doing the exact same thing they’re doing right now, and be unhappy because they’re not having any different results.

Tom: You have to ask the questions. You have to kind of watch what they’re doing. You have to be able to say ‘Hey, do you believe this is really for you? What do you like about this? What do you not like about this?” Whatever the case may be. I’ve helped people just find other roles in the company, because it was more fit to what they were interested in than just being where they were in my location. Sometimes you just have to do that.

Jess: Just because we can get in the door with a set of skills to do a specific job doesn’t mean it’s actually the job we are actually attracted to a company to do. I think that’s a really good point. I’m going to change the subject just a little bit.

Here’s this book that I read. It’s called ‘Not My Father’s Son’. It’s a memoir by Alan Cumming. I first came across him in ‘A Good Wife’. He is one of my all-time favorite people, and I was like, well how is he so good at what he does, and why is he driven to do what he does? It’s all in this memoir that he wrote and the relationships that he had. I’m going to use the word influence… because I think in our families of origin, when we’re learning about the world before we go out in to it… whether it’s aggressive or progressive influence, we get it from our parents. Those are the models that we have when we go out in to the world. What we do with those models… do we challenge them, do we accept them, do we find our own way around in between them is totally up to us. This particular memoir was a really awesome one in that journey and what was going on for him, and how, and I wouldn’t say he is necessarily influential, but he is famous, and what is he doing with that fame and the responsibility that comes with that. A lot of people think, ‘Oh, I have this C title, or I’m part of the C suite or I have a corner office or I’ve given myself this title, or I’m going to be some weird title that nobody else has ever had so I’m really different.’ They think there’s value in that, and I’m curious for you guys, when you meet somebody with a quote unquote important title, does it automatically come with a sense of influence, or is it more… this person has some authority and responsibility, and now I’m going to see how they’re using it?

Adam: The title, it gives you the assumption of influence, right? You walk in to that situation and you have the assumption that okay, this person has the influence, they have the power to do the things that are important. Then as you go through the relationship, that’s where you really start to understand whether or not they are responsible with this title and whether they deserve it, and whether or not they truly do have influence.

Tom: I don’t have any interest in a person’s title. I have interest in what knowledge they can either give me or to my team, what kind of decision-making process they have, what kind of integrity they have. Are they going to come in and help build a relationship with the group? I work for some big retail stores, and you had district managers and regional people in some cases, who would walk in and shake hands with every single person there. Maybe 60 or more people there, and they’re shaking hands with every single one of them. Then you have people come in and they talk just to the store manager and they never talk to anybody else. I want the guy that’s shaking everybody’s hand. That’s the person that’s going to influence me. The guy who can’t give me the time of day because I’m not “on his level”, he’s not going to have any influence over me. It’s all about how they build that relationship with the people who work with them, because the title is nice, but without the guys down here doing the work you’re not going to have your title very long.

Adam: The more time that you spend with somebody, the more you understand the way that their character is, the more that you can build that relationship, that trust, that influence with them. You bring up an interesting dynamic. I agree with you that it is important to, at least on a basic level, know everybody in an organization because everybody does contribute, or at least should be contributing or they probably shouldn’t be there. The people that are contributing, how do you allocate your time to the different people to build that trust, that influence, that relationship? It’s te question of going wide or going deep.

Tom: If I’m making a store visit, there are times that I may have to just talk to the store manager. Maybe it’s there’s something important going on. I could talk to a store manager on the phone, I could talk to a store manager via email… there’s a million different ways that I can have that dynamic. If I’m in the store, most of my times needs to be spent with the people who worked in the store, not with the store manager. I didn’t go and sit in an office and have an hour conversation with him, I would talk to everybody, because I can learn so much about what’s really happening by the people in the store.

I’ve had an experience working at Walmart and I talked to regional vice presidents there and training people there and I’ve said “You want to know what’s going on in a store? Go sit in your breakroom at lunchtime for a couple days. You will learn everything. Put on a vest, act like you’re a new associate, you will know more about that store and the culture in the store and your management team in 20 minutes than you’ll ever get talking to a manager.”  That’s where life really is. The manager’s going to say everything he possibly can to get you out of his store as soon as he possibly can. Bottom line. That’s what he’s going to do. Find out. Go talk to the person in produce. Go talk to the person in chemical. Whatever your area of expertise is or whatever you are most concerned about at that time. Spend 10 or 15 minutes with each person and then go to maybe a couple more… maybe you’re not going to get to everybody, but you can still shake everybody’s hand. Say, “hey it’s good to see you, thanks for everything you do”. That two minutes means so much to people who are skating $9 an hour to bust their butt.

Adam: You’re serving a need.

Tom: Yeah. If you walk by them and you don’t even have a discussion, like they’re not there, then they’re going to think ‘well why am I here? He doesn’t even care’.

Jess: It’s bold to recognize we have influence. Now whether we are growing it, or we’re only influencing ourselves is a whole other story. Why is it bold to recognize the fact that we have influence and how we use it?

Adam: You are bold when you are able to influence others. The marionette puppeteer in the background that you don’t really see all the strings that are being pulled but in reality there’s a lot going on in the background. It may appear bold, but in reality it’s a lot of being quiet, being observant, figuring out what is important to your people.

Tom: The boldness of it comes from understanding that you have influence. I think that sometimes what’s, for me, I have never seen myself as someone who had influence. I just see myself as me. I think sometimes you have to realize that you do have influence, and that the decisions you make and the things you say, more than likely aren’t just going to one person. They’re going to have an effect on maybe two, three, four, five or six people. That it’s very important that your influence is positive in whatever way you can make it. Sometimes you have to do things that you don’t necessarily want to do, and they’re difficult. It’s just bold to understand that the words you say and the things you do affect other people. You are not in a vacuum of your own. No matter how much you would like to lock yourself in an apartment one day and say ‘I don’t want anybody else to bother me ever again’, that’s never going to be the fact. Every time you talk to your kids, every time you talk to your parents, every time you talk to your co-workers, every time you talk to a friend… you have some sort of influence every time you open your mouth, or write something. People have to grab that concept, and then try to make it as positive as they can around everybody else.

Jess: I have to tell you, not only did we have our regular show, but you’ve got this bonus that you’re going to be able to listen to at the very end after we’re done. Because the conversation didn’t stop. Adam and Tom both wanted to keep going and keep going. We’re going to bring that conversation to you, so stay tuned after we get to the very end of the program. After the closing credits, you will get to hear a little bit more from them. We talked about things starting with the fact that influence is all about understanding the other person. That we need a sense of transparency, in the sense that… what’s that line? Where’s that boundary and what does it look like depending on the relationship that we’re in.

Speaking of relationships… building influence does not equal having many friends. You also heard both Tom and Adam give very specific points of things that we can do today… be transparent to build trust, build relationship, and impact our influence.

You can find all the program notes at You can also search ‘Trust and Influence’.

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The thing is with leadership… being a leader, making an impact, reaching our goals… all starts with what it means to be a leader today. You as a leader in your role, in your space, add to what that means, and we are developing and changing the course of what it means to be a leader. With every action, with every new person that is promoted, with every person that starts another business… every single one of these people, like us, are creating what it means to be a leader today. Let’s define it. Let’s keep this conversation going. I want to know from you… with each action you take, do you take away, or do you build trust and influence?

Announcer – Subscribe at and get more information, program notes, and past episodes. Bold leaders approach each situation and focus on action to achieve a higher level of leadership. Jess Dewell, your business advocate is the host of The Voice of Bold Business Radio. Thank you for joining us.

Jess: And that’s it, that’s our show. You guys rock! Thank you!

Adam: Oh man, I had so much more I wanted to go on with you talking about going to the line. That is clearly the most important thing when you’re trying to do diagnostics on a company. One of the things that we were talking about, transparency, that’s why I said that even somebody on the line, if there’s a screw up and they don’t want to tell anybody, that’s a problem. That’s where you want to expose that and let them know that it’s not an issue, right?

Tom: I’ve been in retail business for so many years. It always amazes me when you’re in a store or in a situation and they say, “The boss is coming! We’ve got to do this and that. We’ve got to work overnight because the boss is coming.” What’s really funny is when you become the boss, okay, and you know this is happening… you know it. So the first time I ever had a meeting with my new team, I said, the first rule is, you never do anything for me, because I’m not the customer, okay. I don’t want to ever hear that you spent extra time or that you did this getting ready for me. Do your thing every single day, run your business every single day for your customer and you’re never going to have a problem with me visiting. It doesn’t matter. I should be able to walk in to your store at any point in time and see what it’s supposed to look like. But you see it all the time. It’s just amazing. I’m thinking, just do your job every day. It’s just a person. It’s a person walking in to your building. There’s no God walking in to your building… it’s some guy, who is the next level up, walking in to your building. If he wants to find a problem, trust me, he will find a problem. But if you do your job on an everyday basis, you’re not going to have that. That’s why I say, sometimes these guys got to come in and walk past the manager, past the assistants, and say, ‘Hey, my name’s so and so and I’m here from the main office. What do you think of your store?’ Guarantee their going to hear all kinds of things.

Adam: You’re 100% right, the customer, that’s the end goal. One other thing that you hit upon that I kind of wish that we had gotten to in this is the types of contact. You said you can email somebody, things like that. Really if you want, there could be a sliding scale of what builds rapport… and face to face is the best, and then I guess a video conference like this would be a close second, phone is right after that. The as you get to the nonverbal communication it just kind of deteriorates from there. It’s still worthwhile, right, and it’s sometimes important, but it’s not really building the rapport.

Tom: You know I’ll talk with my associates in the store, and then left the store, and as I’m leaving the store I might call the manager and say, “did you realize this is happening?”, or “Hey, the guys are telling me you’re doing a great job and I really appreciate it.” Whatever the situation might be. But I wanted as much of my time with the frontline people, because those are the people who are facing my customer.

The other part we miss is that the bigger the store, the more actuality this is… if you’re a store manager in a Walmart store you’re not seeing very many customers.

Jess: Right. You’re not on the floor very much.

Tom: Yeah, you’re not on the floor very much. You’ve got 8 million things going on. The guy who sees the kid who just got out of high school or is still in high school that makes 9 bucks an hour, he’s seeing the customer. That’s the person who I have to influence the most, because they’re having the most effect on the customer.

Adam: That’s a good point.

Jess: That’s a very good point.

Tom: I’m at Advance Auto Parts and I have six or seven people in the store and they’re each selling somebody car parts or putting in their batteries, and they’re the one facing that person, and how they act and their morale and their feeling what the culture of the store is, is what’s going to go to that customer. Not the store manager because he probably isn’t out there.

We have a tendency, the higher we get up in companies, to separate ourselves from the person who actually deals with the customer… and that’s a big mistake. I personally happen to think that’s part of why retail business are struggling so much, because they’ve gone away from focusing on the person that faces the customer.

Jess: To “likes” and coupons and whatever it is online and e-commerce stores and stuff. That’s interesting.

Tom: Yeah, they cut payroll. They cut payroll, they cut payroll… Well guess what? They also cut customer service whey they cut payroll. They hurt everything. I think that’s really one of the reasons that if I can call Amazon and get it and get the same customer service if I go down the street because there’s nobody in the store, then why wouldn’t I call Amazon?

Jess: Truth. Exactly. Well you know where the base is. You know what that minimum is.

Tom: I know it’s upside down, but you pay a store manager two hundred thousand dollars a year to run a Walmart store, you pay the guy who’s facing the customer, or at the cash register 9 bucks an hour.

Jess: Isn’t that interesting?  You know the same is true with teachers. Teachers are the same way. Teachers are the ones who are shaping our kids, whether they’re going to think or not. Do they foster something internally or is it just rote learning or who knows what, and you’re right, they get paid and treated horribly by their communities, just the way it has set up. It’s interesting… somebody explained this to me… somebody explained it to me once as, the CEO of a company, or the manager of a big store has more responsibility for more people than somebody that just checks people out in that store. Or that teaches twenty or thirty kids in a class per year. You know, I’m not in disagreement with that philosophy. It makes sense. Sure there’s more responsibility. The thing is, there’s a whole lot less accountability in the end. The kid who’s at the cash register is more likely to get fired for bad customer service than any mark being put on his manager for not teaching him customer service in the first place.

Tom: Correct. That is 100% correct.

Jess: While I get the philosophy of it, in practice you know, the people who get paid the least are also the people who are the ones that get dumped on the most, or are expected the most of or who knows what. That’s an interesting thing.

Okay, I need to know… I’m looking for a new biography to read. Do you guys have a favorite biography that you guys like?

Adam: I’ve only read one. I loved it. It was Mark Twain, when it first came out.

Jess: Oh yeah! Okay.

Adam: He also has my favorite quote, which is “Too much of anything is a bad thing, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”

They all laugh

Jess: That’s awesome.

Tom: They like that in my neighboring town here which is where they produce Jack Daniels. Which by the way, laughingly, is a “dry” town.

Adam: Get out of here.

Tom: You can’t buy it there.

Adam: Even at the distillery you wouldn’t be able to do a tasting?

Tom: No. It’s a dry town.

Adam: That’s crazy.

Tom: Well what’s really funny is if you drive through there at certain times of night you can smell the whiskey. It’s unbelievable.

Adam: I want to do one thing… we were talking before about systems. This is something that I did for my household (he holds up a checklist of things to take when leaving the house with a baby).

Jess: Yes! I love it!

Adam: It’s laminated too, so that you can write on it and wipe it off with dry erase.

Jess: Dude, you’re an environmentalist at the same time.

Adam: Well this way I don’t have to keep printing it.

Jess: Oh that is awesome. See and you know, people forget. I almost think we should have like a lifestyle show where we talk about the systems that we have… for people who don’t have systems, or people who have systems and they don’t know they have systems. I like your dry erase checklist. I’m actually randomly writing things down on a sticky note for future show ideas.

Tom: I would fall in the category of not having a system by the way.

Adam: You do though. You don’t realize it, but you do. Your diagnostic… you’re going to the source of what potential problems there are. The feet on the ground, the grassroots. That’s where you’ve uncovered things. Because as you get up in the layers of bureaucracy, they get covered up. I want to look good, the person above me wants to look good, the person next to me wants to look good, so you know, you do have a system. You may not have realized it.

Tom: Yeah, probably not. I’m very analytical. I like to look at things and try to get a view, get a feel for things before I ever make any sort of decisions on it.

Jess: Well I’m really glad you guys know each other now, and you have each other’s email address now… you can be far away connections.

Tom: Yeah.

Adam: All right guys, well thank you so much Jess, great to meet you Tom.

Tom: Thank you very much. Thanks Jess.

They all say goodbyes